Illuminated trees at Crossrail Place Roof Garden

I knew it had been a while since I’d been to the Crossrail Place Roof Garden but I was surprised to learn it was 2016. I thought we’d visited the last time we went to the Winter Lights which was in 2017, but maybe we didn’t. Either way the last time I shared photos of it here, it wasn’t illuminated and it looked quite different - pop over and take a look.

I think I quite like it illuminated though. The lights give it a magical feel, and accentuates the shape and form of the trees and bushes, don’t you think?

red and orange illuminated trees in the Crossrail Place roof garden in Canary Wharf

The whole roof garden was full of greens, reds and pinks and it’s own atmospheric “smoke” - well I hope it was atmospheric, although it was rather cold.

lit up pink - another colour in the crossrail place garden

As we approached the end of the garden and the Big Easy (which we avoided visiting on this visit) we saw the Vena Lumen - or pulsing light - bench. There was quite a queue to try this one out, and so I’m rather pleased with my grabbed shot during the changeover when people who had rather Britishly queued to wait their turn. The dark plate that you can see on the arm is for your hand, and that contact made the lights dance, to much amusement and oohs and ahhs.

Vena Lumen  - a winter lights bench illuminated green

I had to smile though as behind the bench were the slightly less patient, with people crouched behind it taking their photos and no doubt a few of these have appeared on social media too. I didn’t even have the patience for that, and was more than happy to return to taking pictures of illuminated trees, while MOH patiently waited.

leaves lit up red and looking great

Perhaps that’s when he hatched his plan for a glass of wine in Waitrose, who knows. But as plans go it was a pretty good one and one that hurried me along. Well, it would wouldn’t it?

Trees. And snow. And being blown away by the prettiness.

Finally, I've found a way to enjoy snow. Yes, from a coach whizzing past snow-laden trees! Perhaps not the usual way, but this year I was almost disappointed when the promised deluge (or 1cm) only materialised as 1mm. 

But on my recent trip to Germany and Austria with Stihl I got snow. And lots of it. After conquering my initial snow and shoe fear, and realising that some countries can operate in snow, and from the coach window I made my peace - or some of it at least - with snow.

I mean when it makes trees as pretty as this, it can't be a bad thing can it?

trees covered in snow between munich and kufstein
trees covered in snow between munich and kufstein

As you can tell, all of these pictures are from the coach window as we sped down the autobahn from Munich to Kufstein, or back again. It's meant there's some window reflections in my photos, which is a shame, but it's also meant I have some photos of some very pretty trees, so I'm thankful for that. I mean, imagine if they'd all turned out to be blurry. Imagine how disappointing that would be. 

trees covered in snow between munich and kufstein
trees covered in snow between munich and kufstein

Every time I thought I'd captured enough beautiful trees and returned my iPhone to my bag, I'd spot another that I deemed to be even more beautiful. And that's how I ended up with as many tree shots as almost anything else I took in those few days... 

trees covered in snow between munich and kufstein
trees covered in snow between munich and kufstein

Truly beautiful aren't they? Beautiful in a way I've not noticed our trees to be in the snow here. Next time it snows, maybe I'll notice and be able to compare. 

* While this post isn't in collaboration with Viking or Stihl, it was only possible because of the UK press trip arranged by them. 


Leaves. And wellies. And a quick look at the garden.

Sunday was a lovely day here, so with chores to do I put on my gardening fleece and my wellies and headed out to water the greenhouse and scrub the food recycling bins. Oh the glamour!  I'll share more from the greenhouse another day, but don't worry I'll spare you the rest. 

I was all for heading back inside to do some baking, but MOH was intent on some leaf collection, and I was soon roped in to help. We had our three sycamore trees pollarded a couple of weeks ago, sadly though that was just after the really windy spell. And in that really windy spell all the leaves that weren't down already, came down. So there were quite a few to collect. 

faded wellies and a faded fuchsia flower




Most of the leaves had collected in the troughs we spent some time digging in the summer in anticipation for the edging installation. And I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing. We haven't made as much progress as we'd like with the edging, but as long as the weather stays dry and the ground stays wet, we should be able to continue, and hopefully make progress by Spring.



But first to pick up these leaves. It's hard work, harder than you think. My tools of choice are gloves, a trowel and black sacks. MOH favours the rake. Black sacks are ideal though, so even if you don't have a leaf compost bin, as long as you aerate - or make holes in - the black sack, your leaves will break down in the bags. 

MOH sweeping the leaves - an action shot
piles of leaves on the grass - and these were only a small part of the leaves we picked up this weekend

The fact that our leaves were wet is also good for composting, just not so good for picking up. We filled fifteen bags of leaves and the fun bit - well after all that bending down it's fun - is stabbing the bags with a trowel or a fork to let the air in. Our black sacks of leaves are destined for the allotment, as one of the pallet compost bins is dedicated to leaf mulch. 

A quick tour of the rest of the garden

Now picking up leaves aren't usually my thing, I'd much rather potter about a bit. So as I made my way around the garden I decided to take a snap or two to break up the monotony. So it was good to see the pyracantha berries still out. They're in a relatively shady spot against the fence, but bring a burst of colour as you walk past. Or if you're stuck there for a while shovelling leaves into a black sack.

pyracantha berries growing in a sheltered spot by the fence
The little Christmas tree from last year is still doing well, but will I cut it for my wreath this year?

At the back of the garden I took a little break to check the little christmas tree from last year.  It's done well, where it is after a bit of a worrying time in all that hot weather earlier in the year, but I'm not sure I'll be trimming it this year to make a wreath.  Partly, because I think it'll benefit from a bit more growing time, and also because I'm not sure I'll have enough time to actually make one this year, but we'll see how it goes.

I managed to get one of the best pictures of my dogwoods for a while, the sun was just right and you can see it on the jasmine.  It's hard to imagine them as bare rooted plants back in 2013 now, that trellis is six foot tall, so it looks like I'll have some lovely stems to cut next year.

The jasmine corner with the dogwoods stems already turning red

On the patio the agapanthus seemed to be coping well with the weather, I hope they don't mind it a bit chillier. Last year was so mild they really didn't have much to contend with.  I've a plan to cover them with horticultural fleece if we have a prolonged cold spell.

The agapanthus plants, will hopefully be ok with the winter

Under one of the sycamores the euphorbias were back in force, and covered with leaves - but those are for another day, and look the hosta is trying to flower too.

The euphorbias are doing well, and the hostas behind them are already trying to flower
the start of a flower on my hostas

By now I've headed to the back of the garden again and am clearing the leaves by the stone circle, where the pear tree is. It fruits, but they are rock hard and never seem to ripen. This year we noticed more fruits than normal - possibly because we gave the tree a good prune - but the squirrels seemed to get to most of them before we did.  I don't think the fruits were any better, or tastier this year than before as we've found so many of them discarded at the base of the tree. 

I found another one on Sunday and was amazed and intrigued by how it had fared. It was rock hard, but gently decomposing. And now it's in the compost instead of just on the garden, fascinating isn't it?

A mouldy old pear, which I was probably a little bit too interested in, but after sacks of wet soggy leaves it caught my attention

And that's pretty much a tour of the garden, I was out of photos to take and still bored of collecting leaves, so I hatched a new plan to escape. This time I headed inside to make lunch, using the second cauliflower that we'd picked on the allotment the day before to make a cheesy cauliflower soup (if you're interested I included a very high-level recipe in the turnips post yesterday), and that seemed to do the trick.

I left MOH to sort out his various piles of leaves, but couldn't help but notice how much better the garden looked for picking them all up.  

A view up the garden while the leaf collection was in progress. The bags of leaves are destined for my leaf compost heap at the allotment

That just leaves (no pun intended) taking the multitude of sacks to the allotment and picking up the leaves that are in the beds, but I read somewhere that it doesn't pay to be too tidy in the garden, as the wildlife appreciate some disorder. So that's definitely my plan, what about you?