A particular auricula theatre

Once past midsummer my thoughts start to turn to the garden projects that never got done last winter, either because of adverse weather or various commitments, and so must inevitably be moved to this autumn or winter. Most of these are general maintenance and upkeep jobs and already on the list are a re-build of the three bay compost heap and a major prune of some of the trees which have started to shade the vegetable patch. 

Much as I love a bit of carpentry (if that’s what you can call my prolific building with tanalised timber), there is only so much enjoyment to be had from planning a new compost heap. Obviously I, like the rest of the country, aspire to the great temples to composting in Monty’s Long Meadow garden. However, in the absence of being able to hi-jack a pallet lorry, it is unlikely that our budget can stretch that far so I shall have to content myself with something a bit less grand. Nonetheless, it will be functional and more pleasing to the eye than the current heap of rotting wood and crumpled chicken wire. 

Just to keep one motivated though, I always find it is useful to have a fantasy project on the go as well. This is something that you would truly love to see in your garden and could be anything from a new shelf in the greenhouse to the digging of a pond. My current garden fantasy is an auricular theatre. Many times in my gardening life have I dreamed of owning an auricular theatre but, in reality who has room for such an indulgence? I had more or less shelved the idea , even as a fantasy but then up pops Rachel de Thame on Gardener’s World with her auricular theatre and it got me thinking again. It doesn’t need to be on such a grand scale as the monumentally beautiful one at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and can be anything from a re-purposed set of shelves mounted on a wall to staggered staging in the corner of a patio. Either way, I feel that it is time for me to get one underway  and in the planning process.

Auricular theatres were an invention of the Victorians who adored the plants. With their obsession knowing no bounds, they built great monuments to auriculas in order to display the different varieties. The flowers themselves were a common theme of the time, often featuring in paintings and embroideries. Mr P loathes auriculas and thinks they have silly faces which, given his love of some frankly hideous flowers, I find rather odd. Nonetheless, I will have to be discreet about my plans as I think he will find it a frivolity too far. So the hunt is on for something I can adapt and amend. I think black might be the right colour for the shelving as it in keeping with the Victorian styling and all plants look good against black. This then, is my secret fantasy autumn project. I’ll keep you posted with any further updates but in the meantime if you ever get a chance to visit the very wonderful Calke Abbey, don’t forget to look in on the auricula theatre. 

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