Today has been a glorious day with high scudding clouds and warm sun, warm enough to sit by the pool for half an hour and recover from our 16 mile cycle. I am impressed with the cyclists here, they are dedicated, they are beautifully turned out in the correct gear, gloves, helmets, skin tight clothing with strategic padding. They have beautiful sleek lightweight bikes which you could lift with one finger, tyres as narrow as razor blades cutting silently and swiftly past us on our serviceable but utilitarian bikes. We are quite envious, but console ourselves by admiring the scenery which for us only passes by at 10 miles an hour.
My drawing today is a wilting flower from the Chalice Vine Solandra longiflora.This beautiful vine has been flowering for weeks now, greeting visitors to the gardens as they enter the drive to the Garden House. This is another flower I am hesitant to pick but it is just past its best now and again there are fallen blossoms on the ground to be had.
It is beautiful showy thing but the huge 9 inch long flowers are just a bit fleshy and similar in structure to those of the Sausage Tree and the strange Midnight Horror tree. I think this is another bat pollinated flower too.
This was too big a drawing (14 x 11 inches) to start so late in the day, so is really unfinished. Apart from wilting so much that it slowly flattened itself on the table, the flower quickly turned brown and shrivelled up at the edges. It also (to me) has that same sickly cloying smell of lilies. I am not prone to headaches but lilies have to stay firmly outside. Just one in a vase is enough to make me feel nauseous, I wonder why. Interestingly the chalice vine is related to the hallucinogenic Daturas and Brugmansias which have the same sickly headachy scent, but I should perhaps have made a light infusion of Chalice Vine tea to perk me up this afternoon.
Today was of course the winter solstice too.. the turn of the year when we begin to say goodbye to dark nights, watch the heightening sun's arc and edge slowly towards my favourite time of year, glorious Spring. I will be in England in February and hope there will still be some snowdrops..
The Chalice Vine