Monthly Archives: November 2017

Happy 174th Birthday to Gertrude Jekyll

Today is the 174th birthday of Gertrude Jekyll, one of Britain’s best known and best loved figures in British garden history. As Jekyll in the ancestor of the REEP Director’s husband, Richard McLaren, she has a special place in the hearts of REEP who dedicated this year’s international ‘Growing Gardeners’ conference to her.

In honour of Gertrude Jekyll’s birthday, here is a poster we produced about her for the ‘Growing Gardeners’ conference.

Gertrude Jekyll Poster 2017

Happy 174th Birthday to Gertrude Jekyll 2017-11-29T09:21:36+00:00

SIKHISM | Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Martyrdom Day

24 November

The ninth of the ten Gurus of the Sikh religion, Guru Tegh Bahadur was a martyr for religious freedom. On his Martyrdom Day, memorials are held in honour of the supreme sacrifice Guru Tegh Bahadur made to protect the right of all people to practice their beliefs without fear of persecution from other faiths. Guru Tegh Bahadur’s sacrifice is all the more significant because he was not protecting those of his own faith – he was protecting the rights of millions of Hindus.

Under pain of death, the peace-loving people of Kashmir were being ordered to convert to Islam by the Mughal ruler, Aurangzeb, who eschewed the religious tolerance of his predecessors in favour of a policy of religious persecution against non-Muslims. In 1675, in answer to an appeal by a large group of Kashmiri scholars, the Guru told them to “tell Aurangzeb that if he can convert Guru Tegh Bahadar to Islam, they will all convert. Otherwise he should leave them alone.” Excited at the prospect of converting so many people through just one man, Aurangzeb had the Guru and a number of his companions arrested. They were then taken to Delhi and instructed to convert to Islam under penalty of death.

Guru Tegh Bahadur declared that he would rather sacrifice his life than give up his faith or freedom. In an attempt to terrorise them into submission, Aurangzeb had the Guru tortured for five days. His companions were brutally murdered in front of him. Guru Tegh Bahadur was finally beheaded in the middle of a public square in Chandni Chowk, Delhi – the most prominent public place in India.

In commemoration of Guru Tegh Bahadar’s sacrifice, memorials are held every year on his Martyrdom Day. Although a Sikh holiday, Hindus and people of other faiths also take part in the festival, uniting with the Sikhs in veneration of religious freedom and the right to practice one’s own beliefs without fear of prosecution.

For more information about Guru Tech Bahadar’s Martyrdom Day please click here

SIKHISM | Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Martyrdom Day 2017-09-12T10:31:52+00:00

Museo Bellas Artes de Sevilla

Founded in 1839, Seville’s Museum of Fine Arts is home to a collection of works from medieval times through the early 20th century, notably a choice selection of works by Spanish artists from Seville’s Golden Age of painting, the 17th century. The buildings and beautiful cloister gardens within date back to the late 16th to early 17th centuries when they were built as a convent for the Order of the Merced Calzada de la Asunción. We hope to take our Scholars here to see the cloister gardens next year during the REEP McLaren Scholarship in Spain. 

For more information about Museo Bellas Artes visit http://www.juntadeandalucia.es/cultura/museos/MBASE/?lng=en

To see photos of my visit here, visit the rhiannon@reep Facebook page

Museo Bellas Artes de Sevilla 2017-11-27T18:22:30+00:00

Centro Cerámica Triana

Converted from the old Santa Ana Ceramic Factory, Seville’s Ceramics Centre is designed to educate people about the long history of ceramic tile production in the Triana district. Visitors can see the old kilns and production materials of the Santa Ana Factory, as well as examples of ceramic tiles from Moorish times to the present day. We hope to take our Scholars here next year during the REEP McLaren Scholarship in Spain – maybe they’ll even get to try their hand at decorating ceramic tiles!

For more information about Centro Ceramica de Triana visit http://patrimoniumhispalense.com/es/espacio/centro-ceramica-triana

Photos of my visit here can be found on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page

Centro Cerámica Triana 2017-11-27T18:18:36+00:00

SHINTOISM | Kinrō Kansha No Hi

23 November

A public holiday in Japan since 1948 but celebrated for centuries before, Kinrō Kansha No Hi is the Labour Thanksgiving Day. In its earliest form, it was known as Niinamesai (Imperial Harvest Festival) – a day for the Imperial family to pay tribute and express gratitude for a generous harvest. Those who worked hard on the land to bring crops, especially rice, to fruition received special thanks from their communities. As the Japan of today is less dependent on agriculture, the festival has evolved to include an appreciation for all those who work hard, regardless of industry.

An alternative name for the festival is Hōnen Matsuri, with Hōnen meaning ‘rich harvest’ and Matsuri meaning ‘festival’. Many Japanese people visit a shrine on this day to give thanks for the successful harvest received that year and to pray to Kami (spirits) for a plentiful harvest next year. The harvest festival has a strong association with fertility and renewal. This is epitomised by the spring Hōnen Matsuri celebration at Tagata Shrine in Aichi prefecture, which includes a procession with a giant wooden phallus freshly carved from hinoki (cypress).

For more information about Kinrō Kansha No Hi please click here

SHINTOISM | Kinrō Kansha No Hi 2017-09-12T10:32:00+00:00

Monasterio de nuestra Señora Santa Maria de las Cuevas

On Inés’ recommendation, I visited another potential site for the 2018 REEP McLAREN Scholarship – Monasterio de nuestra Señora Santa Maria de las Cuevas. Better known as ‘la Cartuja’, this fascinating monastery began its life in Moorish times, when caves were dug in the area to extract clay to make pots. When an image of the Virgin was discovered here in 1248, a shrine was erected and named Virgen de la Cuevas (Virgin of the Caves). Rebuilt as a monastery in the 15th century, it was here that Christopher Columbus stayed to worship and plan his second voyage to the new world. During Spain’s Napoleonic invasion the monastery was abandoned, remaining so until the English merchant, Charles Pickman bought it and converted it into a ceramic-tile and porcelain factory. Pickman won many international prizes for his ceramics in the 19th-20th centuries and his designs are still held in great esteem today. Today, the monastery is home to Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo (CAAC).

What a fascinating history and what a clever use of space too! Who would have thought that a tile factory could sit so attractively inside the buildings and patios of an old monastery!

For more information about the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo visit http://www.caac.es/english/frame.htm

For more on the history of the monastery visit http://www.andalucia.com/cities/seville/monasterio-la-cartuja.htm

Photos of my visit here can be found on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page

Monasterio de nuestra Señora Santa Maria de las Cuevas 2017-11-27T18:13:25+00:00

Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede, Seville

Did you know that as well as being the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world, Seville’s Cathedral de Santa Maria De La Sede started life as a Mosque? How wonderful to see Islamic and Christian styles together in one beautiful building – no wonder UNESCO have named it a World Heritage Site. Anyone familiar with Marrakech may find the Cathedral’s Giralda tower familiar – it was once a minaret identical to that of La Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech. As if that wasn’t enough, inside Seville’s Cathedral is the tomb of the great explorer, Christopher Columbus. His tomb is held aloft by four figures representing the four kingdoms of Spain during his lifetime. We hope to take our Scholars here next year during the REEP McLaren Scholarship in Spain.

For more information about Seville’s Cathedral visit www.catedraldesevilla.es

You can find photos of my visit here on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page

Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede, Seville 2017-11-27T18:04:48+00:00

Plaza d’España and Parque Maria Luisa

Our 2018 REEP McLAREN Scholars will be delighted to visit Plaza d’España and Parque Maria Luisa when they are in Seville next year. Built for the Ibero-American Expo in 1929, the gorgeous plaza seamlessly mixes Renaissance, Mudéjar and Gothic styles of Sevillian architecture – the neighbouring Parque Maria Luisa is equally lovely.

For more information about Plaza d’España and Parque Maria Luisa visit http://www.andalucia.com/cities/ seville/marialuisapark.htm 

You can find photos of my visit here on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page

Plaza d’España and Parque Maria Luisa 2017-11-27T18:24:32+00:00

Palacio de Las Dueñas

This morning I visited another garden that we would like to take our REEP McLAREN Scholars to visit next year during the Scholarship in Spain – Palacio de Las Dueñas.

A Renaissance-style palace with Moorish and Gothic flourishes, the palace of Las Dueñas features Islamic-style ‘patios’ (courtyard gardens), divided into four with decorative tiled paths and fountains at their centre. The palace was built in the 15th-16th centuries, as the home of the Dukes of Alba. It became a popular meeting point for European royals and international personalities in the 20th century, including Queen Victoria Eugenia and Jackie Kennedy!

For more information about Palacio de Las Duenas visit http://www.lasduenas.es/

You can see photos of my visit to Las Dueñas on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page

Palacio de Las Dueñas 2017-11-27T17:51:27+00:00

Alcázar, Seville

As our 2018 REEP McLAREN Scholars will be studying faith gardens during their Scholarship in Spain, we simply have to include a visit to the Alcázar in Seville. I visited here for the first time today during my research trip to Spain.

Mudéjar and Christian architectural styles are united in this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage-listed Alcázar palace. Originally a 10th century fort, the Alcázar was enlarged and redesigned over the centuries. The palace complex features several beautiful patios (courtyards) and gardens laid out in the Islamic char bagh style.

For more information about the Alcázar of Seville visit http://www.alcazarsevilla.org/english-version/

You can find photos of my visit to the Alcázar on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page

Alcázar, Seville 2017-11-27T17:42:28+00:00

El Real Sitio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial

In addition to exploring gardens in the time of Cervantes, our 2018 REEP McLAREN Scholars will be studying faith gardens. Spain is a wonderful place to explore this theme, especially because of its Moorish and Catholic history. Inés and I visited Escorial this afternoon to see one of the most famous monastery gardens in Spain – that of Real Sitio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial. We hope to take our Scholars here next year.

Better known simply as ‘El Escorial’, this incredible Royal Monastery was built by Phillip II in the late 16th century as a place to see out his final years. Today the site is managed by Patrimonial Nacional – the Spanish ‘National Trust’ – and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For more information about Real Sitio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial visit https://www.patrimonionacional.es/real-sitio/palacios/6172  

You can see photos of our visit to El Escorial on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page

El Real Sitio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial 2017-11-27T17:29:44+00:00

Alcála de Henares

The first is the Botanical garden of the University of Alcála, the second is the Cervantes Birthplace Museum. As the theme of Round One of the Scholarship (Britain, 2016) was gardens in the time of William Shakespeare, we would like to expand on this is Round Two by exploring gardens in Spain during the time of Shakespeare’s literary contemporary, Miguel de Cervantes. So, this morning Inés and I visited Cervantes’ hometown, Alcála de Henares, to explore two sites we would like to include in the 2018 REEP McLAREN Scholarship programme.

 

Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes, Alcála de Henares

Courtyard inside Cervantes Birthplace Museum in Alcála de Henares

Real Jardin Botanico Juan Carlos I, Alcála de Henares

Rose garden at the Real Jardin Botanico Juan Carlos I, Alcála de Henares. Spain is currently struggling with extreme droughts, which is causing difficulties for gardens.

Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes Web Address
Real Jardin Botanico Juan Carlos I Web Address

Alcála de Henares 2017-11-28T08:21:18+00:00

Real Jardín Botanico, Madrid (Scholarship 2018)

Today I visited Real Jardín Botanico, Madrid – one of the gardens we hope for our REEP McLAREN Scholars to visit next Spring. These lovely botanical gardens were opened by King Carlos III in 1781, with the aim of creating a garden in which to grow and display plant species from every corner of the Spanish Empire. They were also intended to be used to grow medicinal plants to supply Madrid’s hospitals. Today, over 30,000 plant species are grown in the botanical gardens, with the most notable collection being of Mediterranean flora.

You can see photos of my visit to the botanical gardens on the rhiannon@reep Facebook Page

For more about Real Jardín Botanico, Madrid visit http://www.rjb.csic.es/jardinbotanico/jardin/

Real Jardín Botanico, Madrid (Scholarship 2018) 2017-11-17T08:57:04+00:00

Casa de Pilatos (Scholarship 2018)

I am in here in Seville with Inés to plan Round 2 of the REEP McLAREN Scholarship, which will take place in Spain next year. This afternoon we visited Casa de Pilatos to see the beautiful patios and gardens of this Renaissance/Mudéjar-Gothic palace. We hope to take our 2018 Scholars to visit here.

Casa de Pilatos is a gorgeous Andalucían palace which was built in the 15th-16th centuries by the Enríquez de Ribera family. Influenced by 16th century Italian design, the ducal owners gradually added flourishes of the Italian Renaissance to the Palace, seamlessly fusing it with the the traditional Andalucían Mudéjar-Gothic style. Sadly, the family lost it’s titles during the 17th century and the architectural importance of the palace was largely forgotten until the 19th century Neo-Mudéjar craze, when the Moorish style became popular in Andalucía once more. Further Mudéjar features were then added to the palace and it is today celebrated for its harmonious blend of mudejar-Gothic, Renaissance and romantic styles, and for its beautiful patios and gardens.

* Mudéjar is the name given to individual Moors or Muslims of Al-Andalus in Spain. Mudéjar-Gothic is a term used to refer to the incipient Gothic style and the Muslim influences that were integrated with it.

You can find photos of my visit here on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page 

For more information visit http://en.fundacionmedinaceli.org/monumentos/pilatos/descubra_historia.aspx

Casa de Pilatos (Scholarship 2018) 2017-11-27T15:55:06+00:00

SHINTOISM | Shichi Go San

15 November

Meaning literally seven-five-three, Shichi-Go-San is the festival at which families pay their respects to Kami (spirits) for the good health, success and prosperity of their children. Families visit a shrine where special Shinto blessings are bestowed upon girls (aged three) and boys (aged five) to welcome them into the community. For seven-year-old girls, it is a time to be welcomed into womanhood and to wear the obi (a broad sash worn round the waist of kimono) for the very first time. As the day is one for families, Shichi Go San usually takes place on the Sunday closest to 15 November when most parents do not have work obligations.

For more information about Shichi Go San please click here

SHINTOISM | Shichi Go San 2017-09-12T10:32:07+00:00

Hotel Las Casas de Judaría (Scholarship Round 2)

I am in here in Seville with Inés to plan Round 2 of the REEP McLAREN Scholarship, which will take place in Spain next year. This evening we visited Hotel Las Casas de Judaría to see the famous patios within. We hope to take our Scholars there during the Scholarship next year.

At the heart of the hotel is a labyrinth of 27 small, traditional Andalucían houses, each with its own plant-filled patio. Every patio is unique in style, with lush planting, fountains and decorative tiles, and balconies bursting with hanging potted plants. The patios are connected by a network of underground tunnels, so wandering around the hotel is like wandering around a little Spanish village. The hotel’s history began when a Spanish Duke bought a small house in Seville’s Jewish Quarter – it expanded as he gradually added more and more of the neighbouring houses to his collection.

You can see the photos of my visit here on the rhiannon@reep Facebook page

For more about Hotel Las Casas de Judaría visit http://www.lascasasdelajuderiasevilla.com/en/

Hotel Las Casas de Judaría (Scholarship Round 2) 2017-11-16T13:12:59+00:00

2018 REEP McLAREN Scholarship in Spain

This week I’ve joined Inés in Spain to plan the 2018 REEP McLAREN International Gardening Scholarship which is due to take place in Andalucía and Madrid next Spring. Keep an eye on the news page as I’ll be posting about some of the gardens our Scholars may be working and gardening in.

For more information about the REEP McLAREN Scholarship please visit the Scholarship section of the website

2018 REEP McLAREN Scholarship in Spain 2017-11-15T13:38:46+00:00

British Moroccan Society Gala 2017

On Wednesday, Diana and the REEP team joined the British Moroccan Society (BMS) in London for their Annual Gala Dinner, charity raffle and auction. A very enjoyable evening was had by all and it was wonderful to help the British Moroccan Society fund their excellent charitable projects.

British Moroccan Society Gala 2017

BMS Chairman, Graham McCulloch OBE, gives a speech at the Gala Dinner

British Moroccan Society Gala 2017

British Moroccan Society Gala 2017

REEP Director and Honorary Secretary of the British Moroccan Society, Diana Lazenby McLaren, with her husband, Richard McLaren, and friends

 

British Moroccan Society Gala 2017 2017-11-28T08:27:40+00:00

SIKHISM | Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav

04 November

Also known as ‘Gurpurab’ or ‘Guru Nanak Jayanti’, this festival celebrates the birth of the first Sikh Guru and founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Jayanti. Born in 1469 near Lahore, in modern-day Pakistan, Guru Nanak Jayanti received enlightenment in 1496 and began preaching to the world about peace and religious harmony.

Celebrations begin two days in advance, with the commencement of the Arambh Path – an unbroken recitation of the Holy Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, which takes forty-eight hours to complete. On the day before Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav, naga kirtan (processions) take place in the streets, with singing and dancing to spread the message of Guru Nanak Jayanti. Processing barefoot, the procession each carry a Nishan Sahib (Sikh flag), following behind the palanquin (ornate float) on which the Guru Granth Sahib is ceremoniously carried. Gatka (Sikh Martial Arts) often take place as part of the procession too.

On the day of Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav itself, observances last all day, beginning in the gurdwara (Sikh temple) with Prabhat Pheris (early morning processions) and Asa-di-Var (devotional hymns). These are followed by a Katha* session, where the teachings of Guru Nanek Jayanti are read from the Guru Granth Sahib. Kirtan (devotional songs) are also sung in praise of the Guru, and Langar (sacred free food) is provided at community lunches.

* Katha is the verbal explanation/discourse of Gurbani (the utterings of the Guru’s) and our great history. Katha has been an integral part of Sikh practice since the revealed inception of Sikhism by Sri Guru Nanak Dev. Many Sikhs believe that through Katha they will gain knowledge about Sikhism and become enlightened. Katha is both a spiritual and historical discourse, endowing the listener with spiritual and worldly knowledge.

For more information about Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav please click here

SIKHISM | Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav 2017-09-12T10:32:14+00:00

CHRISTIANITY | All Souls’ Day

02 November

Taking place the day after All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day is a time for Christians to remember and pray for the souls of departed friends and family. Many Christians attend church services and pay their respects at the graves of family and friends. All Souls’ Day is closely associated with All Saints’ Day; the two days are collectively known as Hallowtide.

All Souls’ Day was initiated in the late 10th century by (Saint) Odilo, Abbot of Cluny in France. Saint Odilo proposed that the day following All Saints’ Day be dedicated to the remembrance of the deceased, particularly those whose souls were still in purgatory. The tradition soon spread throughout the Christian World, where it became custom for poor Christians to offer prayers for the souls of the dead in exchange for charity, in the form of money or food, from the wealthy. In 19th and 20th century Britain, children would go ‘souling’ – singing from door to door in return for alms or soul cakes. As many people held the belief that the dead would revisit their homes on All Souls’ night, they would light candles outside their homes to help guide the deceased souls.

Today, one of the most famous observances of All Souls’ Day takes places in Mexico where Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a national holiday. As many Mexicans believe that the souls of the dead visit friends and family on this day, people visit cemeteries with gifts of candles, flowers and food. Mexican children eat tiny chocolate hearse, sugar funeral wreaths, and candy skulls and coffins. There are often festive parades in the streets and it is traditional for performances of José Zorrilla’s 1844 Spanish drama, Don Juan Tenorio, to be staged.

For more information about All Souls’ Day please click here

CHRISTIANITY | All Souls’ Day 2017-09-12T10:32:23+00:00