While most of you will have cleared away your ivies together with your hollies and other remnants of Yule, conversations amongst our neighbours here in East London are still tinged with a slight hederal motif – the bushy creeper that has engulfed the West wing of our building.
Each year, after the nesting season, there is a window of opportunity for trimming and taming these intractable lobed leaves – a costly affair, which in the past has involved abseiling tree surgeons and frenzied cherry-picker operators emerging rather frazzled from the tangled shrubbery under the watchful eyes of a small turnout of locals. Likewise, every autumn I find myself staring with envy at the blushing Virginia creepers that I pass and I wish I could swap our crazed common ivy which has caulked all the cracks and sealed the place airtight, for a posher, more delicate vine that might be less invasive.
My new interest in this matter has led me to realise that the neighbourly chinwags on the fate of our Hedera helix are nothing new around here, as in fact this plant has been under close observation since 1872 when fellow Stepney-ite James Shirley Hibberd published his monograph, ‘The Ivy’. Apart from this English pioneer in Victorian gardening, the once heavenly plant now seems to get most attention from the Americans who name leagues, societies and universities after it. However, I have found that it is the Germans who are fondest of the Efeu and it has gotten its claws into the roots of German culture with some old pagan rites that involve this mighty Mauerwurz. For instance, young girls used the Matthiaskraut on 24th February (Matthias Day) to make wreaths of ivy and of straw to be thrown into water by dark. Their aim was then to catch one of these rings behind their backs. An ivy wreath meant good fortune in love matters with a wedding likely the same year – a straw wreath granted no such luck and a rather longer wait entailing fresh wreaths the next year!
Flowers grouped in umbels around Hyde Park Corner
I am delighted to be invited back to the Luxembourg embassy in London to present a recital of my own works this Thursday, 24th January. I will be joined by Henri Växby for a program of piano and guitar music that I have written over the last few years, including the premier of a short piece for solo acoustic guitar Origami E, as well as Henri’s piece One/Two. Entry is free, but places are very limited and pre-booking is essential, so please contact the embassy as soon as possible on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend.
Rhizomes and branches
The date for the next Dinner With Daisy Club Night at Jamboree will be Sunday, 17th March. Amongst other things you can expect a theatrical performance by Roswitha Gerlitz, art by Stephanie Pau plus the usual mix of hand-picked bands and musicians. More details including the full line-up will be on www.dinnerwithdaisy.com shortly.
From the grapevine
The release of the first single from the new French For Cartridge album is imminent. It’s all a bit hush hush at the moment so there is not much I can tell you except to check our website www.frenchforcartridge.com at the beginning of March when we hope to launch the first of a series of future evergreens. For the album I can promise a song about Batman vs Poison Ivy amidst symphonic swirls and intimate murmurs.
Spring plant list
Work has also begun on my new website and over the next weeks you will see it change into a refined version of my old site with better archives and listening opportunities as well as a complete works catalogue and a shop for scores etc. It will still be at the same address www.catherinekontz.com .
I leave you with a fun bootleg video recording of a performance of my piece Siegfried & Melusina by pianist Pascal Meyer at the Rainy Days Festival at the Philharmonie in Luxembourg. http://youtu.be/uv9LY5R5aQY If you decide to watch it whilst enjoying a cup of tea, I suggest you do so using the fine Luxembourgish china called Green Park, which is lined with a beautiful example of green ivy.
Keep well and warm,