Sunday, 29 June 2014

Lots of Surprises in Store today at Oare House

Looking through my Twitter feed this morning, I noticed via NGS that Oare House near Marlborough was open today, and since it's only open twice a year, plus it was very lavishly described on page 594 of the Yellow Book, I decided to pay it a visit.
The 1740s house extended in the 1920s by William Clough Ellis is splendid, and there are some lovely pots around the house, and small garden areas with long borders, a small greenhouse filled with tender pelargoniums, all of which I photographed, not realising that there were far more  photogenic aspects to the visit.
Here are a selection of photographs illustrating the most interesting parts of the garden which took 2 hours to look round, and that was with a speeded up last section.
At the back of the house, there 's a huge formal lawn and borders:
And beyond that a swimming pool:
With gloriously planted formal beds:
And behind this area, there's a tulip tree in full flower:
And then there's the pavilion to visit, this can be seen from the house and is reached by a walk through parkland and woods:
You can only just see the pavilion between the trees, but when you do reach it, the shape is familiar, and when I looked it up, I discovered it's the only building in this country designed by the architect
I.M. Pei who also designed the pyramids at the Louvre in Paris. Here's more information:
Here it is this afternoon:
 Woods near the pavilion
 And just before getting back to the main part of the garden, there's a secluded pond where there was a green woodpecker feigning injury to protect its young giving a superb view of its plumage.
Back at the gardens, the kitchen gardens are extensive and micro managed, providing plenty of fresh vegetables

 Lettuces were grown carefully in patterns:
And the long perennial borders beyond the vegetable garden were fantastic
 Is this the seed head of an Allium?
 I think we'd seen most things, when we went for tea and cakes in the potting shed with its polished tools and cold frames being utilised to grow vegetables when I noticed a sign for the glasshouses.
These were tremendous, with this huge Fuchsia with a thick woody stem, yet a smallish pot being very impressive. There were many tender pelargoniums including my all time favourite Pelargonium ardens behaving itself remarkably well for once.
I'm sure I've missed out lots of things, the view for one of Pewsey Vale seen from many parts of the garden:
One of the best garden visits ever. Thank you NGS for organising such fabulous gardens for us to visit.

A Chance to see Some Great Plein Air Paintings by the Fabulous Carr and Humphries Duo

Susan Carr and Terry Humphries have just announced that they are having an exhibition at the Prospect Hospice, Moormead Road, Wroughton, SN4 9BY with a preview evening on Friday 4th July from 6-8pm.
Come along if you can do so, and see the wealth work produced by Susan and Terry, individually I hasten to add, the title is a bit misleading.
Below their invitation:

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

What an Excellent Bunch have Joined SOS this Year

I am very pleased with the excellence of our Swindon Open Studios artists. Cllr David Renard, Leader of the council asked me the other day when we were looking around Artsite how many artists there were in Swindon.
Of course there are far more than those who have joined open studios this year, but it's a good question isn't it?
Anyway will put the three latest images I received on this blog:
'Tuscan Landscape' by Jaqui Phillips
 Susan Carr's 'Picnic, Swindon Old Town Gardens'
And Terry Humphries 'Swindon Old Town Gardens, Bandstand and Cafe'.
There's lots more to say about the wonderful artists taking part this year, but am off on holiday for a week from tomorrow so must go and sort out the packing, more from me in a week's time.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Yay last day for joining SOS!

I'm sure there are lot's of people out there wondering why I added a piece about Langford Gardens when today is the last day to join Swindon Open Studios 2014.
Well I'm putting that right this morning.
If you have some art you would like to share, register an interest today in joining SOS by emailing me, and download the registration form found at
You can then join in the festival of art that's Swindon Open Studios.
We're meeting tomorrow to decide which image to use on the cover of the brochure and posters, so do send your image soon.
Above is a photo of Jane and myself looking at the March ex. in the library

Monday, 16 June 2014

What was it like looking at 25 Gardens in Langford on Sunday?

There doesn't seem to be anywhere else that includes a group opening of this many gardens, so Langford's 25 gardens advertised in the yellow book were a must as far as I was concerned.
I spent a fascinating afternoon wandering around Langford with a friend who had come from Emsworth to accompany me, looking at the gardens and village which includes a 12th century church with tremendous buttresses on one side where it appears to be seriously listing.
The overall impression is that there are a lot of passionate gardeners in Langford, some plants do dominate like box, roses and geraniums, while others like penstemons are rarely to be seen.
We started at the end of the village at Lower Farm House where everything was impressive:
 Above a view across a long stretch of water and below a door at the side of the house
 Below another view of the borders and climbers
 Below, the vegetable garden was grown in raised beds of an exceptionally high quality
 And below, there's an AA sign for Langford, poorly photographed, but if you want to see it, Langford is only just north east of Lechlade.
Still feeling quite chirpy, we wandered round St.Matthew's church, looked at some very unusual gravestones and the lovely Church lane cottage gardens.
Below is the garden at the Old School:
 Then we flagged a bit and had tea and cake at Pember House and on again to Lockey House, so many gorgeous buildings and gardens. Cotswold Cottage garden was especially thoughtfully designed. I think below is a photo of Wellbank House's roses:
 And the remaining photos are of Bridgewater House gardens:
 Above a fabulous rose around a tree and below Martagon lilies:
 And sweet metal sculptures
 Another great afternoon out thanks to the marvellous National Garden Scheme, but tiring, after 4 hours, I was ready to stop looking at gardens.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Last few days left to join Swindon Open Studios 2014

The closing date for entries to this years Swindon Open Studios is next Tuesday 17th June, I'm encouraging people who have thought about it to join in with this festival of the visual celebrating what's going on in the studios in and around Swindon; where artists and visitors to open studios get together and enjoy the flourishing art scene in Swindon.
This is a very exciting time for me, will Toby Robson whose work is featured in our flyer join us this year? He does have a lot of other things on his mind, like fast approaching parenthood.
The latest people to join are Sophie Corrigan who many of you will remember from last year in the Beehive where she had a sell out show, and a photo of Edrice's butterfly appears on our flag. Here is this years brochure image:
Sophie was joined in a quiet way last year by Lynette Thomas who has submitted a registration form this year, here's a photo of Lynette's studio with Sophie's piece sitting in there:
Lynette has also included some other photos of her gorgeous mosaic work:

Below is a piece entitled 'Child of the 80's' mirror- a nostalgic look back at growing up in
 the 1980's,
AboveBirdhouse in your soul ( a birdhouse from a song by They Might Be Giants)
And Witch's Brew:

Lynette runs mosaic workshops, and has a studio at Artsite
The Little Big Festival running in the Old Town Gardens has also provided entertainment and a burgeoning arts scene of it's own, not just at the weekends, but during the week artists can be seen painting and drawing, have a look here:
This is a photo I took of Liam Shortridge's gazebo in Old Town Gardens a month ago:
Will he open his studio in Wroughton? We have to be patient and wait and see. Excellent news, Liam has joined.
Meanwhile anyone who wants to join can get a registration form from the website:

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Creative Copies - a Series of Original and Enjoyable Art Workshops

This looks very interesting, well worth going to the Launch Event this Saturday 14th June between 12-2pm to find out more:

Staff and students at Swindon College and Second Mouth have come together with Swindon Museum and Art Gallery to raise money to fund the conservation of ‘Study for Cephalus and Aurora’ by Leon Kossoff.

This summer, the museum will host a series of artistic and creative workshops aimed at young people and delivered by up-and-coming artists from the local area.

The workshops cover drawing, sculpture, felting, flag making and lots of other fun crafts. Sessions will cost £5 a head per child and will run between the 30th July and the 9th August.

To find out more, book tickets and to show your support, come along to the launch event we are holding in the museum this Saturday between noon and 1:30pm, or check out the latest Creative Copies news here:

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Special Plants Tuesday Talk by Derry Watkins on Hardy Geraniums

Special Plants along Greenways Lane is a magical place for those who are passionate about plants, or who like gardens. It is run by Derry Watkins whose knowledge of plants and their requirements is phenomenal, so it's worth going along on a Tuesday for her talks either at 11am or 2.30pm. This week she talked about hardy Geraniums, not to be confused with Pelargoniums which are  larger flowered and brasher and were divided into 2 separate species 200 years ago.
Derry had brought examples of her favourite Hardy Geraniums and spoke about each one in a very detailed way. Her favourite one is Rozanne because it flowers all summer and has a neat growth habit. Number 2 is Mavis Simpson which likes hot, dry conditions. 3. Russel Pritchard again hot and dry conditions. 4. Lawrence Flatman cinerareum an alpine. 5. Ann Thompson, like Folkard but with greener leaves. 6. Patricia spreads and grows over things and needs to be supported with rings. Other ones Derry likes are: Geranium mycorrhizum, Apple blossom, magnificum, Rambling Robin, Amy Doncaster, Palmatum and a purple leaved one. The purple leaved ones never grow very large, and the floppy ones need rings around them from an early age.
Having looked at these Geraniums and learnt quite a lot about them, we were taken into the garden and shown where they are growing, and allowed to inspect their form of support. I hadn't realsied how important their support is in keeping them looking good and preventing them flopping onto other plants.

I took a few photos which illustrate the robust good health of the plants and how well they are managed.
Above a Cerinthe and possibly a Euphorbia, below a Stipa Gigantica looking tremendous
Below towards the kitchen
below a border

Above a Paeony, and below some Alliums looking gorgeous with several different flower shapes.

Above and below two photographs of the same gravel garden

To find out more about the Tuesday talks and opening times, visit the website:

Monday, 2 June 2014

Our Big Lunch in St.Margaret's Road on Saturday 31st May

The Big Lunch - an Eden Project
What a great idea this is, apply to the council to close the road and contact residents to gauge support, or did that happen the other way round? Street parties seem to have been happening in the street for a long time, and have become an annual event, carefully organised by a few people, and enjoyed by many.
This year we had lots of games for children and adults, challenges, hanging basket planting and stalls, with lunch served around 2.30pm, and a barbeque from about 7pm onwards and fireworks at 10pm.
At 10am preparations were well underway, with ice in bowls at Pat and Pete's bar:
 Coming back from town, the road signs were looking good at 11.45am
 Plenty of warning that the street was closed
 Chairs and tables were being delivered using mark's van, and the cars have all been moved, and lots of people are in the street
 Below the bunting has been put up, and bearing in mind the 'showers at 3pm' forecast, gazebos were also erected.
 The next four photos depict the Big Lunch in full flow:

 For some reason, the photos stop there, but the rest of the day was as enjoyable as the first half.
To find out more: