Sunday, 29 March 2015

Looking Round PaRa Community Gardening Sites

Last Thursday, three members of PaRa, that's Pipers Area Residents' Association
 met with Martin Hambidge of SBC to look at the community gardening sites we have been working on to see if there was anything that needed doing by the council ahead of the next community event on Sunday 17 May 2-5pm.
I took photos as we went round the sites so we can see how they improve as we move from winter senescence to spring and summer growth.
We started at the Mr Cod bed opposite Baila coffee and long's Bar. This bed has stood up well to the rigours of winter, although it needs a bit of weeding, the perennials donated by Lydiard Park Heritage garden looked tough in the autumn, and have come through the winter well:
 Here's a lovely violet from my garden
 And Jane surveying the bed
 From there we moved to the bed beside the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, a challenging spot with shallow soil with many roots around a tree stump. Martin suggested planting just the front part that can be seen from the road, and putting a green roof on the unsightly brick structure.
 From there, we went to the first bed we made with the help of the council who removed the ivy and rubbish, and added a lot of topsoil. Martin agreed this bed had done very well considering its challenging position. The grasses need a bit of a tidy up, with the old grass being pulled out.
 And over the road from Rose Earle's shop, on Station Approach, our most lovely bed, the Decaux bed which the people who paste posters to the hoarding have described as the best bed they visit
 Although the top part, designated as a vegetable gardne needs a bit of attention.
 From there we walked through the trading estate to Berenger Close, and saw work of the Scouts had paid off here
 and here
 and here. Looking so lovely.
 The daffs by the Evelyn Street Bridge are bulking up well and looking great just now
 as are those at the entrance to Signal Way, and by the Evelyn St toilets.

 Walking back along Marlborough Road, just before the entrance to Dewell Mews, someone else has tidied up the area beside the road.
What a difference these plantings, litter collection and general attention to the area make.
The poster for the next event to follow.

Monday, 23 March 2015

A Trip to Wells for the First Rare Plant Fair of 2015

It's officially the gardening season again with the first Rare Plant Fair held in the grounds of the Bishop's Palace in Wells. There are 13 Fairs being held in 2015, all are in beautiful and prestigious gardens, making a great day out for everyone interested in gardens and gardening. The nurseries  present at the fairs are always very knowledgeable about their interesting and unusual plants, and can offer advice on growing conditions and the best treatments for optimum results.
The first sight of the Cathedral in Wells takes ones breath away, and yesterday it looked great against the blue skies:
There were 2 mounted police officers outside for some reason.
From there I was keen to get into the Fair:
 This gives an idea of how laden the tables were with plants, and despite the cold wind, there were lots of people eagerly buying plants
 I will also include a Magnolia just coming into flower:
From theFair, we went to look around the 14 acre gardens with these Euphorbias which made me really appreciate them when I saw them a couple of years ago, aren't they lovely?
 And below, these Hellebores were also so stunning
From there we walked to the well-pools from which the city gets its name
 It's possible to see the springs in the clear pools.
From there we looked at the Bishop's Palace:
Here's the entrance to the main hall, seen below:
 There was lots of stained glass like this, apparently recovered from Rouen
 A great dining room:
 A lovely window
And this is the ceiling in that room:
From the Bishop's Palace to the Cathedral:
 The interior was stunning and so were the stained glass windows:
I made some really lovely purchases, I left the Corydalis out of the group:
Next week there's a Rare Plant Fair at Evenley Wood Garden NN13 5SH, a fabulous garden to explore, set in 60 acres of woodland.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Thank you Matt, for putting SOS in the Swindon Festival of Literature Brochure

It was a real pleasure yesterday to go to the launch of the 22nd Swindon Festival of Literature, to look inside the brochure and see it's better than ever this year, I could happily go to everything!
The proceedings started with Matt Holland encouraging us to spread the word about the festival, give brochures out, send postcards and generally make sure people know about it.
Proceedings livened up with Jake juggling while his glamorous assistant played a squeezebox, I've included a few although realise I should have been nearer the front:

Rachel Rose Reid told us a story, and Teresa Page, our Mayor talked about her love of literature.
Refreshments were great, home made ciabatta sandwiches were my favourite part of the lunch.
As ever the festival begins with the Dawn Chorus at Lawn Woods on Monday 4 May at 5.30am, don't miss that bit.
And to see the SOS advert, turn to page 18 in the brochure and you'll see  this:
Pat Elmore's sheep were looking on from a higher vantage point this year, last year they were herded into a corner. They will be leaving the Central Library courtyard soon, if you are interested in buying them, they are £350 each, please email to register an interest in them.
 From there, Teresa Page went to the Pride of Swindon awards, where coincidentally Gerry Hannon was also receiving an award:
Gerry can just about be seen on the screen:
 Here's Teresa in her full robes and tricorn hat, what a star she is
From the awards to Swindon Museum and Art Gallery for the John Greenwood talk and Friends' social- photo courtesy of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery:

Friday, 13 March 2015

Victoria Art Gallery - Intimate Relations Plus the Human Clay

Although it would be great if VAG could remain free, there is a charge of £3.50 to see exhibitions in the main gallery on the ground floor, for £10, an annual pass allows you to see these exhibitions:

‘Beryl Cook (1926-2008): Intimate Relations’, 7 March – 6 May, a show to tickle everyone’s ribs, sourced from the estate of this former Bristolian;
·       Bath Society of Artists: 110th Annual Open Exhibition, 16 May – 27 June, featuring over 300 paintings and sculptures by the region’s leading artists.
·       Jane Austen’s Bath, 4 July – 4 October, a multimedia feast for the eyes recreating Bath as Jane Austen would have experienced it.
·       Kurt Jackson: Place, 10 October – 3 January 2016, uniting painting and literature by allowing 32 writers to choose their favourite places in the UK, from Glastonbury to the Hebrides, which the artist then visited to create paintings and sculptures.
·       Grayson Perry: ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ suite of large tapestries inspired by Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, 9 January – 10 April 2016

 Visitors to the 'Intimate Relations' exhibition can also compare Beryl Cook's take on life with that  of LS Lowry, Julian Trevelyan, Cecil Collins, Mark Gertler and many others on the first floor gallery.

Please visit their website for further news.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

First Monday of the Month in the Beehive

The first Monday of the month is always a pleasant evening with a variety of people who like having a chat, some of the time about art, everyone is welcome, so if you haven't been to this event, please come along to the next one on April 6th from 7.30pm onwards.
Last Monday, I'd been to Bridport, Honiton and Bath for the opening night  of the fab exhibition in Bath featuring 32 paintings from Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Gwen John to Lucian Freud, so it was good to arrive at the Beehive for a relaxing sit down.
 There's an interesting exhibition this March, I'll have to go in again to find out more:

 A couple of close ups:
And a seagull from the sea front at Lyme Regis who was most disappointed we didn't share our sandwiches.