Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Artsite Associates Spring Exhibition until 2nd May

 The opening night of the exhibition was last Friday, apologies that this post comes too late for that.
There is still time however to see the exhibition which runs until Saturday. I've included a small selection of the work on show, mainly people taking part in Open Studios this year, with the exception of Dee Carter, you can see more of work by these artists  then.
Above  'The Lakes' work in progress by Dee Carter.
  Below 'Attached' by Alex Coppock-Bunce, mixed media

 Above 'Four Handles of Floral' a mosaic by Paula Sullivan
 Above 'Portland Bill' an oil paintings by David Morse.
 Below 'The Heart of the Lotus' by Dee Levy, in oil sticks, pigment, acrylic, grass and pencil
 And last but not least, Sue Bardwell's  'The Gathering No.2' in spray and stitch.
 Please go and see the exhibition, open 11am-4pm including this Saturday 2 May for a better look at this work, and so you don't miss some of the other fine work on display.
To find out what else is going on at Artsite and Handmade Swindon, please visit their website:

Friday, 24 April 2015

An NGS Garden in Bradford on Avon and then the Snakeshead Fritillaries at North Meadow

What a marathon of garden visiting and plant observation I had last Sunday; having visited The Courts Garden in Holt, and walked to Great Chalfield Manor in the morning, it was only a couple of miles down the road to Bradford on Avon where Priory House was open under the NGS scheme. As suggested in the yellow book on page 598, we parked in  the town centre and walked up to Priory House.
This was the first view I noticed as we parked outside the leisure centre, with the lovely lead clad tower::
 The garden at  Priory House is a three quarters of an acre town garden laid out quite formally, with 5000 new tulips being planted every year. It has been featured in Gardens Illustrated, and you can see why, there are some lovely features, like the lovely terracotta planters filled with tulips in the front garden
 Square planters filled with tulips at the side of the house
 where there's also a beautifully trained apple tree
 Very similar to this tree which grows like this
 Lots of climbers will look lovely later on in the season
 And at the back of the garden, another view of the same tower I photographed form the car park.
 And lastly another arrangement of tulips in planters
 Before leaving we had a lovely pot of tea and some very good fruit and cherry cake, the garden is next open on 2 August when the borders are displaying asters, heleniums, dahlias and grasses. Worth another trip out I think. It was by this time 5.15pm, off home, or to North Meadow near Cricklade to look at the 80% of this country's Snakeshead Fritillaries. No contest really.
 There's also a lovely stream beside the meadow in places
 Here's a close up of the flowers
 The next 2 photos attempt to show the sheer numbers of the flowers, but don't really, the best thing to do is to go and look at North Meadow

 There are also some fab King Cups there as well
And that was the end of two plant centred  days, there's still time to see the fritillaries, in fact they may be peaking this weekend.

Visiting The Courts Garden and Great Chalfield Manor

After the great day out at Malmesbury Garden Festival and Abbey House gardens on Saturday, how to entertain a house guest on Sunday?
Having looked at my National Trust book, I found The Courts Garden and Great Chalfield Manor were both open on Sundays.
The Courts Garden was full of interest, starting with lovely Aeoniums and other lovely plants in the conservatory:
 In the borders, there were many different sorts of tulips
 Fabulous Epimediums:
 And lovely clipped hedges like CBeebies' Abney and Teal
And the long vistas are superbly thought out and planned

This bed with yellow and red tulips worked really well
From The Courts, we walked across the fields, Holt's industrial past ever present in glove factories and other fascinating industrial buildings ripe for some sort of use, including this well head dating back to 1720!
So lovely, a detail below
A mile or so across fields and we were at Great Chalfield Manor in about 20 minutes, and were greeted by swallows swooping around the stables
There are lots of examples of living paths
And more wide borders with tulips
And into the chapel where there's the Parable of the Sower stained glass window.
I took a photo of the house and moat on the way out, Great Chalfield Manor is such a lovely old place, and there's lots more to the grounds than I've photographed.
By the time we reached the car, it was 3.30pm, so we decided to go and see our first NGS garden of 2015 in Bradford on Avon. I've saved the photos for part 2 of this post because there were some lovely displays there.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Fergus Garrett at Malmesbury Garden Festival and Abbey House Gardens visit

When I saw the line up of speakers at the Garden's Illustrated Garden Festival in Malmesbury on the 17th/18th of April, I was keen to go. The only problem really was selecting which talk to go to since there were 3 speakers on at the same time in 3 different venues.
The weather was fabulous, with startlingly blue skies above as we prepared to enter Malmesbury Abbey

Having become a great fan of Great Dixter, having visited there, read Christopher Lloyd's biography and become interested in emulating the look in my own garden, I was keen to hear Fergus Garrett, who has been at Great Dixter for 25 years and just received the RHS Veitch Medal,  talk about 'Designing with Plants at Great Dixter'. He spoke so eloquently about planting and I came away with some excellent ideas, I made a few notes which I'll include here, and hope I'm not straying too far from what was said. I think Great Dixter planting aims to create an exotic garden with atmosphere which works by making the eyes work up and down when they look at the garden because they see contrasting tones, textures and shapes, and undulations in the borders. He likes punchy combinations of plants, and certain plants which act as catalysts in combinations, Umbellifers like the diaphanous Cow Parsley do this, it was also described as 'kissing the neck..' of another plant. By showing a huge number of brightly coloured slides, Fergus Garrett was able to illustrate what he was saying about certain plants providing a contrasting backdrop, and demonstrated the fact that the gardens change every year as they play with some pockets with a twist to see if they can achieve the sort of look they are seeking. He was certainly correct when he said the creative element runs through our veins, and I agree that we should ignore the rules on colour and embrace pink and yellow together.
I took a few photos during question time where you get an idea of the slides shown:

The session ran over the hour, and Fergus continued showing more slides during question time, and had to be almost wrestled off the stage by Annie Guilfoyle before he stopped talking. If you get the chance to hear him speak, go along, it's a delight, like the gardens.
Afterwards I thought it would be difficult to top that really, but  the marquee was great, I bought some gorgeous plants including a Turkish Thyme and another Viola Molly Sanderson
These iron supports were rather lovely from
 From there we walked into the Abbey House Gardens, home to Barbara and Ian Pollard, known as 'The Naked Gardeners' for their days when you can visit and take your clothes off. This year it's on 24 May. Rather aptly, the first thing you see apart from a gorgeous Magnolia, is 2 naked men wrestling:
 From there, you see wonderful topiaried box and tulips galore
 with glimpses of the lovely house

 There's also an intruiging wild part across the river with lots of fish in evidence

 Above the house from the woods, and below a gorgeous Rhodedendron
 Altogether a fabulous day out, I hope Garden's Illustrated hold it again next year.