Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Welford Park Snowdrops and Plant Fair

Welford Park was mentioned to me recently as one of the best places to visit in the area to see snowdrops, how many other places compete for that? It's not a question of competition of course, but enjoying all the places with snowdrop collections, they are all glorious in subtly different ways often.
Last Thursday 23 February the garden was open and there was an added excitement of a Plant Fair, and challenging weather conditions in the form of Storm Doris which blew hard all day, and caused mini whirlwind storms throughout the park. It is a beautiful place to visit, only a short distance from Swindon, northwest of Newbury, and open only this week from Weds 1 March- Sunday 5 March from 11am-4pm before closing until the Boxford Basques when it opens between 26-30July, and then closes until next spring's snowdrop event.
I tried to capture the snowdrops in their profusion in the woods, but it wasn't easy, the best way to describe them is they are like bluebell woods with snowdrops instead of bluebells.

 I took lots of photos, but they all look a bit the same!!
 You can see there are carpets of snowdrops

 There are chalk streams running through the woods:
 and suddenly as we went to look round the garden beside the house where there were lots of different varieties of snowdrops, sadly not named, the sun came out, and everything looks much better
 This was a lovely snowdrop, Galanthus Green Comet?:
 A bunch of those pearl like snowdrops which don't open very much
 We had a look at the church, rebuilt in the 19th Century, St Gregory's church is one of two in the country with a round tower and large spire, many of the ancient interior artefacts remain.
 By late afternoon, it looked glorious in the sun
 and here's a photo of the lovely door.
Five days left to visit and see the snowdrops this year!!

Snowdrops on the Lawns

The Lawns was once the site of the family manor house belonging to the Goddard family, the abridged information below my photos is courtesy of Wikipedia. From 1563 until 1927, the Goddard family were lords of the manor in Swindon, and had other interests elsewhere in the area.
I went there last Wednesday to look at the magnificent snowdrops with two friends who had come to visit.
 The day was a bit dull, but the snowdrops as you can see from the photos were at their peak despite the windy weather.

 There were beautiful carpets of them at the edge of the wooded walkways.

The Lawns estate in Swindon

The estate included the area known today as the Lawns, and was bounded by the High Street and the site of Christchurch. The Manor house was rebuilt around 1770; it is probable that this was on the site of a mediaeval building. The Manor building was known as Swindon House until 1850, and is now known as the Lawn.
The family home was a double-cube fronted building of brick with stone dressings and a baluster parapet. To the east of this was a five bedroom dining block that looked out onto the gardens.[1]
When last occupied by the family, the Lawn had an outer and inner hall on the ground floor (giving access to a lobby and drawing room), a dining room with adjoining study, billiard room, library and gun room.
There were two staircases leading to the various bedrooms, some with adjoining dressing rooms and also the nursery and servants' quarters.
The grounds included an arboretum, lawns, artificial lakes and ornamental gardens and was used for entertaining, garden parties and fĂȘtes. During cold periods the frozen lakes were used by the family and local residents for ice skating.
The Lawn Manor House c.1900
The Lawn Manor House c.1925
The Lawn garden c.1920

Aerial view The Lawn Manor House c.1930
Holy Rood Church

The last of the male line, Major Fitzroy Pleydell Goddard, a diplomat, died in 1927. His widow, Eugenia Kathleen, left Swindon in 1931. Subsequent to this, the house remained empty until it was 

occupied by British and American forces during World War II. Damaged by the military, it was bought from The Crown by Swindon Corporation in 1947 for £16,000. The sale included 53 acres (210,000 m2) of land, the Manor house and the adjacent Holy Rood Church.[1]
The house itself was derelict by 1952 and demolished. The Manor grounds were opened as parkland and remain so. Today; the wood, lake, sunken garden, elements of the walls and the gateposts at the entrance to Lawns are all open to the public. The site of the former stables was the Planks auction house, now it has been converted into residential accommodation.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Second Snowdrop Day at TWIGS

TWIGS planted 10000 snowdrops last year, intending to have wonderful displays of them this year, their major event was last Sunday, 12 February. I didn't visit then, but was keen to go today when I discovered they were opening again.
The snowdrop theatre by the gate was lovely, displaying several different varieties of snowdrops looking very healthy:
 I particularly liked This one which is G. S Arnott
 and this one which is G. Comet
 There were snowdrops all around the round house
 in hanging baskets
 around a mound
 And here's the other side of the mound with a giant metal snowdrop on top
 and here's another amazing snowdrop sculpture rather in shadow
 They are also open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10.30am-3.30pm, well worth a visit at any time of year.
We are donating the proceeds from our Original Artwork Lottery held during the Swindon  Festival of Literature  to TWIGS this year.

Cotswold Farm Snowdrops

Cotswold Farm at Duntisbourne Abbots near Cirencester is arguably one of the finest places to see snowdrops in the area. The garden is beautifully designed and last Monday the sun shone brightly on the south facing garden. This is what the website says:
'Cotswold Farm has a fascinating, family friendly Cotswold garden, overlooking a quiet valley on descending levels with the Terrace designed by Norman Jewson. The Snowdrop Collection was begun in the 1930’s and further developed by Ruth Birchall in the 1980’s and 90’s, now boasting 62 varieties. There are many named snowdrops in the borders and swathes of naturalised snowdrops in the woods and along the woodland paths. A Winter Step Garden with scents and textures leads down to the Bog Garden. Hellebores, cornus, aconites, cyclamen, crocus and sarcococca abound'
I took plenty of photos and would encourage you to visit, it's open on Monday 20 and 27 February 11am-3pm, entrance fee £5 and there are some named snowdrops for sale and aconites.
 I love the differences between varieties of snowdrops, I think this one below is Galanthus Daglingworth
 and this one is G. Mary Biddulph, Mary gardened at Rodmarton Manor, and encouraged her cousin Lady Elwes at Colesbourne Park to take an interest in snowdrops.
 Below this is G.Greatorex
 Below a clump of G.Colossus, lovely large snowdrops as the name suggests. I bought one of these.
 On the way down to the bog garden, there's a series of very impressive,clipped box hedges
 Below a view of the field beside the bog garden
 and the bog garden looking a bit shaded and so hard to appreciate:
 More clumps of snowdrops:
 The glorious Leucojum Vernum which look like special snowdrops
Walking up from the bog garden, past the waterfall and lovely stone building, there are masses of snowdrops on the bank

 And under a tree very near the house, there was a carpet of aconites
 and a lovely clump of G. Backhouse nearby
 I didn't take any photos of the woodland walk with carpets of different varieties of snowdrops.
There are 2 days left to see this lovely collection of snowdrops in a beautiful setting.

Freezing Mist on the Way to Avebury

Amazingly enough, it's only just over a week ago when there was freezing mist on the Ridgeway on the walk from Swindon to Avebury. With temperatures in double figures this weekend, it's hard to imagine cow parsley and trees with masses of ice frozen onto them from the mist.
I managed to take a few photos before my phone stopped working because of lack of reception, next time I'll take my camera.
 I like these 2 photos of Cow Parsley heads
 and this below looks a bit like a dock seed head
 More Cow Parsley:
 A tree had amazing effects on the branches
 As we neared Avebury, the temperature increased and the winter wonderland effect disappeared.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Christopher Le Brun Coming to Swindon this Wed 15.2.17

When you stand in front of a monumental painting, whether in size, or because of the effect it generates within, or both, it's fascinating to wonder how it came about, what the artist did subsequently, what motivated them at the time, and many other questions.
The Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery like to ponder these sort of questions as well, and if it's possible, they ask the artist to come and talk to them.
This is how Christopher Le Brun who painted 'Hyperion' which has been in the Swindon Collection of Twentieth Century British Art for the last 35 years was invited to come and do an 'in conversation' with Curator at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Firstly here's the painting which measures over 2 metres square:
Since then Le Brun has been prolific on canvas, in bronze and print making. He has been President of the Royal Academy since 2011.
If you click on the Royal Academy link, you can find out lots more about him.
I think it will be a great event, so here are the particulars:

It's at Swindon Dance, Town Hall, Regent Circus, SN1 1QF parking at Morrisons car park across the way from the Town Hall, or it's 10 minutes walk from Swindon train station.

It starts at 7.30pm on Wednesday 15 February.
Tickets cost £6 for members of the Friends, and £8 if you haven't yet joined.

You can buy tickets at the museum until 3pm today, Sat 11.2.17, or online at www.friendsofsmag.org
or on the door on the night.
The dance studio seats 98, so there should be room for everyone.

On a visit to Roche Court last year, I particularly loved these Le Brun sculptures:
'Union - Horse with 2 Discs', seen below, appears in a slightly different form outside the British Museum, it was on their website, but they have changed the front page now.

While looking for the British Museum page, I discovered Le Brun had also designed a 50p piece in 2009, celebrating Kew Gardens, it's a view of the Pagoda. He says:
"Like the London Red Bus, the Kew Gardens pagoda is an instantly recognisable symbol and rather to be cherished for that reason. So I decided not to resist such a strong image but rather to enjoy drawing it. The tower's identity and perpendicular clarity is very useful in a design. I had the idea early on that plants should twine around and grow up through the tower."
Come and hear him talk on Wednesday.