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Category: Art and Sculpture

for gardeners interested in art. Sculpture to enhance the garden

Mixed May Month

Mixed May Month

I love Iris as much as Iris love sunshine so we are both happy with this May’s weather. The Thuja occidentalis conifer offers a cool photographic backdrop after coming through a frosty patch of weather in early spring

Lupins are not just for Christmas in fact they are not even for Christmas. They are definitely one of our families favorite hardy perennials for use in a mixed border.

How I regret not remembering the name of this bulb that I planted several years ago. Now it is maturing nicely with many flowering stems and is becoming a distinctive feature plant.

A hardy stand by Ceanothus that I propagate from cuttings. The only draw back for me is that other growth habits, including prostrate  and tree forms cannot be propagated from this one plant. (Clone is as colnes does). Ceanothus is also called or known asbuckbrush, California lilac or soap bush,

Azaleas in this gloomy corner have survived for several years and I keep promising myself that I will add some other varieties when can I find a place to plant them.

My wife would see the back of this Mahonia to make the space I crave for Azaleas (they both like slightly acidic soil). The sharp leaves ‘needle’ her but I like the all year round interest the plant provides.

The slabs of paving provide a path through a short Japanese section of the garden which utilises bark chippings rather than a gravel mulch.

Rabbits breed harmlessly in this part of the ornamental garden. A new acquisition last Christmas was the door as an entrance to the gnomes homes (221b Baker Street elementary my dear watsonnia – is that freudian or the name of my bulb in the third photo)

Having a Good Lilac Season 2020

Having a Good Lilac Season 2020

Sorry if this post is a bit repetitive from one at the beginning of May but my mind is socially distanced from my memory. My garden lilac has never smelt so good but I am sure the colour has been stronger in previous years.

The white lilac has been OK but lacks pizzaz despite the blue skies and strong sunshine. Perhaps it is a lack of focus and I should polish my photography skills.

The best varieties have been the darker purples which I have spotted on my lockdown compliant walks around the village. Ten years ago the gardens looked very different.

Ideas for Better Garden Photographs

Ideas for Better Garden Photographs

Compose your photo shot with care to get the image you want and only that image. In this photo the moss and drainpipe do not add anything to the desired result so they need to be cropped out for the next image where ‘Carols’ bucket takes center stage. If the original has been taken with high resolution the cropped image will not suffer. The spade could have been aligned better to show the handle.

Know your cameras capabilities and take several shots until you find an image you like. Be self-critical of your work and regular practice will help to get better results next time

Despite standing on the low wall to look down on the garden only the crazy paving benefited and I should consign this to the compost (I mean the recycle bin). The aim was to have a foreground that didn’t compromise the key middle ground and then a background that didn’t distract. Shame that this photo failed on all aims with the neighboring houses standing out and catching the eye and the key middle ground achieving nothing much.

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How a dark background can show white flowers at their best

How a dark background can show white flowers at their best

The cast in order of appearance: Cactus Dahlia; Rosa Rugosa; Lenten Rose Helleborus orientalis; Moth Orchid Phalaenopsis; Water Lily Nymphaea alba; etc.

Organic forms have been popular art subjects not least those inspired during the Art Nouveau period. This selection of flowers will not be easy to replicate in drawings or paintings as the contrast between dark greens and bright whites does not leave many half tones to balance the picture. Probably your efforts will prove me wrong.

Black Arts of Painting White Flowers

  • It is all in the shadows hence the phrase ‘black arts’ or should that be grey?
  • A grey for shadows can be made with Prussian blue, Alizarin crimson and cadmium pale yellow but I use dilute versions of manufactured grey.
  • Take care with the colour, depth and tone of your grey for shadows.
  • Do not be tempted to surround flowers with leaves as an easy way out.
  • Focus generally falls on the area of greatest tonal contrast.
  • Shadows on a vase look better if composed in a way that it can be placed on the side nearest the edge of the canvas. It avoids halving the picture.
  • Try painting on coloured paper or paint a dark background.

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Round Tuits

Round Tuits

When I was younger owned a disc of wood taken from the thick branch of an old tree. It was engraved ‘Round Tuit’.  It was designed to prevent procrastination and putting off the evil day. Creative avoidance is still a part of my routine and even today I find myself saying ‘I will do it when I get round to it!’.

The title is just an excuse to show a couple of tree photographs that have made me smile in the past. These pleached hornbeams at Harewood House need someone to regularly get round to trimming and pruning to keep them in good order.

The multi stems on this conifer could have made a large number of ’round tuits’ if they were sliced  but I hope no one in this generation will feel the need to chop down this magnificent specimen.

A reminder to get on with some gardening but I will do it after a sit on this adult version or grown up ‘Round Tuit’.

Greening Public Spaces Peel Park Bradford

Greening Public Spaces Peel Park Bradford

Early crocus amongst leaf litter, the only good litter feeding the soil

Wet weather reflects on the tree roots
There is still colour to be found not least on these Rowan berries Sorbus hupehensis
Listers Mill
Listers Mill in the afternoon light with a ring of trees on the horizon and in the foreground.

I believe the willow is beginning to show the first sign of colour so spring will soon be on us.Christmas is long gone but only 311 days to go before the next

Flowers Suitable for Art Painting

Flowers Suitable for Art Painting

I am no botanic artist and I am too old to learn and train but I do appreciate a good source photograph to paint in oils.

This clematis bloom captured at an RHS trial gave me inspiration to get it painted.

Colours Contrast and Tone

  1. Seldom are white flowers exclusively white but a mix of many colours and shades. School boy physics explained that white light could be split by a prism into all the colours of the rainbow.
  2. The light source is full-on yet there are graduations of tone that stop short of full shadows.
  3. The overlaid petals and the veins seem lighter and brighter.
  4. The bottom leaves are dark blue-green which helps them to recede and provide much needed contrast.
  5. Aesthetically I like the pistels and the lime green colouring.


  1. The focal point is the flowers center. I could drop the intruding leaf from the left if I thought it conflicted with the prime focus but the round shape is pleasing.
  2. The picture takes the eye round in a series of circles and ellipses and keeps the eye within the frame.
  3. The colour scheme is simple and not too complex but the execution may be more problematic.
  4. The focal point may be a bit too central but is offset by the second flower. In any event the final painting can be skewed left or right if desired.

I will attempt a painting and ‘may’ even show the result later

The Iceman Cometh

The Iceman Cometh

Norwegian Iceman Sculpture Cardiff

As if all the heavy rain has not been bad enough the icy weather is just around the corner. Jack frost will be nipping into your garden this month and may stick around for 5/6 months or so. It is worth revisiting some of the issues and options gardeners face.

Early Preparations

  • Consider your water features including both still and moving. I start by lagging my outside taps and draining hosepipes.
  • Be prepared for frozen bird baths and ponds with means of breaking the ice.
  • I have cleared moss of the paths and hope to reduce icy slips.
  • Check out hessian wrapping and/or horticultural fleece stock. I always remember to buy it when the frost has bitten.

Plant Protection

  • Every gardeners tip says do not walk on frozen grass the stems become brittle and snap.
  • Give tender plants shelter in a greenhouse, cold frame, window ledge or under some cover.
  • Mulch well to protect roots.
  • Sweep snow falls off the leaves and branches to stop them being permanently damaged.
  • Wrap banana plants, tree ferns and exotics in sacking or other frost prevention measures.
  • Some plants, particularly alpines, suffer more damaged from water than frost . So maintain drainage and don’t panic in the frost
Long and Short Gardens

Long and Short Gardens

Begonias look best in groups or where they are given the opportunity to demonstrate their colourful dexterity. (Most of my photos are produced uncropped but in this case I done some editing).

Honeysuckle tends to ramble upward and is not easy to do it justice with a photograph. Here are two attempts.

Long vistas benefit from repetition of planting. These dwarf rhododendrons and primula denticula make the point