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architecture garden design garden photography gardens open to the public Land Art Norfolk outdoor sculpture sculpture

Houghton Hall Part 1 – Richard Long at Houghton

This post, one of two about Houghton Hall in Norfolk wasn’t published at the time so here it is now, found again and ready to be sent out albeit rather late!

Richard Long is one of our favourite land artists and until this year we had only seen a few isolated examples of his work. While travelling towards our holiday venue in Norfolk we noticed, as we drove along, large signs advertising an exhibition of his work at Houghton Hall. We could not believe our luck! We soon set aside a day to visit the garden and exhibition.

The exhibition was called Earth Sky and we had seen a few of the pieces there in the past and thought it a great location for his work.

There were a couple of pieces we particularly wished to study, “A Line in Norfolk” and “North South East West”. We have already seen a similar piece to “A Line in Norfolk” at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park a few times over the last few years. There, the line of sandstone ran like a perfectly straight path into a lake. It looked amazing and magical. The other piece we wished to see had been featured in a magazine article and simply looked so perfect and satisfying sitting dead centre in a room in the house itself.

“A Line in Norfolk”

   

“North South East West”

  

As well as the pieces exhibited within the grounds a selection of much smaller pieces were on display along a corridor within the hall itself, delicate prints on driftwood and recycled pieces of wood.

    

Long experimented with splashes of white paint carefully and very deliberately thrown nto wall recesses previously painted black in readiness. The effects were fascinating and got the creative thinking going in overdrive. We saw simple but beautiful patterns, water falls, landscapes and much more within the lively white paint marks.

“White Water Falls”

I shall put more “White Water Falls” pics in the following gallery along with more photos of Richard Long pieces from his exhibition at Houghton Hall. Enjoy!

 

 

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allotments garden design garden photography gardens gardens open to the public kitchen gardens Land Art landscapes sculpture

A family holiday to Scotland – Part 3- Little Sparta

For a long time we have wanted to visit the garden at Little Sparta near Glasgow, so when holidaying nearby we just had to pay it a visit. Often places you have waited for with high expectations turn out to be less than you hope for but Little Sparta proved to be more than expected. Jude and I visited with our son and daughter-in-law, Jamie and Sam and our granddaughter Arabella, a twenty-month old garden and nature lover.

Little Sparta is the garden created by artist Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006).  It was started 50 years ago, created from the natural landscape and is described in the leaflet given to garden visitors as “a beautiful and shaded place, with trees, flower beds, running streams, bridges, ponds and paths, which lead you past more than 200 artworks many of them carved with inscriptions that will take you into the world of classical Greece and Rome, poetry and philosophy, but also the French Revolution, naval ships, armed conflict and weapons of war.”

So we arrived with expectations of surprises and originality.

We parked in the tiny carpark and followed a rough gravel track for almost half a mile up the slope to the garden entrance. We can’t remember visiting many gardens without vehicle access at least reasonably close. The walk up took us through beautiful Scottish farmland complete with sheep and cattle.

 

The gateway presented a warm welcome but was somewhat of a trick as it was not the actual entrance to the garden which was a short distance along the stone wall.

 

With every turn of a path new and very varied vistas presented themselves, close tight places and larger open landscapes.

     

Surprises in the form of stone sculptures and stone calligraphy add to the delight of this garden and help us understand its designer.

     

A real surprise was a fruit and veg patch which had the feel of a true old-fashioned allotment.

 

 

 

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countryside garden design garden photography garden ponds gardens gardens open to the public outdoor sculpture

An adventure to get here – Canwood Gallery

Canwood Gallery in the Herefordshire countryside is found after miles of narrow winding lanes and so is decsribed as “an adventure to find” on its website. We visited this outdoor sculpture gallery after hearing of it from Graham and Vivky, my brother and our sister-in-law.

The driveway led us to a beautifulbrick and timber house wrapped in a garden and fields in beautiful countryside. We started wandering around to the sound of a tractor at work. Apart from that the place was silent. Some sculptural pieces were situated close to the house or even leaned against farm buildings.

 

An indoor gallery set in an old combine shed held an exhibition called “In the middle of  somewhere.”

Starting our tour of the outdoor exhibition spaces we were attracted to these two corten steel pieces. Follw my mini-gallery to follow me as I walked around the pieces looking through them to the spaces beyond.

Close by two large heads looked over the countryside.

Sometimes we both find odd pieces not to our taste and this one made us feel nothing.

When studying some sculpture pieces it is the detail that attracts, such as with these figures, one in wood the other stone.

Simply titled “The Bull”, this piece created from two finishes of metals was full of strength and movement.

Moving pieces always add interest to a collection of static pieces. This figure moved with the breeze most elegantly, catching the light as it did so. Enjoy my mini-gallery to follow her changing positions.

After being mesmerised by her gentle movements the following pieces appeared strong and static.

From the fields we entered the gardens through a metal gate to enjoy the sculpture standing comfortably among garden plants. Two pieces, “Birds” and “Lady of the Lake” are sharing the water of the pond in front of the cottage.

   

I will put all my photos of the other sculptures in to gallery for you to enjoy.

 

 

Categories
autumn autumn colours lakes lakes and reservoirs Land Art landscapes light light quality ornamental trees and shrubs sculpture Shropshire trees woodland woodlands

Lakeside Sculpture

Shropshire’s “lake district” is situated to the south of the North Shropshire town of Ellesmere, where several meres cluster together. We have known about the sculpture trail around the largest of the meres for a time but have only recently visited and explored the trail. We took advantage of the visit of my brother Graham and his wife Vicky, who love the same sorts of days out as we do, to go to find the trail.

It was worth the wait. We wandered slowly around the lakeside finding a wide variety of sculptural pieces. Once we had parked the car and had our usual coffee and cakes, we found a few pieces in a sloping field opposite. As we entered the park alongside the lake we were treated to views of the church through the trees.

The theme of the sculpture collection was the history and life of the market town of Ellesmere. The first large piece, large enough to explore inside in fact, was based on the barges that would have plied their trade on the nearby canal. The sculpture was created from steel with cut out features in places which gave light a chance to penetrate and play with shadows.

 

The lakeside parkland held collections of mature trees which cast long shadows across any open patches of grass. We periodically enjoyed glances of the wide expanses of the mere. As we followed the gravel pathway further around the lake we discovered varied sculptural pieces.

  

We failed to fully work out the meaning and context of the first piece we discovered on the lakeside, which resembled a relief decorated shield wrapped around a pole. We studied it for a while and discussed several possible ideas but eventually walked off still baffled!

 

This huge metal bee towered over us and beneath him was a stack of logs acting as its plinth. Each piece of wood was drilled with holes making each one a home for solitary bees.

 

Large morrainic boulders were positioned close to the lakeside and on closer inspection we discovered they were homes to a small groups of bronze pieces, mostly connected to the nunnery close to the mere and other town features.

     

Moving further into natural woodland and away from the parkland, we discovered a tree-house carved from a dead tree trunk and a beautiful tall, graceful shiny metal piece. pierced with a wide hole giving views over the sparkling water.

    

Our favourite piece of all was the furthest along the walk but well worth the wait. It was called SShhh and was simply this word carved out of a single piece of wood which stood a good 6 ft tall. It was beautifully positioned in a clearing where the ground was covered in fallen autumn leaves. It looked most impressive sat beneath tall Beech trees and their long sharp shadows! It was beautiful to touch and the light fell on its cracked surfaces creating sharp shadow-lines and increased the intensity of its textures. Enjoy following the photo sequence below taken as we walked closer and closer to SShhh.

Alongside SShhh we found long trunks of old fallen trees to sit and rest upon. A seat had been carved out of one leaving a perfect resting place. We enjoyed studying the fallen leaves, with varied colours and textures. After a short rest we made our way back to the town where further pieces of sculpture awaited discovery. Unfortunately when we got back the light was going so we decided to continue our exploration of the sculpture trail at a later date.

 

Categories
architecture buildings colours garden design garden designers garden photography garden ponds garden pools garden seating gardens gardens open to the public grasses hardy perennials light light quality meadows ornamental grasses outdoor sculpture Piet Oudolf reflections sculpture Tom Stuart-Smith water garden water in the garden

Post 500 – Part Two – a further visit to the “Oudolf Field”

As promised I am returning to the beautiful county of Somerset where Jude and I spent a day exploring the exciting new “Oudolf Field” and the gallery buildings at the Hauser and Wirth’s Durslade Farm.

We left off as we were looking at the pool and giant clock. This is the first time we have seen any water designed into an Oudolf designed garden and indeed the first one to include a giant clock. The pool afforded clear reflections of the trees surrounding the site and was only planted around the margin closest to the buildings to give the maximum area of reflecting water.

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The tall clock towers over the pool and its white face stands out against the brightness of the blue sky. I would imagine it would look great against black clouds too! It casts a beautiful lollipop shadow across the golden gravel. Its face looks like a big circular disc but it is in reality asymmetric in design, which causes the minute hand to move out into clear air as it moves into the narrow side.

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Although the planting is lower than in his previous gardens Piet Oudolf still uses many of his favourite plants such as Sanguisorbas, Echinaceas, Verbenas and Heleniums.

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We had a break for coffee and to look around the galleries before wandering the gardens again as the sun dropped slowly in the sky and the light gave the meadows a fresh look.

We were enthralled by a gallery where a display of Oudolf’s garden designs helps reveal how this garden designer’s mind works. We loved the designs and working drawings and “idea jottings” of this garden here in Somerset as well as those from the New York High Line and the Wisley Garden.

Moving from gallery to gallery each courtyard space is softened by more of Oudolf’s plantings, featuring trees underplanted with grasses and perennials. The sculptural pieces sit comfortably among the old farm buildings with their richly textured surfaces.

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Enjoy the gallery of photos taken in the sparkling late afternoon light. It is amazing how different plantings can look as the light changes within just a few hours at this time of year.

The next post in my 500 Celebration series will find us over in Hertfordshire where Tom Stuart-Smith lives. We had the privilege of visiting his own garden and the one he designed for his sister.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
community gardening garden design garden furniture garden seating garden wildlife gardening gardens gardens open to the public natural pest control outdoor sculpture poppies recycling sculpture wildlife Yellow Book Gardens

A Wonderful Community Garden

Returning from a few days away down south we made a diversion from the direct route home to visit a community garden in the Wiltshire town of Swindon, a town renowned in its heyday for manufacturing everything to do with railways at their peak in the era of steam.

As Jude, aka The Undergardener or Mrs Greenbench, and I are involved in running an allotment community garden we were keen to see what was going on at TWIGS, another community garden which like us open under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme.

TWIGS stands for Therapeutic Work in Gardening in Swindon, which proved to be a perfect reflection of what goes on in what we discovered to be an amazing and caring enterprise.

It was hard to find even though the directions in the NGS’s Yellow Book made it look simple. We navigated our way around the bypass searching for the right exits and often failing, until we found the right district. We wriggled through industrial and business parks in search of a garden centre which shared its grounds with TWIGS.

When we successfully arrived were welcomed by this cheerful planter alongside the gateway in. Once inside we immediately spotted colourful borders and rows of busy polytunnels.

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Come around with us now as we wander the paths of TWIGS discovering their wonderful work.

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The staff and volunteers here help their clients who have problems of all sorts, to regain their pride and confidence through raising plants, looking after chickens, making bird boxes and insect homes, creating gardens and crafting sculptures and much more. The plants raised are used both in the gardens and for sale in the little nursery and the nestboxes and insect homes are found around the site to encourage wildlife as well as for sale to visitors.

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The gardens themselves are peaceful places, calm and quiet and great places to relax in or retreat to. The gardens are managed using organic approaches and in partnership with nature. They must have such a strong effect on those who care for them or like us just visit them.

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There were some original ideas here too created by the clients, such as this sedum planter.

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We found wandering around TWIGS a most enjoyable, relaxing and enlightening experience. It shows what can be achieved by dedicated people who want to use gardening and working with nature to improve the lives of others. It was good to visit another community garden which proved to be very different to our own at Bowbrook Allotment Community.I shall finish with this set of pictures which illustrate what TWIGS is all about. A sunken retreat had been designed by an artist in residence and built by the TWIGS clients using all recycled materials. It is a peaceful place to sit and widlife has found homes within it.

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Categories
garden design garden photography gardening outdoor sculpture

Garden Art

When we work in the garden we like looking at the bits of broken pottery, metal and glass that we unearth. I presume most of us gardeners do the same. Ever since we first moved to our garden here at Plealey ten years ago we have been collecting together the more interesting pieces without a thought of what we might do with them. Our bucket filled up until recently I thought I would select out interesting pieces that would go together to make a few pictures with.

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We chose square white frames to give simple plain backgrounds and I managed to create these three pictures.

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Here they are in more detail. I hope you enjoy looking at them – I certainly enjoyed making them. I like their simplicity and crispness. I photographed them outside on the lawn when the sun would add shadow but they have a place waiting for them. We intend to hang them on a wall outside which is painted a pale cream colour.

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