Monday, July 23, 2012

Chelsea Physic Garden

By happy chance I found myself with time on my hands in Chelsea last week. I weighed up my options carefully. Coffee and croissant of course. Then a morning flexing the curiosity of my retail antennae along the Kings Road.

But, best of all, in the afternoon sunlight, I ducked under the trailing greenery that all but obscures the modest gateway to the Chelsea Physic Garden. I had been meaning to visit this garden for years, and as soon as I felt the yielding curve of the worn stone threshold under my feet I knew I was in for a treat. Ancient red brick walls shield an extaordinary oasis that for over three hundred years has been tended by deft fingers and scuffed by diligent gardeners’ boots. You can literally taste history here.

The garden was founded in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries of London as a learning ground for their apprentices, so they could grow medicinal plants, collect new species and study their uses. 
Dr Hans Sloane took over the freehold of the garden in 1712 and still keeps a watchful eye from his central pedestal. His heirs continue to collect the £5 per annum rent, from the charity that now runs the garden.

I couldn’t help but envy the precisely cut edges of the multiple weed free, well labelled borders... and even more, the army of gardeners moving quietly up and down with their clippers.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Eye Country Market

I honestly didn’t mean to get distracted yesterday.... but after a fruitless search in my veg patch for a beetroot big and beautiful enough to paint, I suddenly realised that if I grabbed my shopping basket and stepped on the accelerator I could just make the couple of miles down the lane in time for the weekly “Eye Country Market”.

As I swung into the car park on the dot of ten I could sense the purposeful, migratory gait of the town’s more senior residents, anxious to secure their weekly cottage pie.

This is a truly local affair. Allotment holders are chuffed to be the first to offer firm and glossy courgettes... and grateful to get shot of a glut of broad beans. Ladies in regulation checked aprons preside over an array of freshly baked scones and quiches and delicious jams and chutneys. And the green fingered offer a great selection of plants for the garden, or a bunch of country cottage blooms for the kitchen table.

Alas, no beetroot this week, but my consolation prize was a pot of local honey and some Verbena seedlings, and a cup of tea with a ginger nut before the doors closed at eleven sharp!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Glory of the Garden

“Halfway down the garden
is a bench
where i sit.
there isn’t any 
other bench
quite like
With apologies to A.A. Milne, I have been sat on said bench wallowing in the spledour that is summer; enjoying the sun on my back, the thrum of busy bees and the flute-like whistle of happy blackbirds, while scarlet poppies frolic in and out of burnt orange day lilies.
Now any diligent gardener will tell you they never, ever get a chance “just to sit” on their own bench.... 
which is why I am always accompanied either by my lunch.... or my paintbox....

Catch these paintings and more in the "Glory of the Garden" summer exhibition at the Old Chapel Gallery, Pembridge, Herefordshire, from 7th July onwards.