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Archive for the ‘Autumn’ Category

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We have been forging new frontiers – Thursday was  a Lock,Stock and two smoking Trowels day !

Some of our  pioneer plants that have a bit a chip on their shoulder rode into town and rode out again into our New Frontier Border next to the house. These are the thugs and the reprobates of our garden . The ones with a swagger and a bad case of droopy jeans and gringo moustaches. You know ,the no-good  guys in the westerns, the ones with the bad ass attitude and a tendency to cause just a little bit of trouble.

Well we decided that these bad guys should have their day and fight it out at the high noon under the poplar trees, in the driest most inhospitable wasteland badlands. It is a dry , stony , arid strip and the tumble weed will blow through in the dry summers. Inattentive groups from coach parties may well trample them as they descend from their buses and a multitude of dogs may poo and pee on them .Can these plants survive , fight each other for supremacy and establish their mighty kingdoms ?  We have taken the worst of their kind -the big seeders , thugs, ne’er- do- wells , cads and colonisers and put them in a border together to fight it out . Who will win , who will get the upper hand ?

Who is on the Outlaw Roll call ?

These are the awesome eight plants that we have chosen for this stage  of the experiment –

Verbena Bonariensis ,Thalictrum Lucidum,Lythrum salicaria,Erigeron Annuus ,Knautia macedonica,Cephalaria dipsacoides, Foeniculum vulgare purpureum,and Echinops exaltatus.

Is this what they call a Matrix Planting ?

well matrix is as matrix does ! certainly the plants are in a random interlaced pattern of sorts. But the theory is ,and this is the exciting bit which should come to pass in time ,they will make their own pattern and hierarchy as they fight it out for supremacy.The strongest will no doubt survive and the weakest shall fall ! Let the fun commence !

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009Big is definitely more beautiful – of course it is .. especially when the big grasses are part of the picture. In our Sussex Prairies garden  only twenty five percent of the garden is grasses but at this time of year the grasses definitely take front of stage with their impressive stature, dominating presence and architectural splendour.

002Is it the metallic sheen on the grass flower heads that gives that ethereal quality to the whole, or is it the heady wispiness and romance of the flowers that creates such a spectacle ? is it the arching fronds that brush and tickle you as you pass by ?or is it the firey flashes of brilliance in the leaves or seedheads ? it is all of that and more and set in dream partnerships with the later perennials they are crackers !

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High Five !

Here at our top five  grasses for this year-

1. Miscanthus Malepartus

big bold and dark purple flowers  .. towers in at a heady 8 ft tall

2. Miscanthus Zwerg Elefant (dwarf elephant)

flowers unfurl like a curled elefants trunk and then  emerge like crinkle cut chips

3. Sporobolis heterolepsis

grass with presence and fragrance .. imagine freshly cut coriander on a summers day

4. Panicum Frosted Explosion

a real firework of an annual grass but misty and moving at the same time.. a perfect grass as a dream partner in the garden

5. Miscanthus Ghana

feels like a bonfire burning…with all the the firey colours of autumn and the zest and zing of gunpowder.

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On the High Seas

We are very much looking forward to the quirky sculptor Paul Cox coming to our garden this summer . And to kick start his season , he is  joining us for our Little Paper House on the Prairie event and shall be bringing some very large paper boats to float on our ponds and across the grassy swathes.. The seas will lap our shores !

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Who is he and what does he do?

Paul is an award winning sculptor specialising in mixed Media construction. He was awarded the Henry Moore scholarship to study postgraduate sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools, London. His sculptural work is represented internationally in public and private collections.

Paul lives and works in the South-east where he runs a workshop that produces his one off sculptural work and a range of affordable unique items for home and garden . Paul sells his affordable range directly to the public at craft fairs, art markets, open houses and gardens.

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He will be exhibiting in our garden throughout the summer and autumn and at our unusual plant and art fair on 31st august ! From larger commissioned pieces to smaller sized garden stakes and individual decorative pieces you can be sure you will be amused and captivated

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What other people say….

“The art world has been accused of taking itself to seriously, so its refreshing to discover an artist whose work has a tongue in cheek approach”.

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Sussex Life Magazine

“Art should provoke emotions and enrich our lives and Paul offers sculpture with an undeniable boyish charm that is infectious. It is impossible not to smile at, or interact with, his idiosyncratic style. paul’s sculpture thrives on a sense of play, but his work should not be regarded as a novelty. He is a dedicated artist who consciously chooses not to take himself to seriously, providing a breath of fresh air to the contemporary art market”.

Nicolas Toovey 2012

Read More about Paul Cox and see more images of his work on his website www.paul-cox.co.uk.

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024Death by a thousand droplets …..

I picture Marat in his bath… coyly draped in cloths (why cloths  in a bath….?. better wait to bring out the  sumptuous Egyptian cotton bath towels after getting out of the bath !).. (but that’s another lot of questions!)  and I think about the possibility of dicing with death and gargling with tinctures made of the gloriously luxuriant Phytolacca Americana.

The Death of Marat  is a painting by  Jacques -Louis David  of the murdered French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat lying dead in his bath. The painting shows the radical journalist draped languidly and very much dead in his bath on 13 July 1793 after his murder by Charlotte Corday. I had in my mind he had been poisoned too ..but maybe that is not the case .. but it is  a  romantic and very evocative image  ..look it up – it’s great !

In the garden at the moment we are starting to see intimations of mortality as plants start to die in an interesting way …if we were in the Himalaya we would be entering the death zone.. plants are  shrugging off their colours and hues and taking on this motley garb of autumn. All shrouds of decay. Now we are really  jumping in the bath with Marat !

tincturesIt was a herbalist who was telling me about gargling with Phytolacca to cure a sore throat but it sounds a pretty dicey type of medicinal treatment .. the fugu fish of the plant world.. imagine swigging a glass of pokeweed Juice and knowing one false swallow could seal your doom ! Although apparently ,Native Americans  have  reputedly used Phytolacca or Pokeweed as a herbal remedy as a heart stimulant and to treat cancer, rheumatism, itching, and syphilis. Looking at the glossy and temptingly glossy berries I can see why you might be tempted to pick a bunch and , why not , eat them .

and so we have the marvellous saying …..Gardener – heal thyself !

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Anne Kelly – Textile and Mixed media artist –  BFA ATCimg128

www.annekellytextiles.com

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We are very excited that textile and media artist Anne Kelly  is coming to be our artist in residence in our 2014 summer and autumn season. Howver in the meantime she will be joining us on the Prairies for two wonderful workshops.(see details below)

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general information : in Anne’s own words

 ” I trained as a fine artist in Canada and the UK and my work reflects these conventions by interpreting them in cloth. Many pieces are box framed and larger work and installation pieces hang without a frame. I also produce smaller pieces for private and public exhibitions and have work in the vatican collection.

In 2013, I continue to collaborate with other artists and am exhibiting in the UK and abroad. I’m available for consultancy work and I am also happy to accept and advise on commissioned work. I have just completed a major public commission.

i have a studio and teach part time and am co writing my first book on textile collaborations ‘connected cloth’  with Cas Holmes.”

This wonderful book is  now out and on sale !

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Anne Kelly – about me

“I collect recycled fabric, paper and ephemera using collage, stitch, photographic and print processes to create a range of work, most of which is framed. My inspirations are travel, memory and vintage imagery from a variety of sources. These have been described as ‘small worlds’ and my current layered mixed media work started life as mainly botanical in subject matter before developing into larger more narrative works. I assemble and reassemble the components of each piece using sketchbooks and digital imagery. Often it can be a small scrap or remnant of fabric that inspires a whole piece.  I am inspired by natural history and gardens. Collaborations are an important aspect of my work and I enjoy working with other artists and teaching. I also produce commissions for private and public individuals  – examples of these ‘collages in cloth’, based on special places, people and spaces can be found on my website.”

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What will these workshops give me ?

A chance to create a piece of garden/nature-inspired textile art in the inspiring surroundings of Sussex prairies gardens with Anne Kelly. All ages and abilities welcome. The cost fo the day will be £ 50 – you are welcome to bring a picnic lunch. you should bring materials and equipment for stitching including a sewing machine if you wish.

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September 29, 2013: vintage/recycled garden –old and vintage fabrics enhance and give depth to many projects. students will be asked to search through their collections for florals especially to applique onto a square sample. a mixture of couching and hand embroidery will be used to complete the work. The sample can then be made up into a cushion cover, tote bag or framed piece. materials list to follow.

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October 6, 2013: Birds – are everywhere in textile art at the moment – we will make a small bird stencil using a mixture of contemporary and vintage images as source material. this will then be printed onto various types of fabric and used in a range of samples. these can then be incorporated into larger pieces and embellished further by hand and machine. materials list to follow.

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Please contact Anne to book a place on either course and please send your booking request  with a cheque for £ 50 per course  to A. Kelly, 29 Dynevor Road, Tunbridge Wells, kent TN4 9HP

or contact her on mail@annekellytextiles.com  to arrange payment using Paypal.

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Brunnera Mr Morse : looking for Lewis !

Big brassy and buxom , autumn is like a swaggering pirate woman all gold teeth , spotty handkerchief and swirling skirts and at least a cutlass or two. Here in the garden the colours are looking like a bad case of piracy ( too much Johnny Depp I think , that’s why am I obsessed with pirates !) on the high seas. Today it was a glamourous garden still full of colour with spectacular colour in the Amsonia hubrichtii, all gaudy tints and scorching bronze.

Amsonia hubrichtii in full flow

Creeping under the persicaria polymorpha there are beautiful pure white fungi like second magnitude stars as Paul would say, and out on the woodchip paths there is a motley crew of toadstools each one more lush and sweaty than the next. It is all heading for the big showdown at the next big frost when the swashes will be well and truly buckled !

And of course there are leaves .. thousands nay millions of them washed up around the house like an unruly beach combers dream. But not crisp and crunchy anymore .. just a thick wet sludgy mass , most unattractive and not at all kickup-able . So it was time to build a leaf collecting cage …Paul obliged with the four corner posts and then it was down to Tara and I to nail on the wire netting. Now why does hammering look so effortless in the case of Paul and I am still licking my wounds after a run in with the hammer and wire cutters ! My thumb looks like I have got a nasty case of the Black Spot and I might as well have been blind Pugh for the state of the staples and wirenetting. But the leaves are now safely coralled away and can begin their leaf mouldering business !

sun,grass,sun again

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snakily different

What does it mean if a snake crosses your path…is  it lucky ? I count myself lucky that I didn’t actually stand on it so olive green and camouflaged as it was ! and lucky for the snake of course peacefully minding its own business over near the pigs(in fact what was it doing over there ?) that it wasn’t crushed to a pulp by a mighty human foot. I think it was a grass snake BUT  it certainly does not seem to match the photofit  in the countryside book.(see above )It was a stunning olive colour like a piece of matt leather . A beautiful thing indeed and so subtle and smoothly intriguing as it moved, well  rather slithered off onto the woodpile with utterly sinuous perfection . I am sure we will meet again this year as the woodpile will be used for the log fires to come and where will the snake go then..?. well into another wood pile I guess. If there is one thing we are not short of its woodpiles ! So that is three snakes Paul and I have seen in a very short space of time  and that doesn’t count the wonderful sloughed off snakeskin with which Paul would regale horrified visitors from time to time . I think our garden must be so on trend, as snakeskin really seems to be the in fashion print of the moment.
 
My jangled nerves were to be calmed somewhat by an impromptu hoof massage from the lamb appropriately named Chocolate(so named because of rich milk chocolate coloured fleece) I could be charging a fortune for her spiky little hoof massage which gets you in all the wrong places (people do pay for this sort of horrendous treatment ), plus hair chewing for that tousled ruffled and windswept look. These sheep could be running a top class beauty and pampering salon if only they put their minds to it .

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