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Posts Tagged ‘plants’

a visit to the house of Kawai Kanjiro was truly inspirational -not only for seeing the artworks of the folk potter himself but really for the chance to enjoy the garden that has been created around the house .

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a very unassuming door sign belies the treasures found within.Typically first appearances were deceptive.. a very closed black entrance way …

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and what was behind the door ? – a magical almost musical box of a house clearly crafted with storage,space  and light in mind.

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from one moment we moved from soaring ceilings to another more intimate series of small collections of text and images .

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simple crafted furniture pieces set like sculptures

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with an economical use of materials and a wonderful resonating patina of age and use

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and then the views through the windows and out into the garden

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from pots , to giant kilns, to artfully organised plants and sculptural pieces

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A lucky cat with some money on his head – a winner !

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and then there was a ghostly gheisha caught through a shoji screen portal !

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a great calmness came upon us as we wandered around this perfectly crafted space

 

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plants carefully chosen seemed to have a particular vibrancy and vigour in this protected space and those plants who arrive by chance also eagerly exploit the situation to their own ends !

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p1010748Its not just size that matters – Space matters in Japan .Finding that luxury of an inch  is precious, so making that every inch count in gardening terms is crucial. And so it is with squeezing your green spaces into an urban environment.

p1000632Looking for a leaf- squeeze it in a brick-thick slither of ground next to your front door.But it has to compete with all the other paraphernalia of life at the same time.

p1000690Looking for that green gasp of texture – shoehorn it into a pot or container artfully cramped on the threshold.There is rare beauty captured in a second.

p1020166Collections of pots seems to work as well to build up a range of textures and variations on a theme – very much a theme of -green.

p1000651And there is of course the very essence of the thing which is all about control and discipline.An ikebana of a paring down to what is essential and what can be taken away until all you can see is the chosen plant or planting. The bare essentials of a garden.

p1010298I admit I feel like I am in a bit of a strait jacket here in this place.Straining against the constraint .Japan – This place of extreme control.I long for our wide open space of Sussex Prairies. I yearn for that voluptuous exuberance of planting again .. oh for that luxury of space.

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We are delighted to be joined this season by Jeanne Argent and her sculptures. Come and see how their merge so beautifully into our landscape.

My work is informed and inspired by the natural world and in particular the plants and trees in my garden.

jeannedargentimage1The Downs and the coastline of Sussex are also a source of inspiration and I observe and combine these subjects to produce shapes and patterns which I explore to make sculpture, prints, textile and mixed media works.

jeannedargentimage2The sculptures are modelled, moulded and cast by me in low number limited editions and are made of Cement for outdoor display. I also make smaller indoor pieces, some of which are fired and glazed ceramics.

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www.jeanneargent.co.uk

jeanneargent@gmail.com

01273 842565

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DSC01407or rather, Pocket sized propagation of plants in Bhutan .

This post is all about the ingenious ways we saw plants being grown on a small scale in Bhutan . It was not so much about formal fancy gardens , but more about  reusing what you could find as a container , thus reducing waste and promoting recycling and creating your mini garden around your house or appartment.

DSC01480Gardening for decorativeness is not high on the agenda  of many Bhutanese who let it be said ,are more concerned with the greater importance  of living day to day and eking out a living from either their small shops , businesses , plots and fields clinging to vertiginous slopes and  the ever so demanding landscape.

DSC01947So it was with a strange fascination that I started to photograph the many ingenious and curious ways in which flowering plants were nurtured and obviously enjoyed by the Bhutanese around their homes.

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A popular vessel was the ever rubbery car tyre .. A staple and popular plant pot around prayer wheels.. often cunningly embellished with a painted design but tin cans ,oil containers,plastic bottles also proved useful  and were all stripped down and made into pots for plants. Geraniums did feature highly on the list of favoured house plants with many still flowering gamely at incredible altitudes and in all sorts of dusty corners.DSC01962

DSC01693There was obviously always someone with a soft spot somewhere keen to prettify their space or home with flowers and foliage. I rather liked their reckless and fanciful combinations too and a spare corner or space could prove useful for that prize cobbled together collection .Here is a group of plants at the village prayer wheel . This plant hoarder even risks having his collection  being knocked off by  an over exuberant prayer wheel turner !

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DSC01501Last year we were heading to Bhutan in November and December  and at the back of our minds was the very haphazard and unformed intention that we may have the opportunity to collect some seeds on the  way . It was the best time of year for seed collecting too .. the dryest time and the clearest time weather wise. Travelling in a group of four with a car, we knew  that we would be able to call the shots a bit and collect en route  as we sped onwards from East to West across the whole country. Well we weren’t very prepared from the start . Suddenly confronted with a plethora of seeds at our first stop we were scouring our pockets for any packets in which to put them.. oh my goodness where are the envelopes..?  the seed collecting envelopes we had looked out for the trip were now ,of course ,sitting smugly at home . DSC01506So stage one was finding a shop to try and buy some envelopes . Bhutanese is not our first language so trying to explain to our guide what we were looking for, and thence conveying that to a wrinkled darling  of a shopkeeper deep in the shady and dark recesses of the first shop we came to, was the first job to do. She delved into a black hole of wares and came up with a large pack of envelopes. Sorted. DSC01773Then it was matter of finding the seeds … never on a lovely flat safe roadside .. no… always on a vertiginous , scarily plummeting  escarpment. We had to lean dizzily over the edge as we reached for the tantalising seed heads .. ever so just out of reach.It was a matter of trying to fashion grabbing and hooking tools to pull stems towards us . It was a question of Paul leaning out over the abyss and being held by his shirttails by a scared and fearsome wife. Underfoot a scree of peril could plunge you to your doom at any moment . The best specimens always seductively out of reach… wagging their rare and special seedheads in torment.. just a step beyond the outstretched hand. DSC02001Do the professional plant hunters have this sort of trouble ? in their multi pocketed jerkins looking the part they always seem to portray that smug satisfaction of another specimen under their belt with very little trouble. They do not bear the scratches and strained tendons from yet another death defying scramble up or down a rocky heartbeat of death cliff face. Armed with their trusty encyclopaedia of plant books they are naming names and taking notes… we are a little less prepared … as you might expect . Arriving in Bhutan without any plant books we are lucky enough to find the equivalent of a Spot the Plant Peter and Jane plant identifier .. it is somewhat  basic and is not the  type of erudite and scholarly tome one would have asked for but it will do ! Not surprisingly the whole genus of grasses was absent . And surprisingly it is pretty good after all and we managed to name and identify a good portion of all we managed to collect … but there are some unknowns …. And so the stack of envelopes grows and we pore over our haul every day like some fiendish hoarders of rare and exotic treasures . Which of course to us they are ! DSC02129Now we are home again we unpack our smuggled seeds and take stock. Real plant hunters will turn in their graves.Our lacksadaisical approach to gathering and collecting is interspersed of course with a good deal of  relaxing and gin and tonics en route ! Here is Paul doing just that after a heavy morning of seed collecting and Dzong visiting ! DSC01523 Not for us the carefully and studiously annotated descriptions … more like some undecipherable scrawl in a leaking biro, spidery and at a strange angle on each envelope.. you are lucky if it can be read . We were swerving wildly up and down the gradients of death and shaken to bits by the rocky road surface and writing , even reading, anything on those roads was impossible. And as for a pristine and uncontaminated milieu for the seeds  … Now I am not at all surprised to find  stray yak hairs stuck on the envelope gum or have to peel off Druk beer labels or find crumbs of cheese from the swiss cheese factory caught up in the envelope store.This is plant hunting Sussex Prairie style . We cannot wait to see what we can grow this spring from all that we have collected ! Just wait and see !!

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A new Exhibition on the Prairies :

Jill Tattersall will be coming to Sussex Prairies at the beginning of our open garden season  (June 2013 ) bringing her glorious artworks to exhibit in our Garden Room. As an avid fairy tale connoisseur I am intrigued by Jill’s alter ego the fantastic Mr Wolf . But we shall be talking about the Red Riding Hood factor later !

Jill  opens her house every year as part of the Artists Open Houses season (now on until the end of may 2013 ! )and the Wolf at the Door welcomes all manner of talented artists and crafts people to exhibit in an airy and lovely home and garden setting. So we feel very honoured that Jill has chosen us as the next crumb in the trail of breadcrumbs through the forest .

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Who is this Madame Lupino ?

Jill says :

I’m a compulsive taker of cuttings, sower of seeds and maker of gardens.  I used to earn my living as a medievalist and became interested in herbals and old books and encyclopaedias describing plants and their properties. 

I also loved seeing how people imagined and depicted gardens in earlier civilisations, before perspective complicated things!  Egyptian tomb-paintings, Persian garden rugs, the hortus conclusus of roman or medieval times…. Allotments haven’t changed that much over the millennia.  In hot climates with the desire for a place of coolness, privacy, quiet, and luxuriant growth the idea of the garden of paradise was never far away.

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So plants and gardens, their patterns and colours , their ebb and flow with the seasons, have been an important part of my art. Recently
I designed a curative herb garden in the shape of a medieval world map at the inspirational Dilston Physic Garden in Northumberland.  Drawing, history and plants all in one!

Most of my work is quite time-consuming. I often make the paper for a piece before I even start painting.  Colour is a predominating consideration in everything I do or make, and I use many combinations of paints, inks, dyes and pure pigment to build up intense colour.  I also use recycled and found bits and pieces where I can.

I’ve had many solo exhibitions all over the country and done quite a few garden- or plant-based commissions.  Ask me if you’re interested – recent examples include fig, medlar, quince, aubergine, kiwis, ginkgo. 

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How Jill Works : in her own words

Mixed media is a polite term for a messy and complicated way of working.  For a start, I often make the paper I work on.  Then, for any one piece I may decide I need plaster, glue, paints of various sorts, pigments, inks and dyes and a range of found or reclaimed materials.

I make the paper I use in my pieces outdoors when I can.   It’s a watery process involving multiple splashes and puddles and needs lots of drying space.  I start off with sheets of cotton fibres which I soak, pulp and then form into sheets – or cast over shapes – using a wire mesh screen.  The water has to be squeezed out and the sheets pressed flat.  This makes a beautiful and slightly unpredictable surface to paint on.

If you’re interested, ask and I’ll tell you more!

www.jilltattersall.co.uk

www.facebook.com/MadameLupino (Wolf at the Door)

www.facebook.com/pages/Jill-Tattersall

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This week Paul and I are very honoured to have been asked to help The Sussex Beacon gardening team with supplying Sussex Prairie plants for a mini prairie  bed in the wonderful Beacon garden .Located high up on what must have been a former fire beacon position the unit snuggly nestles into the hillside and curves around its slopes . The garden is set at its heart.

Having met with the volunteers we worked out our plan of action  ! Firstly Paul and I will design a simple planting scheme using some of our signature prairie plants that would fit the garden perfectly and then the plan is that the team will come out to us and help propagate the plants that will go into the border . Propagating from our immense plant stock here in our garden we will have a choice of  super varieties. Having set them going in our polytunnel we will then plant up the space in early spring hopefully in time for a bit of colour to be emerging in readiness for this years Garden Gadabout in June and July.

The Sussex Beacon is a dedicated HIV centre , which has been at the forefront of specialist HIV service delivery since 1992. The ten bedded unit cares for people recovering from serious HIV related illness and supports those initiating new drug therapies or struggling with the extreme side effects of antiretroviral medication. And at the heart of the unit is a calm restful haven : the garden. Green space and the peaceful courtyard will be the perfect place for the plants we love to encourage bird and insect life into the garden. The gentle noise of grasses moving and the soft colours will be beautiful there.Paul and I are really looking forward to this project and getting to know further the wonderful volunteers who are working to make the whole place such a success.

 

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