Well hello 2020, so far Australia seems to be on fire, south Africa in the grip of drought and famine, Jakarta is flooded, Harry and Megan have resigned and we are told by those who are really paying attention (unfortunately not the ones who should be) that we have ten years to get our act together or we are doomed to fry drown or starve before the end of the century if not before.
In the light of all that I thought I would share some of the good things that have happened for me last year starting with my lovely Garden.
I live in Elmer, by the sea, and sometimes I forget what a lovely place it is to be especially when harsh salt winds blow in to scorch my garden plants, but this beautiful September morning I took a walk to see the progress on the improvements being made to our sea defences. There are some lovely old Groynes washed by the sea but as I suspect some of them will disappear under more rocks I decided to do a photo sweep before that happens. I won’t say any more but let the images speak for themselves.
This painting in oils which is 70×70 cm on box canvas started as a wild sketch but as I worked on it in my studio I was afraid of losing the wildness. I find most paintings end up as a compromise between what one sets out to do and what one is able to do. I’m sure I could go on working on it but feel to do so would end up with what I call knitting where all freedom has been lost, not that I have anything against kitting, just not in a painting. No doubt I will see things that need tweaking as it hangs around my studio though.
I know some people think I’m mad planting one of these architectural thistles but I do love them. It looks great against the wall of the house and yes I also know I will be in for a hacking time down the line but for now its lovely and the bees are flocking to it.
Gosh, I last posted here is May. Apart from art trail 2018 has seen the creation of a new bigger garden in front of our house. Someone asked me why at our age we are making the garden bigger. The first practical reason is drainage, as there was far too much hard landscaping and concrete for a narrow road with hardly any drains. The second is simply, I like gardens, but after digging the exposed patch over several times taking out at least half a ton of rocks and concrete that the digger missed, then doing it all over again to incorporate 7 bags of compost I was beginning to ask myself the same question,
The easiest way from there would have been to lay a lawn which would give the drainage but I wanted a colourful patch buzzing with butterflies and bees so as well as the plants I had taken out last year I sent for more with the bee friendly label.
I ordered some in the depths of winter when the first spring catalogues came out and when the tiny things arrived I was assured they didn’t need pampering and could remain outside even in snowy weather. Humph! ‘The Beast from the East’ had other ideas so against advice, I brought the poor things into our cool utility area.
We visited a garden centre in February for quite another reason but I couldn’t resist having a quick look at the plants outside. If you have never visited a garden centre in the depths of winter let me tell you its like a cross between the Marie Celeste and a pub with no beer. There was nobody there but the two of us wandering round an arctic waste with a few heavily discounted plants dotted here and there. In a recent gardening program someone said he was a great fan of the “Half price half dead” way of buying plants. He would have approved of the four specimens I brought home, to be fair they were dormant. I put them outside too but took pity on them when the bad weather came, the result was an obstacle course to get to the washing machine but then who needs to wash in winter?
Against the odds all the plants have survived even after being planted out the day before ‘The Beast’ came back for a second rampage.
It has not been the best year for establishing a new garden with severe frost and snow, then a cold wet spring followed by a Bank Holiday cloud burst which tested the new drainage system to the limit with several inches of water flowing onto the garden from the road and overflowing gutters, and finally a two month drought and heatwave but I LOVE it,
The new buzzing garden has given both of us enormous pleasure and we often have breakfast and lunch out there with the bees. I like to think our neighbours love it too and judging by the passers by stopping to admire and compliment I think they do.
‘Sometimes I sits and thinks but sometimes i just sits’ to quote the converstaion of two old gents sitting on a park bench. That is very apt for me today as I am recovering from having 70 visitors coming to my house to view my paintings and studio over the bank holiday weekend.
I think I will do quite a lot just sitting in the sun today though I may mow the lawn before it becomes a hayfield.
Living in a quiet end of the road place by the sea has its advantages most of the time but at Art Trail time it can be a disadvantage. I confess I get a bit envious of those living in the buzzing city of near by Chichester where there is a lot going on and many close venues to choose from but then I remember how lovely it was this morning to sit out on our new front garden having breakfast and feel the soft (today) breeze from the sea and I feel a lot better. Folk obviously don’t know what they are missing and there is a pub next door with lots of outside tables. But Hey, serendipity I shall enjoy sitting out in the glorious sunshine, a rare event on a Bank Holiday weekend.