Sunday, 30 August 2009

NGS Annalal's Gallery

This was my last garden in the project for the NGS, the smallest garden being only 32ft x 12.5ft but don't be fooled by it's size. Size isn't everything, as they say and that is definitely the case with this garden. I say garden but this garden came with a very interesting 100 year old cottage, tucked down a small lane in the heart of Christchurch in Dorset.

You need to enter the garden via the cottage and a knock on the door was answered by Lal, brimming with enthusiasm and ready to show you his work, which is truly amazing. Lal is an artist specialising in wood. As you enter the front room, you are met by a large rocking horse and every nook and cranny was filled with his creations. The pieces are carved, smoothed and waxed to perfection from the large pieces which included a wellington boot, to tiny pieces for which he has had to make tools to create.
Tucked away in an alcove was Anna, who is also a Royal Academy artist. Her paintings and drawings have an ethereal quality about them, calm and serene, which was a perfect compliment to Lal's work and personality.

After leaving the front room, you enter the walled garden, with its high walls clothed with plants. Around the garden are their works of art. Lal's in wood and Anna's paintings and sculptures.

Pencil Gate leading to 2nd patio

Pencil Gate

It Started With A Kiss

Bit of Rough

Kitty in the bushes

Wooden Knot beautifully painted with flowers

3rd patio at the top of the garden a cosy corner

Honeysuckle by the seating area

One of Anna's paintings


Fish Sculpture

This is just a flavour of the paintings and sculptures hidden in the garden. When you visit the garden, Lal tells you the stories behind the pieces, which adds an interesting dimension to the garden.

A sculpture of Lal almost hidden from view

This home and garden are quite unique, together with Anna and Lal and their fantastic talents, a garden worth visiting next year.
Anna holds classes at her home and details of those, together with her work and Lals woodwork can be found here Take a look, because my descriptions do not do their work justice.

Finally the last portrait of the project. Anna has recently had an operation on her eye but still kindly allowed me to photograph her, with Lal. (The tie and waistcoat Lal is wearing are both made by him)

Anna and Lal Sims
I am so glad I finished this project with Annalal's Gallery. A very enjoyable experience to round off an enjoyable summer. I have met some lovely people and visited some beautiful gardens, not to mention sampled some yummy cake, all in the name of research you understand! My favourite for flavour was Betty's cake at Knowle Farm (the secret ingredient being Mascapone cheese as the filling) and the lovely ladies of the WI at Herons Mead, made cake that was so light it nearly flew off the plate.
I now need to edit all the photographs and then send them to the NGS to use as they wish.

I started off this project hoping it would raise my profile as a garden photographer and finish it thinking that it doesn't really matter if it doesn't. It's enabled me to regain my confidence as a portrait photographer, got me out of the studio, where I spend my days photographing products, very enjoyable but not a lot of opportunity for interaction and I am helping a charity, so win win I feel.
I have slightly neglected my garden, as the project has been quite time consuming but with the Dahlias at their best; there's always another year to get it right.

Yesterday I spend a wonderful day visiting Sarah Ravens garden in East Sussex but that's for next time.

Monday, 10 August 2009

NGS - Cottesmore Farm

This was the first rainy NGS garden I have visited. It was only drizzle and that was intermittent, so it didn't spoil the enjoyment of this truly wonderful garden.
The owner Paul Guppy had once worked at Compton Acres in Poole and that definitely shows in the layout and the planting of the garden. He is a real plantsman with an extensive knowledge of all things horticultural.
One of the long borders full of perennials, bamboos and palms
When Mr and Mrs Guppy moved to Cottesmore Farm, ten years ago, the field in front of the house, which is now a garden with winding paths and full of wonderful plants, was just an empty blank canvas for them to transform to a luscious, tropical garden. They put in the trees first to act as a wind break and then planted the Trachycarpus, which you can see dotted about the garden. Mr Guppy grew these from seed and it's quite remarkable how mature these look together with the rest of the garden, in such a short space of time. His secret it seems is tonnes of fish blood and bone each spring and I think that's a tip I shall use, albeit on a smaller scale.
Crocosmia Lucifer a star of the garden border this time of year
Not only did I love the planting in this garden but it was also full of plants with amazing texture and form.
I have a passion for Gunneras, so when I spotted one at the end of a long border, I made a beeline for it.
Gunneras are so prehistoric looking, with their enormous leaves and thorny stems
I love the colour and texture of the bamboo
To the side of the tropical and perennial borders is a wild flower meadow, which on a sunny day is full of butterflies.
Wild Flower Meadow
Perennial Sweetpea
After leaving the wild flower meadow you cross a small tarmac path which runs to the side of their bungalow.
The garden which surrounds the bungalow, is full of the most lovely perennial plants and shrubs. The garden is bordered by a black metal estate fencing with a 5 bar gate which really sets off the planting beautifully.
Pink Phlox
This garden is full of wonderful and unusual plants. Mr Guppy is a very knowledgeable plantsman and was always happy to answer questions regarding his plants and his passion for gardening really shone through.
Paul and Valerie Guppy
Cottesmore Farm is definately one for the diary next year.
I have one more garden to photograph, which I am really looking forward to, as it's owned by a couple who are Royal Acadamy artists.


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