Thursday, 21 May 2009

NGS Garden Wincombe Park

As we walked down the leafy lane towards the house, I felt a little bit daunted. It was the first garden of my project and I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't at all worried about photographing the plants or the teas but I was concerned at how the portrait would go. My biggest concern was the fact that I didn't want to get in the way, when the garden owners could potentially be feeling stressed and very busy and therefore feel irritated by my asking them to pose but my concerns were totally unfounded as I found out later that afternoon.

When we reached the house, Mrs Fortescue and her helpers were setting out the tables and chairs and adorning them with chequered table clothes and vases of bluebells, freshly picked from the woods. I introduced myself and Andy (I introduced him as Andrew my partner, which sounds better than Andy my boyfriend and far more fitting for this occasion and our age!) and left them to set up, whilst I went off to photograph the garden to the front of the house, before all the visitors arrived.

Closeup of wild garlic

Wild Garlic

Closed Hydrangea Buds

Pink Hydrangea

Cow Parsley

At the back of the beautiful house was a wonderful walled vegetable garden, with a lovely iron gate at its entrance.
I've have a passion for walled gardens, especially those with vegetables growing in them for a long time. When I was a child, I had a Ladybird book called Rapunzel and one of the paintings in the book showed a walled garden belonging to the witch. It had rows of delphiniums and lettuces (which Rapunzel's Mother longed for) and that image has stayed with me ever since, so whenever I am in a walled garden, I have happy memories, although the story itself is rather dark, as with most fairy stories.

When I walked through the gate, I was not at all disappointed. The beds were neatly laid out and the young vegetables were thriving.

Walled Vegetable Garden

A little room tucked away in the wall

Orange Tulips

Side view of the house

After photographing the walled garden, I went to partake in a very vital and enjoyable part of the afternoon which was sampling the tea and cake. There were plenty of cakes to choose from and all looked equally as yummy. Serving tea and cakes at these events, enables lots of money to be raised for the NGS and charities of the garden owners choice. In this case it was Riding for the disabled.

Lastly came the portrait. Mr and Mrs Fortescue posed with their two black Labradors and their wonderful cat in front of a backdrop of spring plants.

Mr and Mrs Fortesuce

If you wish to visit this garden, you will have to wait until next year but I heartily recommend it. For my first garden, it was a photographers dream and I am sure my next garden will also be fabulous. I am visiting Knowle Farm at Uploaders near Bridport on Saturday. Lets hope the sun is shining but maybe not so brightly!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

A Well Needed Rest

We have just returned from a holiday to Tenerife. I have never been before and I chose Tenerife because it had guaranteed sunshine (which was sorely needed) and I found a cheap holiday in a lovely hotel, flying from our local airport, 15 mins away, so this added up to to be a winning combination, well it would have been, if only I had been more impressed with Tenerife (we were situated down the south which was a bit touristy, the north of the island seemed much more to my taste) but it was fit for purpose, a nice rest!
On our travels around the island I saw some beautiful wild flowers, growing in the most inhabitable conditions. The island has a dormant volcano, Mount Teide, situated in the middle, which last erupted in 1798, so the soil is very poor especially around the volcano, which is mostly lava and with minimal amounts of rain I'm surprised anything grows.

I left written instructions with my children, on how to water my garden, especially the seedlings, whilst we were away and so when I returned, everything looked good. I had left my garlic and legumes outside to harden off, so they were planted into the beds on my return on Sunday.
The garlic had a good root system, so I am hopeful that I will have better success this year.
My new bed which has potatoes growing, now has legumes growing up wigwams of bamboo canes, has had the sandy soil improved by compost but it still isn't in the best condition. Growing legumes will help because they take nitrogen from the air and fix it to their roots, which will help next years plants.

This summer I am undertaking a photography project, with the consent of the National Garden Scheme, to photograph a number of gardens in Dorset, together with a portrait of the garden owners. 7 garden owners have given their permission and Sunday was the first garden I photographed.
It was totally amazing, a photographers dream. I need to edit the photographs, so in the meantime I leave you with some flower portraits from Tenerife. (Taken on my little Lumix)

Cactus Flower

Echium Wildprettii

Echium Wildprettii Flowers



Unknown pink flower

Unknown yellow flower growing in the lava fields


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