Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Good Gardener




Casting a professional and caring eye over the garden of Greys Court in Henley is this charming carving in ash of Charles Taylor, who was the gardener there from 1937 to 1955. It's always such a pleasure to walk around these gardens and as Greys Court is now open all the year round the visitor can enjoy it in all the seasons. Adjacent to the 12th century tower are these arched ruins.



My young friend and I visited Greys Court last Sunday and as we wandered around we came across this rare Tudor Donkey wheel which was in use right up until the early 20th Century.






Being early spring right now, blossoms of every descriptions adorn the extensive gardens.



But we wanted to stroll through the beautiful bluebell woods a short walk away. Because of the recent very heavy rainfall the paths through the woods were a trifle muddy but well worth the visit.










Finally we had a look round the new shop where I noticed they were selling postcards of my oil painting of Sir Felix and Lady Brunner which was commissioned some years ago.



I don't remember whether I mentioned the story behind this painting, but when Lady Brunner asked me to do it Sir Felix was very ill and suffering from Parkinson's disease. I could paint her from life but as Sir Felix was frightened of strangers and was bedridden the only pictures she had of him were small passport photographs. So it was virtually impossible to make the painting without at least seeing him. However one day Lady Brunner telephoned me to say Sir Felix was having a good day and could see me if I pretended to be someone else! The three options I was given were - the new butler, the gardener, or the man from the National Trust. I opted for the third choice knowing nothing about butlering, and precious little about gardening. Although at our brief meeting he couldn't talk to me I could study his face enough to undertake the portrait. While I was working on it I needed to borrow his walking stick and pullover so I had to borrow both items for short enough times so he didn't miss them.
Artists don't often hear comments about their work so as a PS I was told some years later by Hugo Brunner - their son - that the vicar of Turville ( a nearby church) told him that whenever he married a young couple, during the service, he would advise them to appreciate what love is in old age by visiting Greys Court and looking at my painting. That compliment was nice to hear.

My young friend is having a makeover in her garden. She bought her first new house last year and while the inside is just about finished, as the garden slopes fairly steeply, it seemed like a good idea to take some drastic action and cut the lawn to a level surface and build raised beds, make a brick path, and lay the foundations for a decking area at the bottom of the garden to eventually house a pergola and seats. So we found a young strong French gardener to do the work. I made a scale model of the garden to show him how we hoped the design would eventually turn out. He started last week. When all is finished I'll post on my blog a picture of the model, the garden as it started out, and the final result. That should be in about 2 months we reckon. In the meantime here's a photograph in a corner of the patio showing the wisteria amongst one or two other plants that will soon be planted out.


As usual my week's been very busy with miniature painting. I went for a blood test and CT scan at Dunedin Hospital during the week so hope all is well when I see the oncologist next Monday. A client came over yesterday to pick up the pencil drawings I'd made of three more of his grandchildren. I'd framed them all within ovals - one was a baby - but here are the other two -





Now it's back to the drawing board - or possibly the boat today, as we spent yesterday afternoon cleaning it.

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