Friday, September 26, 2008

Gardens and Botanical Art

Tropical Sussex - a work in progress
8" x 10", coloured pencils on Arches HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Do you draw inspiration from natural forms? Do you like observing everything about plants? If you do you probably like gardens and you may have become interested in botanical art.

Speaking personally, I love trees and plants and flowers - and gardens, but I guess regular readers of my two blogs may have guessed that by now! I'm even thinking about doing a series about trees for my series project!

Plus I love visiting gardens where you can see them all to their best advantage. I find I sometimes look at a plant in a completely new light when spotting it in a garden I'm visiting. That's what happened to me this summer when visiting Great Dixter - I suddenly saw the leaves of the Canna in a wholly new light. It was like looking at some marvellous abstract sculpture - and I was hooked. I spent simply ages looking at them from every angle and observing how the colours changed every time the light changed. They then took up residence in my head and are demanding to get out - but it's a lot easier said than done!

Great Gardens of the World

What I want to do is share what I know about good gardens to visit and I'm very much hoping people with share with me which are the good gardens that they've visited.

One of the ways I'm doing this is by developing a series of information sites for those interested in great gardens around the world. Below you'll find a lits of the information sites for the first gardens - which have all been created on Squidoo - plus the group site which will hopefully include sites created by other people in due course. People familiar with my travels with a sketchbook will recognise a lot of the names. I've got a lot more in draft but thought I'd share these now with people who want to catch Autumn Colours somewhere new this year - or maybe just take a virtual tour!

What I'm trying to do with these is provide you with all the practical information about what's there and how to get there but also something of a taster of what it all looks like by finding sites which have photos of the gardens.

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

Over a million people visit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew each year. The 300 acres of gardens and botanical collections are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means they rank alongside Stonehenge, the Pyramids, and the Taj Mahal!

Sissinghurst Castle Garden - a great garden

Sissinghurst Castle Garden is probably the most famous 20th century garden in the UK. Find out more about this extremely popular garden whether you love Sissinghurst already or aim to visit in future, in reality or as a virtual visitor.

Great Dixter - a great garden

Great Dixter in East Sussex was created by Christopher Lloyd and is a garden which is extremely popular with gardeners who like plants and flowers. Find out more about this extremely popular garden whether you love Great Dixter already or aim to visit in future - for real or as a virtual visitor.

Bodnant Garden - A Great Garden

Bodnant Garden in North Wales is one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK and is world-famous. It comprises lawns, terraced gardens and is noted for its botanical collections and wide range of plants.

The Great Garden Guide

Visit the great gardens of the world to find out how they got that status! This site provides information about guides to the great gardens of the world.

HELP PLEASE: I have also included a section about Blogging about Great Gardens - so if you've done a blog post in the past about a great garden then let me know and I'll include a link!

Great Gardens Headquarters Whether you're planning to visit a great garden soon or just want to pay a virtual visit, this group contains links to some great gardens.

Botanical Art

I found out yesterday that Valerie Oxley, who specialises in botanical illustration and is a member of both UKCPS and the Society of Botanical Artists has just had a book published - Botanical Illustration.

Botanical Illustration by Valerie Oxley
Crowood Press (September 2008)

Valerie's botanical art credentials are impressive. Valerie developed the Diploma in Botanical illustration at the University of Sheffield, Department of Lifelong Learning (TILL). She's also the Vice-Chairman of the Northern Society for Botanical Art and the Chairman of the Florilegium Society at Sheffield Botanical Gardens.

Valerie also teaches across the UK and this book will be particularly welcomed by Valerie's past and present students who have been urging her to write about the subject for many years!

I've not seen the book yet - but I have taken a peek inside it here - and it looks very interesting.

You can read an outline of what Botanical Illustration is about and what topics it covers in this post on the UKCPS News blog Botanical Illustration by Valerie Oxley.


  1. Great post, beautiful gardens, and *GORGEOUS* drawing!

  2. What a beautiful drawing. I envy you your sense of colour and design. I too enjoy trees and their fruits. Recently I have been "drawn" to the wonderful patterns and colours of tree bark. I think this might be my theme for the winter. I just love the bark of the London Plane. We have two magnificent specimens in the woodland gardens in Bushy Park. We visit Hampton Court Palace Gardens regularly, and until last year they had a large Pomegranate which grew masses of flowers and fruit. I was lucky enough to be given permission to pick a couple of sprays to paint. I was very upset this year to find it had been removed. It was growing against a wall in the rose garden and I guess they decided that it didn't fit in.

  3. Thanks Belinda!

    Jenni - I'm also a huge fan of the London Plane. I've tried drawing them in the past and I'd like to get a lot better at them.

    What a pity about the Pomegranate! I've never been to Hampton Court Palace although I could always do the river trip and make a day of it!

  4. Really pretty piece of the canna. I like to use cannas as subjects. I have been lucky to find many different colored ones on our plein air outings (lately a couple of plant nurseries). Those and banana leaf trees. I seem to find and do one or the other every week. I think the group is getting bored with my same thing every week. But I'm happy. Thanks for sharing the gardens you visit.

  5. This is a beautiful drawing. Love the colors. Thanks for the garden info. Flowers and plants are inspiring.


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