Wednesday 13 November 2013

A passion for Pansy and all things red

I've been deciding what to paint next once I've finished with the garden bird theme. I've been a bit mad and ordered twenty new canvasses so I have to hope the painting bug won't abandon me just yet. I also bought two ridiculously small paintbrushes. I never thought I'd ever use anything so fiddly but they should be just what I need for all the fine feathery detail. Normally Laura and I paint with big brushes and always recommend students do likewise to free them up from the terror that grips when faced with a blank sheet of paper. Rules are there to be tested so I'll see what happens when I try them out!

There are four paintings already printed to fabric and made up as pincushions and another four in the pipeline. I had a message from someone who said she couldn't bear to stick pins in bird pincushions but you'll notice we couldn't either - we're such softies the pins only go around the birds!
Seeking a new theme to work with I've been looking at my photo collection and having realised that I take more photos of this Forest Pansy in our garden than of anything else I'm wondering if the garden could provide yet more inspiration. This time showing my obsessive passion for all things red.

We bought the tree after seeing lots of them in a fabulous garden in Brittany. It looks wonderful for much of the year but now that the cold weather has arrived these last few forlorn leaves hang like red silk handkerchiefs. I worry about it surviving through the winter and compared to other plants it's a late starter so I am always relieved to see the buds burst in May.

Even the fallen leaves stop me in my tracks. How's this for a beaded treasure? It's no wonder I am inspired by nature when I have all these beautiful things right outside my window.

I must have inherited this love of colour from my mother - she knew I'd love the Cotinus she gave me for my birthday. It's settled in well and glows like a beacon. He who gardens tells me I can't have everything red but it's always the colour that draws me. This is going to be spectacular when it gets bigger.

Despite my advancing years usually I don't 'do' purple like the other old ladies but on a shrub it looks good doesn't it? It's a variety of Callicarpa if you're interested. The berries are such a surprising colour against the bare twigs and it makes a change from red although I guess purple does belong to the red colour 'family'.

It's definitely a good year for berries. Decorating the house for Christmas should be easy this year.

Now for something completely different - I get lots of emails about my baking. The cold weather has driven me back into the warm kitchen - no hardship there then! Today's loaf is Paul Hollywood's easy white loaf and I have to admit, in the interests of research I've already sampled the crust and yes, it does taste as good as it looks. All we need now is the spicy pumpkin soup - roll on lunchtime!

Talk to you again soon - thanks for visiting. Linda


  1. Well if your garden is anything like mine, and I don't think it's that different, you have a way to go yet if you're going to document them all!! I think our count is about 33 at the moment.

    The bread looks great as does the bottle of Campo just behind it!! I'll be round later. lol

  2. Well spotted Amanda - I'll have to crop the pictures next time before I get a reputation!

  3. Me too (popping round I mean) I'll bring some cheese to go with that crusty bread and the wine!

  4. Wow, sounds like we might have a party!

  5. I fear the bread and the Campo will be but a distant memory by the time I could get there from the West Coast of the US. :) Don't worry too much about your Forest Pansy. I have one that is about 20 years old and our climate is not very friendly ( Summer highs of 105F and winter lows of below zero.) Ms. Pansy comes through like a champ and rewards me each spring with her beautiful pea blossoms. I chuckled at the desire to avoid the bird on the pin cushion. I had thought the same thing. Enjoy the bread!

  6. What temperature is cold for you? its -4 C. here in northern BC. Lovely pincushions!

  7. Hi Jeannie - Good to hear your Forest Pansy has lasted so long. Ours was damaged by a summer storm when high winds broke a big branch this summer. Trees are always so vulnerable when there's so much weight of leaf aren't they?

  8. Hi Caroline - I know we can't compete with BC temperatures but it gets cold enough here. The night before last we recorded minus 3C and that put paid to the last of the summer begonias which had been flowering like real troupers right up to this week.They're just mush today! Roll on spring!