Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Rill Garden at Wollerton Old Hall

The Rill Garden, Wollerton Old Hall
11.5" x 17", pencil and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I'm going to start "Travels with a Sketchbook......in the north of England" with the one garden and one post which relates to Shropshire. All the rest of my sketchbook on my recent journey up north was devoted to Yorkshire and it seems better to keep those posts together in sequence.

This sketch of the Rill Garden is a double page spread in my Daler Rowney black hardback A4 sketchbook - which means it's a big sketch. Getting the perspective right - including all those round box 'puddings' - was a bit of a challenge! The box hedging and mounds were interesting to do. The trick seemed to be to keep mixing greens across the range from dark blue green to light yellow green. I'm not sure I made such a good job of the pleached limes though!

Wollerton Old Hall Garden is a real find. For me it's the nearest equivalent to Sissinghurst that I've ever come across in the north of England - and my mother and I are veteran garden visitors. Lots of small garden rooms - each with its own very distinctive personality. You can take a virtual tour of the garden here.

The really interesting thing is that the garden is not that old and it's still developing and changing. It's also an RHS Partner Garden. This is the way the website summarises what the garden is about.
Wollerton Old Hall Garden is a four acre plantsman's garden developed around a 16th Century house (not open) in rural Shropshire, England. Strong formal design has created many separate gardens each with its own character. It features intensive cultivation of perennials using planting combinations with an emphasis on colour and form, as well as many rare and unusual plants.
The Wollerton Old Hall Garden website starts thus - and I repeat it here as the garden certainly lived up to its plaudits!

A formal garden with exuberantly planted borders set in the Shropshire countryside, in the heart of England.

"Artistry, vision and discipline combine here to make a garden of exceptional quality." - The Good Garden Guide

"This is truely a delightful garden to explore and learn from." - Noel Kingsbury, House & Garden

"This is a garden to be enjoyed - and to be plundered for inspiration"- Patrick Taylor, Daily Telegraph Gardeners' Guide
The food's good too! We had lunch and tea there and both were most enjoyable.

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  1. You did a magnificent job, Katherine! I've been trying to figure out how to sketch my garden in this way but I get very daunted by all that green and all those shapes seen at mid-distance. You've created a gorgeous tapestry of greens and shapes while creating a very strong sense of deep space. I'll try to use this example and see if I can't do something with mine.
    (I hope this message finally posts---Google/Blogger has been rejecting my old ID for some reason.)

  2. Thanks Laura. I find that all that green can be quite disconcerting until you start to push the colours slightly - finding the blues and the yellows and even the reds.

    The other big thing which always helps me with any subject is working out what are the relative values of the different shapes. This was very much the focus of the early part of this sketch and I didn't layer in much colour until I'd got that worked out (along with the perspective of course!)

    I also keep mixing colours but making that obvious so that I never have a flat colour - which just seems to deaden any sketch - unless it's intended to be flat of course!

    Most of the above are all things which you are so good at doing with your watercolours so I suspect it's just that initial notion of looking for all the colours in the greens which will help you with sketching your own garden.

  3. And I've just remembered - the other things which made a difference was 'bottom edges' - an apparently small thing (ie we're talking sliver of darkness) but this made all the difference to those box puddings. Really grounded them and made them real.

  4. Your stuff is always good Katherine, but this is simply stunning. Thanks for sharing the insight into how you achieved it! Excellent work!

  5. Thanks for the very helpful tips, Katherine. Lovely sketch too. I'm looking forward to seeing the Yorkshire sketches.


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