Sunday, November 13, 2011

Autumn Colour at Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park - 29th October 2011
pen and ink and coloured pencil, 11.5" x 16"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Following on from my last post about our visit to Sheffield Park at the end of September (see An Indian Summer (and ice lakes) at Sheffield Park), this is just a tiny sample of the Autumn Colour I saw at Sheffield Park when we visited again at the end of October.

I've never come across a National Trust property before which increases its charges to non-members for a specific period of time in the Autumn - but that's what happens at Sheffield Park.  "He who must not be bored while I sketch" noticed it on the sign so we were rather glad we'd just had him made up to the other half of a Joint Membership of the National Trust.

The garden is 120 acres (49 hectares) and has four lakes which means about a third of it is water.  In Autumn it becomes very specicial because it is, in effect, an arboretum - a collection of trees of both native species and ones from overseas.

In terms of history, the park was first laid out by Lancelot "Capability" Brown (1716-1783) in the 18th century and was subsequently remodelled by Humprey Repton (1752-1818).  There's little indication of they did although it seems likely that Brown cleared some trees and undergrowth to open up the landscape and Repton attended to the part of the garden which is nearest to the house.
‘Such is the power of vegetation at Sheffield Place, that every berry soon becomes a bush, and every bush a tree.’Humprey Repton
The first Earl of Sheffield was responsible for the balustraded bridge (1882), the cascade and the Middle Lake. He also started the arboretum.

A gentleman called Arthur Gilstrap Soames (1854-1934) acequired the house in 1910 and was responsible for introduction of the vibrant colour in the garden - and all the visitors!

He planted trees which were North American in origin, such as the Tupelo Gum and Scarlet American Oak which contribute signiifcantly to the autumn colour.  Other trees which he also planted in abundance included Conifers, cypresses and Japanese maples - with the acers also contributing very significantly to the autumn colour.

Clumps of lakeside rhododendrons were planted next to the lakes - and were a favourite of Virginia Woolf - and beds of autumn gentians can be found in the garden.

Certainly it's a very fine place to see and to paint in Autumn - particularly given the reflections of the colours of the trees in the water of the lakes. The photographers are also rather keen on it. I think I saw more heavy duty expensive cameras with huge lenses on our visit than I've seen for a very long time.

This sketch was done from the north eastern edge of the top lake - looking across the lake.

Arboretums are certainly a great place to paint and draw landscapes in Autumn - if they have the right type of trees!


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