Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mansion Pond at Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place is Kew Gardens in the country - down in Sussex.  We visited recently and this is my sketch of the Mansion Pond.

Mansion Pond, Wakehurst Place, West Sussex
pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils
copyright Katherine Tyrrell - all rights reserved
We have a new sketching routine - he does his crossword while I sketch.  Periodically "he who must not be bored while I sketch" asks me for answers to clues.  So far it's working well and I'm getting longer periods of sketching!

About Sketching Trees

I find I have a tendency when sketching plein air to do the big shapes and I sometimes end up losing the sky holes in the trees - plus the edges which indicate the depth and recession.  Plus the changing sky behind the trees does tend to mix things up a bit - first it's white cloud and then it's blue sky!

This is where photography does come in handy for restating those sky holes!  I go round with my battery powered eraser when I get home and pick out the holes again.

Plus my photos help to remind me what was in front of what in places where there's just a big morass of mixed up greens.  Mostly I don't need to be too specific but in this sketch there were a couple of areas where restating the relative values of the foreground and the background helped with the overall structure of the greenery.

I've also started using a Rembrandt Carbon 308/3 Pencil to reinforce darks and I find this very useful for the dark values which you can get with very large pines!

About Wakehurst Place

Interestingly I've got two passes for free admission as I'm a Friend of Kew and a member of the National Trust and Wakehurst allows free access to members of the National Trust within the UK.

The garden has 465 acres of ornamental gardens and woodland comprising temperate zone trees.  There are ponds, lakes and streams in the garden plus lots of shrubs and trees and not a lot of flowers - although it does have a magnificent iris garden and a heather garden.

It is wheelchair accessible in part but also has some very steep inclines which limits the scope for walking for people with limited mobility.  That includes me because when my dodgy feet start to rebel and give up I have to hold on to somebody to walk up steep slopes.

The different status of the paths are usefully indicated on a map when you get there - but this is not obvious from the websites of both Kew Gardens and the National Trust.  However the Kew Gardens/Wakehurst Place does have a downloadable pdf file of a map of the garden at Wakehurst Place - if you spot it.  In my opinion, it's very good - and the paths are well waymarked as per the map - however the map could do with being in a much more prominent place on the website so that people can check out the nature of the garden and its suitability for visitors before visiting.

Map of garden at Wakehurst Place - available as a pdf file
Red marks the very steep paths, yellow marks flattish paths suitable for wheelchairs
Wakehurst Place is also the home of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank which I have still to visit.  The botanical/nature fans will probably like their Seed Bank Blog
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the largest ex situ plant conservation project in the world. Our focus is on global plant life faced with the threat of extinction and plants of most use for the future. The seeds we save are conserved outside their native habitat.
Address: The address for Wakehurst Place is: Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TN.

Opening Times: From 10am every day except Christmas Eve Christmas Day.  Closing times vary with the season.


  1. Fabulous sketch. Trees are always a problem. I tried trees this week with plein air and watercolour and achieved a mess. Looking at yours I'm wondering if I need to learn the basic shapes of trees in pencil and then translate that into loose watercolour. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I find it certainly helps to study the big shapes. It then makes it easier to see what it's in front of you - to separate out the different shapes and colours - before you have to start putting them all back together again.


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