Now that April is here and we have a holiday weekend, it is inevitably time to start getting serious about the garden. Seedlings are already in the grow house or on window ledges, but now it is time for lawn mowers and large tools. All very well, but these are stuck at the back of the shed, and the floor space is taken up by the garden seat, table and chairs which have been wintering under cover, and have provided a useful perch for watering cans and the like. I think it is going to take most of the weekend to unearth all the tools we need to begin another year of adventure in the garden.
Once the front garden is alive with the blues, yellows and pinks of bulbs, you can be sure that Spring is here, and if things are not quite all right with the world, than it must be taken as a sign that better times must surely be on the way.
It is also a time when we can be fooled into thinking that is safe to plant out our seedlings, only to discover that there is still plenty of time for frosts to upset our plans.
In the meantime, it is the perfect opportunity to sketch the colours of Spring.
With Winter fast approaching it is good to have a memory of Summer and the thought that one day it will all return. Meantime, there is always something to enjoy in every season. All you have to do is let it find you.
Growing silently and unmolested by any unwanted intruders in the vegetable garden, this is the largest, so far, of a row of North Holland Blood Red onions. I always like to paint any produce like this whether it is from the garden or brought home from the shops. I particularly liked the range of colors from dark red, through Burnt Sienna, white and greens on the stem. It also has very white roots.
The Rudbeckias are doing most of the work supplying colour in the garden at the moment. There are other things but none as brash or self-assertive as these tall brightly coloured flowers. There are some marigolds which can compete in colour but not so much in height. They do very well in their own little world.
I wanted to paint these before they succumb to the weather and lose their petals.
Although these Tomatoes have their roots firmly in the grow house (a miniature glass-house for those not so horticulturally disposed), they have grown enthusiastically enough to be bursting out of it in all directions, and this vine has become rather top-heavy. The late Summer or early Autumn sun has them ripening by the day and their colour changing almost as one looks at them.
Sketched in Imperial Gardens behind the Town Hall in Cheltenham at the beginning of the week, while waiting for the car to be serviced. Very colourful and looking especially nice in the sunshine. The good weather is meant to stay until mid-week and then go downhill.
Our fig tree has had access to more light this year which means it has grown and looks very pleased with itself. Unfortunately, it hasn’t had so much sun, so a lot of the fruit will not have the chance to ripen. The rich colours of the insides always come as a surprise, but always fun to add to the pages of a sketchbook.
Sometimes I use my sketchbook to play around with ideas, try something different, without meaning to create anything in particular. Here I was using a stronger ink line in the sketch, making it play a more dominant part in the finished drawing instead of having it disappear beneath the watercolour when I paint over it. Apart from having the side of the watering can coincide exactly with the centre line of the sketchbook, which is bad designing on my part, I quite like the look of this sketch.
I also like the way the watercolour has behaved. I made the main grey area from French Ultramarine, Indian Red and Yellow Ochre, mixing them very loosely and allowing them to merge on the paper. I also like how dark they went when I added a little Winsor violet. There is also a little Cerulean Blue on the top of the can and on the handle.
Painted in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook portrait format 8×5 inches.
The Poppies have been beautiful this year and are always a welcome addition to the garden whether planted on purpose or a gift of Nature. Although their delicate petals do not always last long once the wind blows, their tall elegant seed heads add another sculptural element to the borders.