Thursday, 21 June 2012

Pear Blossom

Pear Blossom : Acrylic on board (60x50cm)

I painted this in April when our pear tree was in glorious full bloom.


One of the few sprigs of blossom left clinging to a branch after a night of wind
and rain had scattered the petals like confetti.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Woodland Walk : The Mansion

Animal pathway probably used by foxes,rabbits and others.

Continued from previous post..........

We've arrived at the mansion gates.
It's easy to feel one is walking into a fairy tale scene here.

Princess Rosebud,the Sleeping Beauty awakes from her hundred year's slumber.

Illustration from a much loved family fairy story book,circa 1900.

The house,especially the interior feels very much in the same drowsy state as Beauty.

Newhailes House is a Jacobean,Palladian style villa set in 40 hectares of wood and parkland.
The architect James Smith bought the land in 1686 to build a prestigious residence for himself.As a young man Smith had studied for the priesthood in Rome,where upon seeing the work of the great 
Italian architect Palladio,decided to change his career plans. Soon after the house was completed 
financial troubles forced him to sell.
In 1709 it was purchased by well known judge and politician Sir David Dalrymple as his country retreat.He immediately started work on the Library Wing to house his large collection of books.Landscaping work which was to lay the foundations for the pleasure gardens was also begun.This work was continued throughout the 1700s by his son and grandson the 3rd baronet,famous for his work as a historian,politician and member of the Scottish Enlightenment movement.During his occupancy(1751-92) Newhailes played host to many leading literary figures of the day.The gardens and landscaping which would have been the height of fashion at the time also reached their pinnacle of perfection.
Like many aristocrats of the time,the Dalrymples had been on the Grand Tour of Europe and had brought home ideas,especially from Italy and France,to implement in the enhancement of their estates.
Sir David 3rd baronet, died at a time when the royal court at Versailles Palace was dismantled and  winds of change were sweeping throughout Europe.
The family continued to own Newhailes until 1997 when it was handed over to the National Trust Scotland  and subsequently a five year conservation programme was implemented to stabilise the buildings and prevent further deterioration.

The plan was to leave everything as undisturbed as possible.

The library wing.

The interior is  the ultimate in shabby chic.Much of the original decoration and furnishing have survived,though often  worn and threadbare.There's a feeling that the house was abandoned a hundred years ago,leaving unseen helpers to keep it clean and dusted.The contents of the library are now housed in the National Library of Scotland.

Rear view of the house.

Smith's classically proportioned original building is in the centre flanked by the "new" wings.

View from the back door steps over what in past times would have been formal gardens
with sheep pasture beyond. The elevated position allowed an uninterrupted view across the Firth of Forth.

A mid 18th century painting by Thomas Gainsborough of an aristocratic couple in an idealized 
 landscape fashionable at the time.

The meadow today is lush with grasses and wild flowers,a perfect nesting ground for partridges.

Ribwort,vetch and grasses

Germander speedwell

Ribwort and  purple vetch

Red clover

Buttercups glowing in the sunlight.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Woodland Walk : The Shell Grotto

Carpet of Pink Purslane.

A few days ago my dog Maddy and I visited the grounds of a National Trust property on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
The estate is open to the public 24/7 and it's one of our favourite places.
 Much of the area shown in these photos was once magnificent 18th century water gardens set in an idealized sylvan landscape,featuring cascades,bridges,tunnels,a Tea House,Shell Grotto and Nymphaeum.

Pink Purslane

Path into the woods

Woodland canopy

The air is filled with the sound of birdsong,chaffinch,song thrush,blackbird,crow,wood pigeon
and many more.........................

This Lime/Linden tree conceals a jackdaw's nest.

The Shell Grotto was built in the 1760s using shells from local beaches and as far afield as China.
Grottos were secluded places designed to evoke reflection on the cycles of nature.

Remains of a Nymphaeum (Nymph's Temple) have been found close by.The statue of a nymph
 would have been placed here to attract woodland spirits.

The shells have long gone but the wall looks very interesting without them.

I recently bought this Indian wall hanging and love the way the central piece,an upside down bodice
 yoke,resembles a meditation hut.I think the building and the cloth complement each other well !



The burn which was once a vital part of the water garden still gurgles past behind the Grotto.

Our walk continues,Maddy leads the way .......................

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