Friday, February 08, 2013

A wan winter landscape

As I drive around the Devon lanes at this time of year, I often think of these lines from Robert Graves: a wan winter landscape, hedges freaked with snow. There was no snow yesterday but the landscape was certainly wan. The last thing, you might think, to tempt me to visit a Royal Horticultural Society garden but that is exactly what I did. The MM and I drove to Great Torrington to  RHS Rosemoor.  The garden, for the most part, looked quite wan, waiting for spring to bring it to life but there were some early plants to enjoy: masses of snowdrops, hellebores, a few narcissi and some miniature crocuses.
Aren't these glorious? I don't have much success with snowdrops in my garden, possibly because little visitors nibble the bulbs at night. I do have lots of hellebores, which I love, but not a yellow one like this beauty
The real reason for our visit was to see the Winter Sculpture Exhibition. It was a really cold day and my gloves did nothing to stop my fingers from aching but I just had to take pictures of the wonderful pieces of stoneware, stainless steel, ceramic, bronze and glass sculpture strategically placed against the backdrop of grasses, evergreens, trees and perrenials. As the exhibition brochure says: "Each piece has been carefully placed within the garden to enlighten, amuse and inspire our visitors this winter."

There are 60 sculpures in all, from 20 West Country sculptors. I can only share a few of them here but I would encourage anyone who is in the area to go and see the exhibition for themselves. It is on until Sunday 24 February.
Small hanging dragonfly by Katie Lake

Female red kite by Ama Menec

Aerviator by Michael Kusz

I like it like that by Penny Hardy
A close-up of one of those amazing dancing figures
Pair of courting cranes by Colin Andrews

A walk in the garden by Melanie Deegan

I am troubled by a great many snails in my garden but nothing like this one!
Big Cyril by Tony Smither
All of the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them. These are just a sample of the delights in the exhibition. Visitors are asked to choose their favourite but my husband and I couldn't settle on one, we both agreed that, if we had a bigger garden and a much bigger bank balance, we would love to have them all.


  1. Wan winter landscape--how perfect that is! I'm glad you turned it into a special day at the horticultural gardens and thank you for taking us along with you. I have always loved tiny spring flowers that bloom first. Are snowdrops the same thing as crocus? The garden art is beautiful.

    1. Dewena, the snowdrops are not in the same family as crocus, which are in the iris family. I think snowdrops may be a European plant. They were broght to Britain by the Romans.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the glimpse into the gardens.

  2. Oh, flowers - how I long for flowers in the garden! We probably have to wait at least six more weeks for any sign of the first snowdrops.
    England isnt so far away - but in many aspects it feels as an exotic country far away!
    I just can't pick only one of the sculptures, so I too, buy them all.

    1. It is lovely to see the first flowers bringing some colour to the garden, isn't it? For me that means a change from the muddy brown of winter and for you from the white snow. I think yours is prettier but I know thyat it also is harsher. I hope spring comes soon.

  3. From now on, all snails shall be known as Big Cyril (or Big Reginald or Big Cedric etc etc).

    Aren't hellebores wonderful? I was quite in awe of mine when they emerged unscathed after being covered by ten inches of snow for more than a week.

  4. Your post made me think of this passage from Gladys Taber's book Stillmeadow Sampler. "Aconite and quinine, I remember, were my father's Rx for most ailments, but these tiny bottles were much earlier, they belong to the days of bloodletting. Now they minister to the winter-weary spirit by holding the snowdrops which are too small even for a demitasse top. Possibly, I thought, as I set the miniature bouquet on a the old trestle table, possibly God knows that if spring came all at once, we should die of it. So the fairy-size bells ring a chime to make it possible to bear the beauty that will come in May." I am winter-weary indeed. Hope all is well with you, friend.

  5. 'Snowdrops were brought to England by the Romans'
    Wonder if it was the British or the Italian migrants who brought them to Australia??

    What a perfectly lovely walk - I think it would cheer up any day of the year not just a Winter's one. Thanks for taking us along Maureen
    Take care

  6. A Brilliant post ..and lovely sculptures ..I'd love the bird with glasses and the snail ..aren't the snowdrops beautiful ...Thank you!

    (we just had another 7 inches of snow so no flowers yet awhile :0) )

  7. Unfortunately for us, our winter is wanner than yours. But at least our hedges are no longer freaked with snow. I saw a sprinkle of snowdrops in the city last week and the first thunderstorm of the year gave a shout outside my door tonight.

    I am new here and am enjoying your poetry choices. Thanks to you, I'm off to the library on Monday to find some Robert Graves.

    1. Thank you for visiting and leaving such a lovely comment.

      We no longer have snow but very heavy frosts that make the garden look like a wonderland in the early morning sun. This is most unusual for us here on the coast but I feel that Spring is about to burst upon us.


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