The National Garden Scheme is up-and-running again this Summer, opening the gates of more than 3,600 beautiful private gardens all across the UK. The aim is to give visitors unique access, for a limited time, to these spaces, and raise funds for nursing and health charities like Macmillan Cancer Support, Mind, Hospice UK and The Queen’s Nursing Institute.
With the additional pressures of the pandemic over the last year or so, healthcare charities will need our help now more than ever, so why not head over to their website and find a garden to visit and support the cause?
Gardens are also a great place to go to boost our own wellbeing - the NHS has launched the national platform Every Mind Matters, and backs up studies showing that time in green spaces is beneficial for our mental health. Try taking a stroll around a perfectly manicured walled garden, or maybe pick up a sketchpad and paints and enjoy taking part in a peaceful afternoon of art therapy in a rambling cottage garden.
With Edenic connotations and an abundance of colourful flora and fauna, it's not surprising that a garden setting has provided many an artist – from ancient, to classical, to contemporary - with creative inspiration throughout history.
It is possible to find images of Ancient Egyptian wall paintings, such as that found in the Tomb of Minnakht, 1550-1295 BC, of grand gardens lined with sycamore trees and flowerbeds.
In Ancient Greece, vases and urns were beautifully embellished with images of trees and flowers, like one such artefact from 4th century BC depicting a scene of the mythical Garden of the Hesperides - widely accepted as the Ancient Greek representation of the Garden of Eden.
Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch's acclaimed triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1490-1510, details an unnerving moralistic representation of humankind's descent into hell from the Garden of Eden.
The central panel is flanked by the sublime and lushly hued 'Garden of Eden' panel on the left, and the dark and visceral hellscape of 'The Last Judgement' panel on the right - purportedly reflecting man's eternal struggle with 'sinful' desire and the threat of damnation.
In 1815, John Constable, a Suffolk born Romantic painter - most famous for his paintings of Salisbury Cathedral and 'The Hay Wain' – created a rather more sentimental composition Golding Constable's Flower Garden, in which he depicted a gentle and nostalgic view of his childhood home. In his typical style the painting portrays an idealised view of the English countryside - an effort to reflect the true nature of beauty, with accomplished techniques for capturing natural light and movement.
Perhaps the artist most known for painting garden scenes is French founder of Impressionism, Claude Monet - indeed he is even believed to have said, “I owe it to flowers that I became a painter.”
In 1866-1867, he created Woman in the Garden - an exceptional painting of Jeanne-Marguerite Lecadre (the young wife of his cousin, Paul-Eugene Lecadre) enjoying a tranquil walk through their rose garden at their country house in La Havre. Notable for its accomplished composed and detailed manner – not typical of his later style – and use of vibrant contrasting colours creating incredibly natural light and depth.
Popular contemporary artists Joe Ramm and Guy Allen (whose limited edition prints are available from our online gallery) both show an affection and affinity with the natural world and the ecosystem of the garden environment.
In The Walled Garden and Victorian Greenhouse Brighton based narrative artist Joe has created an idyllic scene of vegetable plots, towering sunflowers, sleepy pets, and colourful lupins, all concealed within a beautiful Victorian style walled garden – a dreamy little world-away-from-the-world.
Experimental printmaker, Guy Allen, combines traditional etchings with modern print processes and gold leaf to create contemporary limited edition prints depicting the smaller elements of beauty to be found in the garden environment.
On our website you can find swallowtail butterflies with beautifully embellished wings, and intricate bumble bee studies – all wonderfully reminiscent of illustrations from vintage nature and botanical journals, yet brought up-to-date with gold leaf detailing.