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The Art of Seeing

March 3, 2012

On Monday I watched the Andrew Marr interview with David Hockney:The Art of Seeing on BBC 2- there’s still time to catch it on I player- and I urge you to do so if you missed it. Much of this stunning documentary in conversation with Hockney took place in the fields and woodlands that he painted and that now adorn the walls of the Royal Academy. His awareness and appreciation of colour in every season and particularly in winter has made me look much more closely at the landscape. On  a walk this week around Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve on the Somerset Levels I found myself looking intensely and in a way that I never had before. Purple and navy hues were visible in the rich peat soil at the base of silver birch trees. In the image below the reed heads lit by the setting sun glowed orange, mauve and pineapple yellow and at their base I spotted a band of emerald green algae. In the foreground the autumn leaves of the bramble were now blotched deep purple on bottle green and set off by the calm milky aquamarine water. Thank you David Hockney for opening my eyes especially to the winter landscape which will never be the same for me again.

My very small heated propagator comes into its own at this time of year. Two weeks ago I planted twenty broad beans, ten in each 2 litre pots, and they are up and ready to go into the cold frame.That leaves space in the propagator to bring on the peas and mange tout which I sow 3 to a 5cm square module. Any vegetable that is safe to be sown in March (see back of seed packet) can be  brought on now with some gentle heat or under glass or in a polythene bag on a sunny windowsill. Swiss chard and rainbow chard, salad leaves, leeks, Spring onions and Summer calabrese will take their turn over the next four week. Once germinated they go into the pop up greenhouse or cold frame to harden off until April and May.

Two pots of Iris Katharine Hodgkin came into flower overnight with their subtle scent of Johnson’s baby lotion and the most extra-ordinary and complex pattern in the flower folds. See http://charlottesplot.com/ for a lovely close up photograph in a blog two weeks ago. They’ll flower in the warmth of the house for a very short time then I’ll carefully plant them under the canopy of a deciduous viburnum shrub which has sun. If dwarf iris bulbs are kept dry they should spread into large colonies but in damp conditions the bulbs tend to rot. I have made a note to order more in the autumn since they are inexpensive and such a delight at this time of year.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 5, 2012 7:37 pm

    I love winter’s subtle colour palette and always have, less saturated colours are always my favourites.

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