UK native plants packed for RHS botanical art exhibition

Packed and ready to go.

Tomorrow two of us are travelling up to London to set up the ABBA table in the RHS Lindley Hall, Vincent Square near Victoria Station. It will be the RHS botanical art show with the best of International botanical artists showing their work. Neither of us are exhibiting our own work this time, but we will be demonstrating different techniques.

The main reason for having the table at the exhibition is to talk about the plans for the Worldwide Botanical art day in May 2018 and to encourage British botanical artists to take part. A new Association of British Botanical Artists (ABBA) formed to do this has put an initial ‘call for entries’ on it

Www.abba2018.wordpress.com

On  Friday and Saturday this week, I have chosen to demonstrate a sketch book or study page in graphite and watercolour from  one of the native plants I have packed to take with me. Come along and see how I do this.

Apart from the Primrose, do you know what these plants are called?

The one on the right, with hardly any leaves just yet, is a Bilberry. This is a small wild blue berry. It doesn’ look very interesting at the moment, but if you are going to paint the portrait of a plant, including something from various stages in its life cycle, makes the resulting picture more interesting.

The plant above  the Bilberry with the small oval leaves is Cowberry and has small red berries. You might know it as Lignonberry and has smaller and sharper tasting berries than cranberries. This plant has the beginnings of tiny flower buds.

The one above the Primrose is a Crowberry and will eventually have small, almost black berries. Again the plant doesn’t seem so interesting in this stage of its life, but I think might offer some challenges whilst painting its portrait.

Common for for all three species ( not the Primrose) is that they all produce fruit that is edible.

I am lucky enough to be able to do some sketches now, while the plants are only just coming out of their winter state. This will be particularly useful for me and for future work I have planned.

Do come and see us at the RHS, Lindley Hall, Vincent Square, Friday and Saturday.

Hiking amongst UK native plants in the snow!

What a lovely day today was, although bitter cold and snowing! But I wanted to make the most of it as it was probably one of my last really relaxing days – if strenuous, for a couple of weeks.

The sun didn’t shine, the sky was heavy, a cold damp breeze was blowing and the sky started releasing its load in the form of snow as soon as we started walking. The weather forecast had said ‘cloudy’, but dry! Luckily we chose not to do any of our hikes up on the South Downs Way. Where we were the snow didn’t settle, but the South Downs were obliterated.

The phrase ‘There is no such think as bad weather, just bad clothes’ has been attributed to many people including Alfred Wainwright. But Norwegians are actually brought up with this phrase as small children – with their skis of course! Robin and I were well and truly appropriately dressed from our wool long-johns and base layers, to the additional wool layers on top. ‘Snug as a bug in a rug’ is also a good phrase, but our layers allowed us good movement.

Dressed to kill - the cold!
Dressed to kill – the cold!

We started out at Elsted Marsh and did a 12 km circular walk taking in the Iping and Stedham Commons. What a super walk!

We saw drifts of Snowdrops – Galanthus. Do you realise that they are a native species? This is important to know if you are a botanical artist and over the next couple of weeks you will read about other plants available at the moment that are native to the UK.

Watch this space!

Back to the Iping and Stedham Commons; they are well managed and they try to keep on top of the amount of Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) that grows there so that it doesn’t take over from the heathers (Erica) and the Gorse (Ulex europaeus). All of these plants are native to the UK. We also saw two Dartford Warblers.

Galanthus
Galanthus