Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Garden Painting Day 9 : Hydrangea Bush

I was happy to have a chance to add to my painting last night, even if it was between the hours of 10 PM and 1 AM! Lately, our business has been very actively pursuing new opportunities, and I'm too tired by the end of the day, for doing much after getting the kids to bed.

I am struggling with what to put in the background / top of the painting, which I've discovered, is easier to start with, and paint my way foreward. I find it easier to visualize the front / bottom of the painting. Anyhow, I was thinking of a rhododendron, but most of those are spring-blooming, and I wanted something summer-blooming to go with the other flowers in my canvas "garden". So I decided on a hydrangea.

The hydrangea turned out to be pretty fun to paint, and the results were pretty quick and rewarding. I finished both the leaves (although I see now that they are a bit sparse, I should have crowded them a bit more), and the flowers in the one night.

garden painting with hydrangea bushThe photos are a closeup of the hydrangea flower (sorry, I'm have difficulties uploading the image), as well as the painting in its current state. I am visualizing some orange tiger lilies in the left side, in front of the tree peony. In front of that, a variegated hosta and / or clump of coreopsis verticillata (threadleaf coreopsis). I am imagining a red monarda on the right side edge, with some white or yellow daisies between it and the lavandula stoechas (spanish lavender).

I also want to fit in these favourites from my garden : echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower), echinops ritro (globe thistle), lupinus polyphyllus (russell's lupine), geranium "Victor Reiter", osteospermum and alliums (even the common allium schoenoprasum or chives, which are absolutely outstanding in my garden this year). Since I am painting to a larger scale than my original paper layout, it will be tricky to fit everything into the painting. Perhaps I may end up painting a second one to fit them all in!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Fruits of My Labours and Then Some!

Lapin cherries in mid MayI have been very impressed by my little fruit trees. They were only planted last Spring, and already last year the espalier apple provided 3 fruits, and the regular apple tree tried to offer a few (too late in the year to ripen). This year, I have been surprised by the number of fruits they are trying to provide.

The Lapin cherry (which is a dark cherry, similar to the Bing) is full of small fruits, as shown in the photo on right. The Bartlett pear has a half dozen tiny fruits showing. The apple tree is displaying fruits. The blueberry bushes (we have approx 8) are loaded. The red and missouri currents have strings of berries forming. The raspberries are loaded in tiny fruits and blossoms, visited by big black bumblebees. The two plums are still resting this year, and that's fine by me. It is also too soon for the Rainier cherry (new this year), but the tree appears to be healthy, and the persimmon (also new) is finally putting out new growth also.

Espalier apple showing thumbnail sized fruit in MayThe big surprise to me is my espalier apple tree (see "thumbnail" photo on left). This espalier apple tree, which is in the "horizontal cordon" form, is formed by grafting three different varieties of apple (which I have written down, but don't recall) onto a dwarf stock. The top variety has been very successful, with a cluster of 2 or 3 tiny fruits per fruiting spur. I gave it some "tough love" yesterday, removing all but 1 fruit on each spur. Even so, one branch has 13 fruits left, and the other branch 21 fruits, from what I recall. I am amazed by the potential fruit-bearing capacity of these espalier trees!

The second variety of apple in the espalier tree displays less than half the number of fruits. The third (bottom) seems to only have a few. This favouring of the top branches is also evident in the vegetative growth, with the top branches being the longest, with the most side branches, and fullest leaves. This seems to be a drawback of the horizontal cordon shape. Some of the other espalier forms may more fairly distribute the tree's growth and fruit production. I've included here a nice set of drawings by Beth Thevenot of the classic espalier forms. They were lifted from the site SouthernAccents.com.

I also have an espaliered asian pear, also in the "horizontal cordon" form, which has three varieties of asian pear. This year it is also showing a number (maybe 10) small fruit. I wish I had more room along the fence, I am tempted to buy or train a third espaliered fruit tree. Maybe a peach?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Garden Painting Day 7 & 8 : Bird Bath and Tree Peony Foliage

Painting of bird bath without birds yetI finally got back to my garden painting a few nights ago, and filled in the bird bath. The change is very subtle, since I painted it a light grey (to look like concrete), and it was white before (from the unpainted canvas). So it was not a very satisfying couple of hours, trying to get the right shadows and hue, and having few people notice the change. (Since the work-in-progress sits in our kitchen eating area, it is often a topic of conversation with visitors.)

Gardeng painting in progress, with bird bath and three plants so farLast night I pushed myself to paint in a tree peony, even though I was too tired. I finished the foliage, and have placed 5 black dots where the flowers will be painted in (visible if you double-click the photo on right to see a larger version). Looking at it now, the foliage colour is quite realistic, but I think I painted it in a bit dark. Hopefully, the flowers will brighten up this corner of the garden painting. It is also a bit sparse, just like my dear tree peony. I think it could have been more lush, as are most of the tree peonies I've seen.

My tree peony, which was generously given to me by a gardening friend in the Fall, provided me with 5 gorgeous white flowers this Spring. When it was finished blooming, I cut back one of the main woody branches to a few buds. Next year I plan to do the same with the other main branch. I want them to grow in more bushy, and to be able to remove the supporting stakes I have it propped against.

The tree peony flowers I will paint, will be pink ones, inspired by the photo on the left. I'm trying to keep going with filling the painting with plants, so I will likely move on to more plants, fill in most or all the foliage first, before I move to the flowers, which will be most time-consuming, but also most rewarding. Then I will add in some birds, bees, butterflies and whatever else I can manage. That will be the truly fun part.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Driftwood Horse Sculptures

The first week of May, the family enjoyed a trip to Disneyland, returning from L.A. to Vancouver via repositioning cruise. What a great time we had. I have some photos to post, soon, I hope.

Horse on beach sculpture by Heather JanschDuring the vacation, I had a cough and sore throat which didn't slow me down. However, the night after we returned and unpacked, this turned into a wicked nasal / sinus infection. After a couple of days and sleepless nights of unbearable pain (ready to chop off my head to stop the pain), I visited my doctor, and started a nasal steroid treatment. (He knows I don't take antibiotics except as a last resort.) Last night I actually slept most of the night, so there is hope that I'm on the road to recovery now.

Horse sculptures by Heather JanschNow for something more inspirational... One of the few blogs which I visit regularly is Erie's Argonaut by Linda in Erie, Pennsylvania. I am inspired by her talent and ambition. She's always up to her eyeballs in home renovation projects and small art projects, which she loves but can't seem to find enough time for.

Recently she shared a link to the art of Heather Jansch, which I also recommend visiting. Heather is an artist in the U.K. who creates wonderful horse sculptures out of driftwood. (She also sells signed limited edition prints of photos of the horses, for people who don't have room for one in their yard.) The horse images here are a few excerpts from her site.
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