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After starting life as a fully trained Design Draughtsman then running my own business for nearly 20 years, I have fulfilled my desire to return to my first love of designing. Coupled with my second love of gardens, I retrained at the renowned Oxford College Of Garden Design, taking a Post Graduate Diploma in Residential Landscape and Garden Design. Since graduation I have started my own business Paul Francis Design Limited designing Gardens and Landscapes for private and commercial clients.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Jilly Sutton Sculpture

Jilly Sutton gave a lecture at the Oxford College of Garden Design on Thursday 11th November at St. Hugh's College, Oxford.

Jilly is well known for her love of working with wood. Her sculptures use the grain and natural elements of wood to emphasis the shape and form of the subject. Her famous heads such as "The Fallen Deodar" have the surface bead blasted after carving. This process erodes some of the softer pith between the rings in the wood leaving the grain standing proud, yet smooth. The results are stunning and very tactile.

Her lecture was acompanied with a photographic presentation showing various pieces she had created over the years. She explained what they were, why they were created, the wood used and the problems frequently encountered in the process of creating the work of art.

Jilly had an exhibition during the week at St. Margaret's Hall College, Oxford, were many of the pieces she described during the lecture, where on show, so I decided to visit the exhibition the following morning.

I arrived just as Jilly did, so I accompanied her into the college. She took me around the garden to show me "The Fallen Deodar", which is a cast of one of her famous heads. The large sculpture was placed in the garden in front of a mature tree and had a flood light hidden in a border to light it and the tree behind at night. Many of the famous pieces have had moulds made and a limited number of bronze or special resin castings, which are ideal for displaying pieces outside.

We travelled on to the old college chapel where several other items were on display. Whilst not the best lighting for the pieces they still looked impressive as you were able to get very close to them, which helped you appreciate the detail of the wood and grain, which is the very essence of the art.

We then went from the chapel to the exhibition hall. The hall was filled with many pieces on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, standing on plinths, tables and free standing on the floor. I was very impressed in the diversity of the pieces on show and quietly amazed that Jilly could summon up so many pieces at any one time to create such an impressive show.

One of my favourites was the "Wing" which had been placed in the coridor leading to the exhibition hall. The piece was on a plinth so it stood at head height. It was about 800 mm tall and looked as though it could be an archangel's wing with its pale almost white colour.

I believe that the college may be using a photo of the "Wing" on this years Christmas card, I think it'll look stunning.

I had a great morning and would like to thank Jilly for her time. I have placed photos of many of the pieces at the exhibition, on my flickr site, www.flickr.com/photos/pauloward/ please have a look, I'm sure you will agree they are stunning. I can imagine many of them encompassed within a garden design and will have no hesitation recommending her work to my clients.

Jilly Sutton works from her studio overlooking the river Dart in Devon and her web site is http://www.jillysutton.com/ do take time to visit her site and see some of her work for yourself.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Honey Fungus.

Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea) is a parasitic fungi and most obvious in autumn with the damp yet sometimes still warm daytime. The groups of honey coloured toadstools live on trees and woody shrubs. The fungus is a "White Rot" fungus and spreads between living trees, dead trees, live roots and tree stumps by means of reddish - brown to black rhizomorphs (like shoelaces) under the bark and down through root contact. Once infected a tree or plant will die once the fungus has spread fully round the girth. This can happen rapidly or over many years.
Infected plants or trees may actually show prolific flowering or fruit production shortly before death.
The presence of thin sheets of cream coloured mycelium, which smells strongly of mushrooms, beneath the bark at the base of the tree or stem (sometimes extending upwards) or a gum / resin seeping from cracks in the bark of conifers, is a sign that Honey Fungus is likely to be the problem.
Once identified, nothing can be done other than to dig it out and burn as much as possible. But even this may not be enough to protect attacks on other trees and plants, with the infection travelling through the soil from plant to plant.
It is said that spreading flour starch around the base of the plant encourages Trichoderma, which is a fungus hostile to Honey Fungus, may help.
For resistance to Honey Fungus, choose plants such as sumachs, bamboos, hebes and pittosporums. Avoid fruit trees, willows, currants, lilacs, viburnums and wisterias.