Rainy Day in Sussex

After such a hot and uncomfortably humid spell, we are now reaping the rewards with rather a lot of rain, how I love rain! Somewhat steamy combined with the heat of the last few weeks. Summer is moving forward, so another day out was needed, a change of scene. Perch Hill beckoned, although I know it well now, I’m always fascinated by the intelligence and artistic design of the borders and there is always something slightly different.

In search of more artistic inspiration it reminded me of my art school days. Although having trained as an artist, art school didn’t teach much about the technicalities when it came to paints.

At college we simply spent years experimenting: observing, life drawing, perspective, large scale, monochrome, colour wheels etc….. In foundation it was, for me, water based, mainly ink and gouache. At degree level for theatre, more so, with model making added on. Only when I graduated did I feel ready to teach myself oils, mainly on wood, I could never take to a wobbly canvas bobbing around. It was heartening to find that other great artists used wood and cardboard but not always canvas. With colour in mind, the Perch Hill open day, was on my wish list.

By the time I had left the art shop in Brighton, it was raining again, I love the rain, the sound of it, the coolness of it and the healing sense of it. Another wriggly drive and a few wrong turns, I arrived at Perch. There were plenty of visitors. Rain was pouring steadily, but with umbrella in hand and camera in the other, it helped to reduced the people in the gardens, so photography was a lot easier. The garden looked glossy and happy in the wet.

The famous cutting garden confronts you straightaway, as always. Another stunner this year, slightly different though. The side garden was filled with more flowers than vegetables, the rich velvet crimsons of the Dahlias were there as before, but I spent more time studying the large creamy peach Dahlia (Cafe au Lait I believe from her website), the Amus Maji and the Scabious this time. Round the side of the barn the gorgeous froth of the cow parsley and more Amus together. The new cladding had weathered down nicely even in one year and then I spotted the classic deer damage to the Valerian lining the grass driveway! All the stalks reduced to stumps…I wondered if the area was stuffed with deer in all the woodland surrounding the garden. The new Dahlia trial area looked vulnerable, rather low fencing….Cafe au lait, below, looked majestic and sensual whilst the ‘Pom Pom’, Jowy Morella was a rich ball of velvet and stabbed crimson zing into the sky.

On another day, perhaps with less visitors, with a few more benches, it would make quite a nice painting, in pastel at first I think.

The shop had been redesigned which helped visitor flow and by now I was in need of a cup of tea and the cake was sumptuous. I can thoroughly recommend the low gluten, Almond and Orange cake. My Italian (half) aunt, Carla took to Almond cake and I have the recipe. Superb in every way and were it not for self restraint, I would have happily consumed several more large slices of all the other tempting cakes on offer.