Arne's journal

A book and a meadow

 

You can view a full gallery of images by clicking here.

When we finally decided on the cover for my new book, The Gardens of Arne Maynard, we chose an image of the meadow with beech topiary at Haddon Hall because it seemed to capture the essence of what I try to achieve in gardens. When it came to planning the launch of the book, I wanted there to be something of this atmosphere at the party as well, in fact a meadow of some sort and topiary too!  

So a 'meadow' was conjured to hang upside down in the glass roof of a London mews studio that we were so kindly loaned by my friend and client.  It was a meadow of grasses from Wales (19,000 individually hand cut grasses that is), peppered with angelica and meadowsweet from Allt-y-bela and wonderful dahlias, asters, Echinacea purpurea and fennel from Shropshire (with thanks to Tammy Hall from wildbunchflowersfromthegarden.co.uk).

We worked with the remarkable artist Rebecca Louise Law, whose brilliant floral installation I had seen at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. She interpreted my vision for this event in a way that surprised and delighted me and the effect was of a hanging meadow, dipping and soaring in drifts around the roof space and then swooping dramatically down at one end nearly touching the floor. The flowers flowed through the grasses in groups of colour and type that merged or were held apart, (like the asters at the centre), adding a sense of rhythm and surprise as you walked beneath, gazing upwards, seeing the full head of the flowers as we rarely can in a border. 

Whilst Rebecca calmly hung one bunch or flower stalk at a time, her team and mine curled copper wire around the thousands of grasses and flowers, and positioned topiary in vast geometric oak planters made by the craftsmen on the Haddon Hall estate. By the time Lottie Muir arrived to set up her bar, serving 'botanical cocktails', and friends and colleagues arrived to celebrate, the atmosphere was a very good one indeed.

This book evolved over three years, and to finally see it in print has been a real thrill. It is now two months since its publication by Hugh Merrell in the UK and I have been overwhelmed by the reception it has received. Wonderful reviews have appeared and I have been humbled by the comments I have had from clients and from those who have bought and enjoyed it.

Since the UK launch I have given talks in LA and San Francisco to help introduce the book to readers in the States and have further lectures planned at the beautiful Marders Nursery in East Hampton over the Thanksgiving weekend this month.

I am so delighted that readers are enjoying the book and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I hope you enjoy these photographs taken at our UK book launch in September, and as the nights draw in, dream a little and remember the delight of a real meadow, or one created for one special night in the city. 

To view a full gallery of images from this event, please click here.

Words: Arne Maynard

Photographs: Britt Willoughby Dyer

To order a signed copy of Arne's book, gift-wrapped with a limited edition bookmark, visit our book page here.

It is also available via a number of independent and online bookshops including:

Potterton Books, Chelsea (where Arne will be signing books on 1 December from 6.30pm)

John Sandoe Books, Chelsea

Heywood Hill bookshop, Mayfair

Daunt Books, London

Hatchards, Picadilly

Topping and Company Books, Bath, Ely and St. Andrews

Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights, Bath

The Art Shop, Abergavenny

Hauser & Wirth, Somerset

RHS Wisley shop, Surrey

RHS Harlow Carr shop, Harrogate

Waterstones, nationwide

W H Smith, nationwide

Blackwell's, nationwide

Wordery, online

The Book People, online

The Book Depository, online

 

And it can be purchased via Amazon in the UK and USA.

 

 

 

 

 

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Inspired by Allt-y-bela

 

In July, earlier this year, award-winning writer Helena Attlee and Emma Beynon led their second 'writing workshop' here in the garden at Allt-y-bela. With playful exercises that stretched our minds, and 'free writing' to overcome inhibitions, they encouraged the group to write closely observed, precise responses to the garden and its surrounding landscape.

We are so pleased they are offering a second workshop, on 26th September and it seems apt in the week that Arne's new book is published to be encouraging bookings.

If you write, or want to write, in a personal or professional way, it is a great treat to spend a day with two such inspiring and stimulating writers, who both have such a true gift for teaching.

Below are a couple of short pieces written at the last writing workshop. The first is a response I wrote to the courtyard at Allt-y-bela, an area of the garden I know very well. It was a joy to sit amongst the topiary and coolness of the courtyard, focused on articulating my feelings towards the space and the collection of plants it is home to.

Thanks very much to Ardyn Griffin for the second, which followed a discussion about an extract from A Shepherds Life by James Rebanks. It is specifically an exploration of the notion of 'heft', a word that describes a special attachment or belonging to a particular piece of land. It is used in the north of England to describe a pasture to which a flock of sheep specifically belongs. It's a moving idea to explore; the place, the land, the earth to which you feel hefted.

For more details about the course and to book a place: http://www.opengroundwriting.co.uk/workshops.html

Words: Kristy Ramage

Photographs: Emma Benyon and Kristy Ramage

 

In The Courtyard at Allt-y-bela

Tamed, trammeled, fruit rich limbs hold in, protect and tip touch the pumpkin crust.

Banding plinth of zip tongued stone flows over earth, past pounded by iron arch and hoof.

Rounded boxy children cluster, playful, up and down, infiltrated by foxy cinnamon spires, a slight unease, relieved by the Turk's Cap lily, adorned with golden gems.

Pure brilliance, centre stage.

Kristy Ramage

 

Heft

The top of the garden is warm, sheltered from the wind, quiet.

The welcome, the relief.

The grubby disarray. With the plants I am absorbed,  'This has germinated, this has wilted, this needs another pot, is this a weed?'

The dog grumps for she is against gardening, she will flop and sleep.

This is her home, the smells, places to lie, she has absorbed into her life's patterns.

Now the chickens have found us, they circle, they chatter, they demand.

They alarm the dog.

The peacock arrives, he finds a flower, he eats it. He is not really a garden friend.

Ardyn Griffin

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