Fresh Out of Forde Abbey

Forde Abbey, Somerset, England

Last July I had a lovely day trip by coach to Forde Abbey in Somerset.

My onion – drawn on cotton rag paper in pencil showing strong shadows that suggest the summer sun

A rural idyll, this abbey was once a monastery but has had many changes made to its architecture which have resulted in a beautiful English stately home and gardens – open to the public.

Onions growing in the kitchen gardens

I was drawn to the simplicity and beauty of the abbey gardens and its well-tended vegetable plots and Victorian white-wood greenhouse flanked on all sides by riotous rose gardens and herbaceous borders. The sun warmed my back all day and lit the flowers and leaves with a gorgeous light that had me snapping photos at every turn.

Hollyhocks against a Victorian brick wall

Here I present two simple sketches. One of a huge onion sitting its hefty weight in the rich soil, and a hollyhock – reaching upwards as it unfurled pale yellow papery flowers.

A small hollyhock study I did in pencil

I have many more images and hours of fun to go as I decide which to cull and which to experiment with over the coming weeks.

I came away from Forde having spent ages wandering the nursery where I bought some tall floaty flowers and smelled many more!

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