Allt y Bela – Frost in Usk

Arne Maynard – Garden Designer


It’s a cold and frosty morning today; which has reminded me of a wonderful video that I came across quite recently, of a great garden still in the making . The aerial view video is by William Collinson and shows off a garden in Wales by the gifted garden designer Arne Maynard.  The house and its grounds are called Allt y bela, they can be found nestled and   sequestered within the wild Welsh landscape of Usk.  Allt y bela is not only a home but also an education centre too, as Arne offers workshops and other varied and interesting events. I haven’t been there myself, yet, although it is on my “to go” list !

Clicking  on the above link, should take you to the page listed as “frost”.  The video is labelled “Allt y bela in the frost from Arne Maynard Garden Design.” ( Make sure you watch it at full-screen size. )

Arne’s website  also provides a wealth of information for serious gardeners, it is beautifully presented, and incorporates wonderful photography so is well worth returning to and revisiting – again and again !

AND FINALLY  – here is a rare archival video of the American poet, Robert Frost,  reading his elusive and enigmatic  1922 poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

The feature photo is my own; it is a composite / digitally altered image showing a winter tree in silhouette with the moon behind.

Not Vital – Scarch

December 2016

I was lucky enough to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the summer and see an exhibition by the Swiss sculptor Not Vital  (pronounced  Veetahl).  His exhibition is on until the 2nd January 2017 – so there are still a few days left in which to see it.  I must admit I would love to see the Park and it’s Sculptures in the winter; particularly when it is blanketed in  snow – but unfortunately that is most unlikely.

If you are not able to get along and have missed out on his exhibition altogether then you will find this video link especially interesting. It’s worth watching just to hear Not Vital describing the backstory to his work.   I find many of the ideas he outlines and his explanations quite thought provoking.  Most notable is when he is considering  different aspects of snow, allied to the subtle shades discernible in whites, greys and blacks.  I shall also look forward  to the permanent installation of his shimmering “scarch” paper-curl-bridge.

Of further interest is another video which shows Not Vital’s sculptures actually in his own backyard in Engadin,  Switzerland – these could be worth checking out too, especially if you are passing that way or have become a bit bored in St Moritz !

AND FINALLY  – Just in case you were wondering – my feature photo, at the top of the page, is of a partial solar eclipse that occurred in the UK on the 20th March 2015.  As the moon passed across the sun – the sun itself began to look like a crescent moon !  And following on, in a random sort of way, is a song to enjoy called moon shadow, it was composed and sung by by Cat Stevens in 1970.

Happy Christmas !

December 2016 – Very First Blog

Wintertime weather can seem to be a bit gloomy so it’s always good to bring some “cheer” into the house.  I like to keep things simple and easy, and aim to achieve the “effortless” effect !


On my mantelshelf  I’ve brought in some seasonal berries and flowers from the garden to create an informal arrangement – they are placed in a small inexpensive (£6) “studio” vase I bought recently from the Burford Garden Company.  The foliage includes Viburnum tinus (white flowers) Cotoneaster cornubia and horizontalis (red berries) Hedera helix ( ivy florets) and in the background, a bit blurred – but just visible are the scented pale pink flowers of Viburnum bodnantense Dawn.  It’s always worth thinking ahead for winter interest when planting in the garden.

Next to the vase is my favourite christmas card, received this year, it shows a rural Welsh scene ( Capel-y-ffin )  by Eric Ravilious, originally painted, as a watercolour, in 1935 – it is called “New Year Snow”.


I also found fallen to the ground a large twig which I brought indoors.  I put the Beech branchlet in a medium sized vase that I had to hand and filled it with horticultural gravel to hold it upright.  Then, I decorated it with heart and pine cone baubles, bought last year from Waitrose.  You too could easily create your own theme using anything you already have stashed or stored away.

The arrangement was then positioned on the hall table – and it now provides a welcome feature – acting as a starter to the main event – our traditional christmas tree waiting to be seen and viewed in the room beyond.

AND FINALLY – here’s a wondrous christmas carol  ( In Sweet Rejoicing ) although the exact macaronic meaning of the german and latin lyrics may pass me by – it matters not too much !