Tucked away on a little side street, just off The Downs in Bristol is a delightful horticultural gem that is The Bristol Botanic Gardens. Hosting their sculpture trail that has become an established event in the Bristol arts and culture calendar the garden was open to the public over the Easter bank holiday weekend. I went along at the weekend to indulge myself in a little spring time horticultural pleasure.
Among the exhibitors where Penny Hardy and her wonderful cast dance figures giving an amazing sense of flowing movement to the garden. And of course the chainsaw sculptures of Denius Parson, someone who on the day couldn’t be missed due the audible presence around the site. Visit his website above to see where and how he works, for many of us this is a cathartic insight into a slower pace of life that would suit us all. This one wasn’t taken at the event but is from Denius.
I think however that the sculptures of Lucianne Lassalle were my favourites just due to the beautiful representations of human form. The capture of animation and drama in static pieces was so well demonstrated in her work and again were designed to be exhibited in an outdoor setting.
Then there is this one of Icarus falling from the sky with his scorched wings that gives such a dramatic representation to the moment that he collides back into the Earth.
The sculpture exhibits were amazing with most of them being related to or designed to be housed in a garden. I’m a firm believer that a garden should be treated with the same reverence and design aesthetics that would be applied to any other room inside a building and with that goes good art. The natural forms of plants are enhanced visually so much by the addition of more regular forms and by the harder shapes that man made artefacts add. This can simply be the addition of a trellis, and arch or even a wall but either way it mustn’t be overlooked when you’re planning a garden design.
For me though the sculpture was more about what nature was creating rather than the expertly transformed stone and metalwork. This time of year is such an exciting time for finding the most intricate structures unfurling in the spring warmth. Much sculpture takes it’s inspiration from plant life but there is nothing so detailed as the real thing
Unfortunately I managed to forget the SD card for my camera so ended up taking everything on my phone but it’s actually not that bad at some of the close up shots.
This is the spadix of the Anthurium scherzerianum or Flamingo Flower Plant that becomes one of the strangest things that I saw at the gardens. It looks like something that a master confectioner would have created but is actually the fleshy axis that hosts the flowers of the plant. The spathe is the large red petal like bract that gives the plant it’s name, not a petal as it looks but a modified leaf.
Another are the seed pods of this Canna indica that just look like they’ve been made for some exquisite culinary purposes, but like many things I saw they will most definitely not be welcome on any desert plate. The detail that you can see however pales into insignificance when you get really close up to the microscopic level. It’s something that I’m never going to be able to capture in a photograph but the thought that it’s there, beyond the skill of the most expert artisans is for me fascinating.
As it was Easter I though this only appropriate that I included the Cocoa tree that they have growing in one of the hot houses. There are usually some of the seeds on display that you can get up and personal with, they have a really strange smell that you wouldn’t associate with the chocolate that we make from them though. Where would Easter be with out it though? Still a religious festival rather than an exercise in capitalism that starts 6 weeks too early, bah humbug.
The garden is open now 7 days a week until the end of November and is well worth a visit as are any botanic gardens. The changes in season are so dramatic due the vase diversity of plants on display that you really need to get there many times over the year.
There is another post coming about the history of the site, the conservation work that they undertake and a more detailed look at the planSt that are there. Until there here are some more (mobile phone) pictures from the day. If you’re in Bristol and have the time though you must pay a visit to these gardens.