Shakespeare's gardens.

May has been a month of flowers, gardens and Shakespeare. We visited Stratford-upon-Avon to see Henry 1V part one then onto London to see King Lear at The National. The latter is not a play for the queasy, or for those who faint at the sight of blood. I believe such people are referred to as "droppers"! My husband had the tickets bought as birthday presents and it was just coincidence we had something of a Shakespeare fest. Both plays were magnificent and the acting was superb, as you would expect, in particular Simon Russell Beale who played Kind Lear.

Stratford was every bit as beautiful as you would imagine. Elizabethan buildings to explore and gardens to delight. So much to see, museums and houses connected with the bard and his family. I particularly love the knot gardens, they always remind me of embroidery. Books and bookshops everywhere-

We live in a world of computer graphics, television and film and are used to seeing fantastic recreations of the past and yet the theatre still holds such magic. Both productions excelled when in came to scenery, lighting and costumes; these combined with the acting skills of the players and the magic of Shakespeare’s words left a great impression. In the days that followed I found myself relating to the words “Nothing will come of nothing”. Each time I try a new venture there is a voice, which tells me that nothing will ever come of such a thing. If I publish my book nobody will ever buy it, if I paint a new subject nobody will ever like it, the list of self-doubt goes on and yet, if we don’t even try then nothing will surely come from nothing? I know there are many interpretations to that particular saying but that is my understanding of it.

And so, with that in mind, I try my hand yet again at painting in miniature and try not to dwell on the wisdom (or foolery), which persuaded me to self publish my own books.

We have also enjoyed the most wonderful May sunshine and our own little garden has been awash with flowers which self-seeded from last year. The aquilegias in particular have been prolific. When I say “self seeded” that is not entirely true as last year I went around the garden like some crazy woman shaking the dried flower heads from last years crop.


  1. What I find with aquelegia Valerie is that over the years I lose one colour and another emerges. I shake them all over but I think they cross-polinate. I had some lovely, very large flowered ones with a pale yellow centre and a deep pink edge - now I have only one of these left. I once had a lot of deep blue - now there are none, itook seed from one and shook it in the veggie garden and there is a deep blue one there. My mother always called them 'grandmother's bonnets' - I love them.
    I used to live quite near to Stratford so went each year with classes from school to see plays - my favourite of all time was Midsummer Nights Dream with Sheila Staefel and also Othello with Philip Madoc as Iago. Happy days.

  2. Hi, yes I find that with the colours, they make their own arrangements! Still they are very lovely and prolific.
    I call them grandmother's bonnets too, or ladies bonnets.

    Startford is a treat isn't it? I think I would have loved Midsummer Nights Dream too.

  3. Too many of my favourite things in this post to know where to start! Shakespeare, theatre, books, aquelegia ... it does look like May has been kind to you.

  4. I think I would love Stratford and Shakespeare. It is sometimes a hard push to do something, instead of nothing, but my inquisitive little brain always has to have a go, I hope I never lose that as the self doubt seeds are always there! I so love your owl, looking up like that, exquisite work. My aqueligias have gone crazy too, blue, white, pink, cream, just lovely, in fact it is looking like a jungle out there, must be all that rain we had, everything is super sprouting!!

  5. Being a crazy woman obviously paid off, Valerie... I do the same thing!! Lovely little owl :)

  6. Val, I agree with your interpretation of "nothing comes from nothing," and also find it comes to me when I am hesitant to begin something new.

    I'm wondering why it is that I have yet to visit Stratford. Seems an incredible omission. Those knot gardens have always reminded me of needleword patterns.

    The first time I was introduced to the beauty of aquelegia blooms was in a friend's garden in Surrey. We thought they were so strangely lovely that they seemed to be little space ships that had decided to set themselves down on earth for a while. Perhaps the little spaceships can change their colors at will!

    Best wishes to you and yours. xo

  7. May has been lovely and sunny.. Your little seating area looks so pretty. I have them in my path self seeded, also call them grandmothers bonnets because my mum did, I do love Aquelegia for their many colours.
    King Lear was an Level English Literature book for me. I bet it was magical watching the plays, such a special place.
    Yes, that area has many memories for me too, the river and Devil's bridge . Did you know they filmed a little of the BBC Jamaica Inn in The square at Kirkby Lonsdale. I was taken on a surprise stay at The Royal , we had such a lovely break. Weather was so nice, so very lucky.
    The owl is going to be gorgeous.

  8. Lovely post! Someday I dream of visiting merry old England. I love the nature of our southwest desert, for that is where God has planted me. Your work and blog are inspirational and I'm desperately wanting to get my hands on your books as another blog I follow recently shared some and I was enchanted beyond expression with the art and the verse!

  9. Grandmother's bonnets is such a lovely name for aquelegias and one that is still being used by many of you I see.

    Milly, I did not know that about Jamaica Inn, Kirby Lonsdale is such a lovely place.

    Welcome Katie, thank you for visiting my blog and your kind words. You ma be interested to know that there is a link to my bookshop in my sidebar and I am happy to ship anywhere. Sadly books are rather heavy by airmail and I am in the UK.

  10. Aquilegias do seem to change colour as they spread about the garden - and spread they certainly do, still love them though and I love the name granny's bonnets for them. Stratford is one of my all time favourite places. We used to go lots years ago and try to see two or three plays a year, now we live closer we don't go so often. I've seen some wonderful performances there - I remember a lively Comedy of Errors with Judy Dench, Richard Griffiths and many more plus the day we sat through three history plays when we went to see The Plantagents. Glad you had a super time - the newly refurbished theate is wonderful isn't it?:)

  11. hello Valerie! nice to meet you!

    another one with a garden full of aquilegias, granny's bonnets or columbines, whichever name you prefer! I tend to use columbines myself! They've done really well this year, good for the bees and lovely for me! lots of seeds to collect later too!

    The last two photos are lovely, i adore your little owl painting!

    Leanne x

  12. Yes Rosie the newly refurbished theatre is indeed very beautiful.

    Welcome Leanne, nice to meet you too. Yes, the bees do love those flowers, yet another reason to let them flourish.

  13. Hi Valerie, lovely to meet you via blogland :) What beautiful work you do. I love your little owl mini!!!

  14. That owl is gorgeous! (I have a thing for owls nowadays. Even our street name has "Owl" in it).

    You are very talented, and I am very envious of that talent!