Spring Garden Patrol, Eynsham is a painting of the beautiful cottage gardens of Elms Terrace, Queens Lane, Eynsham. The terrace of mellow yellow Oxfordshire stone cottages were probably built in the 17th century (though I’m struggling to find the exact date).
Taking the cats for a walk
A path runs alongside the boundary wall at the back of the gardens. My cats Officer Dibble (the tortoiseshell) and Skipper (the ginger tabby) like to accompany me part of the way on my morning walks around the village, and they wait on this ancient wall, which is the outer limit of their territory, for my return. It’s really very sweet! The girls take their patrolling duties very seriously – keeping a lookout for the many birds that inhabit the leafy centre of the village – goldfinches, blue tits and long tailed tits – and for any naughty approaching dogs.
The gardens of Elms Terrace are utterly charming at any time of year, but in the spring they are at their very best – a tangle of blossoming fruit trees and native spring wildflowers including primroses, hyacinths, dog roses, honeysuckle and foxgloves. In mid-Spring, the tulips and japonica splash the scene with red and magenta. What I really love about the gardens here is that they are not manicured or formal in any way – the residents of the cottages put plants in and let them go. And when native species come along – like the primroses in the lawns – they just let them be. I love that.
In my painting Spring Garden Patrol, Eynsham, I have tried to express something of the pure joy I feel when I walk here.
Inspired by Vincent
For assistance in how to tackle this scene, I have reached for my usual teacher – Vincent van Gogh – whose spring garden paintings from his final few months in Auvers-sure-Oise seem to be filled with the same kind of joy as I feel when I walk through the village. This chapter in Vincent’s life didn’t end well, but his swan song were some of the most exuberant garden paintings I know, for example, this one of Margaret Gachet in the Garden from 1890.
I spotted a big brown hare in a field margin just outside our village. I'd gone out to admire the hawthorn blossom and cow parsley in the verges, but this lovely creature made my day!
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I also have greetings cards of this painting.
Harper Lee's book, To Kill a Mockingbird is, I believe, one of the finest novels ever written. The person who commissioned this original painting thinks so too!
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