Today I visited the garden of a friend who died suddenly last year. The Old Cottage at Colby Corner in Norfolk was and remains a beautiful inspiring garden full of charm and design. Judith Clarke had a wonderful eye for colour and structure and combined plants to show them at their best through the juxtaposition of complimentary or contrasting shapes, forms or hues.
Before leaving I felt encouraged by my pilgrimage to one of my favourite places to reach for my art supplies. Handling them between my fingers - the familiarity of the brushes and paint boxes, still covered by the patina of paint residue from their last use years ago, communicated a desire to use them again. I found an old bottle with a stopper and a jar that sat comfortably on its neck, a part used sketch pad and my lovely watercolour case and carried them with me to the car... Just in case.
The garden was remarkably similar to memory and it seemed as if Judith was in some way still there. I wandered lazily, noticing possible compositions and lingered over a delicious cream tea. After spending much time and money on the bargain plant sale - picking up exotic treasures like a catalpa, crimuns, olleander, and a beautiful old terracotta pot brimming with eucomis - I decided I would just get out my sketch book and maybe take my paints along and might just do a few sketches in honour of Judith. And dear reader I painted - not well - not remarkably - but a watercolour sketch nonetheless of bergamot, lillies, delphiniums, persercarias and a cool lemon yellow hollyhock. I may even have presented a romantic picture myself in my floppy brimmed rafia sunhat crossed legged on a picnic rug surrounded by brushes, paints and jam jar.