Posts Tagged ‘maggie howarth’

Can you tell me what that plant is?

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Show week at Chelsea, and it’s been a delight to meet visitors and speak to them. Rather gruelling after some rather long (and hot) days during Build-Up, but such a pleasure to hear the response to our garden. Here is a typical day manning the garden!

Visitor: This is fabulous! My favourite garden so far

Me: Thank you, glad you like it!

V: How wonderful to see some colour at Chelsea at last, it’s about time

M: Yes, we love colour in the garden, too

V: Can you tell me what that plant is, the tall yellow one. Is it a Delphinium?

M: No, it’s a Verbascum ‘Cotswold Queen’ and its from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants in the Pavilion

V: Did you make the mosaic yourself?

M: No, Maggy Howarth designed and made it – she’s the best in the country for these pebble mosaics

V: What is the name of the shorter iris at the front of the border?

M: Iris ‘Jane Phillips’  – the other one is Iris ‘Superstition’

V: Did you make the mosaic on site when you built the garden?

M: No, it was made off site and took three months to create

V: Do you know what the Pavilion is made of?

M: No!

V: Did they lift the mosaic in one piece into the garden?

M: No, it’s made in sections and put together on site, rather like a big jigsaw

V: Can you tell me where the aviary is in the garden?

M: Its the big blue building taking up half the garden!

V: Is that double flower a tulip?

M: Yes, ‘Cassablanca’

V: Was the mosaic always here and then you created the garden around it?

M: No, we had the mosaic especially commissioned and made for the garden. There was nothing here when we arrived except grass

V: I think you were robbed, you should have got Gold and Best In Show! This is by far the best garden here – I love it!

M: Thank you, so do we!

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The Mosaic Takes Shape

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

When Maggy needs more pebbles for the mosaic she is building, she doesn’t just pick up the phone and order them from her supplier. She goes in person to the beach in Anglesea where she has a licence to collect them. She has just returned from two back-breaking days of hard labour individually picking out some more white limestone pebbles, of just the right shape, size and colour. Meanwhile Mark, her assistant, has been cracking on with the border, all 15 metres of it. They decided in the end to use blue-black slate to intertwine between the white pebbles because it would look crisper. A good decision- the effect is stunning. The photo above shows a section of the border and the one below shows Mark fitting the pieces together. Final casting is set for next Thursday. Phew.

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Iris eyes are almost smiling

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Iris 'Jane Phillips'

A week today and we’re on site at the 2010 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. There’s more than a touch of tingling excitiment as we are looking forward to getting this garden created and ready to show off to the visitors and, of course, the judges! Last minute details are being poured over from what crockery set to dress the table with to how all the plants are looking. Jonathan is commendibly overseeing everything to do with the aviary and Maggy Howarth’s stunning pebble mosaic: the aviary is being painted this weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished result!

This morning as I drove through Cambridge my heart had a somewhat large flutter when I saw some blue irises in full bloom in someone’s garden. We have Iris ‘Jane Phillips’ and Iris ‘Superstition’ in our Chelsea garden, being grown by Kelways (who are also growing paeonies and ferns for the garden). I know the ferns are looking good but a frantic e-mail on my return from Cambridge has gone to Dave at Kelways asking for photos of our irises. I’m really hoping they haven’t gone over! The picture above shows Iris ‘Jane Phillips’ at Brocket Hall. All our tulips at Jacques Amand are now in cold storage to hold them back: these will be the last plants we put in during the Saturday/Sunday before the show opens as any earlier and they will have gone over too much for the judges. Next week I’m going to see how the trees, hedging and shrubs are doing and I’m hoping that the beautiful medlars will be ready to flower in time for judging and show week.

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An eye for detail

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

This photo is of a section of the peacock’s tail, showing the wide range of pebbles which Maggy is using, including semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, for the mosaic which will form the path leading to the aviary in our garden. Thousands of pebbles and stones will be needed, so many in fact that Maggy announced today that she is running short and will have to make an excursion to Anglesey where she has a special licence to collect pebbles from a secret location which is owned by a titled gentleman there. I’m flabbergasted that with time running so short she has the time and energy to travel for five hours for the back-breaking task of hand-picking pebbles.
The lapis lazuli are mined in Afghanistan. Formerly, lapis lazuli was ground and processed to make the pigment ultramarine for tempera paint and, sometimes, oil paint. The ultramarine colour of the stone will be a perfect foil for the ultramarine paint on the aviary.
The picture below shows Maggy choosing the stone for the Peacock’s eye. She plumped for the one in her left hand.

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Maggy Howarth’s Mosaic

Friday, April 16th, 2010


The mosaic which Maggy Howarth is creating for the Victorian Aviary garden is 12 square metres in size, which may not sound much but is the size of the average spare bedroom- in other words pretty damn massive when you think that it’s made entirely of pebbles. I went to Maggy’s workshop today to see how things were coming along. It’s about half finished, with the main part of the design, the Peacock, laid out in one enormous piece outside and the rest , including the border, in sections on several large tables in the workshop. I’m completely taken aback by the intricacy of the work and the quality of the craftsmanship. It’s awe-inspiring. . We checked the time table and Maggy gave a big gulp when I confirmed that the mosaic needs to be at Chelsea for May 13th, which is less than four weeks from now. Mark, her only assistant, is away installing a mosaic in Gatehead. As soon as he gets back, it will be flat out for them both until the mosaic is safely installed.

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Maggy’s mosaic takes shape

Thursday, March 11th, 2010


Maggy Howarth, who is making the mosaic path which leads from Main Avenue to the Aviary has sent us an exciting progress report. Here’s what she has to say:

‘I had a day out getting the coloured rocks for the peacock’s tail; there’s a glorious Aladdins cave in Yorkshire where you can buy exotic rocks & gemstones from all over the world…. I came back with aventurine (soft bottle green) & amazonite (pale aquamarine… or swimming pool green) & lapis lazuli.. Brilliant blue. All very extravagant, but we need the colours. They are at this moment rumbling away in my big tumbler, & will need a few more days yet to make them like “pebbles”.’

The photo is of the little birds which will be used in the border. The whole process of drying, then firing, glazing and firing again takes about three weeks and Maggy can’t start work on the border until they are all ready. See the posting on February 2nd for a drawing of Maggy’s design.

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