We ♥ the flower of love at Hampton Court

If you’ve seen our vans, uniforms, business cards or indeed anything to do with the Open Living Company, you can’t help but notice that we just love the delicate beauty of the agapanthus flower. It is a dominant feature of our logo – a product of Mother Nature working at her very best. It is, of course, a flower that was literally created to conjure up strong emotion…its name means “flower of love” from the Greek (as you can read in detail here).

So, we couldn’t help enjoying a little thrill on visiting Hampton Court Flower Show on Sunday, despite dodging the rain and trying to get a strong enough phone signal to find out (through our fingers, like when we watch Dr Who) how Andy Murray was getting on.  We were blown away by the work of contemporary artist blacksmith Jenny Pickford, the centrepiece of whose display was a giant agapanthus flower installation. Jenny designs and makes unique sculptures, water features and architectural ironwork. Her designs combine forged, galvanised steel with spectacular blown glass, and nothing is shown to greater effect than the stunning agapanthus that dominated the skyline on Sunday.

Giant agapanthus at Hampton Court Flower Show

Jenny Pickford at Hampton Court Flower Show

Apart from our natural bias towards the agapanthus, garden sculpture generally is a favourite of ours. We have always loved, for example, going to the amazing Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden in Ockley, Surrey – just driving into it is like entering a magical dingly dell, where you can imagine seeing Huckleberry Finn fishing off the wooden deck that stretches out from the house and where, as you wander, you just happen upon unusual and often fabulous pieces of art…it’s a place where art truly comes to life.

Equally, we love and have an emotional reaction to the work of sculptress Carol Peace, who works in several different media so that her pieces can be commissioned for either internal or external spaces.

So we firmly believe that a garden scuplture could be a fantastic centrepiece to any garden redesign – a focal point that gives a garden new definition and can cleverly reflect other elements and touches within the design. If you were thinking about redecorating your living room or bedroom, you may well carefully think about a piece of art as a strong statement or a finishing touch. So with a garden sculpture.

You have to think very carefully before selecting the right piece. Remembering that you will have to live with looking at it for years, it needs to be something you not only love but is something that is not so fashionable that it will look dated in a year’s time.  It needs to work well with the space you have, so that it doesn’t either overpower you or get lost.  It also needs to work well against the horticultural backdrop that it will sit in, like an internal painting carefully chosen to sit against a particular wallpaper. Not forgetting the importance of material so that it still looks good as the years (and weather fronts) pass, it also needs to stand up to the scrutiny of all the different lights that will bathe the garden.

Garden sculptures have existed since the earliest gardens in ancient Rome, Greece and Islam – and what’s good enough for the ancient Romans is good enough for us!


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