'The Secret Garden' was and is still one of my favorite stories. I'm still in love with the idea of happening upon a forgotten garden where you need a key to get in, a place safe from unwanted visitors or strangers. A special place for you and your thoughts or you and your closest friends, hidden away from the bustle and noise of the world. Somewhere you can slow down and listen to birds while you watch things grow. The studio is kind of like that, if I'm sensible and shut off the email and put the phone away so I can work uninterrupted. Our garden can be very much like that unless our neighbor's across the alley decide to give their jackhammer or tablesaw a thorough workout. For the most part though, our home here is a safe haven for us to dream, plant things, relax, tune everything else out and watch plants and ideas grow.
But visiting a real walled garden that can actually be locked up?! I'm not afraid to admit that at 37 years old, that kind of shit is still cool to me. Especially when said garden is owned by a friend. Last September the BD and I visited the Walled Garden at Mells in the small village of Mells in Somerset, England. I shared my sketches from that trip in a post here in my online journal, but I hadn't made any acrylic paintings from the garden yet. The garden has a little cafe in it and a wood fired pizza oven, indoor and outdoor seating, and a marvelous view from the terrace of a picturesque green space where some very curious cows like to spend as much time gawking at folks have tea as the folks having tea like to gawk at the cows. There are some grape vines for wine, and some apple trees for cider-making, and if you venture to the back of the garden through a very old archway shrouded by ivy, you will happen upon the garden piano which rests against the stone wall by the back entrance.
It was a working piano at some point, but it has lived outside in the elements for I don't know how long. When I last chatted with my friend about it, she said it is ready to fall apart at any moment. I'm sure some music lovers reading this might cringe at the thought of a lovely upright piano being left outside to be a side table for the odd potted plant, but what else do you do with these things when they don't work anymore and no one wants them? There are so many things we enjoyed about the Walled Garden at Mells, but that plant piano still stands out in my memory as one of the neatest things I've seen. And because it probably won't be there when I'm finally able to go back for another visit, I thought it would be good to capture it on canvas, so someone else with a secret love for the reclusive and romantic notions of a private garden with such an odd and interesting treasure tucked in a corner might also enjoy it.
You just never know who is reading stuff like this and what they might be really looking for, right?