Fire I Sky I Cider Open Studios 2018

October 6th, 2018

Miriam Sheppard and I created a pop up studio at Pilton Cider, this is a fantastic space which served as a very quirky backdrop to our work.  We all had a successful Arts Weeks 2018 making lots of new contacts as well as sales.  Here are a few photographs.

Porcelain bowl and Sisyrinchium cordage gone to a new home in Devon


White stoneware, green glaze & reed cordage

Painting by Miriam Sheppard, my new ceramics & willow


Murmuration forms in willow, ceramics and garden plant cordage


White stoneware, Sisyrinchium cordage


White stoneware, Narcissus poeticus cordage

Fire Sky Cider

September 13th, 2018

I was brought up surrounded by ceramics, my father, Peter Morley, made tableware and was very influenced by Leech pottery and Michael Cardew. My mother made, and still makes, fine stoneware sculptural pieces. As a child I was never interested in clay nor pottery, my interest was firmly focused on the native flora in the surrounding countryside.

This changed three years ago, when I signed up to a pottery evening class, since then I have been learning about the vast world of slips, oxides, glazes and hand building enjoying the link back to my parent’s world and my world of horticulture.

Over the past year I have been working to combine plant matter such as willow and homemade leaf cordage with my clay forms. I am showing the fruits of this work alongside landscape paintings by Miriam Sheppard at Somerset Arts Weeks 2018 at my husband’s cidery, Pilton Cider.

Somerset is well known for its cider and creative communities, by bringing the two together we hope to challenge visitor’s preconceptions of the use of natural materials in sculpture, landscape painting and Somerset cider. The location, in the grade II listed Anglo trading estate also raises an awareness of the industrial history of Shepton Mallet and offers a quirky backdrop to our work.

Somerset Arts Weeks 2018 starts on Saturday 15th September and runs until the end of the month. We will be open 11am – 6pm daily.

Somerset Arts Weeks pop up studio at Pilton Cider

July 29th, 2018

Somerset Art Works Open Studios 2018

I am pleased to announce that this year I will be taking part in Somerset Art Works Open Studios 2018. I have joined forces with Miriam Sheppard and Pilton Cider to create a pop-up studio at Pilton Cider’s cidery. Offering art and cider tastings, what more could you wish for!

Miriam and I will be working daily giving a rare insight into how we work; our practice and inspirations. We are also offering concertina book making ‘have-a-go’ sessions for children and cider tastings for adults.

Our pop up studio will be open 11-6pm daily from 15-30 September 2018, do come and see us.

Before and after – Somerset

July 26th, 2018

I don’t usually post before and after pictures however some clients sent me some pictures of their garden a couple of years on from initial planting.  They also had just opened their garden for the first time as part of the village open gardens event and sent me an email full of enthusiasm:

…”Having not had any previous experience, we were a little apprehensive as to whether people would be interested.  As it turned out our fears were unfounded and we received very favourable comments from most of the 280+ visitors.
In order to explain the story of this comparatively recent garden, we produced a manual with “before and after” pictures. It also contained photocopies of your planting plans and the alphabetic plant note pages. We also had a copy of your letterhead to show that we had had professional help….”

The garden is full of texture, colour, movement and interest now.  There is less grass to mow creating more time and space for a bit of vegetable growing.

Green and white

June 25th, 2018

This is a friend’s garden – long and narrow creating an immersive experience with deep borders of tall herbaceous borders either side of the grass path. The garden is dominated by white flowers through the summer, here the oxeye daisies catch the eye but there is also white Hesperis matrionalis, Digitalis, Astrantia, feverfew, Centranthus, Philadelphus, Thalictrum, Ammi, Orlaya and Cosmos. Green and white creates a very relaxing feeling in a garden and can be lifted with spots of lime (e.g. Alchemilla mollis) or blue (Nepeta).


Walking in the Picos de Europa

June 15th, 2018

Last week whilst the UK has basked in a mini heatwave, I was walking in the Picos de Europa (northern Spain)  enjoying the wild flowers of alpine meadows.

The mountain weather was much cooler than here and trees were only just coming into leaf.  One high altitude walk was curtailed by snow and cloud and our alternative lower altitude walk was through a hail storm.  However I spotted wild Narcissus I have never seen before, notably the tiny Narcissus asturiensis (the size of a Euro coin), a lone Narcissus bulbocodium, lots of Narcissus triandrus and on the last day, high up valleys of Narcissus pseudonarcissus.

Other highlights included orchids, especially the lovely pink butterfly orchid (Orchis papilionacea) and Erythronium dens-canis.

I love walking in the mountains as you see so many plants that we grow in our gardens,  it reminds me of the 19th century plant collectors and the task they set themselves of getting what they thought were interesting plants, safely back to the UK down difficult rocky paths with mules.

Lithospermum diffusum grows almost everywhere on free draining rocky land whilst Primula veris

It is a fine way of learning and appreciating native habitats of our garden plants.


Masterclass with Dr. Nigel Dunnett

June 8th, 2018

I was both taken by surprise and transfixed by Nigel’s introduction:

‘We are bound into nature, we are tied tight to nature, this bond is buried and hidden in people explaining our affinity for nature, it is in our core, it is inescapable. Nature makes us feel complete’. Bold statements, I love them!

He says his mission is to provoke positive emotions in people (i.e. Joy), offering an immersive experience; ecology and biodiversity are secondary. Think back to the stunning Olympic park plantings, mass pictorial meadows on derelict sites with paths mown through and check out his more recent roof garden at the Barbican.

Then there is his skill in ‘layering’ where the planting schemes change through the season like a never ending roman candle firework, finally coming to rest in the winter with a strong structure (a garden should be judged in the winter not in the summer).

I have come away from the day with my head buzzing with plant combinations and the challenge to increase my plant densities, cramming my borders in search of an even better roman candle effect.

Invisible intervention – making space

June 4th, 2018

In my experience people are afraid to prune and take control but I see this as the pivotal role of the gardener. To garden is a verb, it is a doing thing, gardening is a creative process, a collaboration with nature and the gardener has to decide what stays and what goes (e.g. take control of self seeding), how big things are allowed to get (e.g. spreading perennials, size of shrubs) and even the shape of trees and shrubs. This month gentle tweaking will make the garden look even better, here are some tips:

  • Pull up 90% of Lunaria annua (honesty), leaving a few plants so that you still have some plants for next year. This will free up a lot of space in the beds and prevent too much seeding. I love the early purple flowers in the garden.
  • Be ruthless and dig up any Aquilegia in the wrong place or the wrong colour, this will also reduce seeding of this prolific perennial.
  • Snip off the seedheads of Aquilegia that have gone over, you can be quite ruthless, they are tough plants.
  • Cut back Arabis (Rock Cress) once it has finished flowering, there will be a lot to cut away but you will be left with a neat cushion.
  • Tidy and deadhead Pulmonarias
  • Pull up 90% of self seeding annuals & biennials as they start to pass their best (e.g. forget-me-nots, foxgloves)
  • Dig up / reduce a good number of self seeded perennials (e.g. Papaver cambricum, the Welsh Poppy – in my garden they pop up everywhere).
  • The chelsea chop, I have cut back half of my Campanula ‘Loddon Anna’, they are big plants so it also controls size a bit too.
  • Keep an eye on those weeds, I have small patches of bind weed and then there is the ever present bittercress that can set seed in only 8 weeks.
  • Staking, this needs to be done as early as possible (e.g. May). I move my metal cradle supports around the garden as plants get cut back / go over and others need support.
  • There is pruning to do too, at the weekend I pruned the Choisya ternata and the inherited Lonicera nitida both of which can be thugs unless kept in check.Done right, this removal of plants should not show!

Secret garden

May 22nd, 2018

We transformed this sloping walled garden by taking the radical decision of removing a huge overgrown pergola that divided the space and then pruning  many of the shrubs and putting in some stone retaining walls.  The garden has been opened up to create an outdoor kitchen with hoggin paths that link to a theatre space (a yurt space in the winter), there is also an enlarged upper terrace and several of my willow pieces installed around the garden.

A walk in the Picos de Europa

May 18th, 2018

Last week whilst the UK has basked in a mini heatwave, I was walking in the Picos de Europa (northern Spain)  enjoying the wild flowers of alpine meadows. The mountain weather was much cooler than here and trees were only just coming into leaf.  One high altitude walk was curtailed by snow and cloud and our alternative lower altitude walk was through a hail storm.  However I spotted wild Narcissus, notably the tiny Narcissus asturiensis (the size of a Euro coin), a lone Narcissus bulbocodium, lots of Narcissus triandrus and on the last day, high up valleys of Narcissus pseudonarcissus.


Walking through the countryside allows you to discover so much more than driving past and looking out of the car window.  Even when walking I didn’t at first notice the tiny Narcissus asturiensis and I would have certainly missed the Lathyrea clandestina lurking in the grass.

Other highlights / new plants for me were the lovely pink butterfly orchid (Orchis papilionacea) and an unsual Heart-flowered Serapias (Serapias cordigera). In woodland I came across Erythronium dens-canis and Scilla lilio-hyacinthoides.



Lithospermum diffusum
grows almost everywhere on exposed free draining rocky land whilst Primula veris, ( looks quite different from our cowslip with a much more open flower) and Asphodelus albus grow widely in meadows and woodland edges. Hepatica nobilis carpets woodlands and I found the tiny Narcisssus asturiensis both on thin soil at 1800m altitude and in high up woodland only recently free from snow.

Close to Potes, we climbed a very steep 700m up through Mediterranean scrub over acid shales dominated by evergreen oak, juniper, turpentine tree (Syncarpia glomulifera), Rhamnus alaternus, Lavandula stoechas and white rock rose (Cistus psilosepalus).  A mountain holiday is a fine way to learn about the native habitats of our garden plants.

I love walking in the mountains as you see so many plants that we grow in our gardens,  it reminds me of the 19th century plant collectors and the task they set themselves of getting what they thought were interesting plants, safely back to the UK down difficult rocky paths with mules and then all the way up through Europe and across the Channel.


The edible tassle hyacinth