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

5 Tips to encourage wildlife

April 26th, 2018

As spring unfurls, hedgerows are greening up, garden borders are crammed with new shoots, noisy birds are busy nest building and raising young. Warmer temperatures get the lawn growing, dandelions flowering and hungry insects seeking out nectar and juicy shoots. So what can we do to keep nature in balance and to encourage wildlife in our gardens?

1 Provide overwintering sites for insects (and their eggs), bats and amphibians, for example leave access to sheds and barns, south facing dry stone walls, ‘wildlife hotels’, log or stone piles which can be be ornamentally stacked and therefore act as a focal point. Avoid cutting back everything in the garden in the autumn instead tidy up in March, composting all debris or making a log pile with the woody material.

2 Value trees, hedges and large shrubs in your garden (or plant some), these are very important to birds for shelter, nesting and as a source of food since insects will live, feed and breed in the crevices, on the leaves and flowers. Birds eat huge numbers of caterpillars and some even time the incubation of their eggs to coincide with caterpillar emergence

3 Grow a range of early flowering plants such as Lonicera fragrantissima, Daphne, snowdrop, Scilla, Cyclamen, Hellebore, Pulmonaria, Begenia to provide nectar for early emerging insects (for example honey bees, bumble bees, butterflies)

4 Create a pond, the larger the better however even a small pond will attract some wildlife. A pond without fish and with at least 1/3 of the base covered in submerged oxygenating pond plants is ideal. In my pond I have a healthy population of newts including great crested newts.

5 Don’t be too tidy in the garden, an area of long un-mown grass is important for a wide range of moths and butterflies (moths being good bat food), it will also save time and money. Mown paths through long grass look good, and can lead to an attractive seat or a glade with some furniture. Mid summer and in October this can be cut however consider cutting it a bit higher than the rest of the lawn for permanent interest and structure to the garden.

Snowy tracks

March 18th, 2018

The snow blankets the garden, bends snowdrop and hellebore flowers to the ground and reveals otherwise unseen tracks.  I am looking forward to warmer temperatures so I can get gardening and my vegetable seeds to germinate

Working against a slope

February 23rd, 2018

Steps, retaining walls and levelled lawn optimising space in this garden where there is an overall 10 metre drop.

Exhibition preview

February 9th, 2018

My ‘Taking Refuge’ exhibition opens tonight until 10 March, here is a sneak preview of some of the work.
There is a workshop on Saturday 3rd March to learn a simple knotting technique for wall hangings, see ‘workshop’ page.

In this exhibition I draw links with the shape of the wigwams to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where shelter is of prime importance. Nests signify many things however here they can symbolise the higher levels on Maslow’s hierarchy, for example security, family, love. Esteem and self actualization at the tip of the pyramid or wigwam, have to be reached for, by taking refuge somewhere safe, there is the opportunity to grow and fulfill dreams.

I love the winter starling murmurations that occur in Somerset, these vast numbers of starlings have taken flight from northern Scandinavia to escape the winter cold there, to find food and shelter here. The work on the exhibition walls are  entitled ‘flight’ representing this phenomenon.

Check the opening times for AceArts here before visiting to see all the work.


January 22nd, 2018

It is time to prune Clematis, an easy task for late summer flowering types (e.g. Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’ and Clematis tangutica), just cut low and pull away.  I am sure I will use these prunings in one of my next sculptures.

This is what I have made last week with the tendrils of Vitis purpurea from the garden (pruned November – December).  I will be exhibiting this piece at AceArts 10February – 10 March

Taking refuge, exhibition

January 17th, 2018

Detail of one of the large forms for my exhibition at AceArts 10 Feb – 10 March 2018

Press release for upcoming exhibition at AceArts

January 11th, 2018

Taking Refuge’

10 February – 10 March

ACE Arts Gallery, Market Place, Somerton, TA11 7NB


Angela Morley is an artist and garden designer from Shepton Mallet. Born in the south of England she moved at the age of 10 with her family to France. Angela, from a Hertfordshire village, was homesick for England but fell in love with the French countryside where she found solace and safety. The title of her upcoming exhibition – ‘Taking Refuge’ – references these feelings, as does the idea of ‘home’, which is also of prime importance to her.

Angela studied Horticulture at the University of Bath, laying the framework for her work as a garden designer. While living in Hampshire she invested in ten acres of ancient coppiced woodland and began a lifelong fascination with woodland ecosystems and plants. She learned how to handle a chainsaw and spot butterfly orchids, and the experience informed her development as an artist working with natural materials.

Now living in Shepton Mallet, Angela continues to work with the products of woodland and hedgerow, weaving willow, bramble and bamboo into cocoons and nests and cradle-like sculptures embellished with feathers and grasses and found natural objects. Her studio is like a shoreline after a storm, with a tangle of stems and tendrils, thistles and feathers, and lengths of willow and hazel.

Her solo exhibition ‘Taking Refuge’ at ACE Arts in Somerton, 10 February – 10 March, showcases her sculptural work. The gallery, in the old Town Hall, is spacious, which gives her the opportunity to exhibit some larger pieces of work. She is showing five large woven sculptures which can be sited outside as focal points as well as lots of smaller sized pieces on a domestic scale. Children love the large sculptures and adore hiding in them and as they are on metal frames they can be added to by their owners. Taking place in the cold month of February, ‘Taking Refuge’ also embodies the idea of taking shelter from the unruly weather, and of safeguarding precious memories.

Angela says: “For me this exhibition is about showing people the close-up details of the wonders of nature. I’ve used lots of different materials such as fine grass heads and downy thistles, lots of different textures and buds and even peacock feathers. All my work is about opening people’s eyes to the beauty of nature and I hope that if people can see how beautiful it is they will be able to respect it more.”


Solo exhibition 10 February – 10 March 2018

December 14th, 2017

I am hunkering down to a lot of weaving using locally and sustainably harvested materials for my exhibition which is only 8 weeks away.    There will be workshops (see my workshop page) and there will be wow factor!

In this exhibition I will be transforming the exhibition space at ACEarts with bold use of willow and woodland materials; expect an installation that will capture your imagination.

The exhibition will create a refuge for the viewer, to contemplate the works’ subtle colours and textures whilst also reflecting on mankind’s ultimate dependence on the plant world for food, shelter and psychological well being. The exhibition will be a refuge from the cold weather outdoors, offering time for quiet contemplation on the healing power of nature and that of our gardens.

New shop now open

October 23rd, 2017

I have just opened an Etsy shop, take a look at http://etsy.me/2gyzsEC

Tumbling leaf forms available on Etsy

willow / sculpture / handmade / original / natural / art / contemporary / interior design / design / British / somerset / focal point / abstract / woven / ornamental / decorative / artwork / creative / swirling / flowing / gift / garden / maker / designer