the end of May turned out wet and chilly, and spring flowers have been very drawn out. on Monday (31st May) I went to Kemback wood, which was a treat, the bluebells still out.

as they were on the Balcarres estate on the Saturday

both these places have a lot of white in the mix too.

with the rain the Balcarres old sawmill waterwheel chute was at full charge

I was very happy to find marsh marigolds in a tiny burn alongside a stone wall above Colinsburgh, part of the folly foray five mile walk.

this fairytale neogothic gatehouse looking even more romantic with the clematis

I am hoping this chunky pergola (douglas fir from the sawmill at Newburgh) will soon be draped with white flowers too.

I’ve planted this clematis which has big white flowers, and a white montana, and I have a star jasmine on order, which is evergreen, except it will be ever bronze in the winter, and should cover the woodwork eventually. plus behind that bit of fence is a winter flowering jasmine … so I have put the tit box up in the top of the pergola, hoping to encourage lots of denizens and make my garden a bit more of a jungle.

the prairie seedlings are all doing well, everything is now potted on

but the older ones are rooting through the bottoms of the pots so I need to get a move on and prepare some ground. the intention is to sheet mulch part of the back lawn with cardboard, topsoil and farmyard manure, and to fence it off from my enthusiastic hole digging dog. it looks like we are in for a dryish week or two and I am already spot watering the front lawn where I’ve planted cowslip and harebell plugs, and having to water the old flowerbed in front of the house where I’ve sown seeds for oxeye daisy, field scabious and wild carrot.

I’m continuing to draw out in the field, not so much for information, but for the feel of it

it loosens things up

here’s another big painting, the blue on it a bit of a surprise. on the lines, it was a blue I had mixed up a week or so before, and it needed using up – I was amazed it was still viable – and after that it took over.

still quite translucent, and some of it with a lustre

plus some pink got going

an echo of these rather beautiful exotics at Balcarres

pink balancing act

so it ended up with more blue and more bright light green, and the peachy orange …. and it was Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday, because of which I’d bought his most recent album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, so this is called To Give Myself to You/ Blue/ Green/ Pink/ Orange Spring, and it’s 160 x 176 cm.

more pink

and that pale yellowy green – a different kind of fern. I am looking at my grasses, sedges and ferns reference book, but it’s very hard to tell. this could be an ostrich fern, of the hard fern family, not native but it says cultivated and sometimes naturalised – which would fit this artificial habitat, along with the rhododendrons and azaleas. next time I am at Balcarres I’ll have to look for some other clues, for the two kinds of fronds, and the erect rootstocks.

all the woods here are full of ferns, rather than the bramble and other impenetrable scramblers and nettles I am used to in Norfolk. as the woods here are generally on high rocky ground, rather than the swampy places they generally occupy in Norfolk, I suppose it could be to do with soil and drainage. they are a beautiful sight, especially when just uncurling.

scaly male fern is generally cited as present in woods here, I think along with male fern. I need to look more carefully to see if there are buckler, lady fern or any others. adders tongue is present in Tentsmuir forest, but I haven’t noticed it anywhere else. many of the male or scaly male ferns have huge stumps and must be very old.

back in the studio a somewhat ferny painting, a diptych consisting of two birch ply panels set on deep frames so there is a nice three-dimensional element to them.

I put it up on the painting wall, attached a brush to a cane with some tape, and painted it very much from a distance with loops and splats of this soft green.

some marks were added with aquarelle crayon

“Outset/ferns/gravity”, acrylic and collage, 41 x 82 cm.