Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Man-made landscapes in Suffolk

Wasn't it a glorious morning! A bit chilly – there was frost on the grass – but the deep blue sky and bright sunshine was perfect . . . because I had planned a day jam-packed with treats.

After breakfast I headed off in the car to Ickworth Park . . . full of magnificent trees

At the park kiosk I was handed a little slip of paper with directions on it – you see, I wasn't here to just wander about – my neighbour had asked if I'd like to join her at a grape-vine pruning workshop; and, although I'd already hacked back the vines in my kitchen garden, I thought it sounded like a good way to spend a morning.

So off I drove through the park (visitors aren't normally allowed to do this, but you can walk the same parkland tracks) past the impressive elliptical dome of Ickworth House

Down the hill past the estate church to the walled garden that is now home to Ickworth Vineyard

There were five of us amateur vine owners, wanting to learn the art of pruning from expert Jillian Macready, who with her husband Charles planted and tends to the vines both here and at Wyken – another famous Suffolk vineyard. First we walked down the gentle slope towards the lake and settled down for a chat in the Earl of Bristol's Summerhouse.

Then armed with our secateurs and loppers we set off to prune the Rondo grape vines under Jillian's guidance . . .

. . . we learned about poles and cordons and spurs – growth that was too weak, too vigorous or just right – balancing the vine and thinking about how it will grow not just this year but in the future.

Most of all I learned that no vine ever looks like the diagrams in the books, and even under expert care they often don't grow how you want them to – rain, frosts, sun, drought can't be controlled! And there's so much more to find out, like 'bud rubbing' and 'canopy control' which we didn't even touch on in today's workshop! But it was a great morning, worth it to spend time working in such a stunning setting on a beautiful sunny day.

Before going home, I decided to pop into Bury St Edmunds – to the newly re-branded town art gallery Smith's Row . . .

to see the art installation that everyone is talking about

Sweet, sweet galaxy by Pip & Pop

. . . look closer – be amazed!

It's no wonder that everyone leaving the gallery
has a great big smile on their face!



  1. What an amazing day! That sugary landscape is quite stupendous, sort of like I imagine Planet Penny to be on the other side! Thanks for the tour, Penny x

  2. what a great day out......want to get to ickworth when the house opens.....am going to try to get to bury on saturday, saw the exhibit on the silver pebble blog and cant wait to see it...

  3. A lovely day for spending time outside, and in such a lovely place. Lucky thing.

  4. What a wonderful day! I am desperate to get to Smiths Row but it's closed on Sundays and Saturdays here are a disaster zone.

  5. Wow that sky was BLUE! and what an amazing piece of artwork.

  6. Isn't it stunning???

    Pruning vines sounds so soothing.

  7. Fantastic ! I love going for a long walk to Ickworth and stop for a light lunch. I feel british then.
    Thanks for sharing. A pleasure to read you. I'm going to Bury on Thursday and will definitely go to the gallery.

  8. I visited the vineyard 24 hours before your workshop and was struck by the peacefulness. It must have been wonderful to 'lose yourself' tending the vines, and on such a lovely day, too! Ickworth is a gem (and so are the cakes and coffee in the West Wing!).

  9. Two totally different things, both equally grin-inducing. Sounds like a perfect day. "Chatting in the Earl of Bristol's summerhouse" has to be my favourite quote from the blogosphere for the year so dfar.

  10. what a great workshop! & lovely scenery..i particularly like the shot of the tree& dome. saw the clip on youtube, but the still shots really bring home how detailed & complex the installation is. beautiful.

  11. Celia,
    Thought of you the other day as I sorted out my seeds for this year and came across a packet of 'Mr Frears Purple Podded Beans'. They are home collected but a couple of years old so they might not come up but we'll have a go. I seem to remember that they don't taste as good as they sound and that's why I didn't replant them.Who knows? We can't grow grapes here so I envy you those. Now you're a professionally trained pruner I hope you'll be knee deep in fruit this year!Lesley

  12. Thanks for the article Celia - I know about it as Penny phoned me last week to tell me it was all ending. I am so desparately sad for them all. I do have the recipe so it is not lost into the ether but promised Penny that I wouldn't use it without her permission and its a promise I have to stick to! Hope all is well with you and your hens xxxx

  13. just catching up on your blog posts now, always lots of lovely things here.

  14. Hi Planet Penny - you're right! It is Planet Penny!

    Hi Elsy - Hope you went to Smiths Row.

    Hi Miriam - it's easy to forget these places are just around the corner.

    Hi Dottycookie - even if you miss this one try to get to the Warp & Weft exhibition that's coming up next.

    Hi Lyn - sadly the sky hasn't been that blue since then.

    Hi Silverpebble - pruning vines is surprisingly hard brain work!

    Hi Catherine - hope you saw Sweet sweet galaxy.

    Hi Janet - welcome to PPPs. The Ickworth vineyard is very special - hope it stay there for many years to come.

    Hi Plantiliscious - :-)))

    Hi Petoskystone - it's incredible and so perfectly assembled.

    Hi Lesley - we usually get a pretty good crop - the hens can't wait, they love grapes!

    Hi Hannah - thank you - my hens are doing great and hope yours are too :-)

    Hi and good to 'see' you again Acornmoon.

    Hi BusyLizzie - thank you for dropping by :-)



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