Monday, June 29, 2015

  • Blooms Painting Workshops 
  • now in the UK

With the splendid assistance and can do energy of my good friend Catherine Morgan, I took a One Day Painting Workshop in Hathersage, Derbyshire, and twelve fab Brits put my Blooms Painting Method®to the test in MAY. 

They were excellent students, all concentrating hard and determined to get a great result. Although teaching a one day workshop is easy peasy for me I have to admit that I suddenly felt quite nervous teaching on the other side of the world in a completely new territory. I needn’t have worried, because by early afternoon I could hear happy chatting and happy sounds as paintings took a turn for the best! I have some delightful testimonials you can view at

The next workshop will be my classic 6 day Blooms Painting workshop in May 2016, at the Bamford Institute, Bamford, Derbyshire.
There are 12 available places with four already booked. Please email me for an application form if keen. The dates are;





  Contact for bookings


This month I share recent inspiration from my UK trip May/June 2015 taking in;
  • ·       The Chelsea Flower Show, London 
  • ·       A rooftop bar garden in London owned by Richard Branson.
  • ·       Sculptors at Chelsea
Blooming at Chelsea

The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the world’s best treats on offer if you love gardens and flowers. This was my second visit ever, the last time being on my Arts and garden Tour to London, Paris, Florence and Rome about seven years ago memories of which still inspire me today.

This time round I travelled independently to my own schedule. I pre-purchased two tickets online from home about six weeks before the trip. At the Chelsea I presented my print out and was given our tickets. Easy!
All our flight and hotels were booked by Karen Caba who is an Aussie working from Chicago. Karen’s business is ECM Travel Management and the beauty of having Karen book your tickets is once again it can be done from the lap top in the evening due to the time difference. We booked everything just few weeks before we left. Everything was great. Thanks Karen.

I was accompanied by gorgeous 14 year old daughter Lily, pre-warning her I would be taking as long as I liked, and that this was a rare treat for me, so absolutely no hassling mum! Actually she was a very patient angel even taking up a second camera to help with capturing the exquisite overload of flower reference before us.  She was delighted to find new treasures to lead me to. I had the perfect companion.

The garden displays are always a delight. Inventive uses of materials, sculpting the garden space with landscaping and terraces, waterfalls , waterways, bridges and recycled materials. A standout was the contemplative Moroccan garden which won the Gold.

The overall gardens winner was the Chatsworth garden entry drawing on the heritage of the original Paxton garden design from the 19th century at the Chatsworth estate where employed gardener William Paxton created dramatic landscape features with boulders,  garden streams , bridges and the cultivated wild garden. The entry was very natural in effect as though it had been there for years.  Later in my trip I had the pleasure of visiting the actual gardens at Chatsworth where I was quite inspired by the drama of the created rocky landscape reminiscent of a pastoral Italian landscape paintings. More on Chatsworth later.

Back at Chelsea FS Lily and I noticed and enjoyed the popularity and presence of the cultivated wild garden. It was all the rage. Pretty long grass varieties mixed with poppies and irises, snow drops and buttercups bordered by gravel or aged paths.  It cropped up in various guises throughout the show. I might try that at home!

In the Flower pavilion, I had my nose to the trough so to speak taking pictures of all manner of blooms from Day lily displays to French irises, sumptuous David Austin roses and charming varieties of roses including the Persian Princess with it’s captivating central detail at Harkness roses. There was every hue of the rainbow of chrysanthemums and, gladioli. Clematis, succulents and hyacinths had their own stands. The tulip stands were a knockout. My students in the Brisbane Blooms Painting Workshop have benefitted from my gorgeous photo reference already. It was too early for peonies.

I could almost have eaten the display at the Carribbean tropical stand so lush in colour and fecundity including ravishing arrangements of nutmeg, Birds of Paradise in colours I have never seen before, and pretty orchids. The chap at the stand looked good enough to eat also.

Then we came across the strawberry stand. I have heard Poms in Australia moaning that the Aussie strawberries aren’t a patch in British strawberries. When I was offered a sample of tray of luscious specimens, I bit into heaven. I can now agree wholeheartedly and I apologise for all those time I thought the Poms were, well,… whinging. The aroma, the soft sweet flavour, the strawberriness of it all. Lily and I were swooning, the taste was that good.

Sculpture at the Chelsea

Eventually we made our way out of the Flower Pavilion with plenty of time to view the creative and sculptural stands. I was delighted to discover Willie Wildlife Sculpture from Ocean Grove Victoria had his own stand with his stunning bronze bird baths and a featured giant turtle sculpture. Will and I once shared a stand at the Affordable art show in Melbourne. I took the wall space and he had the floor for the sculptures. It was a blast to see him at Chelsea.

This was Will’s 8th visit to the Chelsea, with partner and baby in tow. It’s a massive undertaking but how wonderful to share your product to a truly international crowd. Needless to say I dashed to the Pimm's tent and got them both a refreshing English drink on me to celebrate. It’s great that his beautifully crafted bird baths can now be found in gardens throughout the UK. It definitely takes some nerve and dedication to spread the word internationally. Reverse colonisation!

I was also impressed by the driftwood horses and hares by an English sculptor.

By about 4pm, Lily and I had done our dash. We left with SD cards and iphones chockful of beautiful images, and our heads full of scent and colour, and inimitable English beauty.

Later we legged it the the Flamingo Bar , owned by Richard Branson which has actual flamingos in  the garden about five floors up. We watched the sun down go down over London over cocktails. The perfect end to a beautiful day of gardens and flowers.

If you'd like to learn how to paint the blooms you see here, visit my online e-classes at