Gardening as Art – Meet Diana Mead – Artist and Gardener

I read this story online and wanted to share it. To me gardening and art go hand in hand. It’s a visual and emotional expression plus you have the benefits of fresh garden produce

Monet painted his water gardens for years and experimented with plants and lighting to create beautiful painting and a stunning garden.

Diana Mead has also done the same. Below is an article by Alison Young. It was printed in the South Wales Echo newspaper. This is the original story in its original form.

Garden is at root of Diana’s art
Feb 16 2008 by Alison Young, South Wales Echo

Garden is at root of Diana’s art

IF it can be captured on canvas then it will earn a place in Diana Mead’s garden.

For Diana has two great passions in her life – painting and gardening – with much of her work featuring flowers which she has grown herself.

At the moment it is her favourite hellebores and snowdrops, which are being immortalized in paint – but as the seasons move on other blooms will take their turn.

“I’ve just finished painting some snowdrops from the garden – they are out for such a short time that you have to be quick and capture them while you can,” explained Diana, who admits she often chooses plants for her garden based on what she likes to paint.

“I love to paint hellebores so obviously I grow lots of them in my garden.
“I am always looking for things to paint so that definitely plays a part when I am choosing plants for the garden – although it is not always conscious.”

It is Diana’s artistic eye, which is responsible for transforming three triangle-shaped areas surrounding her Penarth home into a meandering dry gravel river-themed garden.
The transformation began 30 years when Diana, who teaches painting, moved to Penarth just as her children were leaving home.

Over the years the garden has been gradually transformed – with the most dramatic change happening a few years ago when the front lawn was pulled up.

“I had a serpentine path which ran through the front garden and one visitor told me he loved my path because he thought it looked like a little stream. That gave me the idea to pull up my lawn and create this dry river bed effect with paving slabs and gravel.”

“I had lost a large cherry tree in my front garden through storms and the time was right to redesign that area,” she said.
Now the front, which is the largest part of Diana’s garden, follows a gently wavy path – with the paving being softened by low-growing plants such as thyme and with day lilies creating a reed-like effect on the edges of the gravel.

Two huge, coloured, themed herbaceous borders lie on either side of the river-like path – both carefully colour-coordinated.

“I think it is essential in a small garden to stick to a limited colour palette with a common theme so one of the borders is full of pink, purple and white flowers and the other rich reds and golds.”

All sorts of cottage garden favourites such as roses, clematis, peonies, agapanthus, sedum and verbena pack out these colour-themed borders. In her side garden Diana grows vegetables including garlic, beans, chard, courgettes and strawberries.

“It’s lovely, I only grow what I like to eat.”

Tucked away in the last area of Diana’s garden is her small pond and a dwarf pear tree which gave her an astonishing 30lbs of fruit last summer.

Within a year or two Diana hopes to be harvesting some very special apples – from two step-over apple trees which she grafted herself during a day-long course at Bridgend College.

“They are just sticks at the moment but hopefully next autumn I will be eating apples from them.”

Diana, 70, who went to Cardiff College of Art in the ’50s, has painted and gardened all her life.

“I remember helping my dad in the garden as a child. We had a wonderful 100ft-long back garden full of vegetables and flowers. In the front we had an almond tree, which had lovely pink blossom and then the most fantastic nuts, which we used in our baking at Christmas, she said. “I didn’t realize it at the time but he was a really good gardener and I learnt so much from him.”

Diana holds regular exhibitions of her work and during the summer opens the garden under the National Garden Scheme yellow book initiative. Her watercolour flower paintings are on view during her garden openings. Visit http://www.dianamead.net/ For more information on the NGS visit its website at http://www.ngs.org.uk/gen/default.aspx?

3 Comments

  1. The art work here is a amazing! She is truly talented. There was another artist that painted their garden a lot too. I don’t remember which on it was though

  2. Monet did beautiful water and light paintings of his water garden. He used the garden as a texture, light and color study.

    He would pick his plants according to texture and color to get the results he wanted. He also enjoyed gardening. He had notebooks filled with his research of plants. Denise

  3. How lovely to see my details and Alison`s excellent article on your site. My garden will be opening on June 21st for the NGS Yellow Book and again on 26/27th July for the Penarth Garden Trail. There will be an exhibition of my work with pictures, prints and cards on sale/ Please introduce yourself if you come along
    Diana

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