Inspired by bluebells
Published on Sunday 21st April
How richly we prize short-lived flowers such as Paeonies and Cherry Blossom, and perhaps none more so than beautiful bluebells. These pretty ground-covering plants with their scented, bell-like flowers are with us for just a few short weeks in spring, covering swathes of woodland with their delicate blue hues, and popping up through shrubs and grass in gardens across the nation. They are native to the UK and around half of their entire population grows in Britain. A single bluebell seed can take up to five years to grow into a bulb, not surprising then that they are a protected species and there's a heavy fine waiting for anyone tempted to dig them up from their natural habitat.
This week sees the start of the annual bluebell festival at the Riverhill Himalyan Gardens in Sevenoaks, Kent. The venue is home to the most magical bluebell woods as well as some stunning grounds, perfect for nature walks and chilling out. It also plays host to an annual arts and crafts fair which features many artisans from south London, including textile artist Diana McKinnon who runs the event.
Diana is well-known for her stunning pictures of bluebell woods which she creates using a technique known as free-machine embroidery. Often mistaken for paintings, her images of woods, flowers, land and seascapes are inspired by the photographs she takes on nature walks and holidays in England and abroad. It seemed only natural that Diana should be the person to organise and inspire this event which is now in its 4th year, and has grown from a week-long exhibition to a two-week occasion.
She is among 17 artists who will be showing their work this year, all inspired by nature and, of course, bluebells. Among them south London jeweller Kath Dare who creates fine silver and gold pieces from her garden studio; Forest Hill ceramicist Katie Iacovou who says she loves working with clay and experimenting with different glazes to form organic bowls; and print designer Samantha Warren who draws on nature's palette to produce unique, vibrant home and fashion accessories. You will also find woodwork, glassware, ironwork, felting, quilting, and lots of original artwork in various mediums all by independent artists and craftspeople.
Visit them in the Garden Room at the Himalyan Gardens from Wednesday 24th of April through to 6th of May. Please note the festival will not be open on the 29th of April.