The Garden Impressionists – About Us and the Blog

The theme for this blog, “The Garden Impressionists – Outside musings from our garden in Carmarthenshire” gives me some leeway.

Essentially, I want to communicate through words and images, a bit of my enthusiasm for the natural world, in this fairly off the beaten track place, from a gardener’s perspective.

The spiral conundrum (1)SDIM4974 (2)

Our ‘Garden Impressionists‘ name reflects the inspiration we received, from a first, and very fortunate early visit, to Monet’s garden at Giverny, many years ago. This led to a significant change in how we’ve developed and planted up the garden, ever since that trip. SDIM2900 (2)We were amazed by the vibrant, intermingling colour schemes in the formal part of Giverny’s design, and how this area was humming with insects on the warm, early May day that we visited, around 2005. Insect friendly flowers; the use of native flowers; and multi layered, multicultural plantings, mainly with perennials, bulbs and shrubs in order to maximise flower numbers throughout the year, has become a principle goal. Simultaneously, we’ve tried to maintain a less formal feel in much of the garden, appropriate to its rural setting, at the centre of our upland smallholding.SDIM4499 (2)

The blog is mainly observation driven, and as well as being a form of long-term diary, it has become a stimulus for me to discover new things about nature, gardening, and the wider world as a result of researching topics which grab my interest. Hopefully, some of what I photograph and write about is both entertaining and a stimulus for thought or action, on the part of anyone reading the blog.SDIM5055 (2)

Since we also open our garden to the public, for charity, through the National Gardens Scheme (see our separate ‘Visiting The Garden’ page for details), we hope to encourage more people to visit this part of the UK, and indeed our garden, which currently receives about 1% of blog visitor numbers annually.SDIM4876 (2)

Like a garden changing, maturing, and ageing with time and the seasons, I see the main value of the blog as recording information and experiences, and reflecting the blogger’s own development, struggles and ageing over the longer term.

I hope to average about a post every 10 to 14 days, dropping off a bit over the winter months. A move to re-edit the whole of the blog’s content in late 2020/2021, will see my posts become a little less frequent, until finished.

I really value the stimulus, and challenge, of producing something worthwhile without the need for monetary reward, and of course the freedom that this approach brings to me for subject selection and opinion expression.

It does of course remain to be seen how long my enthusiasm for the task will last.

And a bit about ourselves, the self-styled ‘Garden Impressionists‘.

Fiona has varied interests in addition to developing and maintaining our garden, and house. She paints and draws in watercolours, acrylics and pastels, and historically has been the self taught computer wizard, creating our original website, and doing much of the design work for our range of scarves and greetings cards.

In addition to the design work, she makes them. She’s also increasingly recognised as being the equal to a JCB when it comes to major earth moving, or ditching or stump grubbing, and an expert in the correct way to lime wash a longhouse.

S1010013 (2)Julian by contrast enjoys an easier life. Liking photography and now writing; the challenge of producing the occasional scarf design to rival some of Fiona’s; getting his hands dirty in the garden; wielding the chainsaw to keep the wood burner running, and hedges laid; cutting the hay with the BCS; baking the family’s bread; trying to persuade local honeybees this is a good place to set up home; and composing simple ‘songs without words’ on the piano. When it began, this blog was a rare venture into the world of computer technology for him.

s1010016-2Fortunately, we have many years of experience of working happily, together, and changing gear when necessary.

And we can always find time to enjoy a nice cup of tea.

SDIM6712 (2)

The spiral conundrum (2 and 3). If you think you understand the physics of this design, creating the serendipitous spiral conundrum flip, affecting the speed of snow melt on the two different substrates, compare your ideas with the comments left below.

SDIM7019 (2)

The spiral conundrum (4).

Updated 17/02//2021

8 thoughts on “The Garden Impressionists – About Us and the Blog

  1. Lovely introduction. Perfect partnerships are made by those with different but complimentary skills.
    Your spiral conundrum – differential heating co-efficients of the paving and earth

    • Hello C,
      Thanks for the comment. I take the point about the different heating co-efficients, which is what we thought of the first year we spotted it after snow. But how do you explain the flip which sometimes occurs – i.e. sometimes the snow melts first from the crushed slate, and sometimes it melts first from the quarry tiles – the pics try to demonstrate this? Different type of snow? Different conditions, temperature or sunlight before the snow fell? So far this year, though no snow at all for any repeat images…

  2. Aha! Another science problem to get my speculative teeth into!

    There are of course a number of possible answers to the problem, and without additional data, it would be rash of me to be too definitive about it, but I will nevertheless brazenly suggest a possible solution.

    It’s clear that the thermal conductivity of the two paving materials is likely to be quite different, and it would be reasonable to suggest that the crushed slate would have lower thermal conductivity in dry conditions, because the pockets of air will act as insulation relative to the surrounding stone.

    A possible explanation for your two scenarios is that in the first, the heat that is melting the snow is coming from the ground up. The heat transfer by conduction from the granite is higher because the thermal gradient within the granite is lower (it’s surface temperature is closer to that of the body of the granite), whereas the insulating properties of the crushed slate result in a higher thermal gradient from the interior to the surface, meaning that the surface is closer in temperature to the snow. Hence it doesn’t melt as fast.

    In the second scenario (your lower picture), the opposite is true. The heat melting the snow is coming from the air. The lower thermal conductivity of the slate gravel means that the heat cannot be conducted away through the snow into the ground as quickly as through the granite. Hence the temperature of the snow over the slate rises and it melts differentially faster.

    If this much is accepted, the problem then reduces to imagining conditions in which these two scenarios might prevail.

    In the first scenario, we might imagine that the snow fell early in the season when the ground was still relatively warm, whereas the snow in the second scenario fell later in the season after a prolonged cold patch when the ground temperature was already below freezing.

    Secondly, the strength of solar radiation could also play a role: in the first scenario, one could imagine low solar radiation, whereas in the second, strong sunshine would heat the snow more quickly than the heat could be dissipated through the slate gravel.

    Thirdly, humidity might also play a role. You will be aware that high humidity ameliorates the diurnal variation in temperature. This is partly because of differences in the radiation properties of air of different humidities, but more significantly because the heat capacity of water vapour-laden air is significantly higher than of dry air. Hence as the solar radiation declines at night, the temperature of humid air remains higher due to its higher thermal capacity. Equally, as the sun comes up, so the humid air will be slower to warm up.

    Under humid conditions therefore, the temperature variation between the air and the ground is likely to be consistently less during the day than for dry air. Therefore, one would imagine the second scenario happening when the air is dry. When the temperature variation is at its highest (i.e. in the middle of the day), the heat from the air cannot be conducted away fast enough by the slate gravel, and hence the snow differentially melts over the gravel.

    The solar radiation and humidity explanations are of course mutually supportive and suggest that the second scenario occurred under cold, dry, cloudless conditions, after a long cold spell where the ground is below freezing, whereas the first suggests warmer ground and cloudier more humid conditions.

    The meta data on your photos (or your impeccable note-keeping) will inform you of the date when these pictures were taken and Met Office data will be available for the specific days and the general climatic conditions leading up to those days.

    These data will either confirm my theory, or much more likely, blow a huge hole right through the middle of it! I leave it to you to do the legwork!

  3. Hello KTB!
    Great to have such an erudite comment. I shall reply in due course in greater length…I have nipped up in between batches of lime plaster mixing, leaving her nibs to do the critical application bit, and even now am summoned to return and stop slacking!
    But I’m sure you’re onto the track of something that even the illustrious ‘Naked Scientists’ from the BBC backed off from tackling…. but in view of impending family alliances, I shall defer from any other comments about our illustrious national broadcaster….Until later,
    GH and HN

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