Driftwood sculptures.

We have just spent a super weekend with our son and dil at their new house between Maidenhead and Windsor.  New to them that is, but  in much need of renovation, they have a lot of work ahead of them, but I’m sure it will be wonderful eventually as they are a very fit and hard working couple. Their house is among others which are at the side of a lake and after a short walk we were in amongst beautiful scenery, with lots of trees around the water’s edge, such a calm, serene view of the lake.



The swans woke up when they thought that food might be offered, but no luck I’m afraid.

Sycamore leaves

Underfoot was a golden carpet of fallen sycamore leaves.

The Oakley Court

On Sunday we were taken out for lunch to The Oakley Court Hotel where we had a wonderful meal. The building is very Gothic in style and has been the setting for numerous horror films. Dracula and also Agatha Christie films have been set here along with some of the Avengers series with Joanna Lumley when she was a young lady. More recently, it has been the setting for some of the Harry Potter films.

Oakley Court

The building is set in beautiful grounds at the side of the River Thames and after our meal we were free to wander and enjoy the sculptures that we found.


The first driftwood sculpture we came across was at the entrance, it was a life size Red deer stag and looked very realistic. Made entirely from driftwood, bark and twigs found as storm damage and a few added bits, he had metal hooves. It must take such a long time searching for just the right piece before each sculpture is complete.


The attention to detail impressed me. All these pieces of wood are mounted on a metal armature and the end result is very lifelike.


Inside the entrance hall is a sculpture of a heron just taking off, again, very realistic.


In the grounds by the Thames, we found a group of lions, not real fortunately,

Lion plaque

the notice explains why the sculptor feels strongly about the lions of Lake Manyara.


so many twigs to form the mane, amazing. I didn’t think that he looked very fierce, more like a cuddly dog!


Two females and a cub up a tree trunk beside the male lion.

Boat planter

As this is a gardening blog, I had to find some plants to photograph. By the hotel and the Thames, there were a few boats all planted up for winter with cyclamen and winter pansies. Some of them had cordylines as their central plant which looked  rather nice.


I took this photo of  our son and dil’s  back garden, like the house it has been rather neglected over the years. It is a small space, but small can be very beautiful and I’m sure that one day it will be a lovely place to sit. I have been asked to draw up some plans, but first of all decisions have to be made as to what sort of garden they are wanting, how much maintenance they are willing to do,  formal,  cottagey,  modern, minimalist?  Do they want to attract wildlife? At the moment it is on 3 different levels, will the levels be staying or will it become a slope? Do they want a lawn or not in such a small space, all these questions have to be answered before I can think of drawing some plans for them. Obviously nothing will be done while they are working on the house, that is their first priority and will take quite some time, but maybe by the next time we see them, they will have some ideas for me to play around with.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the number of red kites that we saw in the area. To start with we wondered if they were buzzards that we kept seeing, but when we saw the wonderful forked tail,  we realised we were in an area full of red kites. The were wheeling and swooping over the roof tops and the trees, once over the garden. When turning in the sunlight,  the colouring was absolutely beautiful. Sorry, no photos, but lots of wonderful memories of so many fantastic large birds of prey. At one time these birds were almost extinct in this country and were only to be found in mid Wales. We have been twice to the farm there, where they are fed each day at 3 pm, 60 or 70 of them, filling the sky, we never thought that we would see so many of them so close in a semi rural setting, it was wonderful. The journey back to Devon was horrendous with torrential rain all the way, but we got back safely, having had a wonderful time.



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28 Responses to Driftwood sculptures.

  1. catmint says:

    how divine to live next to a lake and near such beautiful scenery. Even now, I think their garden has charm. I can imagine plants growing up and down those terrace walls. But obviously there are lots of possibilities. What an exciting project for you to be involved with, Pauline.

    • Pauline says:

      Catmint, yes, it is a lovely spot, the lake used to be a quarry before it was flooded. I will certainly enjoy being involved in the plans for their new garden, but it will be a while before anything can be done, the house comes first.

  2. wellywoman says:

    I know that area well. We lived just outside Maidenhead, in a village by the Thames, for a few years before moving to Wales. I loved seeing the kites. They used to soar over the house watching me as I pegged out the washing. Loving the sculptures.

    • Pauline says:

      WW, what a coincidence that you used to live in the area we were visiting. The kites are such beautiful birds and it is wonderful that their numbers are increasing, do you know if people put out food for them, I was amazed to see them so near to the houses?

  3. Cathy says:

    My goodness, Pauline, those sculptures are amazing! Lovely to see all those red kites too – so distinctive. And a neglected garden is always a challenge – it will be interesting to see how it is transformed, although will they focus on renovating the house first do you think?

    • Pauline says:

      Cathy, the sculptures were beautiful, now I know what to do with all the small branches that came down in the storm! The house will certainly come first, they have done quite a lot so far, but there is still some way to go. I think I will need to get my design books out once more, before I start playing around with pen and paper, I really enjoy this side of gardening, especially in the winter when it is too cold/wet to get onto the garden here.

  4. Anna says:

    I hope that your son and daughter in law enjoy their new house and garden Pauline – sounds as if they will be kept busy for a while. A lakeside setting for a house sounds quite idyllic. The sculptures are brilliant. Are they permanently on display? If so will have to alert my sister who lives in Maidenhead and add Oakley Court Hotel to the list of places to visit when I next go down to see her 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      Anna, I’m sure they will enjoy living in this new area and in their new house. There are a few houses between their house and the lake, but it only takes a couple of minutes to be at the lakeside. The sculptures at the hotel are for sale, prices on request at reception, so I imagine they might change over the months, hope you get to see them.

  5. Christina says:

    I used to live near Maidenhed in a village on the Thames, I’m sure they (or you) will be able to create a lovely garden. I know you don’t need advice, your garden is testament to that but I can’t resist, just keep it simple – not too many different varieties. I can give you the names of some nurseries that used to be good in the area if you like. The Red Kites were just becoming a common sight when we moved to Italy, but it sounds as if there are even more now!

    • Pauline says:

      Christina, its a small world isn’t it! I think decisions have to be made before I can even start thinking about plants, after all, it will have to be what they want ,not what I think they should have, I will just try to guide them in the right direction! In just 2 days that we there, we saw 7 or 8 red kites, but what amazed us the most was how close they were to the houses.

  6. How utterly fabulous to see so many red kites, I am envious. Sounds as if your son and dil have wound up living in a lovely area, albeit with loads of work to do to make the house and garden their own. How lucky they are to be able to call upon your expertise! As for those sculptures, they are magical, though I agree that the lions look rather friendly given what they are…

    • Pauline says:

      It was such a surprise Janet, to see the first red kite, sweeping so low down among the houses. After that we seemed to see them everywhere, it was wonderful! I love to see sculptures in such a setting and these were so different, using driftwood, bark, twigs and a lot of imagination.

  7. Cathy says:

    What a novel idea to plant up an old boat! I do like those sculptures too, especially the heron in the entrance hall.
    A new garden area to help plan will be great fun. I love terrace-style gardens, and they can be so effective in a small space. My garden was never planned, but just happened, bit by bit…. if I had known then what I know now!

    • Pauline says:

      The boats looked good Cathy, all with mostly the same planting except for the central plant. I like the terracing in the new garden of our son and dil, but one wants to keep it and the other wants it all flat!! One also wants a lawn , the other doesn’t, serious discussion needed I think. The garden here was developed in bits, working on one project at a time each year, joining onto the next bit, eventually it was all as we wanted it, but it took a long time.

  8. Wow, thanks for the tour of a new and lovely place! And yes, how nice to live near a like and some swans. I love the sculptures, but then I usually like all creative endeavors. Can’t wait to see and hear more about what they do with their new place and garden. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      Natalie, we certainly enjoyed our weekend, exploring the new area where our son and dil now live. You’re like me, loving all things artistic! I think the garden will have to wait until the house is finished before they start clearing it, I have plenty of time to think up a few ideas for them.

  9. pbmgarden says:

    Your son and dil are so fortunate to have your help in advising them with their new garden (when the time comes). Hope they’ll enjoy their new place. Now I must go look for a photo of kites!

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Susie, I will do my best when the time comes, I’ll have to get my books out and do a bit of revision! Sorry, I should have found a photo of red kites to use for my post, they are larger than buzzards with a forked tail and are coloured very reddish brown with a greyish head.

  10. Wendy says:

    How wonderful to see those Red Kites. I’ve seen them in Wales, but not in England and hope they’ll soon be a common sight where I am.
    It will be exciting seeing your son’s garden develop.
    The driftwood sculptures are amazing; I love the Red Deer.

    • Pauline says:

      Yes Wendy, we too have seen them in Wales, they have been released in Devon but I think we have only seen them a couple of times here. It was wonderful to see so many each time we went out and so close too. I love the red deer sculpture and think it is about life size, having met one on our local common years ago when walking the dog. All three of us just stood looking at each other before the stag bounded away, it had only been about 20 ft from us!

  11. The sculptors are so awesome on so many levels. The materials and the detail…just amazing.

    • Pauline says:

      They are, aren’t they Charlie, I’m so glad you agree with me. It must take a long time to find just the right piece that is needed, I suppose the sculptor must have a stock pile of them.

  12. Annette says:

    Such amazing sculptures, Pauline! What a fantastic idea and it only goes to show what can be made out of nothing. I didn’t know that this place was the setting for Harry Potter and had wondered sometimes. Fabulous castle. Have a nice weekend 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      Annette, all we need is imagination! Lots of small branches came down in the storm, but I don’t think I’ll be saving them to make a sculpture. Just a few scenes were shot there for the Harry Potter films, they used quite a few different locations and castles. We are having quite a sunny weekend so far, hope you are too!

  13. debsgarden says:

    With such a beautiful setting near the lake, I understand why your son and Dil wanted that old house that needing remodeling! I also see so much potential in their garden space. It is so satisfying to take a place that needs loving and make it one’s own. I wish them the best! As for the driftwood sculptures, they are amazing!

    • Pauline says:

      Deb, it certainly is a lovely area and we will enjoy exploring more each visit. We all enjoyed the sculptures too, its amazing what you can make out of a few twigs!

  14. It must be so wonderful to visit your son and his wife as they move into their new house in such a lovely area. The garden does look like it has a lot of potential, and I like what I could see of the levels but hard to tell. The driftwood sculptures are so unique and detailed. What patience it must take to create them.

    • Pauline says:

      It’s going to be good Carolyn, exploring a new area with new gardens to visit! Their garden is so tiny, I sill have to stop thinking in drifts for everything and just 2 or 3 of each plant, they both have a lot of thinking to do first before I start planning.
      I imagine the sculptor/sculptress must have sheds full of storm damage or drift wood, so that they have access to plenty of shapes when they start each sculpture, now I know what to do with all the small branches that came down in the storm last week!

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