Countdown to opening for the N.G.S.

This is our 5th year of opening for the National Garden Scheme,  we had to be asked 7 years in succession before we finally gave in and agreed to open for them, because we didn’t think the garden was ready or good enough. Obviously weeding is going on all the time to get ready for the opening but this post is about preparing my woodcarvings that are in the garden, so that they are fit to be seen by the paying public.

Owls Barn

I have been carving now for about 25 yrs and when we moved here decided to teach it to adults at night school to earn some regular money to make the garden here.Most of my carvings show my love of wildlife but also my faith is represented by some abstract shapes. There was no real garden 21 yrs ago, just wall to wall grass, so I had to start carving shapes out of the grass to make the  borders.


The ravages of winter take their toll, some carvings, if we can’t see them from the house, get covered to protect them from the frost, snow and rain, but the ones that are left open to the elements always need some repair work doing.

Holy Trinity

Even though this one gets covered,  it has still managed to split and have a hole where a knot used to be – definitely in need of attention.

Owl with books

This one is always in the worst condition as it is just outside the kitchen window, so never gets covered. Lots of work to do here.

Moon baby

Not much needs to be done on this one, just a new coat of preservative I think.


Another in need of a lot of attention as it doesn’t get covered,


worst bit is at the bottom.


Just a good wash and brush up, then a coat of preservative needed here.

Owls barn

And the same again.

Plastic wood

Repairing cracks and holes with plastic wood.

Rotten base

The base of this one was sitting in all the snow that we had over the winter – even though the carving was covered, I hadn’t realised the base was at risk from rotting – we don’t usually have snow here!


Sanding down everywhere plastic wood has been applied


A good scrub needed everywhere, especially where the birds have been sitting !! Have to do this again the morning we open.


And finally everything gets a new coat of preservative.

Holy Trinity

This shape represents the Holy Trinity, there are 3 flame shapes in one.


This one is Genesis ch 1 v 6-10 and represents the creation. The world is spinning in the universe, the hole is the void which represents heaven, and then the wave is God putting the water on the earth.


This is the gate I carved for the entrance to the pond area, grandchildren have to be kept safe. This is a cross section of the pond with all it’s wildlife.

Moon baby

I carved this just after my mother died, she came to live with us for her last 2 yrs when she had dementia. Her maiden name was Moon, therefore she was a Moon baby. The wagging finger was always there when she was telling me what to do, even when I was over 60 !!


This small plaque was done to cover the vent in the wall that the previous people had for their tumble dryer. Birds were nesting in it, didn’t want them coming through to my washing machine!

Owl with books

I think the owl with his pile of books will have to come indoors in the winter in future – there was so much restoration work to do this time – all sorts of creepy crawly wildlife had been living between the books and eating them !!! This carving was done as an exercise in lettering and is a pile of gardening books with famous gardens or gardeners as their titles. There is every letter of the alphabet here, so after doing this I felt able to teach lettering to my students.

I hope you agree that they all look a lot better for being spruced up. I forgot to mention that we are open  in 2 weeks time – 11th and 12th June -I feel we are running out of time!

Do you feel that art has a place in the garden (obviously I think it does, but it would be interesting to hear other gardeners opinions ) do you think it enhances the planting or detracts from it ?

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8 Responses to Countdown to opening for the N.G.S.

  1. catmint says:

    Dear Pauline, I am in awe of your technical and creative prowess. Yes, art has a place in the garden but in this case it is an extension of your own expressiveness. Wish I could visit this weekend but I’ll be thinking of you … cheers, c

    • Pauline says:

      Fantastic, someone agrees with me!Still more work to be done before opening, no rest for the wicked, will be able to have a good rest when its all over. I’ll be sitting with my feet up when you are preparing for your opening, catmint!

  2. These are amazing, I love them particularly Genesis ch 1 v 6-10 but I also like your gate and the Moon – you are so talented. Yes I do think (well chosen) art has a place in the garden … well I would wouldn’t I 🙂 Although I do not have much in mine but that is more to do with available funds!

    • Pauline says:

      Karen, yes I would agree with the well chosen comment! Lack of funds means that I make my own, its amazing what you can do with a bit of wood! Thanks for your lovely comments.

  3. Barbara says:

    Wow, I’m just blown away by your wood carvings. Each one is beautiful, and I’m glad you shared something about their meaning with us. I especially love the grandchildren gate and the wall plaque. As far as having art in the garden is concerned: First of all, your art is your own, and that is just wonderful and definitely has a place anywhere you are. I would love to have more art in our garden, but since ours is an allotment, i.e. we don’t live there, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it from windows, and would also be slightly afraid of theft.

    • Pauline says:

      Barbara, thank you so much for your kind comments, I’m glad you agree that there is a place for art in the garden. Hadn’t realised that your garden was an allotment so I can quite understand why you would feel uneasy about putting something there.With all the flowers, it is so pretty I thought it must be next to your house !

  4. Wow. Just wow. My husband and I are marveling over your amazing artwork! Thank you for referring me to this post!! Do you ever make trips to Pennsylvania? 🙂 We would love to have garden art as beautiful as yours. The pond gate, the moon, the books… oh my. Just gorgeous. Thank you for sharing it! Have a great weekend.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you so much Julie, for your kind comments! We have never been to Pennsylvania but you never know what might happen in the future!!

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