The Arts Society Sidmouth held its June lecture at the Manor Pavilion Theatre, and around 150 members attended. David Smith has sent this report:

Well, how does your garden grow ? The Arts Society Sidmouth's June lecture really did have something of the 'with silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row' about it.

Our lecturer, Timothy Walker, formerly Director of the Oxford Botanic Garden and currently Tutor in Plant Biology at Somerville College, Oxford, described gardening as being akin to creating a work of art, much like Monet creating his own garden at Giverny in France or Jackson Pollock an abstract expressionist painting in America.

Colour has beguiled us since the time of cave paintings so, unsurprisingly, Timothy took us through the subtle science and art of colour, particularly in English garden design, though he admitted an exact definition was elusive.

People have different perceptions of colour. One person's blue might be another's violet. Even Picasso asked what it was. And it changes with the light. Different colours and shades of colour create different moods and emotions and together with both harmony and contrast of colour contribute to the overall effect of gardens. The same can be said of their layout , either carefully arranged like Monet's garden or haphazardly like Pollock's canvasses.

In simple terms, arranging colour in your garden is like arranging colour on canvass. To make a garden is to paint a picture. That's why gardening can rank as fine art. My notion that gardening means lacerating your forearms, getting your fingernails dirty and suffering severe backache has been dispelled. I'll view my little patch in a new light from now on.