|buddleia globosa 92x76cm oil on canvas|
It was many years ago, while I was walking in Avondale gardens (Wicklow), which is Charles Steward Parnell’s old demesne, now owned and managed by Coilte that I came across this rather unusual flowering shrub, Buddleia Globosa. You could say that this 500 acre estate is a testament to one man’s vision, as around 150 years ago Parnell completely changed this part of Wicklow’s landscape by planting and creating a haven of intricate woodland walks mainly pine trees of every shape and form; from huge multi-trunked Cyprus trees, to towering redwoods. Even the common leylandii is given a place of its own here, in which it can be seen in all its surprising beauty.
Adjacent and opposite to the house itself there is a park- like swathe of grass, where shrubs and rhododendrons have been planted at the edges of towering stands of eucalyptus trees. Nearer the approach of the house, the shrubs become more low- forming and delicate, and it was here that the rather medieval- looking buddleia globosa grew. Why I say medieval, is that is has that old antique look about it, the colours are all based around yellow ochre like a complex gilded and embroidered Tudor tunic. The leaves are almost brassica like with lots of lichen olive green undulations, and mysterious soft pale undersides. The flowers are round and form in pairs or in threes, like berries. Globes of ochre green that slowly change to a warm delicious yellow orange, little residual leaves near the flowering brackets curl back on themselves and look so intricate and decorative against the cerulean blue of a clear sunny June day.
Like all Buddleias they seem to strike well from cuttings and somehow one little broken branch found itself transported back to my home and within a year was planted out and growing fast. Looking out now from my kitchen window I am looking at one of these selfsame shrubs, nothing much to look at now, I must confess, and it has to be dramatically cut back every 2nd year or otherwise it becomes ungainly with unsightly woody bare branches. However, come April- May, I will be thinking to myself, maybe it’s time for another Buddleia Globosa painting. And I always seem to paint them with a strong Indian Yellow background that threatens to swamp and dominate any subtle painting that I might have achieved in the flower- clusters of the tiny sunny florets that make up the characteristic round head. But I can’t help myself, I think they are just the embodiment of happiness; to me they represent the sun, and I use them to celebrate the colour yellow, particularly that Indian yellow that has more than a hint of red about it.
Buddleia Globosa oil on board 2006