Chocolate box Posted on November 21, 2011

A mere half lemon-slice of moon was enough to light the garden last night – or rather to fill its shroud of mist with light. November, moon and stars and mild air is an unusual mixture, the garden seems to hold its breath for winter, with no change more urgent than another leaf spiralling to the ground.

Moonlight views have always fascinated me. They are almost impossible for painters (or so I suppose, or wouldn’t we see them in every gallery?)

They simplify so much that they reveal the very basics of mass and proportion. But they falsify by cutting out the details of colour and texture on which we base most of our gardening judgements.

It’s odd, isn’t it, that only the sort of painters who hang on park railings dare to paint inherently beautiful scenes. There was rising mist on the ploughed land yesterday as I took my usual walk through the low meadow among the bat willows, then up to what I think of as our Downs – the swell of sandy land and short grass. For a moment the dark plough, the verticals of the willows and thin white mist were absurdly picturesque. No real artist would have looked twice. ‘Chocolate box’ describes a subject as much as a technique.

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