The Katharine of Aragon Garden celebrates the sorts of things one might associate with the Aragons.


The two paintings looking over the exhibit are copies. Unknown artist Stephen Williams and ex ambulance driver was commissioned to do these outdoor works. The copy of Katharine as a Queen is not facing in the direction of the original, we are given a hint that perhaps we should look at things from different directions. 
This sort of work shows how one can have images of any type customised to tell your own story.

Many levels of art can be explored. What can we express through the positions of fingers and other gestures. What is the symbolism in the dresses and the jewellery ?

The garden hedging follows the lines of headdresses and bodices a simple but different way of making a formal garden. Any style can be replicated for your home or garden.  The company formed to do this sort of work is called Anytime Anywhere Anyface.

telephone 01256 892837


Sculpture can be used to send or reinforce messages. This garden is about stories and we still relate to the belief that the ancients had, namely birds are bringers of messages. A little birdie told me. The Egyptians had a tree in which birds representing five ages of man sat. On our exhibit we have a blue bird of adulthood and the orange bird of old age. The first looks out to the centre of the garden and the orange bird looks out from the end of Katharine’s story. The blue Kingfisher was made by Paul Harvey, Griffon House, Bell Street, Whitchurch, Hampshire.


Sculpture has long been a means of telling stories and right at the end of the garden story we have a few real pomegranate trees. Katharine was an Aragon and their symbol was a pomegranate. It is a worldwide symbol of fertility so Shelley Gibb was commissioned to use her creative skills to tell the story of Katharine. We see the fruit ripening and finally revealing clues to how many children she carried (6); her age when she married Henry (23); the years she was married to Henry (24); her birth year (1485)and the year of her death (1536). The material used, terracotta, was admired by the Spanish.

email Shelley Gibb.


The left hand corner of the garden has a letter K made up from wood that would have been alive when she was. In the painting she wears a necklace with K’s on it not C’s. It is written in black and placed on a black background alluding to the fact that much of what was going on in her mind was in the dark for us.

We described the artistic and symbolic use of oak fencing earlier. Right at the end of the garden we have a line of planets representing the planetary arrangement at the time of her death. This novel way of fixing objects to a bar has exciting possibilities for all sorts of decorative storytelling. Images can be moved or changed.


Part of Artscapes service is to seek to best understand the factors associated with clients so as to create new and individual designs. The discovery that the planets were in alignment on the day she died is new so it is fitting that we tell that story with the variously coloured planets. It is a topic she would have known of and at that time the increase in the use of newly invented telescopes provided new knowledge for those interested in astronomy and astrology.

A very simple story is hinted at by the red branch running through the pomegranate tree. The Spanish and the English had deep conflicts in the area of trade and religion

And the only reason Henry ever got involved with the Aragons was to reinforce the alliance that ensured trade flowed through the straits of Gibraltar. It is Venetian red.


Lead is still a permissible material in the UK and its flexibility allows us to use it creatively. It is used to form the flexible clasp that fixes the planets in alignment and to form individual finials on top of posts.





The Garden Artist creates effects by using organic substrates like earth to support the plants that gives us a wide range of colours, textures and shapes. They soon become hidden.

There is however another type of material that does not get any bigger with age and which offers different colours and textures. These can remain exposed to view.

When various materials and these can be stone, glass, metal, plastic or resins are fragmented they offer different design opportunities. Specialist Aggregates is the name of a firm that has a wide stock range.
In the Katherine of Aragon Garden various themes are celebrated using a range of aggregates.

The two pictures of Katharine have great power as the two faces look out over her life and at us, the transient visitors. In the formal garden these two faces need to be smooth, fleshy and particularly attractive. In discussions with the suppliers Graham’s design power was enhanced when discussion was focussed on the two faces. The result is that one of the pink resins supplied by Steve le Chevalier will be pale whilst the other relating to the more mature Queen will look more mature. Beauty however does not fade with age so there will be associated aggregates of silver metal and glass beads that allude to the jewelled effect. The idea is that the faces and the shared heart will shine in their own way.

The use of plants in these areas is limited as we do not want the plants to grow to erode the fleshy effect. Nature’s most fleshy plants hardy in England are used to re-inforce this message Sempervivum tectorum ‘Rubin’ being the reddest in the Queen’s face and the heart. These plants are almost like crystals.

This relationship between plants and aggregates is a whole separate topic in design. This exposition is quite large scale but it can be applied in smaller pots and containers to great effect.

Another powerfully symbolic colour, black, is used elsewhere. In the area to do with the interraction with the church a black volcanic glass is used in association with one of the few black plants in cultivation Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens.

The black glass is used to underline, as we do in text, the message in the symbolic railings.
So we encourage designers to think first of colour and then ask can we mix plants with aggregates to enrich our message. 


The word garden comes from an older word GYRDAN that means a girdle or a fence.

The earliest gardens were enclosed by locally grown wood woven between stout uprights with access through gateways or portals.

As man’s control over his environment grew these barriers were made out of other materials, stone and metal.

The earliest constructions required the services of a craftsman or craftswoman and core to this was an understanding of the materials used and how one could obtain best benefit.

Initially many populations were nomadic so very great substance was not the order of the day. As society consolidated so did the need for substantial construction. The skills needed developed and the specialist work became established in trades. Artistic expression has always been present but as society became more integrated many of the artistic expressions themselves became consolidated into belief systems.

A key element of the construction of anything designed to last and accommodate user-needs is measurement. Measurement is the method used to create distances. Distances are used in three dimensions to create enclosed spaces whether they be the staves forming a barrel or the walls enclosing a city.

As culture developed the techniques of creating shape became more and more sophisticated.

Careful study of everything from ancient temples to Victorian terraces will reveal some interesting dynamics. These empowered designers to get across special messages whilst at the same time providing functional benefits. The special messages may have been purely aesthetic but they might also involve powerful symbolic messages of a spiritual nature. More sophisticated concepts like harmony, contrast and grandeur could be acknowledged. Designers can use number and some basic power is drawn from the ancient associations. All odd numbers were male and all even ones female. One living being amongst the higher orders has a restricted future but put two together and a process of ongoing breeding may take place. It is the same with arithmetic.

The small 6mx 8m site sits on the perimeter of a semi-circular railings set and they, like much of the palace, respect the summer solstice alignment  celebrated by The Long Water. The cyclic number of the sun is 11.1 the number of years in that cycle. Just behind the garden and visible through the gap in the left hand corner of the exhibit is a gate. This gate is positioned in the centre of the tree avenue that runs parallel with the Long Water so it is also on the summer solstice alignment. Most of , but not all, of the panels in the railing set are in fifteens, that being the number of Osiris and The Green Man. The gate itself is female and lunar having fourteen upright spears. Either side two columns and between them a stout stone threshold the outside of which is on the palace side. This celebrates the fact that one leaves the palace to enter a special space the world outside the gyrdan. The columns have hearts at their base and each of those hearts is 11 inches tall. From the top of each heart to the top of the column is 33  inches. The two together give 44 the width of Solomon’s temple.

Other observations gave rise to other symbologies. The garden is 6x8 which is 48. Forty eight is even and therefore female and it also has lunar associations. Add 6 to 8 and we have 14 another lunar association so the reinforcement of the female principle continues. This garden story is temporary but we seek to avoid stepping on the toes of the ancients. We acknowledge earlier clients and their designers.
To the left of the gate as one leaves the palace another solstice line planted with trees and where that line strikes the railings we see gaps in the railing design celebrating that special fact.

Only after the corner fence post of the garden was erected did we discover that the distance from the centre of the gateway to that corner is exactly 44 feet.

Number is only one way of controlling space. Geometry has within it certain dynamics that work independently of scale. Using geometry imposes special things so if one starts from one fixed measure the use of devices like the Golden Section will result in other dimensions having special numbers.

The first design step taken with his garden was to introduce the Golden Rectangle. It lies unseen beneath the geometry of the garden like a very simple skeletal device.

As man developed his logical thinking he formed links and connections. The concept that things were connected by logical instances became very important. The belief that everything was connected, regardless of time, by a thread often hidden became fascinating. It created the possibility of one being able to forsee what Destiny had “lined up” for one. Things were “bound” together and things were “bound to happen”. We still use this concept in our everyday modern life. Destiny can be structured and as such providing valuable substance through time. This concept of Time is important to this garden as it is all to do with people who lived a long time ago. The messages within it are specially contrived so the girdle, gyrdan of the garden is an appropriate fence.

The material used is very natural wood. It is one of the most long-lasting of woods, Oak. It is woven so most of its constructed strength is drawn from its inherent strength. The fact that it is a European species Quercus robur is appropriate to a story about substantial European people and relationships associated with them. Henry was bound to marry a Spaniard so we could re-inforce the alliance that controlled the Straits of Gibraltar and all the trade that flowed through them.

The garden is not totally enclosed by the fence, it is open at the front for people to gain visual access. The gap at the back allows us to gain visual access to an older set of girdles, the railings around the palace. We can glimpse the use of special numbers in those. The finials aspire and hint at the twists and turns in Life.

At the very beginning of this story another much more simple barrier tells a number of stories. The word barrier comes from “bar” and bars which have established value serve in all sorts of places to separate functions in life. Bars work because everyone believes in their meaning so they are not there to separate the totally ignorant from what is beyond them. Bars were often used in traditional gardens and this one is a symbolic story in itself.

The top of the yellow bar is a part of a wooden column. There is one such structure at either end of the garden alluding to the two columns in the temple. This arose from an earlier concept of the sun sailing across the sky in one boat and then sailing back through the night in another. The earliest boats, like columns, were made from reeds bound together.

So from the very beginning we are reminded of the daily round and beginnings.

The rail sits above the earth and the two posts that support it echo those amazing things called trees that aspire to the sun day and night. They are green.

Ontop of the first bar we have more wood, painted green but woven like the fencing around. It hints at other aspects of destiny. The thread is separated into six pieces hinting at something to come, namely six relationships.

We will return to the second bar later on in the story.

The woven oak provides a focus for aspects of the story expressed in other art forms, painting and gardening.

In the middle foreground we have another barrier. This time it is made from metal.
This piece of work 2.93 metres long and 1100mm high is the result of a combination of a number of things and it echoes best ancient practice.

The designer Graham Burgess defined certain parameters and the Craftsman Peter Neale and his team participated in the evolution of the design. The quality of a relationship like this determines the outcome.(Peter Neale Blacksmiths, Scatterford Smithy, Newland, Nr Coleford, Gloucestershire GL16 8LJ.01594 837309, email

In his mind’s eye Graham tuned into a client source. This is very female orientated. Katharine is important also Mandy Almond of The Royal Horticultural Society.

There are few substantial records of Katharine’s existence but the railings in front of her tomb at Peterborough Cathedral are certainly very well made and substantial. Central to them is the heart. Graham’s theory about the origin of this heart design is to do with the perfectly balanced association of two letter S’s, that letter being to do with “being and of the flesh”.

Six panels were specified so we can reinforce what was hinted at in the first wooden bar and tell some more of the story that arose. It links with the hearts in the palace railings where they embrace creatively those who pass through them.

The story that the Royal Horticultural Society has asked us to tell is to do with The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

We do know that in each of the relationships two people came together albeit for different timescales. The metal railings celebrate the basic concept of structured relationships. This set of railings does not include some of the “unofficial” liaisons Henry had.

Listening to the female Graham defined that the distance between the external lobes of each heart should relate to the number of ISIS. Isis had a thousand names but the key focus was on creativity and that is very female. Her number is 18, so the number of inches that embraces each heart is 18.

Where each of the two hearts cross there is a special shape and maybe that was the origin of the kiss symbol we still use. We have celebrated that by putting a ring of bonding such as one might put on one’s finger to consolidate a relationship. The point of union is as 21 inches alluding to a degree of maturity. This is a special focus on what one could do with any railings old or new to personalise them.

If you look closely you will see additional creations on some of the heart joinings. The first hints at a dynamic at work throughout Henry’s life and that is Attraction. The image is of two birds as they were designed in an Egyptian make-up grinding device. In Egyptian times men and women wore a lot of make-up to make themselves more attractive.

There are six paired hearts one for each of the relationships Henry had and they are looked upon from the rear by the pictures of Katherine spanning her life from virgin to Queen.

The skilled craftsman Peter Neale listened to his materials and the inherent dynamics of the substances used, in this case metal. The final shape was derived from those craft skills and the end result is a railing that is 1100mm high. The eleven emerges again, not deliberately designed, but with associated harmony.

Include the length of hidden legs and we have 66 inches.Ball nuts essential to the binding of the metal are formed in the shape of Tudor Roses.

The metal has had its say and the craftsman has ensured that in addition to the railings sending out a message they will send it out for a long time.

Colour is sometimes used to get across symbolic messages. The railings round Hampton Court are green and in fifteens, reflecting the Green man and Osiris whose number was 15

The railings here are mostly painted black reminding us of another Queen, Queen Victoria. She had many railings painted black to recognise the passing of Albert.

Our client Katharine looks at the railings from behind and we tell another story. The rear of the hearts she sees is coloured blue. Love comes out of the blue and from the arrows that the blindfolded Cupid fires from the sky. She never lost sight of that basic loving concept and she expressed it throughout all the six relationships.

At the end of the story we have another bar. In basic substance it echoes the first one but upon it aspects of a story totally to do with the end of her life. First the sun again, golden and then another spherical object representing the planet nearest to the sun, Mercury. On the day of her death this was the alignment of the inner planets.

At the very end a pointed symbol.

It is the designer’s question to us all. What is the point ?