Picture Profile 2208: Clerodendrum trichotomum “Purple Blaze” (Harlequin Glory Bower)

Artist Code 2208. Clerodendrum trichotomum “Purple Blaze” (Harlequin Glory Bower). Water colour on Aquarelle Arches 100% cotton paper 140lb. 10″ x 14″. Completed 4th November 2022

In January 2022, the Iceni Botanical Artists, IBA (of which I am a member, and Chair from November 2021–), decided that their next botanical project would be to paint a year of the flora and fauna in Fullers Mill Garden, West Stow, Suffolk, designed and planted by Bernard Tickner and his wife, Bess. It was decided that it should be a two-year project and completion of all artworks was set for 1st January 2024.

Annie Delbridge, head gardener (with permission from the Charity Perennial who now look after the garden) supplied the IBA with a list of plants which grow in the garden and the animals, birds, insects, fish etc., which live in or visit the garden. Iceni Artists have been free to choose which plants they would like to depict and it is hoped that we will hold an exhibition of all the artworks, as well as publishing a book with a selection of paintings.

My main task for the project is to paint 11 snowdrops – some rare, some not so, and others which are different, for example, white and yellow flowers and parts, rather than white and green.

However, Annie asked me to paint this particular plant when I visited in September 2022 to paint my first snowdrop: Galanthus “Queen Olga” (Picture Profile, Artist Code 2209) which flowers in autumn with no leaves (which come later in November!). So I said I would do it. She plucked a small sprig from the large bushy shrub which was an invaluable resource during the picture painting. I did not have access to the live flowers so had to rely on photographs. The beautiful star-shaped seed heads are painted x3 but the lower part of the painting is life-size.

The plant originates from western China and puts on a good show all year round. In spring, it has fresh green foliage with purple tips and during summer it bears clusters of pinky buds which turn into creamy-white scented flowers. The plant here shows the steel-blue fruits surrounded by a dusky pink–maroon calyx which form after the summer flowering. In late autumn the leaves turn butter yellow and drop, but the “stars” remain on the bare branches far into winter.

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