Above: Detail of a painting by John Dyer. 'Prize Blooms'. Painted in the RHS tent at BBC Gardeners' World Live. 33 x 40 inches acrylic on board
The Painted Garden
Van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Monet and many other historic artists are famed for their flower garden canvases and the garden is still a powerful source of inspiration for contemporary artists today.
Above: The John Dyer painting of the Tresco Abbey Gardens, 'Painting the Colours of the World', is a fantastic example of Cornish garden art. The painting is available as a signed limited edition print.
Cornwall is famous for its lush and verdant nature gardens, which have been captured in paintings by artists John Dyer, Joanne Short, and Ted Dyer. The three artists share a common interest in the visual language of colour, form, and composition that is essential to both art and gardening. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the garden paintings and garden prints of these three contemporary Cornish artists.
John Dyer's entire career of painting has arguably been forged around plants, Cornish gardens, jungles and harvests. In 1989 the artist returned from an art expedition to the jungle of the Amazon in Brazil, and his style and way of painting were formed around the strong shapes, forms and colours of the tropics. His art captures nature in such an energetic and raw way that we can see glimpses of an artist's paradise in his canvases.
John Dyer uses his own garden in Cornwall as a studio and from the months of April to September on hot and sunny days he paints many of his paintings outside surrounded by a vast array of sub-tropical sculptural plants, palm trees and colourful flowers.
Above: John Dyer at work on a painting in his garden pictured holding fresh home grown raspberries.
The use of a private garden for painting is epitomised by the artist Monet and the ability to control the landscape and to use it for plein-air painting, as well as the garden's ability to provide an ever-changing range of plants and flowers in bloom is a recurring theme in many artists' working practice.
Above: Claude Monet The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil, 1881. Available as a fine art museum-quality print
Although John Dyer is not influenced in particular by Monet he is influenced and admires the incredible art of Van Gogh. Van Gogh is famed for his world-famous paintings of sunflowers, the landscape and gardens and his love of gardens was shown when he sought out fellow artist Charles-François Daubigney and painted 'Daubigny's Garden' at the first available opportunity.
Above: 'Daubigny's Garden' by Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890), Auvers-sur-Oise, June 1890. Van Gogh Museum. Fine art prints available online
In a lot of John Dyer’s work, you can see the big influence that Van Gogh has had on him as the artist likes to travel and paint new landscapes and subjects live en-plein air and to capture the moment with generous amounts of paint and energetic brushwork.
Ted Dyer has been influenced by the impressionists, and in particular the amazing paintings of water lilies completed by Monet at his Giverny garden.
Above: Water Lilies by Claude Monet
Ted Dyer's oil paintings have captured some of the most beautiful gardens that he has been inspired by and in a way that echoes what inspired artist Claude Monet as many of Ted Dyer's paintings of gardens feature water and the way the light, movement and reflections of the plants and flowers all interact in a constant dance of life. Water lilies have been a feature of these paintings as the plants sit on the surface of the water surrounded by the light and reflections, they are at the interface between reality and reflection and it is a constant source of exploration for garden artists.
Above: Ted Dyer oil painting 'An Artist's Garden' 20 x 24 inches oil on canvas. The painting features artist John Dyer painting in his garden in Falmouth with his cat Jess, and artist Joanne Short.
Each Ted Dyer canvas is a modern masterpiece and the way he captures light and movement are extraordinary.
Above: Joanne Short painting of her garden in Falmouth, Cornwall. 'My Beautiful Garden' 12 x 12 inches oil on canvas.
The wonderfully painted garden canvases from garden artist and gardener Joanne Short are all about landscape, light, life, flowers and beautiful botanical inspiration. Her oil paintings always feature a gorgeous foreground filled with flowers, wildflowers, plants and grasses. Joanne Short also loves the garden paintings of artists Monet and Pierre Bonnard.
Above: Sketchbook drawing of Monet's house in his garden at Giverny by Joanne short
The artist has spent time drawing the garden at Giverny; Monet's garden. Finding views through the planting and exploring how Monet might have viewed and explored his garden and why it was planted in a specific way.
Above: Artist Joanne Short painting in her garden in Cornwall.
Claude Monet said, “I must have flowers, always, and always.”He found so much beauty in flowers, that he wanted to express that in his paintings. This emphasises the significance of surrounding oneself with inspiring things, as well as the importance of seeking it out for one's art.
This way of seeing and planning a painting is something the artist does to this day and each of her oil paintings is preceded by an ink drawing in her sketchbook. These drawings are always filled with the flowers and plants she finds in the landscape or Cornwall or Provence or the subject she is working on.
Above: Artist Joanne Short painting in her garden at Falmouth in Cornwall
Views to or from her own house feature in Joanne Short's art and she is inspired by the art of Pierre Bonnard, who also painted his own home and garden. A canvas by Joanne Short will always be full of floral colour and form.
Beautiful gardens that have inspired our artists to paint on canvas
Above: 'Banana Plants and Buttercup Sky, Trelissick'. 18 x 24 inches acrylic on canvas by John Dyer
Trelissick Gardens, near Truro in Cornwall, has been painted on several occasions by John Dyer and the National Trust has used paintings of the garden for their own publicity. The garden is set in a sheltered valley on the banks of the River Fal and is famous for its Camellias, Magnolias, and Rhododendrons and the wonderful woodland walk. The garden has an array of sub-tropical plants including banana, canna lilies, and gunnera.
Above: Limited Edition Print. 'Amazing Mayhem in the Maze in May, Glendurgan Garden' by Cornish Artist John Dyer
Glendurgan garden on the Helford River, near Falmouth in Cornwall, is a magnificent site with a rich history connected to plant collecting. The garden was created by the Fox family who ran a shipping business from Falmouth and who were able to import exotic plants from all over the world. The garden is famed for its impressive maze.
Above: Artist John Dyer pictured in the maze at Glendurgan with his painting 'Amazing Mayhem in the Maze in May' which was purchased by the National Trust and is on permanent display at the entrance to the gardens.
Glendurgan has been the subject of many paintings by artists John Dyer, Joanne Short, and Ted Dyer and the National Trust purchased a large original of John Dyer's that is on permanent display at the entrance to the garden. Prints of the painting of Glendurgan Garden by John Dyer are available on The John Dyer Gallery.
Above: John Dyer painting of Trebah Garden in Cornwall. 'Tropical Trebah', 24 x 18 inches acrylic on canvas. The painting is available as an open edition print.
The extraordinary jungle valley garden of Trebah has inspired many artists and it is not surprising that John Dyer, Joanne Short, and Ted Dyer have all captured its beauty in their paintings.
The views from the top of the garden across the towering palm trees and sub-tropical plants to the Helford River are extraordinary and perfect for garden paintings.
Antony House and Gardens, Cornwall
Above: Original Painting by John Dyer. 'The Flower Garden Antony House'. Painted for the Painted Garden ITV TV Series.
John Dyer was invited to paint the flower garden at Antony House for the ITV television series the painted garden. The Carew Pole family, who are art enthusiasts, live in the 18th-century mansion surrounded by a beautiful park.
Antony is a charming combination of the formal and informal. It's considered to be one of the finest surviving Queen Anne buildings in the West Country, with a house of silver-grey stone.
As you walk among the grounds, Anthony house has panoramic views of the landscaped garden, which includes a formal garden with topiary, modern sculptures, and the National Collection of Daylilies.
Anthony House's flower garden is shown in the painting by John Dyer, which depicts red and white tulips in bloom. In the piece, a wheelbarrow and gardener construct a narrative, while Anthony House's magnificent architecture creates the backdrop.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
In his garden paintings, John Dyer has the ability to capture a garden's essence. His work is not just about light and colour but also about capturing the atmosphere of the place. He captures moods through composition and choice of palette: whether it be wildflowers or formal roses, sunlit grass or the Italianate paths of the Italian garden at Heligan. His paintings of the wild garden jungle valley at Heligan really do capture the energy and visual spectacle of this famous Cornish garden with the huge tree ferns and sense of adventure that it creates.
The Eden Project
Above: John Dyer's 'Garden of Eden' painting is part of the Eden Project's permanent art collection. Signed limited edition prints are available to buy from the gallery.
John Dyer is the artist in residence for the modern garden experience the Eden Project and the beautiful garden areas and biomes at Eden have inspired so many of his modern garden paintings. He captures the beauty of the gardens with his use of bold and bright colours, often contrasting different shades of green with bright focus points of colour and there is always a lot of human interest and narrative filled interaction in his paintings.
Tresco Abbey Gardens
Above: Joanne Short painting 'An Explosion of Colour, Tesco Abbey Garden' which is available as a signed limited edition print.
The Tresco Abbey Gardens are a beautiful sight to behold, and it's no wonder that they have been the source of inspiration for many artists over the years. The gardens are located on the island of Tresco, which is part of the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall. The gardens were originally founded in 1812 by Augustus Smith, and they have been a popular destination for artists and painters ever since. John Dyer, Ted Dyer and Joanne Short have all painted the gardens extensively and it is literally a paint box of plant forms and colours for artists to work with and explore on canvas.
The gardens are arranged in a series of terraces that rise up the hill, and they feature many different types of plants and flowers from a vegetable garden and farm garden area with chickens just to one side of the formal garden, a Mediterranean flower garden, and many exotic planting schemes with plants from all over the world that thrive in the mild climate of the Scillies. The artists have captured the beauty of the gardens in their paintings, with their attention to detail and use of colour. The paintings evoke a sense of peace and tranquillity, and they provide a glimpse into a world that is often hidden from view.
Artists John Dyer, Joanne Short, and Ted Dyer have all painted beautiful garden paintings of the Tresco Abbey Gardens. They have captured the beauty of the gardens in their paintings, and they have shown how art and gardening share the same visual language of colour, form, and composition.
Queen Mary Gardens, Falmouth
Above: John Dyer painting of the Queen Mary gardens in Falmouth. ' A Wave of Summer Colour, Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth'. 33 x 40 inches acrylic on board
John Dyer lives and works in Falmouth in Cornwall and a garden the artist regularly walks in are the Queen Mary gardens that are next to Gyllyngvase beach. The gardens are full of surprises with a mix of formal flowerbeds and towering echiums and palm trees together with areas of grass, ponds, and sub-tropical species.
Kimberley Park Garden, Falmouth
Above: Ted Dyer painting of Kimberley Park in Falmouth. 'Early Summer Colours, Kimberley Park'. 20 x 20 inches oil on canvas.
The planting and water lilies on the pond in Kimberley Park in Falmouth have inspired Ted Dyer to create some of his most accomplished works. Ted Dyer lived for many years just a few moments from the park and would regularly take walks to explore and investigate the colours and light on the water.
Gyllyngdune Gardens, Falmouth
Above: John Dyer painting 'Music by the Sea, Gyllyngdune Gardens, Falmouth'. Available as a signed limited edition print
John Dyer has painted the Gyllyngdune Gardens many times and finds the combination of the amazing planting, vivid flowers and the seaside bandstand a mesmerising combination. The artist was the official artist in residence in 2012.
Clos du Peyronnet, Menton, France
Above: John Dyer painting 'Moonlit Serenade, Clos du Peyronnet Garden, Menton, France'. 24 x 24 inches acrylic on canvas. Available as an art print.
Like Claude Monet John Dyer and Joanne Short have sought out the most beautiful gardens to inspire their art and lived for a year as the artists in residence at one of the most famous private gardens on the Côte d'Azur in France. The sub-tropical and Mediterranean garden of the Clos du Peyronnet in Menton is a feast for the senses with its scents of citrus and lavender, stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea, and an ever-changing palette of plants, flowers and colours.
Above: John Dyer painting in the sub-tropical garden of the Clos du Peyronnet in Menton, France. 2010
Giardini Hanbury, La Mortola, Italy
Above: Original Painting by Joanne Short. 'Royal Plants at the Hanbury Palace, Giardini Hanbury'. La Mortola, Italy.
As artists in residence for the Hanbury Gardens in Italy, John Dyer and Joanne Short created a series of paintings that document the gardens in all their glory.
The Giardini Hanbury is located on the Mediterranean coast and were designed by Englishman Sir Thomas Hanbury in the late eighteenth century. The gardens are a combination of formal gardens, terraces, and exploratory botanic planting bringing plants from around the world together in this unique place. The artists' paintings perfectly capture the colours and shapes of the plants, as well as the dramatic landscape of the Mediterranean.
Above: Joanne Short picking flower to paint from her Cornish allotment garden in 2006
Joanne Short is very much an artist gardener and she carefully plants her own seaside garden in Cornwall so that it creates inspiration for her paintings. Some areas are left as an overgrown garden to attract wildlife, birds and insects and a wide variety of pots are planted by the artist to create a summer display of colour and flowers for her to paint.
Above: Artist Joanne Short tending her Cornish garden. 2021
John Dyer is another well-known example of Cornish artist gardeners. He grows huge banana plants, palm trees and towering echiums in his Cornish garden too, so he is constantly inspired by their energetic and exciting forms and power that he builds into his paintings of gardens.
Above: Artist Joanne Short painting in her garden in Cornwall in 2021
Kim Wilde's Garden
John Dyer has painted as Kim Wilde's artist in residence and observed how the singer curates her own garden as an artist would plan and curate a new painting. With raised beds set out with colourful fruits and vegetables like paints in a paint box, areas of wild planting like the expressive brushstrokes of a foreground and stunning espalier trees creating structure and sub-tropical plants adding energy and form.
"I have always had immense respect for anyone who chooses to take time to interpret our world for us through painting."Kim Wilde
Alan Titchmarsh's Garden
Above: 'Last Summer, Barleywood' by John Dyer. BBC Gardeners' World Limited Edition Print Co-signed by Alan Titchmarsh
As the artist in residence for BBC TV Gardeners' World garden John Dyer was able to observe at first hand how Alan Titchmarsh's vision is brought to life, not through paint, but by planning, seeding, taking cuttings and growing drifts of colourful flowers like begonias, structural beds with tree ferns and bright Mediterranean colours with oranges and lemons created with citrus plants. These planting combinations selected by Alan created the perfect inspiration for the garden paintings the artist created.
"Just look at these begonias, they are very John Dyer!"Alan Titchmarsh, MBE, DL
Alan and John found that they had a shared visual language and Alan said:
"It is rare to meet someone who has the same appreciation of atmosphere, colour, texture and the magic that can be created in a garden, and in John, we have found someone who understands exactly what we were trying to do."Alan Titchmarsh MBE, DL
Gardens and nature have been a subject of paintings for centuries. Artists including Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Gustav Klimt, Pierre Auguste Renoir have all shown their love of painting gardens, flowers and plants. Many of their artworks can be seen in galleries including the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
There is an inherent beauty to gardens that makes the process of painting complementary - it is as if the idea and preliminary sketch have been completed for the artist by the gardener, with it all laid out and ready to paint.
This approach to garden art is still alive today with the contemporary art from John Dyer, Ted Dyer and Joanne Short.
"My favourite place to paint in the entire world is the spectacular Tresco Abbey Garden on the island of Tresco, it is a paint box of delights that never cease to inspire me." John Dyer
You can view and buy the latest art from our artists on our online John Dyer Gallery.