Hi Everybody,

Today, I’m going to chat about an interesting trip we made to London, recently. We popped into Clifton Nurseries in the leafy London suburb of Maida Vale. This is no ordinary garden centre. It’s like an up-market wonderland of lush plants, shrubs and bushes and I could not help but notice the variety of original pots and ceramic sculptures on display. To my surprise, they still had a series of relief plaques depicting the four sessions in their greenhouse, which I remembered from about 20 years ago, when I was working as a sculptor in London.

The original and expensive Coade stone plaques were brought into the workshop by their  affluent owner, who asked us to make moulds of all four plaques. This enabled us to then produce top quality reproductions, which could be sold on the open market. The reproductions in Clifton, as I remember, were made from a modern Coade stone recipe, but we also made them out of reconstituted marble and terracotta.

Coade stone is an artificial stone compound created by a top-secret recipe in the 1770s by Eleanor Coade. The most famous Coade stone example is the South Bank Lion on Westminster Bridge. Eleanor Coade was a remarkable woman at a time when career opportunities for women were very few, as she set up and ran her own successful London business, called ‘Coade’s Artificial Stone Manufactory.’

 Also, if you ever watch Saturday Kitchen Live on the BBC, you’ll see another example of one of the plaques we made, on their kitchen wall.

So go and visit Clifton Nurseries, have a look at the plaques and then maybe visit their lovely café. You’re also only a short walk away from Little Venice. It would make for a great day out.