Scarecrows and Fig Trees

Apologies for the break in service: I have been distracted by some rather industrial gardening whilst the weather is fine.

However, a little update is in order as by next Tuesday I shall have to have something prepared for the first day back in the etching studio… so, on with the Medusa pictures. I had an idea that a scarecrow Medusa might be fun. September is a month I’ve not yet covered in the calendar, and so that seemed an appropriate month, too. This was my first sketch:

Scarecrow Medusa - sketch one
Scarecrow Medusa – sketch one

There were the crows in the background, there was Medusa in the foreground amongst the fat corn, in a kind of motley collection of clothes. I’m not sure the stick is helping the effect at all, but that wasn’t really the main problem. I spent a lot of time thinking about this picture and what worried me is that there is not really very much to suggest that Medusa is a scarecrow. The etching process doesn’t really do fine detail – the sort of fine detail that could depict ‘scarecrow clothes’… and posing her with her arms out straight on a rod would just look like someone had tied her up, and I don’t want that sort of picture!

…And then I thought that the thing about scarecrows is that you see a lone figure in a field in the distance, not in the foreground. So I ditched that sketch entirely and reversed everything:

Scarecrow Medusa - sketch two
Scarecrow Medusa – sketch two

Maybe she should still be standing with her arms out straight… and maybe my crows look a bit like blackbirds… but I think this is more promising, and will work better with an etching technique… and so the Medusa etchings progress, just not very quickly at present!

And by way of explanation as to why I have not been getting on with artwork recently, here is one of my gardening projects – a quick lesson in How to Plant a Fig Tree:

How to plant a Fig Tree - the hole really should have been two foot square, but it will have to cope with one foot by four feet and be happy with it
How to plant a Fig Tree – the hole really should have been two foot square, but it will have to cope with one foot by four feet and be happy with it!

Step one: make sure you really, really want a fig tree, because to some extent planting it (round here at least) is a labour of love… and to a greater extent it’s just simply hard labour. Actually this is the second one I’ve planted so this came as no surprise this time. I like fig trees 🙂

Step two: dig a hole two foot square, and two foot deep. Or dig the four foot by one foot hole that is dictated by the space you have, and, when you get to the hard, hard clay eighteen inches down it is probably best to stop digging, for fear that you are simply making an underground pond.

How to plant a Fig Tree - hole dug, now to line it with concrete
How to plant a Fig Tree – hole dug, now to line it with concrete

If you have ground like I do, you will then have a lot of rocks. Big ones and very big ones and some small ones.

Step three: line the hole with two foot paving slabs. See the note about underground ponds in step 2 for why the slabs do not in fact go all the way in…

How to plant a Fig Tree - the fig pit lined with concrete slabs
How to plant a Fig Tree – the fig pit lined with concrete slabs

This is the ‘Fig Pit’ – it is to restrict the roots of the fig, because otherwise apparently the plant just makes leaves and leaves and grows like a mad thing, but with no fruit.

Step four: put the small and medium rocks back into the bottom, soil after that, and finally, your fig tree.

Step five. stand back and admire your work, while you wonder where to put the big rocks…

The Fig Tree, planted.
The Fig Tree, planted. It’s just a foot-tall little stick just now – what you can mostly see is the bamboo stick behind it.

One soon-to-be fig tree. It’s the little short twig: the much longer stick that you can see is a bamboo cane behind it, but the fig I planted two years ago is doing quite nicely now, so I have high hopes of it… and maybe plans for a third one when I’m feeling brave, because the last one will be a bit tricky!

And that is just one of the reasons why I have been slow on the artwork lately…


  1. Wow, this is quite the project, and it came out very well indeed!

    1. Thanks Christian! Yes you can imagine the first time I planted one it was a bit of a shock to find what I had got myself into… but I am older and more foolhardy now 🙂

  2. Good grief what a lot of stones! I love figs, so the effort looks worth it. Presumably it has to grow in full sun?
    I like the progression of the sketches and no, the birds don’t look like black birds.

    1. Yes it does rather need full sun… and at this latitude the wall helps too, to hold the heat (when we ever get any!). This one is actually west-facing, not south, but hoping that will still be warm and sunny enough – couple of other people have figs on west walls close by, and they seem to do fine.
      Pleased my crows do not look like blackbirds, thank you 🙂

  3. You have inspired me to have a fig tree, I love figs but only have a small patio but I think it could work.

    1. oh you should definitely try a fig tree! They also grow fine in a large pot but I think it’s more fun to dig a proper fig pit! Just make sure you prune it though, especially if you don’t have much space (in fact even if you do have lots of space….)

  4. Mgon ♥

    I’m looking forward to seeing more of: Scarecrow Medusa – sketch two. Yes, I have a thing for crows… and your Medusas! (Medusi?) 😀

    1. I think it might be ‘Medusae’ if you have more than one 😀

      1. …pronounced ‘Medusee’

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