Catching a moment

I used to think of a garden as a slow sculpture. But some things change so quickly that I have to catch them as I spot them…

The first ripe alpine strawberry zings out among flowers and green fruits. Just typing this has reminded me to harvest it – they’re intense little bursts of flavour and they don’t last. In the space of a day, its neighbour is near-ripe. They’re a curious shape, I notice as I draw, flat at the top, unripe, their seeds close-packed then as they ripen, like buttoned upholstery.

As they start to open, the poppy buds remind me of doublets, a flash of vivid colour where the silk would be.

Nigella, an enthusiastic self-seeder, is everywhere in my garden but this bud, almost ready to pop, makes a secondary flower shape from its petals’ pale edges.

And as I draw one of the new crop of vivid roses, a holly blue settles on a leaf. I have seconds to sketch – they’re busy little things – so I hold the colours in my head as it flutters off.

Like a city within a city, my urban garden is a thing in perpetual motion – and drawing it has taught me to catch the moment.

Ballpen, watercolour and fineliner on handed-down watercolour paper.

Rose sketches from this project are now available as greeting cards, from the Garden Museum shop in London and at Hackney Wick Underground.

On my Teemill shop: my rose collection of t-shirts and tote bags. 

What does our work sound like? The third episode of Studio Snack, my collaborative podcast with Narcis Sauleda, explores.