Nature, engineer

When I spend time with plants through drawing, I notice things about their structure that I haven’t thought about before. The hollyhocks are in bud, in flower and going over all at the same time, throwing their iced cake decoration buds skywards, shaking out petals and serving up generous portions … Read More

Summer plumage

A few short weeks ago, these were texture: tight little heads of green buds; sculptural grey-green leaves like a Grinling Gibbons carving; flat stems rambling over low shrubs. Now, the garden is in full Summer plumage. The hydrangea is popping out ice-cream coloured flowers. Little red double-headed poppies are out … Read More

The accidental kitchen garden

Looking at my garden with a drawing eye, I’ve learned to appreciate the plants that pop in unplanned. This season, fennel I thought was no more is springing up all over the place, adding its feathery texture to the sweet peas and verbena. It’s home to wildlife too: it was … Read More

Do you speak bee?

I’ve taken to calling them coffee bees. First thing in the morning, when I wander out into the garden with my coffee, the poppies, just open, are abuzz with them. If I spoke bee, I’d probably find that the conversation was something work-related. As I take a moment before the … Read More

Nature, designer

Drawing a plant is full of discovery. Drawing the garden over time has shown me that it’s in perpetual motion. I’ve drawn the allium a couple of times and was wondering if I might need more than one sketch here to show the umbrella-frame buds, flowers open and now, seed … Read More

Wild things

My cottage garden in the city is a haven for wild creatures. I’ve spotted my first holly blue butterflies and damselfly of the season, yet to pause for long enough to be drawn. But meanwhile, a beautiful little day-flying moth has sat obligingly on the lemon balm in the early … Read More

All the purples

After April’s rain in May, sudden sunshine – and everywhere, purple… There’s a lot more to the irises’ purple than a first glance suggests. Glossy buds like tightly-rolled satin are almost-black in the shade. Big, blowsy petals need layers, some blue and pink, to build up their brilliance on waste coated … Read More

Hello, mini meadow

Well, not a meadow as such… but a lot more interesting than it was when it was a lawn. I’ve been doing No Mow May for the flowers and the bees – but even in less-than-reliable weather, allowing the grass to do its own thing has given me all sorts of … Read More

Wallowing in nature

These are noisy, scattered, uncertain times. Now and again, some stillness is called-for – and that’s a challenge. Even before the pandemic, I was terrible at doing nothing. But I can wallow endlessly in nature. Put me by a plant and I can lose myself in its miniature community of wildlife. … Read More

First flush, last knockings

Before I started this project, I would think of the gardening season as something with a beginning, a middle and an end. But reporting from my garden in sketches, I’ve realised that there are many stories and cycles, all happening at once – and sometimes on the same plant. I … Read More

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