I’m terrible at pruning roses. My late mum taught me to sculpt them, looking for the directions of the buds. But I let stems ramble until they’re finished with flowering, reach to trim them and accidentally, take off a stem still in flower. These opening buds, stopped in their tracks by frost, are all tight, vivid curls and folds. In Winter, these roses’ colour sharpens. It needs four ink colours to build up their zingy, complex characters.
The hydrangea flower head, snipped from a low branch in need of a trim, was gathered to draw for a birthday card. I set it aside in favour of a fresher stem but it’s beautiful in its vintage pink, so it goes into a vase. That pink is surprisingly difficult to draw – there’s green in it, and a wash of turquoise.
I leave the ivy to flower, forage for garden creatures and always the opportunist, it makes a run for it in all directions. Handy, then, that my local community garden, organising a wreath-making workshop, could do with some. Gathering long stems that will twine easily around a circle, I spot some red on a few leaves and set them aside for drawing. The greens in ivy are complex, from lime to near-black so I’m grateful for the thirsty offcuts I’m drawing on today, holding the colour as I build up underlayer, pattern and a watery wash of blue-green.
I’d love to be a tidy gardener – but this week, my ramshackle ways have given me unexpected things to draw. And for that, I’m grateful.
Ballpen, watercolour and fineliner on offcuts.
My holly illustration from September's Back garden banquet post is now on Christmas cards, available in London shops Know & Love and the art shop at Hackney Wick Underground.
See my Christmas gift guide on my studio website's blog for products from this project and from my illustrations for 26 Habitats.