Last year saw me create my first two small rockeries. I saw a colossus one in the gardens at Lamport Hall and was inspired to make my own version, I then had to consider the
structure becoming waterlogged and the last thing I'd want was a washout rock slide. It was time to scale it down a little. I mentioned in my previous birthday post that dad
helped me build some planters, so smaller rocky microcosms it was. This decision happily led to many an even smaller terrarium created.
Like a kid in a rock candy shop, I had a fun day deciding which pebbles to purchase. Rose quartz, amethyst and aventurine are some semi-precious favourites. Polished pieces add a
statement touch, alongside stones in a more natural, jagged form. I find pebble combos look good with a similar theme, such as slate and metallic ore mineral. Yellow-hued stones
come together to complement light green leaves. The bench is also currently under construction, where dad's building skills know no limits.
I found an online shop which sold a collection of bare-rooted plantlings and a stunning unnamed variety arrived on my doorstep. I conducted some research of my own; the vivid
lengths of Purple Heart make a stunning addition to any planter. Speaking of small plants, you never know what'll spring up overnight. This miniature mushroom felt at home here,
nestled between chunky leaves. If you ever fancy creating a rockery yourself, here's a few tips. This is along the lines of what I initially had in mind for the back of my garden.
When the small wall in the garden was built by dad many a year ago, there were a few grey bricks left spare sitting in the corner. I thought they'd make great mini-mountain additions
to the rockery. Cue an enthusiastic throwing-bricks-against-the-paving session (highly recommended), which led to pieces breaking off in perfect chunks. The area looked like a little
makeshift quarry. I had no idea what to expect in the internal brickwork, yet I was pleased to discover a stellar moon-rock pattern throughout.
The large echeveria first had a home in the flowerbed, but was carefully moved to the planter for better drainage. It's come up a cropper, year after year. Echeveria and sempervivum
are some of my favourite succulents. When I was younger, I remember visiting my aunt's garden, where she used to have some embedded in the soil. I was fascinated by their
rubbery, squidgy leaves - they looked almost artificial. I also like how resilient these two varieties are and how even when the frost bites, they still come through in Spring. Which is
what I was hoping would be the case with the various new stems planted. I found it was sadly, a very different story...
Alike the last post, this one is also a retrospective. As much as I want to say all the plants made it through last year's harsh winter, most of them perished. It was pretty upsetting
stepping out briefly in December and seeing the strong length of the cacti curling up on itself, Many of the leaves had become mushy. In hindsight, I wish I has considered protective
covering measures, alike the couple in Norfolk, who have created an astounding cacti and succulent garden. I came across the article when searching for large-scale ideas and was
blown away by the vast array of exotic greenery (look at all the agaves!), as well as the fact that it's here in England. What a surreal escape, every time you step outside your door.
The last few weeks of summer saw the final photos taken, after that the roots had had time to take hold. I don't want to focus on the fact that the planters no longer look like this. The
weather-beaten lengths were retrieved and bought indoors, in the hopes they'd spring back to life...to no avail. Jeez, I didn't think I'd be this affected. (I'm okay - really). Instead, I'll
mention some more favourites in this mini jungle: Crassula Moonglow, with its patterned nodular leaves; Aeoniums, with their contrasting red edge; and Spoon-leaved
Stonecrop sedum, which have a cluster of greyish-hued florettes. There was one, however, that did make it, which I've had chance to re-pot into a permanently indoor terrarium.
There's a creative element that you can bring to the table, or planter, when decorating. Before the final potting, I had a play with the arrangement in sections, deciding which plants
work next to the other and as a whole. Alongside pebbles, a few beads make an appearance. Each section melds into different tones, from the reddish copper leaves to subdued
blue-tinged ones. Materials such as terracotta, slate and stone course like a rocky stream, into the next. The large keystone bricks were put in place first (same ones which built the
wall), with smaller rocks falling in accordingly. A landscape feel was formed by raising heights in certain areas. There was something so satisfying in seeing it all come together.
I had luckily collected some fallen leaves from some of the plants, which meant I could propagate them this year. It's a slow process, although tiny buds are beautifully starting to take
form. I'm still a tad gutted that there's some cuttings I didn't take, such as the seaweed-looking form above, and the trio of cacti totems. The store from which I bought the bundle is
unfortunately no longer in operation. So, now it's a case of keeping a look-out in plant shops to see if I stumble across them again. Yet, I'm also trying to curb my plant
shopping, as I feel I've officially run out of window sill or sunlight receiving space. I might, might just make rare exception if something striking catches my eye.
As well as every sill space, I've also considered how floor space could be best utilized with long colourful vases - filled with sprawling vines and feathery fronds. Best believe I'll be
covering up this year's planters as the harsh cold comes around again (plastic tray covers maybe)? I recently moved to Hertfordshire, so it won't be possible to spend as much time in
my garden as I used to. That said, Letchworth is coincidentally a 'Garden City' and tree-lined walkways make up for it. A bunny-ear cacti I purchased from a local florist (this be the
exception of paragraph above) has made the perfect house-warming plant. I've also brought some terrariums with me, naturally. All in all, the outlook is still pretty green from here.
The beadtrove - plural in this case...or many cases. To prep them, the surface was smoothed with sandpaper, layers of a walnut shade were added
and then we were good to go. I remember when I first set up the studio, topping up the paint for all the furniture. It's hard to believe it's
been nearly 4 years since then. It's been a while since I painted a beadtrove box, as I've been curbing the temptation for more treasures (and
quadrants start overflowing). They've been traded in for wooden planters as of late, yet I dip in to occasionally, to see what I can bring to paper.
Arranging and playing with scale leads to quirky results with buttons and glass gems (because you can never have to many potted plants).
Sometimes sweet treats make for artwork with a gem twist. Coloured paper backdrops are also something I want to experiment more with - I'll share
the results when the components come to clash.
Believe it or not, the snaps here were found when delving into the hard-drive. Checking the date, they were coincidentally taken in May...2016. A
whole two years ago! So this post feels more like a retrospect. If anything, it allows me to look back and see how I'd do it differently now. For a start, I
wouldn't have been so tentative with the brushstrokes - a lot more paint=laden and bolder, so the figures really stand out.
Speaking of paint, I've come across one fun interpretation of what to do with it. Artist Annette Labedzki creates custom moulds with semi-set frozen
paint. Slicing into it leads to a visually mesmerizing process (mentally I'm pondering how I would go about it). It could be pink oreos, green-yolked
eggs. or uncannily-real looking banana & strawberry splits, I may spend a little too much time watching paint being pasted. Subtly satisfying.
Some of the gems I've had for years and could probably tell you when and where I purchased them. A little time capsule. Sorting and colour
coordinating is just that bit more aesthetically pleasing. There is that spark of excitement when creating a new piece of art. The numerous ideas each
bead could be used for are considered. Sometimes less is more and it's a case of taking some off. It's all part of the fun.
Most of the time, painting takes up my focus (gardening does in the warmer months), so I don't get around to sharing on the blog as often as I'd like
to. Hence, there's a bit of a backlog - plenty more from the archives to come. Just a little heads up.
Considering this feels like a throwback piece, I also thought I'd share a picture of old work I happened to stumble across. This collage illustration
was created circa 2008, while studying a foundation course in Art and Design at Loughborough University. We had set-ups created for us, featuring
coloured backdrops, clothes and spool-topped mannequins. We imagined items at various scales (hence giant shoe- top right). I love looking back
at early work, especially where you can see what works, the really-not-so-much and the growth in every piece. It's hard to believe it was a decade
ago. What can I say apart from, carry on...and enjoy the process.
Here we are, after what felt like the longest January and flash-by Feb, I hope you've had a pleasant start to the new year. I thought it'd be a while
before I could introduce grassy vibrancy back on the blog, what with winter and icy cold walks being the norm. Yet, it's a chance to share my
birthday from earlier last year in May. I hoped to share it closer to the time...yet procrastination got the better of me. It was my 28th in fact. Do I feel
my years? Not so much. You're as old as you feel though, right? Quote me on that in about 20 years when the #LeafLadies movement (the politically
correct term - no Crazy Plant Lady here) and Dog Lady is in full force. Sounds like the dream to be honest.
We visited Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, surrounded by greenery. There's an undeniable happiness it brings and reminds me that summer isn't too far
away, especially when I look out of my window right now to see a blizzard. No exaggeration. I'm considering this get-up for the next trudge into
town. Even so, there is something mesmerizing about watching the snow and it also makes a great canvas.
Wooden branches in the distance lay like an inviting outdoor installation. A quick hike up the marshy hill led me to find a giant dino-lizard snapping
at my heels. No time to stop...
Venturing in, we found hand-crafted sculptures in wood and wrought-iron lining the garden square. The horsie heads in particular were eye-
catching, with curved panels of wood carefully pieced together. I'm hoping to create a dimensional illustration in my garden this year. Small shards of
wood are to be combined, forming multiple figures. Handsaw and sandpaper are at the ready. Last summer, my dad kindly helped me design and
create small-scale planters for my miniature rockery. This summer, it's be nice to create larger ones to house all the floral trees, such as the magnolia
and cherry blossom. This way, there'll be space for roots to spread out and branches to flower.
We stopped for carrot cake and tea, surrounded by specks of colour. The more sedate lifestyle has kicked in...and quite frankly, I love it.
Walking through, I admired the various blooms, whilst trying to decide on one to purchase. The creamy white petals took centre stage, with their
long draping stems. I didn't catch their name...although if I had to guess, I'd say a variety of gladioli? Three years ago, I planted peacock orchids,
which have similar elegant flower heads. Their bulbs also multiply naturally, so I found many beautiful clusters popping up unexpectedly. Not to
mention the stunning fragrance they release. Catching wind of the scent when walking by is something else. If you're going to plant any flowers for
their smell, make it this variety. Here's hoping the tuberose I planted come to bloom this year, as they're also known for their aroma. The garden
critters need to take a back seat and resist eating them.
We were looking forward to exploring the stately manor which the grounds hold, yet we missed the last tour time. I guess it's an excuse to come and
visit another time with the fam, alike our day in Newark. Many a stable to see here, alas no horsies this time around. Ivy crept up the walls, reminding
me of how it enthusiastically made it's way up tree trunks two Januaries ago, That particular day is a little more fitting in matching the current chill in
the air (I'll be staying here and thinking warm thoughts).
A field of delicate Queen Anne's lace looked as though it had been carefully meshed together. Something I want to do more of this year is hand-
stitch. I recently purchased a stash of seed beads to sew onto paper (if I'm treating myself, it's usually to art goodies and such - it's for my craft, so
justifiable, of course). It starts with 'Oh, I need some light green beads...may as well get them in dark green too seeing as I'm here...can't hold out on
the turquoise...andd checkout'. As pretty as they look in the beadtrove, a mini goal is get them threaded onto a surface. Also, It must've been my first
time seeing black petunias, so they had to make small feature. Fielding and covering many a floral base here.
When toadstools make an appearance, a pixie moment is inevitable. You should see the outtakes of trying to hop aboard - it's a lot higher than it
looks - although we'll save those for another day. (Yeah, they're never seeing the light of day). I chose the dianthus in a pastel shade of orange as my
birthday plant. I have a variety of this flower in shades of pink and they've grown back year after year. They happen to be more commonly known as
'pinks' too, irrespective of colour. Hopefully this one will continue to re-bloom annually in the garden, reminding me of this point in my life.
The dresses I usually wear tend to be of a flared style. yet I was happy to wear this floral number that my mum actually sewed for for me. The love of
sewing is indeed something that's passed down. The apple gladly doesn't fall far and all. I paired it with some tassel loafers, where you can find a
similar pair here. I do like a good tassel or fringe detailing, be it on a shoe or paper. Spotting this nettle mass reminded me of the perils of pricking
plants, alike rosehip thorns - a price I was willing to pay for creating art that day.
Our first encounter when we came upon the vast grounds, was with plentiful sheep. They dotted along the landscape and we were welcomed with
a chorus of bleating. Maybe they were singing Happy Birthday. Casual sauntering and days basking in the shade, like little lamb here have got to be
the best. I'm having a hard time believing that May is rolling around again, so very soon.
Various stones were embedded in the patchwork wall, with different textures and colours working together. It was reminiscent of a collection of
minaudierès and totes. Speaking of stone bags, Barbara Segal is an artist whose work takes heavy shopping bags to a whole new level. She deftly
carves handbags from precious stones, such as marble and onyx. Each design is sculpted to the nearest mm measurement of the original bag, The
attention to detail and bands of colour from the natural material is astounding. It'd be a Herculean feat walking around with these creations -
probably best to admire from a table top on this occasion.
Winding roads twisted in the hilly distance, asking to be explored...
Fields of gold. Sting wasn't joking when he said 'you'll remember me' - he was clearly singing from the perspective of the yellow-petalled fleurs. We
were initially going to call it a day, before we decided to set out on one last stroll around the grounds. The sunshine piercing through was a dream.
Taking the extra steps showed that it's the only way to see where the path leads. If the bright buttercup field we discovered is anything to go by, I'm
going to go ahead and believe it's somewhere beautifully surreal.
Our first port of call in London is usually the Riding House Cafe. The berry pancakes haven't quite been bettered elsewhere. Me and @Hinisha_
are happy to try various places for breakfast, yet find ourselves returning to our old fave. Speaking of sweet treats. we've also tried gelato from
different gelatarie in the big city, yet no place has come close to Gelato Village. If you should so happen to find yourself in Leicester, it's worth your
while to make a little visit (The tiramisu and pistachio though). Hometown wins the point this round, although there's still many sugary morsel to
sample. I've heard good things about Milk Train, where you can find ice-cream with a halo of candyfloss. When I was younger, I just had to have a
candyfloss bag every time we visited the fair...until I was a little older to realize a sack of sugar probably isn't the healthiest snack. I'll totally make an
exception and give in here - it'd be a fun throwback to carefree days of the past .
Satisfied from a delicious breakfast, we set out onto the bustling street. A quick spot of browsing on Oxford Street and a busy tube ride later, we
found ourselves at Westminster. I remember when I was working in London a few years ago and met a friend here. As I climbed the steps, I literally
gasped as a silhouette of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament came into view. It was essentially a view of postcard London, that dusky
evening, This sunny day, I'm reminded of how nice it is to see the city in shades-worthy weather. The wintry chill of February also springs to mind,
with the beautifully glistening Thames making up for frozen fingers.
We played tourist, weaving through the hustle and bustle, finding a moment to admire the architecture. I've mentioned how a statement necklace
adds detail to an outfit, where a trip to the floral ceiling garden in Bank complemented the accessories. A gold-tone leaf wreath has a dramatic and
eye-catching element to it. The simplicity of the choker here and necklace here are also striking, with a delicately elegant touch.
It was a busy day, where we also wanted to check out an art exhibition. The many galleries and shows that take place here are something I miss
about the city. I guess it's about making the most out of the opportunities that are on your doorstep. I recently heard about Chelsea In Bloom, where
retailers feature floral art adorning their store. A reason to make a visit next year.
In an ever-so-slight haste to get to our venue that day before closing, I asked the time. Sis dryly replied how I should divert my attention to the big
clock over there (in so many words). It's not often you can tell the time with a casual glance at arguably, the most famous clock in the world.
The afternoon sun cropped up ablaze, with everything glowing red. The season of cosy knits and autumnal wrapping is upon us. Like the multi-hued
palette I enjoy painting with, I'm a fan of colourful coats and tie-up trenches. I purchased a dusty pink one similar to the one here recently, which I'm
looking forward to wearing soon. How's a bit of cobalt colour-blocking for drama? I'm liking the tartan take here on the classic trench by Burberry.
This one makes me want to pull out the felt-tips and get a little scrawly. I'm reminded of Nerds carefully scattered across the surface with this jacket
(another candy treat enjoyed in my childhood) - I would happily wear this one. Sometimes I opt for tweed and combine it with a belt, alike our visit
to Richmond, this time last year. Scarves and hats in jewel tones would complement the rich browns and ochres of the season.
Wherever I am, I love art-spotting. Pockets of creativity can found pretty much everywhere, especially in London. Be it a play on a famous fashion
perfume or an uplifting quote...there's always something to make you smile. The intricate mosaics at Tottenham Court station also caught my eye,
where I had just long enough to enjoy the miniature details, before getting swept up in a throng of people. Gotta keep on moving...
A visit to the National Gallery was made, to see a beautifully vibrant tapestry designed by Chris Offili. The Caged Bird's song is a bold triptych which
is hand-woven at the loom, by skilled weavers of the Clothworkers Company. The collaborative effort translates Ofili's watercolour vision on a
stunning scale. What I found particularly fascinating was how the entwined threads blend so effortlessly to create nuances in shade. In the
accompanying video, near the 44 minute mark, the artist is also taken with how 'that's a pool of pigment, but it's been rendered in wool'. Amazing.
The aptly named 'Threadneedle street' came across our way as we continued exploring. That's the beauty of this place - you never know what you'll
discover. It also felt like a little reminder to get back in the atelier and create. Even with numerous ideas floating around in my mind, I feel as though I
haven't been spending enough time actually putting them on paper and stitching. There's no time like now to get going, without worrying about
what the outcome will be. Just starting and getting lost in the process is important...everything else, alike speeding carriages on the underground,
will keep on moving like clockwork (most of the time).
“Have I gone mad?“
“I'm afraid so, but let me tell you something...the best people usually are.” - Lewis Carroll
Deep down the rabbithole (or deep in the USB hard drive in this case), a small door came to light. I rediscovered the adventures of Alice in
Wonderland at an exhibition showcased at the British Library. When I was younger, there was nothing like escaping into a good book and that's
something that's stayed with me. Let's delve in...
Alice has done a lot of exploring over the past 150 years. When the story was first released, it was refreshingly 'more entertaining and whimsical than
other children’s books of the period'. Lewis Caroll originally painted the artwork for the manuscript himself and displeased with his work, sought a
professional illustrator. Sir John Tenniel created 42 designs, where modern day interpretations of the 'Alice' headband stem from Tenniel’s
illustrations, rather than Caroll's description - artists collaborating to make magic!
Colourful and bold art featured on boards dotted around. I particularly liked the graphic illustration by Leonard Weisgard above, with its beautifully
layered composition. Statement roses unfurl with a design I painted previously, with gems at the core. I'd like to think the Queen of Hearts would be
pleased; as beautiful as red roses are. let's add a little more colour to the mix. (Head remaining firmly intact, thanks).
Curiosity gets the better of you when navigating your way through. Gigantic doll houses and a miniature mad-hatter tea party add to the surrealism. I
was reminded of the cushion I created a while ago, interpreting her journey on a fabric canvas. Stitched roses sat in teacups and a gem-encrusted
key could be found at hand. The joys of creating at a small scale; the beads are perfect sized ornaments.
There is of course, the famous scene with an array of vocal blooms singing. I planted many new species this year, including a white rose bush and
purple blazing star stems. The fuzzy surface reminds me of the allium I saw on the floral ceiling in London. I've also painted marigolds for mum, as
they are her favourite. Irises planted a few year ago happily sprout up year after year, where at bud stage, they resemble polished amethyst.
Many a lavender and foxglove stalk swish from the flower bed. My sister, the minimalist asked, who initially planted the foxglove. No-one recalls
planting them; they just came to thrive in the garden one year. She isn't too keen on the long stalks being visually overpowering, whereas I like the
garden to be as harmoniously busy as possible. For the past two years the pink foxglove has been self-seeding. This year, a cream-bulbed variety
actually sprouted. Nature is pretty awesome.
Flowers remind me that everything is ephemeral - we all have our moments to be in bloom. That said, it's also a state of mind and you can always be
growing and blossoming in different ways. Sometimes I can't bring myself to snip floral buds for an illustration, where it was particularly tricky with
the calla lillies I planted this year. The entire box was brimming with swirled petals! I remind myself that the petals will eventually fall and capturing
them in their full glory allows me to preserve that snapshot in time...as well as share my own creative touch.
As Alice says “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” Know it's worth being present to venture down the flower-
lined path...and see where the white rabbit takes you.