Botanical inspiration.

Spring must be here. For the first time in months a touch of gardening appealed; mostly chopping down, superficial clearing up and sweeping, and in the rain too, such was my enthusiasm.

I like to keep the garden at a certain level of decency, and it does perform quite well, at a distance, due to the fact there are a lot of plants, from shrubs to trees to perennials and bulbs, in quite a small space. Close up examination of its various areas shows more work could be done, but there we are, a garden is never ‘done’, and birds and wildlife like a bit of disarray.

The reason there are lots of plants is because over the years I kept buying  them, as basically I love plants. In another life I would have liked to have been a botanist.

So, there isn’t much of a scheme, it’s variety rather than planned order; an amazing leaf, a fascinating structure, an unusual flower will always thrill me.

So I thought I would post some images and a few words about some of the plants from our garden and the pieces of work they have inspired.

I like to work from my own images and drawings as much as possible. Here’s a selection.

I photographed these auriculas, below, a couple of years ago, and did a series of design and idea sheets from the images, and several pieces of work, some of which are shown here.

The two pieces below are about 75 cm and 45 cm long respectively.

The piece below is quite small, about 20 cm by 20 cm.

These images below are of our toad lily, the flowers of which I love, as I so enjoy a speckled plant. I used the images as a basis for textile work and prints, many of which appeared in one of my artist’s books, Mist and Grey. Some of the pages from the book are shown below.

The piece above, also from Mist and Grey, was inspired by these exquisite and tiny fallen toad lily petals, which I laminated before stitching onto the page.

Nasturtiums, plants I have loved and grown since childhood. I even wrote and illustrated a little book when I was ten called Mr. Nasturtium. They don’t grow as well in the garden as they used to, perhaps they were put off because we kept eating them. Anyway, here are just a few pieces based on this charming plant, starting with work in progress.

The two pieces above are around 20 x 20 cm and 40 x 18 cm. The piece below is a triptych, each piece measuring about 75 x 45 cm.

This piece, below, is from an autobiographical hanging book called 14 Books. I made the plant illustrations using ink and watercolour, and applied them to Khadi paper, with added fabric leaves. I then added stitch. The plant featured was in our garden for years, unfortunately it’s gone now. Its name escapes me.

And finally, to celebrate the season, a little sprouting bean I stitched some time ago.

Also, for those of you in the vicinity, I have a stand with textile artist Sue Bibby at the Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch show at the NEC, Birmingham, from March 15-18. Visit if you can, it’s a great show, and come and say hello.

10 thoughts on “Botanical inspiration.

  1. I always hankered after an auricula theatre but something that formal looks out of place here on our patch. Shame. as I love the dusty edges to their petals. I’d also love honesty but it will not grow here either ,yet it can be like a weed in other gardens. I’m like you Steph – see a plant, want it , got to have it…. even if I only buy one. Makes for a bit of a hotch potch garden here but I love it. Love what you do with your drawings and garden inspirations. Good luck and success at the NEC.

  2. I’m so late here even the NEC event has passed – arrgh! Hope everything went well. As ever, lovely to see your work – I hope ‘in the flesh’ again before too long. x

  3. Thanks Anny. The show was good fun, lovely to see and talk to lots of people. The snow was disconcerting but it didn’t stop us or the visitors, fortunately. Perhaps see you somewhere one day!

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