Garden Journaling Part 1

Edit: As I was writing this blog post, I realised that I couldn't put a years worth of sketching and gardening into one month. There is so much that I'm inspired to draw and paint every season and that I'd like to share as I go along. So, I will be updating this series over the course of the next 12 months with tips and prompts.

There are many forms that a sketchbook can take and Garden Journals are one that has a lot of potential. Whether you'd like to create an artistic response to the changing seasons in your garden, illustrate crop rotation in the veg patch, or record and cultivate heirloom varieties, a visual journal can be the perfect craft to compliment your green fingers.

I have a lot of creative hobbies and they all end up jumbled together into one 'Master Sketchbook' but the ins and outs of my garden inevitably make their way into the pages. I paint any flowers and plants that catch my eye. The Sweet Peas I've grown from seed are now taking over and spilling out from their trellis in a huge, scented mass, heaving with pollinators. They demand to be drawn and redrawn. Before that it was the spires of majestic poppies and before that I had an impractical delight in the dandelions that took over a patch of long grass. Autumn is my favourite season, both artistically and in general. I love to collect the fallen leaves with their variegated colours, and paint the harvest veg amongst the late flowers. If you're interested in keeping a garden journal, then September is a good time to start. You can enjoy your autumn harvest, whilst planning next year's beds; noting down ideas from your neighbours and the open gardens of stately homes, but also just recording what went well and what didn't. Now is also a lovely cross over between the late summer and early autumn - which I can't help feeling is extra early this year. I'm delighted by the blackberries and sloes that are now adorning the hedgerows and allotments, which are overflowing with produce. So, if you would like to join me in this garden journaling project, here are a few ideas of things to record this Autumn:

  • Late Summer Flowers
  • A section of the greenhouse
  • Seeds and seed-heads collected
  • Hedgerow harvests
  • Garden and Allotment Veg
  • Fruits and recipes
  • Autumn Wildlife
  • Autumn leaves and finds
  • Bulbs for planting
  • Walks and related accoutrements (such as your wellies or muddy canine companion).

I have also recently been to see the inspiring exhibition: Roots to Seeds, curated by Professor Stephen Harris, at the Bodleian library, where books and studies from the universities botanical garden, dating back to 1621, were on display for all to see. Particularly interesting, was a huge and ancient volume of pressed flowers and plants, annotated with pertinent information. This, I thought, was a fantastic example of one form of garden journaling for research purposes. Whilst this is on a large scale, there's nothing to stop you from keeping such a book for your own small patch, and thus also enjoying the benefits of visual journaling and tracking your garden without drawing. For more information about this exhibition you can click here.

And if you would like to watch the fascinating opening event you can do so here, via on the Bodleian Library's Youtube Channel.

As always, I hope that in reading this blog post you have learned something new and are inspired to try your hand at Garden Journaling. I'd love to see any work that you've created, please tag me with @valerianstudio! If you've enjoyed this post you can subscribe to my mailing list for monthly updates via the homepage.

Ms Emma Leyfield currently trading as 'Valerian'. The copyright to all images and graphics used within this website are owned by Valerian, or Valerian has sought the appropriate permissions to use them.

Trademark number: UK00003464494

April Cottage, Kilcott Road, Hillesley, Wotton-Under-Edge, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, GL12 7RJ