The Kate Dahlia

My art time in March was spent immersed in the intensive drawing of a Cafe au Lait Dahlia. My friend Kate very kindly gave me permission to use one of her photographs as a reference and the depth of colour I was able to perceive within each petal is testament to her incredible talent, both…

The Audrey Rose, a new creative direction and a thank you

The Audrey Rose Collection is inspired by and named after my lovely friend Audrey. She was kind enough to give me permission to use a photograph of her favourite David Austin rose as a reference for my work. Audrey is the founder of the weekly #FlowersOnFriday Twitter event.  Gardeners from around the world share photos…

Autumn Memories: A distraction of flowers

We have already passed midwinter and yet I have so many memories of autumn that I want to preserve. September, October and November brought with them a time of intense creativity as I worked on my illustrations, commissions and the launching of my little art shop. I kept taking my daily photographs, though it is…

Embracing Winter: Six Health and Healing Preparations for Autism

How to care for someone who cannot tell you where hurts This has been my most requested post and there seems no better time to write it than as we enter the colder months, amidst the coronavirus pandemic. I am a mother of five and two of my sons have profound non-verbal autism with high…

A Week in Books: Star gazing, poetry and Advent begins

On a Sunday evening, I like to clear the shelf next to my desk, in preparation for the week ahead. There will always be a pile of books that have accumulated beside me. These will include stories my daughter has brought over for me to read to her and those that I have quickly grabbed…

Art in Progress: The Creation of Mister Meadowson

Whilst I was working on my winter collection for the little art shop I had a request from a young girl in the United States for a tiny fox with glasses to be included somewhere in one of my illustrations. She wears glasses herself and thought it would be nice to have a character to…

The Victorian Halloween Artwork: Stage by Stage

For this artwork, I first sketched out the rough shapes onto a piece of A3 (poster-sized) paper with a light 2B pencil, and then gradually added the finer features with a graphic pencil. One of the first items to be detailed-in was the marionette stall. I had put out a request online for suggestions and…

Creating the Storybook Garden in Autumn

The first stage of any artwork I create is to sketch out the shape of the piece in a light 2B artist’s pencil.  This allows me to see how the image flows across the large A3 poster.  My aim is to create pockets of interest throughout the page. I then put out a request to…

The August Garden

We started a tree hospital in our garden. Wilting self-sown spindle trees from the front garden and seemingly dead twigs were replanted with care in prime positions. I watered them every day and fed them a seaweed feed. After five weeks – a rush of bright chlorophyl-green shot up the stem of the smallest twig…

Autumn in Scotland: Rockpooling at High Tide

In the autumn of 2019 we returned to Scotland, to the little holiday cottage on the windswept north west coast. We wanted to see how the changing seasons affected the landscape that we had fallen deeply in love with back in the springtime and timed our trip for when the autumn colours would reach their…

A Week in Books: Bonfires, bee bread and poetry with petals

On a Sunday evening, I like to clear the shelf next to my desk, in preparation for the week ahead. There will always be a pile of books that have accumulated beside me. I enjoy the moment when I scoop them up and shelve them again, the titles on the spines evoke a diary of…

Homemade Maple Toffee Apples

These are the maple toffee apples from my story A Week in Books: Stories to treasure, traditional recipes and seasonal flowers Maple toffee apples are wonderful in autumn, for evenings spent outdoors, wrapped up warm by a fire. Consider also making these with surplus apples in August and enjoying them cool from the fridge on…

Hints of Autumn: Collecting wild seeds and finding inspiration

On an afternoon when it is too hot to be outdoors, I unroll some parcel paper on the table and set out our recently foraged seeds. Cloud parsley, milk thistle, clover, grasses and rose hips. My little daughter can see that I have plants all over the table. She runs out to the garden and…

Apple, Raspberry and Almond Cake

This is the cake from my story: The May Garden I found this recipe in a beautiful book entitled, “Apple: Recipes from the Orchard”. My version is a little simpler and misses out the icing stage –– regular readers will know that I tend to avoid any sticky toppings as my bakes have to travel…

The July Garden

The sunshine of late July beckoned us to the woodlands and with it being such a busy month in the garden too, I am a little behind on my garden diary. I signed off in June with the sight of our onion crop harvested and drying on the raised beds. Soon after, the garlic was…

Hidden Kingdoms: In search of the invisible

In summer, the little woodland becomes a dark and shaded place. Leaves grow with such veracity that the canopy above lets in less light than any other time of the year. I share today’s walk with my 12 year old son. It is so quiet here. Sudden rustles of foliage or scraping on bark reminds…

An English Summer: The secret life of the evening garden

I grow ever more fond of watching night fall in the garden. After the bustle of the day and distant traffic noises, a quietness descends at around 8 o’ clock as the late summer evening draws in. Although I find the geraniums beautiful in the daytime, they now look so dramatic against a background of…

An English Summer: Early morning mists in the old forest

Lockdown is lifted and we can journey into the ancient forest again. An early start. On our short drive, the trees gradually reveal themselves in layers of green. The view is softened; we are watching the day form itself into shape. The mist feels like a fine spring rain, yet suspended in mid air. The…

The June Garden

The heatwave of spring has made way for rolling thunder storms. A bright lit early evening was swallowed by a swirling mass of darkening clouds gathered directly above our garden. It was one of those heart racing moments when my count between the lightning and thunder is zero. (The photograph below is not monochrome.) After…

An English Summer: Fallow deer, uncurling ferns and foxgloves

Barely a drop of rain has been felt for over eight weeks. My 12 year old son and I have decided to make the most of this last day of sunshine, before the much-longed for storm arrives tomorrow. If we take the footpath that winds through the fields, to the north of our village, it…

The May Garden

The first three weeks of May test a gardener’s willpower. It seems so warm and sunny yet you must try and hold your nerve against a surprise last minute frost. I continue the ritual of gathering up my seedling pots and placing them inside the kitchen every night. Just in case. I enjoy the allium…

English Cherry Flapjacks (vegan friendly)

These are the sweet treats from my potager garden story: Umbrella boats, windowsill seeds and chocolate flapjacks and I quickly learnt through the comments I received from curious readers that in many other countries, flapjacks are another name for pancakes. These are the English variety – a quick and easy store cupboard oaty bake. This…

Springtime at Home: English oaks and white bluebells

My two middle sons run down the hill together, so close in age that they are almost the same height. The trees dwarf them. When I think back to this wood, I never imagine the trees being so tall; it seems such a close, small place in my memory. Spring is still with us and…

Springtime at Home: How to scare a storm away

The air is heavy when we awaken, there must be a storm coming. I open the skylights and a sudden gale whistles down the stairwell. My autistic 11 year old, still in pyjamas, is absolutely delighted. He sets up directly underneath the velux with an old Thomas the Tank Engine book and watches as the…

Springtime at Home: VE Day, bunting and a street party

It is the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. We wake up to blue skies and sunshine and set to work tidying the front garden, whilst our resident house martins dart around us, swooping down from the eaves. Repurposed paper fans and rugby flags decorate the iron railings. Our son’s homemade Union flag takes…

Springtime at Home: Storm chasing, lichen and muddy boots

I welcome the promise of rain. Our plants desperately need it and I can feel the storm coming. The air feels heavy, the sky seems closer. It is only midday and yet the familiar bright tones of the garden seem washed out in the dim half-light belonging to dusk. As the clouds roll over the…

The April Garden

If summer brings to mind old English roses, then springtime must be the month of apple blossom. By the first week of April we glimpse the bright red buds starting to unfurl. I have never been so glad of our small patch of green space, for in this national lock-down it allows us to spend…

Springtime at Home: An early morning hike through English farmland

This morning I am up early, pulling on my walking boots and heading out into the fields before the day has fully started. The natural world seems so alive to me in springtime. The hedgerows stretch upwards towards the blue skies, straining to grow. I instinctively want to steer clear of the nettles that are…

Springtime at Home: Simple water meditations in the garden

I miss spending time in the forest during this coronavirus lockdown. Finding ways of replicating the sense of peace and wellbeing that the woodlands give me, really helps ease the longing to be back there. Just after a light April shower is the perfect time for mindfulness in the garden. There is such calmness in…

Springtime at Home: Stream watching, borrowed hats and precious food

We continue adapting to this new, quiet time in our lives. I am noticing little changes. Food, for example, is suddenly becoming very important due to the shortages. We seem to talk about it a lot more than normal. Our autistic sons have very restrictive diets, therefore we are saving all of the plain items…

Springtime at Home: Sunshine, doorstep parcels and fresh air

In the national lock down, we are all permitted to leave the house for exercise and fresh air once a day, as long as we keep our distance from those that are not from our household. Today is the perfect spring day; warm like summer, with a gentle breeze. I’m walking with my ten year…