There I was, happily skimming through the December issue of Gardens Illustrated in my lunch break when a particularly beautiful article called out for my attention. It highlights the work of Sonya Patel Ellis of the Herbarium Project, an artist who gathers botanical samples from her garden throughout the year, presses them for preservation and uses them in her artwork. She's exhibited recently at the Garden Museum and has now created a project for the magazine's readers - a flower inspired vintage looking advent calendar that gradually reveals a suitably seasonal message.
Never mind that the artist collects plant material throughout the year, I reckoned that there might be enough still in the garden to embark on this project. And what's not to love about a bit of crafting that involves collecting flowers and leaves, drying them, sticking them onto luggage labels (serendipitously, I have these in my stationery drawer) and then tying them onto a board? That's the sort of christmas decorating that's right up my street.
So, even though it was getting dark (and decidedly chilly) by the time I'd finished work on Friday, I tucked a large paper bag (thank you, local bread shop) and scissors into my pockets and went to the garden to make a start. I've wandered through the garden often enough to know what's still growing and where, so cutting samples in the dark didn't thwart my intentions and there was a bright half moon to light my way.
I quickly found sage (purple, pineapple and blackcurrant), fennel fronds, feverfew, honeysuckle, strawberry flowers and leaves, geum (I'd spotted one last flower earlier in the day), geraniums, pelargoniums, artemesia, petrovskia, erysimum, lavender, violas, helichrysum, nasturtiums, heuchera, thyme, ivy and sweet cicely. Other options might be hydrangea, bay, fatsia, holly, rosehips, box or Lonicera 'Baggesen's Gold'.
I returned with a large bag of cuttings within the half hour. These were set out onto double sheets of kitchen paper, topped with another double sheet when I was satisfied with the arrangement and sandwiched between the heaviest of my gardening books. I threw Nigel Slater, Sarah Raven and Mrs Beeton on top of the stack for good measure. Now I wait. (Oh, alright then, yes I have had a peek to see how it's all going; I can't help myself.) The flowers and herbs usually take one or two weeks to dry; ready or not, I'll be coming for them on 30th November when they'll be mounted with linen tape onto a board (cork? wood? cardboard? Not sure but hopefully something recycled).
In the meantime, I'm preparing the luggage labels by printing out letters from vintage Lexicon cards and glueing my message to the back. What will it be? 'Peace and Love to all mankind' would seem appropriate after recent events.
The photo below is of Sonya Patel Ellis' finished calendar, image taken from her website, link above. I'm not sure mine will be as beautiful as this one, but I'll have fun trying!
|(Image copyright Sonya Patel Ellis)|
I'm wondering if any readers are working on craft projects for christmas? Do tell!