Sometimes the best laid plans do not lead to quite the results you were expecting…
After spending the winter focussing on the naked branches of the “Winter Hedgerow” series I had been looking forward to getting my teeth into something colourful and celebratory again. I planned and booked a series of visits to some of the most beautiful gardens of Sussex, anticipating their re-openning and eager to indulge myself in some horticultural delights. The sun burst forth in April and I thoroughly enjoyed walking, sketching photographing the early blooming plant life. My camera soon filled with images of blossoming cherry, and my sketchbook with narcissi and primroses. But what was the subject that, after all this, began to truly obsess me this month? Well… dandelions.
Maybe it was my recent education in how important these plants are to support the early pollinators who venture out at the beginning of Spring when there is little other pollen available. Or perhaps it is due to the intensity of the colour which after a long grey lockdown seemed like food for the eyes. I suddenly felt that these under-dogs needed to be celebrated next, to be elevated to the status of “art”, and given a second chance at being loved and admired by the general population (for whom they are mostly deemed to be “weeds”).
Plants which could prove good companions in the series arose quickly to mind; flowering ivy, who’s structure and silhouette I love, and is also a vital habitat for wildlife with its thick foliage, and blackberry brambles, which horrify many a gardener, but provide nutrient-rich food for birds (as well as many of the local children) each autumn.
A new series of sketches and photography and research developed quite in reverse to the elegantly maintained gardens I had been visiting. What a surprise!
But then again, maybe not… Is it simply a matter of looking at the same subject from another angle? As my Dad once told me; “A weed is no different to a plant… It is just a plant in the wrong place”.