Blackwood & the Garden of St Erth

The Garden of St Erth, Blackwood 
The small township of Blackwood
One of the nice things about moving to a new area is the opportunity to head out and explore new places, and last weekend we ventured out for the day to the Garden of St Erth at Blackwood.  Nestled in the Wombat State Forest, Blackwood is a very small little township with just a local pub and cute cafe / deli punctuating the quiet streets, the main reason to visit Blackwood however is the lovely garden of St Erth.

The gardens are situated up a winding and hilly road, but once arrived you're rewarded by a very pretty 1860's sandstone building and several garden spaces housing a mix of drought tolerant flowers and plants, alongside fruit trees and organic vegetables (including many heirloom varieties).  The home-grown produce is put to good use at the rather delicious St Erth cafe where it's imperative to partake in a cup of tea (Earl Grey of course) and whatever yummy home-made cake is on offer! 

There's a little nursery on-site for seeds and plants (including some of the heirloom varieties) and it's also home to The Diggers Club which promotes sustainable gardening practices.  It was a lovely lazy day and perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday.            

Frankie mag - issue 50

Fabulous Frankie

Desk illustrations - Amy Borrell (left) and Mel Stringer (right)

I'm loving the latest issue of Frankie mag - not only does it have a super cute front cover, featuring embroidered illustrations of sweet household items such as teacups, jugs, cooking pots, chairs and coathangers - but it also has a great spread on five artists who have illustrated their desk spaces.  Love!

The retro-esque front cover illustrations are by the talented (and by the look of it very busy) Sara Hingle and Lara Burke (thanks to Meet Me At Mikes for the Lara Burke info), with perfectly neat embroidery by Noela Siddans.

I loved the feature on the artist desk illustrations, and I always find it interesting to see how other creatives work along with their studio spaces.  It's probably a good job I was never asked to illustrate my desk space, as it is currently covered in a growing pile of scribbled 'to do' lists and notes.  I did chuckle when I saw Amy Borrell's illustration showing numerous post-it notes on her monitor - that certainly looks very familiar!  It's very frustrating as I have so many ideas, projects I'd like to start, courses I'd like to do, people I should contact..... but most things never seem to get crossed off my list!

Nice one Frankie - and happy issue 50!!

Paul Hogarth for Penguin

                 Second-hand Penguin books featuring cover illustrations by Paul Hogarth 

A few years ago I decided I should read some of the 'classics' in English literature, but whilst browsing the shelves at a local second-hand bookshop I was drawn to a series of Graham Greene books because of the front cover illustrations!  On a whim and knowing very little about Graham Greene's books (apart from watching 'Travels with my Aunt' with the fabulous Maggie Smith) I bought the books, and later learnt the illustrations I admired were by English artist and illustrator Paul Hogarth.

Paul Hogarth illustrated all of Greene's novels for publisher Pengiun, and I love the power of the simplicity found in these cover images.  Predominantly created in inks and watercolour and utilising a limited colour palette - or simply just black ink.  Whilst the illustations are simple, they cleverly manage to capture the mood and feel of Green's stories.

"The distinctive style of the artist Paul Hogarth is instantly recognisable: a strong line, a broad watercolour wash and a flamboyant signature.  They are characteristically simple colour drawings which manage to capture a mood – whether of menace or anxiety or general seediness and invariably set in an exotic location – true to the writer's work".  Taken from the obituary in The Independent newspaper, 7th January, 2002

Whilst I love the illustrations of these second-hand books by Paul Hogarth, I've also enjoyed reading Green's stories, the majority of which were written in the 1940's, 50's and 60's and are set in various countries around the world, incorporating his writing with his love for travel.

You can see some more images of Paul Hogarth's cover illustrations for Penguin at this fab Vintage Penguins blog! 

Spring lovelyness

Nature at her best and showing off her latest spring collection

The Jolly cat and Mr J also enjoying the spring sunshine
Ahhhh, Spring has finally arrived (although it seems to have disappeared again this weekend) and I've been loving the sunshine and all the changes to the garden it brings. 

We're really lucky that the house we've temporarily moved to has a beautiful established garden (along with two gardener's - woo hoo!) and it's been magical watching the changes to the garden in just a few short weeks of sunshine and warmer weather.

Rather like a fashion designer and a model, spring and nature have collaborated to create their latest 2012 garden collection..... Bare spiky tree branches have adorned spring cardigans of bright green leaves.  Plain, skinny and angular rose bushes have slipped on ball gowns of flourishing glossy new growth.  Small tightly wrapped buds have burst open into ballerina-style tutu's and garden beds have been accessorised with a mass of colourful foliage and decorative floral jewels.

I'm always in awe of nature at work, her ability to create such harmony of colour, the detail and intricacy she puts into each petal and leaf, and the seemingly perfect use of symmetry and repetition.  I'll happily pass on a Gucci, Prada or Versace in exchange for a spring design by nature any day.