Continuing this series to inspire more new gardeners this is Rhianna, an illustrator who now lives and works in Falmouth, Cornwall.
Growing up …
Growing up near London, my family were lucky to have a big, full garden that we spent lots of time in. Although I’m sure when I was younger I was much more of a hindrance than a help! We had a patio, a decking, a fish pond, a few raised beds and a lovely old apple tree. One of my favourite memories is my parents announcing that we were to have apple crumble for pudding. I remember rushing out to the garden to collect the biggest apples and juiciest looking blackberries from the brambles on the fence. Even though I’ve now moved out and have a much smaller space to work with, I’m still trying to grow as much as possible.
My First Step into Gardening
My first foray into gardening was all because of a winter garden centre sale. They had some very sad looking strawberry plants that my university housemate and I were sure we could save. After much encouragement in the summer, our plant had one small red strawberry on it. Unfortunately shortly after noticing this, a squirrel leapt up to our plant and stole the berry for himself! We weren’t mad for long as the sight of this squirrel clutching the fruit in his tiny paws was very sweet.
My Gardens – Balcony
After university, I moved into a house with some friends and I quickly claimed our small balcony as my gardening zone. This was one of my first gardens and I bought lots and lots of pots and my mum sent me over some seeds. I was constantly checking the dates on the packets to see when I could first plant them out.
There were already a few herbs, flowers and of course the aforementioned strawberries. I even tried to grow some potatoes by simply cutting the ‘eyes’ out of some old, leftover old potatoes. After that, I let them dry for a few days before planting in a large pot. It was such a treat to firstly see them sprout and then yield fresh, delicious potatoes! Even the teeny tiny potatoes were eaten, roasted with a bit of paprika and salt.
My Gardens – First House
I’ve now moved and have a larger, decked garden in which the previous owner kindly left a large, deep planter that I’ve now filled with herbs. We’ve also discovered quite a few interesting trees and shrubs on the borders. There is an incredibly huge bay tree which will ensure that we never have to buy bay leaves ever again! Even in the smallest of spaces you can grow herbs, vegetables or fruits yourself. There is such a simple happiness and pride in growing your own food and using it in your own cooking!
Art and My Gardens
My love of gardening has definitely influenced my illustration work. In nature you can find the most wonderful colours, shapes and textures. I find that the more I garden, the more I am inspired to add little stems, leaves or other natural forms into my work! Alongside my garden, I have a growing collection of interesting house plants too.
The shapes and patterns of these have also influenced my work. This especially so in my most recent greetings card range of house plant puns! I also find that an interest in gardening, nurturing and and growing your own food inspires love and respect for our planet. Therefore I try to be as eco-friendly and as plastic free as I can in my small illustration business. (Find Rhianna at www.rhiannafowler.com and on Instagram @rhianna_fowler)
My Plans …
Next year I plan to grow even more herbs and vegetables in my garden. I already have seeds for colourful carrots, mini cucumbers, tomatoes and more! I have also found a supplier who prints greetings cards and other paper goods onto “seeded paper”. This is paper embedded with seeds which you can plant directly into the soil to grow yourself a mini wildflower garden. I can’t wait to see how else my love for gardening and illustration work will unite in the future!
My Tips for New Gardeners
My tips for new gardeners would be to start small and easy. A herb like basil or flowering plant like sweet peas are great examples! A small success at the beginning can go a long way to building your confidence in the garden. Also starting this way means that even with no garden you can grow your own. Plants can grow anywhere and even if your space is just a windowsill, there will be room for a few pots! The excitement of seeing a teeny tiny seedling pop up from the soil is so wonderful that I’m sure you’ll be growing all you’ve ever wanted to in no time.