Let's start with a short piece, not about landscapes, gardens or flowers directly, but about design, and writing and the birth of my graphic identity. Painstakingly brought to life by Kirsty Carter of the very brilliant design agency A Practice For Everyday Life, it was inspired by the title artwork of a book by a heroine of mine; Vita Sackville-West.
Published in 1951, In Your Garden is a selected anthology of gardening articles by Vita Sackville-West, originally printed over the course of five years in The Observer. These charmingly direct, knowledgeable and insightful musings led her to acquiring thousands of fans; a seriously successful blogger of her day, one could argue. Less week by week instructions of what should be done in the garden, these articles are more a personal enthusing on all things green. Many of the articles revolve around plant recommendations and by this point in her life she was already hugely respected as a plantswoman. To this day she is still as famous for the gardens she created at Sissinghurst Castle with her husband Harold Nicolson in the 1930s, as she is for her extramarital same-sex affairs; most notably with the authors Violet Trefus and Virginia Woolf. A formidable woman of her time, she may have been born into privilege, and may have married well (Nicolson was like she, the son of Baron), but Vita did not rest on a sense of entitlement, she worked fastidiously hard at everything she put her mind to, whether it be journalism, fiction and poetry or designing and actual gardening.
I often dip in and out of In Your Garden – it’s one of those books that has a semi-permanent home next to my bed. It gives me ideas, helps to reaffirm my likes and dislikes, to remind me of things I’ve forgotten and teach me stuff anew. It made sense therefore, that when I set up my own landscape, garden and floristry design business 5 years ago that I should want to reference the book somehow. So it was to the typography of the cover of the first edition that I turned. Seemingly inspired by the delicate tendrils of my beloved Clematis, it was everything I wanted to project about my own work; inspired by nature, wild but tamed, elegant and sophisticated, detailed but not fussy.
It also made sense that the book should be the subject of my first post. And yet, in making this connection, I should be clear, that I by no means intend to replicate the format, content or style of Sackville-West’s writing. I wouldn’t dare. She knew way more than me! However, I do like the idea that just like I do with her book, readers may dip in and out of this blog, take from it what they will, be inspired by what I am doing and find out more about what I am thinking. That’s the point of it at any rate.
So there you go, it’s for all of this and actually so much more (wander round the gardens of Sissinghurst and you’ll get it straight away) that Sackville-West is a total design hero. A true inspiration.