A Wonderful World of Wildflowers
Hey there! It’s good to see you here. My name is Lizzie, and I am the redhead who is always wondering! Wondering about life, about this beautiful world, about words and light and colour and form. And mostly about how I can be the best me that I can possibly be.
I am a creator of hand bound books and of art, in the form of cyanotypes and photographs. I am also an avid journal-keeper and I’d like to share some of my journal wonderings with you today ….
My Business Makes Me Happy
I mean it! Everything about my business makes me happy …
… from picking the wildflowers I use in the cyanotype prints I make the covers from …
…. then pressing those flowers right away, so that they keep their lovely shapes and features …
… through creating the prints and never quite knowing how they’ll turn out, (because there’s alchemy involved and who doesn’t feel happy when they’re making magic?!) …
… to binding the books together with Coptic stitching, which is such a restful and mindful activity that, yes, it does make me very happy!
There are so many wonderful aspects to my book making process, and one of the best is that I get to work with flowers. The cyanotype process is an alternative photography technique that produces a negative image of whatever is placed on the paper. In my case, I use flowers, and that makes me very happy.
Check out my Cyanotype Blog to find out more.
I love my garden, which may be small, but which is filled with as many flowers as I can possibly cram into it and I use quite a lot of them in my cyanotype prints … osteospermums, black-eyed susans, clematis and cosmos. These are my favourite cultivated flowers. But mainly I use wildflowers.
Wiltshire Summers are all about the Wildflowers
I am lucky enough to live in the most beautiful part of England (I may be a tad biased!). I live in Wiltshire, near Stonehenge, and in the summer months, this beautiful County becomes one big one wildflower garden.
The hedgerows teem with ox-eye daisies, which make fabulous subjects for prints with all their jolly petals. And everywhere you walk you see umbelliferae of every kind … wild carrot and wild parsnip, cow parsley, Burnet-saxifrage and ground elder and hemlock … don’t you just love those names?!
During the lush, long summers here in Wiltshire, wildflowers abound. Which is good news for me as a cyanotype print maker.
During the UK’s first summer of Lockdown in 2020, my Lockdown Lunchtime Walks took me along a bridleway near my home which was bordered wildflowers … Umbelliferae and wild mallow, clover and teasel, campion and vipers’ bugloss … and past the Big Daisy Field, a patch of common land full of … yes, you’ve guessed it … masses of ox-eye daises!
The Umbelliferae … wild carrot and parsnip, hogweed … make fantastic subjects for cyanotype prints … sometimes they look like starbursts, sometimes like snowflakes, or fireworks … always they look beautiful.
There are so many different kinds of umbelliferae … and they all make fabulous subjects for cyanotype prints.
Another favourite of mine is the wild mallow. It has such delicate petals that when I print with it, you can actually see all the veins. And what I absolutely love is that each flower has the sweetest star at its heart.
Knee-deep, Thigh-deep Blankets of Wildflowers
I live very close to Salisbury Plain, a chalk plateau in the south west of England which covers 300 square miles. For over 100 years, Salisbury Plain has been home to a massive military training area. Because the training area is mostly inaccessible to the public, the Plain is a wildlife haven … deer and hares, rabbits and badgers … and so many different species of birds, some incredibly rare. And it is also home to more different species of wildflowers than I could ever count!
Summer on the Plain is quite astonishing. There are vast swathes of wildflowers to be found … knee-deep, thigh-deep blankets of vipers’ bugloss or dropwort, wild heliotrope or wild field poppies, weld or sainfoin or mignonette … and every year it’s different.
A couple of years ago, the byways were lined by mile upon mile of bugloss and weld. This summer it’s dropwort and pyramidal orchids that hold sway.
There are huge seas of dropwort that fill the air with their sweet, heady scent, so that sometimes it feels as if you are bathing in an ocean of wildflowers.
And the cute vibrant pyramidal orchids, which in the past we would spot here and there, are now to be found in a profusion of purple.
I wonder what wonders we will find on our next trip to the Plain?
Some Final Thoughts … On “Praise” …
So, you can understand why Salisbury Plain is absolutely my favourite place to gather, and to photograph, all of nature’s jeweled treasures that are the wildflowers of South West England.
Just to walk through this landscape, is to step away from the crazy-busy rush of the everyday.
To stand and listen by a field of Vipers’ Bugloss and be surrounded by the loud, harmonious hum of bees, is to rest your ears from all the noise and hubbub that assails us in this chaotic world.
To drive along the old coach roads and byways that cut and bisect the Plain, is to travel where men and women have trod for countless centuries, a link to the past, even as I move forward to my next moment.
As I travel, I send Sky Larks up, up into the blue air and I bask in their song as they trill and hover. And I know that this song has been heard for millennia and will be heard long after I have turned to dust.
There is so much beauty here, feasts for all the senses.
If I were of a religious bent, I would say that Salisbury Plain is the church where I worship, the scent of wildflowers and grass, the incense of my rituals, and the voices of the birds and the humming of the bees, my hymns, my songs of praise.