Generous Gardener Rose

Stop and Smell the Roses


Sometimes, it seems that everybody is in a rush. They have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Busy, busy, busy. Ask someone how they are and the default answer is “Busy”.  Interestingly, the follow up question of “Busy doing what?” sometimes reveals that they’re just busy being busy.

But judging by Instagram (which is of course real life isn’t it?) there’s a sense that people are slowing down to find time for the things that are important in their lives. Taking time to stop and smell the roses. Being creative, making and doing. Lingering for five minutes over a cup of coffee. Arranging flowers. General faffing. Trying to make the world a better place.

We’ve been taking time out too.

Stopping to smell the roses

Generous Gardener Rose with colours picked out below

We have literally been stopping to smell the roses and admire their beauty (and pick them to make Rose Petal Posset). This rose is full of promise, poised to burst into flower and I love this colour combination.

Trying to be greener

rusting barrel under walnut tree in grassy area

We’re lucky that the printmaking space is in a beautiful old barn and lunch breaks can be spent by the pond or wandering down the fields, which adds to the enjoyment of the day and gives a chance for reflection and inspiration amongst nature.

We’re trying to make our printmaking space environmentally friendly but it’s a steady process and a balance between our commitment and student expectation.

Nearly all our inks are water soluble, which means we don’t need to clean with solvents but that can make a difference to the finished prints. Our students cut stencils for screen printing rather than use polymer emulsions, which is fine for beginners but experienced printmakers may feel restricted. Our Who Gives a Crap toilet paper and  recycled paper hand towels do the job they’re designed for, but they don’t look or feel luxurious.

Making & Doing

ox eye daisies in meadow with colours picked out below

The ox-eye daisies in the meadow this year have inspired me to have another go at reduction lino printing.

Lino reduction print "mayweed"

Last year, I tried reduction lino printing or suicide lino printing as Ruth likes to describe it and based my print on a sketch I’d done of some mayweed flowers growing next to the henhouse. Making these prints involves cutting and layering colours from a single lino block and it took me quite a lot of head scratching to make sure I cut the right bit at the right time. Read about the proper way to make reduction lino prints here.

Ignoring Ruth’s advice to keep it simple with a two or three colour design and to plan it properly, I waded in with a half-baked plan and five colours. On reflection, five colours was over-ambitious as was the decision to add in extra details half way through the process. It wasn’t a total success, but if it had been, that would be rather disappointing. After all, half the fun of creative projects is giving it a go and working out how to get better. The real sense of achievement comes when you can see how you’ve progressed. Even if you still have a long way to go.

Getting out into the countryside

Gate Farm Open Farm Sunday

To be fair, we do this every day but on 10th June everybody has the chance to go to the countryside and visit a UK farm. We’re not hosting this year, so for a change we can be visitors at someone else’s farm. Check out the Open Farm Sunday website for details of a farm near you.




Take a deep breath. And relax.

Instagram might does give us a very curated view of life but there’s no doubt that it doesn’t do any harm to slow down for a few minutes and relish the moment. To relax, be happy and inspired by our surroundings or other people. To actually smell the roses. Though possibly not if you suffer from hay fever.

10 thoughts on “Stop and Smell the Roses

  1. I love your lino print! And what’s art if you’re not a little scared in the making?
    Thank you for the reminder to take moments here and there. Actually, literally stopping to smell roses is a favourite thing I do on dog walks. The ones on old bushes that have gone a bit wild tend to smell the best.

  2. Yes, a timely reminder Anne. I often feel I am rushing from one thing to the next without stopping. I like the way you have put the little colour charts under your photos, clever! To have those daisies growing in such abundance would inspire me too!

  3. Your field of ox eye daisies is very beautiful, isn’t it interesting how farming has changed over the last few years.
    The Generous Gardener is a favourite rose, so named by David Austin to acknowledge the money raised by NGS garden owners.

    1. Yes, hasn’t farming changed? Who’d have guessed from that photo that we’re a commercial arable farm? Rather different from the stories that some ill-informed journalists continue to write.
      A rose for you then Brian!

  4. My Great Grandmother used to have an amazing garden! It was always featured in the local newspaper. These photos remind me of her.

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