There is still a sense of won­der to be dis­cov­ered in our own gar­dens if we give our­selves the time to prop­erly en­gage

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Travel -

about the plants in your gar­den, or tak­ing a sketch­book out on a walk with you? Is it about cre­at­ing a book of draw­ings that you want to share with oth­ers, or is it about ob­serv­ing and learn­ing on a more per­sonal level? Be re­al­is­tic about what you’ll be able to do – cer­tainly to start with.

Lara Call Gastinger cre­ates per­pet­ual jour­nals. The first thing she does with a blank jour­nal is to mark each page spread with a cal­en­dar week – and then over sub­se­quent years she will re­turn to that page and add an ad­di­tional draw­ing. The com­plex­ity of the page builds up year on year and means you don’t need to feel too over­whelmed by fill­ing the page each time you do a draw­ing. It al­lows for ob­ser­va­tional snip­pets, as well as help­ing to pin­point sea­sonal changes to a par­tic­u­lar mo­ment – and even track how these might be shift­ing over the years as a re­sult of en­vi­ron­men­tal changes.

Your choice of jour­nal should be first and fore­most prac­ti­cal rather than aes­thetic. Con­sider ease of use at home or out in the field, type of pa­per for your cho­sen me­dia – inks, pen­cil, wa­ter­colour, etc – whether you want to in­clude ad­di­tional items, such as press­ings in envelopes or pouches, and whether you want to build up a se­ries of match­ing jour­nals. Ideally a jour­nal should be large enough to al­low you room to ex­plore with your draw­ings and add in other con­nec­tions and no­ta­tions.

Don’t be tempted to buy too much kit; you’ll be less in­clined to get it all out and use it than if you have a few es­sen­tial items that can be eas­ily ac­cessed or car­ried around.

Once you’ve started your own jour­nals, go and look at other ex­am­ples – an In­sta­gram search will bring up a host of other jour­nallers who are shar­ing their pages. Not only can these help in­spire you, but it’s also a way of pick­ing up tech­niques and pro­cesses that you can add in to your own way of record­ing what you are see­ing.

And don’t panic; this isn’t pri­mar­ily about be­ing able to draw well. It’s about ob­serv­ing, un­der­stand­ing and en­gag­ing just a lit­tle bit more with the world around us. Even with all the field guides that are pub­lished and as­ton­ish­ing wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy and TV pro­grammes avail­able, there is still a sense of won­der to be dis­cov­ered in our own gar­dens and parks if we give our­selves the time to prop­erly en­gage. It’s the process of jour­nalling even more than the end re­sult.


Books Na­ture Ob­server: A Guided Jour­nal by Mag­gie A En­ter­rios ( Tim­ber Press, 2017). Keep­ing a Na­ture Jour­nal by Clare Walker Les­lie (Storey Pub­lish­ing, 2003). Won­der­land: A Year of Bri­tain’s Wildlife Day by Day by Brett West­wood and Stephen Moss (John Mur­ray, 2018). The Almanac: A Sea­sonal Guide to 2019 by Lia Leen­dertz (Mitchell Bea­z­ley, 2018)

On­line john­muir­ – lots of ad­vice and fur­ther re­sources in­clud­ing YouTube videos and the op­por­tu­nity to join the Na­ture Jour­nal Club. Fol­low #lgper­pet­u­aljour­nal on In­sta­gram for more from Lara Call Gastinger and oth­ers.

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