#MondayMotivation Darling Dahlias


It’s mid-September, our house has been battered by East Anglian, River Colne winds and we’re preparing for autumn. Still our dahlia’s thrive – how’s that for a bit of Monday motivation?Dahlia Ella JohnstonDr B has planted loads of different varieties of this fabulous flower in various shades of pink, red and orange so even as we move out of summer, the garden is a real riot of colour.

As well as their impressive, vibrant hues and voluptuous shape, these blooms are so wonderful as you can keep cutting them to display and it just makes the plant even more abundant. Every week we get a fresh homegrown floral display that brightens up our rooms – I hope it’s brightened your Monday.

Drawing of the week: Red Admiral Butterfly

Red Admiral Butterfly Illustration (c) Ella Johnston

This week’s drawing of the week is of a Red Admiral butterfly.

With the snazzy latin name of Venessa Atalanta (I think I may employ this as a pseudonym at some point), this beautiful creature is coming to a garden or woodland near you! (That’s if you live in the British Isles of course).

This beauty will be part of my every growing illustrated butterfly guide, I’ve got quite a collection of watercolour and ink butterflies now, I’m just trying to decide on which illustrations make the final cut. I’ll show you the finished piece soon.

Oh for the love of hellebores

Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonThis time of year is just a gift for me as I celebrate my love for hellebores.
Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonI have a confession to make though. Until we had our garden I had never heard of these blooms. Yes I know – I’m rubbish. I have Dr B to thank for this new love of mine.
Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonWhen we moved from our London flat to a house with a garden, Dr B unleashed his inner Monty Don (no bad thing) and began his plan for ‘all year planting’. Hellebores, he told me, were a classic winter flower that pop up in Feb and I was assured that every February I would see lovely blossoms that would delight. Dr B didn’t disappoint.
Hellebore (c) Ella Johnston Now every year I look forward to the arrival of these beautiful flowers. I’m told they benefit from a little prune so I’m forever dipping into our garden to snip some flower heads to display indoors.
Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonThis also gives me a chance to use up my glass globe mini vase (a gift from my sister) and upcycle some charity shop finds. I’ve used my Posca pens to draw on some tealight holders for some floating water displays and spray painted a really rather ugly small vintage vase for a more traditional arrangement.
Hellebore (c) Ella Johnston Hellebore (c) Ella Johnston

Beginner’s Guide: Pressing Flowers

Flower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk At the moment I’m continually snipping flower heads in my garden to promote new growth so I’m exploring pressing flowers to make full use of them. Here’s my very rough guide for beginner’s.
Flower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk I like to think my home has always embraced the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ the idea of enjoying life’s simple pleasures – that’s what I try to show on this blog. I believe something like flower pressing reflects this concept as all I’m really trying to do is preserve some of the enjoyment Dr B and I get from spending time tending to our garden.
Flower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk I haven’t bought any fancy equipment for my pressing (maybe I’ll live to regret this), instead I’m being strictly old school on this and applying a method me and my mum used to use when I was a kid.
Flower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukI’m using one of my handmade coptic bound books to contain these blooms. I like these books as you can open the pages fully without having to worry about the gutter or  breaking the spine.
Flower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukAs I say I haven’t got a fancy contraption for pressing the flowers. I’ve simply got my big heavy art books and a very heavy marble block pressing on top of them. I’ll show you how it turns out in a month or two.
Pressing flowers Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukFlower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Drawing of the week: Helenium

helenium flower illustration Ella JohnstonInspired by last Friday’s Gardener’s World and indeed my own home-grown efforts this week’s drawing of the week is a helenium.

Heleniums – 7 lovely things for the weekend at http://www.ellasplace.co.ukThis simple watercolour and ink illustration is taken from some of the few remaining flowers of my garden. Heleniums do really well in our garden and stay so long, so I’m always snipping them and displaying them around the house to make them last longer. I wonder how long they will last. Heleniums from our garden. http://www.ellasplace.me ©Ella Johnston.

Simple pleasures: garden rose

Garden rose Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk Forgive me. I couldn’t resist sharing a picture of this beautiful rose snipped from our garden. It’s just so soft, peachy and pretty.
Garden rose Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk This rose is so delicate and as we experience the last days of the hot weather (well here in Essex at least). I wanted to celebrate the simple pleasures that life can bring us. Sometimes it’s important to notice the small things.

Drawing of the week: Hydrangea flower

Hydrangea Illustration Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

My drawing of the week is of a bright pink hydrangea. This watercolour and ink illustration is taken from our garden as they are in full bloom at the moment for the summer.

A hydrangea is my favourite flower and this one in our garden made the journey from our little balcony in London all the way to Wiv, so I’m particularly fond of our growing, flourishing little plant.

Friday fun! Botanical love; more spoils from the garden

Garden flowers ellasplace.co.uk

More indulgent love for botanicals from me. My garden just keeps giving. Roses. ellasplace.co.uk

What a beautiful, beautiful summer it’s been so I’ve been reaping more spoils from the garden.
Roses. ellasplace.co.uk We have beautiful bright pink roses which need constant pruning – they just keep blooming. This is great for us as we have an abundant supply of vibrant blooms to grace our rooms with.
Roses. ellasplace.co.uk Luckily we’re also in dahlia season so everyday I’m checking which heads I can chop to bring indoors and display in our home.
Dahlia. ellasplace.co.uk I love a big fat dahlia bloom – you can display a single stem and enjoy its wonderful structure and architecture. So I’ve placed one of my orange flowers in this lovely marble effect  vase I found at a charity shop and the other in my favourite green fishbowl vase (sorry about the reflections, I’ve still got so much to learn about photography and picture editing)
Dahlia. ellasplace.co.uk

dahalia 1

Plant of the fortnight 16/05/16 Sweetpea

Sweetpea black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight ellasplace.co.uk
Sweetpeas are the quintessential summer flower for the UK. Their variety of colours and their delicate paper-like petals are a seasonal favourite in people’s gardens.
Sweetpea black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight ellasplace.co.uk
It’s not quite sweetpea season yet but once they come I hope to fill little jars and bottles. They look so lovely all grouped together – particularly so when I’m having any outdoor garden gathering.

Not only are they a pleasure to display, they are also a joy to draw. These black and white sketches didn’t take long to do but it’s fun to capture the folds and structure of the individual blooms if you like line drawing (which I do). I can’t wait to go wild with my colour paints when I work up the watercolour versions.
Sweetpea black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight ellasplace.co.uk

Finished Plant of the Fortnight: Iris

Iris, watercolour and ink (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

I’m really pleased with my finished plant of the fortnight illustration. I love the way the layers of watercolour have captured the deep blue and purple tones of the iris flower. I’m also happy with how the different nib weights of my felt-tip drawing pens add texture and structure to the petals, stem and leaves.

We’re attempting to grow irises in our garden this year. Regular Ella’s Place readers will know that my garden can be a be of a diva, only growing the things she likes. The garden is lovely as occasionally we agree but I wouldn’t mind her doing me a favour this spring/summer. I’ll let you know if the irises appear and if they look nice I’ll post photos.