During lockdown I started to create images that made me smile and reflected the beautiful part of the world that we are lucky to live in. I decided the mandala motif would be a pleasing, unifying theme whether I was working with petals, flowers leaves, seeds, fruit, berries or even runner beans.
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Gingko Leaf Mandala
Gingkos are the oldest tree species on the planet. Tough and resistant to disease and insects, they date back 60 million years before the dinasours and were called ‘living fossils’ by Darwin.
Six gingko trees were among the very few plants to survive the bombing of Hiroshima. Although almost all other plants (and animals) in the area were killed, the ginkgos, though charred, survived and were soon healthy again, and are still alive today.
Gingko leaves are unique among seed plants, being fan-shaped with two veins radiating out into the leaf blade which sometimes splits with a groove in the middle.
The leaves turn bright yellow in autumn and when dried will turn oxblood red over time.
Tomatillo Husk Centrepiece
The tomatillo, known as the Mexican husk tomato, is an edible member of the nightshade family. The spherical, papery husk must be removed before cooking or eating the fruit which ihas a citrus flavour and more crunch than a traditional tomato.! tore this husk into 6 ‘petals’ and weighed it down with an orange glass button topped with a dandelion seed head.
Orangey-red vine berries add colour and tiny bird-shaped silver birch seeds add detail to the negative shapes created by the elegant Gingko leaves.
The leaf stems were different lengths so I had to create the illusion that this design is symmetrical. It only looks right this way round!
In October the road outside our house is strewn with gorgeous leaves and I particularly like these two tone leaves with the green border.
I tracked them down to our neighbour’s Snake Bark Maple.
When I played around with the leaves I discovered the stems created a round-cornered pentagon.
The centrepiece is a crimson strawflower (from Leverton Walled Garden) surrounded by vine berries and nuggets of hard sap from our damson tree – which I guess is homegrown amber.
The five points are sunflower petals and rosehips from our garden.
I finished the arrangement at night and had to wait for daylight to take the photo. I don’t normally like shadows but it was a sunny morning and I think it adds to the three dimensionality of this mandala.
The leaves had curled overnight so I had to wet and flatten them out again – hence a nice bit of shine on the their surface.