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Musings: to meditate, think, contemplate, deliberate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, reverie, daydream, introspection, dream, preoccupation, brood, cogitate.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady - June


Edith writes, "In the old Latin calendar June was the fourth month.  Ovid states that this month received its name in honour of Juno, other writers connect the term with the consulate of Junius Brutus.  Probably however it has an agricultural reference, and originally denoted the month in which crops grow to ripeness.  The Anglo Saxons called it 'the dry month,' also, 'midsummer month' and in contradistinction to July, 'the earlier mild month.'  The summer solstice occurs in June. --Enc. Brit.

"June 1.  North-west wind.  Heavy thunder-storms morning and afternoon."  Edith made entries every day the first six days of the month--20 in all for the month.  There were all sorts of wild flowers in bloom for Edith to write about and to draw.  She noted the many nests with eggs and hatchlings, as well as different kinds of insects as she continued her nature walks and cycling down country lanes.   On the 12th she noted it was the 11th day without rain.  She saw her first wild rose in bloom--which I've endeavored to draw and paint from her diary, which you will see later.  She also notes on the 28th that an earthquake occurred the day before in "some of the Western counties of England and South Wales, extending from Bristol to the Mumbles."

This month's episode on the DVD brought all of this to life.....the owl she saw flying across the garden on the 8th, the cuckoo beginning to change his tune which will later be "cuc-cuckoo" instead of "cuckoo."  Did you know that we do not have cuckoos here in America?  

In the DVD, which covers Edith's diary for 1906, they will occasionally have events take place that belong to another year.  For instance, the June episode shows Edith's mother death when in fact it happened in 1904.  They also show Edith meeting her future husband, Frederick Smith, at the London exhibition of several of her oil paintings.  He was a sculptor and appreciated her skill as a painter.  The pair are shown on romantic nature walks together.  But this does not actually happen until 19ll.  In the DVD Edith tells Frederick, as she's written in her diary on the 24th, that "If when you hear the Cuckoo, you begin to run and count the cuckoo's cry's; and continue running until out of ear-shot, you will add as many years to your life as you count calls;--at least so the old women tell you in Devonshire."  

Ragged Robin's Nature Notes, Part 3, takes you to the Olton Mill Pool where Edith saw her first Willow Warbler of the year in 1905 (which I have also drawn and painted below).

Bunny Mummy's June post highlights Edith's 1905 diary.  There are lovely June photographs of the English countryside.

I have come across a Country Diary website that I think you will enjoy.  Here is an audio interview of Rowena Stott, Edith's husband's great niece who inherited the diary and saw that it was published in 1977.  Check out the other links on the website for other interesting tidbits about the book.  It also tells how the 1905 diary came to be discovered and published in 1988.  You will also see that the diary is now available in ebook form from iBooks.  It contains pop-ups where you can get additional information on towns and definitions, etc., as well as some animation of her drawings (birds flying). 

I practiced my first drawing from "The Country Diary Learn to Draw Nature in the Style of the Edwardian Lady". . . 

Since the instructions are only for colored pencils I decided to choose a drawing from Edith's diary to paint.  I wanted to do the wild roses so I picked the drawing on the first page for June which also includes birds--a Willow Warbler feeding her young.   I realized that part of the loveliness of Edith's paintings in the book are due to the "aged" paper they are on.  My stark white background gives it an entirely different feel. I am fast realizing that leaves and grasses are not my forte!  This is my rendition of Edith's lovely June painting. . . .


The Country Diary Herbal arrived this past month.  "It is a complete guide to growing and using herbs--their symbolic lore, medicinal uses, cosmetic applications, and cooking secrets.  Fifty herbs from agrimony to yarrow, with all the details from cultivation secrets to delicious recipes."  Edith's drawings are interspersed.  It makes a lovely edition to my Country Diary books collection.

I also purchased The Country Diary Book of Creating a Wild Flower Garden by Jonathan Andrews.    I'm hoping to plant wildflowers along a split rail fence at the back of our property.  This book is illustrated with Edith's paintings and tells me all I need to know about planting a variety of wild flower seeds.  It is organized by the month in which the flower will bloom. . . .










If you are new to my Web Journal you can go HERE to read the previous months' Country Diary entries.  Just scroll down to the bottom to January and work your way back up.

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Take Joy!

19 comments:

  1. Cathy, your drawing is lovely. I expect it would be difficult to try and copy another's drawing--I think personal style has to come in there somewhere. Are you going to frame any of your work? I think you should. I really enjoyed Rowena Stott's interview--It would have been a shame had her work not been shared with the world. ♥

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    1. Thanks Martha Ellen. Sooner or later I'm going to try to figure out what MY style is!

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  2. A wild flower garden sounds wonderful. Along a fence makes them even prettier. I like your copy of the tree better than the one you are copying.

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    1. Thanks, Dotsie. You are very sweet.

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  3. You certainly have an eye for detail, beautiful interpretation. I am a great fan of the books, I haven't come across the herbs one I must get a copy.

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    1. Thank you. I'm not terribly pleased with the results, so will endeavor to branch out on my own when it comes to "foliage"!

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  4. Your work is beautiful Cathy, I love reading your Country diary posts.
    I have the Wild Flower book too.
    Fondly Michelle

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. I'm happy to know that you're enjoying these posts. I'm enjoying other people's posts, too, about the diary. I see our work as a collective effort to keep Edith's creative spirit alive!

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  5. I can't imagine your garden being any more beautiful than it is now, Cathy - but the wildflowers will be gorgeous nonetheless. You put so much thought and effort into it, and I'm sure it took years for you to get things the way you want them. It must be that way for most gardeners, I guess. I know my parents faced years of work clearing space, weeding out all kinds of overgrown areas, building up the soil, trimming/feeding trees, even toppling a decrepit old barn, before they could actually start planting what they wanted. It actually took about 5 years all told before they planted much. Before that, the only real garden we had for a few years at the "new house" was the vegetable garden. Although my Dad's enthusiasm got the better of him that first Summer - he planted 200 tomato plants before he quite knew what he was doing! We had so many tomatoes that year we were able to can tons for the Winter, give virtually unlimited amounts away to family and friends, and we even sold the surplus at a little roadside stand in front of our house. I was 11 that Summer and it was so much fun to "work" at our stand. Anyway, since I'm in an apartment now I have almost entirely container plants. A hanging basket by the front door - geraniums and vinca vine, and two hanging baskets of the same on the covered porch off the living room. The porch also has two planters with petunias. Most years I usually manage to grow some grape tomatoes and basil in containers too. But that's about it. The complex where I live encourages residents to plant flowers, so that's good. And they even have a little contest each year. I'm going to check out the Country Diary website now. If it's like most sites I "wander" to, I'll be poking around for hours. Addictive! OK take care and talk to you soon. :>)

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    1. Janet, I can't imagine the abundance of tomatoes! 200 plants! That roadside farmstand sounds like a wonderful memory for a child. The contest in your complex sounds like a wonderful way to get people to spruce up their areas. Have you won?

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    2. Haha! My dad couldn't imagine the amount of tomatoes either. He really didn't realize what he'd done until the crop started "coming in" - it was really comical. I remember Dad allowing the boys to whip mushy rotten tomatoes found on the ground at each other one day late in the season - we had SO MANY of them it was truly nuts. No, I've never won and never really tried. There are a few people here who really know what they're doing in the garden - like you. And the best ones keep things on a smaller scale in keeping with general scope of the apartments, which all have the own entrances and either covered porches or balconies. Some people here go big and "blowsy" and it just looks wrong. You need a farly big home for a sweeping big garden with dozens of different plants to look well. At least, IMO. :>)

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  6. I think you must be having a marvelous time discovering the talent you did not know you had. You are doing a fine job of it. You have sparked an interest in me to purchase this DVD, I found one on AMazon. It seemed to have mixed reviews, mostly people were complaining about the picture quality, not the actual story.

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    1. Yes, I am Jeri. Once I gain a little more confidence I think I'll be ready to actually watch some tutorials to learn technique--especially for grass and leaves and trees! The video is what you would expect for 1984. We are quite spoiled with today's digital. If you can get past that, I think you'll love taking nature walks with Edith! The story is interesting, too, if you like knowing more about the Edwardian period.

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  7. You are doing truly lovely work, Cathy. Be brave, take your sketchbook out to your garden, find a bloom or two and draw!

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    1. Thank you, Elaine. That is my goal NEXT year. One can only be so brave at a time.

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  8. On our dog walks we have been seeing so many more wild roses in the hedgerows since we returned from our holiday. We aren't sure whether it is a good year for them or this rose is just more rambrant in this area. It was lovely therefore to see your painting of them. Thank you for all the links I will enjoy lokking at them. I had to smile reading how the cat had helped Gabriel to get things out of reach! Sarah x

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    1. We have wild roses in our yard, but they're white. I'd love to have the pink kind. Yes, Poetry and Gabriel are in cahoots!

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  9. Hi again - Thanks so much for another link to my blog. I am so enjoying reading your monthly posts on what is one of my favourite books :) Your painting is very good. I wish I could paint and draw - I once bought a book on wildflower water colour painting as I would love to be able to try and replicate some of Edith's drawings and do my own. Have so far never had time to try!

    I would love the dvd - a friend of mine bought it a few years ago. Its been on my wish list ever since! I did watch the tv series at the time and enjoyed it very much. I also liked seeing the other Country Diary books you have bought - have never spotted those.

    Its wonderful to know how much her work is appreciated so many years after she wrote and illustrated the diaries. I will save your May post for tomorrow :)

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    1. Thank you! I'm enjoying watching the DVD one month at a time. I feel like I'm moving through Edith's year with her. I hope you can get it for Christmas so you can do the same. Then you can start in January and then let it inspire you to "copy" one of Edith's drawings like I've done. I don't feel my paintings look like her paintings--capturing the colors and muted tones is not a skill I have yet--but I can copy the drawing itself (with lots of erasing). Just start out with something easy and let each success encourage you to take on a little more challenge.

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