Flowers, Birds and Insects

Flowers, Birds and Insects

Flowers, birds and insects are passions of mine. A pair of exquisite Goldfinches has chosen my garden to settle in this week,  can’t believe my luck. With their very striking red faces and beautiful plumage, they are very distinctive.  It’s so extraordinary that birds and flowers are so reliably perfect in shape and colour; can you imagine a world without them?

As a child and now as a adult I can’t stop looking at the perfection of petals: of their shapes and juxtaposition to one another. At school I loved learning botany and plant biology including all those wonderful words: sepals, petals and stamen for example. I won a prize for my pressed flower collection when I was 8 years old, miraculously I still have it: a miniature garden in a small shell about the size of a 10p piece.

I wholeheartedly believe we must do everything we can to encourage the existence of birds and insects. We leave part of our garden as a wild habitat for the insects to thrive and choose plants for their accessible pollen and nectar. Bees, butterflies and moths love Lavender, Verbena, Borage and Dahlias and many others.

These creatures, along with beetles, moths, flies and other insects carry the pollen that plants need to reproduce and to form fruits and vegetables.

In the woods, ants spread seeds to new areas. Many “beneficial” insects (and spiders) are predators; they live by hunting and eating or parasitising the bugs that damage our garden plants. Nature is so clever, insect activity is great for the whole garden ecosystem, if you help them, they will help you!

Unfortunately, the numbers of these vital insects are dropping around the world, thanks to pesticide use and a loss of their natural habitats.

I have drawn stylised images of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, foliage and flowers for many of my designs.  I love the silhouettes of flower and leaf shapes in particular and often translate them into one or two coloured fabrics.

 My daughter Flora has designed three fabrics depicting flying birds: In Full Flight, Branching Out and Bird Hop. Flora says; ‘I find it inspiring to walk along hedgerows watching birds fly down to eat the blackberries and gather twigs for their nests’. Flora creates her bird shapes by cutting straight into paper with a craft knife and doesn’t draw the shapes first. I was able to enjoy the last part of the process with her: choosing patterns and scales and finally colours.



Branching Out                     In Full Flight                 Bird Hop


Fern & Dragonfly               Cow Parsley                   Butterfly Dance


Leaf Dance                          Acorn & Leaf                   Cockerel & Spot


Lazy Daisy                           Botanical Trellis            Gypsy Garland


Song Birds                         Up in the Air                         Dawn Chorus


Cow Parsley                         Flora & Fauna                Wild Rose



Caring about the environment– At Vanessa Arbuthnott we are aware of our responsibilities to the environment and are wholly committed to improving manufacturing processes in line with this. We choose to work only with ethical and accredited suppliers and we make business decisions based on the impact on the wider, global environment.