I was born in Glasgow and now live on the beautiful South Coast of England. I graduated from Glasgow School of Art with a BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Painting and Drawing. I have had a very enjoyable career as an illustrator and writer and have had my work exhibited in the UK, US and Europe. I have also worked as a digital colourist and illustrator for some of the UK's best selling children's magazines including Thomas the Tank Engine, Toxic and Moshi Monsters Magazine.
I learned to garden in my Lithuanian grandparents garden in a small mining village in Scotland. They grew their own vegetables and had a beautiful flower and rose garden. I studied horticulture at Stamner Park Brighton after I moved down South fifteen years ago and started my first allotment there.
I started volunteering in the Bridge Community Centre garden when my son was two years old. In 2010 I found funding from Ecominds to run a gardening group for one year, for people with mental health support needs. I was recovering from depression myself following the birth of my son in 2007. It quickly became one of the most challenging things I’ve done since it involved transforming a muddy field into a productive vegetable garden, growing enough produce to supplement the vegetable box scheme and the café, organising and promoting a harvest festival (which had an attendance of over one hundred people) and gardening with boys who were being excluded from school due to behavioural problems. I also had training at Roots and Shoots, London, in social and therapeutic horticulture. And I shovelled a lot of muck.
Some people had concerns when the group was set up because the Community Centre is also a Children’s Centre. One of my aims was to dispel the myths about mental illness. I worked with a group of people who were enthusiastic, dedicated and great fun to be with. People who were referred through the mental health services worked alongside our other volunteers and employees. We transformed the garden. In a built up area with no safe play areas for children it has become an adventure playground. Dens are built, fruit is picked fresh from the bushes, muddy puddles are stomped in, the earth is dug, worms and caterpillars are discovered, seeds are sown. Everyone loves the garden. I also worked one day a week for former Soil Association Chair Craig Sams and his wife Josephine Fairley. I learned a huge amount from them and my co-worker Pam and was lucky to work on their farmland and in their orchard and woodland as well as growing the vegetables in their beautiful walled garden. It was quite a contrast and I valued the time I had to focus purely on gardening.
As well as gardening my gran taught me crochet, embroidery and knitting as a child. I have been spending more time making gifts for friends and family since my son was born and sometimes items to sell. I started this blog to document my time at the Bridge Community Centre and to show my photographs of gardening and my love of being outdoors in nature. I love to share my knowledge and experience of gardening organically with nature, and feel it is especially important for children to be familiar with and comfortable in our natural environment. Playing and being creative is something we ALL can and should do. I hope you enjoy your visit and will continue along the path with me.