Monday, 30 July 2012

Smelling of Flowers

In Regent’s Park, London, there are several flower beds planted in the shape of Union Jacks. I’m not sure how long ago they were sown, but the result is ‘painting by flowers’ – in an abundance of red, white and purple/blue pansies. These flags laid out in soil are just one sample of the budding life and colour throughout the park. Each step reveals something else: blues and oranges tumbling by the fountains; or shady corners full of chrysanthemums (and the occasional entwined couple). I’ve felt extremely lucky to pass by these scenes on a daily basis for the past few weeks as I’ve walked to and from my internship at Vogue.

Regent’s Park is serene. Perhaps I feel it more because my home turf is so rural, but I love the green pockets strung throughout the city. Such spots feel hidden from the busy pavements and intensity of moving through London, providing breathing space and thinking time. It offers a separation between ‘work’ and ‘home life’ – with plenty of benches: perfect for the quick gobbling of a chapter or two of a book.

Today as I was wandering back, the smell of geraniums reminded me of an event I’d almost forgotten.  When I was younger there were one or two village ceremonies, such as ‘Well Dressing’ at midsummer.  Once a year, the well in the next hamlet along (more of a stone stump than functional resource) became gaudy with petals and leaves. I was given licence to wander around our garden, grabbing at mum’s harebells and linaria. She was just behind, stopping me from complete decimation. The stalks were snipped and wrapped in tin foil to form a posy. Later I joined the procession of other children to place this small bouquet in a gap between the stones, before we all ran around.  

Writing out that recollection makes it feel almost as though it belongs fifty years in the past. I’m not sure the tradition even exists some ten years later. It shows the rather magical quality of flowers though, particularly in childhood. Whether in creating rose water with crushed petals or making daisy chains on the lawn, flowers are bound up in all sorts of games and activities. I adored Cicely Mary Barker’s ‘Flower Fairies’ books when younger. From the Almond Blossom fairy resplendent in pink, to the Canterbury Bell fairy with a rather fetching hat, these were creations that fed my imagination. I made ‘fairy houses’ in the bushes in the garden: with shells for beds, lined with moss, and wine cork seats. These miniature houses were carpeted in reeds and decorated with Gerberas. They were elaborate – with balconies, hammocks, and even a swimming pool in one. A friend and I had a special club devoted to fairy activities – sending letters about sightings of small footprints in the soil, or posting each other stickers, sequins and anything glittery.

Inevitably – perhaps sadly – such beliefs fade as we grow up. The curiosity and capacity for wonder doesn’t have to though. I’m still taken by David Ellwand’s magnificent photography and designs in the book ‘Fairie-ality’ (despite the spelling suggesting something medieval) and love the idea of Floriography: the language of flowers. And besides, you don’t have to be a fairy to wear something flowery – just look at the popularity of Liberty’s floral prints and Erdem’s delicate designs. And I really must advocate the joys of ‘swimming’ in a field of yellow in a silk dress – much like I did here for a shoot with the ever-gorgeous, ever-talented photographer and friend Flo. These flowers had already faded by the time I left for London, but I’m glad that I’ve had the sights of Regent’s Park to keep me going in the meantime.

The dress was a birthday present from the wonderful woman who I - rather appropriately in this instance - refer to as my fairy godmother. 


AVY said...

I hope you're right, growing up can sometimes feel so... sad.


Closet Fashionista said...

you look beautiful! I am in love with that dress!!

And I know what you mean, when I was younger I was always outside with flowers and trees, making up stories and now kids are inside playing video games. I wish I could go back in time to when there was no internet and all we had for fun was our imagination....

Haidée said...


Anna said...

great dress

Forever Fashionably Late said...

Your photos are all so beautiful & it's really cool that you don't edit them. Your writing is also gorgeous & the fairy houses sound like a dream!

Forever Fashionably Late

Melanie said...

I love the other-worldly quality in these photos, which blends perfectly with your writing here. I was a bit of a tomboy I guess, looking for nests and practising running on a barrel for the circus, and digging, and listening for insect songs, and making 100-room forts instead of castles. But it was also a magical time. I would have liked to visit your fairy houses.

Kelly-Marie said...

Congratulations on your internship at Vogue! Very well deserved.
This is such a beautiful post on two subjects very close to my heart. When ever I am back in the New Forest I still have a quick look for a fairy ring. ;-) I was so lucky to grow up around flowers having lived in the country and my Mum used to be a florest. It sounds like our child hoods were very similar. Flowers still always take me back to those fond memories and never fail to cheer me up. xx

The Lady Nerd said...

It is a sad state when our little hearts grow old, old enough to forget the magic of childhood. That's partially why I do costuming, especially for charity events. I can recapture some of that magic. To see a child who, for a moment, thinks their favourite character is standing, in real life, right in front of them.

I'll confess, I haven't had the same experience with flowers. But that's what I get for growing up in suburban cookie-cutter America!

Sasha said...

I used to love fariys when I was growing up, they were always so good. Its so strange looking back at how I was as a child it seems like a million years ago. I love the dress. It must be so amazing to have a intern ship at vogue.

daisychain said...

HELLO supermodel <3

Vix said...

You look beautiful, as always! Well dressing is alive and well in the Peak District, I saw it for my own eyes last Spring! x

Hope Adela Pasztor said...

Beautiful, Roz! You're getting more lovely in every post. Love the bright sunshine and florals! =)

La Dolce Vita said...

Your blog is so unique. And your photography is so romantic. I love these lines you wrote -
" joys of ‘swimming’ in a field of yellow in a silk dress..."
Indeed, the connection between nature, art, and fashion is a very close one especially for the one who sees beauty in life and in everything else.
I would be happy if you pay a visit to my blog as I feel that we share similar sensibilities.
have a great day !

Kate Wyver said...

Such beautiful photos, they have a wonderful dreamlike feel to them. I hope you're having an amazing time at your Vogue internship, you really deserve it!

Izzy/Bella said...

Gorgeous pictures. I love those fields of flowers. I'm about to head off to the countryside for two weeks, and this post made me so excited to do so. Although New York also has its lovely green spots. If you ever come here in the spring, you'll have to walk around the East Village. Endless, secret, hidden little gardens, tucked away from the busier streets, bursting with beauty and always empty (sadly).

I loved your prose here, the details were very rich, vivid and all necessary. Again and again you inspire me to take my blogwriting more seriously. I tend to adopt a chatty, informal tone that doesn't quite feel like my own. I love how you turn blogs into an art form. Speaking of which: you have to read this post about bloggers on my (sometimes) favorite feminist blog/magazine site:

Curious to hear your take on it if you have the time. Also just listening to NPR now and they're interviewing a British woman who just wrote a fairly hilarious-sounding, feminist tome "How to Be A Woman." Have you heard of it?
www.misadventures of

Rosalyn K. said...

1. Your pictures are FAb
2. I cant believe you are a Roz! Thats what my friends call me and I dont run into many Ros's so its nice to know there are more out there!!

Rosalyn (Ros)

Fashion Tales said...

What magnificent shots Roz! The scene reminds me of when I visit my parents, there's always so much brilliant colour around in the countryside. Fairie-ality book is quite inspiring.

Jean at said...

Hello my dear!!

Sounds like you're off on some wonderful adventure!! Vogue? Maybe I missed the announcement, but through context clues I suspect you're having a fabulous time.

When I was growing up, there were woods behind our house. I would dig a small space in the hill, like a cave, and line the floor with moss, breaking tiny twigs into pretend logs for the imaginary fireplace. A stone would become a chair and I spent many happy hours communing with the inhabitants of this house.

Now, spending time with children, I am able to reconnect with that wonderful time. Playing pretend is the best thing in the world. You don't have to give it up; magic is real and that beauty is real.

Enjoy your time in London!! Love to you and your family. Oh yeah, last but not least, love the dress and the photos. :-)

Alex said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Pearl Westwood said...

I refuse to grow up! Having a lovely catch up with your blog, haven't been as able to do the blog rounds lately but it means I get to have a huge binge on all my favourites when I do have time and feel up to it. Hope you are doing well xx

Dark Blue Stripes said...

Stunning shots. I am craving Summer over here in Australia.

Christie x

Dark Blue Stripes

Sheree Milli said...

Great Blog hun, I love reading your stuff!!
Sheree xx

Claire Tyler said...

you have a truely beautiful blog - the background and photography is gorgeous <3 xx

The Foolish Aesthete said...

A Rose among the roses, except they are, as you pointed out, pansies. Absolutely glorious! And I loved that story of your village ceremonies. The older I've gotten, the more tradition and rituals seem so important.

I grew up being so fascinated by the faerie world, and still do believe there are tree and flower spirits, so I am saddened every time I see tree limbs being trimmed. As a teenager, I completely went through a floral Laura Ashley phase while dreaming of English countryside. It was rather incongruous since I was far from being English, and in fact was sun-browned Asian! Now, my world has expanded but I often still find myself on a pendulum of loving the old, magical worlds as well as the world of the modern, edgy and innovative. Perhaps, though the aesthetics are different, their roots are actually intertwined in that their tendrils both grab the imagination and make it soar.

How was your internship at Vogue? That must have been mind-blowing! I have visions of "Devil Wears Prada" but you can tell me if it was nothing like it! -- J xxx

Soccer Mom Style said...

I like what Pearl said that she refuses to grow up. I totally agree. I used to be embarrassed of the fact that I am so naive and childlike. I keep working on the naive part of me but refuse to change childlike. What fun is life without "curiosity and capacity for wonder"?? Childlike to me is genuine and fun. Things should not be taken too seriously in life, I don't think... At least not everything in life should be taken too seriously.

Simona said...

Wow, your pictures among flowers are so fabulous as your whole blog!:)

losttinafairytale said...

You look so lovely!

adrielleroyale said...

These are so incredibly beautiful!! Gorgeous gorgeous shots, all of them. You know, I was the last of my cousins to reluctantly "grow up"... somehow I was wise enough in my youth to know or see the stresses of adulthood. Yet it is no fun to be the only child-like heart left either, so like you said, sadly, one must eventually grow up and allow such things to fade. I wish I could have held on to some of that innocence and imagination though!:)

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