Sunday, 20 February 2011

SeedSwap / Heritage Seed Library Illustration

As mentioned in the last post, earlier this week I had the lovely task of creating an illustration for a Seedy Sunday  seed swap event. It was to accompany an article for the Earth section of  Amelia's Magazine, written by Faye West. (who also does the most beautiful illustrations). 

My picture was to focus on a climbing bean called 'Cherokee Trail of Tears'. This seed has a place in The Heritage Seed Library - which conserves rare varieties of vegetables.

The story of this bean's history and its name is compelling and moving - The Trail of Tears was the forced relocation of Native Americans. The Cherokee were the final group to be relocated, in1838. The conditions were appalling, and out of 15000 Cherokee, more than 4000 died. The climbing bean is named for this and forms one of The Three Sisters (maize, squash and beans) that have been traditionally grown by Native Americans.

The research for this illustration was fascinating and it was also lovely to find links with fellow bloggers such as Celia Hart, whose 'indoor' illustration / printing work is wonderful, but who also sent a link to a post about growing a Three Sisters bed on her equally inspirational Purple Podded Peas blog of her 'outdoor'  activities. 

Gosh, such a lot that could have been be included in this illustration ... but having started with some preliminary sketchbook work about the Cherokee background, I decided I had to simplify the ideas to the matter in hand - the SeedSwap event. This was my first idea:

But a simpler one was opted for:


Finally I 'sprinkled' the outer sections to suggest soil, fine seeds... 

You can read the Seedy Sunday article here, and also take a look at the the beautiful illustration done by Cat Palairet for the article. Thank you to Faye West and to Amelia's Magazine.



  1. Nice seed posts! I love how things turn out well just by chance...:)

  2. Thank you for the link :-)

    The stories behind heritage seed varieties are fascinating, that's why I grow them in my garden - an vegetable anthology!

    Shame I haven't got saved seeds from Trail of Tears - but if you see any other pea or bean varieties on my blog that take your fancy I'll be happy to pop some in the post for you.


  3. you did a lovely job Gilly, just seen your illos for LFW, they look absolutely lovely!x