When Fashion and Nature Collide – August 2019: WFNC Returns

I will start with the usual reminder of who we are, for new visitors.

The team consists of Dominique Nancy of 3C Style in Canada, Lisa Lawrence of Lismore Paper in the USA, and myself in the UK. We work closely each month to bring you three intertwined posts with a common theme. We are all three very creative people who met via our WP blogs. We have a shared ethos and a close friendship. Our motto – ‘An ocean apart but we share the same heart’ describes us perfectly. The five hour time difference means I spend my morning commute catching up with their conversations during the night, and waiting for them to wake up so I can join in!

Make sure you visit Dominique and Lisa via the links above, to see the whole of the post.

This month was marked by our first team Skype call (after a false start a few weeks ago when Lisa’s cables were damaged by a delivery truck after only a few minutes). We talked for over 3 hours. These two ladies bring such joy to my life and I love them dearly.

I think we all benefited from taking a break in July. We will continue with the same format as before but will reduce the number of items in each post. This will give us more time to create good content and to work on our shop and other joint ventures.

I will return with my own posts shortly too.

Aloe vera

Collage and Styling by Dominique, Art by Lisa, Aloe photo by Darren. See 3C Style for fashion photo credits.

Aloe vera has been cultivated for centuries and has a number of uses in cosmetics and personal care products.

Originally native to the Arabian peninsula, the widespread cultivation has rendered finding genuinely wild populations virtually impossible. Photos of apparently wild plants show them clinging to sunbaked cliff faces, presumably out of reach of grazing goats.

Horticulturally it makes an attractive potted succulent houseplant in temperate areas and may be grown outoors in warmer and drier parts of the world. It is not tolerant of frost or excessive water.

The bulk of the other Aloe species are found in South Africa. They are all succulent to some degree but are quite variable in form and size. The ‘Grass Aloes’ have long narrow leaves and some, from higher altitudes, are relatively cold hardy. The tree Aloe or ‘Quiver Tree’ from the arid Northern Cape is the largest and forms a tree. All aloes have tubular flowers, often red or orange, and are pollinated by birds – with a very few insect-pollinated exceptions.

Tree Aloes with lower-growing Aloe species at their feet, Richtersveld 1999. Photo by Darren.
Tree Aloes with Namaqualand Daisies, 1999, photo by Darren

Aloe Emerald City: When preparing my own plant of Aloe vera for photographs I discovered that the gel inside the leaves is crystal clear and it gave me an idea for an arty photograph. This image was created by cutting a leaf into segments, placing each segment over a hole in black card with a torch beneath, and with my very dark dressing gown as a makeshift background. I set the camera up on a tripod with a remote shutter release, then turned out the lights and switched on the torch to make the aloe segments glow from beneath. A number of photos were taken and we selected the best one for use in the collage. It was Lisa that pointed out the resemblance to the Emerald City from Wizard of Oz


Collage and styling by Dominique, Lavender art and close-up photo by Darren. See 3C Style for fashion photo credits

Common Lavender, Lavandula angustiolia (formerly officinalis), is a much-loved plant. It has myriad uses for its oil and fragrance and makes a fantastic garden plant for insect-friendly gardens.

An aromatic shrub, native to the mediterranean, it is grown on a huge scale for its oil and fields in flower are spectacular (and magnets for Instagrammers this year apparently). I visited a Lavender farm near Montreal with Dominique in June but it was too early for flowers. She returned recently for these photos and I took pictures of plants in my own garden, as well as creating this drawing:

The plant on top of a wall at the front of my house is now nearly 2m across and 15 years old – because it has perfect drainage, sunshine and dry alkaline soil.

These are pretty much the ideal conditions for Lavender, which can be short lived if not happy. Cold, snowy winters can do a lot of damage so living in a mild coastal area helps too. This plant has a halo of bumblebees around it when in flower.

The one in the more sheltered rear garden appeals more to butterflies such as this Painted Lady.


Collage and Styling by Dominique Nancy – see 3cstyle for fashion photo credits. Rose art by Lisa. Rose photos by Darren.

I confess – I do not like roses much. My garden contains a single specimen bought from Woolworths when we got our first home in 1986 and which moved here with us in 2004.

Anyway, you (mad) rose fanatics out there may wish to know the names of the ones in the top collage. I took these photos at assorted garden centres. By far the best place for them 😉

The Albrighton Rambler
Jude the Obscure
Strawberry Hill

Whilst I appreciate their scent, the flowers on their rather ungainly plants do nothing for me otherwise. My two partners in WFNC were somewhat amused by this, judging by our team Skype call on Saturday. With this next collage Dominique has done her best to persuade me to at least appreciate the subtle shades of their flowers and, from this perspective at least, I can see her point:

Collage by Dominique Nancy, photos by Darren.

If you go over to Lisa’s blog you will find more information (and different varieties) from someone who appreciates roses!

Shop links:

My own prints

Fashioned by Nature


  1. This is a really an awesome post Darren. I learn new things about plants each time I read you. Your photos of the tree aloes are gorgeous. I really like the close up pic of the lavender too. But my favorite one is definitely the Aloe artsy photography. Wow! How fantastic. And I could say the same about your lavender artwork. Truly amazing. Lol I never thought that you would post the last collage. It was done as a joke. You are so funny. Much love!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you Dominique 🙂

      I thought you would like the tree Aloe pictures and I know you were not expecting them. It was a last minute thing – I remembered taking the photos but was not sure if they were among the slides I had digitized. Happily they were.
      The aloe photo is something I would not have done before I met you two and my creative confidence expanded.
      I thought the last collage was touching and funny so of course I used it 🙂
      Love and hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Your lavender bush is amazing Darren. It’s huge and it’s gorgeous. And I love the aloe vera too. Like I said to Dominique, there’s so much to love in this combined effort. Your photos are gorgeous. Thanks for making me stop and smell the roses, the lavender and all the other gorgeous plants in your garden. You make me want to go out and plant something in my somewhat neglected native garden! Great post.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Such a wonderful post! I absolutely love the Tree Aloes with Namaqualand Daisies, it is breathtaking. You know how much I love the Aloe Emerald City, it is brilliant. The lavender drawing is gorgeous, Im always in awe of your talent. One thing I especially love is how you capture so much spirit through the lens. I loved our 3 hour Skype call about our editions, it was so inspiring. It was quite funny about the roses. Thank you for all of the beautiful photos. You are so talented and creative, inspiring me beyond belief. Love to you my friend!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You are so sweet Lisa! Thank you 🙂

      Your enthusiasm, creativity and friendship are a joy my friend.

      Blogging and especially working with Do and yourself has completely revitalised my long-dormant interest in photography. I barely took any photos between 2012 and 2016 apart from reference photos for drawings. Now I am looking into upgrading my camera 🙂

      Love to you too!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Congratulations on another fabulous edition, Darren. You must be exhausted. Your drawing of lavender is just exquisite. So delicate. And your photos are just breathtaking. I didn’t know that aloe came in trees. Awesome. And your emerald city light! I can just imagine that recreated in beautiful glass. What a fabulous team you three are.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Darren, I am always thrilled to see your work with the shutter. You have a great eye. Photography was once a hobby of mine. Although I have relaxed that part of my life I still do enjoy talents like yours. A those trees!!!! I’ve never seen them. They look like something out of a science-fiction movie. So lovely and unique. Journey on as you three woodshed more of the same fantastic posts. God’s grip. -Alan, from Dallas, Texas.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you Alan, that is very kind of you.
      Maybe your love of photography will come back to you? I had stopped using it in any sort of creative way until I started the blog and needed pictures. I am very happy to get back to it.
      The tree Aloes are weird indeed! The funny thing for me is that these photos were taken 20 years ago (almost to the day – it was late August 1999) and I had little interest in succulents at the time. Given it was expensive slide film I am surprised I took the photos but am glad to have now had a use for them. Cheers 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I like roses but have no patience to baby them along in my garden 😂
    And I used to like aloe plants, until I had to hike past them in the desert and found out how sharp those spines really are (lots of shine sticks 😳)
    But the lavender! I am all in!! I made some lavender scones and short bread in the past 😋 and you can’t beat a good lavender bath when your muscles are sore 😉. Excellent post, as always you three!!💚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Jen❤. Best of luck with the lavender! Most of those mediterranean shrubby herbs do well here – last year that photo would have been dominated by a huge rosemary behind the lavender. It got so big we had to remove it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You don’t care for roses? I must admit I’m not a big fan of the delicate cultivated ones, but I have a Rugosa Rose hedge we planted in front of the house and I love it. It smells nice in the summer and it helps contain the snow that is plowed into it in the winter! I am in love with your Lavender drawing. It is so realistic I can smell it from here. Yet another great post! ❤️

    Liked by 4 people

  8. This months flowers are my flowers indeed: aloe I use it fir everything, we are never short of juice and gel of it in the house.
    Lavender , even if at time the fragrance is too strong I like it , I have plenty of plants in my garden that feeds lots of bumblebees and I use the lavender oil in the bedroom heater deumidifichathors.Rose well , who doesn’t like them? My favorite are yellow! Great post Darren.
    Have a good day my friend😀

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Lovely drawing and photos! I am a huge lavender fan and your post has helped me understand why it is not flourishing in my clay-based, rich loamy soil. Maybe I need to add some sand? Anyway, I have grown many types of lavender over the years, particularly as I am a fan of the cottage garden. I find the French and English ones do best – at least that’s what they are known as here. Any hints of which ones might like my soil?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you 🙂
      I think the English one is probably the best suited to your conditions (it seems more likely to tolerate rich soils) I’ve see French Lavender growing in the most inhospitable dry rocky places and I suspect that too rich a soil would encourage it to produce a lot of lush growth and be easily damaged in winter. Adding some sand would help. Even better if you can grow it in a rock garden between some big stones.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I so love your arty aloe photo, Darren!! And knowing that your dressing gown was involved makes it even a bit naughty, considering that you probably were only in your underpants to make the shot – lol! 😉
    Your lavender drawing is exquisitely beautiful! I used to love its scent so much before I got allergic to it. I can imagine those bumble bees having a feast in your garden!
    Not a fan of roses?! Very curious – maybe you should try painting one? 😉 Or perhaps that would make it worse since they’re not very easy to paint! 😀 I gave it a try once and failed spectacularly! 😉 Wishing you a beautiful and creative weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Sarah! Sorry – I was fully dressed as I took the photo in a mad half hour between getting home from work and my wife getting home and making my evening complicated.
      My former tutor Janie Pirie is currently doing a book of roses in coloured pencil – you can find her on Instagram and see snippets. I know when I am outclassed😉❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Darren, this is a delightful collaboration and your artistic talents are really shining.
    I also saw your shop of drawings.

    I must confess to you and Dominique and Lisa, that while I love your works, I cannot buy any of them (but I do think your drawings are so unique). I do not have much money, and do most of my fashion (if you can call it that) buys in the charity shop (I draw the line at under garments). And I also live on a boat… A Narrowboat to be precise. There isn’t much room for frivolous purchases I am afraid. I have 2 drawers for all of my clothes, and a tiny space in a closer for my few jackets. Shoes…. We’ll I have walking boots, a pair of trainers, a pair of sandals, a pair of flip-flops and some crocs. That is it for life out and about. So while I love all the style, colours and talent, I am curtailed by my life to indulge.
    I do love your stuff though, and there is a magic that happens with your collaboration with Dominique and Lisa. 😊❤️

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, your art is good enough for anyone’s walls. I could picture your beautiful art in a very classy, summery room full of white furnishings… Not a space for the family dog to shed hairs on. Your market lies in the very comfortably ‘rich’ niche of boutiques… ❤️

        Liked by 2 people

              1. Very wise Darren. Be well and happy and your creative You. Life has its ups and downs and sometimes we need some catharsis, but hindsight can kick in almost immediately afterwards. ❤️ You have lots of talent… You are a great person with much to offer whether it is in your quiet, solitary art, or your collaborations with other creative people. Do what you love! ♥️

                Liked by 1 person

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