On Reflection - "A Countryside Diary - Look to See "

It was one of those ideas prompted by these strange times. Let's invite a few members at a time to talk about putting together a "Countryside Diary" . A bit like a sketchbook, the diary is just a few notes and some sketches about a botanical subject and its relationship to its surrounding environment be it in an urban back garden or out in the countryside. The term countryside made it seem attractive , particularly for those of us who were corralled in an urban landscape because of some spikey virus. With no chance to get to the real countryside due to restrictive travel rules, the "Countryside Diary" was a welcome distraction. Something that sounded a little more open than the four walls of our humble dwelling.

As it turned out the live "Countryside Diary Event" run by Pam Taylor and Annie Morris was close to a sellout in just 48 hours! Forty places in 48 hours.

We limited the number of participants for the live Zoom sessions so that there could be some personal interaction and it was just not a sea of faces. It was also something new and we were finding our feet as much as anybody.

In the end it all worked out really well even though the time zone differences forced some of our more remote participants out of their warm bed at 5am in the depths of a southern hemisphere winter.

From the feedback Annie ran a tight ship and got everybody talking and Pam in her calm and considered manner, showed us her really deep knowledge of the natural world.

Thankyou Annie and Pam.

We also had some great feedback and we have added some of these below together with some of the pages from individual "Countryside Diaries" so thankyou to all those who contributed.

Keep reading to see what our next live Zoom event will encompass.

The ABBA Team

From our participants ....

"I have now been involved in four Zoom sessions with ABBA members chairing a discussion on keeping a Botanical Diary and I have loved it. Like many of you I had not heard of Zoom until a few months ago but have realised it is a wonderful way for our members to get together. Members have joined the sessions from around the world and I have very much enjoyed meeting them as well as our UK members, it is so interesting to hear everyone’s botanical art stories."

Annie Morris


"I'm writing with thanks for last evening's very interesting and informative Zoom session with Annie and Pam. I gleaned some useful tips on what to record, such as including insects on plant sketches and recording a particular plant throughout the year.  I shall aim to incorporate these into my existing perennial nature journal. Deserving of a new sketchbook, is the suggestion to draw a leaf a day.

It was also lovely to e-meet the other participants , hear of their very different approaches to their work and see some examples.

I'm enclosing a few snippets from my perennial nature journal.

Best wishes."

Janet H


"I am very much a beginner and this is the first year that I have started a sketchbook, which I am thoroughly enjoying! It is just lovely being part of this very friendly community and learning, learning learning! The Nature Sketchbook workshop was my first experience of a Zoom interactive workshop. I was apprehensive at first because of the format of the workshop being IT and also, I think, because trying something new after months of Covid uncertainty adds a new dimension to any lack of confidence. I am also a beginner and thought I might be out of my depth. It soon became apparent though that I had nothing to worry about. It was so well facilitated, we were encouraged to share and it was fascinating watching and hearing Pam talk about her botanical diary, including method of working, materials etc. I also enjoy and gain a better understanding of plants through watching The three Bs.

I would personally love to be able to take part in future workshops like these. Particularly as a beginner, to soak up tips and advice. Small groups work really well as it makes it easier to feel more included and engage with. I think there is an inherent informality to these workshops because of the friendliness of everyone, generosity of sharing and it is fun - which is very much needed these days!"

Audrey B-D


"I thoroughly enjoyed the countryside sketch book virtual workshop, ran by ABBA hosts Dr. Pamela Taylor and Annie Morris. The content was very informative, both around the botany of the chosen example subject - Ivy, and various ways to keep a journal, useful published books as guides and the types of notes to take when journaling in the field. It was also lovely to virtually meet fellow ABBA members from around the world.

In the workshop I attended we were joined by members from the UK, the US and Tasmania.