Thanks to a most pleasing set of circumstances, I recently found myself staying in a tiny English village called Little Chesterford, not far from the venerable Cambridge and about an hour north of London. My extended time there allowed for a bit of spontaneous travel, and last week I went to visit Mary Woodin at her rural home in Suffolk. Mary is the creator of the gorgeous art that graces the covers of Bounty from the Box, as well as this website and all of BFTB’s branding.
Mary’s beautiful watercolors are in demand the world over in packaging, book and magazine publishing, advertising, and stationery. As her blog states, “Recent clients include Waitrose, Tesco, Running Press, BBDO, Grand Central Publishing, and Country Living Magazine. Mary studied at the Royal College of Art in London and immediately after graduation was commissioned to produce ceramic tile murals for South Kensington Underground Station. This was followed by tableware designs for Wedgwood and ever increasing projects for international clients.”
It’s easy to see why.
Much of her inspiration lies only feet away from her at-home studio—her sprawling gardens, which cover part of the five-acre property she shares with her family. Her ambition as a gardener is tremendous, and between the sculpted hedges, two large vegetable patches, perennial beds, and the fruit tree orchard, it can all be a bit tricky to keep up with.
Some of the most beautiful Swiss chard I have ever seen was flourishing in Mary’s beds. This is Peppermint, with its unique pink-streaked stems that actually retain their candy color after cooking, a rare thing among brassicas.
And beets, so obviously happy in this rich soil that they practically grow on top of each other in fat-root heaven.
Not to be ignored are the flowers. In early October, the blooming season is on the wane, but fantastic dahlias still stand proud.
At this time of the year in the English countryside, fruit bends the boughs everywhere you turn—apples, pears, crabapples, quinces, and curious brown things called medlars—practically unknown in the States. They actually need to turn rotten to be edible, but some swear by this member of the apple family.
When Mary is not actually gardening, she may be found painting in her studio. This is where my book cover artwork was painted!
Mary is a cookbook author herself. Her move to the country from London about a decade ago inspired her to write her own lovely tome, The Painted Garden Cookbook (Running Press). It features a collection of illustrated recipes using the produce from her own garden. I highly recommend it.
See more of her stunning artwork and her most delightful blog on her website, www.marywoodin.com. And thank you, Mary, for inviting us for the wonderful tea and sharing your beautiful home and garden with us!