Humans in hej hej - Julia from Studio Home
This month we caught up with Julia from Studio Home. A writer, designer, artist and gardener, Julia tells us about her new book, Flowers for Friends, her favourite flowering plant and how her life has changed since she got into gardening.
Congratulations! You have just launched your second book Flowers for Friends as a follow-on from your very popular and beautiful book Petal Power - tell us all about it?!
It’s been a surreal year on the book front! I just count myself so lucky that I crossed paths and get to work closely with Tonia Shuttleworth of Koa Press. Releasing two titles in one year was never the plan, but we had a roll on and thanks to my constant picture taking, I had enough visual material to meet my written ideas.
Flowers for Friends is a sister book to Petal Power. Where PP was specifically aimed at cheerleading beginner growers into giving flowering plants ago, FF is a book for all gardeners. Its focus is on the moments of calm found in pinching 30 minutes to collect and plat with foliage and flowers to be enjoyed in daily, domestic life.
It's just a really friendly local book that is a both a richly visual, seasonal story while still being super informative. I pretty much write books to fill the gaps of what I would want to read, own and revisit.
At hej hej we are obviously big fans of daisies…What is your favourite flower, what does it mean to you and why do you love it?
I recently wrote an ode to my favourite flowering plant, Verbena bonariensis in my weekly Stuff column. I am a massive flower person so to pick one feels dangerous, but this plant really has it all.
It flowers longer than the others, is brilliantly architectural and minimal as a stand on its own or the perfect partner to weave around others. It is a brilliant picker and while it is a perennial, I kind of love its rampant self-seeding to be able to pot them up and offer to other people. The birds, bees and butterflies are addicted to it as well. Win win.
You’re wearing the Eat Your Heart Out Dress in Seafoam, don’t you just love it? Tell us why you love it.
Ohhh I love it! I think mostly it’s those fab ruffled sleeves/shoulders that maybe remind me a little of smocking and the dresses Mum made us when we were little. There is something summery and nostalgic about it, like we should be drinking Pimms under an umbrella by a grass tennis court or something!
You haven’t always been a gardener. How has your life changed since falling into it 5 years ago?
Well everything has changed really! My whole life and the focus of all my work that equals income and satisfaction.
I have been a long time flower lover, but the activity of growing never held much interest to me until I moved into this home – essentially, the first property I’ve owned.
Then I began to see it all as an outside room, somewhere that I could experiment just as I would have in my former life as an interior designer, and my current one as a serial nester!
Having this house and this garden unleashed new ideas within me. For three years I used it as a gallery space to hold exhibitions and artist workshops for NZ artists that I represented. Then, with the first lockdown, I felt compelled to finally share my own artwork – a scary moment that has proved worth it!
Throughout the year as I grow plants, I also continually pick and arrange them, photographing the (often haphazard!) results and then printing these portraits onto fine art paper over a variety of sizes. Next, I spend time individually overpainting each print with water colour and thick, glossy acrylic, creating a twist on your average floral still life, and I hope, some happy pieces for homes.
My garden adventures have definitely fuelled these first two books, as they do my weekly (mostly) beginner gardeners column for Stuff. I only ever write from my own experiences and learnings as I go. Less teacher, more grasshopper sharing with other grasshoppers.
So I guess, the garden has opened the doors to a whole new creative chapter of Studio Home. I’m pretty bloody grateful for it.
To celebrate our chat this week with Julia Atkinson-Dunn of @studiohome and @studiohomegardening we're giving away a
"Flowers for Friends" Pack, including:
- A copy of 'Flowers for Friends'
- A copy of 'Petal Power'
- A pack of 'White Javelin' seeds (officially can't be bought anywhere in NZ right now)
- 2 Shade Parade Hats - one for you and one for a friend
To enter head over to our Instagram page:
1. Make sure you’re following both @studiohome and @ohhejhej
2. Tag a friend who you would love to share the 'Flowers for Friends Pack'.
3. Finally share your favourite pic from this post to your stories (don’t forget to tag us)
To learn more about Julia: