Mother Nature’s Palette

A new book takes readers on a color-rich, contemplative journey through the garden // Book photos by Lorene Edwards Forkner
The artist/author/gardener.
The fir cone features quintessential autumn shades.

If you love flowers and the rich colors of the garden, then “Color In and Out of the Garden” (Abrams, $24.99, hardcover), a new book by artist and garden expert Lorene Edwards Forkner, should be at the top of your book list. Throughout the book, Forkner offers practical advice on topics from painting (no matter your skill level) to gardening mindfully and celebrating life’s seasons.

Arranged by color, each chapter helps readers improve their powers of observation. Plant profiles and personal reflections mingle with gorgeous strokes of watercolor.

“I was fascinated by the idea of gardening beginning as a young child,” says Forkner, who lives in Seattle. “(I loved) the idea that apples had seeds and that if you planted them you get an apple tree. I was the kid who started avocado plants with pits in the windowsill, and I’m still fascinated with growing things.”

The artist/author/gardener.

She started her book after deciding to launch a 100-day project following her father’s death. “I needed something to take me out, and when I was making these color studies, it consumed my attention. I also wondered if time really does heal. Color is meditative, and became a mantra.” For Forkner, the garden’s colors capture moments in time as plants change through the season. “The book is a memoir that’s told in color and plants. Color is a compelling, powerful force, and I thought about how we can use it in our lives to improve, enhance, and enrich all we do.”

Forkner photographed all her studies with her iPhone, which surprises some readers because the resolution and clarity are top-notch. “Using the phone and that camera function makes me more present. I got to the end of the 100 days and thought, ‘This is good for me. This improves my life.’ And I kept going. I’ve not missed a day.”

Fall’s leaves turn to gold.

As for her favorite season, the gardener says she prefers autumn. “I love the fall. It’s when everything comes to fruition. You’re not planting and working it; you sit back and let it come to you.” Many who follow Forkner on her Instagram feed are inspired by her photos to create outfits, wedding themes, and home interiors. “The colors and combinations you see in nature feel comfortable. We should be living in nature, as we’re part of nature,” she says.

Find “Color In and Out of the Garden” at Target stores, on amazon.com, and at bookshop.org. You can also follow Forkner on Instagram at @gardenercook.

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