Local Living cover for The Washington Post by Tippi Thole

Scent of a garden

For this story on fragrant gardens, I chose D.C. illustrator Elizabeth Graeber, whose loose application of color on black line drawings perfectly conveyed the idea of fragrance “escaping” the flowers. Plus, her sketchbook approach made me imagine someone appreciating and studying flowers in their own backyard. (Elizabeth actually documents flea and farmers markets on her blog Hand Drawn Bazaar.)

Local Living cover design by Tippi Thole for The Washington Post

I worked closely with Washington Post gardening writer Adrian Higgins to determine which flowers and plants we’d illustrate. We narrowed down the choices to plants that shared a similar color palette (pink and purple) to simplify and unify the visuals. Then we sent Elizabeth images of all the plants, and she got to work sketching. Adrian and I looked over the sketches as she completed them to make sure they were botanically accurate before having her apply color.

Local Living page design by Tippi Thole for The Washington Post

In the meantime, Adrian gave me a (very long) list of fragrant plants to plot on a calendar to tell readers when they bloom. I hadn’t built a table this elaborate before in Methode (at one point there were 37 columns), but I was excited by the challenge. Plus, it was a nice break to use a different part of my brain for a few hours. Once all the data was mapped and copy edited, I worked on styling the graphic, constantly balancing usability and aesthetics. I didn’t want it to look out of place on the page next to Elizabeth’s lovely illustrations. Throughout the package, I also incorporated Elizabeth’s distinctive handwriting, which gave the package a more personal feel. Let me know what you think!

Chart design by Tippi Thole for The Washington Post

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