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Summer Flowers

Beauty, creativity, art: flowers

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To encourage us to appreciate the beauty of summer flowers by learning about the artwork of Keble Martin.

Preparation and materials


  1. Show the image of Keble Martin.

    Ask the children what the picture shows. Answers may include that the picture shows an old man, a church minister, someone who is writing or painting and so on.

  2. Explain that the picture shows a man called Keble Martin, and he is painting.

    Ask the children what they think he could be famous for painting.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  3. Show the image of the front cover of the book, The Concise British Flora in Colour.

    Explain the meaning of ‘concise’ and ‘flora’. The definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary are:

    – ‘concise’: giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words; brief but comprehensive
    - ‘flora’: the plants of a particular region, habitat or geological period

    Explain that the book is full of hundreds of meticulously drawn plants.

  4. Ask the children how long they think it took Keble Martin to sketch and paint so many flowers.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    In fact, it took him 65 years to complete his drawings for the book - he was 88 years old when the book was published.

  5. Ask the children what this teaches us about Keble Martin. Answers may include qualities such as patience and perseverance.

  6. Explain that, until Keble Martin went to university, he had never been interested in drawing or painting. It was while he was at university that he started to sketch flowers.

    While he was working as a clergyman in a quiet parish in Devon, he would finish his duties late on a Sunday night and then take a train to some remote place in the country to look for rare flowers. He would often stay away for a few days and do some sketching.

    On one occasion, he set out in the dark to see the sun rise over some nearby mountains. He got a wonderful surprise when he spotted the rare flower, saxifraga cernua.

    Show the image of the flower, saxifraga cernua.

    Keble Martin carefully dug up the plant, planted it in his collecting box and took it back to where he was staying. There, he made sketches of this special plant.

  7. Ask the children to look closely at the picture. Ask the following questions.

    - What parts of the flower would Keble Martin have looked closely at?
    - What shapes can you see?
    - What colours can you see?
    - Can you name the different parts?

  8. When Keble Martin had finished sketching, he carefully packed up the plant again and walked all the way back to the top of the mountain. He returned to the exact spot where he had dug up the plant and he replanted it. You might think that it would be impossible to find the exact spot once again, but Keble had a good memory. He said that the flowers were his friends and that he knew where they lived.

    Keble Martin returned the plant to the place where he had found it. Today, we would suggest that it would be better to paint an unusual plant in its natural surroundings so that it had the best chance of survival. However, Keble Martin knew the importance of not simply digging up rare species and letting them die.

  9. The summer holidays are a wonderful time to sketch and draw, even if we have never tried it before, and flowers are all around us to observe. We could use pencils, coloured pencils, felt-tip pens or paints. Different locations may not have the same plants as Keble Martin found in Devon, but we could be the first to make a record of the flowers in our area! We could do this for an area we visit on holiday, too, and we might even find some flowers that we have never seen before.

Time for reflection

Show the images of daisies, English roses, peonies and delphiniums.

Ask the children if they can identify any of them.

Christians believe that God made the world with all the wonderful variety that is seen in it. They believe that the beautiful variety of flowers is there for us to enjoy, but that we also have a responsibility to look after the world.

Challenge the children to make their own drawings and paintings of flowers in the holidays – maybe they could produce a book to bring into school after the holidays.

Dear God,
We thank you for all the beautiful summer flowers around us,
All so different in colour, shape, size and perfume.
Help us to take time to enjoy them during the summer holidays.
Thank you for creativity and variety.

Publication date: July 2018   (Vol.20 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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