Artist finds joy in her own backyard garden

The sunflowers in Alice Toich’s garden served as inspiration for one of her paintings.

For Mowbray artist Alice Toich, 29, her garden is both a muse and a place to celebrate life.

This Sunday, she and others with a passion for flowers and plants will be celebrating Garden Day, which was started by the gardening app, Candide in 2016.

Alice says she always loved the garden at her family’s home in Pretoria and when she moved into her Mowbray home in January with her husband, Julz Sanchez, she was thrilled at being able to turn the backyard into a special sanctuary.

“It becomes a space to replenish one’s self, to witness life as it’s happening, to have a connection with nature and something to care for.”

Alice has her studio at home, and she uses the garden both to connect to her work and to her cooking. And when lockdown started, she says, she and Julz connected with it even more.

Alice started planting sunflower seeds and marvelled at the results.

“I watched as the sunflowers started to sprout. It was so beautiful. In this space, life grows,” she says.

She was inspired to use the sunflowers as the subject of one of her paintings. The work will form part of an exhibition later in the month, she says.

During lockdown she also started the #21daysofartsa challenge, encouraging others to share art they created during lockdown.

Her efforts to grow butternut in her garden were enthusiastically welcomed by an infestation of snails and black caterpillars, but the experience has been a learning curve, she says.

“What I learnt about growing is that you must be able to plant enough to share with the creatures.”

For Garden Day she will be using Candide to share her pictures of her garden. She also uses the app to identify plants.

This Sunday, for Garden Day, the public is encouraged to make a plant crown, and you can visit to find out about events, including a Q&A with garden guru Tanya Visser, a celebrity flower-crown contest with actor and comedian Schalk Bezuidenhout and radio and television presenter Zoë Brown, and garden-inspired gourmet cooking.

You can follow @GardenDaySA on Candide, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.