April 30, 2023

Wild about Geraniums with Cath Kidston

By Sophie Harpley
Wild about Geraniums with Cath Kidston

It was a happy day in Spring '23 when, just launching my new Geranium Wallpaper, I spotted one of the most inspiring women in the world of pattern, launching her own new Geranium creations too. C.Atherly is a gorgeous new skincare collection by Cath Kidston MBE. After leaving her eponymous global brand in 2015 Cath took to her greenhouse, growing a plethora of Geraniums. Cath explains, and I can absolutely relate, that she is not very good at doing nothing and still loves to keep busy with creative projects and collaborations. So her Geraniums grew and became a brand.

Cath Kidston's home-grown geraniums
Geraniums inside and out, chez Cath Kidston.

My last connection to Cath was back in 2007 when I worked in her Wimbledon Village shop. I was deciding how to start my career and if art school was a good idea or not. Cath Kidston had just a handful of UK stores – and they absolutely brimmed with her style. Everything was whitewashed floorboards, colourful vintage finds and pops of Cath’s floral prints in the mix. The store smelled wonderful too, and in retrospect I think it was the Geranium hand-cream (that we shop girls slathered on religiously). I loved my role, organising swatches, cutting fabric for customers and generally dreaming of interiors full of print. I think there was definitely a seed sewn there for the things I went on to do next; a role at The V&A to learn all about decorative art and eventually, to Bristol to gain my MA Graphic Arts. The question ‘how do I design a pattern?’ has guided my curiosity for, well maybe forever (see post 'A floral background')

Cath Kidston gazebo
Remember the noughties, when you dreamt of nothing more than having that Cath Kidston gazebo?

But back to Geraniums – is there something in the air? It felt so exciting to see someone I admire so much, sharing this same predilection for the bright frilly blooms. And while Cath is clearly a skilled gardener and I am not, I’ve found the joy of Geraniums is in how resilient they are. They are one of the only flowers in my garden that just grow with abandon, determinedly cheerful, for months on end. Hence you’ll see them in window boxes everywhere from the chicest corners of London to the cobbled alleyways of Spanish hill towns. But beyond their beauty, it’s the beautiful scent and healing properties of Geraniums that make C.Atherly’s skincare so magical.

Geraniums in Spain
A photo I took in Granada 2018, the week we got engaged.

I bought myself a beautiful Geranium perfume to wear for our wedding, as it always reminds me of Granada where we got engaged in 2018. The balconies everywhere were bursting with red and pink blooms that week. Flowers can carry such symbolism and the first Geranium pattern I painted was the following year, when I made The Language of Flowers collection that includes a ‘Brilliant Friend’ card in a mini Geranium print. To the Victorians, Geraniums were given as a symbol of friendship, and what a good idea I think. Like all good friends they are sweet but stoic, uplifting and always there. So here’s to celebrating a uniquely special flower and all those who it connects together.

Sophie Harpley geranium wallpaper
Geranium Wallpaper by Sophie Harpley 2022
Sophie Harpley illustrated cards with flower meanings
'Brilliant Friend' Geranium card, Sophie Harpley 2020



And little more Geranium inspiration from the worlds of art and interiors...

The Geranium trend, Geraniums are having a moment
Timeless beauties from left to right: Geraniums painted by Matisse in 1915; a vintage toleware candle sconce in the home of Matilda Goad (likely Italian midcentury); and happy pink potted Geraniums in the home of garden designer Sean Anthony Pritchard.
C.atherly skincare
Gorgeous hand cream and wash duo by C.Atherly.
Posted in Biographical Creative friends Flora & nature Textiles