Behind the Scenes at Fine Gardening

Fine Gardening – Issue 198
garden illustrations
From left to right: a look inside a potato tower; grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum, Zones: 4–8); Trichogramma wasp with moth egg, beneficial nematodes, and lacewing larva

Here at Fine Gardening, the staff wear many hats. Our editors are photographers, script writers, test garden managers, and audiovisual engineers. Associate editor Carol Collins has one additional title as well: illustrator. Unbeknownst to many of our readers, Carol is responsible for several of FG’s more memorable illustrations in recent years. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Fine Arts in Pittsburgh and while enrolled there spent an unforgettable semester at France’s national school of fine arts, Beaux-Arts de Paris. Through a ten-year career as an affordable housing developer, and since joining the staff of Fine Gardening in 2013, she has continued to pursue painting, drawing, printmaking, and ceramics in her free time. Her love of drawing has come in handy at the magazine, where she has illustrated a range of topics from ladybug larvae to blueberry pruning. Here are a few of our favorites from Carol’s work over the years, including a recent montage of gorgeous hosta leaves (scroll to the end to download a high-res version of this illustration for free).

illustration of animals and insects in a compost pile

Carol’s illustration of animals and insects feasting on a compost pile, from the article Critters in Your Compost?

illustration of pollinators on a flower

More insects from Carol, this time pollinators and other beneficial bugs, from the article The Best Biological Controls.


plant cycle illustration

In this illustration, Carol demonstrates the process of succession planting for the article Market Growers Tell All.

epimedium illustration

This illustration of an epimedium was used to explain the anatomy of these flowers in Epimediums: What Your Shade Garden Is Missing.

illustrated blueberry shrubs

For an article called Veggie Q&A from issue #177, Carol illustrated good blueberry shrub pruning.

illustrated veggie garden plan

We can only hope our gardens look as beautiful as the illustrated ones Carol creates. This plan, featured in More Flowers = More Food, is of a vegetable garden supported by lots of native flowers.

hosta leaves illustrated

Finally, Carol’s most recent work of art, a wide variety of hosta leaves from 10 Amazing Hostas.


Click here for a free download of the hosta montage. 

View Comments


  1. user-6824606 03/24/2021

    I have long admired the beautiful illustrations in FG and now know who is behind them. Carol you are very talented.

  2. User avater
    simplesue 03/25/2021

    Wow! As an artist myself (AIP 1978) those illustration caught my eye, and I opened the article to read.
    Such a small world, I live in Oakland between CMU campus & Pitt's campus.
    Your illustrations are super nice, and really clarify info on gardens and plants perfectly!
    Love the way "Critters in Your Compost" tells a story in a glance!
    And the pruning illustrations are worth a thousand words!
    "More Flowers = More Food" is pure art & info combined!
    I do enjoy your illustrations, and now I feel like I "know" the artist behind them!

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