Friday, 27 June 2014

Roses, Thorns and a Way to Stay Grateful!

Dogrose Pattern by Posh & Painterly
Quote from Anne Bronte
It didn't surprise me that the internet provided me with so many 'rose' quotations, given that it's such a universally popular flower. 

But I had no hesitation in choosing this perhaps rather forbidding quote from Anne Bronte for this month's 'Garden/Flowers' illustration. 

There could hardly be a more accurate metaphor for Life than the bewitching beauty of the rose's blooms and their fragrance, in stark contrast to the sharpness of its thorns. I seem to have picked up a nasty scratch on my arm and I haven't even started any serious dead-heading yet!

As I write my little garden is still full of roses. 

They have been particularly glorious this year. But nearly two weeks of unusually hot, dry weather has meant that they haven't lasted long. And when I look at my scratched arm and the really high ones that are difficult to reach, the huge and tedious job of dead-heading them is almost enough to make me question whether it's all worth it. 

Almost but not quite!

Metanoia Climbing Rose

And that's because I find it impossible to think of anything we enjoy, any part of our lives, however pleasurable, that doesn't bring with it some less welcome aspect. (Those of us who are mothers know all about this - the pain of giving birth contrasted with the joy of welcoming  a new life into the world!) 

Unfortunately, it's a fact that if we insist on trying to avoid all pain, we'll surely miss out on a great many of Life's pleasures! 

But there is a more positive way of looking at Anne Bronte's observation. My internet search brought up another, similar but less stern, quotation that I like even better -

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; 
I am grateful that thorns have roses.” 

Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

Alphonse Karr has turned Anne Bronte's warning words on their head and interpreted them as reason to be grateful!

They say that 'gratitude' is a great antidote to depression and that remembering to be grateful will invariably lift our spirits. 

But I'd be the first to admit that there are days when it feel next to impossible to feel genuinely grateful. However, the internet has come to my rescue, in the form of a clever idea I found on Pinterest - the Gratitude Jar

Here's mine - not the prettiest of jars, maybe, but it does the job and maybe I'll find a more decorative one for next year! 

All sorts of things, on all sorts of topics, are being recorded in my Gratitude Jar and I know it will be really intriguing to open it up on December 31st and be reminded of all those times when I had reason to be grateful!

It's not too late, we're only half way through the year - why don't you give it a go?

Friday, 20 June 2014

A Last-minute Reprieve for my Lipstick Pink Roses!

June is the month for Roses!

Of course, roses start blooming long before June here in the UK and they continue on well into the autumn, with the occasional bloom as late as Christmas time. But still, June seems to be the month we associate with roses and that’s probably why the rose is the June Birth Month flower.

I actually photographed the rose I used for this set of patterns in July. 

I remember distinctly that a friend whose birthday falls in July invited all the members of the local walking group to a picnic in the Linda Vista gardens to celebrate and that’s where I took the photo.

As usual, I spent quite a long time looking at the photo, ‘getting to know’ the rose. But then I soaked some watercolour paper, spraying it with water and dropped in the colour whilst wet, in a matter of minutes. Any longer and the painting would have been ruined. As often with art, it’s a question of knowing when to stop!

I was quite pleased with the result. But, sadly, my scanner didn’t pick up the paler pinks and I abandoned this particular painting, adding it to my stash of watercolour paper that I use for trying out colours, rather than binning it – and there it sat for several months. 

Then, one day it occurred to me that maybe I could use the paler part of the painting to provide a background for the lettering on the front of a greeting card or invitation . . . and it all progressed from there!

Something about the sugary pink of this rose reminded me of lipstick; so in my mind, this series of patterns became, ‘Summer Days’, with the sub-title, ‘Lipstick Pink Roses’. It’s strange how so often a name for a painting or a pattern collection will come to me unbidden and refuse to go away.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with a painted motif that only narrowly escaped the bin to create this collection and I hope you’ll enjoy my ‘Lipstick Pink Roses’ too.

for the complete collection of
'Summer Days'
Greeting Cards and Gifts

Thursday, 5 June 2014

My Birthday Roses - an Annual Family Tradition

You can just see the window sill in the bottom right-hand corner!

The rose is the June Birth Month Flower.

And anyone who has been following my blog over the years may have noticed that I have a very special reason for wanting the pink roses to be blooming on my birthday.

I always hope that they will be out in time because on the day when I put in my very first appearance, 9th June, 1943, my mother was given a posy of pink roses, blue love-in-a-mist and white border carnations.

It was war-time and my family of eight had been bombed out of their home. They were re-housed in the only house available that was large enough for all of us. But it needed some repairs to windows and ceilings that had been affected by the bomb blasts. And it was the men who were working on those repairs who picked the posy from the garden and presented it to my mother on my arrival.

So it became a little family tradition that when I went away to boarding school, and later to university, my mother would send me a posy by post for my birthday.

Now I grow my own!

Usually, the Albertine is just about flowering by my birthday, though last year, after an unusually cold spring, it was a close-run thing. But I was able to pick a bud that was far enough advanced to open out in a vase indoors.

This year it hasn’t been in any doubt – and for the first time, I really can just about pick the Albertine Roses from the window of my back bedroom.

Even with the Internet at my disposal, I’ve never managed to identify the pink rose from the front garden of the house I grew up in. It was a very ‘cabbage-like’ rose and it was a much more of a 'candy pink' than the Albertine. 

But I think it was somewhat like the roses I painted in watercolour for these birthday cards –

You can see the full range of
'Summer Days', Pink Rose, Birthday Cards
as well as some matching Giftwrap and other stationery,

Roses, the June Birth Month Flower, Love them or Leave them?

This photo is a few years old now and the Alchemist, on the left, has spread quite a lot further - now the Alchemist reaches almost up to the bedroom window!

When I moved into my house in Abergavenny, the back garden didn’t inspire me one bit. 

It was just a very neat, square patch of grass, some fruit trees up against the neighbour’s wall, a few miserable shrubs and some bush roses. Decidedly dreary!

One of the first things I did was move the shrubs and roses to the front garden, one each day so as not to strain my dodgy back. 

I must admit, I’m not a great fan of bush roses. 

Maybe it’s because they’re not very sociable, they don’t much like to be planted in beds with other flowers. And if they do tolerate sharing a bed with other plants, I always think they look about out of place.

Not the case with climbing and rambling roses – my favourites!

My favourite, Albertine, last summer - the best view from my bedroom window!

My garden is small with high walls on all sides, the garage at the far end, the house at the near end and walls, topped with trellis on the other two sides.

Roses round the door!

Although I love the privacy and shelter it gives me, it also means that sunlight on the flower beds is limited so the plants grow up towards the light – perfect for climbers and ramblers.

I could almost pick these Albertine Roses from the bedroom window!

As a painter and pattern-maker it is important to me to have a variety of flowers close at hand as ‘models’ for my art and design work. 

So, as well as borders full of various flowering plants, I have other climbers too – Honeysuckle, Clematis and climbing Sweet Pea for example.

Once the roses start to bloom, I know I shall have flowers to photograph and paint for months to come. My Alchemist began to bloom in mid-April this year and the Dreaming Spires wasn’t far behind it. 

Here's one of my 'Albertine' June Birthday Cards:

for hundreds more
Greeting Cards and Gifts

This year, for the first time, my Dreaming Spires has climbed all over the Albertine which is ready to flower once the Dreaming Spires has finished – for now! (It often flowers again later in the summer if I dead-head it regularly.)

The only way I can see this view of my Dreaming Spires is from my bedroom window. It looks even more magnificent from my neighbour's kitchen!

The Alchemist is a fascinating rose! 

Its buds are cream, tinged with red, opening to pink that transforms into deep yellow, then finally back again to creamy white.

Both this Oil Pastel Painting and the Photograph just below it are Alchemist Roses at different stages of their blooming!

I think we all know that roses are associated with love and romance. But did you know that it’s not quite that straightforward? The number of roses is significant, as is the colour. 

Most of my roses were bargains from a local DIY store.
This Metanoia 
is another one that keeps changing colour
and it didn't cost much more than £2!

You can read about the meanings of roses HERE – though I’ve read elsewhere that yellow roses can signify jealousy or infidelity. So beware!
... . ...

As well as the gorgeous colours, the Albertine
 has a very distinctive (and wonderful!) fragrance.

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds 'round my neck" - Emma Goldman

I agree - how about you?