Thursday, 31 March 2016

Greeting Cards and Gifts for Gardeners . . .


. . . and for anyone who loves their garden!

View from my bedroom window in June

If you're stuck for a gift or greeting card for someone who loves their garden, you've come to the right place!

I love gardening and find it very therapeutic - it's not just about being close to Nature, although that's always good for us. It's also been discovered recently that there are microbes in the soil that act on our brains in the same way as anti-depressant pills! 

You can read all about it HERE

Daffs under the Magnolia
So no wonder so many of us enjoy our gardens, whether as active gardeners or simply appreciating the beauty of the flowers - or the taste of fresh, home-grown vegetables! 

I have a small patch, front and back. 

My front garden in dominated by a magnificent Magnolia tree that reaches up to the telephone wires. So I don't attempt to grow much other than spring bulbs around it - and was already full of lilies-of-the-valley and wild violets when I moved here so it has become a semi-wild garden.

On the other hand, although my back garden is small, its beds are crammed with flowering plants on the assumption that the more flowers there are the less room it leaves for the weeds to grow. So far, I've been proved more or less right about that! Weeding is not a favourite part of gardening, as far as I'm concerned!

Honeysuckle, Roses and Philadelphus

In spite of being so small, having high walls on each side allows the colours and fragrances to continue up and over the vertical surfaces with climbing roses, honeysuckle, clematis and jasmine.

If ever I had to move to a flat without my own garden, I would definitely need to have window-boxes to fill with flowers!

But a garden takes time and effort and as long as we're fit and well, it's a very healthy way to exercise. Yet another reason to love gardens! So chances are you have a family member or friend who is a keen gardener, who would appreciate a greeting card or gift with a gardening theme.

So here's a selection of specifically garden-themed gifts and greeting cards - many more in my Zazzle store, where you can use the 'search' button to find what you want!

Click on the image below to see the full collection.

Over the years, my love of flowers has led me paint them in watercolour and oil pastels. And I've used some of those paintings to create greeting cards and gifts, such as mugs and cushions/pillows.

Here are 100 floral pillows from my Posh & Painterly store!

Click on the image below to see the full collection -

But you can also find a great many more floral gifts, such as smartphone and iPad cases, as well as home and fashion accessories, giftwrap, gift bags and greeting cards in my Posh & Painterly store!

Flowers from my garden have also found their way onto many of the fabrics, in my Posh & Painterly store, as well as some that are for sale on the UK site, Woven Monkey.

Spring has been very much a stop-and-start affair this year, with lovely warm, sunny days followed by hail and storms and forecasts of snow on the hills! 

This makes the gardener's job somewhat tricky as whether plants and seeds thrive - or not! - is so dependent on the weather. And nobody enjoys doing the necessary spring gardening jobs, dressed up to the nines in waterproofs and fleeces on cold, wet days.

But the garden waits for no man and sometimes we just have to get on with it, in the fairly certain hope that we'll be rewarded at a later date, when 'everything in the garden is lovely!'

Dreaming Spires Roses in May, climbing up - and over! - the wall!
My neighbour has the best view of them!

Meanwhile, if you, too, are experiencing some of the less than clement spring weather, why not enjoy a browse of the very many floral gifts and greeting cards in my Zazzle stores!

It'll make a change from browsing seed catalogues!

(And you'll also find a great many blog posts about my garden, including posts about the Birth Month Flowers, in my other blog.)

Thursday, 17 March 2016

April Birthday Gift Ideas - Daisies and Sweet Peas

Here are some ideas that I hope will inspire you to make an April Birthday really special by incorporating one of the April Birth Month Flowers, either the Daisy or the Sweet Pea!

If you aren't yet familiar with the Birth Month Flowers
 for each calendar month, 
you can find them 

When I think of Daisies, the first thing that comes to my mind are the little wild daisies that dot my lawn, showing me that it's due for a mowing!

Of course there are many other types of Daisies and I have some of the tallest, largest, 'Marguerite' type daisies growing in my little back garden. 

Unfortunately, as they grow in a bed that gets very little sunshine because of the high garden wall behind them, they tend to try to grow up towards the light and end up flopping over, almost to ground level! 

Still, they make a bright spot or two late in the year when there's not much colour left in the garden.

But when I made the hand-painted collage Daisies for my April Birthday Cards and Gifts, it was the little wild daisies in my lawn that I used as my 'model'.

Some people call them weeds - and I suppose they do fit the definition of 'a plant growing in the wrong place' when they are in my lawn! 

Though if ever the summer weather is hot and dry enough to shrivel up the grass, the daisy leaves keep it looking nice and green so I'm actually quite fond of them.

The Daisy is said to represent Innocence, Loyal Love and Purity and it is also traditionally given as sign of Friendship, especially referring to the sharing and keeping of secrets between friends. 

So a Daisy Birthday Card or Gift is a great way to celebrate a close friendship!

I don't know what kind of daisy Shakespeare had in mind, but this poem certainly confirms that the Daisy is likely to put in an appearance on the grass in April! 

The other Birth Month Flower for April is the Sweet Pea.

In my experience, April is far too early to see Sweet Peas in flower but maybe there are countries with different climates where Sweet Peas flower as early as April? Tulips, Forget-me-nots and Wallflowers - and the last of the Daffodils - are the main flowers blooming in my garden in April.

Even though I sow my Sweet Peas in outdoor tubs in November to give them a good start, they are still a long way from flowering in April - though some warm weather at the end of the month, and throughout May, sometimes brings forth blooms by the beginning of June.

But I love Sweet Peas - they are one of my favourite flowers and the summer just wouldn't be the same without them. So even when I don't have time to sow many seeds for the garden, I try to make sure the Sweet Peas get sown.

Apart from their wonderful fragrance - the deep blue and purple ones in particular! - their colours are some of the prettiest and I find the fragility and translucence of their petals very appealing, especially for painting in watercolour.

Most of the flowers we are familiar with have some sort of special meaning attributed to them. HERE'S a website where you can read about the meanings of many of the flowers we all know and love.

The Sweet Pea signifies 'blissful pleasure' but can also mean 'good-bye'. So you might want to bear this in mind before choosing to send a Sweet Pea Birthday Card or Gift if you think the recipient will have knowledge of these things!

Here's a large selection of 
Greeting Cards and Gifts 
for someone with an 
April birthday.

Just click on the image below to see the full collection -

Whichever you choose, you can be sure that the April Birthday Girl - of any age! - will be delighted to receive such a special Gift or Greeting Card! 

And there are lots more to choose from in my Zazzle stores.

Whether you are looking for a small gift, something as small as a pretty Daisy Hair Band or Sweet Pea Tote Bag, maybe, or a more expensive item such as Smartphone or iPad Case - or something in between, you'll find plenty to choose from.

And there's even Gift-wrapping Paper and Gift Bags to match the Birthday Cards and Gifts! Here's a Faux Patchwork Giftwrap combining all of the patterns in my "Daisy Chains" collection.

As ever, if you can't find the gift that you're looking for with the design of your choice, please contact me through one of my stores and I'll be pleased to create it for you at no extra cost.

I hope I've given you some useful ideas
for celebrating a 
Very Happy April Birthday!

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Norooz, Persian New Year and Easter

If you'd asked me, a few years ago, when New Year is celebrated, I'd have been a bit taken aback. 

After all, it's obvious, isn't it, that the new year begins on January 1st and that's when, all over the world, we let off fireworks, sing 'Auld Lang Syne', drink toasts and generally do all sorts of daft party-ing things we wouldn't dream of doing at any other time!

But since I started designing greeting cards, I've learnt that there are many other 'New Year' dates, each with their own traditional ways of celebrating, mostly dictated by the other major World Religions.

You can read about them HERE.

Some, such as the Jewish Festival of Rosh Hashanah and the Hindu Diwali celebrations, are held in what we in the Northern Hemisphere would call Autumn or Fall. 

But other traditions, such as Now-ruz, the Persian New Year, celebrate the New Year in the Spring-time. 

That seems to make a lot of sense as the spring-time, with its signs of Nature's reawakening, certainly conveys a feeling of renewal, a fresh start, of leaving the past (winter) behind. 

You can see HERE that some of the traditional Norooz symbols have to do with the arrival of spring and I've included them in Greeting Cards and Gifts for the Persian New Year -

Click on the image to see the full Persian New Year collection of Greeting Cards and Gifts

In some ways, it would make sense if Easter was also celebrated as the beginning of a new year. And here's why -

Probably the most important date in the Christian Calendar, Easter - marking the end of the fasting month of Lent, through Maundy Thursday, leading up to Good Friday and culminating in Easter Sunday - is celebrated in the Spring. So, although, Easter is not regarded as a New Year's celebration, it has many of the connotations of renewal in common with the Persian New Year.

One of the Norooz traditions is the thorough cleaning of the house, prior to the beginning of the celebration. And, although, thanks to modern household appliances, we probably do far less 'spring-cleaning' nowadays than our parents and grandparents did, the Spring still seems to be the time when we are most likely to be inspired to carry out home decorating and repairs - at least, that's the time when the paint manufacturers seem to target us with their advertisements! 

And of course, there's a parallel between the buying of new clothes and the largely forgotten tradition of
 Easter Bonnet Parades!

So it wouldn't be particularly surprising if so-called 'Christian' countries celebrated Easter as the New Year, instead of January 1st, especially as Easter has its roots in pagan polytheistic celebrations of the spring solstice. 

And it would certainly do away with those awkward six days between Christmas and New Year that Michael McIntyre characterises so brilliantly!

But we don't - we attach our New Year celebrations to the idea of the Gregorian Calendar in which the New Year runs from January 1st - December 31st.

However, as a greeting card designer, there are similarities between the Persian New Year symbols and those associated with Easter; the spring flowers, the decorated eggs (or chocolate ones!) being the most obvious ones.

But whereas 'gold fish in a bowl' are part of the traditional Now-ruz celebrations, Easter has appropriated the Easter Bunny from its pagan roots as a symbol of new life and fertility.

Alongside the Easter Bunnies and sometimes some newborn lambs, we've adopted Baby Chicks and Ducklings to represent Easter. 

Swan Meadow, Abergavenny

Soon after I moved to Wales, I saw an advertisement for a Duck Race and as it was to be held in a little park, Swan Meadow, quite close to where I live, I was curious enough to go along. The River Gavenny runs alongside the Swan Meadow (to the right in the photo) before it joins the much larger River Usk in Castle Meadows. And as there are some apparently man-made dams, I assumed these would play a part in the race-course. I was right! I arrived to find hundreds of bright yellow plastic ducks, lined up along the first dam, ready for the off! What a let-down!

Relatively few people send Easter Cards in the UK, though apparently the market for religious Easter Cards is growing -

But the Easter celebratory food, such as Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday and Chocolate Eggs on Easter Sunday are well established and seem set to continue, in spite of the traditional Simnel Cake for Easter having virtually disappeared, along with Easter Bonnets.

are some Easter customs you may not have come across - 
I certainly hadn't heard of the more obscure ones!

So how do you celebrate Easter? Is it primarily a religious festival where you live? Or is it all about Easter Eggs and Bunnies made from chocolate?

I'd love to hear from you!

You can find lots more 
Easter Cards and Easter Gifts
in my