When I wrote about my linocut for January's Gardens Illustrated magazine, I mentioned that Frank Ronan's piece for February was one of my favourites . . .
it's about Crocuses . . .
I read the article and worked on the linocut in the first week of the new year, even in this strangely mild winter and premature spring it was long before the Crocuses appeared in our garden. Now in February, perfectly timed with the publication of Frank's column, the Crocuses are in bloom – but as Frank observes, they only open when the sun shines so unlike Snowdrops their beauty is often a brief encounter.
I started by making some careful studies of crocuses from various references including bulb catalogues and my old sketchbooks.
At some point I had an idea for the composition and scribbled it on a scrap of paper. As well as close ups of Crocus flowers I wanted to include birds on some Ash twigs (mentioned by Frank) and in the background is the gardener admiring the Crocuses open in the winter sunshine.
Frank talks about Galanthophiles arranging Snowdrop parties to admire their treasured plants in flower and muses that to arrange a Crocus party would be impossible as there would be no guarantee of sun on the day. I loved the idea of a Crocus party! In my illustration the gardener's cat is running over to join in the admiration of the flowers.
Here is the finished print and the illustration printed in the magazine. I like the dropped cap and quotation picked out in orange, like the stamens in a purple crocus.
Frank was right, there's often no-one else around to share your excitement of seeing the crocuses fully open in the sunshine . . . but wait – Mr Cheep's come along to the party!
As with all my Gardens Illustrated linocuts, after 6 months this design can be available as a limited edition print and also a card. Designs from last year have been printed and will soon be appearing in my online shop, I'll keep you posted.
The March Gardens Illustrated magazine is at the printers and will soon be on the news stands and now I really should get down to work cutting the block for the April illustration, which means I've completed a full year as a regular contributor to Gardens Illustrated!