whisical-gardensCreative Haven Whimsical Gardens (Creative Haven Coloring Books)
Publisher: Dover Publications
Copyright: 2015
Number of designs: 31
ISBN-10: 0486796752
ISBN-13: 978-0486796758

I remember gardening with my grandfather. He loved to grow tomato plants. I can still remember going down the line of plants we put in on the side of the house. First, planting the young seedlings, then as the plants got older, pruning and staking them.┬áHe’d show me how to cut some of the greenery from the plants so that more energy would go into the tomatoes. I remember coming inside after one such pruning, fingers stained green from the plant residue. I remember weeding the small line of plants by hand, pulling out dandelions and other weeds in the bright sunshine. When I closed my eyes, I could see afterimages of the weeds, in reverse, bright white shapes against the back of my eyelids.

These designs by Alexandra Cowell evoke those memories, with scenes that remind me of your typical English cottage garden. Lots of climbing roses, potted plants in pretty shapes, cobblestone walkways surrounded by herbs, all invited you to explore further. You can almost feel the sun shining warm on your head and shoulders, the drowsy sound of bees humming from flower to flower, the occasional dash of bright color from a hummingbird or songbird, and the scents of multiple flowers filling the air.

Review Breakdown

  • Complexity: Advanced
  • Book Size: 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Design Borders: no margins, approximately 1/2 inch margins
  • Design Lines: generally thin
  • Paper: average
  • Printing: single-sided
  • Binding: glue-bound

This is the first Dover book I’ve reviewed which gets a straight up Advanced difficulty, rather than Intermediate to Advanced. There may be one or two designs that are slightly less difficult, but most of the designs are fairly intense, with lots of tiny little leaves and other details. Granted, you could do washes of color, instead of coloring in every little space, but this is not a book to lounge back and relax with.

That said, the scenes depicted in these pages are quite charming, and would delight any garden lover. The scenes are informal, yet give that sense you get in the best gardens – that the seemingly random plantings have actually been carefully and lovingly arranged by a master gardener.

Do you have this book? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments!

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