On The Coffee Table – Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

January 11, 2015 — 41 Comments

I know that we are still fairly early on in proceedings but how is 2015 going for you?

It’s been a bit of a fasle start for me due to starting the year with a lung infection that triggered my asthma, but I am not one to let that stop me crafting.

Oddly though, it’s hard to find something to do that didn’t really tax my lungs and that I could do confidently whilst constantly coughing.

I therefore racked my brains and searched my bookshelf for something to do when I stumbled across a colouring book (for grown ups) that I got on a trip to Scotland last year.

The book is called Secret Garden and was put together by Johanna Basford.

On The Coffee Table - Secret Garden by Johanna Basford - 1

It’s a lovely book full of gorgeous black and white outlined illustrations just crying out for some colour.

I also knew that it was a good book due to the fact that it had a book plate in it!

On The Coffee Table - Secret Garden by Johanna Basford - 2

(all good books should have one of these). Only just noticed that I haven’t filled it in yet though – how very remiss of me?!

Anyway, I flicked through the pages (gently so as not to over exert myself) and came across one that I thought was quite apt …

On The Coffee Table - Secret Garden by Johanna Basford - 3

… after all, I had caught a bug (of some sort).

I thought that it would also work well in a future project with the sentiment – “you’re one in a million”, and possibly framed with that sentiment on it somewhere.

So I broke out the essentials.

On The Coffee Table - Secret Garden by Johanna Basford - 4

Ahem, I mean the essentials.

On The Coffee Table - Secret Garden by Johanna Basford - 5


Whilst trying to avoid having the pencil in contact with the paper whilst I coughed, I got to work on one of the little critters, choosing a fairly simple scheme.

On The Coffee Table - Secret Garden by Johanna Basford - 6 On The Coffee Table - Secret Garden by Johanna Basford - 7

I joyfully continued with this for a good couple of days, taking relaxing honeyed tea and occasional “fresh air” breaks.

As things progressed with the colouring I got a little more daring with the colour combos and after a few days of restful play I am pleased to say that (thanks to the antibiotics and inhaler) I am feeling much better and have almost finished colouring the page.

On The Coffee Table - Secret Garden by Johanna Basford - 8

I am quite proud of this, and really surprised that there aren’t any jittery lines where I have coughed and dragged the pencil off the page.

So what do you think? Should this become a card front or a framed picture? Should I add something to it to finish it off, or let the colouring speak for itself?

I heard via Facebook and twitter that most of you have had a winter bug of some sort also so I am hoping that you have all come through it now and are finally getting to start enjoying your new year.

Anyway, if you have any suggestions (comments or questions) please feel free to use the comments section below.

Thank you for stopping by – I look forward to receiving your ideas!

J :)

41 responses to On The Coffee Table – Secret Garden by Johanna Basford


    It was interesting to see inside this book. I’ve often seen these at WH Smith but never really got curious. It’s very pretty. This post inspired me to try them in the future. You’ve done a very good job at coloring these!

    Liked by 1 person


    I bought this book last year for my friend and a copy for me and I love it I have only done two pages but I could not stop once started – it was so nice to see someone else appreciate this book as well.



    I to have this book and love to spend time looking through it, there is always something new that I have not noticed before, your colour work is beautiful and really does need to be framed, I have not plucked up the courage yet to do any colour work in my book but will have a go next time I get it out, I tend to use it as inspiration as I love anything botanical and will often find an idea being triggered after a quiet half hour with this book. I am glad you are feeling better, keep up the good work, Iam looking forward to your next post,


    Margaret Gardiner January 12, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Wonderful colouring John. I have not seen these books before but you inspired me, so I bought this one and also the Fabulous Flowers. They will make beautiful framed interior decor items. Wish I could colour like you. Glad you are feeing better. As an asthma sufferer I know how it knocks you out. Xxxxxxxxxx



    love it John, it would be a sin to cut it up, so I will go with the majority and have it framed. I don’t like Jaffa cakes, so will have to have a substitute, glad you are improving, so are we, the inhalers certainly do their job xx



    love those bugs…never thought I would say that!! great colors and thanks for keeping me inspired, Brenda



    Fab, I must look for this book, there are several about , it’s difficult to know which to get first. We’ve had the lurgy in our house between Christmas and New year, it’s taken a couple of weeks to shift the cough, hope you’re feeling better x



    Hi John. Hope you’re much better now. The bugs should definitely framed! They’re lovely. You could make a wide border of the words ‘one in a million’ all around the bugs in the fancy lettering that’s popular at the moment, if you’re good at calligraphy. If not they could be done on the scan n cut, cutting the letters out of a strip of card and then putting coloured card at the back.



    Hi John,…
    You should absolutely frame it,it would be a shame to put it on a card as it should be seen by many…craftyhugz,Dawn



    Greetings from cold New Jersey, USA. Gorgeous work as usual! Those are the best looking bugs I’ve ever seen. LOL. I so love your wit too. Always a fun read. Even when you don’t feel well, you’re funny. You brighten up my day. :-) Hope you feel all better soon! Oh yea, I would color copy for a card, etc. If it’s for personal use, that’s ok, right?



    You should frame it John – would be just the type of picture my eldest son would go for as he loves insects and reptiles. He has bred praying mantises in the past and they are amazing creatures to watch.



    PS I have just ordered the book so I can have a go myself. X



    I love colouring in and as soon as I saw this I must admit I jumped straight over to a major online retailer to see about buying it. While the reviews are high, there are comments over the quality of the paper, so would you be able to give some input on this please?
    Some have said the paper rips with pencil colouring {although I admit I see no evidence of this in your work} and also that it is not suitable for wet colouring in as it bleeds through.
    I am wondering if the quality of the dry pencils has something to do with it? Obviously, Spectrum Noir are top drawer. Sorry, I’m going on a bit now but am curious.
    You should most definitely frame this, maybe work into it a bit more with an appropriate medium to give that sort of sheen that bugs often have?
    Hope your asthma is better soon ~ I’ve used more meds in the last three weeks than I’ve used in three years so it might be the abysmal weather conditions.



      I have used basic pencils from WHSmith. Spectrum noir would be fine. I also removed the page from the book and worked on a flat smooth colouring surface. I don’t believe that these would be suitable for alcohol markers or painting.



    Not a healthy start to the New Year for you John but here’s wishing you eleven fighting fit months to come.

    Another frame it vote from me, too. I love how you’ve coloured these critters in such a wide variety of colours. I see them behind a greyish blue mount in a two-tones lighter wooden frame. Do post a picture of your finished project.




    Beautiful John. They look like jewels and should definately be framed.



    It looks really good john. I have several of these grown up colouring books and I use them to relax and when my crafty mojo has run away. I would frame this piece as its coloured in exquisitely xx



    Hi John, I think we must be twins separated by birth (even though I;m older than you lol). What more does any crafter need than a nice hot cuppa and a bowl full of Jaffa cakes…oh, and craft supplies :). I have never seen such beautiful bugs, John and I think with a sentiment, they would look fantastic in a frame. I hope you’re soon back to full health and able to do the crafts that have been too much for you to tackle while in the grips of your less than lovely bug. x



    fabulous colouring, absolutely love it and would look great in a frame. You have inspired me to try some colouring and have just ordered book which looks amazing! I too have been suffering with this horrible bug but feeling better now. hope you are feeling better, happy new year x



    Definitely frame it!
    If it had been sent to me as a card front it would be framed and on the wall.



    I have Millie Marota’s “Animal kingdom” which is a similar book of black and white images full of intricate patterns which I am going to have a go at working them on parchment, but I love your colouring and I think it would look lovely either framed or on the front of a card.



    Hi John,
    Having a bug is a good excuse to do some crafting that takes a while to do.Getting lost in a project has great healing powers.
    Lovely colourful bugs, I’d frame this as it would be a shame to cut it up.
    Joy x



    Hi John, your bugs look fabulous coloured the way you have done them. I love finding unusual beetles and then checking what they are, Stag beetles are so beatiful when you look closely at them, they are amazing. Like Julia I have had sore throat and cough since early December, I find chewing gum (sugar free of course) really helps, but I’d rather be muching on Jaffa Cakes.
    Keep warm and get well soon.
    Love and Light
    Sioux x x



    Your article inspired me to buy it but when I read the reviews regarding the paper quality I was a bit concerned. Could I use my spectrum noir pens to colour in? I noticed you used coloured pencils.


    Pauline Simmonds January 11, 2015 at 10:21 am

    It is Beautiful John, like the other Pauline I would frame it, hope you are feeling a little better now ! xx



    I wish I was creative when I’m poorly ,hope your feeling better funny thing to say but the bugs looks good enough to eat



    what type of pencils did you use John? I bought this yesterday on a trip to London – Foyles on the Embankment near London Eye! – brilliant book and my friend got one as well!.scared of bleeding on the reverse though



    What a great picture john. I think you should frame it xx



    Looks really affective. Hope you feel better soon. I have had a cough since early Dec it really drags you down so I know how you feel. Heres to a healthier year.


    Christine in Bulgaria January 11, 2015 at 9:50 am

    John this is lovely well done, I would have to frame this if it was mine. x



    Dear John
    Wow absolutely beautiful work
    I would like to suggest that you frame your work. The detail is brilliant and to put in on a card would loose that something special about your work. And it my be spoilt or lost. The “bugs ” in a nice frame and a nice box type
    wooden frame similar to those in a museum would look awesome on a wall anywhere in your home or even mine as I am cheekie to say………

    Exceptional quality work
    Thank you for your sharing this with us all to admire…….

    Rest well



    Hi John! I am new to your blog and must say I find it quite inspiring and great fun! Glad to hear you are on the mend. I think you should definitely frame this masterpiece (in a shadow box of some sort?). It is really great and has inspired me to get my ‘essentials’ out and colour today. Keep well and thanks so much for your blogs. Barbara B.



    I think it looks beetleful (oh dear) as is John, perhaps one bug could have black gem/pearl eyes maybe. I would frame it. For the record I had to order this book as soon as I saw your work and guess what there is a selection of titles from Johanna……… (Sue says with her head hanging) didn’t mention my book addiction, though all neat in a book shelf….phew. Happy Sunday.



    Hi John,
    Glad you are feeling better. I think you had priorities in the right order! Biscuits, tea (if that’s what was in cup!! Lol!) then pencils!! Love the colouring. Not sure on picture – dont like bugs in any form – insect or medical!! But I must admit I love the colours you have chosen. They do look pretty. If your into bugs then frame it or it would make a lovely get well card.
    Love your blogs, they are so full of inspiration. Thanks for sharing.
    Take care



    Hi John, glad you are feeling better. This is wonderful. Colouring for grown ups? Yes please! I am thinking decoupage, no, just frame it, maybe a card series? Will it work on scan n cut? Oooooh going to get me one of these. Thank you for sharing



    I want one!! What a super book and the thought of sitting and colouring in, how relaxing. Hope your cough is getting better.



    Brilliant John. I am pleased you are feeling better. This should be in a frame and on display. I am sure you really enjoyed doing it.
    X Chris



    I would not touch it John leave well alone it is lovely I would frame it, or can you photo copy it ( does it have copyright ?) onto card & use to make boxes . Great for a boy or girl to put their garden findings in. Even Mum would not mind having it in the house being in such a nice box. Hope you are feeling better now . Best wishes Adrienne



    it looks fab john and would look great in a frame you could even use some glossy accents on some of the beatles to give them that enameled look and make them pop (also they would cut out lovely in the SNC ) lovely page big love marc ps glad your feeling better take care


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