Summer’s Almost Gone…

Spring weather finally arrived with all it’s colorful flowers! As the snow left, the Snowdrops started blooming, followed by a few Crocus, Snow Glories and Daffodils. I had lots of Daffodils, after buying a bunch f new bulbs in the Fall, and digging and dividing many clumps I’ve had growing for years.

Daffodil Fluffy Double

I was amazed how many bulbs I found in the clumps I divided. Some had 30 or more in each… it had been many years since I had divided them.

Daffodil Passionale showing color variations
Daffodil Ice Follies by Stone Wall

Summer arrived in a blur again after the Flower Tent Season was over. It seems I’m always trying to play catch-up in the gardens after “living” at the Tent for all of May and most of June. This year, we also had a LOT of rain, especially in July. One storm dumped enough water to wash a big pile of gravel from the driveway to the Mound garden, burying a big hunk of that garden. Below, is a group of photos from the gardens.

I finally got back to designing again between working in the gardens and mowing the swamp… er… lawn. I had been in a creative slump again (what else is new), and decided to work on a design for another Spoonflower Challenge. Pastel Halloween was the first theme I worked on. I’m not into the oranges and blacks of typical Halloween decorating, but love pastel colors. I thought I would do a design with pastel colored pumpkins, and Glass Gems corn. While working on my initial images, I got thinking about my grandkids who love playing with googly eyes. After that, I ended up making my silly, cute Jack-o-Lanterns in pastel colors with googly eyes. That then led to me finally doing my original idea of groups of pumpkins, corn and Maple leaves, followed by several versions with just Maple leaves.

Once started with the Maple leaves, I worked with different colors. The original leaves were pulled from images of sunprints I had done in the past. My first version used the pastel colors of the prints, then playing in Photoshop, I ended up finding some interesting color combinations. Below is a group of photos of the above mentioned designs.

The next challenge I decided to enter was Autumn Botanicals… perfect for my style of work. I began again with an image of a sunprint. This time, a fern I printed with black paint on a brightly colored fabric. I thought I would do a design including the fern along with Oak leaves and maybe other leaves, but it ended up with just the Fern sunprint and pieces of it.

Again, I played with colors in Photoshop, and ended up with some interesting colors. Not all were “Fall” colors. Unlike many people, I am not that fond of fall and it’s colors. To me Fall brings the death of my gardens. The leaves are pretty, but I hate that day of the first killing freeze. I created some versions in traditional oranges and more, but my entry was the first one I made with a textured white background.

The current challenge is Ice Crystals… I’m not ready for Winter at all, but it was fun playing with photos I took of snowflakes and ice crystals.

Scattered Snowflakes and Ice in Caribbean Blue

I might be playing with snowflakes in the computer, but there are hopefully many weeks left for the gardens to bloom. Also hoping to be back with a new post in less than 6 months or more…


Yep, Life Happens… Yea, a lot has happened since my last post… Way back in October 2019, Ken flunked a stress test for his heart, then “flunked” a heart catheterization… they got in and found too many blockages, so he ended up having quadruple bypass surgery. A few weeks after his surgery, we both started Physical Therapy, cardiac rehab for him, and frozen shoulder treatment for me. It is amazing what Physical Therapists can do. My shoulder was back to moving again in 5 weeks!

Andrus Gardens, Walnut Garden, Thalia Daffodil and blue Brunnera flowers.
Daffodil Thalia with Sanguinaria and Brunnera in Walnut Garden 5-3-20

By the start of 2020, we both were back to almost normal, then we all know how the year went with Covid, and more… We went to Florida for our oldest grandson’s wedding, the same weekend that everything started shutting down, in mid March. The Wedding was beautiful, outdoors with the view of the ocean. A wonderful time with family all together, just as large gatherings were to be no longer allowed. Our planned visits with friends on the way home were changed, and by the time we got back to PA, all rest areas were closed and indoor eating at restaurants was no longer an option… the beginning of TP shortages and everything else. The Flower Tent season was cancelled, due to it not being considered “essential”. Businesses were allowed to start opening just two days before Mother’s Day… too late for the Tent to start up.

Andrus Gardens new garden area.
The area of the new Shade Garden after junk cleared out, before brush cleared.

With the Tent not open, there was time (for the first time in many, many years) for our home gardens to start being taken care of in May instead of July. We stimulated the local economy by purchasing trees and berry bushes from our “Tent competition”. The produce market, greenhouse and nursery sells produce and more in addition to plants, so they were able to be open with restrictions. I really enjoyed spring… digging, weeding, planting and mulching as much as my body would let me (which was made a bit more difficult after having my pain meds, that have worked well for years, taken away… ). Many visits to new doctors, resulted in visits to other garden centers and greenhouses. The best way to deal with Dr frustrations is to wander through displays of plants and flowers… purchasing a few new plants each time. Also, I ended up with another NEW GARDEN, too!

A very messy area that had been driving me crazy, got cleaned up, cleared out, and finally in Fall… planted… for the most part… New gardens always take years to develop their personalities… this one is along the woods, and will be mostly shade plants. I also was able to purchase some new Daffodil and other Spring flowering bulbs, in addition to digging and dividing gobs of huge neglected clumps of Daffodils that have been in the gardens for many, many years. With the new 150 Daffodil bulbs, I probably planted a total of 500+ Daffodils. Many of the clumps I dug resulted in 20-30 bulbs each. Fall planting is always a challenge, in that you have to imagine what you are planting will look like in the future, the result is not seen for months. I also was able to go into winter with the least number of perennials still in pots. I ended up planting right up till mid December, just before a record 3 feet of snow.

Sue Andrus Watercolor Setup under tent in back yard, Andrus Gardens
Painting setup under tent in back yard.

During 2020, I also kept up a bit with my pattern designing. I got some “real” watercolor paints, took some more classes on Skillshare, learning various watercolor techniques. That resulted in more designs uploaded to my Spoonflower and other online shops. One painting of the Plumbago flowers, that bloomed by the front door in planters, became one of my favorite designs since beginning pattern design. All in all, 2020 was an interesting year, but it did have several blessings thrown in. I look forward to seeing my gardens start blooming a few months from now.

AndrusGardens Watercolor Plumbago Flowers Collection on Spoonflower, Sue Andrus
Watercolor Plumbago Flowers Collection at Spoonflower

I began 2021 participating in a sketchbook challenge, doing at least something in my sketchbook, or on other paper, every day. I did miss one day, but caught up. Most days, I have ended up just using my watercolor paints, making leaves, flower petals, and flowers randomly on the pages. I have found that scanning in my pages, “cutting out” the individual images and combining them in Photoshop to make my designs, has been the best way for me to work for now. It is so interesting to see the steps I’ve gone through to get from beginning sketches to finished design.

Sue Andrus, AndrusGardens sketchbook images and cut out images ready for designing.
Random Watercolor Flowers in Sketchbook, left and “cut out”, right
Sue Andrus, AndrusGardens sketches and progress with Watercolor Damask in Blue and Green final design.
Original sketches, watercolor painting, images in process, and final design.

I have no idea what this new year will bring, but I’m going to try to keep back with the blog. No guarantees… I’ve felt like I have been restarting things over and over the past number of years… Here goes again….

Designing a Calendar

This week brought another first… I designed my first Calendar Tea Towel! I’ve seen them many times, but never thought I’d design one of my own… until another Spoonflower Challenge. This week, Voting is just beginning for the Spoonflower Tea Towel Calendar Challenge. The photo below shows what I ended up with. Calendar 2020 Blue Crocus Pink and Pale.

Blue Crocus Pink and Pale tea towel calendar designed by Sue Andrus
Click Here for Tea Towel Calendar Challenge Voting

This was a very time consuming project. Spoonflower provided templates for the size needed and a calendar with the months and days. The calendar template was in a simple font that just didn’t feel right for my style, so I used it as a guide for the correct layout of the days of each month . I started by typing the text in a new layer over the template in my favorite font. I soon found that when I typed all the numbers in a row as one block of text, I couldn’t get spacing right. I then put each number on a separate layer so I could use the align and distribute tasks to help in getting rows straight and numbers spaced evenly. Many hours of typing, copying, pasting and rearranging later, I had the base calendar done (If an eagle eye found the poor spacing in a month above, it was fixed for the final file). Then I needed to figure out what to do next. I had an idea in my head of doing a wreath of flowers around the calendar, so I started looking through flower photos and sketches.

Flower sketches by Sue Andrus
Random Colored Flower Sketches
Ginkgo leaf sketches by Sue Andrus
Ginkgo Leaf Sketches

I started with the Ginkgo leaf sketches. I pulled the individual leaves out of the image and softened them and changed color a bit. I pulled the blue flowers from the group of flower sketches. I think the blue flowers were meant to be Snow Glories that bloom with abandon outside our front door, but when I started working with them, they reminded me of a photo of Blue Crocus I was lusting after in a bulb catalog a while back. After “cutting” the flowers and leaves out of the image, I cleaned them up and softened them a bit. Once I had my leaves and flowers out of their original images and saved in separate files, I pulled them into the tea towel template and began arranging.

Pale Pink Ginkgo Sunprint Allover

Since I like the color pink, I decided to work with one of my sunprints of Ginkgo leaves for the backgrounds. The image I began with is the Light Pink Ginkgo Allover, which is available now printed on fabrics and more at Spoonflower. I played with the color and ended up with the very pale pink in the other photo above for the main outer area of the towel. I used a deeper shade and softened the sunprints for behind the calendar in the center. Now that the calendar is done, I need to see what I can come up with for yardage, since this design only really works printed as a fat quarter.

Random groups of flowers and Ginkgo leaves

The above photo shows some random groups of flowers and leaves in the process of being arranged to become designs for yardage or wallpaper, and more. We’ll see where it goes from here. I’m not sure I’ll have an entry for next weeks challenge since the theme involves hand lettering… not something I have worked with.

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