An eccentric grandmother has taken to snatching flowers from neighbour’s gardens to make her own handmade arts and crafts.
Gillian Coburn admits that she could be called a thief, but uses the flowers to produce a unique range of greetings cards with the front faces made entirely out of bits of plucked flora and fauna.
The 83-year-old from Ditchling said she does not hesitate to pick neighbours’ blooming flowers, “particularly if they are hanging over on my side of the fence.
“But I never take more than one flower – I leave plenty for the bees and for next time,” she added.
Her daughter, Kim Stephenson, who helps sell the quirky products, said that residents have become accustomed to the sight of Gillian leaning over nearby walls into gardens to snag a few extra blooms.
She said “She tells me she does it and I think the neighbours are just used to seeing her now.
“She can look at something and see something else; instead of it just being a flower it could be an ostrich, or a dress, or anything.”
Gillian also grabs flowers while she takes walks across the South Downs, with Kim describing her as “South downs born and bred”.
The painstaking process of arrangement requires Gilian to have a light touch as she arranges the fragile pieces of petals and stems onto the card.
Kim said: “Over the years she has turned her hand to crafting Edwardian brides wearing cow parsley lace, ladies in gossamer gowns and quizzical birds fashioned from thistles and dandelion seeds.”
Gillian’s hobby started five years ago but her talents did not go unnoticed, and with the help of her daughter her work is now on sale in retailers in Sussex and on www.dandelion-press.com – a website managed by Kim.
There will also be a stall for Dandelion Press exhibiting her work at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate from April 6 to April 8.