Secret Garden 2016 Colouring Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Secret Garden 2016 Colouring Calendar is published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, illustrated by Johanna Basford and is from my personal collection. This calendar is, hands-down, the only colouring calendar you need! I’m a huge calendar fan and can never decide on just one so almost every year I have 3 (all of which are usually cupcake themed because they’re one of my favourite things on the planet). Well, as of 2016, some of the cupcakes are going to have to move over in order to make way for my new love for colouring calendars. The calendar itself is the same size as most others at 12 inches square, making it significantly larger than Johanna’s books. The calendar includes 12 of Johanna’s signature and most well-known designs from her first colouring book Secret Garden (this calendar doesn’t include any new images). I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as a comparison photo of the book and calendar size. The whole calendar, including the covers, is made of thick white paper which is good quality – I thought it was going to bleed with water-based pens but there was no bleed-through at all and only very very slight shadowing when using my darkest fineliners and none with my lighter colours. Do bear in mind, when writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. The images are printed larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Johanna’s books just a little too detailed and small. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. The paper is quite smooth but has a little tooth and I didn’t have any issues with getting a few layers built up with my Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils. The calendar is staple-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a small hole, just like normal calendars so that it can be hung up from a nail for everyone to see. The cover has signature gold foil accents and is fully colourable, as always, and each calendar page has lots of tiny leaf accents and each month has a leafy lettering title.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The slightly larger image size means it’s more suitable for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control and it’s also manageable to colour one image a month ready for the following month. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. There is a small inky treasure hunt within the pages, like in the book, but I feel this was a bit of a pointless venture because some of the items you’re expected to find are the entire subject of the image e.g. two hummingbirds or one peacock, rather than hidden within the image. As with all of Johanna’s images, they are intricate and detailed and do require a fair amount of concentration which is great for keeping you occupied when you’re feeling anxious or low. Johanna’s images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because they require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is thin throughout but it’s not spindly so there is a little leeway when colouring.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. Johanna fans won’t be disappointed with this calendar, it’s beautiful with a lovely selection of designs and great paper quality and it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
Amazon UK – UK Edition – Secret Garden 2016 Colouring Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – US Edition – https://www.bookdepository.com/Secret-Garden-2016-Coloring-Calendar-Johanna-Basford/9781449478407/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

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