Leaves like lemons, leaves like holly

Arrived in Palo Alto on 6/18, a Gillian Mary greeting card from Ann Burlingham, written on 6/14 to report family news from Pittsburgh — a joyously bright representation of a flowering bottlebrush (genus Callistemon), a wonderful Australian plant that I first encountered in California about 60 years ago. Even better: C. citrinus, with bright red flowers that attract birds, bees, and butterflies; and gray-green evergreen leaves that release a lemony scent when crushed (hence the species name citrinus):

(#1) GMC-076 Crimson Bottlebrush, a Gillian Mary card from Aero Images

That led to more cards from this source — Gillian Mary is a trade name, not a person — and ultimately to the actual artist, illustrator and painter Jill Brailsford (who’s the owner and designer of GMC). GMC offers other cards showing Australian plants and flowers — from which I’ve selected just one more (Banksia ilicifolia, with prickly, holly-like leaves) — also Australian scenes (mostly beach scenes) and Australian animals.

So, lemony Callie and prickly Banksy. And then Jill.

Callies Gesang, Kennst du das Land, wo die Citronen blühn? From my 2/9/14 posting “callistemon”, on bottlebrushes / bottle-brushes / bottle brushes, various wonderful species of Callistemon:

(#2) C. citrinus in bloom (photo from the Gardenia: CreatingGardens site)

Beyond Australia [where it’s native], the plant is also also grown in other semi-tropical and tropical places: among them, India, Southeast Asia, and California (where it’s all over the place).

Thorny Banksy lobs bouquets like bombs.

(#3) Banksy, Flower Launcher (2003)

From GMC:

(#4) GMC-078 Holly Leaved Banksia

In my 7/4/17 posting “Fay Zwicky” (the poet), a section on Banksias (the connection between FZ and Banksia is Western Australia). Then from Wikipedia on the species:

(#5) (Images from the Western Australian Herbarium (1998–). Florabase — the Western Australian Flora. Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions)

Banksia ilicifolia, commonly known as holly-leaved banksia, is a tree in the family Proteaceae. Endemic to southwest Western Australia, it belongs to … a subgenus of three closely related Banksia species with inflorescences that are dome-shaped heads rather than characteristic Banksia flower spikes. It is generally a tree up to 10 metres (33 ft) tall with a columnar or irregular habit. Both the scientific and common names arise from the similarity of its foliage to that of the English holly Ilex aquifolium; the glossy green leaves generally have very prickly serrated margins, although some plants lack toothed leaves. The inflorescences are initially yellow but become red-tinged with maturity; this acts as a signal to alert birds that the flowers have opened and nectar is available.

Playful Jill, who draws the pictures. Here she is, with one of her works, and talking about her art on her website:


My pictures explore the beauty and strangeness of the world, combining images and inspiration from environments both natural and imagined. Much of my work comes from the images that are in my head in that time between being awake and asleep. It taps into the subconscious workings of our minds and hearts.

(#7) One of Brailsford’s dream worlds

I’ve illustrated children’s books, painted and exhibited, designed and painted stained glass windows, and run a business selling my illustrations as greeting cards and prints. [AZ: ah, this is where we came in!]

My illustration work is bold and complex.

It uses vibrant colours, translucence, and is rich in detail. I do lots of small work on paper with inks, gouache, pencils, markers and pastels. The visceral feeling of hand, paint, canvas and paper is wonderful but I also love the endless possibilities that digital illustration offers.

My paintings are more spontaneous, loose and exploratory while being lush and rich.


3 Responses to “Leaves like lemons, leaves like holly”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Facebook exchanges (edited down) with Ann Burlingham:

    AZ > AB: tending towards bold abstraction rather than meticulous illustration.
    AB > AZ: the artist’s work reminds me a bit of Charley Harper’s bright, stylized birds.
    AZ > AB: “stylized” was the word I was looking for.

    From Wikipedia on Harper:

    Charley Harper (August 4, 1922 – June 10, 2007) was a Cincinnati-based American Modernist artist. He was best known for his highly stylized wildlife prints, posters, and book illustrations.


  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    On Facebook, Ruth Lawrence writes (from Melbourne) to note the many cultivars of C. citrinus (which I didn’t comment on in my posting). Oh my, yes, many shades of red and many habits of growth, plus it comes in colors — Ruth notes cream, pink and purple. Fabulous.

  3. Stephen R. Anderson Says:

    And for some linguistics content, there’s Bruce Hayes’ “Bottlebrush Theory” of phonological structure:


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