Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Garden House, Saxby

 I enjoyed my bank holiday treat today - a visit to The Garden House, Saxby, which is fast becoming my favourite garden in this area. I have posted about my visits before, but it is such a wonderful garden, it deserves to be featured again.
It has been such an awful gardening year, and every garden has suffered in one way or another, but you wouldn't think so judging from the way this garden looks.
 The whole garden was a mass of butterflies (which I haven't seen many of this year) and many different varieties of bees.  In fact, if you stood still, the only sound was buzzing.  Bliss!
 The gardens near the house have been planted with drifts of plants and grasses, which gives a variety of both colour and texture.
 The spaces have been carefully designed to give vistas and focal points, which lead through the different areas in the garden.
Hard landscaping has been carefully used throughout, to enhance the different areas and give them their own personality.  The planting here was just white and blue - nemesia in pots and agapanthus.
Chris was really taken by the display of dahlias around the house and particularly liked this one, with the vibrant orange set off by the dark leaves.
Whereas this richly coloured cosmos stopped me in my tracks - my cosmos at home are still growing and not really flowering very well (unlike these).
Although orange is not usually a colour that I am attracted to, I couldn't help being drawn to these fiery heleniums.
The echinacea purpurea was looking fantastic and had attracted masses of bees.
A quieter area of the garden with delicate cosmos foliage, birch trees and more late summer planting including yellow kniphofia (red hot pokers).
 One of the vistas, with a lavender path leading past an obelisk garden with pleached trees on the left and smaller, more intimate gardens on the right.  The focal point was an urn planted with scarlet geraniums.
 One of my favourite parts of the garden is the Cathedral Garden, with three components - grass, hedge and pleached trees.  A really calming and meditative space.
Finally, my favourite photo from today's visit.  A mass of the orange heleniums with a white echinacea behind. 
After visiting the garden, we visited the green burial site    that is owned by the garden owners.  It is a very quiet and peaceful place and Chris and I are giving this idea much thought.  I like the idea of a green burial and a biodegradable casket, with a native tree planted for you if you would like it and a wildflower meadow there too.  Definitely to be considered.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Macramé and jewellery making

 I have attempted my first macramé...ever!  I have been thinking that I would like to have a go, with regard to jewellery making, as it adds a whole new dimension to the gemstones.  I have seen a few examples using the beading thread too, which will be my next challenge, once I have got used to using cord, rather than this cotton string which you see in the photos.  The spiral pattern above is my favourite so far.
I think this one is the square knot technique which is used for making sliding knots too.
 I am starting to get the hang of it, I think!
My first attempt at a fancy sliding knot.  I have discovered that cotton string is not the best material to use because it doesn't actually slide very easily, but with a bit of gentle persuasion, it does work.  The next thing is to get myself some proper cord and make a bracelet, I think.  I do enjoy a challenge!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

A Taste of Lincoln Cathedral Flower Festival 2012

I went to the flower festival (which is held every 5 years or so) on the opening day and it was very busy.  There were the most beautiful arrangements all around the Cathedral building and out to the Chapter House and cloisters.  It was a very bright day, but when the sun went in, suddenly the Cathedral was rather dark, so some of my photos weren't as successful as I would have liked.  I enjoyed looking round very much but felt that the Cathedral rather dwarfed the displays.  However, to create displays on the massive scale of the Cathedral itself would perhaps be rather difficult, not to say impossible.  I have included some of my favourite arrangements, but rest assured, this is just a small selection of my photos.
 The theme of the festival was 'Dreams of Gold' and all of the 117 arrangements had a link to the Olympics.  In the Chapter House, there was a celebration of ball sports.
These life size paper sculptures represented the chariot races in Athens and were created by Richard Sweeney.
 This dramatic arrangement was placed in the RAF chapel and represented the poem 'High Flight' by Plt Officer Gillespie Magee. It ends with the line 'Put out my hand and touched the face of God'.
 It was easy to be distracted by the beauty of the Cathedral building, which I was, several times!
 The arrangement above represented the Paralympics.
 While this rather appetising plate of cakes, made using flower petals, was part of the London 1948 'Austerity Games' display.
 There were some bold and dynamic shapes using dramatic and fiery colours...
 ...which made a contrast with the delicate colours seen in other displays
 I must admit that this seemingly simple pillar of flowers, echoing the 'Gilbert Candles' was one of my favourite pieces.
 I love the vibrant pinks and purples in this pillar display.
 Even some of the resident statues of Bishops were beautified, like this one with the rainbow of colour surrounding him.
 Another view of the paper horses.
The Cathedral distracted me again with this lovely stained glass pattern on the floor.
It was a wonderful display and showed just how inventive flower arrangers can be.  Groups and individuals from around Lincolnshire and other neighbouring counties came together and produced the most fragrant celebration of nature and artistry.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Home and Antiques Fair - what I bought

 So, here are some photos of my purchases at the Home and Antiques Fair.  First, embroidered tablecloths.  I love the idea of using something that someone spent hours creating.  These ones are made using cotton or linen and apart from the odd tea stain, are in very good condition.  I just can't resist textiles!
I bought this small coffee/chocolate cup in my favourite pattern 'Blue Italian' by Spode. It reminds me of my childhood visits to my friend Maria at her granny's house, as this was the very pattern the family used and it made a big impression on me. I could have bought lots of items as there was a stallholder who was selling part of his collection and I fell for a gorgeous big bowl in particular.  However, I managed to restrain myself because it would have been expensive and we simply do not have the room at the moment.  I contented myself with this little cup because it is small and I can use it for little flower posies.
 A close up of the beautiful floral embroidery on one of the tablecloths.
 I loved the big purple satin stitched flowers here.
 This one was the first one I bought and features delicate blue embroidery and a cut-work/pulled thread design which must have been a real labour of love.
 I have wanted a posy bowl ever since seeing one with some simple daisy-like flowers on Jane Brocket's blog ( a while ago.  Since then, I found one, but was still on the lookout for a larger one.  This one is fabulous, with a lovely teal green against the grey.
 More fabric pieces - big purple check cotton and some striped and checked furnishing cotton pieces in muted greens and blues that may become cushion covers, but I haven't quite decided yet.
 Just to show you the posy bowl with a posy in it, here are some Rose 'Molineux' with Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' looking bright and cheerful. 
I think this bowl will become a mainstay of mine because much as I love flowers, I am pretty useless at arranging them.  This is perfect as it only needs the flower heads and looks pretty without me having to do a lot ( a bit like my mini milk bottle crate too).
All in all, a good day's shopping and spending, don't you think?

Monday, 13 August 2012

Home and Antiques Fair

 We took Chris' mum out yesterday as it was her birthday on Saturday, and went to a Home and Antiques Fair at the local showground.  It was the last day and visitor numbers were definitely down, but that meant we could wander about and get to the stalls very easily.  We saw these lovely old French doors and shutters and I really liked the ironwork patterns.
 If only we had somewhere for them and the money to repair them!

 We found the most amazing crafting sundries stall.  There were knitting needles, crochet hooks, and all the paraphernalia associated - all used but obviously loved too.  On the other part of the stall was the button area.  I have never seen so many buttons in one place! (We did ask the stall holder's permission to take photos.)
 They were all beautifully sorted by type (wood, toggle, mother of pearl...)
...or by colour, and made a beautiful display.
 There was a whole box devoted to those still on their original cards.
 Some of the collection.
 I was particularly drawn to this drawer of cottons - probably from a haberdashery department originally.  It was the way the colours were arranged that really appealed to me, I think.  (And the fact that they were in their own little chest of drawers).  I was relatively restrained and just took cash with me (so that I wouldn't be tempted to make any mad purchases) but came away with a little stash of what I think are lovely things, which I will show you in my next post.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

My new baking best friend

I know that this is not a very exciting photo, but I wanted to share my new baking best friend with you.  No doubt, all you seasoned bakers will be shaking your heads and asking where have I been since this product was introduced, ages ago.  I can only say that it had passed me by.  However, that has all changed.  I first bought it for a craft project using Angelina fibres, as you need to trap the fibres inside baking parchment before ironing them. I then used the baking parchment for its designed use when I made a banana and apple loaf.  My baking tins have seen better days and I am used to fighting with them in order to release my baking but with a lined tin, the banana and apple loaf could be lifted whole out of the tin with no fighting required.  This is when I realised that baking parchment was brilliant.  Since then, I have made two batches of flapjack which lifted straight out of the tin too. I know it is only a little thing, but it has made such a difference!
(My friends Katy and Alison laughed at me when I said I was going to write this post, extolling the wonders of baking parchment, but here it is anyway.)

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

A plethora of purple

I know that I have had a blog post about purple before, but looking round the garden tonight, I realised that purple has gradually become the dominant colour, taking over from the mass of pink in June and last month.  (There still is plenty of pink and some yellow and red too, but purple is the main colour.)  Above is my favourite hardy geranium 'Rozanne', who sprawls elegantly and seems to flower for ages.
Clematis 'Perle D'Azur', looking beautiful.
 A more burgundy purple from Buddleia Buzz 'Magenta'.
 Clematis 'Arabella'.
 Clematis 'Etoile Violette' with a lovely deep amethyst shade.
 The pom-pom flowers of Clematis viticella 'Purpurea Plena Elegans' which I really need to move into a bigger pot.  I do feed and water it well, but it does need more space.
 Verbena Bonariensis, which has self-seeded into a pot.  The flowers are a lilac purple, but I'm still including them.
The ever reliable hardy geranium 'Johnson's Blue' - as plantswoman Margery Fish once said, "If in doubt, plant a geranium" - good advice!
 A little campanula which grows like a weed in some gardens, but is very well behaved at the moment in mine.
How could I forget lavender angustifolia 'Hidcote'?  Rich purple colour and a wonderful scent.  This is a relatively new addition to my garden and I am going to try hard to look after it.
Purple is one of my favourite colours, and I am pleased to have been able to celebrate it.