Monday, 30 June 2014

Visit in the rain

We ventured out again yesterday to another open garden, this time one with crafts and ice cream too.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn't quite so kind, but being hardy sorts, would that put us off?  No!  Although the formal gardens were beautiful, with stunning views wherever we looked, it was the wildflower meadow which we were both drawn to.  It was a haze of white daisies with splashes of blue cornflowers and echiums.
 Grasses were intermingled among the flowers to create a relaxing and beautiful space.  Here and there, I spied bold flashes of colour from poppies and one in particular caught my eye.
 I followed the mown grass paths round and there it was, shining out despite the soaking it had received.
 I couldn't resist that colour!
I loved the way the raindrops were clinging to the petals.  Having wandered in the gardens, we looked at the craft stalls and then enjoyed an ice cream (Chris had toffee ripple and strawberries and cream and I went for chocolate - well, you have to, don't you?  It is nearly July!)
 Coming back from a garden visit is always a little dispiriting, but this hydrangea was there to help to cheer me up!  I have always wanted a blue hydrangea and this one is doing a great job of being lilac-y blue.
Watching the flowers change from creamy white to creamy green to blue has been a joy.
P.S Welcome to my new followers - I really hope you'll enjoy reading my blog.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

More Open Gardens (part 2)

 This was my favourite garden.  It was romantic, full of plants with an abundance of roses and clematis and was beautifully planted.  Everywhere I looked there was another stunning view.
 I could imagine myself sitting in here with a book...
 The rose covered pergola acted as a divider in the garden.
I really liked the mix of topiary, shrubs and herbaceous plants in the border planting.
 Another lovely view through into the garden.
 Looking down the rose covered pretty.
There was just one negative to the garden and one which wasn't obvious when you were actually in it.  When I was choosing my photos ready to crop them down a little, I noticed that in most of them, there were other houses in the background.  Although these were hidden, they were there all the same.  Even the most perfect garden has some problems (which makes me feel much better about my own untidy plot!)
Moving on to the penultimate garden on the walk, which also had some lovely planting with a wild flower feel to it.
 On the way back to the village hall, we both smiled to see the 'Open Garden' on this building site.  Someone with a sense of humour either works on the site or owns the site (there was a house being built).
It just shows you can have a garden (albeit a tiny one) anywhere!

Monday, 23 June 2014

More Open Gardens (part 1)

 It was a glorious Sunday, so we set off again to a village not far away from where we live where there were more Open Gardens.  Chris is very long suffering with my garden visit wishes but he said he'd really enjoyed it, so that was good. As always, there were lots of different sizes and style of gardens to see. The vegetable plot in the photo above was beautifully tended and the summer house looked very comfortable - perfect for a G & T, I thought!
 The next garden had the most beautiful clematis over the gate...
 ...and some beautiful delphiniums jostling with the other plants in this tightly packed space.
 This small garden could only be glimpsed through the window in the shrub - it was one of five gardens opened in a row of terrace houses.  The owner of one of these gardens was so welcoming and her garden was full of souvenirs, seating areas and masses of plants in containers and in the borders.
 I liked this colour combination in one of the little gardens - reds and pinks - very vibrant.
 The forge in the village is owned by the Council and is run by volunteers.  They were just firing up the furnace and showing how to make a horseshoe when we arrived.
 One of the gardens had a formal garden in front of the house with pebble swirl mosaics which Chris really liked.
 I liked the look of this seating area with pink and white roses and pink and white pelargoniums.
The same garden also had a wonderful display of hydrangeas at the entrance.  My favourite garden will feature in part two...

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

More plants and a blog swap - 'From My Home to Yours'

 I had a very nice afternoon on Saturday as a plant nursery near to my Mum's house was having an open afternoon.  I was hoping that they might have some dark astrantias and dianthus. After seeing the dark astrantia at the Open Gardens last weekend, I have been thinking I need to try them again.  I have tried growing them in the border before, without any success.  I was pleased to find three different varieties: Hadspen Blood, Moulin Rouge and Ruby Wedding, so snapped them up straightaway.  I am going to grow them in pots this time and see whether they do any better for me.  I also bought a fuchsia 'Thamar' and a red Dianthus 'Dark Passion'.  Then I saw a lavender 'Hidcote', so that joined the others.  I was very pleased with my purchases.
 While we were having tea and cake (yes, more cake!) in an open barn at the nursery, I spied these baby swallows in their nest, waiting to be fed.  Every now and again, a parent would swoop in and the babies would immediately spring into action, beaks wide and chirping loudly.  The photo isn't too bad, but they were right up in the rafters and this was as much zoom as my camera could manage.
I am taking part in another blog swap; this one being organised by Betty   - I do enjoy these and haven't done one for a while.  This one is based around your home county and country.  You have to include four things, one of which must be hand made by you.  Of course, you can include as many little extras as you like, little souvenir items which are relevant to your home town or country, or little things your recipient will like.  You can get a lot of information about someone from their blog and also when you email them too. It sounds as though it will be a lot of fun.  The closing date for signing up is 20th June, so a couple more days if you are interested. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Any colour, as long as it's pink...

 In June, my garden turns pink - not intentionally so, originally, but many of the plants flowering at this time of the year seem to be pink. Above is the beautifully crumpled bloom of Rose Jacques Cartier.
 As there are so many pink tones, I collaged some together (courtesy of Picmonkey).  From top left: Hydrangea Endless Summer Pink, Rose Ferdinand Pichard, Rose New Dawn. Middle row: Dianthus (not sure which - Iced Gem, perhaps), Rose Blush Noisette, Clematis Princess Diana. Bottom row: Geranium endressii, Erigeron Karvinskianus, Rose Gertrude Jekyll (which is scenting the whole area around it).
This year, Rosa Mundi (Rosa Gallica Versicolor) is flowering its socks off.  I do like the stripes on this rose.  As the summer goes on, the colours will change again, moving to richer red and even the odd yellow, but for now, I am enjoying this plethora of pinks.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Latest polymer clay - Mokume Gane

I thought I would share my latest polymer clay experiments with you.  I have been investigating a technique called Mokume Gane (Mo-koo-may Gar-nay) which is from Japanese metalworking, where layers of metal are sliced through to create patterns. The same technique works really well in polymer clay.  I made a stack of purples and pinks, with a bit of silver polymer too and then impressed patterns into it.  I then sliced through the stack, creating the shavings you can see above.
 I then placed pieces together onto a base and created these pendants.
 I loved the swirly patterns - they reminded me of a machine at the fair where you could drizzle paint into a cylinder and centrifugal force would create a pattern.  Alternatively, they do resemble 1960s psychedelia too!
 For my next experiment, I used translucent clay, some tinted with purple, and glitter and foil and pearl clay.  Here's the stack I created with impressed patterns and some infills of pearl clay too.
These are the slices, ready to be put together.
 The finished result - quite subtle but I really like it. You can see the foil shining through the layers underneath.  I made some tube beads which I think will look like glass once they are sanded and varnished.
 I used the translucent clay with a tint of blue and some black, pearl clay and foil, for these.  I am really pleased with how they turned out too.
I have also decorated the backs, which I like almost as much as the fronts!
I used a fantastic book for techniques and inspiration - 'How to make Polymer Clay beads' by Carol Blackburn, which had lots of photos and very helpful advice.  I am constantly amazed by the versatility of polymer clay and particularly enjoyed using this technique.  I can see I shall be re-visiting this one!
I forgot to add that these are completely one of a kind - I couldn't replicate the patterns, even if I wanted to.  Isn't it great that no-one else in the whole world has pendants exactly the same as these?

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Open Gardens (tea and cake)

 It was an Open Gardens day at a village not far away from us, so we made the most of the sunny weather and headed off.  I love having the chance to be nosey and peek into other peoples' gardens.  However, it does make me wish I had a bigger garden!  Here are just a few of the highlights.  The first garden, above, had lots of areas, and some beautiful cottage garden planting.  They were trying to be as eco-friendly as they could, with compost from the local council, a wormery, compost bins, mulches round the veg plot and all beautifully laid out.  A lot of time and effort had gone into all the gardens, but this one was especially impressive.
 This one was an artist's garden, with lovely planting and interesting sculptures dotted about.  I loved walking down the path through the blue spires of delphiniums.
 One of my favourite gardens had this fantastic display of peonies, along the side of the house.  The owner was so welcoming and had free plants (yes, free!), although we did give a contribution for the local church funds. I got a lovely dark leaved hardy geranium.
 The same lady had this rich, jewel coloured astrantia in her front garden.  Lucky her!  Her garden went all around the house and the front was lovely herbaceous plants.  The back garden was gravelled, but had a huge number of interesting plants in pots and in the gravel.
 This was part of the front garden with romantic, feminine planting.
 This aquilegia was about three feet tall  - the colours were just beautiful.
This garden was full of interesting areas too and I particularly liked the river of mexican daisies (erigeron) which had seeded in the paving.
Once we had looked round the nine gardens, all of which were lovely and were different sizes and styles, we went to the church for tea and cake (there just has to be cake!).  Coffee and walnut for my sister-in-law and Victoria sandwich for me.  A perfect finish to a lovely couple of hours - and the weather stayed fine all the time we were out!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Tea, cake and a treasure trove...and egg sandwiches

We had a very nice morning on Sunday, wandering around the town and looking in charity shops to see what we could find.  We actually went for the amethyst chip necklace above, which Chris had seen on Saturday but hadn't bought  as he wasn't sure whether I needed it. (Of course I needed it!).  When we got there, the shop was closed, but as luck would have it, the lady was just opening it so I was able to buy the necklace.  I will be re-purposing it to make memory wire amethyst bracelets and possibly a necklace.
The chips have a lovely range of colours so colour grading them will keep me very occupied.
 Having made it to Steep Hill, we stopped at Bunty's Tea Rooms (photo above from their Facebook page), run by a very nice chap Chris knows and a lovely place for tea and cake if you are ever passing. There is vintage china with proper tea cups and the whole place has a vintage look and is very welcoming.  We were going to have egg mayonnaise sandwiches but I remembered we had some nice bread at home so we settled for tea and cake.  Chris had dandelion and burdock cake which had violet icing and I chose chocolate.  Judging by the speed with which the cakes disappeared, I would say they were a good choice!
 We set off home suitably replenished and went into pretty much every charity shop we could find.  here's what we came home with.  Loads of wooden beads and shell beads all just waiting to be made into something interesting.  Chris has a few ideas in mind...
Here is my egg and cress sandwich - one of my all time favourite sandwich fillings - and it was delicious!