Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Heavenly Hydrangeas

I am a person who (whisper) didn't used to like hydrangeas that much.  Luckily, that has changed and I can now appreciate their many qualities. They provide months of interest as the flowers fade and at flowering time, they bridge the gap between the end of the summer flowers such as the first flush of roses and the start of the late summer perennials.  I had a  wander around the garden, just to see which ones I had and was quite surprised as I didn't think I had acquired so many!  I took my camera along, so wondered if you would like to join me? Above is a newish one bought earlier this year - Hydrangea macrophylla Little White.  I have just discovered macrophylla means 'big leaf' - that make sense!
Here is my newest purchase, Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky'.  The name makes me smile!
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Fireworks'.
Going down the path, we have Hydrangea macrophylla 'Merveille Sanguine'.
Going past Hydrangea paniculata 'Sundae Fraise', not showing her lovely pink tones quite yet.
On to the patio, there is Hydrangea macrophlla 'Dark angel'.  I particularly like the small purple flowers inside the showy red bracts.
Probably my favourite, who has appeared on here many times, (and the only one planted in a border) Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'.
Also on the patio is Hydrangea paniculata 'Little Spooky' with lime green flowers which should turn creamy.
Down towards the bottom of the garden is Hydrangea macrophylla Magical Revolution 'Blue', which is gradually turning purply pink, although I don't mind.  I decided I wasn't going to add colorant to keep it blue.
Next to the blue one is this one, Hydrangea macrophylla Magical Revolution 'Pink'.
At the bottom of the garden is Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer 'The Bride'.  I particularly like white hydrangeas in the garden as the colour shows up at dusk.  They are also a bit more amenable as they will stay white in non-ericaceous soil or compost.
Out at the front, brightening up the front door, I have hydrangea macrophylla Magical Revolution 'Pink'  - this plant is a great doer - it doesn't need that much looking after and seems to bloom for a long time.
Finally, (well done if you've stayed to the end!) is Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer 'Pink'.  This started to flower back in May and has been a lovely splash of colour in a rather drab-looking street.  So there we are - more hydrangeas than I thought (thirteen!) and all in pots and tubs except for Annabelle.  I have just potted on five of them as they were trying to grow out of the bottom of their pots, but they had been in them for quite some time.  It was a bit of a struggle, but I got there in the end!

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Index-Card-A-Day (ICAD) Challenge 2021 - week seven

Here are Week seven's offerings for the ICAD challenge 2021.  Above, from top, clockwise: Lilac (inks and stencils), Roundabout (photos I took at a Christmas market), Kaleidoscope (inks and stencils).
Pond (watercolours and stamps), Record Player (royalty free image from unsplash, stamps and die cut records), Cupcake (stencil, inks and watercolours) and Tropical (inks, die cuts and a piece cut from a paper pad).

I'll post the rest together - the challenge finishes this Saturday.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

New home made tools

Anyone who makes things using dies and a die cutting machine knows how easy it is to lose small dies.  They get cut out, put down on a table and then are lost under a pile of other crafting paraphernalia.  Companies have made special easel folders to store these, but I didn't want to spend any money on one, no matter how useful it was.  I thought I could just get a piece of magnetic sheet and use that, at a push.

I was looking at Youtubers I follow and saw this one when Ann from Positively Papercraft was making the very easel folder thing (Laminated Easel Desk Top Die Folder) I was needing.  I watched and then went off to make my own.  Mine is a little smaller, but will be so useful!  It's made like a easel card  and has thick cardboard for the covers.

Here's what it is designed for - to keep hold of the little dies so they can't get lost under a mountain of other stuff.  It works beautifully and the only cost was the magnetic sheet. Great idea, isn't it?
My other new tool is a stamp pressing tool. It is used with a stamp pressing platform, to help to spread even pressure across the stamp, particularly the bigger ones.  It works a bit like a printing baren does.   I have seen them on etsy (called 'Debby tools') in America.  I looked into buying one but the costs were prohibitive (£36 for the tool and £41 for delivery to the UK!). 
I showed a picture to Chris and  he has made me one.  It's an mdf block, with an old stamp handle attached above. I was going to go with a door handle, like the Debby tool, but he had this one, so we thought 'use what you have'.  
We bought some self adhesive felt, the sort that you can put under furniture to stop it marking the floor/other furniture and then I added an extra bit of my own felt on that. There are other options for a home made version, but I thought this would be the best for me.
I painted it with gesso and I thought that was it.  However, I was looking at it today and thinking it looked a bit plain...yes, you know what's coming next...
Here it is now, acrylic paint base and then stencilled.
Much better, don't you think? It works really well, applying an even pressure to the stamps. Two new tools, not costing much but they will be really useful.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Index-Card-A-Day (ICAD) challenge 2021 - Week 6

We're nearing the end of the challenge this year - it finishes at the end of July.  Above clockwise from top left is: Treehouse (magazine collage) ; Oasis (watercolour and ink drawing, inspired by the illustrations in 'The Land of Green Ginger' by Noel Langley - EC, you share my love of this book, I think); Postcard (using up some of my paper stash).  
Clockwise from top left: Nautical (inks and stamps); Train or Train set (inks and stamps); Silver (acrylic paint, stamps and embossing powder; Message in A Bottle (watercolour and stamp).  A bit of a neutrally coloured set this week - apart from Nautical.
On to the last two weeks!

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Baumber Walled Garden

There are quite a few photos in this post, but I feel justified in including them, as this is the first garden visit I have had since June 2019!  We headed out last Tuesday and although the weather was a bit unsettled, with some showers, it was lovely to be out with my friends Katy and Alison.  Baumber Walled Garden is set in an old walled garden, as the name would suggest.  It is unusual as it has a double wall and the area in between has been planted up on a couple of sides.  You can read about it here and the history of the garden is here,
It is definitely not a traditional kitchen garden and has lots of different areas.  There is a large swimming pond and lots of grasses have been planted around it.
Some areas had an exotic feel.
You can see the swimming pond better in this photo.
They hold weddings at the garden and the marquee in the photo is evidence of this.
This relatively simple planting of alliums, where just the seed heads remain, together with the lavender was very eyecatching.
A white and green border led up to this little arch - perfect for romantic wedding photos.
The white and green theme continued on the other side.
Another area contained this interesting oriental structure, complete with replica terracotta warriors.
This perennial and shady border beneath the trees was one of the in-between-the-walls areas.
More grasses were dotted about in different beds.
On the wall where the greenhouses once stood is a lovely beachy area.
The grasses here become the waves as they dance in the wind...
...I think there were four types of plant to make this area, but it was really effective.
Looking across the swimming pond on the way out.
Looking back the other way.  Katy and Alison knew I would love this garden and they were right.  It has lots of quirky features and some fabulous planting.  There is also a very good tearoom which, of course, we had to try and I had a wonderful time.  They also have plants for sale and yes, I came home with one - a Rhodanthemum 'Marrakech' which is a plant I have been after for a while.  

I foresee more visits in the future.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Wanderlust 2021 - weeks twenty-five to twenty-eight - Boundaries

Wanderlust continues, with more challenges.  Week 25 was about reviewing how far we have come and what was holding us back. It was a monochrome page which I really enjoyed putting together.  My boundaries were 'enjoy the process' because sometimes I worry too much about how the finished thing will look rather than concentrating on the process to make it, which is much more important. The other one is 'perfection in imperfection' again to remind me that the end project is not the most important thing.

Week 26 was all about watercolours.  I did feel a bit anxious about this as my watercolours in the past have not been successful.  However, the lesson was very clear and I actually really enjoyed trying to paint six versions of an iris.  Using a watery, loose style really appeals to me and the teacher said she thought I had a knack for it, so that was really encouraging.  I haven't tried to paint anything else in this style, but the thought of trying a poppy is in my head.
Week 27 was about mixing four media which would not normally be used together. These were watercolours, gesso, soft pastels and oil pastels.  It was a game where we wrote the media onto little cards then picked one to see which layer would be next. It was an enjoyable way to make a background. 
Week 28 was really exciting to me,   I have recently rediscovered my distress inks and this week was all about using them to make a tag book with different edges on each page.  I created a background page for the tag book to live on.
Here's the tag book.
I used lots of stencils and had so much fun.  It took me all afternoon, but I was pleased with the end result.
I really enjoyed the process though - more than the end product.  It's beginning to sink in!

Monday, 12 July 2021

Index-Card-A-Day (ICAD) challenge 2021 - Week 5

This challenge is rattling along - half way through and counting. It continues until the end of July.  So, above we have (top left) Quilt (made using a die and piecing the shapes back in), Pastel (made using soft pastels through a stencil on a gel plate), bottom right Talavera (a specific pottery from Mexico and Spain - I had to look that up, painted using gouache!) and Vine (using stamps and stencils).
Top left is Feather (stamps and stencils again), then Gingham, with Dahlia (inks and stencils) at the bottom.  I printed the gingham pattern using inks and a square stamp, although I had to look at real gingham to remember how the pattern went.

Onto week six!

Sunday, 11 July 2021

A little more to enjoy in the garden

I grew some pot marigolds from seed this year but they got rather long and leggy. I have put some in a pot for now and they have rewarded me by starting to flower.  They are such happy looking flowers, looking particularly pretty with a sprinkling of raindrops.
Clematis Princess Kate is looking the best I have ever seen her.  I potted her on into a big tub and she obviously likes it.  You can spot Rose William Shakespeare 2000 in his attempt at garden domination on the trellis at the back.
She has very elegant flowers.
My own cosmos were a disaster this year and eventually were eaten by slugs and snails, so I bought this one in.  Again, such a happy looking flower.

The blueberries are staring to crop now and I have enjoyed two raspberries so far too, from my autumn fruiting raspberries. They are a bit early, but very welcome, nonetheless. Some more pot watering and feeding is on the cards as even with the heavy rain showers we have been getting, the pots don't get very much water.