Thursday 30 July 2015

Visit to Grimsthorpe Castle part 2

 Here is part two of the trip to Grimsthorpe Castle.  Through the vegetable/kitchen garden gate was this slightly wilder border which contrasted well with the formality of the previous garden.
 There was what looked a bit like an orchard, with box growing round the base of the trees.
In this section, the trees were growing through areas of grass which had been left longer and which emphasised the trees.  I really liked this idea.
 A more formal avenue of trees, stretching off into the distance.
 Then we came to two grass areas, with box bushed and a pool and fountain in each, surrounded by yew hedging with topiary birds and shapes.  I think that the Grimsthorpe gardens would make a wonderful setting for a production of Alice in Wonderland .
 Some of the yew shapes cut on top of the hedge.
 The view across the park to the lake.
 A delightful tunnel which just invited the visitor to explore..."Curiouser and curiouser"...
 The tunnel led back up to a double herbaceous border with yellow and white as the main colours.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Castle. As the day was still young, we decided to make a detour to a nursery and garden centre called Rasell's, in a village not too far away, called Little Bytham.  I used to live not that far from Little Bytham but hadn't been back for many years.  The nursery was full of well cared for plants and had planted borders which gave the visitor a good idea of how the plants would look in that situation.
I bought an agapanthus - 'Navy Blue' - well, it had to be done after seeing all the beautiful ones at Grimsthorpe.  I have tried to grow one before but all I got was leaves, so I hope this one will do better for me.
I also bough Dahlia Merckii, which is a plant that has been on my wish list for years, but which I hadn't seen for sale anywhere. That has been potted on and I am enjoying its small delicate flowers. Of course, we had to sample the tea room too, which was very nice, with proper china and tea leaves, not tea bags.  We had a fantastic day out and here's to the next one...

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Visit to Grimsthorpe Castle part 1

I enjoyed a lovely day out last Tuesday, with my friends Katy and Alison.  After a bit of research on where we could go, we plumped for Grimsthorpe Castle, which is about an hour away.  I had visited before, but six years ago, so was very happy to go again and had a two for one voucher, so off we went. I took lots of photos of the gardens, so will split them into two posts.
 The main front of the house is very grand and imposing, designed by Vanbrugh, who also designed Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.  The figures in gold on the coat of arms are a monk on the left and a wild man on the right.
 The house towered above us.  I was intrigued by the massive columns.
 I felt they were an unusual design.  We went in by the front door and were given a very informative and fascinating tour by Beryl, who was extremely knowledgeable and hardly seemed to draw breath!  Photos weren't allowed in the house, but I made up for that outside!
Yes, I do like a view through a door or a gate.  The gold figure here is a saracen.
 The gardens are around the house and are created in different 'rooms'. This is the rose garden.
 The older part of the house can be seen here, with the crenellations.  It reminded me of one of my favourite historic houses, Haddon Hall, near Bakewell.
 Another view from the rose garden showing the older and newer parts of the house.
 We went through to the kitchen garden which was very impressive.  Topiary and pots of agapanthus were used as eye catchers.
 Flowers and vegetables were planted together.
 The onions were drying in the sun.
 Looking down through the vegetable garden.  I particularly liked the agapanthus and decided I needed to put one on my wish list!
Now and again, there was a lovely view of the house.  The garden did give me the feeling of being in Wonderland and I half expected the Queen of Hearts to appear round the corner at any moment and demand a game of croquet!
Looking back into the vegetable garden.  The final arch had raspberries growing up it which was a lovely idea.  Part two of the visit will follow...

Saturday 25 July 2015

Feeling much happier - Christmas in July Swap 2015

You may remember that I took part in the Christmas in July swap, run by Kim at Wisdom with needle and thread and today was the opening day! The idea was to make three Christmas things from a list, and then send them to someone whose name and address was emailed to you, but without them knowing who was their Secret Santa - until they opened their parcel.  I received my parcel in very good time and waited patiently until today to open it up.  Inside were three carefully wrapped  presents.
Here's what was inside.  A card and Christmas picture inside the card, a wooden Rudolf the red nosed reindeer, a red heart and a cross stitched decoration, which could be used as a pin cushion, although I don't think I could bear to stick pins in it!  I discovered that my Secret Santa was June.
The beautifully made cross stitch decoration.  I know I wouldn't have the patience or skill to create this!
 The bright and cheerful red heart.
 The Rudolf decoration.
 The card within a card.
The Christmas Card which gave me the identity of my Secret Santa.  A HUGE thank you goes to June for her lovely gifts, which I shall love displaying on the Christmas Tree each year.  Thanks to Kim, the organiser, as well, for organising, keeping in touch and keeping us on track!
 Of course, Scruffy decided to have a closer look at the parcel - "Hmm, I think I shall just have these for myself! If I sit on them, she can't get them!"
 "I told you, they're mine.  You can't have them!" (I have since removed them from harm's way!)
My recipient was Nina, from Turkey (and I hope she doesn't see this before she opens her gift!). Here's what I sent her: red and white bunting (some with reindeer patterns!), some polymer clay decorations with peace, joy and love stamped on them. and a felt star with embroidery.
(I added some non-Christmassy things too, just for the fun of it.  A notebook cover with felt flower, a pair of sterling silver, quartz and pearl earrings and a coloured quartz bracelet.)
Here were my gifts ready to be packaged up.  The parcel arrived, so I shall wait to see what she thinks.  It was a lovely swap to be involved with and I really enjoyed making the gifts and enjoying the anticipation and excitement of the build up to today.

Thursday 23 July 2015

Feeling a bit sad...

I was going to write a blog post about a lovely visit to Grimsthorpe Castle earlier this week and I shall still do that, just not tonight.
I was watering the pots in the garden and went to the front of the house to water the hanging basket, only to find that the gate was open and the hanging basket was gone.  In twenty-two years of living here, I have not had any problems like this and have always enjoyed seeing the hanging basket brightening up the front of the house.  It was there when we came back from work and shopping, so the person stole it while we were at home, which somehow makes it worse.  The hanging basket was only a plastic one, just had petunias in it and in the great scheme of things, it doesn't really matter, but the fact that someone would steal it has upset me.
I don't put any plants out at the front of the house that are expensive, or really special, but I was naive enough to think that they would be enjoyed by people, without being stolen.
So, I have two choices.  I can either not have a basket out there again and deprive myself of the pleasure, or I can take a deep breath and find a basket or trough which can be fixed to the wall and then plant that up.  I think I know which I shall be doing!
I hope that my next post will be on a more positive note.

Monday 13 July 2015

Learning New Things

 I have been learning some new crafting techniques - this time, stamps, embossing powder and a heat gun.  I have been investigating the internet for 'how to' videos (of which there are many, as you'd imagine) and decided to have a go.  This technique wouldn't work with polymer clay due to the direct heat required, but as I already had lots of different stamps and some pigment ink pads, I thought, why not try?  I can use the technique for cards, tags, and decorating notebooks (all useful for blog swaps and birthdays!).  Above is an embossed stamp pattern (the embossing powder when heated forms a raised surface), painted with iridescent acrylic paint (Pebeo Studio Acrylic Iridescent).  The magic happens when the light hits the paint in a certain way and the metallic element shines out.
 Hmm, I may have to be a little more careful where the paint goes as I seem to have gone over the lines a bit!  The gold paint looks very shiny here.
 Here are some of the gorgeous paint colours.  The paint covers well and is nice and thick, but can be thinned with water as required.
 Even the water used to wash the brush gets some added sparkle.
 Here are a couple of hummingbird stamps, embossed and then painted with the acrylic paints.
 I really like the blues and greens, but then I would!  I am looking forward to more experimenting with black background paper and other stamps as I  really enjoy learning new skills.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

A Riot of Roses!

Collages created from my photos using picmonkey
So far, 2015 has been a wonderful year for roses here in my garden.  I have managed to squeeze twenty-two into my garden, adding to the collection over the years.  There is a pale pink theme going on, but this wasn't a conscious decision - it was mainly about the scent.  I have got one yellow rose and I have added some white and deeper pinky red this year, mainly in pots.  Most of them are in flower now and I am really enjoying the colours and perfumes.
Above top row from left to right: Gertrude Jekyll; Mary Rose: Cottage Rose
Middle row: Jacques Cartier; Ferdinand Pichard; Constance Spry
Bottom row: Chandos Beauty; Bright as a Button; Blush Noisette
Just a few more...
Clockwise top left to right: New Dawn; Diamond; Rosa Gallica Versicolor (Rosa Mundi); Frilly Cuff.
Diamond was my most recent purchase, just last week, and this is its first flower.  It is a miniature rose with a slight scent but is covered in buds.
 I do enjoy the garden when the roses bloom!