Tuesday 23 February 2016

First Garden Visit 2016 part one

I set out with my friends Katy and Alison for our first garden visits of the year two weekends ago.  It was a bright day with some sun, but we also got some snow showers during the afternoon too. The first garden we visited is a particular favourite of mine, Brightwater Gardens (it used to be The Garden House, Saxby).  I like visiting a garden when there are not so many plants in flower as you can see the 'bones' of the garden.  Brightwater has very good 'bones'.  There were lots of new things in place and a lot of work has been done since I last visited.  For one, they are now an RHS partner garden and for another, a barn has been converted into a dining area with a lovely wood burning stove (which we enjoyed!).  Above can be seen a mass of crocuses which had obligingly opened on seeing the sun.
 Another mass planting of crocus - this one is 'Cream Beauty'.
 The obelisk garden always looks good.
I liked that the miscanthus heads had been left over winter.
 Ipheion flowers were blooming.
I was intrigued by the red fruits against the blue sky.  On discussing this tree with one of the owners, he thought it was probably a crab apple.
 The view across the pond with the cornus stems shining out.
The cornus stems do look amazing grouped like this.
 This area was new to me, with a formal pond replacing previous one and the stone sculptures casting some lovely shadows,
 I always like the paving in these side gardens and the sun and shadow areas work very well in this photo.
There were nice contrasts of sun and shadow here too.  In the summer, this will be a mass of flowers, but the structural elements create a strong background, which will show them off well.
 I always go and see the Tudor gardener, often hidden in the foliage.
This Cathedral Garden is one of my very favourite parts of the garden, which is unusual for me as it has no flowers.  It is a quiet and meditative area, well named,  with the hedges, grass and trees creating a repeating rhythm which was enhanced by the shadows cast by the trees.  They look like the stone tracery of stained glass windows and this is really evident in the photo.
I thoroughly enjoyed my walk around the garden which was topped off with tea and cake (very delicious it was too) in the toasty warm barn.  I look forward to visiting again.
The afternoon wasn't over though, as we then headed to another garden, open for the snowdrops.  That will be in my next post...

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Send a Little Love Swap 2016

I recently took part in the Send a Little Love Swap organised by  Tracy at Mad about Bags .  I have taken part in this swap for a few years now and 'met' some lovely people. This year, I was partnered up with Lyn from Australia, who, serendipitously, I had been partnered up with for this same swap last year.  I emailed her to find out whether she was happy to swap with me again, and luckily, she said she was.  This gave us a challenge - to find some different things to send each other.  We did our shopping and making and sent off our parcels on the same day.  Her parcel arrived with me last Tuesday but mine didn't get to her until today!  (I managed not to open my parcels until I knew she had received hers). A lovely scent came from the parcels - tea tree? eucalyptus? All would be revealed...
 Well, goodness gracious, Lyn had been so generous again.  There was: (take a deep breath!) a lovely hand made bag with the loveliest happiest sheep embroidery on it, some wool for felting, a Felting magazine, a Welcome sign with hanging hearts, a wildflower calendar, some flower seeds, some ginger teddy bear sweets, an embroidered heart, a seedpod perfumed oil container (more about this in a minute) a teabag/tea strainer stand, a heart cutter and a card with a heart brooch on it.
 The teabag/tea strainer stand is already in use.
I shall have a go with the seeds this summer - that will be an interesting experiment.
 The perfume container is actually made from a Banksia seed pod, and had been hand turned by a local craftsman.  It has some eucalyptus essential oil in it and smells lovely.
You can see a hairy texture on some parts of this fascinating container.
 The little embroidered heart is beautifully made - just stunning!
 As is the sheep bag.
 I love the happy sheep and again, the embroidery is superb.  A HUGE thank you to Lyn, who has again been so generous and has sent me the most wonderful gifts.
 And what did I send her, you may be thinking?  Some ribbon and material (as she does lots of sewing), a mug and some lovely English Breakfast tea from a very nice tea shop in the city, a Lincolnshire Plum Bread tea towel, a little ceramic 'L' tile made by a local ceramicist, and a black and white stripy felt heart, some earrings, and two bracelets made by me.
 The mug says I 'heart' Lincoln.
There were also some magnets, a hanging heart decoration with little bells and some heart pegs.
 There's a closeup of the memory wire bracelet, with pearls and black and white gemstone chips...
 And the macrame bracelet.

Here are my parcels ready to be put in the box.  I have put a few more photos of what I sent as Lyn doesn't have a blog, so this is for both of us.  Thanks to Tracy for organising the swap and to Lyn for being the most amazing swap partner for the second time!

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Enjoying the sunshine

We have actually enjoyed some sunshine today, which has been lovely.  This was the sky this morning.
I had a look in the garden and saw a small number of double snowdrops.  They always need to be lifted up in order to appreciate their lovely markings.
 One of my hellebores is flowering too, but also needs to have its head lifted up.
 This is the best clump this year.  I do have two other plants, but they are still in bud.
 Cyclamen coum and snowdrops in a pot together.
 Snowdrops, crocus and a grape hyacinth also in a pot together.  I should probably divide the snowdrops once they have finished flowering.
Finally, a second double snowdrop with the lovely green and white combination.  I think the flowers were as pleased to see the sunshine as I was!

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Felt making again (at last!)

 It has been over a year since I made any felt from scratch (hangs head in shame!).  So, I decided this disgraceful state of affairs had to be sorted.  I needed some stripy felt for a project and I had also been inspired by a programme on Scottish Art which showed neolithic cup and ring carvings, which I thought might translate well into felt.  Circles and spirals seem to have been an inspiration to many people and cultures all through the past, and there is something very satisfying about those particular shapes.  
Armed with my enthusiasm, I got making.  (I was slightly concerned in case I had forgotten how to make felt, but needn't have worried, as it all came back to me!)  I used merino wool as it blends easily and felts quite quickly.
Here is an example of one of the cup and ring carvings. (photo from:
Here is my interpretation, before felting.  I made this as a practise piece, because I want to add surface texture with embroidery, which I haven't quite managed to do yet. 
I had already used the stripy piece before realising I hadn't taken a photo of it after felting, so this shows half of it.  I like the way the stripes aren't regular, but that is one of the lovely things about felt making - the wool does decide how it wants to be during the process and the maker can only alter it so much.
Here's the circle/spiral piece after felting.  The concentric circles and spirals moved about a bit despite me trying to keep them in one place, but I am pleased with the overall effect.
 Now I need to get embroidering...