Monday 30 May 2016

My plants in Chelsea week 2016

 My plants have been busy during Chelsea week too.  The recent sun and rain has helped everything to shoot up.  Above is Clematis Asao.
 Cirsium rivulare Atropurpureum with its beautiful maroon flower heads.
 Clematis Guernsey Cream, which I had planted and totally forgotten about.
 Astrantia Hadspen Blood, I think, but am not sure, as it could be Moulin Rouge or Ruby Wedding...
 Lilac and Magnolia looking lovely together.
 Allium Purple Sensation against the shed.
 A rather pretty combination of Gladiolus Byzantinus, Nemesia Confetti and Chive flowers.
Clematis Arabella.
 The star of the show has to be my patio peony 'Athens' which is in its second year with me and looking amazing.
Even when the flower is shut up in the rain, it still looks beautiful.

Wow!  Peonies may not last long in flower, but when they are in flower, nothing else comes close to them for sheer glamour.  They get my gold award this week!

Thursday 26 May 2016

Chelsea 2016

Chelsea week is here again and I have been watching the television coverage on the BBC, as I usually do.  I haven't ever been to Chelsea but I don't feel I miss out too much as there is so much information available, All the photos are from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Chelsea website .
I must admit that I haven't felt as enthusiastic about the gardens as a whole this year, but I do have some favourites which I have chosen to share with you.  I like the formality of the Husqvana garden above, with the exuberant planting softening the lines.
 Cleve West's evocation of Devon has some beautiful touches, such as the water filled stones and the delicate planting.
 Jekka McVicar's Apothecary Garden is one I would love to have as a part of a larger garden (well, we can all dream) as it is meditative and calm as well as useful with its culinary and herbal plants.
 The planting in The Chelsea Barracks garden is lovely too - pinks and lilacs... is the LG garden planting.
 Chris Beardshaw designed the Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormond Street Hospital so it is lovely to think it will provide shade and calm for upset, worried and stressed families, once the flower show has finished.
Of course I had to include this one, the Harrod British Eccentrics garden by Diarmuid Gavin, inspired by the illustrations of Heath Robinson.  I loved Heath Robinson's illustrations for the Professor Branestawm stories by Norman Hunter. A still photo doesn't do this garden justice, but the bay trees turn, the box bushes go up and down, the border in front of the building revolves and the window boxes also go up and down.  I think the roof of the building also opens. There is lots of colourful planting too.  It made me smile!
(edited to add...)
I hadn't included the garden above (God's Own Country by Matthew Wilson) because the focus had been on a view of a rather large and dominant garden room, based on a window from York Minster on its side, with stained glass behind it, which I felt wasn't as attractive as it should have been. However, the TV coverage the other night looked at this garden from a different angle  and I felt I had judged it rather harshly, because the planting was beautiful.  The stained glass was lit up at night too, which looked lovely.  Perhaps seeing it as a whole was the secret to this garden's success, as it won the People's Choice Award.
 Yesterday, the presenters were saying how the best show garden (above) (for The Telegraph and designed by Andy Sturgeon) was 'masculine' and while men seemed to like it, women were not so keen. I appreciate the expertise and design of the garden, but it is all sharp angles and hard landscaping and doesn't appeal to me.  The interesting thing was that all the RHS judges this year were men - as one presenter said, this needs to be addressed.  Would it have made a difference to  the medals if women had made up half of the judging team?  Now there's thought...

Wednesday 18 May 2016

How long does it take to knit a scarf?

(photo from ebay)
I saw some of this Stylecraft Poodle wool a couple of years ago in a shop in town  and saw from the label '1 ball=1 scarf'.  I'm not a good knitter, in fact I can only do plain stitch and haven't ever progressed from being able to knit a scarf.  I really liked the wool which was lovely and soft, having mohair added in, and thought it looked simple enough for even me to manage. 
 So, I bought some in 'Lavender', took the label off and read the instructions.
 Four pictures, easy to follow, I thought.  However, I was completely baffled by the way the wool looked as there was a black tape at one side, with the wool hanging down from it and for the life of me, I just couldn't work out where the needles went, how you made a stitch or even how to start it off. I looked for help from the Internet and while there were stockists and people who had used it, there were no instructions for a beginner that I could find. I left it for a while...
A year or two later, I came across it again and had a brainwave - I could ask a very good knitter at work and she'd be able to sort it out.  However, she was baffled too.  I asked the lady on the wool stall at the market, but she'd no idea either.  I took it to my Mum, who is also a good knitter and she was stumped .  My mother in law, also a good knitter, couldn't work it out either.  By this time, I was ready to donate it to a good cause.  In the end, my sister worked it out and showed me how to knit it and that the stitches were made using the black tape bit.  I spent an hour or two knitting it up and she finished the ends off.
 Here it is, modelled by a dressmaker's dummy (and very nice she looks in it too).  So, it took me a good two years to knit my scarf and I don't think I shall be rushing to knit myself any more.  (I have since found out that Stylecraft is not making this wool anymore - perhaps other people have been as confused and baffled as we all were!)

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Tulip-o-rama 2016

 I am a fan of tulips (as you may know) and was eagerly awaiting this year's collection.  Due to the cold Spring we have had, they were behind by a week or two, but since the sun came out at the weekend, they are all in full flower. I grow them in pots and tubs and then transfer them to the borders.  Some do come back. Above is a combination of Negrita (the large pink), Ronaldo (the purple) and China Pink (the pale pink).
 I do like this combination - Ronaldo with Princess Irene.
 Here's a close up of Ronaldo - rich and luscious.
 My favourite Ballerina, in the border, back lit by the sun and looking luminous.
 This is Upstar, which I received in a Seasons blog swap last Autumn - thank you to Maria from Dotty's Daughter.  I like the pink and white colouring.
 They are very pretty and are brightening up the front door.
 That's a real lipstick pink.
 Princess Irene again, with delicate streaks of reds and pinks.
 This year's Ballerina, just starting to unfurl in the sun.
 Negrita, Ronaldo and China Pink in the sun.
 A random lone fringed pink tulip which was in the garden and not planted by me.  It didn't flower for a few years but appears to be back now.
 Ballerina, one Red Shine (behind to the left) and the fringed pink. Ballerina's lovely scent wafted around well in the sun.
A close up of Princess Irene.  It is a lighter orange than Ballerina and is shorter.  I am already thinking about tulips for next year...

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Questions and Answers

I was very kindly nominated for this award by Maria at Dotty's Daughter .  There are some things I need to do, which are:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2. Copy/paste the above button to your post/sidebar
3. Answer the 10 questions the person who nominated you has asked.
4. Nominate 5 bloggers you would like to share with your readers and let them know you have nominated them.
5. Create 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.

While I am really happy to answer the questions, I won't be nominating any bloggers, although I have added some some questions at the end, so if any of my lovely readers would like to take part, please do.  Here are Maria's questions:

1.  Do you prefer to drive or be chauffeured ?
I prefer to be chauffeured.  I can drive, but really don't enjoy it at all and get very stressed, so have managed to avoid it for five years!

2.  What skill or hobby would you like to learn?
In an ideal world, I think it would be silversmithing, although stone carving or wood carving also appeal. Realistically, I am going to do some crewel work, using wool rather than thread, to complete a Jacobean Tree design.  Judging from the pattern, it will take quite some time.

3.  Who is your favourite female singer?
Ooh, tricky one.  Classical singer - Joan Sutherland or Beverley Hoch (really high, beautiful coloratura soprano voices), and non-classical singer, probably Dinah Washington.
 Dame Joan Sutherland (photo from Wikipedia)
 Beverley Hoch (photo from

Dinah Washington (photo from Wikipedia)
4.  Name 3 historical people you would like to have afternoon tea with and why ?
Jane Austen, Anne Bronte and Elizabeth Siddal.  I really enjoy Jane Austen's novels, and I think she would have some wonderful observations to make.  I have always felt that Anne Bronte has been in the shadow of her two talented older sisters. but she wrote about people who did not have a voice at that time (governesses and abused wives), and tackled some social taboos from the point of view of women, so I think she would have been a fascinating person to talk to. Elizabeth Siddal was a Pre-Raphaelite model and and artist in her own right too.  She was the muse of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, became his wife and died tragically young.  I would love to find out more about the Pre-Raphaelite circle and about the models and wives from someone who was there.  
 Anne Bronte by Branwell Bronte (image from Wikipedia)
 Anne Bronte by Charlotte Bronte (image from Wikipedia)
 Elizabeth Siddal (self portrait) (image from Wikipedia)
Elizabeth Siddal at the easel (by Dante Gabriel Rossetti) (image from Wikipedia)
I think there would be some interesting (and strong) opinions voiced over the tea and scones!

5.  Your favourite beach in the UK?
Hunstanton, in Norfolk.  I spent many family holidays there, staying at a great aunt's house and have lots of happy and funny memories.

Hunstanton Cliffs (image from Wikipedia)

6.  Your favourite childhood story or character ?
Tricky one.  I liked E Nesbit's Five Children and It, The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley and many others, but if pushed, I think I'd have to choose 'The Children of Green Knowe' by L.M Boston.  I am planning to visit Hemingford Grey, the Green Knowe of the books, hopefully later this year.

7.  Your favourite thing to put on toast?
Raspberry Jam.

8.  What decor  would your "dream" home be..vintage, whitewashed/rustic , classical(Laura Ashley/Liberty) or modern?
Probably Classical - some florals, light pastel colours and nice high ceilings - square rooms would be good too.  Georgian or Victorian architecture are my favourites.

9.  Do you prefer written notes/lists or to record them onto phones/computers?
Written notes, definitely.  While I use my computer diary a lot at work, I still rely on written notes.

10. If you could swap places with someone for one week, who would it be and what would you do (or try to do)?
I would like to do something to help animals in some way, but I think that would need more than just one week.  Also, I'd be in tears most of the time, and if I wasn't crying, I would probably be really angry about all the cruelty.

Thanks, Maria - some really interesting questions there.  Well done for slogging your way through the answers!
Right, here are some questions, just in case anyone would like to answer them on their blogs.
1. What's your favourite colour?
2.  What's your favourite season and why?
3.  If you had a day off, what would you do?
4.  Period Drama or Sitcom?
5.  What's the best book you have ever read and why?
6.  Cats or Dogs?
7.  What's your favourite drink of choice?
8.  What's your favourite painting?
9.  Staycation or holiday abroad?
10. If you could go back to any time, when would it be?

If you do answer any of the questions, please let me know - I'd like to read your answers!