Sunday, 15 September 2019

Favourite plants in September

 While things may be starting to turn autumnal, there is still lots to enjoy in the garden at the moment.  This combination of Japanese anemone, fuchsia and geranium Rozanne makes me smile.
Seeing a Red Admiral butterfly enjoying the buddleia was also a happy moment.
 
 The asters are also in full flower.
I am collecting a few more fuchsias...this is Rivendell (bought last year at RHS Chatsworth).
 Bella Rosa (I think)...
and Lady Thumb, all looking good.
 Hardy cyclamen are so delicate and beautiful - these are something I look forward to seeing every autumn.
 I think this is cyclamen Rose something - I shall have to check!
 Aster Little Carlow which is always a good flowerer.
Finally, my miscanthus are doing well and adding some elegance to the borders.
 This is 'Morning Light'...
...and here is Starlight.  Just some of my favourites at the moment.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Gardeners' Question Time

Chris and I were very lucky to be able to go to a recording of Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time which took place in Lincoln last Tuesday night.  It's a programme I always try to listen to on a Sunday afternoon and to be at a recording was a bit of a bucket list opportunity.  We duly arrived at the time specified and were entertained by a playlist of music all with gardening or plant associations, such as 'A good year for the roses' by Elvis Costello, 'Flowers in the Rain' by The Move and the slightly more tenuous 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay' by Otis Redding.
Chris took the opportunity to take a photo before the evening got going
A man came onto the stage and gave the safety information as well as announcing the first set of questions and those people were asked to sit on the front row.  Kathy Clugston, the presenter, then introduced herself and the panel, Matt Biggs, Pippa Greenwood and Mathew Wilson.  There were lots of interesting questions ranging from dealing with pests and diseases to renovating trees, how best to use chicken manure and everything in between.  (Sadly, neither my question on pruning a hibiscus and Chris' on dealing with a plantaholic wife who has used every space in their small garden weren't chosen.)
What I found most interesting was the interplay between the presenter and panel; face pulling and gesturing to show that a panellist wanted or didn't want to contribute, being the most obvious.  Kathy Clugston also had to keep the pace right, deal with comments from the producer in her earpiece, re-do some linking pieces and introductions, think of suitable comments to round off each question while  remaining calm and relaxed - not an easy role at all.
Chris said he had really enjoyed the evening too, which is high praise as he is not really a gardener.  The shows will be broadcast on 20th September 2019 and 18th October 2019 and it will be fascinating to hear the final edited versions. 

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Latest cards and papercraft experiments

I have had a few birthdays to make cards for over the last month. 
 This Daisy edger will be quite versatile as you can put it onto different backgrounds and it will look different every time.  This needs to be put onto a card.
 I need to stick this stencilled flower panel onto a card too.
 This card was for Chris' Mum and I think she liked it.
 Two more experiments with a new die - using watercolour crayons...
 ...and watercolour paints.
 This card was for a colleague at work.
 I made this tag for our friend, Rachael, who starts an MA in September.
 I hope this quote will keep inspiring her.
Finally, an 80th birthday card for a friend who will be travelling to Australia and Canada to see relatives.  I thought this was quite appropriate for him!
I have been working in my art journal too and sewing, gardening and reading.  It is back to work tomorrow after a very nice week off but there will be more crafting at the weekend.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Serendipity and a trip into my childhood memories of Hunstanton

I was walking past a little bric a brac shop at the end of the street the other day and was stopped in my tracks.  I spotted the little dish in the window and was convinced it was the pattern I remembered from a house in Hunstanton which belonged to my Great Aunt Margie and which we stayed in every year (usually off season!). 
 I bought the little dish and have since found out it was made by Midwinter around the 1930s - 1940s and is stamped with 'Brama' on the base.  I always asked to have the plate as I just loved the lady in her crinoline in the garden and the gold pattern.  Since then, I have seen many similar looking patterns but was never sure they were right.
The house we stayed in was at Hunstanton in Norfolk and was 28, Victoria Avenue.  I loved going there as you never knew what you would find.  The house was often rented out to friends and relatives and sometimes had other less than welcome visitors, who took advantage of it being occasionally empty.  Often, on arrival, Mum would have to spend some time sorting the toilet out.  One year, there was a big hole just inside the door and we all had to jump over it to get in.
It was a magical place to me though, with old metal spring mattresses which would attempt to throw you off the beds if you sat down too heavily.  There were two cane chairs with wooden poles which you could move into slots to adjust the angle of the back.  There were huge prints of coronations or parliament gatherings and pictures of John the Baptist.  There was a little ornament of the three carved monkeys, 'Hear, See and Speak no evil'.  There were some books that I remember - Howdy Doody with Princess SummerFallWinterSpring and one called 'Horace, the little black pig'.  There was a toaster (probably from the 1930s), which had sides that let down to place the bread in and then were put back up to toast.

Of course, Hunstanton itself was a wonderful place for a child.  At that time, at the end of the promenade, there was a fair with a proper Helter Skelter (removed in 2000 and according to the internet, renovated and available to hire) and my favourite Gallopers.  There was a lovely beach, striped cliffs,  crazy golf, roller skating rink, ice cream booths, cream cakes, knickerbocker glories and fish and chips.  There were two playgrounds, one with the 'Life on the Ocean Wave/Witches' Hat' ride, long since banned due to Health and Safety. There was a shop called Guise Brothers which sold buckets and spades, flip flops, nets, rock, and lots of other things necessary to a seaside holiday. There is a Green and we used to enjoy eating fish and chips while watching the sun go down.
We went back to Hunstanton in 2007 and found 28, Victoria Avenue.  It was looking rather better than it had done.  We were always told that HG Wells had lived there, but we were not convinced about that.  Why would he have lived here?  However, it was true - well, he certainly must have visited here.
The house is now included on a trail and has its own plaque!  (I did ask the owner's permission to take the photos, but I expect the owner is used to people stopping and and photographing now).  So, after all this time, finding the little dish with the pattern I remember has brought back many happy memories of many happy times at Hunstanton.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

The ebb and flow of hobbies

I am a person who has a lot of hobbies.  Reading, Crafting, Gardening, Jewellery making, Baking...the list goes on.  In 'Crafting', there is a whole load more - Sewing, Lino Printing, Silk painting, Gelli plate printing, Card making, Felt making, Paper crafting, Art Journaling...
As with everything, there is an ebb and flow and I have decided to put some of my hobbies on the back burner for the moment. Felt making is one - for a few reasons:
  • Felt making is an autumn/winter occupation for me as it is a very physical activity with all the rolling that is necessary to felt the wool
  • I need to devote a whole morning to making a few pieces
  • I need to clear the whole of the table to work on
  • I made so much for the craft fair a few years ago, I am a bit 'felted out' still and I am just not feeling all that inspired to make felt pieces at the moment
Lino printing and silk painting are other hobbies which I am not doing at the moment either, even though I do enjoy them.  Jewellery making was also something I was doing a lot of (and spending a lot on, of course!), but now it is more if I need something for a birthday or something for me (I do need to make some blue earrings for myself).

My other crafts are easier to set up and tidy away and I can do some of them for just a few minutes should I need to.  Of course, this doesn't mean I won't come back to felting (particularly in the autumn and winter) but that other things have more of an interest to me at present.
 I am loving the gelli plate printing and have been following a tutorial and making 'galaxies' as well as learning more about layers.   
Here are some of my galaxy prints.  I also created some interesting ghost prints on the way to making these.
 I am continuing to work in my art journals - the rainbow textured page above...
...and the printed page below are two of my most recent (the washi tape says 'let's enjoy this day' but doesn't show up well in the photo).  I really enjoy the way I can pick up a page, do a bit and then put it down again as the mood strikes me.  Card making is always useful and I shall continue that too - little projects that have a finished product as well as an enjoyable process.
So, I shall continue with the hobbies that I am interested in and no doubt, there will be more activities which come and go with time.  One great thing about hobbies though, they will wait patiently until you pick them up again.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Things to enjoy in the garden

 Despite the odd weather - it is really windy today which is unusual for August - there is still lots that I am enjoying in my little garden.  Butterflies have been visiting the buddleia - a tortoiseshell above.
 The combination of agapanthus and roses is making me smile.
A peacock butterfly on the buddleia.
 
 My cosmos were severely curtailed by slugs and snails, but the ones that have survived are flowering well.  The white stripe on 'Dazzler' intrigued me.
 A new rose this year, Olivia Rose Austin, looking perfect.  This rose so far has proved to be healthy and considering this is the first year with me, has been very floriferous.  There is a slight fragrance but it is delicate.
 Hibiscus Syriacus Oiseau Bleu still flowering away and adding a touch of the exotic.
 I forget about this phlox and each year it comes back, delighting me with the sugar pink flowers.  It is in poor soil, behind a rose bush, but despite that, it seems to be happy.
 Clematis Wyevale which has a soap-like fragrance and these small blue flowers held on thick stems.
 Rose Winchester Cathedral, with a second flush of flowers.
 Rose Olivia Rose Austin again - I love the flower shape of this rose. 
 Rose The Pilgrim - my only yellow rose.
When I see the japanese anemone 'Bowles' Pink' flowering, it is heralding the end of summer but in a joyous and colourful way. 
Japanese Anemone Bressingham Glow which continues to brighten the garden.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Following the creative muse

 I decided that I was going to work on my second art journal today, so in readiness, last night I prepared two pages with brown paper.  I was going to paint them and then stick paper circles on them, although I decided to add another layer by sticking some torn text on top.  I was telling Chris about University Challenge on Monday night where one of the questions was to identify which books were used for some blacked out poetry.  (The only one I knew was the Pride and Prejudice one).  I thought it was a really interesting idea.
I was looking at a page and these words just jumped out at me.  So my original idea was postponed and I ran with this one.  The words made me think of darker colours and images, so off I went with the gel plate to make the background using black, copper and gold.  I then added some stamps (trying to find some suitably grungy or gothic or just 'dark' images.  (I realised I didn't have all that many, so made do with what I found).  I then printed the words using a stamp set and placed them so that the original inspiration words could still be seen. 
It wasn't what I had planned to make at all, but somehow, it came together quite easily and I am pleased with the end result.  It's quite a change from my usual colours and style, but I do like it.  Chris really liked it too. 
Sometimes, you just have to follow where things lead you...

Sunday, 28 July 2019

In the garden in late July

 Having just had a very hot week (well, hot for the UK) and then torrential rain yesterday, some plants are flowering a little earlier than they would normally.  Above is Agapanthus Navy Blue.
 Here is Agapanthus Silver Baby which has the faintest tinge of baby blue to the edge of the flowers.  I would normally expect them to flower in August.  Incidentally, they didn't flower all that well last year and this year, I potted them on.  Listening to an Agapanthus grower on TV at one of the RHS shows, it seems that they need to be potted on annually, split when they get too big and given space (rather than being crammed in, which was the general wisdom) and fed.  It has made a difference to mine this year, so I need to add that into the Spring maintenance schedule.
My lovely Hibiscus Oiseau Bleu is flowering earlier than in the past.  It looks like it has leaned over a bit this year or maybe it is just bigger so it seems to be taking up more space.
 My blue hydrangea is looking lovely and still blue, which is encouraging.
 Clematis Blue Angel is flowering away (even if some of the petals have been eaten by marauding snails).
 Hydrangea Arborescens Annabelle is flowering beautifully too.  I cut her back really hard in Spring, but she has responded well.
 Hydrangea Dark Angel is also putting on a good show.
 Hydrangea Little Lime is a new to me plant with lime green flowers which age to pink.  So far, it is doing well.
 Hydrangea Merveille Sanguine is also looking good...
 with the creamy green flowers which age to a fuchsia pink.
Finally, on this Hydrangea-fest, here is 'Fireworks', flowering well.