Tuesday 30 January 2024

Welcome Hellebores

I love seeing the hellebores starting to flower. While Winter is not over, they are always a promise of Spring.  These are all grown in pots and are ahead of the hellebores in the border.  Above is the rich plum/pink of Hello Ruby.
The deep colour of the petals contrasts beautifully with the green/lemon stamens.
Hellebore Eric Smithii Winter Sunshine is proving itself to be a reliable and floriferous addition to the garden. 
The pink buds open to a white/pink flower, with a touch of green.
This is Hello White Pearl which is again a reliable performer. The pink speckling is so pretty - it almost looks like a lily flower.
There are more flowers to come.
Hellebore Princess Victoria is on the way - her flowers are a deep purply/red.
This is Hellebore Harvington Pink.  It is a really pretty pink but has seemed a little shy, not flowering last year.  There are three flowers on that stem, so I shall enjoy watching them grow.

My newly planted (in December) grape hyacinths are starting to grow too so I am watching them (with some excitement!).  They should have a pale blue flower.  I do like this time of year with the promise of lovely things to come.

Thursday 18 January 2024

Slow Drawing and a new pen

I have been enjoying joining in with Slow Drawing with Amy Maricle at Mindful Art Studio since last summer.  I have mentioned her on my blog before, but wanted to focus on her for this post and share the joy! I thik she started the slow drawing classes during 2020 but I only found them last year.  She was an art therapist and has created lots of courses, as well as the weekly slow drawing class (in the UK, on a  Wednesday at 6 pm, but the videos are available until Friday).  She provides a prompt and an example each week,  (except for a break over Christmas) and I have been loving it.  There is a quiet meditation, just to help focus on the here and now and then the drawing for the remainder of the hour.  

I have been surprised just how much I like using simple media - a black waterproof pen, watercolour card and sometimes watercolours.  From next week, to get the link to the video, you will need to be on her mailing list, but it is free.  I have been using a Uniball Eye micro pen, which is really good and is my go to permanent black pen, but I decided to buy the pen Amy recommends, as she is trying to not use non-refillable pens.     

This is the Lamy Safari fountain pen with an extra fine nib.  It can be used with cartridges but I bought a converter so it can be refilled with ink. I tried it out last night and it was very good.
This was the pattern last night - the patterns are usually taken from nature - and I found the repetitive lines very relaxing to draw.  
Here is my index book with all the patterns I have drawn so far...page 1...
...and pages 2 and 3.  Initially, the patterns seem complicated, but they are broken down to make them easy to draw. 

I have taken a couple of her courses which I enjoyed, particularly 'Little Book of Wonder'.  I thoroughly recommend Amy's book too - Draw Yourself Calm.  I am looking forward to adding to my index book as well as to the little journals I made when taking her classes and using my new pen much more.

Sunday 14 January 2024

First cards of 2024 and first plants in flower

I have started making cards for 2024 and these are first ones.  Some simple stamped thank you cards - I really like the sketchy style of these floral stamps.
This was a birthday card for a friend who likes pink.  I used die cut flowers in the background which was an idea I saw last week during a Sizzix die release by Tim Holtz. If you would like to know more, it is all available on his blog here. He shows fantastic ideas by his very talented makers team, so I always try to watch the releases and lives if I can.
In the garden this Rhodanthemum Casablanca has surprised me by flowering throughout December and now into January.  I have lost two of these plants before, so am doubly surprised by this one.
This snowdrop is the one nearest to being fully open.  It is in a pot and is Galanthus Elwesii.. The ones in the border are nearly there and will no doubt feature in a week or two.   
Here is Hellebore Ericsmithii Winter Sunshine, braving our colder temperatures.  We are due more frosts next week, so I shall be checking on the garden as the week progresses.

Thursday 4 January 2024

2023 - a year in plants

I had seen a lovely idea for a review of plants during 2023 on a blog I follow (Elephant's Child - the blog owner is in Australia) and she said she would like to see my version, so here it is.
January 2023 is Winter flowering honeysuckle, (Lonicera Fragrantissima or Purpusii) which has small flowers, but on a sunny day they pack a punch of lily of the valley scent.  
February is the 'common' snowdrop - Galanthus nivalis.  One of my all time favourites.
March had to be the daffodil - Narcissus Tete a Tete.
April is Tulip Ronaldo, which for me is a reliable repeat flowerer and lasts well in the garden.
May is the Allium, which could be Purple Sensation or Globemaster.
June is all about the roses in my garden and here is Rosa Eyes for You.
July is Salvia Amistad which was a joy and delight all the summer and into Autumn and Winter.
August is Hibiscus Syriacus Oiseau Bleu, again a reliable and beautiful plant.
September is Helianthus Lemon Queen which is a perennial sunflower and can be a bit of a thug. I love the cheerful flowers.  
October is Liriope Muscari which is left to its own devices and flowers away each year.
November is Salvia Cerro Potosi which is a vibrant fuchsia colour and continued to flower through the summer and right up to December in 2023. 
December is represented by Camellia Yuletide and it did flower in December 2023.
So, there is my review.  I could have chosen many others, such as clematis, hydrangeas, astrantias, jasmine, miscanthus etc, but they all get their moment on my blog during the year anyway.  I wonder what plants will do well in the coming year?

Monday 1 January 2024

Happy New Year 2024 - making plans

Happy New Year and I would like to send you good wishes for 2024. Yet again, the year seems to have gone quickly, so it is time to look forward with plans for 2024 and revisit aims from last year.

Photo from the TV of the Fireworks in London

Read interesting books - this is never a difficult one for me.  Reading is one of my main hobbies and I enjoy the 'me time' which reading gives.  I have done pretty well again this year and have read a total of 87 books.  Some old favourites, such as Miss Marple and Jane Austen.  There have been some which I found out about from the TV book programme, Between the Covers, such as The Dictator's Wife by Freya Berry and The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley by Sean Lusk. There were a couple which sounded interesting, such as The Lost Bookshop by Evie Woods and The Last List of Mabel Beaumont by Laura Pearson.  Then there was Pandora's Jar by Natalie Haynes, which I heartily recommend if you like the Greek myths. This exploration of some of the women in the stories is fascinating as in the retelling over the centuries, they have had a 'bad press', which Natalie sets out to put right.  

All the photos above and below are from the Care December 2023 course (the Blue Edition)
Be Creative (using what I have) - I always try to use my supplies before buying more. However, I have bought a few things (!) over the year. This is OK as long as I do actually use them but I need to have a sort out of my stash and donate supplies which I haven't used.   I have taken part in a few monthly/weekly challenges/workshops, such as Artful August in January, Index Card a Day during June and July and Care December. I have completed my Wanderlust year long course and enjoyed continuing to learn about different media.  I have signed up to Wanderlust 2024 to keep this going.  I also signed up to, but haven't yet completed, two courses with Kate Crane.
I started to do a Wednesday slow drawing class with Amy Maricle and loved that quiet and relaxing hour, so that will be continued. I also did some online workshops with her (Watercolours, Little Book of Wonder and Magic and Mist) and really enjoyed them.  I did another online watercolour class, incorporating a writing element, with Joanne Sharpe and have signed up to her year long Whimsies, Words and Watercolours course, so there is plenty to keep me busy and learning there. I also plan to focus more on lino printing and collage.

Get rid of or donate things I no longer want or need - I have made a little progress with this, but need to focus more on it as I have accumulated far too much stuff over the years!  I find it really difficult to sort things out but must make it a habit. 

Take more notice of nature - being a gardener does help me to stop, be aware of and enjoy nature. Just being able to stop and observe or stop and listen gives that mindfulness which is important in our busy lives. I always have plans for the garden and this year, I need to pot on my roses, patio cherry tree and patio apple tree.  A bit of rearranging and sorting out there and in the shed won't go amiss either!

Sadly, I haven't visited any other gardens this year, which is something I do enjoy, so I am aiming to put this right in 2024. There are two in particular on my list, York Gate near Leeds (described as a beautiful Arts and Crafts garden) and The Manor at Hemingford Grey, near Ely, (which was the home of Lucy M Boston who wrote the Green Knowe stories) so I must make an effort and get out there.

So those aims are now plans for 2024.  It will be interesting to review them this time next year.