Monday, 21 July 2014

Flowers from summer

 I was going through my photo files recently and came across these pictures from February. With all the hustle and bustle of preparing for the house repairs I never got around to processing and posting them. Since it's raining outside and sleet is in the forecast, I'm going to look at these flowers and dream of summer for a while...

Above is a small posy I made while I stayed at my mum's house when we made the water feature. It's tiny rosebuds from The Fairy rose, and the first autumn cyclamens. Aren't these little rosebuds the sweetest? I think I'll take a cutting from the bush this summer!

 Mum was given a bunch of chrysanthemums for her birthday. I made a few bouquets with them and then floated any broken or leftover heads in this bowl, with some more fairy rosebuds.

 The pink roses are Compassion, and they smell just beautiful. Another cutting I must take this year. They are paired with some white chrysanthemums, in an amber vase which picks up the warm tones in the roses.

 Back at my house, I picked some Queen Elizabeth roses and put them with catmint and delphiniums. I love this romantic arrangement on a vintage embroidered tablecloth.

 At the end of February was the Ellerslie Flower Show, sadly the last one as it's been cancelled for being too costly and not recouping its costs. This was one of the showstopper gardens. How could I not love it as it's called Passion and is all about pink flowers!

 There are over 1000 flowering plants here. I love how girly and romantic it is, down to the flowered fabric covering the chair!

Yes those are tulips mixed in with the late summer plants. I overheard some people talking about it and apparently the designer forced all those bulbs to get them to bloom at such an unusual time. They look beautiful... not something you can really do at home, but the rest of the planting is quite inspiring. It was really nice to see a garden that was all about the flowers, rather than hard landscaping!

Well I've had a nice little walk through summer in my pictures. Now I'll cuddle up under my blanket again and wiggle my toes in their thick fluffy socks. Mr Lui is snoring beside me and we're both counting down the days until it's summer again!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

July flowers

There is plenty in flower in the garden this winter. We've had remarkably mild weather for the past three or four weeks, it's been really springlike some days but almost better, since in spring we get blustery winds. So I've spent as much time outside as possible. I feel like I've barely made a dent in the list of things to get done, but I did enlist some help in chopping down some of the wild shrubbery along the front fence line. Out came the horrible pittosporums and then I realised I had a big empty space to fill. I've got a camellia (Elfin Rose) and a snowball tree to go in there and I think some hellebores will be nice too, so I'll transplant the seedling ones that have come up.

Next it will be rose pruning and transplanting, there's more weeding to do, things to plant out, and before I know it spring will be here! Winter's been great so far, and I feel fully entitled to say that after all the rain and flooding we endured in autumn. However a cold snap is meant to move in tomorrow so I could well change my mind.

Here's what is in flower in my garden in July (clockwise from top left): Camellia Cinnamon Cindy, linaria, purple hellebore, rose hip, picotee hellebore, camellia Elfin Rose, miniature iris, winter cyclamen, hebe, jonquils, erica, daphne. Middle: scented winter posy of daphne and hellebore. I'm linking up to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens.  It's interesting to see the differences between winter gardens (southern hemisphere) and summer gardens (northern hemisphere) this month. Where does your garden come in?

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Making hanging birdseed cakes

One of my favourite things about winter is feeding the birds. I love seeing little flocks of waxeyes and finches flitting around and chatting to each other while they eat. I have two feeders in the garden, but now that we have bigger kitchen windows I wanted to be able to feed them right outside. My little apple tree was in the perfect spot, but it's branches aren't strong enough to hold a feeding tray... so I came up with an easy way to make hanging birdseed cakes.

I've posted about my birdseed cakes before, and I usually make a batch of them and put them in my other tray feeders. It's so easy though just to add a wire hanger and then you can put them anywhere.

You just need birdseed, fat or dripping, some wire to bend and some pliers to bend it with, silicone muffin trays and a large microwaveable jug.

First cut 12 lengths of wire about 30 cm long. The wire just needs to be thick enough to hold its shape when there is a bit of weight hanging from it.

Bend the wire into a rough spiral shape with a hooked end. The spiral just needs to be small enough to fit in your muffin pans.

Melt the dripping in the microwave and then add the birdseed. Spoon or pour it into the muffin trays over the wire. Put the trays into the freezer for about half an hour, then just pop the birdseed cakes out. If you have too much birdseed mixture for your trays you can just remelt it and do another batch when the first one is done. Keep birdseed cakes in your freezer, or go crazy and decorate a whole tree!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Introducing the Moonlit Night blanket

 I've started a new blanket. I've been working on this for a little while... since we got back into our house in fact, and I was able to unearth some yarn from my stash. I missed having a blanket to work on... there is security in knowing exactly what you will be working on for the next few months, especially when you have the vision in your mind and all you are doing is bringing it to life. That's how I've felt about this one anyway, I can't wait for it to be finished but I'm also enjoying every minute of the process.

I've called it the Moonlit Night blanket because of the soft grey colourway. I'm using the join-as-you-go method too which I'd never tried before and it's brilliant! Because of that I've gotten into a good routine of sewing in the ends on each square before the white round goes on, and then I sew in the white ends as I go. So there won't be such a massive end-stitch later on.

  This is a basic granny square, the most simple crochet design out there which makes it great for working on while watching TV. I'm currently watching Orphan Black season 2, which I've nearly finished and then I'll start on something else, either Sleepy Hollow, Vikings season 2 or Orange is the New Black season 2.

And to top it all off my hyacinth is blooming! How can I not be happy surrounded by cozy crochet and pink flowers. Hope you've had a great weekend too!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

China cabinet

I've just finished unpacking my china cabinet. This is an old cabinet that I repainted - it used to be a dark walnut - and changed the knobs. It has glass leadlight doors which I still need to repaint and fit. It will be great when that's done... hopefully soon (as I say to myself every few months!) but in the meantime I like it with no doors, it's quite fun to see everything inside as long as I keep it tidy!

 I had a good time unpacking my treasures and creating a little display on the top. I chose mainly white objects with highlights of green and pink flowers.

 A little selection from inside the cabinet. I like collecting trinkets both old and new. The oldest is the ammonite fossil!

 Hyacinth bulbs are enjoying the warmth on top of the cabinet, they will be blooming in a couple of weeks. I wonder what colour they will be... or if they will even bloom at all...!

 At least this one will! And it looks like it will be pink.

Can you ever have enough vases and candle holders... ?

I've now got a beautiful mantelpiece to decorate. I'd like to get a big mirror to go above it and it's not really complete until there is bunting of some description! For now it's home to houseplants and candles.

I'm so happy to be back home with spaces to decorate! It does make it easier to look past the mess and clutter in other corners. Have you decorated your home this season?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Winter gardening


 It might have been the winter solstice this weekend, but I had the best gardening day I've had in a while. There was no frost or heavy dew overnight so I was able to get out there quite early, and with a mild, mostly sunny day I managed to tick off several things on my to do list. 

First was planting garlic. The potager is a mess of weeds, but I cleared one corner and applied plenty of compost and sheep pellets. For good measure I added blood and bone and wood ash too. The garlic is some I saved from my last harvest - don't the cloves look pretty with their pink-tinted skins? I also have shallots from last harvest, and a clove of elephant garlic which I was given. I haven't grown this one before and I hope my efforts turn out as big as this beauty! I better keep up the sheep pellet application.

 I love the moss growing on the terracotta sign. Terracotta is my favourite when it's weathered and aged!


 Lui and I went for a walk to see what else was happening in the garden. He got distracted by birds, and I admired the first hellebore of the season. This lemony white beauty will be chartreuse by the end of winter! I wanted to pick it but there are more buds coming so I let it be.

 I did a lot of clearing out in this bed. It had a giant lavatera which was lovely, but was getting much too big for the space. I tried pruning it but it was like Medusa... for each branch I cut, seven more grew back! I took some cuttings and I'm planning to grow one in a big pot there instead, hopefully that will keep it under control. I also dug out some gaura bushes for the same reason, and put back some smaller cuttings. It's a bit hard to see this bed in the photo (harsh low winter sun makes garden photography difficult!) but there are daffodil leaves peeking up, hellebores budding, and at the back is camellia Cinnamon Cindy, showing her first blossoms of the season. For a bit of transitional interest I grouped together some potted polyanthus and put some ranunculus around them.

Here's the bit I haven't got to yet! That monster penstemon (far right) needs dividing. If the weather stays good I'll get onto it soon. Oh, I've also shifted two trees (one this weekend and one last weekend) and transplanted several smaller plants. Who said winter was a quiet time in the garden?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

June flowers

Here we are in winter. We've had yet more rain in Christchurch this month, although it wasn't as bad as other recent storms because we didn't bear the brunt of it this time, and the council installed new pumps which meant rivers and creeks didn't rise as high as last time. It's still pretty soggy at my house though, as short days mean that even when it's sunny nothing really dries out. I wondered if I'd have enough flowers to photograph this month because a lot of delicate petals have rotted from all the rain. Luckily I found just enough - I would have liked to be a bit more selective but at this time of year, I'm grateful for any flower I can find, no matter what condition it's in!

Today was surprisingly warm for a time, so I got out and did a little bit in the garden - I moved a shrub and a tree, and managed to weed a little bit of the potager. The ground was so soggy I shouldn't really have been on it, but I cleared enough of a space to plant my garlic soon. And I have a few trees and shrubs I need to shift, so I'll be working my way through those during the winter months while they are dormant.

Here we have some damp and dewy offerings from the June garden (clockwise from top left): camellia fairy blush, iberis, pink geranium (sheltering in the glasshouse), wintersweet (nearly over for another season), primrose, Peace rose, paper daisy buds, pansy, erica, penstemon with dewdrop, hebe (I am scratching the bottom of the barrel when I have to photograph hebes!), primrose. Middle: a scented bunch of wintersweet and camellia.

I am linking up to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Have a look to see flowers in bloom from all around the world!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Indoor bulbs for winter cheer

 I've got a few bulbs popping up early out in my garden. Mostly earlicheer daffodils. This happened last year, as I recall, and despite my worries there were still plenty of daffodils left to flower at their proper time. The early hyacinths weren't so lucky, getting soggy with rain and munched on by snails. So this year I thought I'd uproot my hyacinths before they got too comfy in the soil and bring them inside.

 I was given this great glass vase for Christmas to make a terrarium with. I still intend to do that one day, but in the meantime it's perfect for bulbs. I put some stones in the bottom and sat the bulbs on top, then carefully poured in water to the top of the stones, making sure the bulbs weren't actually sitting in the water.

 I also had a couple of empty preserving jars which I filled with decorative gravel before sitting the bulb on top.

I'm looking forward to watching these grow and flower. Once they're done I'll just swap them for fresh bulbs from the garden. Hopefully I can keep doing this right through winter!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Winter morning

Early in the morning, the rising sun is tinting the sky with palest peach. The early birds are busy, holding excited conversations in the topmost branches of the cherry tree.

Everything is still and quiet. It's going to be a beautiful winter day.

The price we usually pay for clear days in winter is a frost on the ground. It's been a good one this morning.

The rather neglected potager is coated with white. The clipped rosemary balls and lavender hedge provide the main accents here, along with some sturdy leeks ready for harvest.

Lovely Swiss chard... nothing knocks this one back! Cold weather only enhances it's rainbow beauty.

Can you hear the crrrrunch of the grass? 

Anything with water in it has frozen solid. These autumn leaves make a pretty pattern in the wheelbarrow.

Five minutes later, and the sun is gilding the top of the tree. The daily defrost begins. The birds descend on the bird feeder, and I go inside for breakfast. Don't you love the beauty of a winter morning?

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The last week in May



Here are some of my phone photos from this week. I'm still trying to unpack and organise the house. I also had to finish painting the french door frames, and as you can see, the paint hadn't finished drying before Mr Lui came wandering through. Little paw prints all over my new floor... bad kitty! A little bit of baking soda on a damp cloth took it right off though luckily.

I've started a new crochet project! More on that later, but it's a blanket. Makes me happy to be working on another one. 

I found some cushions and blankets to unpack this week! Made me feel much better to have some handmade goodness on the couch again. Lui approved too and could hardly wait for me to get up one night so he could steal my seat amongst the cushions.

The weather has been changeable - northwesterly storms ahead of southerly storms, red sunrises and frosty mornings, apricot sunsets, stormclouds followed by rainbows. Winter is here though and it's time to get used to frosty mornings again. I wish I knew where I'd packed my winter woollies like my hats and gloves, and my winter duvet and pyjamas! This weekend I'll be having a good dig through the boxes in the garage, here's hoping I find something useful and not just more stuff that needs to be organised away...

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