Tuesday, 15 May 2012

May flowers

 There are still plenty of flowers in the garden this month. We have had one or two light frosts but nothing too serious, so there isn't much dieback yet. Still lots of seedheads and berries.

This month I tried my hand at ikebana flower arranging. I read a book which got me inspired - I love the sculptural aspect of the arrangements, and the fact that they are always seasonal and inspired by what is growing in the garden at the time. You also don't need very many stems or blooms. 

This is my attempt at a slanting moribana arrangement, using azalea branches, chrysanthemums and an unknown shrub with red berries (it was growing over the neighbour's fence).

The berries are hiding away behind the flowers - they are better viewed from above! The arrangement has been fresh for nearly two weeks now, though I may need to replace the flower heads soon.

What's blooming in your garden this month? For more inspiration, check out Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Crochet vintage stripe footstool

 This is a footstool cover I made recently. I wanted to make a sort of sampler of rows of different stitches and colours. I imagined it being a good winter evening project, with my interest being held by the changing stitches. Well, it was really fun to work, so much so that I had it finished in a week. That includes sewing in all the ends - that's how keen I was to get this baby on display!

 I worked double crochet in white around the edges and began decreasing around the corners from the 5th round. One thing I know from having made a footstool cover before is that it will stretch and eventually begin to sag, so I made it fit as tightly as possible.

There are a range of stitches in here, mostly double and half double crochet. Some rows were worked in the back loops only to leave a textured line. I also did shell clusters, spike stitch and a few lacy stitches.

I have seen some vintage blankets which use this technique - it's a great stash buster, and maybe a blanket would work up quite fast. Anyway I do suggest it if you have a hankering to try out some new stitches - it's very fulfilling.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Around the garden with Mr Lui

 On autumn afternoons Lui likes nothing better than to scamper through the leaves. He ducks under branches and sharpens his claws on trees. Sometimes he takes a running leap at the tree, gets about halfway up, then realises he's not getting any further. (And so this is a good tree to feed the birds in.)

 Often I pull a piece of flax off the bottom of the flax bush and drag it round the paths of the potager. He hides in the vegetable shrubbery and pounces when it goes past him.

Do you like my new arches? They were a Warehouse bargain, which I couldn't resist and so got two. One at each end of the main axis path. The one at the far end will have beans growing on it, and I'll extend the bean fence to go on either side of it. I'm not sure about the front one yet - I'm not sure if I want something as permanent as a rose. Maybe sweet peas? Or possibly a scented climber?

 I'm very happy with these arches. They help the potager feel more enclosed. When the lavender hedge has grown and gotten bushy it will be even better.

 The fuchsia has gorgeous glossy black berries on it. I've read somewhere that these are edible but I'm not game enough to try. They are just so black and shiny and... poisonous looking.

 These berries are from the rowan tree (sorbus). One of the streets I walk along has them growing along the roadside. The street is red zoned so they'll probably be bulldozed eventually, along with many other beautiful established trees and shrubs. The funny thing is, I'd just read an article in a library magazine about how easy it is to grow sorbus from seed. So I grabbed some berries, pulped and sieved them, and sowed the seed in a punnet outside. It needs the cold from winter first, so all going well the seed will pop up next spring. Yeah right... I can't help thinking, but there is nothing lost by giving it a go.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Autumn colour

 In the late autumn sunshine, the garden is a blaze of colour. My chrysanthemum is in full bloom, and though yellow is never my favourite colour in the garden, I can't resist these perfect sugary blooms. The interesting thing is that they won't stay this colour. The buds while opening were more of an apricot shade, and the petals will gradually deepen in colour until they are a dusky mauve. It's fascinating and lovely to see.

 The lowering sun means colours are intensified. Petals are backlit and leaves are rimmed with gold. Most of the plants are filling out and blending with each other in the blowsy, cottage garden way I was hoping for, but there is a major flaw in the scheme.

 Ugly ugly orange chrysanthemums! Oh, these make me shudder every time I step out here. They were given to me as seedlings by my neighbour from his garden. He wasn't sure what colour they would be, and I imagined there would be a bit of a colour range represented. I put the seedlings in, planning to wait and see what came up, and pull the ones I didn't like.

Well... I can't stand any of them! 1) They clash with everything. 2) The colour is just awful. 3) They remind me of the dandelions I went to such trouble to spray and remove from the lawn. Oh, their days are numbered all right. 

 I can't believe the sweet peas are still going. I sowed these in spring, and they have flowered madly from December onwards. Along with the flowers they've set plenty of seed which I'll sow again next year.

I do love autumn afternoons.


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