Monday 31 December 2012


You know it's hot when...

 The thermometer in the glasshouse is almost off the scale...

 The cat is lying in a melted puddle on the mat...

 Plants are wilting before your eyes...

 It's too hot to recline in your favourite lounger...

So you go sit under a tree and it isn't any cooler.

I have to give kudos to the weather gods, because summer's been quite satisfactory so far. Sunshine and good temperatures, with rainy days to balance it out. The garden looks good and I feel good.

Happy new year to you... and I hope life is good to you wherever you are.

Sunday 23 December 2012

How to make LED lights look softer

 I posted earlier about my cold blue LED Christmas lights, and how I'd learned that the trick to warming their light colour is just to apply some nail polish in an orange or yellow colour. Recently I was at the mall and spotted some horrible orange nail polish. After wondering to myself why anyone would paint their nails that colour, I remembered the lights.

When I got home I tried the polish on the garland in my hallway and to my great excitement, it worked.


 After. It's subtle, but they are much less garish.

The (slight) downside is that when the lights are off they are orange coloured. But no one really looks at Christmas lights when they aren't on, anyway. I'll be painting my other lights after I take the tree down.

(I'm kind of curious to get other colours of nail polish and try them out... you could have a whole rainbow of lights!)

Sunday 16 December 2012

Christmas decorating

 I didn't restrict myself to just a Christmas tree this year. I've also decorated several spots around the house including this shelf in the kitchen. It's difficult to photograph because this room only gets a little bit of early morning sunshine coming through the back door, or else in the late afternoon it beams right through the windows you can see here. I tried my best with the early morning light...

 The string of beaded lights is battery  powered so it's easy to drape over a shelf. 

I used flower frogs to display some Christmas postcards.

 The tall green tree has a white organza ribbon at the top. It's disappeared into the background here...

 Displaying baubles in a glass is a good way to add a pop of colour.

I'd love a proper Christmas village! For now I'm using my little houses and some bottlebrush trees that I need to glitter or paint or something.

 This is the window overlooking my garden. I painted a branch white and suspended it upside down by a ribbon.

These are some handmade ornaments I received in swaps.

I love my decorated kitchen this year. All the extra Christmas cooking is much more bearable with pretty things to look at! Have your decorated your kitchen?

Saturday 15 December 2012

December flowers

This month I'm making the most of the early summer stunners. The peony that I grew from a tuber dug from Mum's garden has finally flowered! It was in bud forever, at least 2 months I would say. Then suddenly the flowers opened, and in a few short days they were finished. They still did better than my shop-bought tuber, which put out some lovely leaves but no flower buds. 

Some late aquilegia are still blooming. And the miniature gladioli have burst into colour. I like the compact size of these little plants, the colours are so vivid that I wouldn't want them any bigger.

As the weather warms up, every day I go outside and something else is blooming. I love this time of year so much. Summer days forever!

As usual I'm linking up to Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Christmas, yay

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. Some years I'm into it and can't wait to decorate, and some years I'm a grinch and just want it all to be over. This year it's Christmas, yay. I put my tree up in the last week of November and have been enjoying it ever since. I went with a blue, pink and silver colour scheme, mixing it up with cheap shop-bought balls and my favourite handmade decorations from previous years. 

Last year I bought LED lights thinking they'd last longer than classic fairy lights so it would be a good investment. When I got them home and plugged them in I really wasn't too fond of the cool blue light they gave off. This year, I notice LED lights now come in either cool blue or warm yellow tones, but I'm not going to just buy a new set. Thanks to blogland, I've learned that the trick to warming up your cold LED lights is to simply paint the bulbs with nail polish in an orange or yellow shade. Of course, I found that out a couple of days after I'd set up the tree, so I'll wait till next year to try that one out. At least the blue fits in with the colour scheme!

What's on your Christmas tree this year?

Sunday 9 December 2012

Weird Cat Behaviour #7


Killing a bird and eating it under the Christmas tree.

I killed a bird, I liked it!
The taste of that chewy chaffinch.
I killed a bird, just to try it
I hope my stomach don't mind it.
It felt so wrong, it felt so right
I'll throw it back up tonight.
I killed a bird, I liked it!
I liked it!

(Weird human behaviour: writing alternative lyrics to Katy Perry songs. I didn't do it all on my own though... thanks to my mum for being as silly as me!)

Weird Cat Behaviour is an occasional series on my blog. For other weird things my cat has done, click here.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

The potager in late spring

 Late spring, almost summer. I love this time of year. It's daylight all the time, almost. Early mornings are a joy. 

 The potager is a tranquil sea of green and purple. Pansies are still turning their cheerful faces to the sun. Even though they are smothering the lavender I let them be.

 I grew all my dwarf lavender from seed since I want to use it to edge the potager. I sowed a few plants in spring last year to see how it went, and then sowed a big tray later in the summer. The spring-born plants are well ahead... bushy and covered with flower heads. The little seedlings I planted out in autumn have struggled a bit, and the ones I grew on in pots in the glasshouse and planted out this spring have done better. Hopefully this time next year they will all have filled in and be flowering well.

 Chives edge the main path. Bees love the flowers. I'll have to cut them back soon, or they'll self seed everywhere, and baby chives are hard to pry from between bricks!

 This is a sea of Desiree potatoes. They won't be far off, I hope. The carrots were sown last autumn, and have now decided to flower.

Soon the season will heat up and things will start to brown off. I'm enjoying the freshness and cool colour palette while it lasts.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Something is eating my strawberries...

... and it's not me! I see no evidence of slugs or snails and birds don't go in the glasshouse. Earwigs maybe? Those little buggers are difficult to eradicate. I had a quick spray with pyrethrum and topped up the neem granules, so I hope that works. Whoever is scarfing these berries is not even waiting until they are fully ripe, so they are getting in before I do. And it's making me MAD!

Monday 19 November 2012

Happy hangers

I recently acquired some old wooden coat hangers, with the intention of padding them up with some nice crochet jackets. I never have enough coat hangers in my wardrobe and had been reduced to using horrible thin plastic ones. So I looked up the Happy Hanger pattern by Dottie Angel. 

 The pattern didn't work very well for me at first, as you can see from the purple hanger in the background. It s t r e t c h e d so much going onto the hanger. So I made the following adjustments...
Ch 63, work first dc cluster in 3rd ch from hook. Skip 1 ch, sc, skip 1 ch, dc cluster into next ch. And so on. I ended up with 16 scallops on my piece.

I love the way these turned out... and best of all my cardies won't be stretched and puckered from the sharp edges of plastic hangers.

Thursday 15 November 2012

November flowers

This month we have the last of the spring beauties. Petals begin to fade and curl and foliage droops, but the summer stalwarts are popping up and so the spotlight shifts. I've had a few roses so far but it's mainly buds still on the bushes. When I pick them too early for vases they don't open properly so I need to be patient, which is easier said than done. The glorious pink rhododendrons are all finished now but the delphiniums are in their prime. Smiling pansy faces are everywhere.

This is the first rose bouquet of the season. The tall flower is verbascum, which is making a good show in the garden this year and lasts well in the vase. Carnations make good fillers and, I must admit, smell better than my roses do. One of these days I'll find one that's perfectly scented.

How is your flower garden this November? Have a look at Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day to see what is blooming around the world.

Monday 5 November 2012

Hall table display

This is how I styled my hall table last week. The azaleas (rhododendrons?) are beautiful but so short lived. They last a day or two in the vase and a week or two on the bush. Then the show's over. Not really worth it in my opinion; they are pretty but something more long lasting could be growing there. 

The lace on the silky mat is obviously handmade but I'm not sure how. It's not crochet or tatted... maybe it's actual bobbin lace? The embroidery is a practice one I made a couple of years ago. It was a prototype for something but I don't remember what now. 

Thursday 1 November 2012


The first rose to open fully was Sexy Rexy, just in time for the first of the month. I'd already impatiently cut the first bud from Queen Elizabeth but it's still sitting regally in a bottle vase, the petals just beginning to uncurl. The Sexy Rexy bud had frost burn on some of the petals, but it's not noticeable now that it's open. And there are several others on the bush poised to unfurl.

I've already been eating the first strawberries for about a week.  This is one of the things I love best about summer... going outside first thing in the morning to pick fresh berries for my breakfast. Hopefully it won't be too long until I'm picking fresh tomatoes for lunch!

Friday 26 October 2012

The garden is filling out

I love October in the garden. Fresh growth is everywhere, everything is filling out and if it's not blooming now, I know it soon will be. I'm so pleased with the progress of the curved garden, it's getting ever closer to the show garden of my dreams... Just needs a bit more height in there to hide the fence a bit more.

I put some terracotta long tom pots at the front of the garden. They act as a focal point, since many of the flowers have a similar hazy, cloudlike appearance from a distance. I'd like some topiary balls in these pots, possibly the NZ Cranberry/Chilean Guava (myrtus ugni). While I don't like to eat those berries, they give off the most delicious candy floss scent in summer. And stay evergreen in winter.

In the potager the chives are lining the paths with their purple fuzzy heads. Remind me to dead-head this year, or I'll end up with millions of baby chivelings trying to grow through the bricks.

I'm counting down the days to the first rose opening... it may even be this weekend! I think Sexy Rexy would be blooming by now but a late frost has shrivelled her first flower. Queen Elizabeth has a perfectly shaped bud almost open. Maybe tomorrow? Let's hope for some sunshine to bring her out.


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