Thursday 22 March 2012

On my reading table - Jane Packer's Flower Course

 This weekend my dahlias were finally blooming profusely enough that I was able to pick a big bunch of them and stuff a vase really full. I've been wanting to do that all summer. Another thing I'd been wanting to do was learn how to arrange flowers 'properly', ie so that they stay where I put them in the vase and don't flop all over the place.

 Jane Packer's Flower Course covers the basics in flower arranging, with step by step photographic tutorials of techniques including a flat bouquet and a classic hand tied bouquet.

 It also has plenty of eye candy in the form of beautiful photos, showing different examples of the techniques.

It's definitely on the 'floristy' side of flower arranging, with a chapter devoted to wedding bouquets and buttonholes. But the pretty pictures were enough to inspire me, and if I can actually master the hand tied bouquet, I'll be in business!

I'm linking up to HolleyGarden's monthly book review post - click here for other garden books to read!

Thursday 15 March 2012

March flowers

Yesterday I showed you what was blooming at the flower show, and here is what has been blooming in my home and garden this month. (Well except for the stone bench one... that is a sneaky pic from the Botanic Gardens.)

I'm linking up to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Pictures from the Ellerslie Flower Show

 Here are some photos from my visit to the Ellerslie Flower Show last weekend.  I'm afraid I haven't in most cases noted the name of the garden or the designer, so I'll just have to give you my humble opinions.

This garden was the People's Choice award winner, with lily pads, lush purple velvet and a firepit in the centre.

 This garden was inside one of the marquees. I was very taken with the rustic wooden sleepers, and the 'fireplace' design - cool! I also enjoyed the plant combinations - spiky with fluffy, dark with light, flower with foliage, etc.

 This was one of my favourite combos - echinacea with feathery grass and cosmos. The purple and lime green work well together.

This was called El Templo de Bloom, and had an Indiana Jones feel to it. A waterfall, tropical plants and skulls on posts!

 Obviously the earthquake was a recurring theme. This rock garden is made from rubble.

And this garden used upside-down road cones as planters.

Other trends I noticed were white gaura - on every second garden it seemed. 

Also Japanese maples were all over the place.

 Lots of hard landscaping - although that's the case at every garden show I think! This deck had some alternate squares filled with tiny plants, which reminded me of the pothole gardening idea.

 I like the herbs and shade lovers tucked under this bench.

And how clever is this birdcage planter! Me wanty.

 This is a clever design for a small courtyard. The compost bins are under the decking! The garden also featured vege plants that had flowered and/or gone to seed - it was interesting to see 'past their best' vege plants used in a garden design.

There were lots of sculptures dotted about the place. This grassy meadow was filled with metal poppies and irises.

 A metal heron peeks out from grasses.

A monarch butterfly enjoys the show.

On the whole it was a good day out, but I didn't really feel that there were enough flowers in the display gardens. So I was thrilled to look out the window on the way home and spot this cute little cottage and garden. It was like it was put there just for me! I nearly pocketed it to take home, but I contented myself with just taking photos. And if any garden designers are reading this, this is what I want to see at the show next year: white picket fence, weatherboard walls and flowers, flowers, flowers.

Monday 5 March 2012

Feeling autumn

 After the chilly and disappointing summer we just endured, most people were hoping that autumn would be golden and glorious and Indian. No such luck! This weekend we were treated to a cold and stormy taste of things to come. Normally when there is a significant weather event the newsreaders like to give it a name; "winter chill", "polar blast" and so on. This one was a Weather Bomb. The bomb mainly exploded on the north island where roofs, trees and trampolines were flung around all over the place. Here in Chch we had gale force winds, horizontal rain, and a bloody cold Saturday. Since our chimney is halfway through being removed (thanks for your quick response, EQC) we were unable to light the fire and spent the day huddled in the kitchen with the fan heater. 

Sunday was warmer, but there is no denying it... summer is gone (if it was ever really here) and it's time to switch back into cool weather mode. For me this means as much light as possible in the form of candles, lamps and decorative lights, and as much warmth as possible from the pellet fire, blankets, hot water bottles and heaters (I'm pondering an oil heater for the kitchen which I hope will provide a nice constant warmth in the background - does anyone have experience running one of these?)

I also felt the urge to put up my Tiny Things Display Shelf again. This is momentous because it fell down in the earthquake and a lot of things got smashed, so I put it in a cupboard and put the display things in a box and really just didn't want to look at them for a while. But recently I felt that the time was right to get them out and have some pretty things to look at. So this is Tiny Things - the Autumn Edition.

I reattached the shelf to the wall and used Blu-tack in the bottom corners to hold it steady. I arranged all the bits and then carefully put little blobs of Blu-tack under each of them as well, so they are as safe as they can be.

 Green berries, acorn caps, printers letters, a tiny egg made from malachite, an ornate photo holder, a little house, a handcarved printing block, a bottle stopper, shells, dried seedheads.

 Tiny autumn flowers, a Tamsin Cooper embroidered brooch, a glass inkwell, eucalyptus nuts, a metal kina shell.

A glass inkwell, a feather from my walk last weekend, more eucalyptus nuts, a vintage perfume bottle, funny spiky seedheads, fuzzy acorn hats, and in the top right corner, a bird skull.

Sunday 4 March 2012

One year on

 Last weekend I went for a walk around the neighbourhood. My bike seems to have a constant flat tyre these days, there must be a tiny piece of something sharp embedded in the tyre or something. So rather than combining exercise with errands, I'm having to actually make an effort and Go For A Walk. The most scenic place to walk is still along the river, even though it's a pretty sad place now. The roads are rutted, cracked and full of holes. Even when the holes are patched it doesn't take long for the asphalt to wear away, since the land is still unstable and settling itself.

The saddest thing of all is the houses: lopsided, windows broken, waist high grass on the front lawns. Gardens which were once lovingly tended have gone wild and all but disappeared.

 For the anniversary of quake day, someone came up with the idea of putting flowers in all the road cones. There are A LOT of road cones around Christchurch, and that morning as I drove to work, every cone I saw was sporting a bouquet. Some were simple - agapanthus and dahlias were popular - and some were mixed posies. It was beautiful and uplifting.

The rest of the day was strange. Memories and emotions kept surfacing, especially at 12.51 when I was sitting in the exact same place I had been when the quake struck. 

I find myself thinking back to how things were a year ago - the first few days without power or water, the weeks that followed where we were unable to use water from the tap without boiling it first, the inconvenience of sewage pipes not working properly. The traffic congestion and bumpy roads (neither of which has improved much in the following 12 months!) The time spent with family who looked after me when I needed it, and friends whose support and kind wishes kept me going.

This is a bridge over the Avon River in Dallington. There was a commemoration ceremony here where people gathered to throw flowers in the river.

A couple of days before Christmas last year our neighbours came to the door. They were holding this beautiful quilt, which was made by some lovely ladies in Australia. The quilt was sent along with some others to my neighbours' church, to be distributed among people affected by the quake. They are the pastors of the church and they very kindly brought the quilt around to us as a gift. I was very touched - both to be thought of, and also that people in another country had worked together to make this loving gift to send to Christchurch and show their support.

I put the quilt of love on our bed straight away. I've spent a lot of time looking at the individual squares and feeling the good wishes of those who made them.

My thanks to the Coolum Quilters of Queensland, Australia.
♥ ♥ ♥


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