a way of life...

Category: Garden (Page 1 of 5)

Star Shaped Flowers

Springtime has arrived in the garden big time over these past few days. The bees are buzzing around the blue and purple garden where the alliums are at their best.

As these plants are so easy to grow there is always an abundance in the borders and in the cutting garden as well. It’s no wonder the bees are attracted to them with their dozens of star shape flowers forming a single bloom.

I’m not a fan of formal flower arrangements, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, but I can’t resist a few freshly cut stems from the garden.

Currently, I have a gorgeous storm lantern in my dining room which doubles as a vase. It sits on a little Ikea table which I painted and crackle-glazed with Annie Sloan products a couple of years ago now.

The alliums were an absolute gift as both their height and colour suited the room perfectly.

Since Christmas time this particular vessel has been filled with a mix of faux and fresh florals. I interchange these as the seasons change and tie them in with whatever colour scheme I have chosen for the dining table.

I wonder if you can tell which of the eucalyptus, pussy willow, and alliums are real and which are faux?

HACK

Use seasonal blooms when combining fresh and faux flowers to carry off the illusion.

A Different Perspective

I imagine the COVID-19 pandemic has touched all of our lives in one way or another and forced as to look at everything with a different perspective.

Instead of going for a run last night I went for a leisurely stroll. No longer rushing due to time constraints I was able to amble through my local village and enjoy the peace and quiet that the reduced amount of road traffic has created.

I smiled as a saw a number of skips on people’s drives as only last week our dustcart drove past as it was full to overflowing. It did return a while later explaining that as so many people were clearing out their garages there was a lot more refuse than normal.

I also raised a grin when I saw a lady jet washing her paving and a gentleman painting his fence. Oh my, what lovely clean and tidy homes we will have by the time the lockdown comes to an end.

There was another chap hacking at a hedge. I’m not sure if this was out of sheer frustration as there didn’t appear to be any rhythm to his attack on the innocent leafy bystander.

With our beauty salons closed for business, manicuring has a whole new meaning, as I witnessed endless lawns mown and strimmed to within an inch of their lives.

I have to admit that Staying Home has provided endless opportunities for me to titivate our house and garden. There is barely a weed to be seen in the allotment and my tatty garden furniture has been given a whole new lease of life with a coat of Neptune Old Rose eggshell.

Similarly, paint that I bought for the garage at the end of last summer has suddenly emerged from the depths of the cupboard. The wooden exterior is now a lovely rich barn black whilst the window frames are F&B’s Light Blue gloss. Even the garden gates and picket fence that I had condemned look brand new after a lick of black paint.

I have taken delight in the fact that I no longer plan according to the day of the week but more according to the weather forecast. So here I am today back in my “she shed” catching up with paperwork as the raindrops lightly water the newly planted beans and sit proud on the freshly painted chairs.

Stay Home – Stay Safe

HACK

Now that our local recycling centre is closed I have not been able to dispose of my grass cuttings. I learnt recently that these can be used as a mulch around trees, shrubs, roses and even amongst some vegetables. Apply in thin layers and top-up weekly to suppress weeds.

Seeds Of Optimism

It strikes me that gardeners are an optimistic bunch. We plant seeds and bulbs with an air of expectation not knowing what the coming weeks or months will bring. We presume that as we sow we are creating a “thing”. Be it a flower, or a vegetable, we have the end result to look forward to.

In the Autumn, when I planted the bulbs to create my “Plant Theatre”, I, like the rest of the world, had no idea of what was round the corner.

The tulips, grape hyacinth, and Ipheion, are oblivious to the ensuing chaos. They soak up the warmth of the sun, and shelter from the wintry breeze, bringing joy at these uncertain times.

During this period of social distancing I have had the benefit of having a garden to enjoy. Being out in the fresh air, working hard prepping for the coming months, has provided me with a distraction from the media.

More by coincidence, then foresight, I had made plans for my allotment well in advance of the current lockdown. This allowed me time to acquire seeds, compost, and fertiliser to start the whole process of growing vegetables for the coming months.

As such, I was delighted when my parcel arrived from Sarah Raven last week. Duly isolating it for 72 hours, today I had the pleasure of unpacking, and cataloguing, the contents.

24 packs of seeds to plant between now and October, and the prospect of harvesting the produce over the next 12 months. If that’s not optimism I’m not sure what is!

My hope is that as my seeds turn to shoots, and the shoots turn to plants, that we will have a fantastic summer to embrace.

Guess I better get digging…

The Savill Garden

A visit to the Savill Garden visitor centre earlier this week ticked all my boxes.

A lovely stroll in the tranquil wooded gardens, followed by a nice cup of tea, and finally a wander round the gift shop. What’s not to like?

This architectural gem was designed by Glen Howells Architects, Buro Happold and Engineers Haskins Robinsons Waters.

It was opened in 2006 by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Not unlike the shop at Wisley Gardens in Surrey it is stocked with colourful homewares and children’s toys and books.

Soft furnishings by Weaver Green

Seasonal silk blooms mingle with an assortment of environmentally friendly soft furnishings.

Pastel pinks and cool greys provided a clear direction for my post-festive house styling.

The Savill Garden gift shop is open from 9.30am to 6pm during Summer, and 9.30am to 4.30pm in Winter – every day apart from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Alresford, Hampshire

Alresford, home of the Watercress Steam Railway Line, is a small town which lies just north of Winchester in Hampshire.

In search of Susie Watson Designs I took a trip there after a morning spent in Farnham.

West Street

The shop is located at 16 West Street amidst a plethora of independent retailers much to my delight.

So many shops – so little time

The purpose of my visit was to buy some red and white hand painted candles to display in two brass holders which I had retrieved from our garage.

I also bought a beech and ivory fan edge trimming which had been reduced by 50%. It will provide a luxurious finish to a Neptune Emma Sage linen that I have for making some scatter cushions.

Broad Street

Just around the corner in Broad Street I came across another parade of specialist interior and gift shops.

The Alresford Linen Company housed an array of fashionable clothing and jewellery, interior accessories, and gifts, including a colourful selection of candles.

A couple of doors down Lavenders has an eclectic mix of greetings cards, gift wrap, and miscellany.

Having achieved my aim, and a lot more besides, I decided it was time to leave this gorgeous Georgian town for a tad more exploring…

The Long Barn

Having arrived at Alresford on the B3047 I had passed The Long Barn at The Old Sheep Fair, Bishops Sutton Road.

Curious to find out more I pulled off the road and into the extensive car park. With fairy lights twinkling in the late afternoon light I was immediately smitten.

To a newby it is an extremely glamorous garden centre with integral café and shopping. That said, the quality of the merchandise is of the highest standard and the café was absolutely buzzing.

The garden store itself is modest in size but has an interesting selection of trees, plants, shrubs, and rusted metalwork. There is even a little shop that sells vintage finds.

I have to own up to not realising at the time of my visit that lavender is grown on this site and that it is used to create the Long Barn’s own goods from its annual crop.

I was so pleased that I chose to drop by and would certainly recommend a visit to this favoured destination.

Whoopee It’s Winter

Sitting on the floor in my studio, surrounded by magazines from over ten years ago, I decided it was time for a serious clear out.

With the recycling bin to the ready I started to thumb through Country Living magazines circa 2002!

I was neither diligent, nor meticulous, but as an article snagged my attention I removed it from the journal and put it to one side.

Very soon I had numerous piles covering my favourite topics; interiors (of course), gardening, recipes, and travel.

Interiors

“Exuberant” was a 2002 description that caught my eye, as the current trend for pared back style couldn’t be more different.

Warm, rich colour schemes, championing florals, nature, and cosy blankets, were at the heart of the featured homes.

I was immediately inspired to add some seasonal charm to our cottage. Putting on one side the pale greys and pinks of the summer I quickly uncovered a red, nature inspired, tablecloth with matching napkins.

Add to this heavy, interlined, Andrew Martin curtains, and suddenly the room felt warm and cosy and ready for the shorter days ahead.

Winter ready

My nod to current trends was the addition of my recently acquired cushion from ALSO Home. With its slogan, “LOVED At First Sight” I thought it added a little 21st century pizazz to the room.

Gardening

Looking at photographs of prairie planting schemes with ornamental grasses interspersed with the fading colours of autumn perennials are an inspiration for next year’s planting scheme.

Currently I am allowing our garden to die back so that the seed heads will provide additional food for the visiting birds.

I also like to collect pine cones so that I can paint them with subtle metallic colours and display them in glass vessels with fairy lights and faux candles. Oh so seasonal!

Recipes

A lot of the recipes that caught my eye were based on seasonal garden produce, such as pumpkins, carrots, onions, pears, and apples.

It reminded me that there were pumpkins in the allotment ready to harvest with which I could make a delicious, heart warming soup.

It is also time to collect seeds from the runner beans and pumpkins to dry and store for planting next spring.

I will leave the orange and purple carrots in the ground as a means of storage and harvest as required.

Travel

Not everyone wants to escape the UK for a dose of winter sunshine. People like me who enjoy the changing seasons will wish to stay firmly in this country and enjoy what it has to offer at this time of year.

Harsh frosts temporarily change the garden landscape into winter wonderlands whilst recent strong winds have removed many of the remaining leaves from trees to reveal skeletal formations.

Fireworks over the river

I love to embrace this time of year.

The excitement of the winter celebrations that start in October and run through to the New Year are reason enough to stay here, at home, and enjoy them while they last.

I hope you enjoy them too!

Ornamental Poppy

This ornamental poppy has literally just put in an appearance in my herbaceous border. Self-seeded from a plant on the far side of the garden this healthy specimen has found a home amongst the lupins, alliums, and hostas. This is great news as the surrounding plants provide support for its oversized flower heads. These resemble soft tissue paper in the palest of pinks and create a stunning addition to this early summer display. I couldn’t have planned it better myself!

Taste of Design Roadshow

The 2019 Taste of Design roadshow took place between 14th and 22nd May. Choosing some of the UK’s finest locations it travelled from Hylands House in Essex to Leigh Court in Clifton.

Taste of Design VIP invitation

I caught up with it in the glorious gardens of Painshill Park in Surrey.

Located in one of the two walled gardens at Painshill this was the ideal setting to enjoy the hospitality of the organisers and to view the latest collections of more than twenty luxury brands.

Whitehead Designs Ltd – Arundel sofa

This wasn’t my first visit to Taste of Design but it was the first time that I encountered furniture manufacturer Whitehead Designs Ltd.

Struck by a publicity shot of their Arundel chaise sofa In Interior Designer magazine I sought them out at the show. Upholstered in this fabulous blue Roma Miro cotton-linen union fabric the reality very much lived up to the expectation.

An exhibitor who I have met at the show before was Kinkatou of London. Creators of a handmade range of lighting and accessories their stand is always a joy to observe.

My absolute favourite was the Zoe table lamp. Standing 51cm tall with its pleated pink shade and decorated with gold balls it really appealed to me.

Roger Oates brochure

Another stand to which I was drawn was that of carpet manufacturer Roger Oates. Well known for their exquisitely flat-woven stair runners they also manufacture colourful bespoke patchwork rugs.

Titley & Marr fabrics

Amidst the fabric designers the one that caught my attention was Titley and Marr. Attracted by their colour palette and diversity of designs their collections are both classic and contemporary.

My visit may have been brief but it was most satisfactory. With new contacts and some fresh ideas I felt well-equipped for my next project.

Tulips

I promised to update you with my Sarah Raven tulips once a few more had bloomed.

I planted these stunning bulbs at the beginning of the year and have been delighted with their progress.

With several different varieties they have flowered continually since the middle of April and are still going strong.

I’ve been watering them regularly due to the dry weather and I think that this has helped prolong the flowering period.

Spring Has Sprung

Despite the frosty mornings and overcast April days spring has sprung in my garden.

This past weekend I reaped the benefits of my end of year planting as the very first tulips started to unfurl.

Although I didn’t actually manage to plant these bulbs out until after Christmas I am delighted that they have made such a spectacular appearance.

This stunning example was just one variety from the “Fill Your Vases Tulip Collection” that I ordered from Sarah Raven in November last year.

The colours of this particular specimen are reminiscent of a Guy Fawkes’ night bonfire.

They are so delicate to the eye that they appear to be made of silk organza.

With some fine weather due this week, through to the Easter weekend, I think we are in for a real treat.

I can’t wait for the later varieties to reveal their inner beings. If they’re anything like these forerunners they will certainly be a sight for sore eyes.

With this in mind I will update you with some more fabulous photos at the first opportunity.

Happy Easter!

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