Tuesday, 26 August 2014

August snapshots

So it's the end of August already! I've been a bit slack with my blogging... it's that time of year when I'm sick of winter, drained of motivation and just waiting for the extra daylight hours to kick in again. There's still a month to go till daylight savings (I'm counting down) but today when I got home from work there was enough daylight for me to go out to the garden and harvest a leek and some broccoli. It's such a relief to be able to do that! That and other small things, like emptying the rubbish bin or fetching something from the garage, are just so much easier when it's daylight. So bring it on.

Here are some of my recent pictures from Instagram. (At first I thought Instagram was just another trend but now I'm really appreciating it as a quick and easy way to document daily moments...If you want to look me up on Instagram I'm here!)

Hellebores are still the flower of the moment but their time is nearly up. My favourite this year has been the picotee - white with a dark purple edge - which looks gorgeous glowing in the garden, in a vase, and floating in a teacup so you can better see its pretty little face. I also got a new hellebore - Tutu - and it was so potbound that the first thing I did was soak it in water, then slice down the middle to create two plants. They didn't flower much after that but I planted them out in the garden and they'll be away next year.

On the crochet front, I made a couple of dishcloths. I'll do a full post about them soon as they turned out well. The pink one above made a pretty scalloped pattern.

And last weekend I assembled a flat pack bookcase for my reading corner. I ended up with 20 dowels left over, which I eventually realised were supposed to help anchor the shelves to the walls, but I couldn't be bothered redoing the whole thing to put them in. They were completely missed out of the instructions which were hard to follow anyway - you know those line drawings which make it look like the whole thing assembles itself! Anyway, it feels very sturdy so I happily filled it with all my books. There is a little room for expansion but not very much, so I'll either have to have a purge or buy another bookcase. The book stack above is my latest library haul, this should be just enough to last me a month as long as none of them turn out to be duds (they haven't so far).

That's about it for the last week in winter! I probably shouldn't be in such a hurry to wish it gone, as there are plenty of jobs to get done, like cleaning the glasshouse, before the busyness of spring arrives. But actually I can't wait!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

August flowers

Welcome to my garden for a small taste of what's blooming this August! I did wonder if I would find anything new to photograph at all, as it's definitely feeling like the tail end of the season now and anything still flowering is looking a bit tired. However there were a few surprises, like the jasmine I found trespassing over the fence into the neighbour's yard. When I pulled it back that particular part of the vine was covered with flowers! I am not sure why my flowering vines do this - no matter which side of the fence is sunniest, they always seem to push their way to the neighbour's side and flower there. Of course the neighbours don't mind at all, but I feel a bit put out. Plant - you flower for me, got it?

There are also small buds now to be seen on dormant plants like clematis, fruit trees and spring flowering shrubs. It won't be long now before everything bursts forth.

Clockwise from top left: snowdrop, a new hellebore called Tutu (see the frilly petals inside? And it was on sale so it's all right!), the first blossom on my almond tree (I hope the rest of them hold off till spring is a bit closer), polyanthus, ipheion uniflorum, camellia fairy blush (looking blossom-like in this picture, but it's been flowering since May), earlicheer daffodils, paper daisy, an opening bud of hellebore Pink Lady, the surprise jasmine, daphne (still smelling gorgeous), picotee hellebore.

Special mention goes to this picotee hellebore, mainly because I really like this photo. How is your garden blooming this month?

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

July snapshots

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while waiting for me to find some words to put with it. I thought I'd better get onto that while it's actually still July! These are just some photos from around the house this month.

I've had hyacinths blooming in glass jars.

This really was the last of the roses for the season. The green leaves are Jacob's Ladder (polemonium). Such beautifully shaped leaves - they are perfect for vase arrangements as they seem to compliment every kind of flower and fall so gracefully from the container - very little arranging is actually required!

One of my winter pleasures is lighting candles in the evening. Especially scented candles and tealights in glass votive jars. 

 More hyacinths. This vase was a great way to grow them as the high sides supported the flower heads when they got too heavy. When they finished flowering I planted the bulbs outside and transplanted some not yet flowering ones into the vase.

 You might remember a couple of months I showed you some Instagram photos including one of a round blue crochet circle. Well, now it's a cushion! All I had to do was add a scalloped border and some crochet roses. Easy and cute. My crochet cushion corner is growing!

This was taken at the end of a rainy afternoon, where at the last minute the sun peeped in under the thick cloud cover. Then it disappeared below the horizon. However, I am taking heart that sunset is happening a little later every day... soon soon soon I'll have a little bit of light left at the end of the day.

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!


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