Monday, 20 January 2014
Front Yard Gardens by Liz Primeau
This book and I are old library friends. I first found it about five years ago, read it, enjoyed it, returned it to the library. It was based in the old Central Library in Gloucester Street. I used to make special trips to the library when I felt like browsing the garden section, or maybe cooking or craft or design. But every now and then I'd check if Front Yard Gardens was in, and if it was I'd borrow it. The last time I had it out was well before the earthquake, and it was one of the things I wondered about when I saw the pictures of the ravaged library after the quake - "oh no! Front Yard Gardens is in there!" - and I wondered if I'd ever see it again. I'd tried to find it online without success. Long story short, I found it (or possibly another copy) at my local library last weekend, and I was more than happy to renew our acquaintance.
The book starts off with some interesting chapters about the history of lawns, and people's obsession with keeping a bare, but extremely tidy patch of lawn in front of their house. The author started off with just such a patch, but as she ran out of space for plants her beds began to encroach on the lawn, until she eventually decided: out with the grass! This was seen as a radical move in her neighbourhood until eventually neighbours embraced the change and some even planted front yard gardens of their own.
The rest of the book is a range of gardens in different styles, but all accessible from the street front. (Well, almost all - there is also a chapter called Secret Gardens.) There are suggestions for everything from paving ideas to car parking to how to extend your garden so it meets up with your neighbour's, but still has a path for the postman to walk through. There are lots of lovely photos and the whole range of seasons is covered.
I've always loved the idea of having a remarkable front garden that becomes something of a neighbourhood landmark. I'm miles away from that yet - my front yard is a bit of a shocker actually, it hardly looks like someone who likes gardening even lives here. But every time I read this book I get ideas, so one of these days they might even come to fruition.
I did find the author's perspective interesting though - she lives in Canada and in her neighbourhood it was normal for there to be no front fence, just a perfectly trimmed and manicured lawn that stretches between house and sidewalk. There might be a shrub or two and perhaps a specimen tree, but anything else was frowned on. If you planted a garden you risked your neighbours complaining. (Luckily her nieghbours loved hers when it was done!) This seemed strange to me, as in New Zealand privacy is important and most people would have at least a small fence marking their space off from the footpath. And it's definitely more normal to have a front garden of some sort than not. Although, some of the newer subdivisions (the expensive ones) seem to have that American Suburbia vibe going on and they don't tend to have fences, but they do have a small sweep of lawn between the house and the street.
I'm curious - what are front yards like where you live? Do you live in the land of the lush green lawn, are you fenced in, or have you designed a neighbourhood masterpiece?
Thursday, 16 January 2014
It's the 16th of January and I forgot it was Bloom Day yesterday! Luckily I had plenty of pictures already on my camera - I got a new camera recently so I've been testing it in my garden. I'm glad I didn't have to rush out out tonight to take any frantic snaps - it might be still daylight but it's blowing a cold southerly gale outside (hitting the country "like a freight train" as the online news article said) so I'm happy to stay inside.
In my summer garden there are plenty of choices for making bouquets. My vase in the middle picture has hydrangeas, dahlias and scabiosas. Clockwise from top left are: White hydrangea, lavatera Barnsley, bishops flower, cosmos, erigeron, pink hydrangea, heuchera, lacecap hydrangea, pansies in a sea of snow-in-summer, gaura, cactus dahlia, echinacea.
Whether it's midsummer or midwinter where you are, I hope you've got something pretty in your garden! Check out gardens all around the world at Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.
Sunday, 12 January 2014
Here I am with the first finished crochet project of the new year. I started this a month or two ago, so I finished it pretty quickly by my standards! I wanted it done before Christmas and nearly had it finished, but last minute food and gift preparation got in the way. I actually completed it in the last days of December, and photographed it in the first days of January, and then it's taken a bit more time to get it up here on the blog! That's ok. Good things take time, as they say.
I was inspired by this pin, the Almond Blossom Bag from Colour in a Simple Life. I love the fun flowers and retro feel, and I had a pair of bamboo handles I'd been waiting to use. Most importantly, I wanted a bag in colours I like to wear. I used the palette from a favourite scarf and came up with a warm mushroom brown, dusty pink and cream.
The original pattern has a second round of petals inside the first. I did that at first but something was wrong with it and it bugged me. It may be that the paler shade of pink I was using just didn't go with the other colours, but I ripped it out and continued without it feeling much happier. It took a couple of goes to sew the hexagons together properly (which would have been avoided if I'd just read the pattern properly in the first place!) and I even made and sewed in a lining.
I have another pair of bag handles to use... I think a chevron design could be next!
Saturday, 4 January 2014
My second (and final) look back through the archives focuses on home photos... the little things I did throughout the year to make my home prettier and my life happier. I wish there were more finished craft and crochet projects here... I'm great at starting things but not always so good at finishing them. I did try to fix that in 2013 by starting a series called '12 Unfinished Projects' and I was going to finish one a month, unfortunately that went by the wayside! Though I am still working on my crochet hexagon blanket and the finish line is almost in sight, somewhere in the misty distance. (And there will be a celebratory post when that happens!)
So here is my small record of how my home and surroundings were in 2013:
Friday, 3 January 2014
As the new year begins, I thought I'd take a look back through my archives. I love seeing how the garden has changed through the seasons, growing and filling out, browning off and dying out, then back to begin the cycle again. Here are a few of my favourite photos from the past year, showing the cycle of my garden in 2013.