Sunday, 29 April 2012

Summer Bunting

To chase the rain away and encourage the sun to come out I decided to make some colourful, summery bunting... 

 embellished with lace, trimmings, hand stitching and buttons.
 I've made up 12 sections of double sided bunting using 6 different fabrics, some old, some vintage.
 This is a lovely piece of vintage fabric with vintage lace both bought from charity shops.
I only have a small garden but we are planning to open it in the summer and serve afternoon teas 'vintage style'  to help with my eldest daughter's charity fund raising for Childreach International.
Her 'challenge' is to walk (parts of) the Great Wall of China in September. She's also decided to extend the trip and spend some time sightseeing which will be a fantastic experience for her.

I have only added decorations to one side of the bunting and have also left a few plain.

This is Cath Kidston fabric which I bought in the winter sale at 70% off. I love her fabrics but they are too expensive for me full price.
I need to pop to the sewing shop next week to buy some wide binding to finish the bunting off and then I'll hang it out in the SUN and take some photos to show you!
 This is my eldest daughter Emma (19) at her fund raising quiz night just before Easter. The paper bunting was made about 5 years ago from wrapping paper and string to decorate a hall for a birthday party and it's still going strong!
 I can't believe Emma has almost finished her first year at uni and will be back home with us in a few months time for the summer. She is studying Art & Psychology and is then planning to study and train as an Art Therapist. 

My Salvia Plants have Arrived!

I was very excited to receive a little parcel on Friday containing two Salvia plant collections (one for myself and one for my brother) which I ordered back in early March.

I managed to get out in the garden to pot them up as we had an unexpected but welcome break in the rain in the afternoon for a few hours.
Click to enlarge image 
If I can manage to keep them alive this is how they will look, if not I'll be calling on my brother for cuttings in the summer!

I also managed to pot up my 'Super Marmande' tomato seedlings. My sweetcorn has started to germinate (these are currently on the floor in my backroom by the patio doors as last year the cold and wet caused them to rot) and...
my cabbage, beetroot and fennel are also showing signs of life.  I am so behind at the allotment though as the rain has stopped me from digging and planting the rest of my potatoes and onions. I'm sure they will soon catch up though once the weather warms up.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Splash of Colour

My local garden centre cheered me up this week with their lovely display of colourful flowers.
 Beautiful red and mauve Azaleas,

pretty yellow shrubs in bright yellow flower pots,
sweet smelling 'Cinderella' Stocks in shades of pink, lilac and mauve (attracting the bees even in the rain),

Lavender with a lovely replica bee hive (the French Lavender is just coming into bloom on the left)
Antirrhiniums or bunny rabbit plants as we used to call them as kids (one of my favourite summer flowers) and... 
pretty Pansies.

Just after taking these photos it poured down again so I had to run inside. I was really only browsing but I did buy a pot of Sweet Pea seedlings to supplement the ones I have grown at home. These will go to my allotment to be used as cut flowers as their scent is so lovely in the house.
I hope you are having a good weekend (despite the weather if you live in the UK).

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Patchwork and Embroidered Bird Cushion

I managed to finish this cushion recently using the bird embroidery I completed back in March.

 It's pictured on a small wooden (marquetry cube pattern) table which was given to me by my grandmother many years ago. 
This is a beautiful old wicker basket I bought last week at the charity shop. It sits on a wicker stand with a storage shelf at the bottom. I'm not sure how old it is but it has been beautifully made. I wasn't overly keen on the stand at first but fell in love with the basket. I'm thinking of lining the shelf with material and maybe using it to store fabric or magazines.
 My daughter Becky bought the tulips to cheer herself up the other day. They are white with a pink tint and when the sun comes out (which isn't very often at the moment) they look so pretty.
   I decided to use a mixture of new and vintage fabric for the cushion cover trying to pick up some of the colours of the embroidery threads. I finished the back with a simple envelope opening using the small blue rose fabric.
The tulips are in a lovely shaped blue and green speckled 1930's vase which I picked up a few years ago at a boot sale.
Hope everyone is having a good week. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Tomato Plants

Thank goodness the sun came out Friday morning and Saturday so I was able to visit my allotment and catch up. I finished hoeing out the weeds, earthed up my potatoes, topped up the compost bins with lovely fresh manure (!) and started putting composted bark chip around my fruit trees to help suppress the weeds. I shall gradually add some more plants this end.  

 On the other side of the shed I planted Hollyhocks, Foxgloves, a Mallow and Pinks last year. It doesn't look too impressive at the moment but hopefully once the plants mature and flower it will look colourful.
 One of the Pinks is already flowering.

Then it was time to move over to the half plot that I took over at the end of the summer to start clearing & digging. There's a lot of work to do but I've already prepared some of the raised beds for planting and some of the ground has been covered in old carpet and sheeting to suppress the weeds so I'll just work at it gradually over the next few months.
At home I potted up my plum tomato seedlings which I started off on my kitchen window sill.

These are 'Roma VF' which are a Mediterranean heirloom variety. I'm also growing 'Super Marmande' which is a large beefsteak type of tomato and I also hope to grow some cherry tomatoes and maybe a few others. Last year we had tomato blight on the allotment and a lot of tomatoes were lost so hopefully this year will be more successful.

The difficulty now is finding where to keep all my seedlings as my porch is full of Dahlias and I don't have a greenhouse! I have a second shed at my allotment with a large glass window so I'm hoping to put a table in front of the window and move some of my young plants down there.

Seeing the forecast for the week ahead it looks as though we have a lot more rain to come. I know we need the rain but let's hope the sun comes out for a while to cheer us all up.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Miniature Floral Jug

  This is a pretty little hand painted floral jug I picked up in a charity shop on my way up to Norfolk. 
It's 2.5" high and was made at the 'Tuscan Decoro Pottery', Stoke-on-Trent, England sometime between 1933 - 1944 (Design mark D 24/816).
 I love hand painted pottery from this period, it seems to have a charm all of its own.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


I picked the first of my Rhubarb this week. 
I love the beautiful pink stalks.
The plants have really put on a lot of growth over the past couple of weeks although as you can see they are starting to bolt. This can happen for various reasons including drought conditions so I have cut down the flowering spikes and will make sure they are kept well watered.
I prepared the Rhubarb and made some into lovely crumble. 
My Broad Beans are doing well (as are the weeds after being left for a few weeks). No sign of blackfly (yet) and plenty of ladybirds so fingers crossed.
The Spinach and Chard are growing fast, recovering well from the snow and frosts. I have been picking this continually since last summer and there seems to be an endless supply. It will probably start to bolt soon but I have another row ready and waiting.
These are some of my Dahlia tubers. I started them into growth in trays of damp compost in my porch a few weeks ago in an attempt to take cuttings and increase the number of plants I have. I've never tried this with Dahlia's before so here goes!
These are the new shoots for cuttings.
Take a sharp knife and cut as close to the tuber as possible leaving a tiny sliver of tuber attached.
Remove the lower leaves.
Insert the cuttings around the edge of a small pot of free draining damp compost (I used John Innes No.1). You can dip them into hormone rooting powder first to aid rooting but I couldn't find mine.
Label and cover with a cut down clear plastic bottle top or a plastic bag and place in a frost free place (like a porch or windowsill) but out of direct sunlight.