Sunday 27 March 2011

Blowing hot and cold.

I felt quite chilly this afternoon after the lovely warm days we have had, and thought the best way to get warm would be to do a bit of gardening. I was surprised by how much growth so many of the plants have put on during the mild spell. I hardly noticed the tulips a few days ago and these are almost coming out.
I do hope there are one or two more fritillaries to come - I had two or three nice clumps until lily beetles found them a couple of years ago. I can always cheat and buy some more.

The dicentra was just a nice looking clump of leaves at the beginning of the week and seems to have doubled in size since then.

We have had to tie in the new growth on this clematis and then I saw all the buds. It's a beautiful blue when in full flower, and right outside the kitchen window. The long hard winter doesn't seem to have done much harm and certainly hasn't slowed things down. If anything they seem to be earlier than usual.

Thursday 24 March 2011

The new arrival and a trip to Pershore.

Here is our nearest neighbour! The hen has hardly left the nest and it was quite by chance that my husband noticed this hefty fledgling sitting in the nest. One of the two eggs was broken so this is her 'one and only'. Someone suggested we should name the collared dove and my husband chose 'Dolly'. Our youngest daughter thought 'Ariel' or 'The Dove from Above' would be more appropriate! Perhaps Dolly's baby should be called Ariel - that would keep all parties happy. I love the way the sunlight coming through the mesh of the satellite dish has cast that speckled pattern on the birds feathers. It looks more like some sort of quail.

After doing our weekly shopping we drove to Pershore today. It was a glorious day and I couldn't resist a stroll through to the Abbey. The building on the right of this picture is not part of the Abbey itself.

Before the dissolution of the monasteries the Abbey complex would have filled most of the green open space in the photo above where you see those big trees. All that now remains is the current building which was saved and serves as the Parish Church.

The High Street is through the gates behind this quaint carved stone ...........

............. which looks like this on the other side. There were clumps and drifts of daffodils everywhere among the trees round the Abbey, and on the way through to the town this lovely bed of pansies looked gorgeous in the sunshine.

We usually have lunch in a cafe on the High Street but it was such a nice day we took sandwiches and picnicked by the river just outside the town.
Eyes left and you see the busy road bridge, built in Victorian times.

Eyes right and the view is this beautiful medieval bridge, now only used for foot traffic.

It looks even more medieval from the other side and quite different. There has been a crossing at this point since Saxon times - a wooden bridge came first, then in medieval times a stone bridge was built and probably widened and strengthened a little later. During the Civil War, fleeing troops damaged it to prevent their pursuers catching up with them. The repaired section can still be seen in the central span.

The willow trees were all coming into bloom with their golden catkins, birds were singing and the banks were carpeted with celandine.
I just had to take a picture of this tree that has had a branch removed some time ago. I was fascinated by the way the surface of the cut has cracked and the bark has formed a rugged frame round it.
There are usually dozens of ducks scrounging for crusts at this picnic area, but they were absent today - probably busy nesting somewhere along the bank. It made a change to be able to eat without an audience with little beady eyes and eager beaks.

Saturday 19 March 2011

Another glorious day.

It is another lovely day today and I feel almost guilty that we can enjoy such perfect weather in safe surroundings when the Japanese have so much tragedy and unimaginable worry to contend with. I decided to stroll round the garden to see what new things there are to see and am surprised by how much things have developed in just a few days. The little primula above is just coming into flower - I love the gold edging to it's petals - is it called 'Gold Lace'?

The pulmonaria is forming a good clump against the wall here. (Note to self: tidy up all those dead bits before taking photos!!) There are also other clumps dotted around the garden.

The aubretia is doing it's stuff on the rockery. I have tried to grow some of the other more interesting coloured varieties but this one is the only one which will settle in and stay for another year. I think our soil is not well drained enough inspite of all my efforts.

There should have been a whole row of these lovely anemone blanda along one side of the pond. I think I must have been a bit too quick off the mark to replant the area when the pond was enlarged, as some of the soil had to be removed when the paved edging was done and I think the anemone corms went with it. I wondered why there is only one clump by the pond, but others are popping up all over the place!

I had a morning cuppa outside in the sun and then went out again at lunchtime, even though I needed a jacket on. It was so lovely to hear the birds singing and bumblebees buzzing and to my amazement I caught sight of this beautiful Peacock butterfly sunning itself on the clematis montana. I went straight in to fetch the camera half expecting it to have gone on my return, but it was still there.............
............ and almost immediately the one above (is it a comma? I can never remember) landed on the rocks of the water feature. What a treat. I hope they haven't woken up too soon.
It's been a really good week this week. I think I am coming out of my doldrums and beginning to feel like myself once more. I have shaken off that awful lethargy which has dogged me for months, and although I am a bit tired today, it is because I have had a very busy week. I decided to give an informal lunch to mark my birthday on Thursday as I knew that two of our daughters had time off from work. The other two were free as well and although our son had to work during the day, he dropped in later. One brave son-in-law joined us and I was thoroughly showered with gifts, cards, flowers and the best company. It is hard to remember these days of catering for two, that for some years I produced three meals each day for seven without a seconds thought. Now it's a question of: Is that too much/will it be enough/shall I do some extra/I can always freeze the leftovers. Well, it was enough and we didn't have any leftovers. A most enjoyable and satisfactory day - the lunch was pretty good too, even if I 'says it as shouldn't'!

Sunday 13 March 2011

Stand by to be Hellebored!

I just love hellebores and it has taken me years of trying to get them to establish themselves in my garden. I am no plantswoman and can't tell you their names. I do use the plant labels which come with the plants and stick them in the soil alongside, but find that during the winter these labels have been pulled out and lost. I'm just content that they grow for me.

These clumps are growing on the other side of the garden, and there is still one more plant whose leaves are different from the others, but it's flowers are not open yet.
Today has been absolutely glorious - whatever the weather throws at us next week, I really think spring has arrived. The frogs have been busy again and given us another big clump of frogspawn.
It is hard to believe that a few short weeks ago I photographed some fat green buds on our clematis. Now those buds are stems about a foot long.

Our latest acquisition is Arthur Bell, a climbing rose with perfumed golden yellow flowers. I don't think I shall be sitting in his shade this year but he's looking very healthy and will probably climb the pergola post before the summer is out and we might even get a flower or two. He takes the place of a clematis which refused to have any flowers.

It's not warm enough to sit outside yet of course, but lovely for a walk this morning with our daughter's dog - Poppy - who is always good company.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Here come the Girls!

That bottom one in the middle looks a bit bandy .......................
..................... and I think the one on the far left is doing the Charleston.

Here they are all packed up and ready to hopefully do a bit of fundraising at our next exhibition.

You may remember me saying two or three posts back - 'I must not buy any more threads'!!! Well - I just happened to be browsing the Stef Francis website and took a peek into the Special Offers bit and came upon these bargains. I justified my weakness by buying the three packs above for my daughter.

Of course, it would have been foolish not to take advantage of the other offers so I bought this pack of silk threads, whose colours are far more lovely in reality, ........................

.................... and these cotton ones which are very useful as they come in such a range of thicknesses. I just love using hand-dyed and space-dyed threads - they seem to be so versatile and give a special touch to numerous projects.
While I was there, I thought these silk fibres would be lovely incorporated into silk paper or worked under the embellisher. All I now need is an idea to start working on!

Saturday 5 March 2011

Button Babes.

On her blog 'Fan my Flame', Gina Ferrari featured some of these little brooches after a workshop she had given and I have stolen her idea - thankyou Gina and I hope you don't mind! I don't know exactly how Gina made hers so made mine from guesswork. I'm not sure about my first attempt but do like the hair. I made the body from a piece of woollen scarf embellished onto felt and then buttonhole stitched round the edge.

I think the shape of this one is better. The bodies of these were made from a piece of knitting with variegated wool, embellished onto felt. I made a template and drew it on the back of the felt, machined round the shape on the reverse and then zigzagged round it on the front before cutting it out. I like this better. The arms and legs in both cases are made from handmade cords and when complete, a pin will be sewn on the back.

Above, is the weekend's homework. Just as well as it is still jolly chilly outside and I need the sun to come out before I do any gardening! I'm off to sort through my button box to find some 'faces' while the light is still good enough to choose colours.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

And then there were two.

A couple of days ago the collared dove left her nest long enough for us to notice the arrival of another egg.

She wasn't away long and now sits quite happily as we come and go through the back door. She's quite photogenic, isn't she? My husband has fixed an old shaving mirror to the fence just outside the door and positioned it so that we can see if she is in residence before we go out.


I have nothing new on the creative front to show you, but I haven't been idle and have had a good clearout and thrown away loads of old coursework notes and tidied my workroom, again! I really must NOT buy any more beads, yarn or books! My son and his wife keep a nice tidy minimalist home and he has made himself a rule to get rid of one book, DVD or whatever, before he buys another. He doesn't get that from his mother!! The trouble is, I am waiting for Isobel Hall's new book to be published - it's due out in April I think but can't remember the title. I already have her 'Embroidered Books' and 'Bags with Paper and Stitch' - both of which are excellent and very inspiring. Sadly for me, less is not more!