Tuesday 27 March 2012

Short and Sweet.

Do you believe in gardening in conjuction with the phases of the moon? I sowed these mixed salad leaf seeds on Saturday 24th March!! That was two days after the New Moon. I wasn't sure how much truth there was in it until I caught sight of all these little new shoots popping up this afternoon. It is said that we should sow seeds and plant things out on a waxing moon, and do any pruning or cutting back on a waning moon. It certainly makes you think, doesn't it?

Monday 26 March 2012

Busy, busy.

I've been having a lovely time lately trying to decide which of these packets of seed I can find room for. I'm not always successful with seeds but as we have a small garden it is never a problem! I always see it as a little miracle when a tiny shoot appears and then gradually gets larger and becomes food or flowers.

This is one half of our tiny greenhouse - full up already. The other half has two growbags containing six tomato plants and the three recycling bags are in the middle. There is just enough room for me to get in to water the plants and seed trays. I'm growing some flowers such as hollyhocks, cleome, love-in-a-mist, cornflowers and nasturtiums, though they are sown where they will grow outside - and salad leaves, radish, beetroot, chard and pea shoots. I read somewhere that you can get tasty shoots from a packet of dried peas bought from the supermarket - the ones you'd use for making mushy peas. I tried it last year and it worked well.

When a seed packet says 'sow where required to grow' I have to cheat and sow into these troughs in the hope that the plants wont know they've been moved if I do it carefully. We don't have the space to 'sow in drifts or natural swathes'. I'm trying out some bee friendly wildflowers so don't know if they will be a success or not.

This noisy bird - or one of his/her friends - has been waking us up at the crack of dawn with it's persistent coo-cooing for the past few mornings. The collared dove which looked as if it might nest on our pergola has changed it's mind and gone elsewhere. I'm not sorry as neighbouring cats could have easily climbed up to the nest, not to mention the magpies which frequently come into the garden and used to raid the blackbird nests in our neighbour's conifers.

The willow tree which hangs over our wall is smothered with pussy willow catkins - I don't think I have ever seen them quite as prolific as this. They started out only a couple of weeks ago as little silvery grey dots, looking like tiny fledglings perched all along each twig. In that short time they have trebled in size and turned golden and fluffy. For the past few days the entire tree has been full of bumble bees enjoying the pollen, and there is a constant hum as they go from one catkin to another. It's a very soporific sound when we're out there having a tea break.

As soon as I scrub my hands clean from gardening, I get them covered in paint from printing with hand made letter stamps which is what I have been doing for my latest coursework. I do have a pair of those close fitting rubber gloves but invariably find I have started work and already have mucky fingers before I remember to put them on. I think I must have entered my second childhood and am having a great time making a mess!

The weeks rush by and I still haven't come up with any ideas for the two pieces of work I want to make for out next exhibition in September. If the design comes first it often dictates the technique to be used, but I have got a design yet and keep changing my mind as to which technique(s) to use. Perhaps I should just start playing around with a few as see what happens.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

My Babies!

A part of me has never grown up and I am always thrilled when I see frogspawn in our pond. We also have newts and they eat it, so this year I have taken a friend's advice and put some in a deep tray filled with pond water and already they are beginning to look tadpoley. I will have to clean them out in a couple of weeks - lord knows quite how! It all takes me back to early school days when we took tadpoles to school in a large jam jar, for the Nature Table. I have put a large stone in the tray so that when the spawn has become froglets, they can climb out. When they have reached that stage they will be safe from newts.

Poppy came to visit again today. She was very vocal and makes sounds that aren't a bit dog-like. She also swivels her head from side to side when we talk to her and I was hoping to get a good shot but missed it every time. Imagine her head another two or three inches to the right, and then as far again to the other side and you'll get the idea. I get worn out keeping her amused, but she is indefatigable.

I have nothing creative to post about, unless you count gardening and a couple of baking sessions. Our local little garden centre - which I like so much better than the big ones - is selling tomato plants already so I bought six on Monday and they are planted in large bottomless pots standing in growbags - three pots to each bag - in the greenhouse. They had three different varieties so I bought two of each.

Last week whizzed by in a blur with no time for anything and this week is doing the same. I must organize my time better and tidying my workroom would be a good idea if I ever want to find anything again.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

A Weekend Guest.

I had plenty of exercise for the three or four days we had Poppy staying with us and the weather was glorious. It's so lovely to have doors and windows open and to be able to turn the heating off. I did lots of tidying up in the garden too, so it's beginning to look quite good out there.

On our walks round the neighbourhood I loved seeing all the daffodils bursting into flower. Not quite Wordsworth country but doing it's best. These are beside the public footpath which leads to the local junior school.

Many of our roads have rings and drifts of daffodils brightening the scene and they are gradually increasing year by year.

These violets and primroses were growing at the base of a tree trunk.

Just look at that blue sky - I think the blossom is an early prunus........................

................... and I think this is a different variety.

It was at this point that I saw a little carpet of purple crocuses amid the daffodils and as I went to take the photograph, the battery on the camera died on me. Perfect timing!

I took the dog out twice each day and must try to keep it up now she has gone home as I know it did me good. I might not go out twice a day, but ought to manage once.

I had a nice day off today at a group meeting of the Gordano Textile Artists. I missed the last one as I wasn't well and it was so good to see everyone again. We are beginning to make plans for our next exhibition at the Grant Bradley Gallery in Bedminster, Bristol, in September for which I need to make a couple more pieces of work. Thinking cap on.

Friday 9 March 2012


Almost every time there is a full moon and a reasonably clear sky I feel compelled to get outside with the camera and try to get a good photograph. I like the way that the clouds are slightly tinted around the moon in this shot.

I'm never satisfied with my results of course .....................

..................... but just have to keep trying. I love seeing the moon through the branches of a tree.

The frogs in the pond enjoy the moon too, and each night I was outside this week they were croaking away in fine voice. Every morning there was a new batch of frogspawn among the plants in the pond. There is masses of it already so the newts will be very well fed this spring and with a bit of luck they won't eat it all and we'll get a few more frogs.

Monday 5 March 2012

Must Try Harder!!

I have at last got down to work with my embellisher and this is the result, so far. As you can see I have begun to do some stitching. There is a lot more to do in order to make something of it and I always find it hard if I haven't started out with a clear idea in my mind of what I actually hope to achieve. I laid a few strips of torn and painted Tissutex onto a felt background and then embellished some of the Pot Luck silk fibres recently bought from The Thread Studio over them - they are lovely to work with. If I can't rescue it I can always chop it up and make it into cards.

A welcome sight, though not a very pretty one, is this frogspawn which appeared overnight - two lovely dollops. We gave our lone goldfish to our daughter as I suspected it of eating all our tadpoles and she has other fish to keep it company. I thought we had given all our fish away some time ago when we decided to make it a wildlife pond, but somehow one remained. Hopefully this year we shall have dozens of froglets hopping about the garden, and growing up to be champion slug eaters. There are also newts in the pond and someone told me that they eat tadpoles. If that is the case I shall be in a real quandary.

Saturday 3 March 2012

Spying on the neighbours!

This is not a very good photo but I'm amazed it came out as clear as this - there was a very gusty wind blowing at the time and I felt quite sorry for Mrs. Magpie in her nest up there. I hope she doesn't suffer from motion sickness. I watched them moving in the other day and accepting twigs from her husband, then turning this way and that as she made little adjustments to the nest. It is straight ahead of me as I look out of my workroom window.

I glanced left out of the same window the other day and caught sight of this lovely bullfinch spying on me. The blurred shape down the left hand side is one of the window bars out of focus. He looks rather lovely among the emerging pussy willow catkins. I shan't be so thrilled with them when they have matured as they drop down into our garden and cover the pond and flower beds. It looks as if we have put a strange mulch down and I have to keep skimming them off the surface of the water.

I haven't done any embellishing this week - I've not even plugged it in. I don't know where the time has gone but have been pretty busy with other things. I have managed some good stints on the garden and if the weather is not good next week I can play with the embellisher then.