Monday, 24 June 2013

Shades of blue ...

The colour in my garden goes through cyclical changes as it progresses through the seasons. Spring starts with the welcome splash of sunny yellow with the narcissi and daffodils. It then gives way to the riot of colour that is the tulips. These are followed by the swathe of purple of the alliums, drawing my eye to the bottom border away from the by now rather messy tulip foliage. My acorn-shaped alliums are in full bud still and yet to flower, as are my few remaining allium cristophii, ready to explode firework-like at any minute.

At the moment it is a calming blue, with these autumn-sown cornflowers flowering like mad and I can barely keep up with cutting them and bringing them indoors.

They are wild, straggly and I love them!

I also sowed nigella in the autumn and although not quite as tall as their neighbour, they are flowering prolifically too. They are also providing me with endless photo opportunities as I find their flowers fascinating.

They are great for cutting and when they go over, the seed heads are almost too good for throwing away.

I'm a little over-excited that soon I'll be cutting delphiniums too. I've said before that it feels such a luxury to be able to cut from my own garden and these were top of my list to have on the cutting patch.

Soon, the colour palette will change again, with hot pinks and acid brights emerging. I have the first roses out which have already added some zing to the border. What's flowering in your garden?

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Beyond the fence ...

Things have been pretty quiet around here in this space but I can prove that I have been far from idle. Last year I made the decision to take back my allotment space that is nestled beyond my back fence. I wrote a post here and talked about my first tentative steps in reclaiming this bit of land again.

It's funny how your memory plays tricks on you, and I can hardly believe that it once looked like the photo above. With a bit of help, I soon had my blank canvas to start playing with again.

Having been generously spread with rather pongy manure and then covered up in tarpaulins overwinter, this spring I started to make my 2-D plans that had been scribbled and sketched in my notebook come to life.

My Dad and I made some triangular beds out of some old used decking that we scavenged from our local nursery and I began to divide the area up in to workable areas.  The triangle beds are for my vegetables and in the photo above from a couple of months ago, there are garlic and broad beans that I had planted in pots in January.

The middle section is for my cutting patch and the section at the bottom, beyond the sweetpea wigwams, is for fruit.

The raspberries that I planted in November have started to show some green and the thought of harvesting some later in the year is about the only thing that is exciting No2 about my latest venture.

The strawberry patch is looking much healthier and promising since this photo too, with flowers abound which can only mean one thing: fruit. I'll be watching like a hawk to see that they don't get eaten before I get to pick them and I have netting at the ready.

Meanwhile in the greenhouse, it has been very full over the last three months and I have just about planted everything out now. I adore growing things from seed. The anticipation and nurturing are all good for the soul. Followed by the sight of germination and the forming of the first true leaves, it is the most satisfying thing I can think of.

There has been much carting about of compost and grit in an effort to try and improve the heavy soil and my wheelbarrow and I are firm friends and almost inseparable!

I even wore out my wellies!

And now it is starting to actually produce things. Radishes are the easiest and quickest of seeds to grow and it's a good thing, because I love them! At the weekend I sowed another half row of beautifully coloured Milano ones.

I'm pretty certain most things are dreadfully late this year, as is the case in my garden (I've never had tulips still flowering in June), but I'm looking forward to broad beans as promised by the gorgeous flowers on my plants.

It has been the perfect project to take me through what feels like an eternal winter and the most miserable of springs. The hours I have spent over there have kept me fit and happy and I can see that it is just going to keep on giving.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Learning curves …

When I posted about a quilt for spring, Sue commented that there perhaps ought to be one for summer and then autumn. I'm thinking that my latest quilt ticks the box for summer. Laid out, it is a field of flowers.

This is probably my most ambitious quilt to date, both in terms of size (it is a whopping 80" square) and in technique. Way back when, my to do list looked like this:

In between other projects, a sewing machine service that kept me and my trusty machine apart for a total of four weeks and a myriad of other excuses, I finally sussed it out.

I have used my favourite fabric collection EVER - Flea Market Fancy by Denyse Schmidt and I ordered the fat quarter collection from Fabricworm as soon as the legacy reprint collection was released, far too impatient to wait for its UK debut. I had collected pieces of the original collection over the years and have incorporated a few of them into the quilt as well as used one of them for the binding.

I felt reluctant to drag this quilt through my machine to quilt it and am so glad I opted to hand-quilt, using my perle threads, around each flower. I love the way it highlights the negative space in between.

If I could ever pick my top fabric, I think it would have to be this bouquet print in this aqua colour way. To me, it is perfect and I only wish I had more.

The finishing touch was a more elaborate than usual label to which I added a tiny bit of the selvedge plus a scrap to back the whole thing.

This quilt is now on my bed, having relegated my ripple crochet blanket to its summer home, and is adding another welcome splash of colour to my predominantly white bedroom. As ever, I can feel some pillows coming on … that's if I can drag myself out of the garden and back into my sewing room.