Sunday, 14 May 2017

A new rose bed

We've had a flower bed in front of our dilapidated shed for some years now. When we first moved here in 2010 there was nothing, just grass, weeds and muddle.

So, in 2012, having painted the shed, and wired it up to give the roses more support, we dug out the grass weeds and muddle and planted it up with irises, which started life in our old garden in 2008

These were beautiful for a couple of years,

but gradually we got less and less flower and more and more weeds - the lack of flower I think because the soil was poor and tended to be very waterlogged in the winter - the weeds due to my not having the energy or is that diligence, to keep on top of things.

So this year, taking our cue from the two rather beautiful roses which thrive and were here when we arrived,

my Good Soul dug up the remaining irises, still quite a collection I might add, and will take them off and nurture them until we decide where to try next. They have been very forgiving so far, so I hope they do well once we move them to their new place - probably in the front garden where they will get lots of sunshine to bake their rhizomes.

I then spent about six days, on and off, taking it mindfully, pacing myself to avoid too many aches and pains, and dug through the whole bed. I pulled out all the weeds and as much suspicious root as I could, then turned in a generous quantity of composted manure and mulch and mix to feed the soil. The process reminds me in an odd way of making pastry or mixing up a cake - not that I do much baking, but it's a similar thing, just on a much larger and more exhausting scale and the heat comes from the sun rather than an oven!

Having done all that I have planted it up with three more roses; deep plum, stripy pink and dusky peach, in the hope that, like those already there, they too will thrive. I've tucked in some annuals; blue pansies and some pinks,

and rich rusty magenta petunias,

Also a few perennials; columbine, my very favourites, to join the self seeded one that was there already,

don't you just love their little curly topped seedheads?

really, you can't have too many

Also some speedwell, a couple of sedums from another much loved Aunt's garden and a some geraniums (not pelargonioums) which will bush up and give us more blue and pink. Oh, and added some edging to the bed - a slightly obtrusive plastic one that I hope will tone down a bit as the years go by. It should prevent the grass from taking over again.

Now to sit back and look forward to seeing what the summer will bring.

Qute a change from the picture up top eh? Look how those roses have grown.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Holiday dyeing

I've been doing some holiday dyeing - which of course means the laundry and houswork are way overdue! I had some left over dye from a previous experiment, and wanted to see if it really was spent. So, a torn off bit of one of the endless "Connie and Harry sheets", soda soaked, folded and wrapped, the dye applied from the bottles it has been sitting in since I last used it - it all looked rather promising; lovely vivid shades, couldn't wait to unwrap

However, the dye really was spent, and most of it washed out - very pretty, but definitely not vivid; more delicately faded.

Christine's mantra is, "you can always stick it in a bucket of black" so, treating this as a test piece, out came the plumbers pipe and string and a bit of "sort of" arashi shibori. I'm not sure if I can really call it this, since arashi normally involves wrapping the fabric diagonally along the length of the pole. In this case I've placed it so the centre of the piece is over the end of the pole, folded it carefully down the sides, then spiral bound with thread. Into the dye vat it went - a mixture of turquiose, a touch of royal blue and black. I had hoped that the plastic bag on the end, firmly tied and elastic banded, would work as a cap to preserve the yellow centre but I may not have tied it tightly enough because the dye managed to soak through.

This is where I got to with stage two - notice how much more of the first layer of colour washed out with this second process. An interesting pattern though, and I'm learning all the time, but the delicacy of the inital image has been lost, both because of the first colour fading and because the second process has produced a much more definite pattern

I thought this looked a bit neither one thing or the other, in fact, a bit "meh" as my daughter would say so, back in the soda solution and on to stage three, and a stage one for a second piece of sheet - just to use up the second batch of dye

Refolded and bound in a similar way to the first process but this time with elastic bands rather than thread - they were harder to tie tightly, but I'm a bit wary of elastic bands!! Again, Christine's advice is; for multiple layers, using the same or a similar process allows the layers of colour to have some relationship with each other.

And the second piece of cotton, pulled out along its diagonal from corner to corner, roughly pleated and bound with thread, closely, criss crossed and more loosely as I worked along the length.

More dye applied, this time freshly brewed - and then the wait .....

Well, vivid has returned, and I think has integrated the arashi pattern better, it has more balance now - and the second piece makes me think of summer sunbursts and ice cream - I rather like it, and can see where the binding, tight or loose, has affected the pattern of the dye - more white where it was tightly bound - more learning

but what on earth to do with them both now?

I'm off to Studio11 tomorrow, so a bit of show and tell discussion might help.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

I've been mulching

Which makes me sound like a ruminant in a field. Actually, it's just spreading stuff on the ground to feed the soil and suppress the weeds. Should be done in Spring and Autumn. 

I garden in little bits, it suits my state of health to do, say half and hour, then stop and rest, then go back and do a little more. I've had this on the go for the past two weeks I think; I dig a little bit, pull out as much weed as possible, on hands and knees, working bare hand if necessary, round those delicate things you find when you are close to the ground, self seeded thises and thats, which need careful fingers about them to ensure that encroaching grass doesn't grab them too, as you pull it out.

The mulch is a mixture or garden centre bought stuff, dark rich brown and very most; then some leaf mould collected a couple of years ago, stored in a plastic bag to rot down until ready; add some ground up prunings that have been sitting in a black bin for a couple of years; stir in some birdsong and fresh air and there you are, a lovely soft brown blanket to snuggle around the plants and keep the moisture in.

In this area I haven't even finished the weeding, 

but I've cleared round Mum's tree and the azaleas and given each a good spread of the brown stuff. I'll tackle the weeds again tomorrow


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Some garden for Els

Els does the most wonderful stitching, and felting, and drawing and knitting aaaaaaand gardening. This post caught my eye, as I had just come in from taking photos in our garden, hundreds of miles away ...

here they are Els



the old dears

moist and mossy

full of light

and shadow

Monday, 10 April 2017

free flight

buzzard and seagull vying for space as Spring surges

a little breath of wind

a flutter in the undergrowth

light held so delicately

I have had increasing tooth problems in the past couple of weeks and months - two abscesses, two extractions, much lowness of spirit, some forbearance;

I'm on the mend

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Weaving progress and goodbye

I'm very much enjoying my weaving. I keep having to unweave and reweave as I go wrong. But I'm happy with where this is going, and am learning a lot. 

Because I'm doing the 1YearofStitches2017 project it is an easy transition moving from one thing to the next: because you are in the same room; because you see it awaiting your touch; because you have awoken the inner whatever; because colour and texture are there calling to you. 

Part of that daily practice opening doors.

We had the funeral service for Cecil this week, a gentle saying goodbye for a very few of us. Pen lead the service, as she did for Mum. She is exactly who you want to help say goodbye to someone you've loved; her kind heart shines out, she is reverent, firm, gentle in her words, gently humorous too, all expressed through the foundation of being that is her faith.

When I stitched that afternoon, I nestled in some last seeds, dispersing in the spring breeze amongst the ripe buds of new beginnings, life always arising in the release of old life passing. Part of letting go of a beautiful person, adding a little memorial - not to remember her by, she is engraved on my heart, but to say

"this person meant something"