Posts tagged ‘flower’

November 16, 2012

Cox and Cox Bud Vases

One of the good things about de-cluttering is that I am finally finding space to display beautiful things. Like these delicate little glass bud vases from Cox and Cox that I was kindly given from the lovely folk atNotOnTheHighStreet.com.  I’ve had them a while, but because of their fragile nature and small stature, I’ve resisted putting them out on display. Firstly because I was worried about breaking them, but also because they’d get lost amongst the clutter! Small things need space to shine and I’ve finally got that, after lots of work tidying up.

I have a set of eight, two each of the four different colours shown in the photo; Atlantic Deep, Dark Olive, Soft Mole and Iron. I think the colours are perfect for this time of year and they all look great against the plain grey walls of my bedroom or in my sitting room by the fire.

I love having little displays of seasonal flowers on my bedside table and on the fireplaces in my bedroom and in the sitting room, and these jewel coloured little vases will be perfect for bringing a bit of sparkle to the room over the winter, before they are used for tiny posies of the first spring flowers. They look especially lovely placed alongside candles, so the flickering glow of the light reflect the colours and bring a bit of warmth to the colder months.

Cox and Cox Bud Vases. Photo from Notonthehighstreet.com

If you could bear to part with these, they’d make a great gift for someone, either the whole eight in the box for Christmas or a couple wrapped up as a little thank you gift. I’ll be keeping mine in my bedroom, where I will be able to appreciate them at their fullest, lined up along my bedroom fireplace…

With many thanks to NotOnTheHighStreet.com for sending me these lovely vases to review. 

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September 3, 2012

RHS Harlow Carr: a guest blog

I love RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate, it’s a absolute joy, but I’ve not had the chance to visit for a while. Happily, my wonderful friend Dawn Jackson has just been and she’s agreed to be my very first Guest Blogger! Hurrah!

So, on that note, and with a little drumroll, I’ll hand you over to Dawn…

We visited Harlow Carr gardens on Sunday and took some photos of the flowers.   I’d love to tell you what plants these are but I didn’t make a note of the names.  I took the photo because I liked the vivid colours and the variety of insects that buzzed around them.   The picture is taken from the view that my four year old had as he rambled about fiddling with flower heads and looking for spiders.  Like most parents of young children I spend a lot of time on my knees or crouching down at kid’s eye level.  It’s the best view of herbaceous borders because I feel like I’m amongst the plants.

There’s a lot to see in these gardens.  We generally stroll around the veggie gardens in the summer and sniff the sweetpeas.  My son nibbles on a few raspberries.   I like the structure of the veggie patch.  The gardeners use hazel and willow to support the climbers which creates a homely, organic look.  The shapes of the veg beds are charming.  For anyone who grew up with a parent or grandparent who kept a garden, or who grows their own, wandering amongst them is like a favourite story gradually unfolding.  Cheery rhubarb, sunny sunflowers, spiky gooseberries, runner-beans, beetroot and scrambling peas amongst many others jostling for space, light and room and doing their very best.

Then we like to re-fuel at Betty’s in the centre of the garden.  Pink lemonade, ginger beer and cakes or ice-cream.  On Sunday the RHS had laid on a brass band.  We sat and ate and drank and listened to the cheerful ‘ Floral Dance’ (my mum used to have the 45 of Terry Wogan’s version).  I wondered if I could be anywhere that was more ‘English’, and then it rained.

Our next stop is usually at the play area under the trees, which is lovely if it’s a hot day, and a long stop at the log maze to run round and round and clamber up onto the platform and wave and jump.

We came across two new elements to the garden this year.  The introduction of a tree house and a collection of oversized outdoor instruments in the woodland garden. Both are magical.  The tree house is like something from a fairy tale or Robin Hood.  It’s only possible to conclude that every garden should have a tree house.  Discovering the musical instruments was exciting.  They blend beautifully into their setting in the woods and even when played tunelessly they are placed in such a big space it feels and sounds fitting amongst the natural rustling of the trees.

These gardens are not attached to a house or a home.  I found that odd initially.  I imagine they are designed as a demonstration of what planting can achieve in a variety of settings.  They achieve that magnificently and gloriously.  All of the elements of a domestic garden are present however (admittedly on a grander scale) and the space is well loved and well cared for.  It’s a pleasure to visit, relax and enjoy the whole sensory experience.  One day I’d like to take more photos and learn the names of the plants…

August 31, 2012

A posy by the bedside.

I’ve not managed to grow many flowers this year on the allotment. My ambitions for great armfuls of dahlias were ruined by the slugs that have had a wonderful time working their way through my plants, and the sweet peas haven’t fared much better. Thankfully, I do still have enough to bring home. The great thing about sweet peas in particular is that the more you pick them, the more flowers you get, as the plant continues to try and produce seeds.

You might remember, a while ago, I decided to try and sort out my bedroom and make it a tranquil, child-free space. Well, that didn’t go exactly to plan. The stacks of books are still there, the laundry regularly overflows and the yin and yang of cycling (aka my Pashley Princess Sovereign and my husband’s Specialized road bike) are currently propped up at the end of the room.

So, despite my beautiful grey walls (Farrow and Ball’s French Grey, which I love) and white bed-linen, it’s not that haven of tranquility I imagined. I’m not giving up though. One of the ways to bring a little beauty into the chaos is by adding flowers to my bedside table. That way, when I wake up, the first thing I see are beautiful flowers and I can imagine for a split second that I’m the kind of person with a bedroom worth featuring in a design magazine. Then reality kicks in, obviously. And that’s if I haven’t been woken up by my three year old son launching himself, elbows first, onto my bed anyway, which is how I’m usually catapulted into each morning!

Thankfully, given my lack of abundance on the cutting patch, a small bedside posy of flowers doesn’t need to be huge to have impact.

The other thing that flowers bring to the room is scent. Even a small handful of jasmine can provide the rich heady fragrance that the flower is famous for, and it’s a wonderful thing to go to sleep with that fragrance swirling around you. In a larger room, the amount of flowers I usually use would get completely lost (especially given my clutter creating tendencies) but by the bed, they’re perfect. I’m really inspired by Sarah Raven who creates beautiful and heavily productive gardens, with the aim of cutting flowers for the house.

In these photos, I’m using a small Emma Bridgewater bottle. I also love to use an empty bottle from REN Rose Otto bath oil, which is little and has a narrow neck, perfect for more delicate flowers and my mum just gave me a vintage half pint milk bottle from Cowes (no pun intended) which will also be put to the same use.

Having flowers in the house  is a gentle reminder to me of my ambition to study horticulture, so I can be more successful at growing flowers in the future. For the time being, these little posies bring me a little bit of joy every day.

March 21, 2012

A Sunflower Competition

One of the delights of writing a blog and chatting on Twitter is taking advantage of lovely opportunities that come your way and I was very happy to be asked by the multi-talented Helen of ‘The Good Life Mum’ to join her and Karen from ‘Missing Sleep’, a wonderful family and reviewing blog,  in a sunflower growing competition.

A few days after agreeing, a lovely letter arrived from Helen containing seeds and a slice of incredible citrus soap. I mentioned that Helen was multi-talented, and one of her talents is in soap making. My kids and I have utterly loved using this soap and I really recommend you take a look at her Bath Food company for yourself.

Anyway, we posted some of our seeds off too. They look a bit ropey, but they’re freshly bought from The Eden Project so I’m hoping they will be ok. Now the competition commences. I’m fairly sure that Helen and her lovely daughter have sown their seeds already – we still need to sow ours, and the last I heard from Karen, she was searching for gardening tools, so who knows where this will end up! Perhaps Karen is pulling the wool over our eyes and is actually Alys Fowler in disguise…

As our two children have a plot on our allotment each, it will be a great way to encourage them to grow something special. I’m looking forward to spending some time this weekend on the allotment sowing our seeds with them, which will be good fun. We’re going to have a grand measure-in at the end of the summer to see who is the winner, at which point I’ll (hopefully) be able to share some photos of giant sunflowers with you all.

March 14, 2012

Allotment update: Seeds or Seedlings?

It is rapidly approaching April and yet again, Spring has caught me off guard. This happens every year. I spend rather too long each Winter, happily reading through my seed catalogue and deciding what I want to grow, and then suddenly there is a mad rush and the proliferation of seed trays all over the house, on every spare shelf, available windowsill and all over the porch. If it’s not compost filled seed trays, then it is row after row of carefully saved loo roll inner tubes, each filled with the requisite pair of bean or sweet pea seeds.

There are several problems with this. Firstly, I look a bit like a crazy person, with my loo-roll-inner filled house. Secondly, the kids are very interested in what is growing and cannot resist a bit of poking about in the compost, which usually ends with half of it on the floor. Lastly, and probably the most important in terms of actual growing, seedlings that are grown in a rush tend to be a bit poor. They’re often leggy and weak, especially the climbers like sweet peas.

Still, it’s always been a matter of principle for me that I grow from seed, because that is what allotment gardening is all about…or is it? As more and more allotment holders are younger people, with jobs or small children – and in my case, both – perhaps I need to approach it differently. After some deliberation, I have decided that there is no shame in buying in seedlings where it makes more sense. So the plan is now to buy seeds where they are to be directly sown into the ground, and buy seedlings of the things that I usually have in my seed trays.

So here is my new list:

Seeds:

Dwarf French Beans. I grow ‘Rocquencourt’, ‘Purple Teepee’ and ‘Cobra’, which are direct drilled in thick rows in a raised bed. Each variety is a different colour (yellow, purple and green, respectively) which pleases me enormously.

Borlotti Beans: ‘Lingua de Fuoco’. I’ve decided not to grow runner beans this year because we just don’t eat them, but I love these beautiful red beans and a climber always adds some great structure to the plot.

Carrots: Early Nantes’ and the beetroot ‘Candy Stripe’ will be sown together in a raised bed. I LOVE this pale pink beetroot variety. Despite being a huge fan of the taste of beetroot, I loathe the bright pink staining it leaves everywhere and this variety removes that problem. Growing carrots in a raised bed will help remove the carrot fly, as will growing them mixed with other roots and anything from the allium family, so they’ll go in the raised bed next to my onions, which are already in the ground.

Peas: I’ll be growing both a maincrop pea (‘Hurst Green Shaft’) and the ‘Sugar Snap’ variety for eating whole. Hopefully I’ll get better results this year. I do struggle to grow a brilliant crop of peas but they are one of the vegetables that are so much better eaten straight from the plant, that I cannot give up trying!

Leeks: ‘St Victor’. I love the purple tinged leaves of this leek variety. Although they do have to be grown in a seedbed, they’re not urgent so I’ll manage it.

Potatoes: Slightly different, obviously, but the varieties I’ve chosen are ‘Charlotte’, which is a second early variety, and ‘Cara’ which is a late maincrop. This will give me a successional cropping, rather than a great big potato glut.

Dahlia: I’m going to get corms here, not seeds, and grow three different bold coloured varieties for cutting. ‘Happy Halloween’ is a small, bright orange decorative type, ‘Hillcrest Royal’ is a cerise pink cactus type and ‘Downham Royal’ is small ball type in a dark purple. Together, they will look amazing!

Seedlings:

Sweetcorn: ‘Sweet Nugget’ variety to grow in a square block.

Pumpkin: ‘Atlantic Giant’ – this is for Halloween, rather than for eating, so size is everything here! The pumpkin and sweetcorn will be grown together in a variation of the traditional ‘three sisters’ approach, where tall thin sweetcorn plants, climbing beans and sprawling-on-the -floor pumpkins are grown together. It makes the best available use of space, and it looks ace.

Sweet peas: A selection of varieties; ‘Lord Nelson’, ‘Prince Edward of York’ and the original sweet pea, ‘Matucana’. This is the Harlequin Sweet Pea mix from Sarah Raven.

Any other annual flowers I choose for the cutting garden will probably be bought as seedlings too. I am still to decide what else I want to add in.

In addition to this, I want to get some new strawberry runners for Eve’s little garden, if there is time this year.

Although the colours of the vegetables I grow don’t generally have any impact on their taste, the way the plot looks does matter to me. I like it to look pretty! Which is perhaps why I’ve always grown climbing varieties, different coloured beans and peas, flowers and pumpkins. I’ve chosen tried and trusted varieties this year, (all from Sarah Raven, purely because I like the company ) that I’ve had previous success with, as the year is too busy for experimentation, although it will be interesting to see if I get significantly better results having bought seedlings in, rather than growing my own.

Now I have a plan, it’s time to get to work…