Flower pot madness!

We had planned a warm Easter school holiday trip to Estepona, south of Malaga, Spain. In reality we were rained in, cold and were grateful of the heated seats in the hire car!  It took us 3 days to finally visit the lovely town of Estepona in all it’s sunny glory. It was worth it.

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From what I had read, I pictured an idyllic Spanish local town, generally off the tourist trail where Spanish friends and family met on Saturday mornings in their favourite cafe over a Cortado. I wasn’t disappointed. We were the only foreigners there!  Lots of locals doing their Saturday morning shopping.  And the shoe shops were to die for!!! 3 pairs of lovely sandals made it back into my case!

Anyway, to bring me to the point of this blog. What I hadn’t realised was that Estepona is famous for its flower pot trail!  The guidebook said, go into the tourist office and ask for a trail map. We duly did and began to walk street after street of beautiful, colourful flower pots full of red geraniums which were attached to the street walls. Apparently each street has a themed flower pot colour too!  I have to say my favourites were the pink spotty ones and was quite disappointed that I couldn’t bring one back in my suitcase!

The trail went on for lovely street after street until my 9 year old had decided enough was enough and he wanted an ice cream! I took so many photos, that here is only a small selection.

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So if you are a fan of flowers, gardening and spotty plant pots, you will love it here!

Lovely Estepona, I can’t wait to go back.


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Peg bags

Although I consider myself to be a feminist and fully intend on continuing to bring my son up to believe that women can do anything that a man can do (if not better!), I find some strange personal satisfaction when I can hang out my washing on a lovely breezy summer’s day, watching it all blowing in the wind!

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I love my garden which is bright and cheerful.  Yes, i’ve made pretty bunting to cover fences and there are matching seat covers with parasol trims, so I thought why not pretty up my peg bag. I don’t think its just me either!  All the homestyle magazines keep re-iterating using the garden as another room, a mere extension to you indoor living space. Well, my indoor living space consists of pretty cushions, bunting, Cath Kidston tablecloths, amongst other items, so why not extend out to my garden?

I’m sure I’m not just the only one too! I’m just starting getting into the world of craft markets and have found that peg bags are one of my best sellers. I get people actively searching for the type of old fashioned fabric peg bags that perhaps reminds them of their childhood with favourite granny’s and other nostalgic memories.

My peg bags are a showcase for both pretty and floral stashes of fabric plus a bit more of an adventurous fabric in a retro style. I picked up a delightful one from my local fabric shop; Cottonpatch, which is part of a cat range and consists of cat food tins.  Purrfect!

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Peg bags are both useful and functional. If you enjoy your garden why have a boring bland green peg bag that everywhere sells, when you could have a handmade object in your choice of fabric to brighten up your washing line.

Peg bags can also be made out of old clothes – kids clothes, especially girls dresses work really well and can be adapted quite easily.  There’s an upcycling project for you!

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To start with you need to cut out a paper peg bag template.  My template measures 30cm across and 45cm vertically.  You can adjust your template to make it smaller or bigger – it’s entirely up to you!

Next, choose your chosen fabric and cut out one template.  This is going to be the back of the bag.  You could choose to have a different colour/pattern back to front or keep them the same.

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Secondly, you need to cut out the front of the peg bag.  This will come in 2 parts as you need to leave a gap for the pegs!  Following my template you need to cut out the top of the bag.  Mine measures 30cm across and 18cm down from the point of the top, so you are left with a sort of a triangle shape.  Next,, cut out the bottom of the front section, this roughly measures 24cm down and 30cm across.

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Next you need to bind the bottom edge of the front top and the front edge of the front bottom section.  You can choose matching binding or something contrasting for fun!  When you have bound the edges, Place the 2 parts right side together and pin. Measure 7cm from either side (I mark with a fabric pen) and sew from the edge to the 7cm mark.  Do this on both sides and you will be left with a nice gap big enough to put pegs through.

Next, with right sides together, sew around the whole of the peg bag, ensuring that you leave a small gap at the very top where the coat hanger is going to poke out of.  I find marking this gap with pins reminds me not to sew completely all the way round.

Turn the peg bag the right way round and finish off by adding a strip of binding or ribbon to the bottom of the peg bag.  Insert your hanger and hey presto, you have a unique peg bag!

You can find all these peg bags on my Etsy shop.  I also provide custom order service  so if you fancy a particular fabric or style and colour, then just get in touch with me.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Lizzyshomemade


My Springtime garden and seed sowing

 

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My garden has been a work in progress during the past 10 years.  This is when I first met my husband to be and moved into his house and garden (I say this term loosely!).  The actual garden consisted of an overgrown bit of lawn, a mud patch for a patio and a grapevine that had taken over the top of the garden to the extent that no-one else could visit!

When I moved in, I enlisted the help of my Dad who just looked at the grapevine at the top of the garden and said “we’ll have to burn it and start over!”.  Can you now begin to see the challenges facing me in my quest for a nice space to sit in and grow some veg!

I remember coming home from work and yearning to sit outside, however my only seat was a garden bench that had seen better days, resting on a mud patch!

Over the years, the garden has been transformed (it’s definitely a child friendly garden – for our young son), but it’s also an oasis of calm in the middle of Birmingham suburbs. I always grew up with my parents gardening so had a bit of background knowledge to start with but I enrolled on a part time Level 3 Certificate in Horticulture which I absolutely loved.  I went mad on buying plants and trying all different ways of propagation and really learnt such a lot in a fairly short period of time. I devoured gardening books, ranging from Gertrude Jekyll to Monty Don and the obligatory Gardeners World magazine.

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Now nearly all of the original plants have gone plus we now have a row of pink trellises! Somewhat eye-catching if not to everyone’s taste.  (This was my project when my son started school and I didn’t know what to do with myself!)

I think the pinnacle was participating in Moseley in Bloom in 2010, with at one point in our garden we counted 150 people!

April/May is a very busy time in my garden – not much time for sewing (as readers of my blog will know this is what I like to do!). At Christmas every year I cheer myself up through the dark days and short nights through poring over seed catalogues.  I circle the ones I would like (normally around 60/70 packets)!  Eventually I get down to a more realistic figure and plan my next gardening year from there.

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This year I started in March and have sown my usual crop of tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers and runner beans.  As a couple of new additions I’ve tried French beans (dwarf) and melons (seeds saved from our fruit salad).

From a flower point of view, I usually sow nasturtiums and have supplemented these by climbing nasturtiums too.  I’ve never grown these before, so will see how they do!  My dahlias are doing well as are the Russian Giant sunflowers that badly need planting out.  All these seeds have been growing nicely in my greenhouse and most have been planted out last week or will be done so in the next week or so.

I also love Black Eyed Susan (Thunburgia), the native Africa/Asia plant and have grown it the past few years climbing up my trellis.  Everyone comments on it as it is so eye-catching.  Unfortunately this year, I couldn’t find any at my local Wyevale centre in Bournville and had difficulty in sourcing it altogether.  In desperation, I sowed some seeds (I find that buying the plant is more successful in Thunburgia than actually sowing seed for once), knowing that ideally the seeds should have been started off earlier. However, last week to my amazement, I found a fantastic specimen at our local florists.  I was so excited, I texted my husband (how sad is that!). My lovely thunburgia is happily growing away in a new pot against the trellis.  Additionally, the seeds I sown a few weeks ago have started sprouting!  Probably too late, but I will give them a go and see how they do.

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I love sweet peas (see future separate blog on these) and can’t get enough of them.  I usually buy the blue ones (Blue Ripple) and this year sowed a packet of the red Air Warden which seem to be growing strong.

I have also sown carrot seeds direct as well as lettuce which have just started to come up.  I think the snow that we had in the Midlands a couple of weeks ago put them back a bit!  This week I’ve sown poached egg plant (Limnanthes) directly and Nigella, which is an annual favourite.  In the greenhouse, the Canterbury Bells are taking a while to emerge but only today, I saw some little stems emerging.

Just now I’m having a cup of tea in my garden and enjoying the fruits of my labours, which is something I don’t usually get the time for!