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!

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Hanging floral hearts – tutorial

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I decided to have a go at making these lovely hanging heart decorations after having some left-over fabric from the Cath Kidston designed “Rosalie” range from Ikea.  The first couple of efforts weren’t that successful as I couldn’t quite figure out after stuffing the heart, how to sew it up neatly so it looks seamless.  However, after some trial and error I finally came up with a method that works that I would like to share with you.

Firstly, decide how big you would like your heart to be.  Mine are usually 10cm x 10cm, but you can make yours as large or as small as you like. Make a paper template.

IMG_0863Cut out 2 squares of matching fabric 2cm bigger all round than the size of the heart. With right sides together, sew a 1cm seam down the centre.  Open up the fabric with right side facing down.  Now you will need another square of fabric, either the same, if you want both sides of the heart identical, or choose another colour.  Place the new square of fabric on top of the square with the seam, wrong sides together and pin to secure.

IMG_0867Place the heart template on top of the sandwiched fabric and draw round it with a fabric marker (or pencil, if you don’t have one to hand!).  Machine stitch over the drawn template.  You could even do this in a contrasting stitch if you like.

Once finished, use pinking shears and cut round the heart with about a 1cm gap all around.

IMG_0868You will then need to unpick the original sewn seam in order to stuff the heart.  Unpick a good inch to enable you to get the stuffing in.  Once stuffed, neatly sew up.  IMG_0869

Finally, using a large darning needle, thread your choice of ribbon and just below the top seam of the heart, insert your needle so it goes through both sides.  You may need to insert some pressure here!

Once you have the required length of ribbon, cut the ribbon and tie in a knot.  Hey presto!  A hanging heart.  IMG_0871 (2)

Pink, retro and typewriters!

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I saw this in a shop in Derbyshire and fell in love with the baby blue colour.  It’s an old Imperial 200 typewriter, all in full working order as far as I can see, although I haven’t tried it out yet.  This lovely thing currently takes pride of place upon my mum’s old welsh dresser, now adorned in Annie Sloan baby blue paint.  They are a match made in heaven.

IMG_0725My Kenwood Patissier pink mixer!  It goes very well in my retro kitchen with my pink Smeg fridge!  I love looking at it when I am cooking plus it’s a great time saver when I’m making cakes (which happens to be quite often!).  I remember growing up in a kitchen with a well used and well loved Kenwood Chef.  It wasn’t pink though!

IMG_0339Ah, the delightful Miss Penelope Pitstop.  My canvas of Penelope hangs above the TV, so when I’m bored with watching programmes, I can reminisce about my childhood favourite and how I always wanted to be like her. Any visitors to my house tend to go straight for her in amazement!  To my delight, my son now loves Wacky Races!

My bible of books

My bible of ideas!

These are just a few of my favourite books that give me pleasure just to look through them.  They are great for coming up with new ideas of things to make or just for changing a room scene.  I always watch any Kirsty Allsop craft and vintage programmes and last year I discovered the fantastic books of Selina Lake.  It started with Pretty Pastel Style and has progressed from there.  I thoroughly recommend a look.

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Bunting!

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We went to Moseley in Bloom gardens this weekend and as well as looking round and admiring other people’s gardens, I always come away with inspiration and ideas that I intend to carry out.  This garden had lovely handmade bunting by the owner and transformed a plain fence.  I might well do this in my garden!

IMG_0666Again, the union jack bunting adds colour and something a bit different to a suburban garden.

 

 

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I couldn’t resist this bunting in my greenhouse.  Now that it only has tomato plants in it for the summer, there is room for a little decoration!

 

 

I love my pink fence!  It took me hours to paint when my son first started school.  It was my project!  After seeing the colourful gardens in Moseley in Bloom, I decided to add some decoration myself. IMG_0694

Hexagonal Pincushion

IMG_0653Here are a few of my hexagonal pincushions.

This is a spotty pink one with a cherry fabric in the middle, which I think helps it stand out more.

This is a retro 1950s one.

IMG_0642I love this fabric so much that i’ve made a 1950’s A-line skirt out of it too!

 

 

 

A Cath Kidston designed fabric.IMG_0603 The outer hexagons are made from the pink Cath fabric, designed for Ikea and the inner is a remnant left over from a skirt I made last year.

If you like these, more hexagonal pincushions are available on Folksy.