Monday, December 10, 2012

Back on Deck

First of all darlings, I must apologise for the lack of posts recently; my only excuse is that things have been rather busy with a real estate deal which  went awry, new carpet endeavours and family birthdays.  No, in truth I have been very lazy and that is the main reason for no posts but I shall make up for lost time now.

I am uncertain what type of berries these are - the plant was given to me because its previous owner was disgusted at the thorns - having been sold a "thornless" berry bush.  But they are very prolific and we have high hopes for a good crop.

At the risk of sounding boastful, things in the garden at Shoestring Cottage have been looking as lovely as I have ever seen them.  All those coffee grounds must have had some effect on the soil because things are thriving and it almost seems that you only have to stick a cutting into the soil to have it romp away and start to blossom.  Finally the lilies are unfurling their beautiful waxy perfumed blossoms.

Spurred on by these recent successes the little cold frame in the back garden has been pressed into service and there is a happy looking collection of mixed basil and hollyhock seedlings pushing their way through the earth and now some zinnias have joined them, in the hope of late summer and autumn colours.  Those intense shades are just what the garden needs in the autumn when things can tend to be a bit dreary, so here’s hoping for a 100% success rate from one packet of seeds.  Seed raising used to seem a bit intimidating but after one or two successes there is no holding back and all kinds of seeds will be given a try.  That is part of the beauty and fun of seed raising, for only a small expenditure there are so many plants to be started and giving them away to friends and family is great fun.  (Though sometimes it seems as though not everybody really appreciates yet another punnet of seedlings to add to their garden, it is a terrible shame to waste all that potential.)  Nothing beats the pleasure of opening a new packet and seeing all those hundreds of possible plants to come from such a tiny piece of foil – what potential! 

Spurred on by initial successes from more mundane seed varieties, Kings Seed catalogue was just too tempting to resist - after all, the descriptions verge on being poetical, who could resist the white moonflower with a heavenly perfume or the intriguing hyacinth bean vine and the snail creeper?  Then there is a mind boggling array of dianthus and beautiful old fashioned sweet peas (again with a heady perfume).  Lavatera trimestris is a very rewarding annual to grow as well, with flowers ranging from white through shades of pale and dark pink and we had to try those ones also.

Speaking of seeds and their possibilities, the aquilegias (granny's bonnets) have almost finished flowering now and there is a pleasant sound of their rattling seedpods whenever they are disturbed.  If you would like to have some seeds for your garden let me know and I will send you some.  The seed capsules are very interesting, having between five and seven pods on each capsule and scattering the seed out in a most satisfying way, lovely black shiny hard seeds which spring up in the most unexpected places.  Some friends have already asked me for seeds and it will be good to make a special illustrated seed packet to package it in.  

There is no guarantee of what colours you will have, these plants cross-pollinate prolifically and so it is a bit of a lucky dip, but very interesting all the same.  You can see from the colour variation in these two flowers how wide the range is, there are some nice bicoloured pink/yellow combinations also.

As we were on our way to the markets recently Mr Shoestring was chewing my ear in the nicest possible way, telling me that we really should stop buying unnecessary things for Shoestring Cottage now and that we had enough old curiosities to last us for a very long time.  Of course I agreed and nodded and made all the right noises.  Lo and behold, as soon as we got into the market Mr Shoestring spotted two cocktail shakers which he just had to have.  He already had one at home, so now with his extra two he has the beginnings of a collection.


I had to have a secret laugh and was thankful that it was Mr Shoestring who saw something irresistible after having delivered a lecture to me.  But of course after that I did see one or two things which I had to have as well.  There was this lovely set of green glass dishes with matching serving bowl – perfect for the vintage Christmas day celebrations we have planned – and another pretty plate for hanging out in the garden. 

After my mini-lecture from Mr Shoestring I thought this cup and saucer was very appropriate, and sincerely hope he appreciated it when I presented him with it. 

The latest find in the search for landscape masterpieces (!) is this charming one which makes me think the painter set out her palette and was determined to use every shade of blue and green it contained - and what a marvellous job she did of it!  I have to admit this was very expensive - it set me back $15!

But I just had to have it, I have had a drought of paintings in recent months and was beginning to suspect somebody was competing against me in the market so had to snap this little masterpiece up.

We are planning a vintage themed Christmas this year and this tablecloth should look perfect if we hang up lots of paper lanterns to complement it.

Just a couple more pieces of china to add to the collection - Mr Shoestring could hardly complain after the cocktail shaker incident.