Sunday, May 5, 2013

Toiling in May

Mr Shoestring and I really earned our cups of tea this weekend at Shoestring Cottage.  We finally got the front porch more or less put together after its facelift, and what a big improvement it is.  (Code speak for, "What a relief that task is finally completed.")  With the new lining, the stained glass windows and the shelves for plants it looks much more inviting.  The plants which lived there formerly were able to return (and free up space in the bathroom).

 Apart from the white flowered geranium and "spider plant" which were unceremoniously plucked out of the garden and plonked into their new home (I was astonished to see they survived) there are white polyanthus, white primulas and Black Prince tulips in the hanging baskets.  (I don't know why I persist in planting tulips, I never have any luck with them and they languish in a morose and despondent fashion always, despite my tender ministrations.)


 No spider webs!

At the front of the cottage we ripped out the plants which were not happy and replaced them with box hedging.   We will need to take a less laissez-faire approach and aim for pinpoint accuracy with our clipping or we will end up with our usual haphazard effect, but Mr Shoestring likes anything where power tools are involved so in the fullness of time he may be able to use a mechanised cutter to achieve symmetry.

In the black pots we put olives to standardise.  We chose Olea Ascolano because it is supposed to have an upright branched habit and respond well to pruning, so should standardise well.  It is also meant to have "large green fruit with a small stone" but I suspect the birds will fall upon any fruit with glee - it will provide welcome variety in their diets.  I once had an olive tree which cropped well and it was quite fun to pickle my own olives, but I have resigned myself to dominance by birds at Shoestring Cottage.  (Yes, I admit defeat, they have broken me.  I put up a good fight but now I am battle weary.)

It was rather perplexing to see my resident favourite bird drinking from the new pond, there had been torrential rain for more or less two days and it had never showed the slightest sign of interest all through the drought.  Perhaps the rain had topped up the pond and provided some fresher liquid refreshment, who knows?

As we had the autumn clean up and cut back I was horrified to discover another bucket full of Jerusalem artichokes practically bursting out of the earth under my trowel.  I almost covered them over and left them there, but then remembered that each of them would multiply in an alarming fashion, so sighed resignedly and dug them out.  Mr Shoestring happened to pass by and notice this, and I fancied I detected a rather mutinous expression on his face as he anticipated another week of Jerusalem artichokes in many and varied guises.  (I didn't know until that they can be pickled, but this doesn't seem very appealing for some reason.  You will be pleased to hear that they are reasonably palatable roasted, as I can attest having had some for my dinner tonight.  I had been transplanting a lot of iris rhizomes which struggled with the lack of sun at the front of the cottage and for one ghastly moment it occurred to me that they look quite similar to the artichokes, but I am sure I kept them all separate and we will have no culinary disasters with human consumption of roasted iris rhizomes.

The craving for white plants continues and this week I was given a beautiful white plumbago.  Even if I didn't like the actual plant (which I do, very much), I think I might plant one of these because of its name.  Plumbago, plumbago, it is very curious and rolls nicely off the tongue.  It could be a nice name for a plum coloured winebago, if one happened to possess such a thing.

In between the Herculean efforts in the garden though there was a bit of time for some stitching.  During the week I struck upon the idea of making some "medals" for girlfriends and this one is the prototype.

You can see the letters "QBO" on the ribbon.  The recipient of this medal adores anything with bling and spends happy times adorning her curtain tiebacks and bedside lamps with crystals, fringes and tassles.  I am sure she will appreciate the honour of being created QBO (Queen of Bling Order) but I won't insist that she wear her medal in public.  Actually I wanted to present the medal to her in a beautiful velvet covered presentation box, but the one I bought for the purpose turned out to be too small  - the medal just seemed to get longer and longer as I worked on it and it will need something more substantial to contain it.

While fossicking around looking for raw materials to create medals out of I unearthed this old skirt.  In a former life it was my favourite tablecloth, but some nasty stains in the very centre resisted all attempts at removal and rather than toss it out (this was in the days before I discovered crazy quilting), I cut the offending part out and made it into a skirt.

Happy stitching, gardening or whatever takes your fancy this week!


  1. Your new porch decor is those windows and the plants. What a nice place for a cuppa. I also got a white plumbago, not just because of the name either, although that might be reason enough, but the white bloom is so pretty. I have a big blue one that I love. What a lovely skirt, too, and a clever use of an old tablecloth!

  2. My nana used to have the blue plumgago, she loved all things blue, and I always associate it with her. If only I wasn't trying so hard to show some restraint and stick with a white theme (at least for a while) I might dash out and buy one too! Glad you like the look of the porch, I will follow your suggestion and enjoy a nice cup of Earl Grey there soon.