Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Even The Weeds Look Good

 I had to pick some buttercups - remember shining them under your friends' chins when you were little, to check whether or not they liked butter?

 Even at my most garden-smug though I can't see the beauty in oxalis flowers

but the erigeron (which is now counted as a noxious pest) and the forget me nots looked passable.  (Note to self, rip out erigerons next weekend before they take over the entire garden.) 

In the cracks in the footpath things were looking beguiling, though no plan was involved.  Wild violets and escaped succulents were all over the place.

At the risk of sounding boastful and therefore tempting fate, things are looking so good in the garden and so abundant, that all the vases are brimming with flowers  at Shoestring Cottage and even the weeds looked attractive last weekend.  (Some of them, not the onion weed or the oxalis flowers, that would be stretching things too far.)  

All the garden creatures were going about their business with renewed purpose and urgency.  The brick where the thrush likes to crack open snails was littered with snail shell fragments and when I went for a walk around the wetlands I was confused to hear a quiet rustling which wasn’t caused by my footfalls.  Eventually I fathomed out (after a kindly explanation from number three daughter) that it was the skinks (lizards) basking in the sunshine among the dried leaves and dashing away when they heard approaching humans.  It was hard to spot them because they were so fleet and stealthy but the occasional flash of dark skin as they took cover was a give away. 

I have been poking around in the pot where the gloriosa lily has been growing for the last two years but there is no sign of its emergence and I hope it hasn’t turned up its toes (or tubers) and given up on life.  Anxiously I enquired of My Dear Mama (who had forgotten where hers was planted, so was no help whatsoever) and The Duchess of Ringloes (whose gloriosa hasn’t chosen to emerge as yet, either) and I am hoping that it is just the late spring which is causing the delay.  I am trying very hard not to poke about in the pot too much in case I destroy the shoot as it emerges but it is hard to hold back. 

Leaving things to the birds has been my downfall in the hosta department because rather than having lush looking leaves shooting forth there is a rather lacy and holey effect after the attentions of the snails and slugs.  Slug bait may have to be resorted to, though I try to use it as little as possible.  Every year I seem to be just a bit too late with the slug bait because of soft hearted tendencies or a desire to believe that for some reason the slugs will hold off with their attacks. 

The community garden is looking very lush and verdant too, the scarecrow looks prosperous and pleased with himself though rather raffish and devil-may-care

and kindly people brought along their citrus fruit to give to others, which is such a good idea because often when driving around I see trees laden with citrus which falls to the ground and goes to waste.  Much more sensible and satisfying to let anybody use it who feels able to. 

It’s easy to let a long weekend get away from you and so I finally got around to making up the piece of tapestry which has been stretching back into shape for quite a long time now.  It came out very well and was worth the effort though you can't really see the colours here in the strong sunshine

These kind of boring tasks (like mending and repairing clothes) can drag on and on until they seem hardly worth doing so a stern talking to oneself is sometimes needed.  Next I need to complete the tulip needlepoint, which has its backing fabric and braid trim all ready and waiting but no need to toil on less than exciting tasks for the whole weekend.  I did get a lot of stitching done and so can’t complain too much.  I took an old red jacket and started decorating it with bits and pieces from my chaotic sewing room and so far it is looking okay

but I always seem to start these things in the wrong season - this will probably be completed by February at the current rate of progress, no good at all in our climate.  

Wishing you happy stitching or gardening or whatever it is which warms the cockles of your heart, and long may the pansies continue to bloom!  

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Sap Is Rising and Spring Has Sprung

Word is that our spring has been a good two weeks later than usual this year but now that it has finally arrived it is proceeding with a hiss and a roar.  All the plants and animals in the garden are going bonkers and can't be contained, we humans are just helpless bystanders as they proliferate and prosper. In the undergrowth there is a thicket of seedling natives coming up and needing to be mercilessly held in check if we aren't to see the garden become an overgrown wilderness

Even the camellias have thrown up seedlings all over the place and it will be interesting to see if they come true to type or if there might be some hybrids amongst them.  

Even indoors in the overwintered geraniums there are seedlings coming up.  You can hardly see it in this photo, but at the base of the geranium there are a couple of wildlings which have germinated and enjoyed the warm indoor conditions.

On of the goldfish looks as though it is about to have many goldfish babies (I don't know how many more will be able to populate the pond before saturation point is reached)

and the starlings are raising another brood in their favourite flat topped bird house.  (They still resolutely refuse to have anything to do with the pointy topped bird houses and I fear those will just be ornamental from now on, maybe I will paint them or cover them in mosaics though that obviously won't tempt these discerning birds.)  

Even the prunings from the garden have yielded flowers for indoors but there isn't really much reason to pick flowers because it's tempting to drift outside and admire things there instead, always planning how to improve things of course. 

One thing which has been a disappointment though is the way the more showy clematis have refused to prosper and the common varieties have put on a better show, which is so often the case.  It might have been better just to go with the "common or garden" instead of being swept away with admiration for the deep purple and cerise ones which are so beguiling in a garden centre always, but which seem to sulk and fail to thrive when put into a real patch of earth rather than being pampered in a  nursery.  

And of course there has been the perennial problem of what to do with the bulbs once they have flowered.  It's so tempting to cut off all the scruffy looking foliage so you don't have to watch it die back and look  scruffy, but you remember that the nutrients need to feed back into the bulb so there will be a good show next year ... what to do, what to do?  

There has been plenty going on inside this week as well.  The Lucy Boston obsession has taken me over, especially as I compare each week with my dear mama what new blocks she has completed.  I have to admit to being very undisciplined and making multitudes of the inside part of the block, and not completing any.  Must try harder and actually finish some blocks so I can make out that mine are more striking and attractive.  

 Mr Shoestring has been in disgrace because he carelessly threw Number One Son's favourite sweater into the washing machine and turned it into a tortured, felted article which would barely fit a teddy bear.  I didn't like to exclaim with glee and say that it would come in very handy for the quilt with woolen swallows I am making so I kept quiet and commiserated, and even Number One Son was very accepting and not too cross with Mr Shoestring, so it was a good result all round really.

And best of all to be outside

but even when indoors lots to look at, plan and think about.  Hope you are doing plenty of whatever warms the cockles of your heart.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tarnished Frocks and Divas, a Visit to The Centre Of The Universe, and The Bridges of Matamata-Piako County

It must have been a little while since I last wrote, but I have a good excuse.  I have been away to the biennial Tarnished Frocks and Divas event in Tauranga with the lovely Wynn and friends, which was a wonderful girls' weekend away and a chance to talk ourselves to a standstill.  I am ashamed to admit that I made it no further than Paeroa before becoming distracted and making my way, as if in a trance, into Junk and Disorderly where I bought this article which is perfect in every way - it has flowers, it has a bird, it is twinkly and has a touch of gold and some pink.  What could be better?

In the summer time it will be just the thing for serving cool refreshing beverages.  (If summer time ever arrives of course, but we must travel in hope.)  And it looks so happy with the old cannisters in the kitchen too.

The weekend after Tarnished Frocks and Divas Mr Shoestring and I went to visit The Duke and Duchess of Ringloes in Napier (The Centre Of The Universe) but along the way we had to call into every op shop we could locate.  It would be rude not too after all, and a terrible wasted opportunity.  I do believe that op shops out of big towns have a few more genuine "old school" treasures on offer and I was very happy to find silk stockings with seams.  They are bound to be fragile after such a long time waiting to be worn but still will be just the thing for next year's art deco weekend even if they don't have a long life.  

The 1950s hat has a good wool felt base and I'm hoping that once I remove the plaited overlay I will be able to do something more 1930s-ish with it.  (What usually happens is that I lose my nerve though, or inspiration deserts me, so really must try harder this time.)  

We had a wonderful visit with the Duke and Duchess and they had cleverly found a deco book a bach for us all to stay in, complete with art deco kitchen, bathroom and decor.  We were as happy as kings and had a great time talking (over each other most of the time in our determination to speak before forgetting what we were wanting to say), eating out and relaxing, 

When Madame La Poste was last visiting Shoestring Cottage last she cast her eye over my shadow box (which only has a few treasures in it, sad to relate) and pronounced that it would benefit from having some old cotton reels displayed within it.  I wailed tragically, "But I don't have any!" so while we were in Napier I made a beeline for some in Decorum, and now the shadow box has the beginnings of a new collection.

Of course a road trip isn't complete unless one can add a priceless work of art or two to one's ever-expanding collection and I couldn't go past these magnificent landscapes

This one is an original but I was mortified when Mr Shoestring pointed out the last painting I bought featured a bridge as well and that I was on my way to a new collection.  

Of course they had to be hung together, which necessitated some reshuffling of the paintings on the walls and Mr Shoestring (possibly losing interest in the project) proclaimed that the bridges of Matamata-Piako somehow doesn't have the same ring as The Bridges of Madison County, but I think that was a little mean spirited of him.  (He didn't miss out entirely on our road trip, having made a beeline for this little knife to add to his collection of kitchen wares.  And I bought him the most beautiful silk scarf too.) 

I brought home a few more pretty old lace hankies as well, I want to put them all onto a muslin curtain one fine day and probably have enough now - just a question of time and putting in a bit of effort, sadly.

This weekend we finally managed to get back to Shoestring for the annual Cruise In.  I don't know whether I have seen so many vintage cars with matching caravans before, these two little babies particularly tickled my fancy.  I was fantasising about having my very own little teardrop caravan but as Mr Shoestring rightly pointed out, where would I take it?  I want to be always at Shoestring so probably not a practical plan.  Also Figgy may not be up to towing anything much larger than a rubbish bin.  They were very lovely though.  

In the garden I have been very taken with the acid colours of this geranium/pansy combo, so much in the spirit of spring.
but a lot of other things were looking a bit sad, having been buffeted by howling gales and torrential rain.  At least there are signs of the season in the offing, lots of lilies are through the earth and the climbing rose is promising a great season.
As Mrs Peaceable and I enjoyed a coffee and put right most of the troubles of the world I knew good things were just around the corner for us.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Colours of Spring

Intense blue and acid yellow always suggest spring to me 

I suspect that gardeners are destined to be disappointed in their attempts to control nature - she will always have the last word no matter how much we struggle and think we know better.  I was very happy to see these shy fragrant mauve double Parma violets flowering in the garden, but when I went for a walk around the wetlands there were sheets of violets blooming their hearts out, releasing their perfume and scenting the afternoon air.  So many of them that in a couple of minutes I picked the bunch below and you couldn't even see where I had been.

 So maybe that's why instead of being destined to be perpetually disappointed by our scruffy blossoms such as this slightly insect-chewed tulip, a sturdy rebloomer from last year,

we prefer to immortalise our favourites in stitching.  I was very pleased when I finally finished this canvas in the weekend and immediately selected another blank (bargain, op shop) one to go on my frame.  

And I have all the materials put to one side so I can make a cushion of my perfect tulips, more long lasting and sturdy than the one in the garden and not given serrated edges by greedy slugs and snails

The weekend was a brilliant success on the stitching front, because apart from finishing that pesky tulip canvas I allowed myself to start this swallow (soon to be) quilt using an old cream blanket and some blue wool scraps.  

I can't claim the credit for the design because it uses the templates from this wonderful project

from a publication which never fails to inspire me.

It is another one of those projects which will use up (hopefully) a whole swathe of leftovers because I have cut the large woolen piece so that it can be framed in the manner of a medallion quilt and will put all my leftover blues around it in the form of hexagons.  (I know, who would have thought it?  I hardly ever use them.)  

And one great thing about being a gardener is that even though we are always destined for disappointment and things not looking quite as we had planned, we do get the odd reward in the form of seasonal changes and plants and flowers which thrive and make us feel it has all been worthwhile - and that next season it will be even better.  

No reports regarding the activities of Mr Shoestring this week, he caught me yet again in my sewing room cutting up more fabric for my Lucy Boston quilt and he called me "incorrigible"!  How unsympathetic that man can be.