Sunday, 17 December 2017

Snowflake Fairies and Seal Softies

We`ve only been to the garden for veggies, though I did strip some gladioli back, but inside the polytunnel to stay in the warm.
It has been very cold. 
Last Monday we did get some snow but it didn`t last long.
Plenty of opportunity for last minute Christmas 
gift making by the cosy log fire. 
I can now reveal some earlier secrets.
Here are 3 gnomes made from logs.
I made a lot of smaller ones for the Christmas Day table decorations.....if there is room!
Their hats are made from machine knitting samples I was given.  I`ve had them for ages. This was the perfect way to use them.
But you could recycle old jumpers.
 Back in the summer I made a witch`s patchwork cushion for the witch`s lair on the fairy trail. I decided to make some antique looking stockings for my nephew and his partner.
And one for the new puppy, Reggie.
I found this cute free knitting pattern on Pinterest.
It was lovely to see my great-nephew Alfie cuddled up on the sofa on Saturday evening with his fluffy seal softie in one hand and a knitted penguin from his granny in the other. 
They were to hang on the Christmas tree but a little bird tells me they may not be hung at all.
I have been doing a lot of amigurami and enjoying it very much.
A seal....
....a Christmas puppy in a striped jumper...
.......a Peppa Pig......
......and a reindeer.
Two felt cats.....for my Aunty Doreen, though she may not have opened her presents yet.
Personalised stockings to hang up.
And finally some Snowflake Angels.

I have really enjoyed my Christmas crafts and I`m not quite finished yet. There is another Peppa Pig on the go.

In an effort to tidy up before our Christmas visitors, I did get a little way-laid with new ideas whilst sorting through my storage boxes of fabric. But I want to enjoy Christmas to the full.
This was my Advent present this morning.
I love them.

And here is our tree.....
......blocking Steve`s view of the TV!!!?





Monday, 11 December 2017

Christmas Horse Head Wreath

Last week I went to the local Christmas tree farm, which is also our nearest nursery .... Harborough Nursery, where we bought our fruit trees a few years ago.
They had lots of tree trimmings. For a donation, I could fill my boot, which is exactly what I did. 
Later in the day, I went on a holly and honeysuckle hunt.
I wove the bendy honeysuckle stems into wreath bases.
With the log fire lit earlier than usual, I settled down to make eight wreaths. I had stocked up with pungent bay branches, ivy and rosemary from the garden. The wreaths can be recycled in more ways than one.
This is just before I began.
Here are the first results.

A friend of my niece, Hazel, posted a picture of a horse wreath on facebook. When I saw it I thought I could have a go.
This is not a tutorial but I hope it shows how I went about it.
First of all I found a simple, elegant horse head shape on Pinterest.
I enlarged it by 250%.
Next I cut a piece of chicken wire larger than the shape.....
..... and bent it using the outline as a guide....and I wore gloves.
I made two like this and wired them together with scrap wire in between.
Steve cut a piece of wood to act as a more stable base.

 I cut the fir stems quite small and began weaving them into the wire. Every now and again I pulled the two sides together with more wiring.
I did kind of "sew" the edges with wire to maintain the clean outline.
In my own garden I had some ornamental grass which I thought would make a great mane.
I tied it in separate bundles and attached it.
After adding a few other decorations..... a large button eye, a red braid bridle, some holly and a huge wired ribbon, it was complete
 On Sunday I gave it to Hazel and she was very pleased.
I don`t pretend that it looks like Bess or Lexi, but I think it appeals to her love of horses. 
Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed making them all.


Thursday, 30 November 2017

Loopy Willow and Home-made Soup

We woke to a very cold day and were delighted to watch a sprinkling of snow falling, as we lay still snuggled in bed this morning. It was a day for soups and stews.
We went to the garden for the morning, wondering what we would be able to do, due to frost. We were well wrapped up.
Half the garden was in deep shadow, so after pulling out helichrysum, I was glad to get back to the sunshine for the following jobs. 
 I did a little weeding in the asparagus bed....the frost was melting in bright sunshine. Interestingly, the worms were very close to the surface, which in turn meant the robin wasn`t far away.
I weeded the path in the fruit net. The original chipped bark had completely rotted down and had made lovely rich loam. I threw this round the fruit trees and Steve replaced the chipped bark.
I found forgotten dahlia tubers still in the ground, rescued those and covered them up in the polytunnel.
All the garden furniture is now inside.
It was also a day to sit inside for a teabreak.
Now the leaves have dropped, it was possible to see the loopy weaving of the new willow growth.
The pond was frozen over.
Rabbits are digging everywhere, trying to get into the flowerbeds.
Not much growing there now anyway..
 Steve dug out more compost. It has rotted down really well but the present system is not nearly big enough for the size of the garden.
At least the huge pile is sinking down as it decays.

 This is an area for redevelopment in 2018.
I guess visitors who follow this blog, will be surprised to see what the garden looks like in winter.
Here are a few views.
 The little fairy yurt is stored indoors over winter.
We came home for very welcome home-made soup using one of our soup packs. Soup packs are made up of a mixture of veggies from times of plenty.
I can`t tell you how satisfying it is to follow up a morning of gardening, with soup made from our own vegetables.
It feels like a full cycle.
In the afternoon we went to a local beauty spot to collect pine cones for our wreath making. It was bitterly cold.
In this photo it is possible to make out the ribbon development of our village, Pett.
The craft fair in the village hall, last Saturday, went well. I had a stall and enjoyed it all. 
Anne came to help me and we spent a pleasant day catching up with friends, neighbours, ex-colleagues, ex-pupils and villagers. 

And there`s plenty planned for December.
I am excited about it all.
Our family celebrations start this weekend.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

November Butterflies

We`ve had such lovely sunny days....perfect for 
the last jobs of the year. 
The garden has been most atmospheric with deep shade, bright sunshine and a misty feel to the pictures.
We`ve had some frosts so the priority has been to lift the dahlia tubers and get them under cover.
Anne got the ball rolling and I had a nice surprise when I found the first row lifted and already in the polytunnel.
I replaced them with bellis daisies sown from seed and myosotis from around the garden. 
Anne and I did the rest between us with me 
cutting back and her lifting.
It was good to share this job as it`s hard work.
Sad to see the bed empty, but Steve was able to put a few loads of our own compost there.
The tubers, numbering 43, were fantastic and I labelled as many as I could.
They were laid in the middle beds...
....covered with thick permeable plastic...
....then carpet on top held down with bricks.
All snug and warm for winter.
Talking about snug and warm, here are the tortoises already hibernating.
We thought they had gone off on an adventure as they are sometimes want to do.
But they had buried themselves altogether in the corner of their run. They had to be lifted very carefully so as not to wake them up.
Later Anne will take them somewhere even warmer.
There were quite a few raggedy butterflies around, sunning themselves on the last straw flowers.
The sparkling raindrops on the purple kale were like glittering jewels.
Paula and I set to on this flower bed, her trimming honeysuckle and me trying to thin out matted Michaelmus daisies and Iris Siberica.
The crumbly soil was turning over beautifully which surprised me after the heavy rain last night.
Only half done though.
I brought the sale priced geraniums home and potted them on in my greenhouse for the winter.
So I filled the old water trough with myosotis and I also hope to buy some half price bulbs at the end of November. 
 Then it was home for a late lunch, a good rest and then more work on our last raised bed at home, with the sun already sinking.
A good days work.
We will sleep well tonight.