Thursday 20 December 2012

Vintage Christmas Cards

One of my favourite haunts for a bit of vintage shopping is Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Racecourse and sometime ago a bought a job lot of retro Christmas and birthday cards.  

So as the rain keeps me out of the garden, I've just spent time sorting through for a few gems.

Very Cranford!

This pop up one is slightly obscure and slightly unPC for Father Christmas.

Little Donkey, Little Donkey ......

But I think my favourite is this 1950s one, for its powder blue colour and the lovely typeface.

Sunday 16 December 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I've only just started to get in the Christmas mood this weekend I didn't think it was going to come but it's here!  There are two things I particularly love about Christmas decorations, poinsettias (if I had to choose only one decoration this would be it) and an all out excuse to use red, red, red and red!  In tinsel, crushed velvet tablecloths, dresses, paper bells, paper globes, lights ....

Oh yes it's definitely beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Thursday 13 December 2012

The Freeze

When the ground is too hard to work and I can't feel my fingertips anymore I find other jobs to do (preferably indoors) and today my jobs have been inspired by this 1962 Good Housekeeping Gardening Book with, "A lavishly illustrated guide to better gardening."

It was minus 4 degrees again this morning with a continued gorgeous English hoar frost, reinventing familiar scenery into a fresh winter wonderland.  I blame my sister for this cold snap.  She has just come over from Oz for Christmas and she yearns for the cold.  The last time she came over we had one of our coldest winters for 31 years and she got stuck on the Orwell Bridge in Suffolk, in the snow, thankfully it hasn't been that extreme this year.

My stipa gigantea seedheads, which are usually light, airy and upstanding at this time of the year, have been weighed down with the ice, barely thawing at all during the day at the moment.

I love the look of objects and plants in a hoar frost, like they have all been involved in a 'school boy salt crystals on a string' experiment.

So it's on with other jobs this morning that don't involve getting my hands in the icy soil.

For me there's nothing nicer than spending time flicking through vintage garden books and magazines to bring a smile to my face with their lovely dated features and advertisements.   My favourites are from 1940s, 50s and 60s. They also give me an amazing amount of inspiration. I have 're-found' old fashioned cut flowers that I have never heard of before or never grown before.  There are plenty of 'top tips' included too, not in the Viz comic style but more garden practicalities and appropriate fashions for garden wear !

This smart gent, with a hat Pete Doherty would be proud of (a fedora I think, unless anyone knows better) offers some great titbits.

When reading these I was intrigued, not only by his tie and waistcoat while gardening, but by point 8. above with the mention of a "swoe". A new piece of equipment to me.  Apparently it's a hoe with three cutting sides masquerading as a golf club.  Here is a lovely advert for one from a 1958 Home and Garden magazine and it cost only 30 shillings, I'll take two please!

I did have a bit of 'shed envy' looking at his 'correct' shed vs the 'incorrect' one.  Feeling very chastised by the huge green cross through, what looked very much like, my own messy tool shed.

Each year it's always my intention to get my outbuildings, tools and equipment in order or at the very least bundle my huge quantity of support canes into manageable numbers.  I never seem to get round to it.  When the full throttle of the flower season begins and I'm grappling under other tools and netting for just a dozen canes for staking, I berate myself for not having got round to don my finest waistcoat and fedora and tidy my shed.  Maybe this year will be different.

And finally, on the topic of sheds, one last photo to share. I saw this book yesterday for those out there wanting an antidote to a book of a similar title.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

There’s No Berry Like a Snowberry

I don’t have a snowberry (symphoricarpus albus) shrub in my cutting garden but I love foraging for a few berries for arrangements in the hedgerows during autumn and winter.

They are so sweet they should be made into disney characters.  In the UK we are so used to the red, yellow and orange berries of pyracantha, cotoneaster, berberis and so forth but these fleshy white berries, well ... they are extra special.  It’s their plumpness I love and the way they grow in gorgeous clusters of different size berries with the little black ‘dot‘ at their base.  I also love the way, when the leaves drop from the shrub, the only thing that's left is the berries.

When I first started to appreciate snowberries they reminded me of one my favourite bric-a-brac costume jewellery brooches I bought many years ago for a few of your earth pounds.

So I teamed them up for a full on brooch/snowberry appreciation session ... I know, I know I need to get out more, but I’m sure you can see the similarity too! Now to find a way to preserve the snowberries to wear as a brooch in the event my brooch might disintegrate from over wearing or be lost.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Saturday 1 December 2012

Ice Flower Bowls

The past few days have been a tad chilly to say the least.

Yesterday morning's apricot sunrise

Crunchy grass

Poor chilly Miss Wilmott, the frosted seedhead of a scabious

So to reflect the weather, today's blog post is another 'ice flower' theme, making easy and beautiful ice flower bowls.  The following bowls were made during the summer when blooms were lush and plentiful.  These bowls are beautiful the right way round but also turned upside down. They can be used as a container for ice cream or any cold dessert.  Or, if turned over making a dome, they could be used to conceal another surprise underneath, perhaps ice cream flower chocs or an edible flower artic roll (but those are for another blog!).

This was a very 'Barbie-esque' bowl with bright pink asters, zinnias, gyp and cosmos.  Great for strawberry ice cream or sorbet.

This one was made with flowers I had left over from a birthday bouquet.  Love-in-a-mist, grasses, zinnias, blue lace flower, ageratum and amaranthus, which, as the bowl melted a bit, bled through the ice with it's red colouring which you can just see starting to happen on the third photo.

This next bowl is one of my favourites, I made it in late September.  It looked exquisite with the sun and artificial light shining through. 

It includes daisies, larkspur, cosmos, gypsophila, nigella and scabious.

It reminded me of the interesting work of the artist Henny Burnett, only her work (below) is in wax and in 'shoe form'.

And in the true spirit of the 'process of decay' or more accurately the spirit of, 'forgetting about the ice bowl and it then experienced many a de-icing cycle', it had evolved into this fragile resemblance of its former self and the flowers were almost freeze dried.

This bowl was made a couple of days ago with the beautiful 'Fantasy Chrysanthemums'.  Perfect for vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet.

Like the ice shot glasses from a previous blog, 'Ice Ice Baby',  the bowls are very easy to make, just get two bowls of similar shapes but different sizes.

Place flowers around the edge, place the smaller bowl on top and then pour water in between the bowls.  You will need to use a weight to stop the inside bowl floating upwards, I use a can of beans as opposed to a can of worms.


Go on get those imaginative juices going and put a few seasonal flowers together for a beautiful ice bowl.