Gardening Journal – Autumn flowers.

img_4885It’s fair to say that I’ve neglected the garden recently, I’ve been way too busy doing silly inappropriate tasks that rank far higher in my list of priorities than they should. Things like sewing a new dog bed or typing out recipes using my typewriter because well I just like using it. After a quiet word with myself I’ve come to the conclusion that arranging books on my coffee table to take pretty pictures is just a form of procrastination. What I really need to be doing is tackling the daily jobs before my house is stacked to the rafters with laundry and the weeds are tickling my ears. So that’s what I did, I went out into the garden and weeded for half an hour …

Before getting distracted by all the pretty flowers, bringing them inside and arranging them to take more pictures.

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Having neglected the garden for quite a while it really surprised me when I paid attention to what was still flowering. I associate autumn with oranges, browns and reds, I never would have thought that nearly into November you can make a pretty flower arrangement like this just from the garden.

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This gave me this idea for a post, I’d like to document what flowers are in bloom this time of year and a little information on each so I can take better care of them next year.

From Left to right

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Salvia – I think this is a Salvia? It wasn’t planted by me so I’m not 100% sure, I’m hoping a gardening guru will read this and correct me. I think this salvia is called Marcus, I could be wrong. A herbaceous perennial (disappears and comes back each year) and to prolong blooming cut off faded stems. Mulch in spring.

Osteospurmum – African daisy ‘Stardust’ An evergreen perennial which means it should provide bushy ground cover all winter however it might not survive frosts so overwinter under glass. Deadhead to prolong flowering.

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Astrantia – A herbaceous Perennial,  Astrantia likes moisture so a good 3-4 inches of mulch will help retain water, deadhead to prolong blooming. Prefers light to partial shade, needs to be protected from harsh midday sun.

Sambucus nigra – ‘Black lace’. A deciduous shrub, this bloomed much earlier in the year but I noticed the berries and thought they were very pretty. I can’t believe this but apparently for the best colour leaves i’m to prune right down to the ground in early spring. I’ll let you know how that goes.

img_4876-1Catnip – A herb, part of the mint family it can be used in herbal teas. Very easy to keep, cats love it, it’s a shame nobody near us has cats. Ignore it unless it hasn’t rained in a long time, then by all means, water it.

Rudbeckia – A herbaceous perennial. Apply liquid plant food every few weeks over the flowering period to produce bigger and better flowers. keep moderately watered over late spring, summer and autumn. Deadhead by cutting back faded stems to encourage new flowers.

 

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Peacock Orchids – These are annual bulbs, they were £2 in morrisons so I grabbed a bag, we planted them out in late May after the last frost, it felt like winter 2018 was never going to end. We’ve pretty much left them to it and they’ve been beautiful. I’m going to do the same next year to see if it was just a 2018 fluke.

Cyclamen – A tuberous perennial. These are meant to flower in autumn and winter but ours have been out since July, I’m convinced our climate here on the East Yorkshire coast is colder than most of the UK. Don’t over water in summer and mulch with leaf mould or bark chippings.

Hopefully this will serve as a little reminder of what to do next spring, summer and autumn to ensure my plants flower right through to November next year and hopefully, if we’re lucky and I stop taking pictures and actually start gardening we’ll get way more flowers than we have this year.

Written with love

Brooke

 

 

 

 

Making our little patch of this world… Ours.

Along with some gardening posts I’d like to document our ignorant and completely amateur attempts at turning this place into a garden we can be proud of.

Me and Nick (The Farmer) are certainly not together because of our wealth of shared interests. In fact we couldn’t be more polar opposite, he’s calm, I’m not, he’s sports obsessed, I hate sports, he’s committed, I’m flaky, he’s down to earth, I’m in the clouds, I like crafts and long walks, he likes cows and short walks. That sounds terrible but it suits us, I’d be pretty annoyed if I had to share my sewing machine with him. And anyway we do have one shared interest… Our garden! We love it. We even spent a night near the NEC and brought the average age of Gardeners World Live down by at least 30 years.

I would really like this blog to include posts about gardening so I thought it best to introduce our little patch of this world. It isn’t what you’d call the prettiest garden. We have a huge shed / summer house that looks a little like a caravan. We can be very lazy and leave it unswept for considerable amounts of time. We have an uneven extra garden (going to be a chicken area with maybe a little veg patch) that’s currently just an expanse of mud. The wind belts around the house and slams the gates in your face. The grass is covered in dog wee patches, our soil is very heavy clay, as alkaline as you can get (pH 14) and unfortunately we have a considerable amount of couch grass. It’s safe to say our little garden of Eden exists only in my head and in Nicks incredible ability to ignore the untidiness of his surroundings.

Along with some gardening posts I’d like to document our ignorant and completely amateur attempts at turning this place into a garden we can be proud of. Somewhere we can sit out and enjoy the sunshine, or probably more appropriately for our east coast climate somewhere we can sit inside and look out upon. Neither of us has any landscaping or gardening experience so we should learn lots of lessons along the way. I’m sure there will be things we do badly or wish we’d done differently but that’s part of the process!

Here’s where we’re at so far…

The caravan…

(Before people tell me off for having the lights on in the day, they’re on a sensor and this was still very early). My plan is to place a few small trees around it so it doesn’t quite look like such a great stonking portacabin, also we need to lay some slabs in front and place a few pretty pots there. It should be a great place to sit in and enjoy the sunshine without the gale force winds. There will be a gate next to it eventually taking you through to …

The mud and weed garden… One day i hope this is alive with clucking and veg growing but for now it’s just a mess.

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The rest of it…we had to lay a drain next to the path because of collecting water, Nicks grass seed hasn’t done all that well… a Farmer that can’t grow grass, who’d have thought? (He’ll kill me for this.)

We finished the patio area this summer but I’m not overly keen on the colour of the table and chairs, my mistake that. I wanted it a little less bright. A gumtree bargain it cost us £100! Thanks Brian from Nottingham.

The Patio area…This is the patio before me and dad started the raised beds. 

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I love painting colours outside, they change constantly! It also makes it very difficult to pick one, you can usually find me stood in front of the Valspar stand in B&Q looking utterly confused. The table and chair colour in B&Q was a light but dull grey, as soon as it’s outside it’s a very bright very pale blue… Always use samples, lesson learnt.

These photos don’t have any filters on, the ones below were just taken later in the day.

Our ambitions, my whimsies and the future of our garden…

I’d really like an apple tree, a pear tree, a veggie patch, chickens, a donkey, a secret garden, a cut flower garden, a white garden, a large lake with a weeping willow or a Whomping Willow if possible. A eucalyptus tree, a 100 year old climbing hydrangea, a greenhouse, garden cloche, an irrigation system, a potting shed, an enchanted forest, a wind free garden, a willow hedge that won’t need trimming and last but not least a successful batch of baby carrots.

I’ve accepted that we can’t have all of these but I’m very optimistic we might get chickens and a veg patch and I’ll try my very best at everything else. There’s plenty of work left to do, in fact most of the work is left to do but we’ll get there, If you’d like to follow our garden journey then please enter your email address and subscribe 🙂 it might help me boost my 15 subscribers! By the way – a huge thank you to all of your for your support. Any keen gardeners with any ideas please get in touch!

Written with love

Brooke

P.s. My grammar and spelling must be getting better, when I pasted this into word there was only 1 red wobbly line, not the usual 30.

My Insta-Photo White Plank Project

I don’t really know why i’m writing this blog. I have absolutely no authority, no training and no idea what i’m doing. I completely make it up as I go along. The one thing I am fairly good at is being willing to just give things a go. It’s how I learn and it’s what i’d really like to encourage other people to do, It’s fun! And that’s exactly what this little project was.

I know you shouldn’t copy other ideas, you should be original and think outside the box but I just couldn’t resist. Instagram is full to the brim of pretty flowers, cups of tea and books laid on battered white planks, so naturally I wanted in on the action. I wanted battered white planks!

Rather than buy myself an old white table I took a look around the house and thought what can I batter and bruise in a little experiment? The answer was this pine coffee table.img_3085

If Gina and Andy read this then I’m really sorry for taking a hammer to the coffee table you gave me. Those beautiful antique chests will never get touched but this wasn’t old so it didn’t feel quite so naughty? Again, I’m really really sorry, please forgive me!

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • Solid wood table of some form
  • Hammer
  • Wood Dye
  • Sharp Knife
  • Thin V Chisel
  • White emulsion 
  • Sand Paper
  • Clear Wax
  • 2 x Paintbrushes

Here’s how I did it…

Start off by measuring the top and marking lines equal distance apart with a metal ruler.  These will be the ‘planks’. Score down each line with a very sharp knife.

Wood carving tools would be ideal for this project. I haven’t mentioned yet how excited I am that I’ve inherited Nicks great grandmas old tools which are in this amazing battered leather case and they smell delightfully of the 1930’s. But that’s besides the point, a cheap set would be more than adequate for this.

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Using a thin V chisel carve out the lines of wood to emulate plank edges. I Made some parts thicker than others, this made the planks seem more worn and distressed. Don’t worry too much about the neatness or if it’s a little wobbly, it really didn’t bother me.

Then the fun part – Hammer the life out of it! Literally hit the sides, top, edges, drawers and legs as hard as you can with the both the front and back of the hammer. Do whatever you like. You’re creating years of knocks, bangs and scrapes, house moves and whoopsie daisies. It might even have lived in an old forge once upon a time, or a carpenters workshop. It’s story is yours to make. (I really wish I saved this part for a bad mood, wielding a hammer while you’re perfectly content is a complete waste of stress therapy).

With some rough sand paper sand the grooves, holes and dints. (You don’t won’t to give people splinters when they grab their coffee.) I used rough sandpaper because the old blacksmith wouldn’t have called a french polisher when the table in his forge gained a few bruises. The knocks and scratches would have felt a little rough. We’re aiming for authentically fake here!

Brush Jacobean Dark Oak Wood Dye in all the dents and grooves so when it’s painted and finally distressed the orangeness of the pine doesn’t come through.

Wait for that to dry and then paint away. Use any matt emulsion you have spare, it does not matter if the finish flakes and doesn’t last a lifetime. I mean it already looks like it’s been through the wars so whats one more chip? Be ruthless with your brush strokes don’t try to be neat, whats the point? Make it thick and clumpy in some parts and thin in others, keep going until you’re satisfied.

Once it’s dried lightly sand the edges, corners and down the grooves to remove paint and give it a distressed look.

To make it more distressed I splashed a little paint stripper on some areas and scraped it off. That looked a little excessive so I layered more paint until I was happy,  then a quick light sand to blend in all the stripped areas.

You’re nearly done, give it a wipe and a coat of clear waxed applied with a paintbrush and rubbed in with a cloth.

Voila! A surface ready for a pretty flat-lay photo.

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Written with love

Brooke

xx

I really wish I’d have saved this project for when a red mist ascended but unfortunately I remained rather jolly during the whole process.

The answer was a pine coffee table,

so many pretty photos taken of objects on white planks. I wanted to jump

DIY Easy Squidgy Pillow Headboard.

This is perfect if you have an old square headboard in the wrong colour, or if you’re bored and fancy a change. It’s also super squidgy, we all know the struggles of trying to read in bed and not being able to get comfy.

This is perfect if you have an old square headboard in the wrong colour, or if you’re bored and fancy a change. It’s also super squidgy, we all know the struggles of trying to read in bed and not being able to get comfy.

Long story short – My cousin wanted to buy a headboard but wouldn’t buy a nice one. I guess when you’re a 23 year old male the last thing you want to spend your money on is a big fancy headboard. He chose a cheap and cheerful one and said that’ll do.

The boringness of this headboard physically made me itch so I Hijacked it and took it upon myself to “have a go”. It was really important that whatever I did, if he didn’t like it he could get it back to it’s original form fairly easily.

By using a double duvet cover you get lots of fabric for very little money. This entire thing cost £11. It may cost more if you don’t have all the crafting essentials but you’ll be able to use those again.

What you’ll need…

  • Tailors measuring tape
  • Old headboard
  • Double quilt cover (I found a grey linen one on sale in dunelm for £7)
  • 1m 800g Wadding (Dunelm £4)
  • Sewing Machine
  • Matching thread
  • Contrasting thread of your choice
  • Scissors
  • 2 old hollowfibre pillows
  • Staple gun & staples
  • Very basic sewing knowledge (That’s all I have)

What to do…

  1. Measure your headboard using a tailors tape measure.
  2. Cut two identical pieces of fabric. This headboard was 54″ by 22″ so using the double duvet cover I cut out two rectangular pieces of fabric. I added two inches on to the left, top and right, and added 3 inches to the bottom. My cut fabric measured 58″ x 27″.

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  1. Cut an identical rectangular piece of wadding. 58″ x 27″.

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  1. Pin all the pieces together with the wadding on the top. Remember to place the right sides of the fabrics together because this will eventually be turned inside out.
  2. Sew 3 seams 1″ in from the edge. Sew down one short side, then across the top and down the other short side. Remember to leave the bottom completely open, this is where the headboard will go.

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  1. Turn inside out, push scissors into corners to get a sharp finish.
  2. Sew 3 seams again 1″ in, down the short side, top and the other short side leaving the bottom open again. I used contrasting cotton here for more effect.

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  1. Fit the cover over the headboard and adjust so the seam is central. The wadding should be on the front of the headboard. Staple the fabric on the back to keep the seem in place.img_3786.jpg
  1. Rip open two old holofibre pillows and stuff into front of headboard. (Stuff under the wadding) Don’t overfill, because the fabric won’t reach around the bottom. 

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  1. Pull the bottom edge taught and bring round to the back and staple in place.

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If you ever want to remove it, just take out the staples and pull it off.

Written with love

Brooke

Xx

Indoor flowers that will last forever.

How to have real flowers throughout the house that will last years!

There’s little else in my life that seems to give me as much satisfaction as having flowers around the house. They brighten up a rainy day, they’re a little bunch of nature blossoming on your kitchen table, and they’re the morning sunshine sat on your breakfast tray. There’s absolutely nothing else you can add to a room that brings as much colour, texture and scent as flowers do.

Some people wait for Valentine’s Day, birthdays or anniversary’s but I have no such notions, plus Nick has never been a romantic. I’m the person who will happily go and buy herself a lovely bunch just because it’s a Wednesday, or any other day for that matter.

Anyway, my problem arises with the sheer volume of flowers I want in the house, it far exceeds what is reasonable, and my florist bill would be double my wage! However, where there’s a problem there’s always a solution. I’ve found a nifty way to keep a vase of flowers in most corners without having the constant cycle of buying, feeding, enjoying and then throwing out, the solution is…

Hydrangeas!

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All you need is a hydrangea shrub, some secateurs, a vase and some water. Hydrangeas are brilliant blooms for drying, meaning they’ll last for years, if you cut them at just the right time they keep a lot of their colour too. When I say forever, the oldest I have are 2 years so I have no proof, but they still look the same as they did and 2 years is far better than the 10 days you get out of most.

This is a vase I filled last year.

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Now because I believe in spreading the hydrangea love, I’ve got a step by step guide so you can fill your house too, it’s just so easy!

How to dry and preserve hydrangeas…

  1. Use Mopheads. I have no experience with any other variety so I cannot say how they’ll turn out. I’ve never tried a white one either but that’s my plan so i’ll keep you posted.
  2. Timing is everything. Cutting a bloom at its peak of colour would seem like the best way to go but it isn’t, if the bloom is too young it will just wilt and die within a few days. Wait until the flower dries on the plant first, you can usually tell because the colours start to change.
  3. Cut the stem. Cut as far down as you can, it doesn’t really matter where but the shorter the stem the harder they are to arrange. You can always trim them later.
  4. Pull off all the leaves.
  5. Place in water. Fill a vase of water so the stems are at least half covered.
  6. Watch in wonder. Leave on the sideboard and just enjoy looking at them, over time the water will dry out and your pretty flowers will be pretty forever.

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Please don’t cut off too many flowers, to quote my hero Monty Don, “you don’t want to rob Peter to pay Paul.” I’ve taken three blooms off each plant in one year but this depends on the size of your plant, of course you can do as you like but I love my shrubs and want them to be just as bountiful next year.

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So if you don’t have a bush I suggest you get to your grandma’s house, or your folks house, or Margaret next door and request permission to snip away. Remember to give at least one back in a little vase and a box of chocolates to say thank you though.

Written with love

Brooke

xx