08 January 2019

A-Z of plants

I've been having fun on Instagram, working through the alphabet by posting a photo of a plant from my garden each day. Today is the day for X - which plant do you think I chose?

I enjoy Instagram because it's so simple to use. You can find me here if you are curious.

24 December 2018

My book of the month: December

I've not read other books by Barbara Kingsolver but was intrigued by the premise of resilience. It's a theme that resonates with me this year, as I try to work my way through stress and grief. I wasn't disappointed.

There are two strands to the story, each set in times of great upheaval. It's the way that the characters react to societal changes around them that was the appeal of this novel for me. Ordinary people, caught in circumstances that affect whole sections of the community, struggle to find their way through.

You can read more about Unsheltered on Goodreads

20 December 2018

Life cycle

My love of gardening came from my father. As well as regularly visiting garden centres, we often popped into specialist plant shows to admire the prize-winning plants. It didn't matter whether it was an African violet, bromeliad or orchid show; we always came home with a couple of new plants. I knew that Dad would always propagate new ones from these and that cuttings would eventually head my way. My garden is full of plants from my father and his full of plants from me.

Every time I saw a spectacular plant, my first thought was that I must take a photo to show my father. Stunning plants are often discovered in ordinary places. We spotted a huge patch of oyster plants in full bloom at Concord Hospital. Dad was delighted to see them and I took photos that we pored over together during the following days.

Every year we spent a lot of time pruning the enormous camellias in his back yard. We had a system that worked well for us. I would wield the long-reach pruner among the high branches, while he would patiently chop the branches into smaller pieces for disposal in his garden waste bin. These were quiet times, after which we admired the neatness of our work together.

My father died four weeks ago. Some of his potted plants now live with me. I feel his presence around me as I water and talk to them all and this gives me comfort as I try to deal with my sense of loss. I am bereft.

25 September 2018

Spring zing

The bees are out in force in my garden because the citrus is in flower! The zesty fragrance from my lemon, mandarin, blood orange and finger lime trees is wafting in the air and don't the bees love it. 

They all deserve a good feed, so it's on with the pellets of organic citrus food followed by a long drink of water. Spring zing is happening! 😄

14 August 2018

My book of the month: August

I don't often read historical novels but this one enticed me. I think that's because it is mostly set in Australia and has two feisty female characters - one in the early 1800s and the other a century later. 

At the crux of the story is the platypus. English scientists (male of course, due to the time in history) refused to believe that such a creature existed and mocked any evidence to the contrary. 

There's also a theme of self discovery, as both women begin to learn more about themselves and their places in the world. It's a fascinating read.

You can read more about The Naturalist's Daughter on Goodreads.

01 August 2018

1718 coverlet

Back in 2015, I was excited about taking part in a quilt-along to make my version of the 1718 coverlet, after I had purchased Susan Briscoe's beautiful book, The 1718 Coverlet: 69 Quilt Blocks from the Oldest Dated British Patchwork Coverlet. The book contains the fascinating story of the coverlet, including a chapter describing how members of The Quilters' Guild of the British Isles constructed a replica of the original.

Well, it's three years later and I have completed only the centre blocks of the first three rows. My enthusiasm has returned, though, now that the original coverlet celebrates its 300 year anniversary. 

There's going to be an exhibition of coverlets made from Susan Briscoe's patterns at the UK Festival of Quilts this month, as well as the original 1718 silk coverlet. I so wish I could be there to see them all but, since I live on the other side of the world, I've only been able to visit the show once. Best quilt show I've ever attended! Will you be there?

If you can't see the quilts in the flesh, check out issue 38 of Today's Quilter magazine (I bought my digital copy through Zinio), which features a supplement about the coverlet and shows some recently made. It's a beauty!  

In the meantime, I've started on the two large applique blocks that book-end the first three rows. In recent years I have become more interested in applique work and find that my stitching is improving the more I do. So satisfying.

Are you using Susan Briscoe's patterns, too? I'd love to see your versions, so please leave a comment with a link to your photos. I hope you are enjoying this project as much as I am.

26 June 2018

My book of the month: June

One of my fantasies is to live in a small community away from the noise of the city. Then I read a story set in such a place and wonder whether there will be hidden mysteries surrounding me. How would I cope?

The Two Houses by Fran Cooper is such a story. Set in a remote setting in northern England, the setting almost becomes a character in the book. I love a story with a strong sense of place and this sure has that. It also has a buried body and a 'secret' that everyone seems to know about except Jay and Simon, who have purchased the property, Two Houses, after moving from London.

Intrigued? You can read more about The Two Houses on Goodreads.