Sheepish Pincushion – An Update

Originally posted on Nellie Makes:

IMG_0558I have been plodding along with the pincushion for a couple of weeks, albeit it only a few evenings a week.  It has been a challenge right from the start as I have had to learn drizzle stitch and also bullion stitch.

I have followed the instructions carefully and also watched the video tutorials on Needle and Thread which are great.  However, the ears have come out rather large I think.  My eldest son keeps telling me that it doesn’t have to be identical to the photograph and that it is my interpretation – how kind.  Whilst I like learning the new stitches I think I prefer the neatness and precision of the Jacobean crewel work I did two projects ago to this kind of project so I think I will be heading back in this direction once the pincushion is done.  It has been helpful though as I am…

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A Sheepish Pincushion

Originally posted on Nellie Makes:

I have finished the paisley cushion cover; I just need to sew it all together which I plan to do one wet weekend.  In my bid to learn more embroidery skills I have identified a couple of kits through which I can learn some new stitches and techniques, hopefully gain more confidence and feel empowered to start coming up with my own ideas.  I have mentioned before the course I was thinking of doing to give me confidence with design but I have decided that I will be trying to run before I can walk so this is my new approach which I am quite excited about.

First up is an embroidery kit from Lorna Bateman which will give me a taste of stumpwork, something which intrigues me, and teach me some new stitches such a bullion knots and drizzle stitches.  The kit also has the advantage of turning into…

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An Unexpected Arts and Crafts Gem – Perrycroft

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It’s funny how you can trek all over the place, even all over the world, and yet it turns out that there is a wonderful gem of a garden right under your nose and you had no idea.

Perrycroft turned out to be such a garden today.  Situated just over the Malvern Hills from me, nestled just below the ridge and with panoramic views of British Camp and out across Herefordshire towards the Black Mountains of Wales, the house and garden were stunning and I wasn’t alone in this opinion.

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The house was the first commissioned the renown Arts and Craft’s architect, CFA Vosey received for a house.  Vosey had started his career designing wallpaper and furniture and was very inspired by William Morris, Pugin, the Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau and railed against the over decorative approach of the Victorians.

“Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences.” (CFA Voysey)

The white walls and green woodwork are peculiar to his designs and I was completely transfixed by it. The green works so well with the lawn and surroundings and really ties the house into its location.

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Adjacent to the house is the formal garden studded with topiary. I really liked the simple alternating approach of the blocks of sedum and grey foliage but more so that you look down into the square which gives you an interesting viewpoint and reminded me of the medieval gardens which had raised walkways around them.

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The topiary continues down into the next part of the formal garden.  You don’t really get a sense of the slope in the photograph above but they are quite steep and it is interesting that the owners haven’t been tempted to put in lots of horizontal terracing to tame the slope – in fact the box squares working down the slope actually emphasis the slope.

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The chickens are demonstrating the steepness of the slope in the shadow of their topiary cushion.  I have said many times before that I am not a huge fan of hedges and garden rooms mainly because I find them claustrophobia but this wasn’t the case at Perrycroft –  there was a luxurious generosity of space in each area.

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A sense of movement is achieved going down the slope with the repetition of key plants and colours as you can see with the asters and I like the way the verbena bonariensis is planted in front of the dark purple berberis hedge.

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There is a wonderful exuberance in the planting which is as generous as the space.  It is clear that a confident hand is behind this garden.  The owner, Gillian Archer, is very much a hands on gardener and is ably assisted by two full-time gardeners hardly surprising when you consider there are 10 acres to tame and manage.

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If ever there was an example of how wonderful a late summer border can look here it is.  The borders positively glowed with colour.

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As I have said there are 10 acres and aside from the formal gardens there is a woodland and also a wilder area with a chain of three ponds working their way down the slope,  a couple of wildflower meadow type areas, an orchard and a vegetable area.

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Throughout the garden are these very high back benches and I wonder if they are based on Voysey designs.  My research tells me that he liked to design the house including the furnishings and I understand that he partly designed some of the garden are Perrycroft.  It seems to me that the benches are reminiscent of his style.

The number of photographs I take of a garden are always a good indicator of whether I am enjoying it, am inspired by it or, as in this case, just bowled over.  When Voysey died in 1941 amongst the various tributes to his contribution to design and architecture was one from Pevsner, a German born art historian who commented:

“…he never regarded himself as the great artist whose genius must be respected and accepted without querying. He built what was to be useful and enjoyable, that was all. Hence the undated perfection of the best of his work. … his [pattern] designs were so perfectly balanced between stylization and love of nature that the best of them have, to my mind, never been surpassed. Voysey believed in a humane, homely, honest life, in simplicity with domestic care and comfort, and in leisure judiciously and pleasurably spent amidst trees and flowers. … the essence of his work and his personality does not belong to our age but to an age gone for ever.”

Perrycroft opens under the National Garden Scheme

My garden this weekend – 21st September 2014

Aster trinervius 'Stardust'

Aster trinervius ‘Stardust’

Unlike some parts of the country we have been lucky to have a couple of days rain towards the end of the week.  It was mostly light persistent rain but there were a few real downpours which have filled up the water butts and everything is looking fresh again.  Given that Saturday was a damp and overcast day I ‘gardened’ under cover repotting all the miniature bulbs which are stored in the greenhouse now.  There are already some signs of narcissus and oxalis appearing which makes me really happy.  The greenhouse is being given over to overwintering my various alpines so won’t have any heating this year; I will be storing the tender plants in the garage which has a good size window with a work-surface under it.

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I am finding that my tastes have been changing over the last year or so and I am becoming more focussed on certain plant groups which should hopefully mean that the garden looks less chaotic in the future! I am pleased with some of the plant combinations I have created this year.  At the moment this combination of crocosmia, witch hazel with its autumn leaves and the asters is making me smile – it is so vibrant.

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Today, due to my general need to sort, tidy and have a more cohesive approach today, with the sun shining, I decided to continue the clearing I started last weekend and tackle my nemesis – the compost heaps. As you can see my compost heaps are a far cry from the organised and tidy heaps we regularly see on Gardeners’ World but I would say to Monty, in my defence, that I am an amateur garden who has a full time demanding job and no time for turning and moving stuff from one heap to another.

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The two heaps nearest to you in the chaotic photo were emptied this spring, truly, but we never got around to emptying the one nearest the fence and I suspect its been a good year or so since we did and even then I don’t think its been emptied properly for years.  I only needed to remove a small amount of the top layer before I came across good quality compost.  Look how wonderfully friable it is – Monty would be impressed, well maybe!

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A couple of hours later and not only had I emptied the bin completely – yes me on my own, both my sons were out – but I had dismantled and removed the bin.  Some of the lower planks had rotted through which is hardly surprising.  The amount of compost was ridiculous.  I shovelled it down to the border below where the Acer was removed the other week and where I want to plant some new shrubs and add hellebores and spring bulbs.  The stones at the front of the area are a loose retaining wall which I need to redo once everything else is sorted.

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The height of the border has significantly increased but it will go down once it has had time to settle and been rained on plus I want to rake it down the border further once some of the perennials have died back. The compost is so thick here that you sink in it as you walk over it – this makes me very happy indeed.  You can also see that I have painted the fence alongside the space for the compost bin. I would have painted more except I could feel my muscles seizing up – I will do the rest as each bit is more accessible.  It all looks very smart but if you look the other way…

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You can see some of the chaos I have created in the process and left for now!  The bin needs rebuilding and will be shorter than before due to the rotten timbers.  I then need to fill it with a pile of stuff you can’t see and also tip the overflow from the other bins into it.  Then in a month or so when I have tidied and cut back more perennials I will empty out the other bins and use the compost to mulch them.

So for the second weekend on the trot I am tired but happy.  I think the weather is starting to turn so I will need to start moving tender plants under cover in the next week or so.  In the meantime I am researching shrubs for the border above and also peonies for somewhere else.

More Paisley or should I say Whales?

Originally posted on Nellie Makes:

2014_09190017Donna’s comment on my last post that the first paisley motif made her think of a whale with flowery eyes made me chuckle and since then all I can see are whales. I have completed the second motif now which looks even more like a whale than the last one!

This motif is much better than the last one as I have abandoned the waste knot starting method so the ends are secure.  I haven’t got bored of french knots yet but I am more and more convinced that I get more enjoyment from the crewelwork I did in the last project.

Two more small motifs, or whales to do, and then I have to decide whether to do some motifs on the back of the cushion and then to sew it all up and finish it!

2014_09190018In the meantime I am looking for the next project which will be…

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Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – September 2014

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Looking back to last September’s GBBD post I seem to be showing the same plants with one of two additions.  I don’t have many Asters to show as they haven’t quite opened their blooms yet and with the grey days we have had recently I think they may take a few more days yet. One of the new additions is Crocosmia Emily MacKenzie which I have tried to grow before and lost so fingers crossed this time.  I really like the flared flowers with the darker markings inside.

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September wouldn’t be September without me showing you Kirengeshoma palmata which is the star of my garden at this time of year.  As I have said probably too many time before the flowers remind me of butter curls.

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An unknown Rudbeckia continues to glow in the border.  This is self-seeded from who knows where although my suspicion is that the birds may have had something to do with it.

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Although I find the Aster umbellatus difficult to photograph due to the small flowers I do think it is a very underrated plant.  It adds good height to the border without needing staking even in my garden and the insects seem to love it.

 

2014_09140031logoThe Dahlias are all still flowering well and have done much better in individual pots this year than in the border.  I have only included the one above, Classic Rosamund, as the others have all appeared on the blog in the last month or so.  Classic Rosamund has only recently opened and I really like the composition of the flower which in my opinion is more interesting than the popular simple Bishop flowers but not as over the top as the cactus flowers.

2014_09140009logoI do like white Japanese Anemones although I must be in a minority as they don’t seem to appear very often in gardens or the media.  I know they have a habit of running but I like the purity of the colour and the way they can really light up a dark corner.

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Finally one of my new Japanese Anemones, Queen Charlotte. I bought three for the Cottage Border: Lady Emily, Prince Heinrich and Queen Charlotte.  I have planted them in order of seniority along the border so I can remember which is which with Lady Emily closest to the steps – so far it seems to be working but who knows if I will remember this time next year!

Those are my floral highlights for September 2014.  For more floral highlights visit Carol over at May Dream Gardens who has hosted this monthly meme for more years than I, and no doubt she, care to remember

 

Paisley Ponderings

Originally posted on Nellie Makes:

2014_09090002I had been making good progress on the paisley designed cushion cover but I suspect I am about to take some steps backwards.

In my last post I mentioned how frustrated with the transfer method suggested with the pattern in the Stitch magazine I was.  I used a transfer pencil and despite repeating the process several times the pattern was barely visible even with my glasses on!  So I decided enough was enough and drew in the design freehand which turned out to be quite easy really given the simplicity of the design.  I definitely prefer the pounching transfer method.

Anyway having transferred the design I have made good progress on the largest motif.  The outline is in stem stitch, with the flowers made up of detached chain stitches and French knots.  I have to say that I have felt that any doubt I might have had about French knots…

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