Patterns of the Palm House

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Last week, on a rare dry day, I made my very first visit to Kew Gardens in London.  It is almost ridiculous that I have never visited before but living where I do it involves at least 6 hours on trains so you can understand why I have talked myself out of a visit time and again.  However, as I wanted to meet up with some horticultural friends who live in London and who I hadn’t seen for just over a year it seemed a good venue for a Christmas get together.

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The main attraction was the Palm House, which was particularly apt as I was with a group who are very into exotics and knowledgeable on the subject. However,  I found myself distracted completely by the structure of the Palm House with most of my photographs looking up beyond the foliage to the roof.  The Palm House was built between 1844 and 1848 by the architect Decimus Burton and the iron maker Richard Turner.  It was the first large scale structural use of wrought iron.  Sadly the Temperate House, which is even larger, is closed for restoration and will probably be shut until 2018 but I might get around to another visit by then!

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I loved the spiral staircases which take you to the top of the Palm House and on to a walkway from where you can look down on to the foliage.

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You also get to see close up the detail of the building’s construction.

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I found the contrast of the lush tropical foliage with the hard and geometric structure fascinating, especially with the benefit of a beautiful blue sky in the background.

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Just like the structure of the building many of the plants housed here have strong architectural shapes, such as this Dioon spinulosum (I think!).

We also visited the Alpine House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which I really enjoyed but is hard to photograph well unless you take plant close-ups which I didn’t as again I was distracted by the overall view.

All in all it was a lovely day out despite leaving home in the dark and a return journey completely in the dark.  Maybe a summer visit will allow a longer visit with the opportunity to explore the outside of the gardens more.  Maybe an overnight visit would be an even better idea, maybe to coincide with RHS Chelsea – I feel a plan forming!

 

 

The First Cut is the Deepest…

2013_10240006….well maybe not the deepest but definitely the hardest and most challenging for me and I suspect it is the reason I don’t do much sewing.

Apparently when I made myself some Pyjama bottoms (see link on my other blog) I said I would make my sons some.  It was one of those throw away lines which I assumed no one was listening to.  But no!  They were listening and who would have thought it but both my sons (in their early 20s) have asked when I will be making them some winter PJ bottoms!  At least its only the bottoms as they will wear T-shirts on the top.

Procrastination has gone on for a few months.  The pattern, New Look 6321, was bought on-line and is about as simple as you can get.  I spent ages surfing the net looking for checked cotton flannel which apparently isn’t that fashionable, if you want ditzy flowers you are spoilt for choice but checks forget it.  It hard enough finding companies/fabric shops that do dress length rather than quilting fat quarters but checks forget it.  Anyway, I finally tracked some down at Truro Fabrics, which 2013_10240005my sons helpfully pointed out, we had walked past several times in June when we were on holiday.  They have a sample service so I ordered a couple of samples and the boys choose the one.  So not only do I have to make two pairs of PJ bottom but in the same fabric, at least they are the same size.

Two weeks ago I stopped making excuses and cut out the pattern pieces.  I find this incredibly intimidating as I worry that I am cutting the wrong size and I have no confidence when it comes to altering patterns at all.  Luckily men’s PJ bottoms have little shaping and so I went for the basic S size.  The 2013_10240001pattern and material have sat on the table for the last two weeks making me feel guilty.  However, my youngest is home from University next weekend and I would love to be able to give him his PJ bottoms to take back with him to keep him warm in his drafty student house.

Tonight I have bitten the bullet, moved the coffee table back and tackled laying out the fabric and pattern.  The material is checked and I have lined up a couple of key points on the cross of the pattern in a vain attempt to line up the pattern but I’m not too worried about it.  I get very nervous about cutting the material out more so than the pattern, I love the fabric and dread that I am going to cut it wrong or some other disaster.  I did plan to cut both PJ bottoms out this evening but it took me just over an hour to do the first pair and quite frankly crawling around the floor for that long is enough of a work out for me.

So the pieces are cut out and now I have to crack on and sew it up.