Cutting flowers may become addictive… – by B

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Nigella, sweet pea, scabious, dianthus (Mrs Sinkins White – they smell unbelievable, like vanilla and cloves)

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A little posy – by B

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My first cut flowers of the year: nigella, sweat peas and bleeding heart.

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The temporary permanent kitchen – by B

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Note our entire cutlery collection in jam jars as all of the drawer runners are knackered

I thought it was about time I posted the kitchen as it’s been this way for three years. There is no clever styling or posh camera here so it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing post.  When we moved in there was no room for our large fridge freezer, the cooker had been stuffed in a corner, and there was rather a lot of cornflower blue scalloped artex. Unfortunately there was also damp in the kitchen cupboards, a crack in the enamel sink, and lots of yellow pine…

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Yellow wood and blue artex

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A cracked sink and some very nineties wall units

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Boiler in the fireplace and greasy corner where the cooker had lived.

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This table looks barren and if I was a proper blogging person I would have found some flowers or artfully arranged a breadboard and artisan loaf or something.

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The beige, cracked floor tiles are FREEZING in winter and very effective at smashing anything which is dropped onto them. I couldn’t justify spending (wasting) more money on a temporary kitchen by covering them with vinyl, though.

I painted the cupboards in Farrow and Ball Pavillion Gray (a surprisingly lengthy process), painted the tiles and everything else white, and our builder replaced the boiler, work tops, sink, and taps, light, and raised the height of the fireplace to accommodate a range cooker.  I screened the new boiler and bins with an Ikea curtain, and lined the glazed wall cupboard with the remnants, and added a cheap Roman blind at the window.  It ‘ain’t perfect but it’s cleaner and a bit less dated while we wait until we can afford to knock walls about and do it properly.  I do wish half the drawers and cupboards weren’t unusable due to damp or damage, though! image

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Four year old stylist – by B

imageBiggest little one picked some blossom from a neighbour’s overhanging tree.  She was very definite that it was for mummy and daddy’s bedroom.  I suspect the petals may drop by morning but it’s making me smile today.

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May flowers (and foliage) – by B

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Euphorbia, allium, variegated sage, chives, with buddleia, salvia ostfeiesland, white lupins and alchemelia mollis waiting in the wings

Tulips have given way to more autumn-planted Wilkos bulbs: this time allium purple sensation. I am rather enjoying the emerging structure, and spotting and noting the gaps to be filled with more bulbs and divided perennials in the months and years to come. In the end I set up my raised bed cut flower patch in the back garden. The Sarah Raven seedlings and a few home-sown sweet peas are growing fast, and I’m glad I chose mostly perennials as they should turn out to be a lasting investment for the house as well as the garden. We have enjoyed our first home-grown rhubarb crumble his week too. Apples will have to wait as I’ve pinched off most of the fruitlets from our Stoke Edith Pippin (a local Apple, grafted by a friend last year), to get some good growth on this season. We’re having a new rear fence built in a week or so too, which will make a huge impact on privacy and tidiness at the sunny end of the garden. The only bad news is that our neighbour has vigorously pruned her grape vine so the sneaky branch we trained along our fence has bitten the dust, so no grapes from the garden this year. They were so good we might have to invest in our own vine.

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Raised bed with Ammi, echinops, poppy, dianthus, cosmos, sweet peas and a brave little dahlia surrounded by slug pellets, with a cental apple tree

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The other side of the garden with already triffid-like cardoons, hebe, euphorbia, allium, white bleeding heart, forget me nots, sage, and some yellow-green shrubbery of unknown origin

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Slowly but surely…by B

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A bit of colour (okay, it’s mostly a restricted pallette of green, blue, white and purple) in a slowly evolving border in the back garden.  The forget me nots are spreading nicely (with a bit of help).  The euphorbia wulfenii is looking majestic with its acid green plumes.  The ‘Shirley’ tulips have started off a lemon and lime white shade, and are maturing gradually with purple tinged petal edges.  A few bluebells are peeping through the greenery, and  I’m looking forward to the allium ‘purple sensation’ popping its purple pompoms, and the nigella seedlings (the result of a scattered packet of seeds) launching their frothy blue stars.  There’s more to do, and I definitely need to plug a few gaps in the bulb planting come autumn, but it’s feeling like progress.

The borders in the back garden were small, lined by a very ugly, cracked concrete and aggregate path, and covered in blue plastic and bark chippings.  Time and money have prevented a dramatic makeover.  Instead I’ve gradually removed the plastic and path, reshaped the border edge, enriched the soil as much as I can with the contents of our dalek compost bins, and removed the largest stones (it is mostly builders’ rubble with a handful of clay topsoil, it seems).  I pruned the laurel, and transplanted, divided and spread around a tiny clump of forget me nots from our last house.  Allium and tulip bulbs were added last autumn from Wilkos (bargain!).  Euphorbia wulfenii and cardoon plants (just a mound of silvery foliage so far this year) were the only extravagance, bought from Sara Raven two years ago.  I’m waiting for the miniature alchemelia mollis plants from Aldi to do something interesting (planted about a month ago).

This gardening lark is fun, but I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing, and thinking in 4D (not just space, but time, planning the seasons) is one hell of a challenge.  And don’t even mention dandelions and bindweed.  Just don’t.

Oh yeah, and the bastard earwigs munched most of my daffodils.  Grr.

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Spring continues… by B

Most of my little projects seem to revolve around small people these days.  This week it was smallest one turning 2, with his favourite character, Peter Rabbit, perched on a Mr McGregor’s garden cake. I have to say easiest cake ever (far easier than anything that involves making complex shapes from sponge cake).

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It involved a simple chocolate sponge cake, chocolate buttercream, a pack of marzipan and some food colouring (to make vegetables), green petit fours cases (for cabbage and cauliflower leaves), white chocolate crispy cakes (cauliflower), green fruit winders (for carrot leaves and pumpkin tendrils), crumbled bourbons (soil) and some cocktail sticks to help the veggies stay put.  And Peter, of course.

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Still enjoying spring time too, with two bunches (always at least two) of supermarket daffodils are brigntening up a corner of the living room.  Can’t remember if I’ve blogged the bookcase before, but it was a £30 ebay find (solid wood, a bit lived in), with some Ikea origami design wallpaper pasted to the back of each shelf.  It’s a good dust-free and relatively toddler-proof home for my expanding collection of Denby Chevron crockery (handed down by my Gran).

I’ve been painting a bit of furniture and doing some gardening too, but need a bit of spare time (yeah, right) to take some photos. I also need to delete a million photos off my phone so that I can update iOS and start using Camera+ again (best phone photo editing app ever) which explains the even dodgier than usual pictures in recent posts!

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