Saturday, 9 June 2018

A new home for Bloom

I was taking my son to his driving test the other day. He was nervous. In his usual way, he was overanalysing the scenario - "What if this happens, Mum? Or this? What if ... what if"?

In a moment of parenting genius (and a little frustration), I told him, "Stop saying WHAT IF and start saying WHATEVER". Do you like that? I like it.

I liked it until I realised it applies just as much to me as it does to him!

I have been working on a new website for Bloom for months (yeah well, maybe years). I have been fussing over this and that, changing templates, worrying about my 'brand', worrying that I haven't got all the links working, abandoning the whole process for a while, reading more books and advice. Yep, painful.

Bloom, 'Stop saying WHAT IF and start saying WHATEVER'.

And so, in a serious WHATEVER moment, I can announce that my new website is LIVE!




As a little celebration and a gift to you, kind readers, I have put together a new tutorial for some cute felt accessories for every kind of maker. 

For the stitchers, there are bloom pins:


For the crocheters, there are bloom stitch markers:

 

And for the knitters, stitch markers too!


I will be blogging at the new site from now on. Please visit me there, and have a look around.

The tutorial for the flower pins and stitch keepers is over at the new site, so please pop over and say 'hi'.

Can you see it? Can you see me enticing you over to visit? That would be me worrying, 'What if no one comes to see me at the new place'? But now I say, 'Whatever', and get on with it. See you soon?! Bloom x

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Garden progress, slowly but surely

We have been living at our new place for about 15 months now. It feels like progress on the new garden has been tediously slow. But then I look back through the photos!

The first small section that we tackled is at the back of the house. At one end of the 'entertaining area' was the clothesline. I figured that any entertainment was hardly going to be enhanced by the sight of my knickers flapping closeby, even if they were clean! And so the clothesline needed to be moved pronto.


My Sweetness and The Boy did the hard yards by putting up a screen, which would later hide the offending clothesline.


The white gravel was removed laboriously, with shovels and barrows. 



The soil here is truly awful - a very heavy yellow clay, with shale not far from the surface. It was one of my biggest concerns in buying this property, for fear that I wouldn't be able to grow a garden. In came some topsoil:


Eventually came the fun part - deciding on garden shapes and design. The boys welded and installed edging to my exacting specifications (!) and connected sprinklers. I couldn't garden without their help.


We seeded some fescue lawn and concreted in a few pavers for access. We inherited some garden statues from the previous owners. This maiden was rescued from under some bushes, and restored to her former water-bearing beauty!


Of course, roses were planted as a matter of priority. The advantage of planting a new garden is that I can experiment with new roses! This is Rosa 'Eye of the Tiger'.


A new garden also means I can plant old favourites, including the pink flowering crepe myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica x L. fauriei 'Tuscarora'.


And so, we sit and wait for plants to grow and settle into their new space.


 And we sip wine nearby with not an undergarment in view ;) Sweet!


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

In Annie's Flowergarden

My Sweetness is on long service leave at the moment, so we recently took the opportunity to travel for a couple of weeks around Victoria. I'm not sure exactly what it is about the Victorian countryside, but I feel very at home there, and could quite easily make the move south.

Perhaps I'm drawn to Victoria's gardens, of which we visited many. I will share some of them in the next few posts. The most special of them belonged to Annie Flowergarden!


Being in the Ballarat vicinity, I contacted Annie, Little Red Hen Jan and Ric-Rac Jodie, giving them very little notice, in the hope that they might be available for a coffee. Annie promptly offered to have us all to her garden for 'tea in the hothouse'. I had secretly hoped I'd get to see her hothouse and garden, but didn't want to invite myself! Awesome!

Annie's garden is a treasure trove of plants. We spent a good hour in the late afternoon wandering from plant to plant, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at every turn. Poor Jodie was unable to make it on the day (some feeble excuse about preparation for a little Quilt Market in the US or something ;) Had she been there we probably would have bored her stupid with our flower talk! Thankfully, Jan was equally plant-mad, and so coped very well :)


The first of the treasures to greet us was this Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia sp.) with its delicious blush of apricot. I say delicious with some poetic licence considering all parts of it are highly toxic!


Another of the treasures was this sweet clematis:


I don't remember what Annie said this was. Perhaps Clematis cirrhosa? I've never seen an autumn flowering clematis. It has made it to my 'must have' list!


The blooms are remarkably similar to those of hellebore, which I guess is due to them both being genera of the Ranunculaceae (or buttercup) family.


If there's one group of plants that join Annie and I at the hip as gardeners, I think it's the Salvia species. Her garden is full of many of them. And they are delightful in late autumn. 



The Salvia leucanthas were particularly lovely, with their soft, downy drops of velvet, in purples and whites.




We made our way to Annie's hothouse which she has cleverly fashioned with reclaimed old windows. I was so busy photographing flower close ups, that I forgot to record the big picture - this is Annie's image of her hothouse:


In this warm, cosy, glass enclosed refuge of Annie's property, she coaxes the best from plants that otherwise wouldn't cope in the elements outside. I mean, what even is this gorgeous pink and purple thing Annie? Just stunning! 


I may have remembered Annie saying something about it looking like match sticks, and after a quick Google, found that it is a bromeliad, Aechmea gamosepala.

She has beautiful begonias, cascading from hanging baskets, bathing in the warmth ...


... and frost prone succulents and zygocacti (Schlumbergera truncata) growing luxuriantly.


Two of the things that impress me about Annie are her resilience and resourcefulness, not only in the garden, but as a person! Certainly in the garden, she is a marvel. Not one to give up, she has literally grown plants on top of concrete! And not just in pots! Agapanthus have been placed against the fence directly on the concrete, mulched repeatedly and are growing perfectly. Where there is a will, there is a way!


I am so happy to have seen Annie's garden. I have followed her blog for many years now, and we have exchanged many messages and plants in that time. Thank you Annie for your generosity in having us visit on such short notice. I could have talked with you for hours. Perhaps our men were relieved when darkness fell, and we had to part!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Fabric stories

We have no electricity at home today, so I'm indulging myself with some paper piecing. I'm working on a magazine commission which, as always, is 'hush-hush'. It is the first stitching I've done in months, and it feels good! 



I raided my stash ... my fabric mountain ... my carefully curated collection of fabrics, and emerged with an eclectic assortment of brocades, taffetas, shantungs and even some ivory silk left over from my wedding dress. I knew there was a reason why I'd kept those scraps for the last (almost) 30 years! The 'I might need it someday' has arrived! 

I was listening to Radio National this morning and they played a wonderful fabric-related short story - only on Radio National, bless them!  Here it is, a tale of unlocking a vintage fabric wonderland by Janine Hilling. Only you, my fellow fabric obsessed friends, will fully appreciate this story, especially if you remember crimplene! It made me laugh.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Back to business

The weather is blissfully rainy today, my favourite sort of day for sewing ... actually, my favourite sort of day full stop.



It is my first time at the sewing machine in ages. The brief: shorten the sleeves of a VERY EXPENSIVE Cue blazer by 3 inches!



Nothing like throwing myself in the deep end. I tend to avoid alterations like the plague, but when said blazer belongs to daughter, the rules seem to bend. Wish me luck! I am jumping in, armed with this excellent tutorial from The English Tailor - bless him!



UPDATE: One sleeve shortened successfully. It has taken all day! Hopefully, the second one will be quicker and less nerve wracking ;)

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Sunday, 1 January 2017

That's a wrap on 2016

A very happy 2017 to you! I am personally glad to see the end of 2016. It was HUGE and I'm only now drawing breath. I suggested at this time 12 months ago that I had all sorts of grand plans for 2016. Little did I know what the year had in store; that my 'grand plans' would go out the window, replaced by other events.

In April, we sold our beloved farm and garden of 20 years. I've poured out my soul about this previously, so I won't put you through that again! We moved our 20 years worth of accumulated stuff and squeezed it into our house in town.




We determined that we would rest for a while, recover from the wrench it was to sell the farm, take our time to find a new place, and get our middle child through his HSC. Hmmmm ... what do they say  about best laid plans?!


So it is that 'the best laid plans of mice and men (and Bloom!) often go awry'. Having thought that we would spend a year or two searching for a block of land to build again, we quite unexpectedly stumbled upon a house out of town. While it's not the house we'd have chosen to build, the truth is that we were exhausted from 10 years of living between two properties, and the prospect of starting again from scratch seemed overwhelming. And so, by September, we'd bought a new home and moved two houses worth of accumulated stuff, the week before our boy finished school.




Next on the to-do list was to sell our house and garden in town. Unlike the farm, I didn't have much of an emotional attachment to the town house, but I did have to leave another garden!




In amongst all of the packing and moving and packing and moving, my only creative activities were to complete two projects for Australian Homespun magazine. For the June 2016 issue, I submitted these three little embroidered l
uggage tags.




And in the December issue, these travel sewing books. I will blog about these projects in more detail soon.




I feel like I'm being a bit of a princess complaining about what a big year it has been. I am really thankful that despite the craziness of 2016, we all remained in relatively good health. We've not been seriously sick; we haven't suffered any major deaths or catastrophes. January 2017 sees us with all our children and all our goods and chattels in the one place at the one time for the first time in 10 years. We are blessed, no matter how I look at it!

And now I have another garden to plan! We currently have very little garden to speak of, and what there is needs some loving care.





But there is enormous potential, and we have views ...



... and water ways ...



... and eucalypts and sloping ground.


Let the fun begin! 


I hope 2017 brings you much creativity and contentment. Bloom x


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Monday, 22 August 2016

Heavenly hellebores

They don't call these blooms 'Winter Roses' for nothing!

Hellebore 'Ivory Prince'

When the rest of the garden is in its drab, winter dormancy, these angelic lovelies pop their heads up and put on a show.

Helleborus x hybridus 'Dark Pink'

I have been collecting hellebores (aka Winter or Lenten Roses) for a few years now. 

Helleborus x hybridus 'White spotted'

A July birthday means that my Sweetness gifts me a hellebore at least once a year!

Hellebore 'Ivory Prince'

I love their demure and gentle tones. Despite their apparent softness, they are resilient and don't mind the shade.

Helleborus x hybridus 'White spotted'

They're not that keen on all the attention though, preferring to hide away under the trees, with heads bowed.

Helleborus x hybridus 'Dark Pink'

Come on girlies, lift those heads up. Stand tall and proud! The plant breeders are definitely selecting for this more forthright, upright trait.

Hellebore 'Ivory Prince'

Sweet hellebores usher in the appearance of the more showy jonquils.

Helleborus x hybridus 'Double Picotee'

And set the stage for the big Spring players - the blossom trees!

Prunus campanulata

Bring on the Spring I say. But without the winter cold, we'd not have known the subtleties of the hellebore!
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