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!

Thursday 28 July 2016

My place

I have been putting off writing this post, but I've decided today is the day. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you will know that my family and I have been living between two properties - between a small farm that we have owned for 20 years, and more recently, a house in town two hours from our farm.

After 8½ years of this arrangement, we have sold our farm. If you know me even a little bit, you will have an inkling of how heart wrenching this decision has been for me.

And if you've built a home or garden from scratch, you might relate to this post. Otherwise it may seem all a bit melodramatic and self indulgent, so feel free to stop reading now!

We started owner-building our farm house in 1995, when our firstborn was just a babe.

We pegged out a square plot in the middle of a bare lucerne paddock, and set about building a home.

During the build, my Dad joked that it looked like a goal!

I assured him that I'd plant a garden to soften its penitentiary tone!

Just as the roof was going on in May 1996, I was diagnosed with a tumour in my neck, which thankfully turned out to be benign. But it caused a delay of several months in the middle of the build.

After many months of weekends, spent filling verandahs ...

... installing floorboards ...

... cutting stuff ...

... bagging walls and painting,

... we finally moved in in July 1997. We immediately started the garden. We called in the big gear for the first till!

 And so we planted and planted and planted, and grew our own little paradise!

I have written A LOT about our garden on this blog over the years but I guess the following posts give an overview:

I was at the farm by myself to do the final cleaning before settlement. I took breaks from the cleaning to take some last photos of the garden.

Selling this property was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. To the very day of the auction, I did not want to sell it. However, the burden of trying to take care of two houses and two gardens was taking its toll on our family. For everyone's sake, it seemed the only course of action was to sell.

On my good days, I philosophise with myself about how we arrive in this world with nothing, and will leave with nothing; that houses and gardens are just the 'stuff' we accumulate in between. I lecture myself about materialism, and force myself to refocus on what I have, rather than what I've lost.

On my bad days ... well, let's not talk too much about that. I guess this property felt very much like 'my place', a connection with the land, farming and family. 

It was so much of 'my story', having raised three children there, and all the special memories that go with that. 

Having built it from the ground up with my husband and invested so much heart and effort, it was so very difficult to leave. I feel lost without it; as if a big part of me is missing. I feel grief.

And so I wandered the garden, to drink in the heady perfume of my roses one last time.

To farewell recently planted gardens that I won't see grow.

And to pick one last bunch of blooms!

As the sun set, I sat on the front verandah and simply bawled. A cathartic outpouring; without inhibition.

I'm very thankful that I have documented this garden so comprehensively on my blog. Whenever I miss my place, at least I have these posts to return to.

It has taken me weeks to put this into words. Why my reluctance to publish this post? I guess in writing it down, it all seems a little more true! 

As I closed the gate for the final time on my beloved home and garden, I felt completely heartbroken. 

A few weeks on from this farewell, the grief is slowly becoming less raw.

 And maybe, just maybe, there is a new love around the corner. Surely there is one more garden in me?!
Best wishes, Bloom x

Friday 26 February 2016

Melba magpies

I purchased this little bundle of joy from Linda @ Gum Valley Patchwork just recently. They are from Emma Jean Jansen's latest range 'Melba', inspired by her time living in Melbourne as a student. 

'Melba' is manufactured by Ella Blue, a fabric house developed by Australian designers. Ella Blue is such a breath of fresh air in the Australian quilting fabric market. They are producing high quality quilting fabrics, at refreshingly competitive prices - AU$16/metre compared with the AU$24 and AU$28 price tags that Australian quilters are used to paying.

I also found a couple of Ella's Basics at a local quilt shop. It's a real treat to find some text fabric with local names! I was not so happy that this shop insisted on charging me $24/metre instead of the RRP $16. Hmmmm ...

I have been collecting a few text fabrics lately. I think they are a calm foil for busier fabrics.

As a sometime proof reader, I couldn't help but notice the typo in this one:

Can you spot it?

Enough whingeing! Have a great weekend everyone. Bloom x

Thursday 11 February 2016

Some summer sewing

One of my 14-year-old daughter's good friends has ventured to boarding school in Sydney. This friend has been very kind and supportive to my Olivia as she has struggled with her health. So it was an obvious choice to make her a snuggle quilt to remind her of how much she will be missed.

(Sorry that the photo is dark and awful. I'm having issues with my SLR lately, but that's another story altogether).

It is a simple raw-edge layer cake quilt, our 'go-to' method when a gift is required in a hurry! Olivia chose 'High Street' by Lily Ashbury, a very happy collection of fabrics. 

Image source
She sewed it together herself across the summer holidays ...

... but somehow ran out of time to do the binding. Hmmm, guess who got that job?!

Not that I minded. Thankfully, I belong to that half of quilters who find binding meditative and relaxing!

Her friend was very thankful for her gift, and thought the quilt was, and I quote: "the most awesome present ever ... and I'm not even faking"! Sweet!

Here is a photo she sent of it on her bed at boarding school. 

She says she wraps herself in it when she is feeling homesick :) Now that would warm the heart of any quilter, young or old!

Sunday 24 January 2016

Today's pickings

From my garden today:

Geranium sanguineum
Rosa 'Camille Pissarro'
Salvia microphylla 'Cyclamen'
Burgundy dahlias, unknown variety, tubers gifted to me by a neighbour

Friday 22 January 2016

Show me your corymbia!

I am popping my head up from my summer hibernation just long enough to share this lovely thing with you. I spotted it in someone's garden next to Short St Cafe in Dubbo the other day.

The tree was absolutely loaded with blooms. Isn't it just beautiful?!

My guess is that it is what is loosely called a grafted flowering gum, and is a form of Corymbia ficifolia.

These grafted gums have only recently become available in Australia. They are relatively expensive at over $50 each, but surely the expense can be justified when you get a show like this!

All good health and happiness to you for 2016. I have all sorts of grand plans for 2016, but after an unpredictable 2015, I'm not brave enough to venture them any further than thoughts just yet. I sincerely hope to blog more regularly though. Here's to that! Best wishes, Bloom x
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