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.
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