Folk Art bird house feeder

When I moved into my new house a few months back, one of the lovely housewarming presents I received was a wooden bird-feeder shaped like a birdhouse, which came with a little set of paints to decorate it with.  However….Why stop there, I thought??  So first came one of the many tester pots I had left from decorating, to give it a nice base coat (it does say ‘for walls and ceilings’ on the pot, after all!).  Then I spent some Happy Time going through my fabric stash and cutting out various leaf and flower motifs.  I glued these on with watered down PVA glue and brushed some more over the top to seal them in placeAdd a little bit of splodgy freehand painting, then finally a coat of clear decopatch varnish, and: Ta-Dah! It’s the funkiest bird-restaurant in town!  And I am SO pleased that I finished varnishing it last night, because I woke up to about six inches of SNOW this morning!  So there was no time to admire my handiwork, it got filled with birdfood and taken out to join the other (less colourful) feeders first thing.The first patrons arrived less than five minutes later.  And then, as I was passing the window this afternoon I saw what I think was a GOLDFINCH!  The first one I’ve seen in this garden!  Very wonderful, and great to know that at least someone shares my taste in art…Wishing you all a very funky folk-arty weekend 🙂

 

Continuing garden transformation

The weather has been mostly warm and sunny for the past week (apart from today of course, because it’s a bank holiday here in the UK!) and I’ve been continuing with my Mission to transform my garden.  Just for reminders, here’s what it looked like when I moved in just over 2 years agoYep, the area filled with rubble to the left, between the two tree stumps, is the same as the one in the pic at the top!  This has been the final part of the garden to receive the Sarah Special, Organic Permaculture No-Budget treatment, mainly because it was literally a pile of refuse – rocks, rubble, builder’s plastic, and broken glass.  I’m not up to lots of heavy digging and had no means to import top soil, etc, which anyway is against my ‘zero budget’ principles!  So I’ve been pondering what to do with it for a long time.  Then a few weeks back whilst re-reading Graham Bell’s classic book ‘The Permaculture Garden’, I hit upon the solution!  And here, I’ve even made a little video to show you how I did it!

Pretty cool, huh?!  I am, of course, exceptionally chuffed!

Meanwhile the rest of the garden is busy transforming itself, now.  The flower bed that was one of the first beds I created back in 2015 has totally come into its own this year and is looking amazing.  Again, here’s what it looked like when I started:By planting mostly perennials, bulbs, and self-seeding annuals and keeping the planting dense to supress the weeds, I really haven’t done much of anything to it this year.  It got mulched with compost last autumn, a bit of a weeding in spring before the perennials had gotten into full growth, and a sprinkle of organic chicken manure pellets.  This is how it looks today!

Hope you enjoyed my little tour!  Wishing you a flowery, low-maintenance kinda week 🙂

 

A Note from November

It’s been a difficult time lately my Blogosphere friends, so I don’t have my usual cheerful end-of-the-month piccies to share with you from November I’m afraid.  But on the first day of the month – Celtic Samhain – I got up very early, and drove up the lane through the foggy dawn to nearby Hergest Ridge.  As I walked up the footpath toward the common, I cleared the mists, and was just in time to see the sun rise above them and turn the neighbouring hills into tiny islands in a wispy white sea. dawnhills2 It was a glorious walk, the most energy I’ve had in many many weeks.  Of course I didn’t have my camera with me, but I took these couple of pictures on my phone.  Although the quality is a bit iffy, it’s lovely to have a memento of such a magical morning.dawnhills3

Sadly my health hasn’t been great since then, but I hope I’ll have some energy soon because my latest blanket project is shaping up beautifully and I can’t wait to show you!

Wishing you all a very magical week 🙂

All about October

metalsculpture1

Ola!  A little late, but I’ve been laid up with the cold-lurgie that seems to be sweeping the nation this last week, so let’s go back in time and I’ll show you some of the highlights of my October…

Earlier in the month I visited the outdoor sculpture exhibition Out of Nature at Newport House in Almeley, just a few miles from here.  Not only were there some brilliant and inspiring sculptures, but the setting and the lovely gardens were a real treat as well.  The driftwood sculptures by Heather Jansch (below) and filigree metalwork by Aragorn Dick Read (above) were amongst my favourites…driftwoodhorses…but I also loved the huge ‘land sculpture’ by The Cart Shed community, made entirely from fruits, seeds, leaves, and other natural ‘harvest’ goodies.  This is just a small detail, the colours and textures were wonderful and I although I took dozens of photos, none really do it justice!harvestsculpture

…So yeah, all that fresh air and walking about makes a girl hungry, y’know? – Good thing I still had some of my own harvest left!  Fresh basil pesto with the last of the tomatoes was VERY yummy this month…heypesto

…as mentioned in my last post I finished my latest blanket project, the Late Summer ripple blanket, around the middle of October.  I loved every stitch of this project, a gift for my dad, who was over the moon to receive it – it really has been a joy!  (And yes, I am already planning another blanket!)…finishedblanket…just before I came down with the lurgie and the weather turned to mist and drizzle, I did manage to get over to my local woods in time for an eyeful of the beautiful acers as they did their spectacular autumn thing…ParkWoodMaples2…whilst in my own garden, the cosmos and sunflowers put on one last dazzling display…cosmos&sunflowers…so, now the clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in, and it’s time to start making things for the Xmas Craft Fair!  This year I’ve been using up my yarn stash on some stripey kids’ hats, I’ll show you more of these when they’re finished…hats…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because there’s still fireworks, trick-or-treat, dressing up and PUMPKINS to be had!  Oh yes, I do so LoVe Halloween!pumpkinlantern

I hope you’ve all had a bright and breezy month, have a cosy colourful weekend 🙂

 

May Daze

BluebellTastic

May is one of my favourite months!  I love the energy of this time of year, all the trees coming into leaf and flowers opening, the feeling that everything is gushing with life. The gorgeous scents of bluebells and tree blossom! Going out without a coat!  Warm enough for picnics but not yet for hayfever!  Plus, it’s my birthday month, what’s not to love??  (Apart from being reminded about getting older, that is!)

To celebrate Beltane (Mayday), and in defiance of said ageing, I decided it was time to lop my long locks.  I’ve not had a major re-style for many years and I felt like a change.  Wow, did I feel LIGHTER when I walked out of the salon!  I’m still getting used to it but I think I like it.  In fact I might go even shorter next time…hairbefore&after

…earlier in the month, some friends very kindly came and rotovated the last bit of the garden for me, so that I could get on with making the ‘potager’ beds for the main section of the kitchen garden.  Here it is, freshly rotovated (and pre-compost bin)…rotovation...and here it is last week, just before my back gave out on me…postrotovator

…on what was probably the hottest day of the year so far, two of my lovely friends from the Dyfi Valley came for a visit and we spent a gorgeous afternoon picnicking in nearby Hergest Croft arboretum and walking in the bluebell woods…BluebellTastic2

…I also went to a plant fair, where I met the folk from Broomy Hill Enchanted Gardens.  Annette makes living sculptures out of plants (mostly native, organically grown), natural materials and found objects, called ‘Emplantments’.  These photos don’t do justice to this magical piece, and I’m looking forward to visiting the gardens later in the summer to see some more …emplantment1emplantment2…and then there was my birthday!  I actually came down with a coldy/virus thing that week, so I was feeling a bit flat and didn’t get to go away camping as hoped.  But I was so thoroughly spoiled with cards, pressies, and general loved-up-ness that I ended up having a very good day indeed…birthday...so what with lurgie-recovery and back pain, it’s been a quiet end to the month for me.  I did manage to get out for a short walk before the rain set in though, and in the fields behind our town I came across this sweet little duck pond, although the ducks were not impressed by my presence and declined to be photographed…duckpondAnd finally, this month marks a whole YEAR of picture round-ups!  I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing them as much as I’ve enjoyed doing them, it’s a lovely way to remind yourself of your best days and achievements in a month, and I thoroughly recommend it as a practice.  Thanks to everyone, as always, for reading, and for your lovely comments and emails.  I do appreciate it very much!

Here’s looking forward to a long and dreamy summer! 🙂

April Delights

HergestGateAloha everyone, and welcome to my picture round-up for April.  And what a GLORIOUS month it’s been here in the Marches!  It’s honestly been the most beautiful spring I can remember for years.  My little house and (not-so-little!) garden have been giving me so much to smile about this month, but the warm weather has also seen me out and about visiting some of my favourite places and people…

…A million years ago when I lived here in my 20s/early30s and my friend Arainn & I used to work as volunteers for Radnorshire Wildlife Trust, we spent a lot of time at the (then) newly-acquired nature reserve Burfa Bog, making stock-proof fences, coppicing overgrown trees and clearing brambles.  I went back there on Easter weekend, and was delighted to find that one of our toughest bramble-infested areas is now covered in wild primrose…burfa1

…on another glorious day, I went out for a lovely local walk and came across THE most idyllic cottage-spot!  These are definitely my favourites so far…KnillCottages…as mentioned in yesterday’s post, there’s not been a lot of sewing or crochet going on this month, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy…ColdFrameSeedlings

…one of the best things about living back here is being able to pop round to visit old mates and see what’s happening at their places.  About 12 years ago, I helped plant some trees on some friends’ land, including this one that I grew from a conker that had sprouted.  As you can see, it’s very happy in its hillside home!…RowansTree

…I also went back up to the Dyfi Valley for the annual SeedSwap event at Bro Dyfi Gardens.  It was great to catch up with friends there, and to have a look around the beautiful gardens created by volunteers on the site.  And buy some plants, of course…BroDyfiWoodlandFaces…so, hmm, yes: I do seem to have gone a bit garden-crazy this month!  The sunshine has definitely seen my health improving a bit, and it has been so lovely to spend time outdoors, soaking up the spring energy.  And just in case you were thinking this post was a bit short on colour, I will leave you with these amazing plants that grow all through the ponds and streams in our local Park Wood… they’re called Skunk Cabbage, can you guess why??skunkcabbageWishing you all a very colourful holiday weekend, and a magical month of May! 🙂

Spring Progress: the Garden

wellies&geraniumsIt’s Spring!  And the weather has been so amazing, all I’ve wanted to do these last few weeks is be outdoors playing in my new garden – it’s been all spades, muck and wellies instead of yarn, hooks, and fabrics for a change.

Remember this post back in March, when I showed you the garden I’d taken on with my new house?BigViewB4Empty, apart from weeds, rocks, and, as it’s turned out, LOTS of broken glass and pottery.  I mean, bucket loads – go figure?!  But nevertheless, progress is being made. The hedge is trimmed, the border by the shed weeded, flower borders and lawn marked out and clearing & planting begun.  My main priority though, was to get my veg beds dug.  Here is my long pea & bean bed, a triumph of pacing for a middle-aged woman with M.E. and a bad back I think you’ll agree:bigview290415Don’t be fooled by bean-bed’s smoothly-raked surface: beneath her lies 3 sacks of rotted horse manure and two of kitchen waste!  To keep out the ubiquitous dandelions (has anyone else noticed what a bumper year for them it seems to be??), I covered each section with cardboard and old carpets as I finished.  In the foreground here you can also see the young willow cuttings I’ve planted that will eventually grown into a screen for the compost area.

Here’s the other side by the fence as it looked in February:WestSideB4

And now, with two lovely new beds, one for spuds & beetroot, one for leeks & roots:WestSide290415

These beds were forked over to remove the worst weeds, then mulched with cardboard and a deep layer of manure.  Nothing much is happening yet, though one or two brave radishes have popped up already!

And yes, ALL those stones I’ve used to start making the paths were dug out of the beds…

There’s still a lot to do, but I am very much enjoying the process of making the garden. Seeds have begun to germinate in the cold frame, both veg and flowers.  And I’m really looking forward to planting the flower and herb borders, finally giving all the plants I’ve had in pots for years on various balconies and front steps a permanent home!  shedborder290415It hasn’t all been gardening this month, and I’ll be back soon with some pics from April to prove that I did do SOME other stuff this month (mostly visiting gardens though haha!).  Til then, wishing you all a lovely weekend and a very happy Beltaine/Mayday 🙂

 

March from The Marches

HaywoodLambsHello!  Well here we are at Easter, and I don’t know about you but I’m very glad to think that spring is just around the corner.  It’s been a mixed month, the house move certainly took its toll on my health and energy levels, and together with getting things liveable, there hasn’t been a lot going on creatively.  But being here is lovely, and in between the last wintery days there have been little pockets of spring promise!

…it was a WARM sunshiney day when I went back to the Dyfi Valley to visit Tir Heddwch, and we were able to sit outside and eat lunch with a glorious view up the mountain…TirHeddwch…and on the next sunny day, I visited one of my favourite places in Wales, now just half an hour’s drive from my house!  Points if you recognise where it is…PwllYWrach…but it was a rainy day when I sat by the window with some yarn scraps, glue, and card-making things to make a crochet card.  I had great fun with this, have more planned, and will do a full post soon….CardBits…a brilliantly sunny morning for the SOLAR ECLIPSE!  I sat in my garden and had a spectacular view of it all happening, it was amazing to see.  Turns out however that you can’t photograph eclipses by pointing your camera straight at the sun.  Who knew…?

spottheeclipse…and speaking of gardens, I’ve been re-acquainting myself with that favourite old winter/early spring pastime: browsing seed catalogues and seed-swaps with friends!  Not that I’ve had any to swap myself this year, but I’ve been given so many by my lovely friends that I should be a seedionairre by the end of the season!  Thank you so much Jas, Graeme, Mary, Annie, and Helen… seedy…it’s been a wet and windy week so far, but no Spring in the Marches would be complete without going out to say hello to these little cuties, now would it??Ewe&lambs

Wishing you all a very happy Easter and Full Moon weekend, I shall refrain from  making any baaaaad puns (oops, sorry!) 😉