Who’d Have Thought….

Don’t you just love a surprise ?

We have recently had a spell of heavy rain, just as the dark iris were in full swing.

Unknown allotment

They ended up getting soggier by the day and dripping with dark juice.

I have recently been reading ‘Eco Colour by India Flint ‘. It’s a fascinating book, India has been using native plants from around her Australian countryside to explore the process of natural dye stuffs with some amazing results.

eco book

So I was wondering, as you do, what could I do with all this lovely looking dye. I’d already had a go at cold bundling various types of plant stuff into pre-mordanted damp fabric and had a good reaction. This process meant wrapping and twisting layers of damp fabric and plant material together then tying it up tight. Water was sprayed on to it  regularly to keep it moist. After leaving for a few days it was unwrapped and dried away from sunlight. The picture doesn’t really do the colour justice as they are more intense than this.

plant dye samples

These were all done on natural fabrics, cotton, silk and muslin. But the lure of these soggy iris blooms was too much. After collecting and leaving said soggyness in a Kilner jar for a few days I ended up with a jar of what looked like brown beer brewing, rain water was added to this and all went into a large old disused jam pan, I was then able to dye a bigger load, again all natural fabrics, pre mordanted in Alum solution. Well imagine my surprise when the fabric hit the liquid it turned all shades of blue. I kept all this together in the shady part of my greenhouse under the staging for about a week, just about all the liquid had soaked in and evaporated to leave lots of lovely staining and dark marks where some of the soggy blooms had been laying.

I’m thinking of using the fabric to cover some books I have in mind to make. So now I’m looking at all other plants to see if they have any potential for the same process…watch this space. Sue


Filed under Eco Colour India Flint, Eco plant Dying

It’s Been a While

It seems ages since I did a post, the weeks have flown by. The garden has now shifted into summer mode and it seems like everything is growing at twice it’s normal pace.

The new arch is up and running and my much photographed Wisteria is filling the larger space nicely. I lost a couple of Clematis from here but that means there’s now room for new ones.

We got up to a beautiful morning yesterday ( Sunday ) after having a small amount of very much needed rain during the night. We desperately need more…. ***

There’s loads to see here, but it’s always difficult to convey in pictures my view of it. Three peony have been and gone ‘Molly the Witch’, P’ Lutea and P’ Cambessedesii. Five different perennial wallflowers are flowering their socks off and the delphiniums are already head high. All the roses are responding well and saying thank you to all the TLC I gave them during the autumn and early spring. Baby blackbirds have flown the nest, running after their worn out parents begging for food, but the villain of a magpie is lurking about. I’ve already seen it pulling something apart in the tree, possibly a fledgling…..

Still seeing evidence of a hedgehog but only a fleeting sighting earlier in the year. Have a cheeky  field mouse again, pinching bird food.

All in all it’s a great time of year. Let’s hope the next few months give us as much pleasure….plus a lot more rain…..

***  Monday…They always say be careful what you wish for, well we have just had a good down pour and there’s much more to come this week….. I am grateful but it probably means working in the greenhouse.


Filed under Uncategorized

Revamp Update

With the season supposedly warming up and Easter traditionally being the start of our growing season, I thought I’d better bring you up to date on the garden revamp.

The Medlar has gone replaced by another Sorbus, this one I’ve inherited from L and G as it was growing in a very large container and was surplus to requirements after some building work. This is putting on new growth and sporting huge bunches of flower buds. Removing the Medlar has also given us a lot more light in the conservatory. The picture below is of the Sorbus in the autumn, still in it’s container.

sorbus chinese lace

Sorbus Chinese Lace


Further along the holly has been topped and it’s crown lifted allowing more light underneath for some newly planted white foxgloves, cowslips, and Hellebore. This is already showing promise.

Under Holly 2017

The three Camellia have all done exceedingly well this year with just some browning on the white ‘Nobellissima’, but then it does start flowering from November. I have now started to tip prune stray shoots off all three shrubs to keep them in bounds.

We have had an on going battle with the ponds and rill, with it all loosing water at a dramatic rate. Methodically we have stripped back elements of this area to try to find the cause of the problem. Yesterday saw us lifting edging stones and liner to back fill and lift the edge, all was put back and overnight we have seen a vast improvement. We had visions of new piping or liner, but fingers crossed we may have cracked it.

After a visit to Mr Malc’s allotment earlier this year I was amazed at the size of some of the plants I had taken down there last summer. Grown from seed were Salvia Barreliei, Thalictrum Spaerostachyum , Papaver Lasiothrix, and a lovely deep red hollyhock. These I have now bought back here and have planted most in the garden with some going to my friend Karen down the road.

The White Garden also had an almost total revamp last autumn, barring the shrubs and trees I took out all the perennials, split and rejigged the planting scheme. This area looks better already. The Hellebore in the garden have done really well with some new seedlings giving me the odd nice surprise, but there are far too many plants around all of the garden, I shall be lifting these for selling.

White Garden 2017

White Garden

wg tulips

Tulips in White Garden

Some surprising plants to flower this spring have been Iris Suaveolens, I’ Schachtii and Podophyllum Hexandrum.

iris suaveolens

Iris Suaveolens

podo hex

Podophyllum Hexandrum

iris schachtii

Iris Schachtii

Entering the White Garden through a small gate I go under an arch, covered at the moment with Akebia Quinata to be followed in a week or two’s time by Rosa Banksiae Lutea.

Akiba Quinata

Akibia Quinata

I hope your Easter weekend goes well what ever you do, but don’t forget to stop and look around your garden and savour the view……Sue



Filed under White garden, Garden Revamp, Pond

Rain Rain Go Away

I’m not one to complain about many things but when the ground has become too saturated to even get down to the greenhouse without slipping, I get cabin fever. I attempted to go down this morning and gave up.

Having said all that the garden is really waking up with dozens of Hellebore flowering making the work of planting out seedlings well worth while.


Snowdrops have finished and now seed pods are starting to form, tiny Daffodils and Crocus have taken their place covering the garden in a sea of lavender blue and gold.


Just outside our backdoor on the old air raid shelter, we call the outhouse, is an unknown Chaenomeles, this is the only plant that we inherited from the previous owners of our house back in 1978. Still going strong.


I have a feeling that this picture below has featured in a post before, after all the rain we have experienced this morning I think it is quite apt….


With rain dripping off everything I sit and write this post while listening to Glen Campbells greatest hits….. perfect. Enjoy your day whatever the weather. Sue



Filed under Spring Flowers and Rain

Storm Doris

The wind is strengthening and the rain is lashing on my workroom windows. I think it may be a  bit of a rough day ( that being the understatement of the day ). *

Time to take stock of all the beautiful ‘collectables’ that have accumulated over time and now languish in jars and boxes. Some of the pieces bring back memories of childhood, the sea glass from holidays around Britain, the small bits of broken china from family pieces.  Sorting through old family button boxes always conjures up memories of clothes we wore as children and from my own children now.

In the past I have arranged small items on old paint charts as you will have seen in past posts and I thought I would do that again. Also I picked up a chart from a more expensive paint company and it’s  huge. The colours are gorgeous and the names are way over the top…names such as ‘Mad King George’,’ Cleopatra’s Nose’ and ‘Jazz Cafe’.

With 120 spaces to fill you would think that I could just delve into the jars and fill every space easily but no, finding samples to go with the colour or the title took some doing.So here is the final result mounted on a frame Mr Malc made me and it now hangs in my work room.


A piece of shell my daughter bought back from Australia, a piece of dried lichen, a button from a coat I wore when I was 6.


Glass, pebbles,a cup handle….


A tiny shell my Mother-in-law always kept in her purse for good luck….


Flint from the Norfolk beaches…..


And lots of sea worn glass…..thank you Lucy……


* Hope all of you who are being blown about by Storm Doris batten down the hatches and stay safe…. Sue



Filed under A spot of recycling, Storm Doris