Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Container pond: How to.

I am not certain a garden can be quite complete without a pond. What do you think?

We've been slowly working our way through the part of the garden nearest the house lately and I have been feeling more and more like the 'dead' spaces need a little life. Being a West Country girl, I have never lived far from the water...until now. 

This unrelenting heat has really been getting me down lately, and although it has been wonderful to see the sun shine and the flowers grow, the heat has been so intense and pretty miserable to be out in for too long. The four mile school run feels more like ten miles and once I am home I like to just sit in the shade, that is nice but pretty dull, so I thought to myself.. what would be nice to be around in this heat? something pretty, relaxing and interesting......a pond!

I may, or possibly may not, have mentioned that I basically live on a farm..yes, it may be a 1920s semi but it is also full of life. Full of adults, kids, three cats and a silly, silly dog who THINKS he is a cat. We live in a fairly rural area and so these creatures, the cats and dog, not the aldults or kids, are forever killing various bloody animals and bringing them back to the house...This makes me very sad. 
The dog doesn't kill them but he does like to carry around bits of broken off animal and lick with this in mind L and I decided that the pond ought to be a nature pond..y'know, for water boatmen and newts and the likes. Not so we can add chewed up and licked fish to the list of poor creatures coming back to us.

After doing some Googling and reading on the subject of container ponds I finally decided that an old tin bath (like this) was the way forward and set about Ebaying for one...WOAH! The prices these things fetch is absolute madness! I quickly gave up on tin baths and looked for something else. Next I tried the good old Freecycle method searching for a traditional pond..this came up trumps a week later but more on that in a bit. 

Soon my impatience got the better of me and by Sunday I had bribed L to take me to the garden centre and there, in the corner of the trugs and wheelbarrows was a big old plastic feed container, it was perfect for what I had in mind. Definitely less chic than an old tin bath but who cares! £14 paid to the poor hot and sweaty sales guy (all trussed up in full garden centre uniform - including fleece with a shirt underneath with the top button done up) and home I went.

At home the next thing was to find a nice semi sun/shade area and then position correctly. That done, I filled up one side of the pond with bricks and on top of them, prettier boulders..

Next: the water..

Off to the water butt I skipped, forwards and back, forwards and back... five buckets later..TA DAH! Full up and sitting pretty.

Now my mind turned to what should live in the pond so it doesn't become stagnant and awful..I went to this lovely man here--------> 4354anthony
And bought myself a traditional Water Iris and a Water soldier.

Later on that evening I sat out with L and some wine and we marvelled at how nice a bucket of water seemed even without plants and took a look around the kitchen garden area to see how much things had grown since I last checked..lots!
The Ferns
Finally the roses are growing tall
An emerging foxglove
I love this bleeding heart plant.

Later on that night, I got an email from someone on Freecycle who lived just down the road and was offering their old garden pond..YES please!.. L went to get it last's ever-so big, but lovely all the same. It is going to go in place of our stack of pavia ..they are off up to the woodland part of the garden to become a nice path. I can't wait to build a pond area and have even more water and a fountain that makes a lovely sound.

Today the postman was kind enough to deliver the plants for my container pond. They were packaged very well and settled into their new homes quite happily. 
The new container pond
Looking a little sparse but hopefully prettier soon

The plants may be small for now but I have read they are both quite invasive so they will do well for our second pond, which so far, is sitting upturned on the other side of the garden waiting to be cleaned and placed in its new home. 

Let us look at how ugly its new home area currently is and then soon we can look and see how pretty it is once I have carted a few hundred bricks off elsewhere in the garden.
ugly ugly ugly
So, in short..container gardening is easy. Buy a big tub, put some rocks in at various heights and fill with water from your waterbutt. Go to Ebay and find a nice man, or lady, who will sell you something to oxygenate the water, and buy a plant or two for prettiness..then wait for the wildlife to arrive. I have found it to be fun and keep pottering in and out of the house to marvel at how lovely it is..I can't wait for the even bigger version to be put in soon! 

It's not yet pretty, nothing has flowered or begun to really shine, but it is the promise of that, that keeps me happy...and that is all that matters.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Birthday Badders

When L and I first got together five-ish years ago, we had a very balmy summer of getting to know one another. During that time L moved to my town, about 18 miles from where he lived at the time, into a very large old Victorian house..this house had a VERY long and large old Victorian garden, all overgrown and magical.  That summer we drank cloudy pink lemonade and cooked homemade pizza in his new oven and ate it outside under the apple tress, we flip-flopped off to the local charity shops and bought vintage badminton rackets and played each evening. It was a lovely time which seems to have been remembered by me in a glorious sun-bleached kind-of a way.

When L moved out and in with me, he wanted to bring the rackets with him but these lovely old badminton rackets were left out in the garden by L's housemates and went to ruin...we never saw them again. L was gutted and felt like he had let a nice reminder of a happy time pass him by.

This year, it seems only right that we ought to play badders in our own very long and large garden, and with L's birthday coming up next weekend I couldn't think of a better time to go charity shop hunting for more old badders rackets. You see what with having a baby, buying a house and getting married all within a year, we haven't got much here is what you can do with little money and lots of fun.

This morning Baby F and I dropped his Big Brother off at school and pootled our way round the charity shops looking for some replacement luck. We pootled some more and had just about given up by 10am as it was sweltering hot and we still had two whole miles to walk before getting home for a drink (Baby F deemed this unreasonable in such a hotty heat day)... when...There they were! Sitting quietly in the darkest corner of the window of the RSPCA shop was a funny little basket full of old blankets and sporting goods! Of course, where else would they be! And at a very reasonable £2 each!

We bought the best two, the most retro and seriously cool looking (with a little work) and we walked home, very pleased with ourselves, diving happily in an out of the shade created by each parked car.

By the time we finished darting and smiling at the summery flowers, Baby F had given up on staying awake, he decided he'd rather fall asleep on his Christmas book. I gently parked him in the coolest part of the lounge and began unravelling the grotty old handle of the first racket..

It made me feel a bit :S blerugh... but I carried on.

Then, hugely inspired by Lucy at Attic24 (I LOVE HER! - who doesn't!) and her stunning blog post about her May Rose Wreath, I began to hook up some yummy stripes just long enough to wrap around the handle.

Some time later..enough time to watch lunchtime's Chelsea Flower Show episode, I wrapped up project prettify handle and sewed it up...


Here is is.....



Not bad huh! MUCH cheerier!

So, on to the next. If you fancy having a go then please do pop over to Lucy's Attic24 blog and have a jolly good read of her pattern, then just modify it to fit your badminton racket/ cricket bat/ tennis racket..etc!

ps..these are old squash rackets..nearly the right ones!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Date 4 - The Crab at Chieveley

Well date four was meant to be something else but guess what...?

The wedding kind of ate every spare moment of our time and after our reception venue cancelled we ended up with nowhere to stay that night too! uh-oh!

At VERY short notice we managed to book a fabulous room at The Crab at Chieveley. They claim their rooms are "Famous" but I am not so sure about HOW famous they are? Nontheless, they are stunning.

(photo taken from google - sorry couldn't find who to credit! get in touch if you wish me to credit this photo)

The approach to the hotel/pub at 11pm on a stormy April night was nothing but bleak so upon waking the next morning I was absolutely blown away by the gorgeous rolling fields that surround The Crab...but I am getting ahead of myself.

Now people tell you how magical your wedding day is and whatnot, and ours was magical, but it also made us weird-out a little bit and by 11pm when L's older brother was pissed out of his mind and turning the music up so loud that the landlord of the QUIET country pub where we had our reception had threatened to chuck us all out, we knew then that it was time to go.

The urge to leave was fuelled by the fact that I had spent my entire wedding day in wellington boots wading through a quagmire of mud and holding onto my hair as the (reportedly 80mph) wind blew my head around causing each hair pin to pull at my scalp which eventually resulted in a cracking headache..all of this was a bit much and when I cast my mind to The Crab all I could think about was the HOT TUB!!!! Oh yes, our own private garden with hot tub and fluffy towels and slippers.

So, at 11pm I kissed the kids goodbye and L's dad kindly offered to drive us to The Crab, a mere two mins up the road!

Upon arriving we blew into reception and were met straight away by a very friendly receptionist and a warm, quiet atmosphere. We were shown to our room and told to make ourselves at home, which we did. Within a few minutes we were at the back door looking out over the patio to the hot tub....should we get in?
(Picture taken from Tripadvisor)

It was FREEZING cold and so stupidly windy but the billowing steam from the hot tub was too tempting. We dashed outside and climbed in and under the 40 degree water. It was divine and after shaking like a loon with cold for the first five minutes I finally manged to relax and enjoy it. I think we were the only people made enough to be outside in the hot tub in that sort of weather as the gardens next to us seemed silent and so we stayed out for about half an hour before giving in to the madness of the day and going to bed.

The bed is the only bad point of the entire stay. Not only was the bed itself ALMOST too high to get on, it was also very lumpy and bumpy - I think the mattress had gone and I am sure I know why as when I climbed in I found an ANN SUMMERS sticker stuck to my foot. NOT NICE. Now we are all grown ups and we know what goes on when people go to hotels for nice weekends away, of course we do. But do we want to sleep in the dents of other people's love? NO. Do we want the sticker evidence stuck to our foot? Double NO. FAIL, FAIL, FAIL...not cool.

(photo taken from google - sorry couldn't find who to credit! get in touch if you wish me to credit this photo)

Roll on to the next morning.

We wake up, we feel like you do when you go to the beach, go in the sea and then go home and have a warm shower - you know..that kind of good/exhausted tired out feeling. So, it is a jolly good job that we are heading to the beautiful, beautiful resturant to have our breakfast. Mr Sunshine has got his hat on this morning and the fields all around the place are a glowing bright yellow, we see Red Kites flying above the fields and butterflies on the's pretty. The breakfast is filling and gorgeous and well-presented. I had eggs benedict with bacon and cups, upon cups of tea..followed by mini-croissant and mini-pain au chocolat, then I remembered that I should not be eating like an actual horse and just finished of the spare round of toast before having an orange juice and then walking out with my head hanging low. I would have felt REALLY bad but L had a Full English and then ate what I did so we were both big gross fatties and we were both ashamed.

                                                                                                (Photo taken from

After a day of running around like headless chickens doing jobs such as taking down our own wedding marquee in the pouring rain, visiting the entire guest-list of family and so on..THEN we got to come back and enjoy our room. We did this by taking a bottle of wine into the hot tub and hot tubbing the day away until we were dizzy with joy or tiredness or wine?? It eventually stopped raining and almost at once the hot tub got too hot and we got out, got into bed and fell asleep again in the stupid awful bed.

The next day we did a repeat of the breakfast from the day before, except I avoided the horror show that is hollandaise sauce - bleurgh...and then we checked out and left.

All in all it was a lovely place to stay. For those who wish to visit, I would say definitely do. The bad reviews I have read are in no-way justified and should be ignored.The place is clean, tidy and beautifully decorated. The decor is not tired and the staff are welcoming and helpful. I would suggest to the pub that they replace the mattresses throughout as it sort-of put me off wanting to stay there again, and perhaps check around the beds when they make them as it is revolting finding evidence of other people's sex-lives in your own honeymoon bed, however, the beauty of the rooms, the lovely relaxation of the hot tub and the breakfast menu all make for a jolly good reason to go. I didn't eat any of the famous (and it is) food as I can't stand sea food..but if it is anywhere near as nice as the breakfast is and you like sea food then I would say definitely go. You can't go wrong.

Another thing of note are the beautiful garden areas surrounding the pub, well-worth a look.

How Does Your Garden Grow?...

I have been busy grabbing little moments here and there to plant up the soon-to-be rockery area next to my new patio area that we built. The garden is what got me through the madness that was my wedding. Now that we are past that hoo-ha it is time to carry on and plant it up. At the moment the rockery area is filled about five foot high with pavia bricks. They are going to be moved to the top of the garden and the space in which they sit will be replaced with huge boulders of Cotswold stone..can't wait to plant it up. Someone on Freecycle kindly offered me the boulders of their old wall..lovely.

We are going this weekend.

Although we have made a start in planting up the rockery area, there isn't much in it so far aside from Hollyhocks. But here are two photos of what there IS!

Saxifrage - I love you.

Lithodora Lithospermum (blue star) - I also love you.

I plan to propogate them both and make lots more prettiness.

Behind the rockery is my little shady kitchen area - it is busy, busy FULL of life. We have an old Belfast sink we found when we moved in..currently it has a huge Lavender plant in it and it's surrounded by huge tall Granny's Bonnets..look!
One of our more unusual wedding gifts was this little lady, I like to call her Matilda, keeper of the flowers.
I was told that no matter how many times I tried to get rid of Matilda, I would always find another one when I next got home. Looks like she is staying, I am glad 'cos I like her weird little head.

Matilda stands next to my 'Woodland' bed which is FULL of various Ferns - next to the Ferns and Matilda is my 'Bleeding heart' plant. I got it for the bargainous price of £2 from B&Q..this is because it was so tatty all tangled up with its bed-fellows, I doubted it would live..but it did!

Instagram has made it look loads brighter than it is, but you get the idea, it's pretty.

I am especially pleased about this area as I have a gorgeous old Rose tree growing here, it has to be about fifty years old. Last year I decided to cut it right down to about a foot tall as it was reaching up to my son's second storey window and looked weak and wiry. I was sadded to see that after its hard cutting back (which Monty told me was ok) it seemed to just sulk and a few shoots came up then died back. So I left it and suddenly, this last week, the shoots have shot back up, it's going mad! YEY! - moral of the story 'Never doubt Monty.' - look, behind the Granny's Bonnets..there they are - shootlets!
Lastly in this area I planted dwarf Nasturtiums and some Sweet Peas in a shallow window box - risky, I know..but they are growing. The Sweet peas have a string frame to climb up and will eventually frame my kitchen window..yum.
Further up the garden we cleared out our compostarium (yes, Baby F has watched so much Mr. Bloom's Nursery, we are brainwashed) we trained some leggy old Roses into an arch shape. Tricky and hurty, but cute.

Only another 100 foot of garden to tame after the first fifty is almost done..urrgh. I've given it four years to get in in check. Over the gorgeous wire fence you can see next door's garden..they are also taking their's on. I am hoping that soon we can both have nice gardens to be proud of.
Past this fence we have our grassy area and at the top of it, the nature reserve - a part of the garden we have saved for the Slow Worms, Hedgehogs etc, that we see there. The grass is left long and there are wild flowers. We have planted two Apple trees, a Silver Birch, and Oak and a Cherry tree, sounds a lot but it is a huge amount of space. Photos of them to come later.

But, before you get to all of that we have a space where there used to be an old greenhouse. Here we have dug out the area surrounding its concrete base and we have planted Willow whips in order to create a willow dome - they were my modest wedding present to L. Something that would live and grow with us.

Here they are in their glass creating spectacular roots..they only took one day in the glass of water to root! woah!

Baby F decided that he would like to help us out with the digging out of the grass before planting..poor lamb has chickenpox, what a soldier.
All that fencing blew down in the recent winds so we also have twelve panels to put in soon. WICKED.

Lastly, in the house, my absolute favourite plant of all..

My Sansevieria:

Pretty isn't he! x

Friday, 18 May 2012

A pot holder a day - helps you work, rest and play.

I have been looking at rather gorgeous images like this for ages now and lusting after a lovely wall of pot holders of my very own.

                                                                                    Picture taken from the Etsy shop Elisabeth Dunker

Since I know how to crochet and do have some time to myself every now and again I have decided to do a pot holder a day for seven days as a sort-of personal project. I have just painted my kitchen walls and have a nice big space for a bunch of them to go. There is one there already but I am sure there is enough room for seven more!

So here are the seven patterns I am going to follow:

Pot holder 1 - day 1

Is by Adaiha Covington and you can find it here on Ravelry - picture copyright adaiha

Pot holder 2 - day 2

Is by Coats & Clark and you can find it here on Ravelry - picture copyright springerin

Pot holder 3 - day 3

Is by McCall Pattern Company and the link to is can be found here on Ravelry - picture copyright aizome

Pot holder 4 - day 4

Is by Enterprise Yarn and the link to the pattern can be found here on Ravelry - picture copyright knittingnancy

Pot holder 5 - day 5

Is by Amy Manning and you can buy the pattern from her for $3 following this link to Ravelry - picture copyright amymanning

Pot holder 6 - day 6

Is by Eva.W and you can see how to make it by following this link to Ravelry - picture copyright butzelkuh

Pot holder 7 - day 7

Is by Bea Aarebrot and you cna follow this link to find the pattern on Ravelry - picture copyright mynameisbea

Aren't they all just gorgeous?! Hopefully I will manage them all and make my kitchen a prettier space? Who knows..but will keep you up to date and maybe you'll like the patterns and make some of your own! Pot holder one, day one tomorrow! Can't wait x