Thursday, 26 March 2015

More Hellebores

Ok, I know I'm obsessing a bit about these flowers, but I just had to show you some more hellebores. Look! I've made a discovery - a new pale pink one in our garden. I was very happy to find this beauty!

Here's another really pale one that's gone to seed. I love the mix of pink and green in the petals, and their translucency.

This round-petalled white one has gorgeous mauve speckles at its centre.

 With their clearly-defined edges, the pale ones remind me of fine bone china.

I also discovered this pointy-petalled bloom which looks like a star.

This one is at the opposite end of the colour-spectrum to the pale one, and is a dark, dramatic plum.

Don't they contrast well with each other?

And here is a totally gratuitous photo of lots - I couldn't resist.

Finally, a bowl of hellebores with my purple tulips - I think they go quite well together. At the risk of being a helle-bore (see what I did there?) I shall show you my needlefelted and crocheted ones in another post (about something different).

See you soon x

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sunshine, Outdoors and Getting Creative

 Hello! First of all I need to catch up with my calendar - here's my March page at long last. I must get myself more organised next month!

Last week I managed to get outside with a cup of tea after work one evening which was a real breath of fresh air, if a little chilly.

I've just put up this bug box in the garden in the hope of attracting more ladybirds and solitary bees.

This one's been up for a couple of years now. I've never seen anyone going in or coming out, but bits of paper or something similar have been put into some of the holes. Does that mean someone's moved in?

Back indoors I was very excited to receive a parcel in the post. I knew what it would be, as a couple of days before I'd ordered a bag from Susie Faulks, a bag-maker who I discovered whilst looking for oilcloth bags online. My old work one is looking quite tired and needed replacing. I tend to avoid leather as far as possible, and love the wonderful oilcloth designs these days, often making my own bags. However, when I saw that there was one with hares on it (my favourite animal) my decision was made. I love it! I might save up and buy a shoulder bag too. Funnily enough, when my copy of 'Country Homes & Interiors' magazine was delivered, Susie's bags have a feature all of their own - what a coincidence!

P and I went for riverside walk in Bath at the weekend, and there were plenty of signs of spring.

Tiny yellow celandines were blooming in carpets close to the ground. I've always loved their waxy petals which reflect the sunshine.

Above our heads the blackthorn was blooming.

There are few sights as uplifting as frothy blossom against a blue sky. If you'd like to indulge in even more blossom, I can recommend Chel's post at Sweetbriar Dreams - it's very pretty indeed.

Finally as we were walking back through the centre of Bath we came across this delightful and unexpected bit of yarnbombing.

Such a treat on a sunny day, and all crocheted.

It really made me smile.

Before I go I thought I'd share with you two new small WIPs. Inspired by my real hellebores (you can take a look here), I decided to make some of my own. First I got out my wool rovings and started a needlefelt one which I plan to embroider when it's finished.

And second, I couldn't resist this wonderful crocheted hellebore pattern which the very talented Lucy has made and shared at Attic 24 (if you haven't seen Lucy's winter wreath, go and take a look - it is amazing!). I've yet to steam it, and am going to make a couple more in different shades.

I hope that you've had a sunshiny weekend too, and can find time for a bit of creativity x

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Out and About

For a change I thought I'd make a slightly different post, and take you along on two school trips I made recently with work. I've been on these trips before, but decided to take my camera this time so that you can enjoy these visits too.

The first was to Chepstow Castle just over the border into Wales. Begun by the Normans in 1067 (only a year after the Battle of Hastings), this castle is magnificent, poised defensively on a limestone cliff overlooking the river Wye. From the outside it's very impressive indeed.

.Once inside it's a long, steep walk up through the castle to the far end. It towers over the river and the view is breath-taking. The sun had come out by now and it lit up the ramparts and silty water below.

Looking over the walls did make me feel quite giddy as I'm not great with heights, but what a view!

Down below a boat was moored in the water.

Lots of pretty little ivy-clad windows framed the view of the opposite bank and countryside beyond.

Inside, the ruined walls invited closer inspection, and I loved the architectural features and details.

There are several styles of window here, ranging from plain to ornate, and I loved the ragged edge of the walls' outline against the blue sky.

Although it was cold and windy it was a beautiful, timeless place to spend a spring day, and it reminded me how lucky we are to have such wonderfully-preserved places to visit.

The next trip I went on was to Bristol Zoo, a place we've been to with our own children a few times. Whatever your feelings about zoos may be, it is fantastic to have the opportunity to see amazing animals in the flesh. I stroked a hissing cockroach (never thought I'd say that), a snake and a very soft chinchilla. There were salmon-pink flamingos;

sleeping giant tortoises;

mathematically arranged monkey-puzzle tree leaves;

posing iguanas (and another giant tortoise);

this rather lovely iris in the reptile house;

alert, charismatic meerkats;

delicately-marked butterflies in the butterfly house (when they opened their wings they were a  dazzling cobalt-blue)

and vividly-coloured lorikeets. This was the best photo I could manage because they fly very quickly, not staying still for too long. Isn't their plumage wonderful?

This is quite a random collection of shots, and I saw many more wonderful animals, but I was quite busy with our students, so only took my snaps when I was on my own. Such a lot of exotic sights in one day, and a breath of fresh air to be away from the normal routine. I was very tired at the end of both days and slept like a log - it's surprising how much ground you cover on visits like these.

Hope you've enjoyed coming along for the ride too! 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


About fifteen years ago I began to notice that there were some beautiful dusky pinky-purple flowers blooming in front gardens at this time of year. I had no idea what they were called, and after a bit of research discovered that they were hellebores, and were actually the same thing as the Christmas or Lenten rose. You know how it is that once you've found out what something is you begin to notice it everywhere? Well they certainly did seem to be popular, and I was amazed that these stunning flowers had never featured on my plant-radar before.

They're a member of the buttercup family and their only drawback is that their flowers droop, so you have to bend down to photograph them when they're growing.

They're worth it, though. With an open goblet shape, their petals spread out in a graceful skirt, and they seed themselves very freely around the garden. From four original plants we now have many, and they vary in shade and markings, having cross-pollinated with each other. 

The white hellebores have a touch of green about them.

This photo's a little out of focus, but shows a half-open one with its stamens still closed together.

The stamens make the centre of a hellebore spectacular, in shades of greeny-yellow.

Some of the markings on the petals are wonderfully dappled in shades of deep plum and maroon.

They come in an infinite number of shades of dusky pinks and purples, some paler

and some much darker. I plan to buy a very dark hellebore one day - some are almost black and very dramatic.

The beautiful pure white ones really set off their more colourful cousins

But even they have tiny speckles around the centre. There's always a tinge of green about the pink and plum petals, a lovely combination.

I always pick a few blooms and display them floating in water, so that I can appreciate their beautiful centres.

They're such graceful, generous flowers and look as if they been hand-painted.

Now I love hellebores so much I can't imagine life, or my garden, without them.