The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: May 2012

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Container Gardening - potting up and planting out

I can honestly say that I have a new found love of gardening! I spent Saturday enjoying the dappled sunlight and warm weather, potting up new plants and rearranging our courtyard garden with the hope that some plants will grow well this year! Being out in the fresh air, getting mud under my fingernails and handling little plants made me appreciate the joy that gardening brings to your life and it made me really happy...gardening is a great chance to escape and think...

Having spent last week looking longingly at the plants I bought the previous weekend...Saturday finally arrived and I got up super early to start gardening!! I started the gardening by getting things tidy...I swept up the clematis petals and pollen stamens that have now all dropped into our courtyard...

I arranged all the empty pots in one space so I could work out what I should plant in which pot. With lots of plants it was like a jigsaw getting them all potted...I'm sure some will need to go in to bigger pots in a few weeks according to the planting advice!

To add to our collection of plants I bought a range of herbs, vegetables, fruit and a few flowers to grow in our courtyard garden, these included - sage, chives, fennel, curled parsley and rosemary. I planted these into a wooden container...

To start the 'edible' summer garden I bought a few vegetables and fruit to grow in our containers, including a few different tomato plants, strawberry plants, a chilli pepper, a pepper, patio peas, french beans, mixed lettuce, little gem lettuces and a small rocket plant.

The courgettes I grew from seed in March, were moved into the greenhouse a few weeks ago and survived! I had six courgette plants that I had grown from seed and have planted them out in a temporary container to see how they get on. I know that courgettes can grow quite large so I may need to re-pot them in a month or so depending how they have got on.

I love having flowers in the garden (I'm still waiting for my lillies to bloom!) for some instant colour I bought an osteospermum (daisy type flower), a lavender plant and some red and yellow nasturtiums that will flower over the next few months.

One of my favourite containers didn't have a drainage hole at the bottom so I drilled a few holes...the perfect container for my new lavender! Doesn't it look so lovely next to the bay tree and one of our willow planters!

With the planting done I spent time a lot of time moving the containers into their new homes. I spent time over the past few weekends observing where the sunlight falls in our space so I could plan where the plants could get the best light. I realised that I hadn't been utilising the space near our back door in the most productive way. I have a huge willow vegetable planter that I haven't got anything growing in at the moment, so I moved this out of the way, moved the metal garden seating further along the wall and had space to create an arrangement of pots and containers near our back door.

I've started to use the window sill for one of the pepper plants in the hope that the sunlight will help it grow really well.

I have a mixture of containers and pots as you can see, they all look quite nice next to each other. I have a bit of an obsession with bright blue pot is a new favourite! I'm already eyeing up my next purchases to add to the collection and also have a few lead-look window boxes on my wish list too! Back to the gardening...

Using some decking squares we had and some bricks I elevated a space in the corner so that I could stagger the plants to make the best use of the light and space.

I'm thrilled at what I achieved and our new look space. I just hope that things will grow and not get eaten by slugs, snails and other bugs! I will really try hard to care for the plants and the space as much as I care about the inside of our home.  I vow to water the plants and not forget about them and to keep an eye out for slugs!

Now that the space is more sorted I will try and add a few things to the courtyard over the summer months, get some more flowers growing in window boxes and pots. I'm thinking about planting red and white geraniums in lead-style window boxes and maybe creating a container with some wild flowers...I need to do a bit of planning first but I'll let you know how I get on and keep you posted on how my garden grows over the summer. Keep checking back for updates!

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Container planting - my gardening inspirations

Gardening is something that I have been itching to learn more about. I dream of owning a house in the country with a garden where I can grow wild flowers, have a little herb garden, grow vegetables all year round and maybe a fruit tree or two. I'd love to have borders of flowers and a tree to sit under just like those lovely gardens you see in Country Living magazine and gardening books. A big dream but perhaps I can do something on a smaller scale within our courtyard and grow similar plants in containers...

You may have noticed over the past few weeks I've been writing a number of gardening posts...well, as part of my goals for the year I wanted to start gardening again. I know that I need to learn the basics to make it a success and have spent a bit of time trying to learn from books, asking friends and family for advice, and looking at

Last year Mr C and I had a delivery from the wonderful organic garden company called Rocket Gardens. We were given a generous gift of a Patio Container Garden...ooh it was so lovely getting the delivery of lots of baby plants, carefully placed on a bed of hay in a huge box. We planted the plug plants in our containers and watched them grow...however shortly after they arrived we had an unwanted visitor that managed to dig up lots of the plants. Following this many of the plants died as they didn't have chance to establish themselves...our little visitor put me off our garden space a little! However after the visitor was no longer able to dig up our remaining crops, many plants did grow thanks to the dedication of Mr C who took it upon himself to tend the tomatoes! We had a constant supply of rocket and mixed lettuce as they grew really well in our containers. We had one huge courgette, some green tomatoes and we had a few French beans!

I vowed that this year would be the time to try hard and learn more about growing plants and how we can make the most of our urban garden space. With the sun finally arriving and the weather warming I have a real desire to make it work. I'm keen to make our space tranquil, a place to grow things we can eat and admire and also improve our space to entertain friends. To get started I looked through a number of books that I have for some inspiration.

I especially like Organic Crops in Pots - How to grow your own vegetables, fruit and herbs. The lovely photos of bountiful crops, querky containers and achieveable projects really inspired me. Then there are the more practical books by the 'gardening god', Alan Titchmarsh, and his 'How to Garden' series. I have the Vegetables and Herbs and Container Gardening books and found them packed with practical details.

After looking at the books I set about making a list of plants that I thought would grow well based on a few years of experience, what may be suited to our environment and space, but also what I was keen to tend and eat over the next few months!

I also had a think through the many gardening mistakes that I have made over the past few years, I don't want to let these happen again this year! I tend to forget about my plants and not regularly tend to them, this means that they get attacked by bugs, shrivel and die, and are therefore beyond rescue. I told myself that if I am going to invest in new plants that I must go on a slug hunt each day and remove the nasties, find good locations for the plants with plenty of sunlight and water regularly...

Inspired and raring to go, I took a trip to our stunning little garden centre a few minutes drive from our flat. The Riverside Garden Centre in Bristol is tucked away near the river and some old industrial buildings. The Riverside Garden Centre have such a lovely collection of everything you need for an 'urban' garden and plenty of healthy looking plants tended by their helpful staff.

I was armed with my list, as I knew I would be in danger of getting carried away. I treated myself to two big blue pots to make our space more cheerful, and bought a new Burgon and Ball trowel which blew a hole in my budget...I know I will use them year on year so it is worth the investment. I selected a range of herbs, vegetables, fruits and plants suitable for container gardening.

I saw so many beautiful flowers and little plants that I wanted but I will wait until next month to make a few more purchases as buying new plants can be expensive! I definitely need to try and grow more from seed! I'm hope to grow some red and white geraniums in window boxes and have some more flowers in pots to attract some bees!

Take a look at how I got on with the gardening in my next post where I kick start the summer by getting our courtyard looking tidy and a little bit more summery!

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Friday, 25 May 2012

Making cards using fabric and a touch of spotty bunting!

As well as getting stuck into knitting my cushion cover and starting my top secret project, I got stuck into making a few cards to try something a bit different…Spurred on by the fact that I couldn't find cards that I liked, I decided to make my own! On my commute to work I found the ideal time to plan out in my head my ideas for each card, I wanted each to be personal and special for those who were going to receive them.

Early this week the cards safely arrived at their destinations so I can now share them with you! I made two cards to celebrate two big milestones. My friends were celebrating the birth of their baby girl and another friend celebrating her 30th birthday. Having procrastinated over the draft designs I finally sat down and had a play with my paper stash!

The new baby card was created to match the colours of the nursery, green and yellow. I created the card with a dual purpose to say congratulations and as something simple that could be framed and added to the nursery wall if they wanted.

 So here it is....

I bought a set of alphabet clear stamps recently and used these to stamp a letter on each part of bunting. I knew that the colours would fit with the nursery so I added a birth date to the card too to make it even more personal. I love using confetti in cards so using a craft punch of two feet I created confetti in a range of pretty pastels.

My ideas for the 30th birthday card were a little different! I wanted to try and use fabric rather than paper. Purely for the fact that I had much nicer fabric in the colour I wanted rather than in my paper collection. I traced a '3' '0' and created templates to help me cut out the fabric. I used some iron on webbing to make the fabric stiffer so that I could easily cut out and stitch the fabric. I cut a rectangle of fabric to mount the 30 on and cut the edges with pinking shears.

I used hand applique to attach the '30' to the background fabric, using metallic blue thread. I then machine stitched using straight stitch the rectangle onto a white card. I loved adding fabric and paper together on a card so I will definitely try this again with other projects!

Here's the final card...

I was so pleased with both cards...I love adding a little bit of matching ribbon to cards I make to finish them off and make them look pretty. I just need to start making them earlier next time as I was a little late getting them in the post!

What cards are you making at the moment? Do you like using fabric to create cards?

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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Crafty work in progress

The weekend before last I had a burst of creative energy. I've been wanting to share with you what I've been up to but I've had a nasty bug and didn't feel like writing. I'm much better now and I can't wait to tell you what I've been doing and making!

With the sunny weather arriving my desire to create bloomed! I had chance to have a blitz on my knitting project. At the start of the year I wanted to make a cushion cover…well here it is so far! My cosy cable cushion is coming on rather nicely!

I’m so pleased that the cables are now finally taking shape. It took a while to see what was going I knitted, moving stitches onto my cable needle and off again, in different combinations for each row. I can finally start to see what it will look like...I’m feeling more confident reading the pattern and using a cable needle, I can't wait to finish it. I’m loving the way that you can really see the cables forming. It feels such an achievement to know that I’ve understood a pattern and managed to knit something that looks quite complicated! The kitting of the cushion cover takes lots of concentration, in comparison to the scarves I made, so I think I’ll just pootle on with it when I want to knit and do a couple of rows at a time.

I was lucky to have quite a few spare hours over that weekend so I made a real start on my top secret project! I'm hoping to share with you my finished project in June/July but for now I'll tell you how I'm getting on...

I took the plunge and started cutting up fabric for a special project. With the pieces cut I started playing with the layout of the project and after a few hours I had a breakthrough on how it should look. I’m not using a pattern and I’m just having a play with things so it's a bit experimental! With the pieces finally arranged I set about piling them on top of each other so I could start to put the project together. After three hours or so I had stitched most of my project together. Oh it looks so lovely!! I want to share it with you now in its partially finished form, but I can’t. I’ve still got work to do to finish it off before I do a big reveal plus I need to make sure that the project, a little gift, is safely in hands of the person receiving it before sharing. I'll keep you posted!

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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A sunny weekend in the courtyard

Oh what a sunny weekend we have just had! After weeks of grey days and so much rain, finally the clouds cleared. Enjoying the rare chance to get outside, I bounced round the courtyard looking at how things were growing. The clematis has bloomed making our courtyard space look so spring-like and pretty...

There are hundreds of delicate pink flowers hanging into our courtyard space. I feel very lucky to be greeted with this beautiful display of pink flowers each day, however it doesn't stay this way for long...I will try and make the most of it while the flowers last. It wont be long until the petals start to fall and litter the courtyard with a carpet of pollen and petals. It has already begun with the heavy rain and wind we have had recently.

Looking up and seeing the blue sky made me smile and I wished that the good weather would continue.

The hosta is almost fully grown again. It always surprises me that each year it keeps coming back! It dies back to an empty pot then makes another appearance, each year growing bigger and bigger. It feels like a good investment when plants do this!

With only a few plants in our little courtyard you start recognising the patterns and know when they will grow...The clematis blooms then little purple flowers from a trailing plant on our courtyard walls start to appear...

...and at the same time the lillies normally flower bringing so much colour and life to the courtyard, however they seem a bit behind schedule this year. The lillies just keep growing taller and taller, but they now have grown buds where the big pink flowers will appear from. I can’t wait for these to bloom. I’m a big fan of lillies and probably should get more to fill our space with lots of colour while other plants are just getting kick started.

This weekend I took time to sit in our little courtyard looking carefully at the plants that have survived the rainy weather and the slugs! The rain and cold weather has put me off getting outside and buying any new plants, so apart from the plants you can see above, our courtyard is looking a little unloved. With the motivation that some of my existing plants growing nicely I think I will get stuck in soon and make our space a little haven. I’ve started thinking about what I want to plant, I definitely want to try and grow a mixture of flowers, veg, herbs and salad leaves. Window boxes of flowers are definitely part of the plan...perhaps some red and white geraniums...I definitely want to grow some simple flowers in pots too so I think I'll see if I can buy some daisies, lavender, pansies and hope that the nasturtiums I'm growing from seed grow a bit more. I think a few new pots are needed to brighten up the space even more, I love the big blue glazed ones...

This weekend I saw how the sunlight lit certain parts of our courtyard. It made me think that I should definitely do a bit of shuffling round of the pots and containers before I start growing things again to make the most out of the little spaces where sunlight falls.

But before I get too excited about planting I need to keep an eye on the weather...both yesterday and today we had hail, lots of heavy rain and it was really quite cold...I hope the warm weather makes a proper appearance soon! Rain rain go away!

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Saturday, 5 May 2012

My fabric stash grows...a new project begins!

Over the past few months I’ve found that my love of colour, patterned fabric and hand made things has massively grown. Everywhere I look, whether it is a magazine, fabric shop or even online, I think about how I want to inject my home with more pattern and handmade things. To brighten up rainy lunch hours I have taken to going to my local fabric shop and looking at all the fabrics I could use and adding a few pieces to my fabric stash. I’ve added to my collection and now have about 40 fat quarters of different fabrics!! A little bit extreme already I know, however I’m only touching the surface of all the options out there.

I have a little work in progress project that is starting to take shape in my head at the moment. I've even got out my colouring pencils to try and work out a design. It involves patterned fabric and so I’m thinking carefully about the colours I choose and also the functionality of the piece. I love the creative fun I'm having selecting fabrics to work together. I’m not planning to use a pattern to make the item so it really will be something made by me. I can’t tell you too much right now as it's a topic secret gift!

The problem with this project is that I feel I have a big responsibility to get it right. It isn't for my family like previous projects have been, creating something for my Mum is a little different than making something for a friend. I wonder whether the recipient will like it, will it be to their taste, will they use it? So with these things in mind I’m being slightly cautious about getting started. I’ve washed the fabrics, ironed them, grouped the chosen fabric together to see if I have what I need…and now I just need to take the plunge and cut! I find cutting fabric really nerve wracking especially if it goes wrong and I only have bought a small piece of each pattern. If you cut something inaccurately it seems to knock everything else out! It needs time and concentration, something I haven't had for a few weeks.

Over the next few days I hope to take the plunge and make a start with the making. I know when I make a start I will be hooked. Wish me luck!

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