The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: April 2015

Saturday, 25 April 2015

April in our urban garden

At times our garden feels pretty bare, we're in a stage where we are clearing space for new plants and a new garden design whilst trying to spot what plants are part of the garden we have inherited. I hope to be able to keep as much of the current planting as I can moving forwards and just add to it. Here are a few of the plants currently making an appearance in our space.

Bright yellow crocus making an appearance...

A blossoming apple tree...

Our acer returning greenery to the garden...

The seed grown geraniums from a few years ago still flowering...

A delicate poppy appeared from nowhere...

Our pot grown hosta is growing once again...

One of our pot grown blueberry bushes covered in flowers...

Each time I step outside into our garden space it makes me smile. I've been spending time outside when I can sitting in the sun dreaming of how we will be changing the space, measuring the garden and starting to sketch out a bit of a garden design. I'll update you over the next few weeks with our progress in the garden. 

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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Garden plans - How we will use our urban garden

Last week was National Gardening Week and for me it meant spending time with a few new books and working out a few more things in our garden. I thought I'd tell you about our garden and the plans we have started to make for our space.

With the weather warming my attention has once again become focused on our garden. For us our garden space is perfectly sized for us and what we want to do at this point in our lives. Mr C and I work full-time and so we wanted a space that meant we could give it the attention and time it needs to be maintained as well as being able to sit alongside our other interests.

Our garden has already seen a change from this...

to this...

There's lots of work to do but as you can see we have removed a lot of plants that were filling up a space within the garden and have created the space for raised beds.

Before we made the changes Mr C and I thought about what we wanted the space to be used for. I knew that I wanted to have raised beds to grow herbs, vegetables and cut flowers but there were also a number of other things I wanted to consider and be part of the garden project.

I want to use our garden to...

Grow our own - there's nothing better than cooking with freshly picked herbs added to a dish. Home grown carrots and potatoes with butter and herbs are just delicious. Picking salad leaves, giving them a wash and creating a delicious lunch is something I got huge pleasure from in our last courtyard garden. I don't expect our garden to replace all of our food shopping but I hope it will help in a few areas and will teach us even more about seasonal cooking and growing our own.

Be a space to relax and entertain in - I love entertaining friends and as Mr C has a huge passion for cooking what better way to combine using an outside space for growing as well as entertaining. I envisage summer evenings with tea lights in jam jars, the chiminea or bbq providing heat when the sun is setting, daytime lunches with pretty napkins and big platters of home grown salad to share, and a space we want to sit in and enjoy. 

Reduce the impact on the environment - For us it's important to consider where our food comes from. We regularly shop at farmers markets, our local independent shops, and will go to supermarkets for a number of things, but we do our best to buy what is in season and as much as we can buy food grown in the UK. I would love to reduce our reliance on things that can easily be grown at home, for example rocket, lettuce and herbs that we regularly use. It means we buy less and have less packaging to recycle.

Help nature - We want to attract and encourage wildlife as much as we can into our little space in the city. In time we will add bird feeders, a bird box and a bee house/hotel and think carefully about the flowers we grow. At the moment a bee hive isn't really an option but something I would've loved to have done if we had a flat roof space.

Grow a cut flower patch - I adore having cut flowers in our home but it upsets me when you realise the distance the flowers have travelled to make it into our homes. I try to buy British where I can but from time to time I do buy from supermarkets where the flowers have been flown a long distance.  I would prefer to have home grown seasonal flowers in our home instead, it's a little mission I have. Plus how lovely would it be to visit a friend with a small posy of home grown flowers tied together with a little piece of garden twine or ribbon as a gift!

Create a cycle - I'm keen to find out more about how to recycle our garden waste and home waste. As we plan our space we are thinking about whether we can have a compost heap or wormery. Creating our own plant fertiliser will mean less waste will be taken away to be recycled by the council. I've still got a lot of reading to do on this but I hope that later this year we will be able to set up one of the options.

Reduce urban run off and conserve more water - As we will be changing the use of the garden space quite dramatically, I have on my mind the impact it may have to the ever increasing problem of urban runoff. We are planning to take out the lawn, add pebbles and stepping stones/path to the end of the garden, and grow more things in containers where our lawn once was. Our garden design will plan to reduce urban run off by having hanging baskets, more containers on patio spaces to absorb the rain, more water butts storing excess water from the house roof and plant more plants to slow urban run off.

Include reclaimed or sustainably sourced materials where possible - Mr C and I have started building raised beds over the past week from recycled scaffolding planks (I'll show you soon!) and have used wood from a wood recycling project in the city. We are planning to remove the lawn and will use this upturned into the raised beds with compost being added on top. To fill the raised beds we are planning to use the existing compost heap as well as compost from Mr C's family farm. I hope to only need to buy peat-free soil as and when we need it, but I am aware we need to get our soil ready for the best growing conditions we can and this year may mean investing in more soil. Where our budget will allow I want to make sure that the materials we select are sustainable and I look into where the materials come from, or recycle and make our own.

Be a space to escape in - Over the years I've been gardening I've found that it is an incredible form of therapy. When I've had lots on my mind being able to escape into our outside space, dig, sort and tend plants has given me a fresh purpose and a real focus. I want to continue that in this space and see our garden as something we are very much responsible for, that is an attractive space to escape to and enables me to continually learn about growing seasonally. I'd like to create a mini haven in the city that I can sit in and enjoy.

I hope that this gives you a little insight into what we are planning to do with our space. I'm off now to continue reading my gardening books and researching greenhouses! I'll be back soon with an update on our raised beds and what the garden is looking like at the moment.

Enjoy the sunshine and enjoy your outside space, whatever size it may be.

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Crochet progress

My eyes have been opened wider than before, the books I have are starting to make sense, and I’m beginning to read the diagrams and understand the written patterns...I'm talking about the world of crochet that seems to be opening up in front of me and at last starting to make sense. Last night I came back from my crochet class fired up and raring to move forward with my crochet hobby. Something happened during the class and everything I've been doing so far started to click into place.

I've being going to a crochet class at my local craft shop, PaperVillage, run by a lovely lady called Vicky, she's an artist by day and creates 3D yarn art, mainly with crochet. I’m currently taking her beginners crochet class and this week we made flowers. Her style of teaching and what we are learning each week is building up the basics of crochet and giving us confidence to try new patterns. Vicky presents us each week with a small project to work on for two hours. We all work through the pattern together, making it step by step and asking questions and for help as we go. The pattern we were given last night looked quite complicated but with such an encouraging and enthusiastic teacher we all managed to make a flower or two and felt that we had achieved something pretty brilliant! Plus we learnt to read an American pattern, the terminology is a little different so it feels that I have my head round that too!

I love going to a class, rather than learning alone. What it has given me is a chance to ask the all important question, 'where do I put my hook to make that stitch?' which seemed to be the main problem stopping me moving forwards. I'm loving being part of the class, there's a real buzz about the room as we all learn to make the projects each week. I can feel my brain working whilst I'm there, as it's all about counting, checking and learning new stitches, it's definitely a hobby that is challenging me. 

This morning I got up and looked at the flowers I made and with a new enthusiasm I went straight to the crochet books on my book shelf. I have a small collection of crochet books that I have spent time oohing and ahhing over for a while but have always felt unsure about how to start many of the projects. Taking a fresh look this morning with a new found confidence, the terminology and instructions are finally starting to make sense.

It feels like a revelation being able to understand the patterns, opening up this hobby beyond the basic granny square and ripple pattern that I'm currently doing. I now feel that I can make a start on a few projects I've been wanting to make for a while but didn't have the skills or knowledge for. I have a few friends that are expecting little bundles this year and I have been keen to try and make baby booties and a few simple crocheted toys. I think that following yesterdays class and with a new found confidence I'm going to have a go at making one of these projects. I'll let you know how I get on!


Sunday, 12 April 2015

Life at the moment

April has arrived and the past few weeks have flown by, with a glorious Easter bank holiday weekend and a week of warm days I've at last managed to finally compile this post.

There's something about this time of the year and those first few days of warmth and sunshine that take me back to spring and summer days of the past. Odd feelings of having to do exam revision vs sitting in the sunshine, and giddy feelings of lighter evenings and feeling more enthused to do things after work, have been bubbling in me this week.

I've had a busy few weeks in my day job as projects and workload have ramped up to an all time high. Taking time to write has had a little bit of a back seat but I'm now off work for a week of annual leave so I'm back! I've been busy filling the past month or so with lots of things, life at the moment has been about...

Enjoying...spring flowers in our home, buying a few bunches of daffodils to brighten up our home.

Painting...our guest room over a weekend. From a bright yellow colour that was here when we moved in, to a fresh white, at last we feel that this room feels like our own. There are still pictures to hang, an office space to sort, a quilt and roman blind to make, but we now have a blank canvas to create a great spare room. The rest of the house is painted in colours that we are happy with but bit by bit we will add more of a personal touch to the decorating.

Seeing...lots of friends for catch ups, from drinks, dinner and Skype dates with my friends dotted around the world. Time to catch up, share news, get advice and thoughts, it has made the past month really great. 

Making...almond butter, a yummy breakfast smoothie and chia seed cookies from the Deliciously Ella cookbook. I've also had my first experience of making a homemade pizza one weekend. I've got some perfecting to do with the depth of the base, but it was yummy! Getting back into the kitchen and trying to cook and make new things gives me a real buzz. 

Reading...I'm still loving spending time reading books and I have just finished this lovely book Play Big by Tara Mohr. It's been a great companion for my journey to work and when I've taken some time out to read in the evenings. I've been thinking about my inner critic and my inner mentor and how it effects what I do try and achieve. 

I've started reading a new book this week called Better than Before - Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchin Rubin. I read Gretchin's other book The Happiness Project last year so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into her new book.

Sewing...taking some time to get back on the sewing machine making quilt blocks as part of my Farmer's Wife quilt project. 

Researching...greenhouses, sheds, raised beds and all things gardening. Yesterday I headed to our local garden centre to start costing up the plants for the garden and getting an idea of what I'd like to grow. I had planned to pick up a few seeds and ended up buying a few things for me. It's my birthday in a few days so I wanted a treat or two!

Digging...up the huge roots of the plants I've removed from our garden a few weeks ago. I got into the swing of things and started digging the ground and marking up where we want to have a few raised beds in the garden.

Making...Easter tree decorations. I love these corkscrew hazel branches and a few days before Easter I decided that this year I would start a tradition of creating an Easter tree. I decorate the branches at Christmas so I thought it may be nice to have them decorated at Easter too. I bought a small pack of chicks, two wooden rabbits and five polystyrene eggs from a craft shop that I covered in bright fabric scraps. I made a few small pom poms to add more colour to the tree. It made me smile and I finished it in an afternoon.

Relaxing...with my blue herringbone blanket, cups of tea and my crochet hook, creating row upon row of treble crochet creating my colourful ripple blanket. I'm really loving this hobby as an escape and feeling more confident with my skills.

Joining...a crochet class and learning to crochet a bunting triangle. At last I think I'm getting it! plans for the next few months and trying to focus on My One Thing.

Arranging...our book collection on the alcove shelving and cupboard that Mr C built in our dining room. I'm in love the new chunky white shelving that Mr C made, I think he's pretty pleased with his handiwork too!

Listening to...the new Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds album Chasing Yesterday, and inspiring podcasts. This week I felt really energised by Elise Get's Crafty podcast where Elise interviewed Amy Tan about making your own creative path, so check it out. Plus I'm really pleased to see the return of The Lively Show podcast where Jess talked to Hal Elrod about his inspiring story and about his Miracle Mornings. Truly inspiring and food for thought! It's made me consider changing my morning routine.

Pre-ordering...a birthday treat for me, a new daily planner. The planner starts from July 2015 through to July 2016. It's called Get To Workbook created by one of my favourite bloggers Elise Blaha Cripe. If you read Elise's blog each day please do go an support her with her exciting launch. I can't wait to get this in my hands!

Simplifying...from time to time I feel that I'm getting closer to my word. When decisions need to be made I've been looking to my word, but it's sometimes been tricky to simplify when I've been busy. I'm doing a few small things to move closer to the word filling my weeks and being part of me.