Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hares, Colour and Some Sea Air

If I had to sum up this summer with one word, it would be colour.  I've really appreciated the brightness of colour this year. I think more so than normally. The deep jewel tones and shades of green from mossy to emerald. 
More green has been brought inside. It was time to say goodbye to the rather boring white on the window frame. I'm hoping to finish this later today? It's a large bay window and what you see in the photograph is only half the size. It's always a mission painting and cleaning it! 
For the first time ever, this year I grew some Bergamot. I love the shape of the flowers. The seed packet said that bees would adore it, but to be honest I've yet to see any bees on the flowers. They are much preferring the other plants in the garden.
The pond plants are doing well now and look rather like a miniature forest. 
Sulphur shades of fennel dominate the garden on this last day of August. 
 Mr owl was finally given a home on top of the old gate post that we converted into a plinth. 
I think he rather likes it here? It's as if he's keeping watch over the garden.  Mr Blackbird has taken a liking to sitting on top of his head. It's actually a candle holder, so I will take a picture sometime at dusk and see if his eyes light up?
With it being the last days of summer it's time to share the Spring /Summer hares! These were finished a month ago or more, but I just haven't got around to adding them to the shop yet.
So that's what I plan to do very soon, infact on...
                ****Monday 2nd September at 7pm****
One of the reasons it's taken so long to get them ready for sale is because I have been umming and aahing about adding them to my Web Shop this time instead of the Etsy ShopIt's a decision I made a while back to get another shop going, as Etsy, although being fantastic for me, has made rather a lot of changes since I began selling on there 11 years ago. Some of them are not so good for me personally, so it was time to get another shop up and running. It has taken quite a bit of work and will take a lot more, but it's a start. I will keep Etsy as well, but am planning to sell the originals in the Web Shop. Anyway we shall see how it goes? If you were one of the many folks that asked about buying wholesale (cards) for your gallery or bricks and mortar shop, then I've also set up a system for this which I am testing. Just pop me an email using the contact form on the website

These hares were inspired by what was in the garden and around me this summer.  
                                                     Meadow Hare ~ Viola, Forgetmenot and Bee 
Meadow Hare ~ Starlight, Clover and Glow worm
Meadow Hare~ Viola, Herb Robert and Bee
Hedgerow Hare~ Starlight, Honeysuckle and Moth
Meadow Hare ~ Starlight, Self Heal, Clover and Glow Worm
Meadow Hare~ Green, Viola, Herb Robert and Bee
I hope this summer you have found a little relaxation and escape from the stress and worries of the world wherever you may be?  We ventured for a short while to Clovelly a village on the north coast of Devon. Away from cars and noise and down to the sea.
 The only traffic on these old cobbled paths are donkeys (the donkeys are more for show these days and don't do hard work like years ago thankfully) and sledges, which folk use to carry their shopping and other essentials down to the cottages. 
Looking down onto the harbour.
We stayed right by the sea, just behind the white building nearest to the sea, in the little beige stone building to the right.
There was sunshine and showers and not very many people around. Bliss.
We did some coast path walking, beach combing, found angels and places where Devon pixies dwell.
And we watched the sea change her salty cloak from turquoise to grey as the storm clouds gathered.
But mostly we just listened to the song of the waves on the pebbles. And each night with the bed next to the window, the melody flowed into our dreams.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Slow Dreaming Days of Summer

I often find my words disappear a little in the summertime. There is so much to look at and do, there are no time for words, are there?  Only conversations with flowers, wonderful creatures, oh and the odd human, here and there ;) 
I had meant to write a post in June, but did get distracted with life offline, so I do apologise to anyone that likes to read my little  meanderings here.
I hope you are enjoying the summer wherever you may be, or of course winter if you are in the southern hemisphere. It's been lovely weather here in the south west of England. Currently a little too hot for me, but there have been plenty of visitors to the garden to inspire my paintings. 
Some, unlike these above were just too fast to get pictures of. There was a visit from a humming bird hawk moth on the valerian one day and nine scarlet tiger moths flying about on the hedge. The valerian is a wonderful plant to have as the butterflies love it. I took a cutting of a white one while out and about, which I'm hoping will take, as the plant is great for dry areas. The pond is looking good although the warm weather seems to have taken its toll on one of the plants but I'm hoping it may recover. No sign of Jeremy Fisher yet, although we did have a frog appear in the living room one day when the front door had been left open. So possibly he is visiting the pond secretly?  There have been damselflies stopping by and the birds are using it to drink and bathe in. And, I have even spotted a hedgehog having a drink! As you can imagine that made me very happy!

Another thing that has caused much joy is the lawn.  Here it is a few weeks or so back.
You may remember a couple of years ago we began leaving it wild in the summer time, creating a meadow for insects.  I love to walk around and see what new plants have awoken from their sleepy seeds or have reached up from suppressed roots. 
There was much excitement when a beautiful orchid appeared from nowhere in the shady part beneath the apple tree. 
It made me wonder and imagine what this old garden on its gentle sloping hillside has held throughout the centuries?Vegetables and apple orchards in the shadows of majestic elms. And further back when this old village is mentioned in the Domesday book there was a vineyard. Could it have been on this sunny hillside? Or was this little patch a meadow where the folk sat and rested, contemplating the future while collecting flowers and herbs to flavour their mead? Now, here I am, walking around and photographing maybe (I like to think) some of these same plants for inspiration in my work. Whatever this small patch of earth has seen and heard over the years, all is quiet for now and the orchid has returned.

Summer days here have been filled with moments of dreaming and reading.
Family time and daughter's graduation.
Evening walks where we saw glow worms.
And a partial eclipse of the moon.
Lots of National Trust houses on my list have been ticked off, which I may possibly come back and blog about another time?
The most recent one was Thomas Hardy's cottage in Dorset. Such a beautiful place to have lived. Hardy's great- grandfather built the cottage and Hardy was born and lived here with his parents, grandmother and siblings. It was here that he created some of England's best known literary works and characters. The surrounding heathland with it's ancient roman road nearby, was the inspiration for his imaginary Wessex.
I sat and signed the visitor book in the very same spot where he wrote 'Under The Greenwood Tree' and 'Far from The Madding Crowd' 
Work wise, I've been slowly working away on some hangers.
These were supposed to be ready ages ago, (apologies) but I've just found that I'm working extremely slow and have felt a bit burnt out since Christmas. So I'm taking my time this year and things will be ready when they are ready. I've also been working on the website again and have a shop up and running on there now. It's currently just got a few items in but will have more over time. I hope to sell  originals on there and more expensive pieces which will save some costs from Etsy. I've also set up a beta way of selling wholesale and will see how that pans out? I'm not leaving Etsy, but just want another place to feel secure as it seems many changes are happening there? You can view my web shop here.

Since the last post, these new postcards of paintings done a couple of months back are now for sale in the shop (Etsy shop)
I think that's all for now.
Here's to summer days!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Building a Wildlife Pond.

The list of things to do is always it seems, never ending. No doubt yours is the same? Just when you tick one thing off, another two appear! Isn't it always the way?
A couple of weeks ago I decided to finally do one of the projects that has been on my list for so long,  'build a wild life pond' So I thought I'd share how I did it...
Step 1. Find a good spot. Preferably in sun and slight shade I believe, but the feathered foreman approved of this site.
 Step 2. Dig. I only wanted a small pond, so this didn't take long.
Step 3. Find a home for all the soil that has been dug out. Mine, (3 barrels full) got dispersed between flower beds.
 Step 4. Create the shape you want and make sure it is level.  A deeper bit in the middle with shallow edges. Use a spirit level to check and adjust.
I think that looks okay?
Step 5. Add some sand at the bottom of the hole, to prevent sharp stones puncturing the pond liner. (I also added some garden greenhouse fleece) then put the liner in. Sadly there is no photo of this as I got so carried away I forgot to take any! :-/ You can buy pond liners at garden centres cut off the roll or in packs. The one I used was in a pack and it was the smallest size. Once in, I then filled with water. Preferably rain water as it's got all the good stuff in it. I took mine from the water butt, but if you don't have a supply of rain water, then you can of course just use tap water.  Once the pond was filled up, I cut the edges of the liner and arranged some large stones, around to hide the rubber/plastic and make it look natural.
Step 6. Add gravel/pebbles and decorate.
Once the pond was basically complete I added some more stones inside and some small pebbles/ gravel (not builders) inside and around the edge to make a sloping beach area. This enables small wildlife to easily get out if they happen to fall in. I bought the bag of small stones from a DIY shop.
 Lastly I added some plants. Two oxygenating native plants and a marsh marigold. I may need more plants, but for now will see how these grow as its only a tiny pond?
After only been here two weeks the plants have already spread and the birds are using it to drink from. A damsel fly has been spotted visiting too.
I'm not sure why it took so long to tick this off the list as it didn't take long at all and was straightforward and didn't cost a lot. Most importantly though now I can put my mind at rest. If I'm late topping up the bird bath, there is always a water source nearby for our precious wildlife.

Talking of those precious wildlife...
The birds in the garden have been very active feeding fledglings.
Mr Blackbird has become even tamer and now comes to the table for snacks.
And even this little one is quite brave sometimes. 
 "No this is not too big a piece for me!"

NB: Update on the music player
Since my last post and a lot of pulling of hair out about the music player on here. I seem to have got another player to work. (fingers crossed it keeps working) I will still be limited to songs because of the new EU article 13 stricter policy but I can still find things which are royalty free and use my son's music so all is not lost for those of you that enjoyed the music. For those of you that don't then you can just press 'off' on the button on the player ;)  See you next time x