Saturday, October 29, 2011

Almost There.....

I'm on the home straight now for Millie's Blanket in that I'm doing about 5000 kms of edging!!!! Nearly half way so the end's in sight but just thought I'd post a couple of pics of the finished blanket to wet your appetite!
Will post the whole thing when the edging is finished and sewn on ....

One of four crochet flowers.

One complete corner of the blanket. (Excuse the horrible red carpet ... inherited from previous owner of the house and we haven't changed it yet!)

One of my favourite squares.
And finally ...... TA DA !!!! The centre flower .....

Hope you like it !

Summer's creeping in.....

We have (at last) had our first Spring/Summer rains! In our part of South Africa our Winters are almost completely dry. The grass turns brown and as the days go by a general layer of dust descends over the landscape. Then the rains come and this happens......

Strawberries begin to appear amid the hay...

...the leeks begin to reach for the sky....

... the light glows through spinach leaves ...

and my standard roses begin to nod in the breeze ...

I love these first hints of Summer.......don't you?

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Garden In October...

Took a few pics today of my garden. A little windy so not as sharp as I'd like but it gives you an idea of what's growing right now......

My beloved Bottle Brush (not good at botanical names so please don't ask me.....). We had one of these in the UK but it never grew this big.
Here she is in all her glory! We have to lob the top off when she's finished flowering otherwise she'd take the roof off!!!

Next is a jasmine we planted two years ago against a pergola that hubby built. It didn't do anything for AGES but suddenly this year it's really taken off.....

Another favourite of mine, the graceful Iris.....

Here is an Azalea that we didn't even know we had! We cleared this area in autumn last year and discovered this growing inside a clump of weeds! Now she has come into her own again....

Next is my raised bed strawberry patch. Excuse the fruit cage netting but the Hadedas (Ibis) are particularly fond of my veg patch.....

And finally my little square foot veg patch. My first experiment in veg growing so we'll see what transpires. I've probably done it all wrong but it looks great!!!!

Left three squares from top: cabbage ; carrots ; spinach
Centre three squares from top: peppers ; carrots ; leeks
Right three squares from top: peppers ; carrots ; leeks

That's my garden in October!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Garter & Rice!!!

Here are another two squares for Milly's blanket ; Garter Stitch Diagonal and Rice Stitch Square with their patterns.

Garter Stitch Diagonal

Cast on 2 sts.

Row 1:  Knit
Row 2:  Increase 1st at beg and end of row.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have 46 sts ending with row 2.

Row 3:  Knit
Row 4:  Dec 1st at beg and end of row.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until 2 sts remain.
Cast off.

Rice Stitch Square
Cast on 40sts.
Row 1: *K1, P1; repeat from * to end.
Row 2: Purl
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until work measures 20cm.
Cast off.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Who Couldn't Love Hydrangeas?

One of my earliest childhood memories is my grandmother’s garden in England in mid Summer where she had a massive hydrangea hedge with flowers the size of dinner plates…..

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Here in South Africa they’re known as the Christmas Rose (because that’s when they flower) but I’ve never managed to grow these beautiful plants myself.
I have, however, just taken a number of cuttings from a well established stock plant and am DETERMINED that they’ll survive. I want this in my garden next Summer….

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So what’s the secret to getting these beauties to flourish?
From what I’ve read it would seem that Winter is the most dangerous time as frost or even very cold air will kill the buds, so covering during the coldest weather is essential. Wrapping in a cylinder of chicken wire and filling this with leaves seems to be the cheapest and most efficient option.
Although you could always buy them a nice parka jacket…..

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Next problem is where to plant them?
Again, the concensus is partial shade although I’ve seen spectacular displays in quite deep shade.
I guess the main thing is NOT full sun (particularly here in South Africa where our summer sun can kill at 20 paces…..)!
I already have several shady places in my garden where I know they would be happy so my next question is how to plant them and what to feed them.
It would seem that they don’t like fertilizer until they are well established (4-8 weeks after planting).
After that they just need a regular dose of an all purpose fertlizer but PLENTY of water.
These darlings love to drink so they need watering whenever there’s an absence of rain or when you notice a bit of a wilt. Keeping control of this wilt is particularly important during the Spring months when the flower buds are forming.

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And now to the colour….
Should it be white which would show up well in shady spots….

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Fabulous pink? (always a girlie favourite...)

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or that stunning blue ? (Yummy enough to eat….)

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For me it would have to be the blue but that gorgeous colour doesn’t come easy – there’s work involved. You have to turn them blue!!!
Firstly, white flowers cannot be made blue or pink.
It seems the easiest way is to turn pink big leaf varieties blue.
To make the flowers turn blue they need acidic soil and a low PH. To this you can add any of the following:
aluminium sulphate (1 tablespoon per 4 litres of water)
grass clippings
coffee grounds
ground up orange or grapefruit peel
Alternatively you can use a fertilizer low in phosphorus and high in potassium to achieve the blue colour.
A bit of a fiddle I know, but wouldn’t it be worth it………….

As for variety, well, there are loads. It’s all down to personal choice but personally, I think every garden should have at least one hydrangea.
Has your garden got one? If not, I hope I've persuaded you that it should have.……it really should.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thru the Garden Gate....

Although Spring has well and truly sprung in our garden, my plants don't seem to have woken up just yet so I was at a loss for a blog topic. So, wandering through the powder puff that is my brain, I came up with a garden topic that has long filled me with inspiration - the humble garden gate....

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I LOVE garden gates!!! I know I must sound a bit strange but there is nothing more interesting than a picture of a gate leading into someone's garden....where does it lead?......what sort of garden will I find? it real?.....

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I have so many memories of white picket fences and rose covered gateways altho I have NO idea why. I never lived anywhere with such things!!! Maybe they're still to come in the future!

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As you can tell, my tastes are very conventional but these struck me as interesting too. Firstly, simple and rustic ALWAYS work....

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Then there's this .... love the workmanship....

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And this ... great for a garden FULL of trees or near a wood or forest...

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And if you really love flowers .....

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There are always places in our gardens where we don't want others to go so what about this gate? Looks pretty formidable and I certainly wouldn't open it without some serious backup.....

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But, at the end of my 'looking at gates' journey which one would I want to walk through after a long day at work.... It would have to be this one..........enjoy........x

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Life After Gnomes....

Years ago I remember every garden had one of these….

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Or even one of these…

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and whilst I’ve nothing against either of these there is so much more choice nowadays of whimsical garden ornaments.
I’d much prefer this in my garden 

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Or this

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I guess it’s all a matter of taste.
One man’s (or woman’s) cheap and tacky is another man’s classic art.
Here are a few of my choices….

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... every garden needs a  Green Man….

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...and living in South Africa I could definitely go for one of these –

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....and because fairies DO live at the bottom of gardens….

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My son would love this…

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...and for those odd spots in the garden where nothing seems to grow
(and we all have them)….

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And on a final note, if I had to have a gnome it would definitely be this one…..

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Thoughts on Knitting a Blanket....

Many people have asked me how to knit a blanket so I thought I’d post a blog about it.

Most knitted blankets are simply individual squares all sewn together.
The easiest way is to knit multiple squares in garter stitch with each square knitted in a different colour.
This would be great practice for a newbie knitter and if the blanket was destined for a baby, it wouldn’t take very long.

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I love how the muted colours work so well together and how the knitter has turned certain squares around when sewing up the blanket, to give it a different flow.

To experiment a little, you can play around with the size of the squares, use different colours within one square and generally ‘have a play’ with yarns and stitches….

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Don't these blankets look fab on this fence?

Once you’ve mastered garter stitch the possibilities are endless!
Blanket squares are a great way of learning new stitches.
So now not only can each square be a different colour, but it can also be a different stitch.

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In the above blanket the blues and greens work so well together but you could just as easily have each square a complete different colour.

How about a seasonal blanket. This would make a great one for Autumn.....

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A fab resource for blanket squares are the knitting patterns for washcloths of which there are MANY on the internet.
They’re a great way of learning new stitches and learning to work with different colours. Here are a selection….

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There are some wonderful books out there too on knitting blanket squares. Two of my favourites are

200 Knitted Blocks by Jan Eaton


Blankets and Throws by Debbie Abrahams

And as for me, well once I've finished Milly's Blanket I'll be attempting The Great American Aran Afghan which will be quite a project.....

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Wish me luck!

Knitting blanket squares is fun, creative and very satisfying. Give it a go. You may find hidden abilities that you never knew you had…………..