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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Inspiration is everywhere!

One more magic square
Where to begin when the days working in my acre of garden are numbered, as they have been this summer? Either so hot that the soil in the VPFP (‘Vegetable Plot Flower Patch) requires a pickaxe to be able to create one new small bed, and any weeding has to be done at the crack of dawn before I expire from sun-stroke. It’s actually taken me most of the summer to create one more ‘magic square’ in the far corner of the plot. The screens are in place, though it’s far too late to transplant the runner beans that have been languishing on the potting bench. And you would never know I have a greenhouse - totally hidden under brambles that have taken over!

A small corner of the Courtyard Garden
All the rain has actually been a blessed relief. As the pots of herbs and roses increase in the newly created Courtyard Garden, they require constant attention to prevent them from flagging. An area I intend to develop this Autumn, as I can observe it from the kitchen window, and contemplate its future. All parts of the garden and orchard have become ever-more important to me, as I adapt my way of life, and what I can do. I cannot recall how many re-incarnations this beloved place has had since we (husband and I) acquired the house and land in 1969. No longer can I travel the country attending all the events as I did in the past. It’s become the catalyst for my new creative business.

Inspired by Autumn - an event I cannot miss
Becoming a stay-at-home however is not conducive to fresh thought, of one’s immediate surroundings. There are certain places and events that will forever tug at my heart - even if I might now require a walking-stick to ensure I cover as much as possible in a single day! So I will be back in the lee of the beautiful Malvern Hills later this month, at the Three Counties Showground, and the ‘Malvern Autumn Festival’.

My photo collage created from images at the 2014 festival
A celebration of food, the countryside, gardening and nostalgia: as ever, I will be hard-pressed to fit all I want to do into one day. Get there as early as you can - sit over a cup of coffee with the Show Guide and plan what you want to do and the various locations to work out where you want to be, and when. Right now, log onto the Autumn Festival website and check some of the aspects you can look forward to - from ‘Grow it’, ‘Taste it’ and ‘Harvest It’. I discover from the dedicated press section of the website that “There’s a vibrant line up of family-friendly fun on the farm, alongside a feast of food and outdoor activities. Topping the line-up for 2016 is BBC TV Chef and Britain’s best-loved publican Tom Kerridge. BBC Gardeners’ World stalwart Carol Klein and Otter Farm’s Mark Diacono will also be involved”.

Anton du Bec
Years ago I used to dance, both at school and college and then, in the late 1950s and early 60s, with a dancing group. Such excitement in the show ground press information that “whether you are young or old, the Vintage Village will surely attract eager ‘movers and shakers’ who will be donning their dancing shoes, eager to join Anton du Bec - star of BBC Strictly Come Dancing - as he takes to the floor (Saturday only) to show off how to become the ultimate dance flirt of the 40’s and 50’s.” Flirting didn’t come into it when I was young! I'll certainly find my way to the Vintage Village.

Learn new techniques from this remarkable book
What will I turn all these memories into? Recollections of my eco-acre and the Autumn Festival. In the past, it has been stitched booklets or illustrated travel diaries, blogs or e-newsletters. But right now, I am learning new techniques, working my way through a glorious, recently published book. ‘TEXTILE NATURE’ by Anne Kelly will whet your appetite for capturing the outdoors and engaging nature, so do obtain a copy of her new book, recently published by Batsford. The natural world - the basis for creativity, bringing the outside into your indoor workspace. 

Turn your garden memories into stitched textile pieces
As is apparent in Anne’s teaching (I've been on a number of her workshops),  suggested approaches to creating a new textile piece in many formats are paramount, giving the reader freedom to adopt whatever approach best suits their chosen topic. Copious examples are given, not only of Anne’s delicious work, but of many contributors, professional and amateur. More inspirational joys - Grandma is going to be busy! Click this link to purchase a copy


  1. I love the idea of your magic squares and your potted plants look very happy. I too am struggling to get our garden into shape. I must cut the grass before I go away this weekend or it will be such hard work by next week. Your soil sounds much like ours - I feel the need for a pickaxe to remove some of the weeds! I have Anne Kelly's book and am longing for some spare time to settle down and try her technique.

  2. Nothing changes! Gardeners experience the same challenges all over the world! Pick axing in Texas...:) Laura

  3. Oh yes - it has been an annoying Summer. The weather has been extreme so much of the time. Have had good potatoes and pathetic onions (didn't grow much bigger than the sets I planted) at the allotment, and we're finally starting to get some decent tomatoes at the house. After last year's bumper crop, we have hardly any apples ripening - think the appalling Spring weather took its toll on the blossom.

    Still, the Malvern Autumn Show signals the start of the next growing year, when we get ourselves stocked up on seeds, bulbs and enthusiasm. We'll be there on the Saturday. Just hope the weather doesn't play the tricks it did on the Saturday of the Spring show. We were in the food hall when the storm hit, and managed to get a bench and had our feet off the floor before the flood came through and the lightning hit.