Homemade birthday T-shirts

30 Jul

The sproglet turned two at the weekend and I couldn’t resist making him a birthday T-shirt.

 

Homemade 2nd birthday t-shirt | Wolves in London

Two today!

(Is this an addiction? Quite possibly. But one I just can’t seem to beat…)

We had a brilliant party in the local park, with a gazebo bedecked with bunting. I felt I was fulfilling my SE London parental duties correctly. (If you walk through Peckham Rye Park on any weekend day in the summer, all you see are children’s parties, the park festooned with bunting, gazebos and balloons. I once even saw someone erecting a bell tent in the arboretum for the afternoon.

I did, actually, forget about balloons, so we walked to our chosen party spot with the sprog pointing at all the other birthday children’s balloons on the way going, “Oh! Balloon! Balloon!”

I made a mental note for next year.)

The sprog wore his T-shirt all day long, spilling not one little drop of drink or cake on it all day.

I thought he might recognise the number 2 on the front, but he didn’t really. But all the grown-ups complimented him on the lovely Quentin Blake drawings.

Homemade Quentin Blake birthday t-shirt | Wolves in London

Who doesn’t love Quentin Blake?

I made the image using one of the free colouring in templates on the Quentin Blake website.

(I found out about these in a great post with links to loads of kids’ colouring in resources on the beautiful blog Kate’s Creative Space.)

I used the central part of the image, put it into a simple black square frame and then just stuck in a giant number 2 into the blank space in the font Curlz MT.

I then used my beloved transfer paper following the method outlined here. And I was pretty pleased with the result…

I thought about writing “2 today” but decided that rather limited the usage (or at least gave the wrong impression for any other day) so I just stuck with a simple 2.

In case anyone else fancies making one, you can use my template here and just insert the appropriate number in place of the 2. This is, ahem *hides face with shame*, a Powerpoint file so it’s super easy to edit…

Download a template for a birthday t-shirt | Wolves in London

Click here to download the template

Copyright of the Quentin Blake picture is obviously Quentin Blake’s, and these can’t be used for commercial purposes. See more on his copyright on his original colouring-in sheet.

I think I’m going to make this an annual tradition; a new t-shirt every year.

Just nine months to go til the baby has his first birthday — I might start planning the outfit now…

Related articles:

I’ve made a fair few different t-shirts now.  (I even have plans to start up my own little shop selling things like this…)

Take a look at the following (all include links to the images I’ve used):

Homeprinted carrot babygrow | Wolves in London

Carrot babygrow

Homemade Russian doll babygrow | Wolves in London

Russian doll babygrows

Homemade elephant T-shirt | Wolves in London

Elephant T-shirt

Homeprinted dog T-shirt | Wolves in London

Vintage dog pic

Vintage image babygrows | Wolves in London

Three vintage babygrows

Homeprinted tomato t-shirt | Wolves in London

Er, tomatoes?!

Grow forage cook: morello cherry vodka recipe

28 Jul

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you might know that the wonderfully talented Laura at Circle of Pine Trees is a good friend of mine.

Laura and I met back in our student days at Bristol Uni, both of us studying English Literature and then taking a masters in poetry (otherwise known as wasting a year in a rather enjoyable but completely pointless pursuit…)

It wasn’t over our mutual love of 20th century poetry though, that we really bonded, but through our mutual love of cooking (and perhaps more specifically a love of cakes, now I think about it…)

In the years since (oh, one or two I would guess, if you’re asking, definitely not more than a decade, ahem) that love of cooking has developed for both of us into a love of cooking with natural ingredients; often either home grown or foraged.

So we thought it was high time we got together and collaborated to share some recipes, growing tips and foraging ideas with each other – and any of you dear readers who might be interested.

Here then, as a first installment for our new series Grow, Forage, Cook, is my recipe for morello cherry vodka.

Morello cherry vodka recipe | Wolves in LondonWhen I removed the giant cactus from the front garden a few years back, I planted a morello cherry tree in its place.

Morello cherries are wonderful because they’re rather bitter and don’t taste good until you cook them. In itself, not necessarily a plus point, but it means the birds don’t eat them and you can use every single last one on the tree. This year, the first year I got any fruit, it wasn’t a bumper crop. (The tree is still very young. Barely into adolescence in tree years.) But it was perfectly sized for a batch of morello cherry vodka.

Ingredients:

Morello cherry vodka supplies

All the supplies

  • Morello cherries (or you could use normal sweet cherries and reduce the sugar)
  • A bottle of vodka
  • Granulated sugar — enough to fill about a third of the bottle
  • And then you need a bottle with a seal to store it in

What to do:

1. Cut all the cherries in half. I leave the stones in, which gives a slightly almondy flavour to the vodka as well, but you could take the stones out if that doesn’t sound pleasant.

Homemade morello cherry vodka recipe | Wolves in London

Good enough to eat!

2. Fill your storage bottle a third full with sugar (you can simply re-use the original vodka bottle if it has a screw lid. Just drink remove a little bit of of the vodka first) and then push the cherries in on top.

Homemade morello cherry vodka | Wolves in London

Looks delicious already, I know

3. Pour the vodka over the top until you’ve filled the bottle…

Homemade morello cherry vodka | Wolves in London

You can see the colour of the cherries bleeding into the liquid already

…and then seal the lid and give it a really good shake.

4. Store it in a cupboard and give it a good shake every time you notice it for the first month or so. (Or, if you’re more organised than me, do it once a week to schedule.)

5. If you can, leave it for a year, even better leave it for two years to really infuse together. Once you’re ready to drink it, strain the liquid through a sieve to remove the vodka-soaked cherries.

Getting all Blue Peter on you, here is one I prepared earlier. Two years ago, to be precise:

Homemade morello cherry vodka

It genuinely is that amazing pinky red colour…

Isn’t it a phenomenal colour?!

So, five minutes prep and a mere two years in waiting and you’ve got some cherry vodka.

What to do with it then? you might well ask.

Of course, you can just swig it from the bottle (I did this a few times while I was waiting. Checking that the sugar content was right, naturally, not just having a cheeky glug.)

But the classier option is to use it in a cocktail.

It’s really good in a cherry vodka fizz: one measure vodka, the glass topped up with tonic water. (A vodka tonic by any other name…)

Cherry vodka fizz | Wolves in London

Top with mint and some spare cherries for a truly photogenic drink

Or, for a more boozy / celebratory alternative, you could put a measure of the cherry vodka in a champagne glass and top with champagne.

Or, of course, you could just use it in place of normal vodka in about a million other cocktail recipes and make them a wonderful pink colour.

[My husband just looked over my shoulder and commented that if he couldn’t see the actual items, he would never believe that these were real, so bright are the colours. But yes! I trick you not, this really is the vodka I made and the cherries really are that bright red. Here’s a final shot of them, unedited straight from the camera:

Morello cherries

Morello cherries; one of the fakes-looking fruits in the world?

So go forth, all, and plant a morello cherry tree in your garden!]

Let me know if you have a go, I’d love to hear any other wonderful concoctions you make with it!

Related articles:

Styled: an Ikea jug

24 Jul

Last year I took a blogger’s photography course with Emily Quinton (you can read more about it here: Make light photography workshop).

Last month, Emily set all her past students a challenge to take an object and style it three ways.

It was a challenge I really wanted to take part in: styling is the thing I find absolutely the most utterly difficult in photography (especially photography for my blog) and the area in which I really want to improve.

I mulled it over for a few weeks, thinking of various different things I could style and then dismissing them again as I imagined the disappointing photographs I would take.

Then I saw A Quiet Style’s amazing photos for the same challenge and I almost threw in the towel then and there, so beautiful were her shots.

But not wanting to fall before I’d even reached the first hurdle, I looked myself in the mirror and had a stern word.

“Come on, Sabrina”,  I said, jumping up and down and making little motivational jab shots towards my own reflection, “you might as well at least try. Practice makes perfect and so on. Why don’t you take a few photos and if they’re heinously awful then you don’t have to put them on the blog or even admit to anyone else that it ever happened…”

So, safe in the knowledge my reputation would remain unbesmirched whatever the results, I settled on photographing a humble Ikea jug in three different ways. These are the results.

Firstly: the lazy option

I was photographing my July garden moodboard, when I saw the jug and decided to just stick it onto the backdrop and take a photo.

Jug and leaves | Wolves in London

No, there is no rhyme or reason to this photo

One of the very few things I know about styling is that you’re meant to tell a story with your vignette or wotnot. What on earth this story would be, I just don’t know. Milkmaid is on her way to milk cow, but stops to pick some herbs and accidentally leaves her jug behind with the discarded herbs on a pristine piece of paper?

Verdict: okay, definitely failing in the whole story telling stakes, but I quite like the simplicity of the white background with the white jug and the reflections of the green foliage on the jug’s sides.

Secondly, the ‘is it actually there?’ photo

I picked some of my delicious-smelling sweet peas and put them into the jug. (Y’know, in my real life, rather than my pretend styled life.)

And I think it was about two days before it actually occurred to me to take a photo of them. Ha.

Sweet peas | Wolves in London

Look carefully and you can just about make it out…

When I did, I got a bit carried away with the delicate sweet pea veins, which you can’t really make out unless you have quite a close up shot. So the jug becomes nothing more than a tiny background accent.

Verdict: nice sweet peas. Irrelevant jug.

Finally, number three, some actual styling

Okay, please don’t laugh that I call this styling because what is in this photo? A jug. Sitting on a tea towel.

Jug on tea towel | Wolves in London

Styling is all about napkins and tea towels, right?!

But, I have to confess that this took me almost 30 photos to get something I was even a little bit happy with.

I took my jug upstairs to the wooden floorboards (something Emily taught me in the last class, this one: wooden floorboards look nice in photos!) Then I took a nice (unused and still actually clean) tea towel and spent the best part of 15 minutes farting around trying to get a nice fold on it and wondering whether or not the jug should sit on the tea towel or next to the tea towel…

But, finally, I was actually pleased (or, at least, not displeased) with this shot.

Verdict: even things that apparently look really simple can take a bit of time to get right!

So, what do you reckon? I don’t think my phone is going to ring off the hook anytime soon with people begging me to style things for them, but a definite improvement along the way there…

I already have plans to try and style some other things in three ways. Watch this space for more agonising!

NB Can I just let you know how hard it was to resist calling this post, “Jugs.” But resist I did. Some acknowledgement due, surely?

Related articles:

  • I had another mini fight with my lack of styling instincts when I was doing a Blogging your way course last year. That time, the subject was some carrot jam

A few holiday snaps

22 Jul

Is showing some holiday photos on a blog the modern day equivalent of the dreaded slide evenings in the 1970s?

Quite possibly, but, stuff it, I’m going to show you a few pics anyway. At least if you’re not interested you can just look away now, and I won’t force you to drink any of my homemade elderflower wine. (My grandfather used to make this. Believe me, it sounds nicer than it tastes…)

Where once holidays with the hubby meant diving in exotic locations around Asia, these days we’re firmly staycationers (the one foreign holiday — our honeymoon — that we attempted to take the sproglet on being something of a disaster of constant night wakings and the like…)

So this summer, we packed up the car and set off for sunny Dorset, for a few days staying on one of the Featherdown Farms campsites. This is glamping to the extreme: a safari tent, with an actual flushing loo inside, two bedrooms and a wood burning stove. It’s basically a house but with fabric walls.

View at Featherdown farm | Wolves in London

Every campsite needs a kettle planted with herbs…

We’d carefully selected the farm that had the most animals, so that the sproglet would have the best time animal admiring for a few days.

Of course, as is always the way when planning stuff with kids, for the time we were there he completely lost his normal love of farm animals and showed no interest in them whatsoever.

However, there was a conveniently-placed rowing boat in the field outside which provided hours of entertainment. As well as hours of cajoling parents into joining him for a row…

Boat in field | Wolves in London

Possibly the most exciting thing for an almost-two-year-old

Boat in field | Wolves in London

“Row, Mum-Mum, row…”

There were also some glorious views for us to enjoy from the comfort of our deckchairs.

Golden hour | Wolves in London

Golden hour one evening. Just out of shot, a frazzled looking hubby, trying to persuade the baby to go to sleep…

Horse in field | Wolves in London

The horse in the adjacent field provided some interest for the sprog

It was all so picturesque that I didn’t even mind that we had to walk to the shower block when we needed to wash, or that it took 30 minutes to boil a kettle for a cup of tea. (Okay, the last one bothered me a teensy bit. I am something of a tea addict…)

Early morning sun | Wolves in London

Off to the shower block in the early morning sunshine…

Camping stove | Wolves in London

Making a cuppa on the outside stove

As well as mooching around on the farm we took a few day trips — I won’t bore you with details of the one to the Sea Life in Weymouth where we met one of the Octonauts — but by far my favourite was Honeybrook Farm, close by in Wimborne Minster.

The most glorious red brick farm buildings are set in a courtyard, with stables on one side, a dovecote on another and a lawn with ducks, geese and a terrifying-looking turkey in the middle. The estate is set in stunning river meadows, with a chalk stream running down through the grounds.

Honeybrook farm | Wolves in London

This photo comes nowhere close to showing how attractive these buildings were…

We spent a long time fishing in the stream, followed by a lovely walk along the banks, the sprog persuaded along with the promise of another bridge to cross.

All this, plus a cafe, restaurant, tea shop, heavenly kitchen garden, soft play area, tractor rides, two playgrounds, a water area and the chance to meet and pet some of the animals.

I was so busy having a wonderful time that I only took a few photos on our riverside walk…

River meadows at Honeybrook Farm | Wolves in London

The mown path in the river meadows

Honeybrook Farm river meadows | Wolves in London

Oh the sky!

But if you’re ever in the area with young children, I highly recommend a visit.

Me, I could barely drag myself away at the end of the day and have spent every second since dreaming of a more permanent life for us on a similar farm. I just won’t expect the sproglet to help out with the animals…

 Related articles:

  • Featherdown camping is across a huge range of farms in the UK. We stayed at one near Blandford Forum. Though full of glorious pictures, I found their website a little bit lacking in info, but if you’re interested in something similar it’s here: Featherdown Farms. (Needless to say, they’re not paying me to say any of this…)
  • At the other end of the scale, the Honeybrook Farm website is lacking in photos of their beautiful surroundings but has lots of info on the various events and activities available: Honeybrook Farm.
  • And, naturally, I’ve got a Pinterest board dedicated to nice-looking places to stay in the UK, with links to these and other places I found when I was researching our hol. It might provide inspiration if you’re looking for child-friendly accommodation: Holiday cottages UK.

 

Down on the farm

14 Jul

We’re off on hols this week; staying on a farm where we plan to ride horses and tractors and collect our own eggs from the chickens every morning.

Perhaps we might even spot a pig as glorious as this one…

Vintage pig image | Wolves in London

Glorious pig found at Old Book Illustrations

I intended, of course, to schedule lots of blog posts in advance so you wouldn’t even notice my absence.

I failed, of course.

So have a wonderful week, everyone, and I’ll be back in seven days or so.

(Depending on how long it takes to do all the post-holiday washing.)

5 ideas from Hampton Court flower show

12 Jul

Last Wednesday I spent a gorgeous sunny day wandering round Hampton Court flower show.

Forgotten Folly summer garden at Hampton Court show | Wolves in London

The Forgotten folly summer garden. One of my favourites from the show

It was an English summer personified: the drowsy song of bees in the air, the sun beating down with occasional white clouds drifting across the blue skies, endless (endless!) stalls selling Pimms and rather a lot of people dressed in striped blazers and Panama hats.

I managed to spot a glimpse of Carol Klein, Joe Swift and Mary Berry, which added to the excitement of course, but I also got lots of inspiration from the gardens and stalls around the show.

I am planning to redesign and replant my own little patch of green this autumn and I came away with lots of ideas I’d love to translate back to my own space.

Here are five pieces of inspiration I took away from the show, in the hope they might also inspire you!

1. Use native planting to attract insects

Macmillan legacy garden and Hampton Court show | Wolves in London

Wonderful naturalistic planting of native flowers

As far as I’m concerned, this is preaching to the converted. Who wouldn’t want lots of colourful butterflies and buzzing bees in their garden, helping pollinate all the fruit and veg?

Lots and lots of gardens featured naturalistic planting and wildflowers, but the Macmillan legacy garden, above and below, was definitely my favourite.

Macmillan legacy garden at Hampton Court show | Wolves in London

I’m pretty sure I need a rusty metal cow in my garden too…

The plants chosen were all native to Somerset (where Douglas Macmillan grew up) and included verbena, alchemilla, ammi majus, anemones, campanula, grasses, foxgloves, geraniums, hostas, sedum and thyme. In short, loads of my very favourite plants!

2. You can still pack a punch with small borders

It’s easy to walk around a show like Hampton Court and think, “sure, this all looks lovely, but I just don’t have space in my own garden to do anything like this…”

Al Fresco summer garden | Wolves in London

Small bed + loads of plants = lovely

The Al Fresco summer garden, though, provided great inspiration for planting in small beds. The majority of the garden was hard landscaping, with a central dining table, covered by a pergola, and built in barbecue.

The area was surrounded by a number of raised beds, of fairly small dimensions, but full of gorgeous flowers, more than making their mark despite the small space they were confined in. Definitely one to provide encouragement to all those who, like me, only have a small space for planting…

3. Use your garden for what you love

Before I started my horticulture and design course last year, I had rather set ideas about what a garden should be.

Surely every garden needed a lawn, a patio, some borders and so on?

Of course, this is complete nonsense. Your garden should contain only the elements you want and will use.

No interest in a lawn but lots of time entertaining outside? Don’t bother including one, just create an amazing dining space like the Al Fresco garden above.

Allitex greenhouse at Hampton Court show | Wolves in London

Sigh, dribble, drool. How I want one of these beauties in my garden

Obsessed with growing tender plants? Forget everything else and just have a greenhouse then! This one from Allitex is surely the greenhouse dream and I loved the way it had been surrounded by flower beds.

Not a show garden, of course, just a display by the company, but I lusted after it nonetheless.

(Perhaps one day I will be able to afford one to replace the beast…)

4. Simplicity is key

I am something of a magpie when it comes to my garden. I want to include every single lovely plant I have ever seen somewhere within its four fences…

Allium stall at Hampton Court show | Wolves in London

Stunning. Just stunning. Love me an allium

But this display on an allium nursery’s stand reminded me of the importance of paring it back with plant choices and with colours. Less range of plants, but growing in profusion, is definitely more in design terms…

Sure, I don’t want to restrict myself to just alliums in my garden, but this was a great reminder of just how striking simplicity can be.

5. Plant up in everything you can…

…but don’t forget a cohesive style

Zinc planters at Hampton Court | Wolves in London

These amazing buckets only cost £25. But I couldn’t carry one home, with the baby in a sling, and the guy said he only sold at shows. Sob, sob. Next year…

I adored this stall which sold lots of zinc planters and buckets and milk urns and a million other wonderful things.

My garden currently has everything planted in the beds, with a few scattered pots here and there.

But planting up all sorts of unusual objects can have a wonderful effect. These zinc buckets, for example, would look fabulous planted as a herb garden.

Remember to match the planters to the style of your garden, however, to ensure you achieve cohesion of ideas. These would look great in a cottage style garden, as would terracotta pots.

A contemporary urban garden might suit aluminium or concrete pots better. Don’t be tempted to mix too many different materials together or the overall look can become a little bitty…

So, plenty of inspiration for me as I start to plan the next phase of my ever-evolving garden. And I’m booking myself a ticket to next year’s show as soon as I can!

Related articles:

  • You can see more photos of all the gardens over on the RHS website: RHS Hampton Court flower show
  • Of course, but of course, I have Pinterest boards for these sorts of things too. If you love a beautiful garden as much as I do, follow my Dream garden plans board for lots of stunning designs. And my board Plants, plants, plants started as a place to save plants we were learning about in my horticulture course and has evolved into a place to save details of every plant I come across that I love. You can see a preview of both below, just click on the photos to go to the full board…

Vintage gardening books

10 Jul

You know me by now, right?

Lover of plants, books and all things vintage.

So you’ll understand why I just had to share some photos of my latest haul with you. A haul of… wait for it… vintage. gardening. books. I know!

Book stack and sweet peas

Sweet peas and books. Heaven

On our recent visit to Wisley, I couldn’t resist the lure of a second hand plant books stall and came away with some real beauties.

All for the grand price of £2.50.

The first is my favourite, this unassuming little green book:

Gardener's Chapbook | Wolves in London

What’s inside this little book?

It’s called The Gardener’s Chapbook…

The Gardener's Chapbook

Could an inside cover look any more appealing?

“What’s a chapbook?” I hear you cry.

And I can reply, “I haven’t got a bloody clue.” There’s nothing within the pages that explains its bizarre title (the woman on the stall who, I assume, is something of an expert in gardening books also said she’d never come across the expression before…)

It’s not, as you might imagine, a book of gardening for chaps (“First, twirl your moustache, second prune the apple tree” etc etc) but contains an anthology of gardening prose and verse, followed by a few recipes and a few rather delightful black and white illustrations like this one:

 

Gardener's Chapbook | Wolves in London

Everyone needs a few garden proverbs in their lives

The Book of Wild Flowers is another absolute winner in my eyes. I am a complete sucker for illustrations of plants and I am massively into “native planting” at the moment too (hard though it is to define what’s genuinely native) so these illustrations of British wildflowers are wonderful to me.

 

Illustrations of wild flowers | Wolves in London

A gorgeous fritillary on this page…

Wild flowers illustrations

…and a perennial sweet pea here

Finally, this one smacks of another era of vintage.

Trees and shrubs

Those colours are, erm, appealing…

Such a very bold front cover! Published in 1979, this little book is one year younger than me. And for the grand sum of 50p, I now have a guide to help me with the tree identification I’ve pledged to carry out this summer (you can read more about that here: A love of trees).

I’m tempted to set myself the challenge to recognise everything within its covers by the time the year is out…

So, what do you think? £2.50 well spent?

Wonderful Wisley

5 Jul

Last Sunday, we strapped the sprogs into their car seats, cracked the windows open to let in some warm summer breezes and set off along the A3 heading for RHS Wisley.

Sun behind trees | Wolves in London

Trees, sunshine, what more could you want?

I wasn’t sure how enjoyable the rest of the Wolves in London clan were going to find the excursion; all of them so far too young /not-into-gardening to think that a thrilling day involves me wandering round examining flower beds and sharing fascinating snippets of information about Latin horticultural names or the biology of a plant’s roots. (More fool them…)

Tree trunk | Wolves in London

“Now gather round, family, and let me share some fascinating facts about this stately tree…”

Actually, I was delighted at how family friendly Wisley was. There were only a few areas where I had to try and explain “Keep off the grass” signs to the sproglet.  There was a soft play area and a children’s playground. But, it says a lot about how much fun we had everywhere else, that we didn’t have time to visit either of them.

An arts and crafts fair was taking place that weekend (I know, double heaven for me: gardening and crafts!)

Lots of stalls were set up around the grounds with makers selling their wares and offering lessons in everything from pot-throwing to brooch making.

Had I been alone, I would have definitely tried my hand at these plant prints. I only had a very quick look, but I think they must be made with inkodye, something I have been dying (geddit?!) to try out for a while now. The effect is really striking:

Blue ink flowers | Wolves in London

My guess is that these have been made by placing a leaf over some fabric covered in light sensitive dye

The sproglet was particularly impressed with a collection of wire sculptures of animals, like this hare:

Wire hare | Wolves in London

Pretty realistic, no?

And, naturally, I couldn’t resist getting a photo of this wolf sculpture. (A friendly wolf! I’ve written before about how they’re pretty hard to find…)

Wolf sculpture | Wolves in London

Awww, a soft cuddly wolf

There were also various performances going on during the day. This lady, in the glasshouses, was billed as an “aerial artiste”…

Aerial artiste | Wolves in London

Not a job for those with vertigo

But, most fun was had just wandering through the impressive grounds themselves, which are full of quirky architecture and sculptures.

RHS Wisley | Wolves in London

I loved these huge bulrush sculptures by the lakes

The sproglet dashed off in glee the minute he saw the pagoda:

Pagoda at Wisley | Wolves in London

You can’t beat a good pagoda…

But his attention was held for even longer by a rather impressive insect hotel.

(Side note: I think these look stunning, but any I have come across seem rather devoid of insects. Anyone have something similar in their own garden?)

Bug hotel at Wisley | Wolves in London

I have a sneaky suspicion a few bits of wood might have been removed at this point…

Rather intriguingly, my friend Annie (of Nimble Fingers and Steady Eyebrows) tweeted me just as I was leaving and said that there was a statue of her somewhere in the grounds. Sadly, I didn’t see it, but I did enjoy this couple sitting and soaking up the view:

Statue at Wisley | Wolves in London

“Weather’s nice today, dear…” “Yes, isn’t it, dear.”

And the glasshouses, of course, were mind-blowingly awesome:

Glasshouses at Wisley | Wolves in London

Now I only I could replace my old greenhouse with one of these!

We spent a lot of time wandering round inside and, of course, I took a few hundreds of photos of plants. This is the (highly) edited selection…

Pink flower | Wolves in LondonOrchid | Wolves in LondonLeaves | Wolves in LondonWhite orchid | Wolves in LondonYellow flower | Wolves in London

Rather foolishly, I was so busy being snap happy that I forgot to write down the names of any of these plants and I’m not really familiar with exotic flowers like this so I no longer have a clue what’s in the photos.

But no matter, for I’m saving the best til last. My very favourite part of the gardens was the more naturalist drift planting, just outside the back of the glasshouses. This is the look I aspire to in my own (much, much, much) smaller flower beds.

Drift planting at Wisley | Wolves in London

The sun was in when I took this photo, which is a bit of shame…

Red flower | Wolves in London

So cheery!

White flowers | Wolves in London

I think this was a type of Lavatera

Red flowers at Wisley | Wolves in London

Anyone know what this is? There were so many lovely red flowers here it *almost* persuaded me to plant some in my own garden…

And I was very excited to see lots and lots of Mexican fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus) growing out of walls and steps all over the place. I just bought some for my own garden and have planted the little plugs over the stone wall that divides one of my flower beds from the lawn. The first little daisy-like flower appeared yesterday, to my immense delight:

Erigeron karvinskianus | Wolves in London

One day I hope mine will look as prolific as this

Aaaaand, that’s the end! Lots of photos, but still only showing a mere fraction of what’s there. I shall be returning soon, no doubt.

I also purchased some rather glorious second hand gardening books, but this post is already heejusly long so I’ll show you them another time…

The hubby is off work for five weeks now between jobs, so we’ve got plenty of time for exploring. Anywhere else we should go?

{Joining in with Manneskjur and How does your garden grow? If only this were my garden!)

Garden moodboard: July

2 Jul

I had a bit of a conundrum with my garden moodboard this month.

On Saturday morning, I was standing in the middle of the garden, secateurs in hand, ready to snip snip snip away at lots of nice flowers to photograph them – as is my wont every month.

But as I looked round my 15x60ft patch of earth, I couldn’t really see any flowers to spare.

July garden moodboard | Wolves in London

From the garden this month

I know that anyone who professes to be even a little bit of a gardener shouldn’t admit that they don’t have many flowers in June. But such is the sorry case chez Wolves in London at the moment. Lots of things seemed to flower early this year, but the usual mid-Summer plants are still yet to open up…

The ones I photographed in situ recently aren’t abundant enough for me to want to cut them down. And the ones I have in abundance, I have photographed in moodboards so many times I couldn’t imagine anything new to do with them.

“Yes, yes, luv,” I imagined you saying as you looked at my pics, “we know you’ve got loads of verbena. Stop showing us your bloody verbena.”

And, indeed, I would have no defence for your criticism, for I showed you the verbena last month, and in May, and in July last year. And you know, there are only so many ways you can photograph verbena. (Admittedly, I have only ever selected one: against a white background…)

July garden moodboard | Wolves in London

Sage, rosemary, mint and some apples…

I decided that this month I’d probably have to give the moodboard a miss and since I had the secateurs in my hand, I’d go and do a bit of gentle pruning on the plum and apple trees and thin the fruits a bit at the same time.

Even if you hadn’t already seen the photos, you could tell where this is going, couldn’t you?!

I looked down at the pile of cuttings and thought to myself, a-ha! This month, I’ll photograph the prunings and maybe a few herbs that I was bringing in for lunch. A kitchen garden moodboard, if you will.

So this month I bring you a few of the small apples that I culled so their brothers could grow bigger, the plums that have caterpillars inside and some extremely unhealthy looking leaves. (Plus some sage, rosemary and mint.)

Unripe plum | Wolves in London

A sorry looking plum

The plums are seriously abundant so I’ve been removing as many as I can in the hope the ones left on the trees will grow bigger and juicier. Last year lots got a fungal disease and rotted on the tree and most of the ones we removed had caterpillars inside. Not a huge success! This year I am trying to look after them better…

 

Apple | Wolves in London

Already bruised…

Unripe apple | Wolves in London

Rosy but culled nonetheless

Apple | Wolves in London

Yet another damaged apple

We’ve got three different types of apple tree.  On a visit to Wisley on Sunday (more on that later this week), I tried to get them to identify the cultivars for me, but apparently they need the fruit specialist to do it in the Autumn once the fruits are fully grown. We shall return then, and I will finally know what’s growing in my garden…

Apple branch | Wolves in London

The RHS expert couldn’t even identify it from all this branch, leaves and fruit!

And perhaps I shall ask them what on earth if wrong with these poor leaves too…

(My guess is: caterpillars chewing on them (which I don’t really mind — it leads to lovely butterflies at least) and perhaps a disease or some sun scorching on the brown bits. At any rate, not terribly healthy.)

Unhealthy leaf | Wolves in London

Yikes, not looking good…

The rosemary, at least, seems to thrive on my regime of intentional neglect:

Rosemary | Wolves in London

Long since eaten…

Next month, I promise you some flowers. I spotted a few sweet pea buds this morning and the gorgeous nigella is almost ready to show its face…

Blog hop

30 Jun

Last week, the lovely Laura of Circle Pine Trees invited me to join in with a blog hop. Everyone taking part answers three questions about creativity and then nominates two of their favourite bloggers to do the same. Follow on down the trail and find some wonderful new blogs…

You can see Laura’s answers from last week over on her blog — her thoughts on writing particularly struck a chord with me. (And if you’ve not visited before, stay and take a look at some of her stunning photos and wonderfully evocative tales of her life in the country.)

So, if you’ve headed back here again, on to me…

1/ What have been the doings/makings/scribblings at your desk/making table in the last week?

I’ve been hit by a real creative renaissance recently, re-emerging, bleary-eyed from a year of constant lethargy (pregnancy being the number one culprit for that) and, suddenly filled with boundless reserves of energy, have been trying to cram a million and one different things into the short spaces of time I get when both children nap simultaneously.

This week, I’ve been feverishly working away on plans I have for an Etsy shop I hope to open soon. I’ve been making some babygrows with vintage images on them, ready to send off to a few friends as product testers to get their thoughts…

Making vintage babygros | Wolves in London

Images all ready to iron on to the front

I’ve been trialling crockery decals, trying to make my sister a (very, very belated) wedding present. So belated, in fact, it’s already too late for their one year anniversary.

 

Homemade wedding plate | Wolves in London

Need to iron out a few things with this (not literally) and then a full tutorial will follow…

I’ve been gathering thinned apples and plums from the garden for my July shot of my monthly garden moodboards.

 

Apples and plums | Wolves in London

A rather sweet little basket!

 

And I’ve been making cherry vodka and photographing it for a future blog post…

 

Homemade cherry vodka | Wolves in London

So pink! So delicious!

2/ Where are you currently finding your inspiration?

Every day I take a wander through the ever-lovely Peckham Rye Park, pootling around its green open spaces and smelling all the flowers in the Sexby Garden, before taking the toddler off to the playground. I find endless inspiration here – both in the stunning plants which I photograph extremely (possibly too) frequently as you can see in my instagram feed – but also in having a bit of time to myself to think as I push the pram along the paths.

Peckham Rye Park | Wolves in London

Peckham Rye Park: a great place for a ponder

This is the time of day when I have most of my ideas. So I’m normally pondering what to do for my next craft project, what to write for the next blog post, what other products I want to stock in the new shop, what paint colours I want for the walls in the (newly-renovated) house, oh and the usual major life plan decisions, “what should I be doing in five years time.” Responses to the latter I update frequently and with endless enthusiasm. They almost always involve living on a farm and keeping alpacas.

3/ How important is being creative to you & how do you blend this with your work/life/family balance?

Ha! With an nine-week-old and a toddler, I don’t think I have much life balance right now, the large majority of my day being taken up with their demands sweet requests. The rest with a pressing need to fall asleep.

But, generally speaking, creativity is pretty important. I’m lucky enough that I have always worked in a creative job, somewhat falling into a career of journalism and then communications – though now, since having the toddler a few years ago, I’m a stay at home Mum.

Poppy | Wolves in London

A picture of a poppy. No particular reason, just breaking up all the text a bit…

When I had to write every single day for a living, I used to long for a bit of time off, when I didn’t feel the words flowing or just simply wasn’t in the mood to write something. I used to make up excuses to go and do some filing, or empty my desk drawers, or analyse website statistics, make another cup of tea, and so on. Anything to procrastinate on starting to actually write the damn article I was supposed to be writing.

Now, of course, any writing or crafting I do is purely for myself and I now find myself putting off the boring but essential things like running the dishwasher, filling the washing machine, erm even sometimes taking a shower, in order to write a blog post, take some photos, knit a few more rows on a baby jumper or embark on whatever new project I have in hand.

In all honesty, I never feel I have the balance right between work (not doing any right now at all. Feel rather guilty about that), family (am I giving them enough attention? Am I giving them too much attention? Will they grow up weird and socially maladjusted because they’ve not been at a nursery?) and creativity (I wish I had more time to spend on making things. Oh god, I’ve been spending too much time making things and the children will grow up maladjusted… etc etc. repeat ad nauseam).

On a rare day everything goes well: the children are delightful in the way I imagined children would always be before actually having any; both take a nap at the same time and I manage to finish some innovative, exciting craft project to exactly the high standard I had in my mind; the hubby comes home early and bathes the sproglet, while I write a witty and informative blog post about said craft project and quickly snap a few perfectly-lit, wonderfully-styled, immaculately-framed photos to accompany the post.

On those days, I feel as if I’ve got the balance just right…

Aaaaand, that’s the end of my (rather long) answers! So to pass the baton on to two more bloggers. Head over to their blogs next week, Monday July 7th, to see their answers, but in the meantime do go and have a browse right now!

I discovered Gemma Garner as we both link up at How does your garden grow, a weekly linky from Mammasaurus (now Manneskjur). It was perhaps inevitable that I would love Gemma’s blog: not only does she share my love for photographing flowers, but also for crafting and outdoors adventures. Gemma’s gardening photos, in particular, always inspire me to head off and grow / buy a few more plants for my own little patch as hers look so wonderful.

Sarah at Look what I made has a seemingly unending ability to craft / cook / create unique projects. One of my favourites ever was this amazing bird terrarium. Her blog is interesting, informative and always amusing. Plus, she’s based in Vienna, which seems terribly glamorous to me, here in the drizzly UK.

So, Laura, many thanks for asking me to take part. And Gemma and Sarah, I can’t wait to see your answers next week!

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