I want this so badly

17 Jun

Before accepting that I must keep my old tumbledown greenhouse in the garden, for the time being at least, I spent a long time searching online for a greenhouse slash garden shed slash potting house.

It seemed such a straightforward idea to me. One little building that housed plants, tools, and all that junk that accumulates over the years and is banished from the house proper.

I searched and searched and searched and found nothing really suitable. Certainly nothing affordable.

But just now, a mere few days after telling you how I was reconciled to the beast at the end of the garden, and how I planned to make it look all lovely and appealing, on a little stroll down the Pinterest rabbit hole I stumbled across it. My dream garden outbuilding. Part potting shed, part greenhouse, part tool shed. And all, every single last bit of it, utterly beautiful.

Take a look.

Potting shed slash greenhouse

© Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

Screw the big, ugly greenhouse. I can’t begin to tell you how desperately badly I want this one, nay need this at the end of my garden.

It’s homemade, by someone who clearly has some superb DIY skills, and the plans and all sorts of useful information for how it was built are over at Nitty Gritty Dirt Man.

(There are also loads and loads of other wonderful gardening articles too, with hugely appealing names such as Ten reasons I love elephant’s ears. If you’ve any interest in gardening, you could while away a good amount of time here, as I just have…)

But back to the glorious shed. Any ideas on how I can persuade my husband to give up every bit of spare time he has to learn the requisite skills and then build this for me? As a birthday present perhaps? That would give him a whole three months to essentially retrain as a builder and get it in situ. Sounds fairly reasonable to me…

Pimp my greenhouse

12 Jun

As spring turns to summer, my thoughts turn to the unwieldy beast at the end of my garden.

I speak, of course, of my greenhouse.

When we first moved in, I planned, immediately, to replace it with something sophisticated like this:

Griffin Glasshouse

© Griffin Glasshouses Just the perfect sort of greenhouse for a horticulture student, non?

Then I saw the price tag.

And so, I must reconcile myself to living for the next few years at least with this:

Ramshackle greenhouse | Wolves in London

I’ll grant you, the huge amount of weeds and vast piles of junk on the floor don’t show it off to its full potential

It’s not pretty is it?

And, at 15ft by 12ft, it is taking up almost a third of my garden.

Eventually, I will put in something smaller and build some raised veg beds in the area freed up. But for now, until I have a spare couple of thousand pounds, I plan to do everything I can to prettify the beast…

Luckily, there is plenty of inspiration out there. Here are a few of my favourite dilapidated yet lovely garden buildings. Because, hey, everyone loves aspirational gardening, don’t they?

It perhaps won’t surprise you to hear that I do have a collection of old rusty watering cans. So this first picture is brilliantly achievable for me:

Attractive greenhouse | Wolves in London

Image from here

And never mind that this shed will soon collapse under the weight of the tree branch; it’s light, airy and full of stunning old gardening related props. And plants, of course. Plants are a must in the greenhouse.

Recycled shed | Wolves in London

I can’t find the proper copyright details for this pic. Eeek, I hate using them unattributed, but I just had to share

Yup, note to self, more plants needed. Currently, my greenhouse just houses seedlings, but something bigger would look rather nice:

Greenhouse full of plants

Shot by photographer Jeroen van der Speck for the Delicious Magazine

I also have a couple of old wooden crates (left by the previous owners) and am starting to realise that filling them with plants and displaying them outside the greenhouse is an absolute must. (In practical terms, this would actually be a great way of hardening off plants as well…)

Summer house

You can see more of this amazing summerhouse at Remodelista – the inside is, if anything, even nicer!

And I’ve saved one of my favourites til last. Fairy lights! You’d think electricity and somewhere that’s regularly watered wouldn’t mix, but hey, fairylight the crap out of the place and it will almost certainly look artful and atmospheric instead of old and tumbledown. (Note to readers, fairylight your greenhouses at your own risk!)

I’m planning on creating some similar artful little garden vignettes around the greenhouse over this summer, so I’ll share some photos of the results soon.

Watch this (heavily styled) space!

And if you’re as much a sucker as I am for the artfully distressed in the garden, I have hundreds more glorious photos over on my Pinterest board Dream garden plans. Click below to check it out…

Pretty soap packaging

9 Jun

Since moving back to our house after the builders moved out, we’ve only succeeded in getting two rooms anywhere near a finished condition.

The kitchen has a single coat of paint up on the walls, but that at least makes it look better than everywhere else where the bare plaster sings out in all its beigey drabness.

The bathroom is, actually, almost entirely finished. Tiling done. Walls painted. Bath, shower, sink in place. Glorious custom made wood shelf fitted around the sink. The only things left on the to do list are fixing a bath panel and painting the window frame.

Vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London

Good enough for an interiors magazine! Well, maybe not…

And so it is, in this one little oasis of properly decorated living that I decided it was absolutely imperative that everything looks incredibly beautiful and ready to be photographed by an interiors magazine. (Ahem, sort of…)

Even the soaps.

DIY vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London

Soaps and a rose. Because we all keep roses with our soaps…

I’ve got a bunch of soaps that I made a while ago (there’s a tutorial here, if you’re inclined to do the same: homemade soaps), which had been relegated to living in a brown paper bag in our bedroom, because they weren’t packaged as beautifully enough to be out on display. (And yes, I do know how that makes me sound and, trust me, it’s even weirder given that the rest of our house is a complete sh*t heap… But there’s something about the sparkling new shower and lovely tiled floor that just cries out for matchingly lovely accessorising.)

DIY vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London

Another view, same subjects: soap, rose, lovely soap dish

I won’t insult your intelligence by giving you a step by step how to tutorial. Clearly, all I have done is print off some nice vintage images, wrap up the soaps and tie them up in garden string.

If you’d like to do the same, the images I’ve used are this vintage lavender illustration from the Graphics Fairy and these amazing floral cigar cards.

DIY vintage soap packaging | Wolves in London

The soap dish is new too. i rather love it.

I’m pretty pleased with them. Pleased enough that they are now allowed to sit in my glass soap jar, in full view on the shelf.

I know, I know, it’s time to get on with painting the walls now…

PS If you follow me on instagram, you will have seen that I was originally trying to shoot these soaps alongside some lavender, in one my first ever attempts at photo styling. (Oh, I find it so hard!)

The lavender was just too dark alongside the soap parcels, though, and I couldn’t get the colours to be right for both at once. But in case you were here, just looking for some lavender photos, here’s one of it sans soap, but looking rather glorious.

Lavender | Wolves in London

Beautiful lavender

 Related articles:

 

The original ickle trousers

6 Jun

Sometimes you come across a craft pattern so great you can’t help but make it time and again.

Sure, you think you to yourself, I could try out a different pattern this time round. I could make something new that I’ve not made before. In fact I probably should try out something new. Who knows? It might be better.

But you know, all along, that you’re going to whip up another version exactly the same as the others because you just can’t resist its charms. And you’re only likely to be disappointed if the new pattern doesn’t turn out as well…

Home sewn baby trousers | Wolves in London

Very very little baby trousers

So it is with the Made by Rae pattern for newborn baby “pants” (or trousers, to me and all other UK folk). Quick, simple and oh-so-very cute when finished, I made three of these for my friend Laura’s third baby and then another pair for my sister’s son.

Unpacking the sproglet’s newborn baby clothes a few weeks ago, in preparation for the new babe’s arrival, I came across the original two pairs.

Sewn almost two years ago now, these were my first foray into sewing with a sewing machine for many, many years. They were also my first time of making something that I had found through Pinterest, back when I used to pin craft projects imagining I actually was going to get round to making them all.

Sewn before the sproglet was born (and before this blog was born too) they almost seem to represent a different lifetime.

The grey stripy version was from an old shirt of my Dad’s, which I then appropriated at the age of 16, when wearing old too-large men’s shirts that you most likely bought in a charity shop was, briefly, the height of fashion.

Grey stripy baby trousers | Wolves in London

Ah this fabric brings back memories!

The blue striped version was made from my old primary school shirt, that was knocking around in a cupboard for some reason. (Ahem, that reason being that I am a hoarder.)

Blue stripy baby trousers, home sewn | Wolves in London

They look a bit like chef’s trousers, don’t they?

So, all in all, lots of memories stitched into these tiny trews. I can’t wait for the weather to improve so I can put them on the new babe too.

Garden moodboard: June

3 Jun

I love my garden, but it sometimes feels as if I am in constant battle with it. And it with me.

Garden moodboard June 2014 | Wolves in London

June moodboard, 2014: a mere selection for this month

When I first started taking photographs for these garden moodboards, in May last year, I imagined that by the following year my whole entire garden would look beautiful, not just the odd flower.

More than a year later, the beds are still a mass of weeds and mud and I couldn’t even begin to imagine photographing more than individual flowers to show you here… In all honesty, the overall picture outside is pretty horrendous.

Every time I go out there to do a spot of gardening like pruning or planting or thinning my plums (not a euphemism), I get distracted, instead, with pulling out bindweed and couch grass. Which then grows back with such force, that the next time I look there is even more in the same spot.

But it’s not just the weeds that seem to be standing in the way of my Chelsea-winning daydreams ever becoming reality.

A week ago, I planted 16 bean plants, up some lovely wigwams, with a slug beer trap placed right in the middle.

By this weekend, I had four paltry plants left. And those liberally covered with slug munched holes. By tomorrow, there will likely be nothing left at all.

Oh, sure, I’ve killed hundreds of slugs (possibly quite literally) in the beer trap. But I think they choose to have a nice supper of bean leaves first, before heading over for a post-prandial drink (and death, though they don’t know that in advance of course…)

Overall, it seems like I would need to work on my garden, undistracted, 9-5, seven days a week to have it looking even half presentable.

So, I particularly relish the chance to take my monthly moodboard photos. The best bits of the garden, on a nice clean white background; the weeds, slugs and unruly growth all edited out. (Except for that one time I showed you lots of weeds…)

This month is a bumper one for plants, but I was dashing round with the secateurs on Sunday while the baby, sproglet and hubby napped, so I was trying to be super quick before anyone started crying, and have only brought a few of my very favourites to show you.

Rose | Wolves in London

I am incorrectly claiming these pink roses as belonging to my little patch

The pink rose is in the front garden, growing over from the boundary with next door. Our side of the garden is the south facing side, so I suspect we have all the best roses to look at.

Nectaroscordum siculum (honey garlic) | Wolves in London

Sicilian wild honey garlic. Spoiler alert, it smells like garlic!

The honey garlic was in flower last month, but once the flowers are finished they start to point directly upwards into these amazing seedheads. (When actually in flower they droop downwards in a rather attractive weeping manner – see my pictures from last year.)

I’ve never picked these to come inside before, since I only have a few and they look so stately in the garden, right through into the winter months, but I was suprised — you may say somewhat stupidly, given the plants’ name — by how very garlicky this one smelt once I cut it off at the stem.

Verbena bonariensis | Wolves in London

Lovely, lovely verbena

Verbena flower | Wolves in London

…and it’s teeny tiny flowers

The verbena has been going strong for a good month now and will continue to do so until the end of summer. I adore it. The huge, tall spikes, topped with the vibrant purple, but such tiny delicate flowers. It’s one of my favourite plants in the garden.

Phlomis | Wolves in London

The bees adore the phlomis. I like it too.

Senecio cineraria | Wolves in London

Okay, I know I’ve shared about a hundred photos of this before, but it’s so very photogenic…

The front garden looks pretty good right now, I must say, with some towering blues and purples and a lower lying silver carpet, provided by this phlox and the Senecio cineraria.

Salvia | Wolves in London

By the afternoon, the salvia spikes were all limply pointing downwards in the heat…

Salvia spike | Wolves in London

Another one with tiny, delicate flowers

Daisy | Wolves in London

This plant just shouts, “Summertime!”

Out in the unruly back garden, the salvia and daisy I bought last week are now in the ground and brightening up an otherwise rather bare border.

Campanula | Wolves in London

Anyone know what species of campanula this is?

About the only other thing in flower there are some beautiful purple and white campanulas on spikes. They tend to droop downwards, so I need to plant something a bit more bushy underneath them, I think. (Again, not a euphemism. Why does everything gardening related seem to have a double meaning? Every time I type “front garden” or “bush” I giggle a little bit. Childish, I know…)

Astible | Wolves in London

Astilbe or not astilbe?

Finally, I think this white frothy thing is called astilbe. It grows in a great feathery profusion around the pond, just about managing to outcompete the bindweed.

It’s a tricky spot to weed, what with the danger of falling in, inaccessibility of the bit behind the pond, numerous frogs and tadpoles that I’m trying not to disturb and constant requests to the attendant sproglet to please stand back.

Blues, whites and silvers. My favourite garden colours. In reality it’s not quite as refined as this, of course, but I’m leaving the bright red and orange flowers – a legacy from the old owners – sitting happily in their beds.

Oh and one last picture. This little guy came inside on one of the plants so I couldn’t resist photographing him too. He’s pretty splendid, but moved around very quickly and wasn’t too keen to stop and pose for the camera.

Spider | Wolves in London

Definitely a spider…

And a postscript: a massive thank you to those who commented on yesterday’s post. I was really touched by the kind things everyone said and pleased to hear that this mish mash of a blog, with its random subjects, chosen only from what interests me personally, seems to interest others as well. I shall keep at it! Gardening, crafts, fabric, general chat and all…

Joining in, as ever, with Asa.

Making stuff and pootling in the garden

2 Jun

Back in November last year I took part in a blogging course run by Holly Becker of Decor8 (www.bloggingyourway.com). At the end of the month-long course, Holly chose six blogs to critique and produced a screencast looking at those blogs.

Guess what? My humble little Wolves in London was one of those blogs! Yes, that’s right, Holly Becker, THE Holly Becker, looked through my blog and gave a critique of it.

By the time I had finished fainting from excitement to realise I was one of the chosen, I sat down to watch the screencast, feeling more than a little trepidatious. After all, a critique ain’t gonna be 100 per cent positive, is it? What if she had chosen my blog only as an example of what not to do???

Of course, she’s not mean like that, and she gave me lots of positive feedback (including saying that she loved my photos, which was outrageously exciting to me since I struggle the most with getting photos I’m happy with) and the “areas for improvement,” reassuringly, were things I had been thinking about myself for some time too.

The main issue she pointed out is that my blog isn’t actually about what I say it’s about. Had you noticed that too?!

Making stuff and pootling in the garden | Wolves in London

Making stuff and pootling in the garden

In my first blog post, and in the tagline in my header above, I say that I am trying to set up a fabric business and this blog will talk about what I learn along the way. (Okay, my tagline gives me a little bit of breathing space too, with the “…doing just about anything else” conclusion.)

On my blog I actually talk about… …well, gardening a lot, making stuff, knitting, sewing, a little bit of cooking, general chat about my life, waffle about our new house, but, well, not really ever anything about this alleged fabric business.

The reason? I’ve done naff all on that plan.

It’s been bothering me for a while as to whether I should change my tagline, or whether I should change my blog. Do I make more of an attempt to write posts about the yet-to-be-realised fabric plan? Or do I just accept that’s not happening anytime soon and change my tagline to reflect that?

Though, the honest tagline to this blog would be something like:

“Making stuff and pootling in the garden”

Doesn’t have a great ring to it, does it?

But I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue. What do you think about the increasing proliferation of gardening posts? Not what you’re here to read about?

Flower | Wolves in London

Has there been too much of this?

Should I narrow back my focus to fabrics, crafts and sewing in particular?

Craft supplies | Wolves in London

Not enough of this?

Or should I just carry on writing about whatever inspires me, in the hope it will also inspire other people too, and not worry about trying to give the blog a specific angle?

Any thoughts hugely welcome!

Related articles:

  • The rainbow wool combination in the photo above was the one I used for the knitted rainbow chevron blanket
  • The beautiful Liberty fabrics are for the (still not finished) quilt I started many blue moons ago

An impatient gardener

29 May

Last Autumn we spent a weekend laying new turf in our garden and re-shaping the flower beds.

In the beds, we dug out all the bulbs and plants (regular readers won’t be surprised to hear that 80 per cent of the plants were rhododendrons) with the plan that the following weekend, once the soil had settled, we would re-plant everything we liked in a more pleasing arrangement.

Except, the following day the builder we had waited nine months for to start work on our house, told us he was free to start in a week. So, instead of gardening, we packed all our possessions into boxes and moved out.

When we came back again this February, six weeks later than planned, we’d spent all our renovation budget and hadn’t finished decorating (we still haven’t). With a wish list of plants as long as my arm, I decided I had better grow everything from seed to save money.

I had plans of creating amazing borders this summer, entirely with plants I had lovingly cultivated myself in our gigantic greenhouse.

Three months later, this is how my seeds are looking.

 

Seedlings | Wolves in London

Not looking too big and flowery as yet

Glorious, no?

And the beds are mostly just a great big layer of mud and weeds…

Finally accepting my limitations as a speed propagator, we headed to a garden centre on Bank Holiday Monday to stock up a little.

(We went to Croxted Road garden centre, a little gem I’d not visited before in Herne Hill. Highly recommended for any SE Londoners reading this…)

This is what I got:

Scabious | Wolves in London

A beautiful Scabious, aka the pincushion flower. I have grown some seedlings of these too, but they are yet to look anything as wonderful as that…

Daisy | Wolves in London

Some cheerful daisies, which always make you feel summery.

Erysimum | Wolves in London

This delicate erysimum (wallflower) called ‘Bowles mauve’ — I had seen this variety spoken of in lots of gardening magazines, so was excited to see it in the shop. I hope for great things!

Salvia | Wolves in London

Stunning bright blue salvias (again, I have some seedlings just waiting to turn into something as wondrous as this).

Lupin leaves | Wolves in London

These lupins will at some point boast huge spires of flowers, but at the moment the leaves are rather attractive and perfect for collecting little rain drops…

Some colour at least, for this summer.

And next year! Next year, I tell you, my borders will be overflowing with glorious plants I have grown from seed and with cuttings I plan to take from this original stock too. Dream big, I say…

Joining in with Mammasaurus and How does your garden grow?

A love of trees

27 May

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know have a bit of a penchant for photographing flowers. (For which read, my feed is stuffed full of floral photos, mostly taken on my daily wanderings round Peckham Rye Park.*)

Rose | Wolves in LondonFlower | Wolves in LondonMagnolia stellata | Wolves in Londonwisteria | Wolves in London

But there was another reason that my feed was 90% flowers: my crappy iPhone 3 which objected strongly to photographing anything indoors in focus and most other big things outside too. Flowers, for some reason, it was fairly happy with.

Since I’ve just upgraded to a phone with a much better camera, though, I thought it was time to branch out (geddit?) and move past the individual flower to whole trees as well.

Acer | Wolves in London

I’ve developed a bit of a love of trees since starting my horticulture course last year. I mean, it’s not that I ever didn’t like them, but now I’ve started to really notice their individual characteristics.

The way a birch tree’s branches sway and flitter in the wind; the amazing unique leaf shape of a Gingko biloba; the fabulous bark on a mature horse chestnut…

Gingko biloba | Wolves in LondonTree trunk | Wolves in London

But, I have to confess, I’m still able to identify only a very few trees, so my aim over this summer is to photograph lots and find out what they are.

If this sounds vaguely interesting to you too, follow me over on Instagram to see some more. (All photos in this post are from my feed.)

And if you’re a good tree recogniser, I will be calling on you for help over the coming months!

*A park I love and to which I highly recommend a visit if you’re local. You can see more about in my post from last year: A stroll round Peckham Rye Park.

Growing, growing, growing

21 May

With a May bank holiday weekend coming up, and everything settling back to normal life after the arrival of sproglet two, I’m hoping to spend quite a bit of time out in the garden.

Dandelion head | Wolves in London

Everything, but everything, needs attention. The weeds are rampant. There are veg seedlings in the greenhouse outgrowing their tiny planting modules and getting far too leggy, because I still need to prepare their outdoor beds. Two flower beds are completely empty of plants. (Well, intentional plants, anyway, like everywhere else they are stuffed with weeds.) The plum tree needs a prune. The apple tree needs thinning. There are empty pots waiting to be filled and seedlings waiting to be potted on.

Basically, everything that didn’t happen when I was heavily pregnant needs some serious attention right now.

But still, in amongst the chaos, there are a few bits and pieces of loveliness to be found. Like this little plant, which I am unable to identify, but find very beautiful.

Flowers | Wolves in LondonThe plum and apple trees seem to be putting out a bumper crop. Since studyin’ deep at hortikulcher last year, I now know I need to thin them to get some decent healthy big ones (and prevent next year being a year of famine…)

Apples | Wolves in London

One of these little apples will be for the chop…

The biggest success story out there right now, is this campanula (or, at least, I think that’s what it is), which is thriving in pots as well as most of the flower beds.

Campanula | Wolves in London

Out in the front garden is bee heaven, thanks to the Verbena bonariensis…

Verbena bonariensis | Wolves in London

… and the phlomis

Phlomis | Wolves in London

Pootling around looking at the plants and flowers is more interesting to me than the rest of the family.

But luckily there are other diversions at hand too.

A favourite pastime for the sproglet is finding some snails, pouring water onto them so they think it’s raining (taught to him by Daddy) and then waiting for them to come out of their shells.

Snails | Wolves in LondonSnails | Wolves in LondonSnails | Wolves in LondonSnails | Wolves in London

And if the excitement of the snails pall at all, then we all head off to look for spiders.

Joining in with Mammasaurus and How does your garden grow?

Rainbow chevron baby blanket

19 May

Prepare yourself, gentle readers, for some photos of… …my favourite thing I’ve ever knit!

Whipped up in a mere few weeks of late-pregnancy knitting fever, I present to you this rainbow chevron baby blanket, a present for my brand new nephew.

Handknit chevron rainbow blanket | Wolves in London

I dillied and dallied about what to make for him, knowing that he was due to arrive a few short weeks after my own latest baby and that, newborn in arm, I was unlikely to manage to get anything done, so I had to have this finished before my own babe appeared.

Luckily, the knitting haze descended and I was done in good time.

Chevron baby blanket | Wolves in London

The pattern is a free one, available on Ravelry, the chevron baby blanket from Espace Tricot blog. and the wool is Wendy merino DK.

And can I just say, I bloody love the end result! (I even prefer it to the blanket I made for the baby or the one I made for my other nephew…)

chevron rainbow blanket | Wolves in London

I decided to make an abbreviated rainbow of red, yellow, green and blue, with a small line of cream in between each colour and I adore how it has turned out.

Chevron rainbow blanket | Wolves in London

I heartily recommend the pattern. Very straightforward to follow, but definitely more interesting than a non chevron (fully garter stitch) version would have been to knit.

The construction is deeply pleasing to me, the decreases leading to the lovely triangular shape with little effort.

Chevron rainbow blanket | Wolves in London

I didn’t make the ends too pointy with the blocking, but just let them gently curl as they were.

Chevron rainbow blanket | Wolves in London

Now that it’s finished, I am sorely, sorely tempted to make a large version for myself as a bedspread…

Chevron rainbow blanket | Wolves in London

The only downside to the whole project was the tedious sewing in of ends. There were a lot to do.

Full project details, as ever, over on Ravelry: zig zag baby blanket.

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