Keeping houseplants alive through winter

Keep houseplants alive in winterWhen I first started studying horticulture, one of my tutors said something about houseplants that kind of blew my brain. “No plant wants to live inside your house, they all want to be outside…” And I suddenly realised: it’s not me, it’s them!

I’ve learnt so much about plants in the six years since then and the plants in my home have a much lower mortality rate these days, but I still think often of what that tutor said and occasionally feel slightly sorry for all my plants that would much rather be outside…

Of course, this is even truer in winter. Houses are difficult places for plants once winter arrives: there is less sunlight to feebly break its way into the rooms and towards their leaves and, even worse, the central heating means hugely fluctuating temperatures and incredibly dry air.

A friend was asking for some advice on how to keep her plants going through the winter months, so I’ve put together a few tips that should help keep them, if not fully happy, at least happier

Water

watering

Most plant labels suggest that you reduce watering once the growing season is over (eg, in winter) but I personally find that the central heating in my house dries out my plant pots super quickly at this time of year. I actually need to check them more often in winter than summer, to make sure that the pots haven’t gone bone dry and the plants have enough water to stay alive.

Yes, their water uptake is definitely less when they’re not in active growth, so you probably don’t need to put as much water in when you do water them, but keep checking on your pots frequently to make sure the compost hasn’t dried out.

Light:

As light levels get lower in the winter, and the sun hits your windows at different angles, you’ll get less light in the house. Take a look at the plants and rearrange them as needed. What is a burning hot window in the summer, suitable only for cacti, might be perfect in the winter for a plant that needs less direct light. (Though, I’ve got to say, where are you going to put your cacti?!) But generally, in the winter, you’ll probably want to move all your plants closer to a window.

Also make sure your plants are as far away as possible from a radiator. (Which can be difficult in old houses where radiators are often directly under windows. Last winter, I had the radiators in our bedroom turned off the whole time because I had a whole table of plants right in front of it so they were pressed up to the window. The plants were happy, but, boy, was I cold all the time…)

Humidity:

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This is the biggest problems for plants. Central heating massively dries out the air, which is bad for plants (and bad for us…) Here are some ways to overcome this:

  • Put a bowl of water by the radiator, which evaporates into the air and keeps humidity higher.
  • Mist plants more frequently, I tend to go up to twice a week in winter. (In the summer, I’ll mist about once a week or less often…) Not all plants like to be misted, however, so do make sure to check before you start spraying everything with a wild abandon. As a general rule, ferns like a good misting, and most plants that comes from rainforests like it (monsteras, sansevierias, tillandsias and so on). Don’t ever mist a plant with hairy, velvety or fuzzy leaves as these tend to be prone to leaf rot, and having water sitting on the leaves will cause this. (Never mist begonias, for example). Also, don’t mist plants that prefer arid conditions, typically those that come from deserts, such as cacti or succulents. This isn’t an exhaustive list, so, basically, do check first!
  • Instead of misting, you could also put plants in the bathroom, which usually has high humidity from the shower. (Again, stick to ferns, jungle dwellers and so on, see above…)
  • Group plants together. As they respire, they keep the air in between them more humid.
  • Gravel trays are always recommended. Put the plants onto a tray of gravel (ideally, a few of them close together again) and keep the gravel moist, but without the water sitting in the bottom of the plant pots. As it evaporates, it keeps the air more humid. (I don’t have one of these, so can’t show you a picture, but you could literally just put some gravel on any old tray you had. Or you can buy much more professional versions…)
  • The most problematic plant I have for humidity is my amazing Begonia rex ‘Escargot’ — as I don’t have a gravel tray, I have a rather DIY solution to keeping this adequately humid. (Begonias can’t tolerate water on their leaves but also don’t like very dry conditions, when their leaves will go brown and crisp…) I have mine sitting in a normal plastic pot, which is wrapped in an old sock, and this sits inside a decorative external pot (without drainage holes). I keep the reservoir between the two pots topped up with water, and the old sock sucks it up to stay moist. The roots and leaves aren’t sitting in any water, but as it evaporates away from the sock, it keeps the air around the begonia more humid. If this sounds complicated, head to my instagram (@wolvesinlondon) and check out my houseplants Stories highlight, where you can see some videos of it in action!

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And finally, perhaps most importantly, don’t worry if your plants are starting to look a bit miserable around now. Some plants – like this Monstera adansonii above – just really don’t like winter and they’ll start to die back, or drop some older leaves, which often turn yellow first. It doesn’t actually mean there is anything wrong with them, and it’s nothing to be alarmed about. They’ll perk up again in the Spring.

Have you got any other tips for keeping houseplants going through the winter? Do drop me a comment below and let me know!

Meet the houseplant: maidenhair fern

Adiantum raddianum ‘Fragrantissimum’

I say this with the complete awareness that’s it going to make me sound like a full on #crazyplantlady, but when I first saw a Maidenhair fern in the flesh (in the leaf?), I gasped out loud in wonder at its beauty.

The delicate light green leaves, that dance around the plant, appear to float in space, so delicate are its stems. On closer inspection, the fine thin stems are a jet black, arching gracefully upwards and away from the base.

This, indeed, is the queen of houseplants, but, boy is it a bitch to keep it happy.

The first one I owned, I placed in my spare bedroom. Big mistake. This plant needs to be checked on daily (twice daily in the summer), to make sure it’s damp enough, that the soil hasn’t dried out, that the leaves aren’t crisping up with lack of humidity… I left my first plant for three days on its own and it was fully dead by the time I looked at it again.

This plant in the photos, the second one I’ve had in my life, lives in my bedroom and, by contrast, is incredibly happy. I water it almost daily, I mist it about once a fortnight, and I check the healthiness of its leaves morning and night. Any signs of curling or crisping and I water straight away and move it a bit further from the window. It lives about a metre from a West-facing window, so has good indirect light for most of the day and some late evening sunshine. It’s an absolute beauty and is growing bigger by the day.

Light:

This plant needs more light than you would expect for a fern. It thrives in bright, indirect light. Its leaves will scorch, however, in too much direct sun.

Watering:

Water frequently and don’t allow the soil to dry out. It also enjoys humidity, so mist it frequently, or place it on a gravel tray, ideally surrounded by other plants.

Perfect for:

High humidity places, such as a (not too dark) bathroom or the kitchen (but keep away from the kettle or the oven, it won’t enjoy suddenly getting extremely hot!) Also happy in less humid areas such as bedrooms (where mine lives) or sitting rooms, as long as you take care to mist it regularly and check up on its happiness.

 

Meet the houseplant: a new series

woman holding a houseplant

My home, these days, is stuffed full of houseplants. An urban jungle, an indoor rainforest, a interior garden… …you get the idea, there’s a lot of greenery.

Though I’ve not been blogging so much recently, I’ve developed a bit of an Instagram addiction (go and check me out over there if you’re not already! @wolvesinlondon). Some of my most popular photos there are my houseplants of the week: where I share some snaps of my favourite plants, along with a bit of info on how I look after them.

I thought it would make sense to bring that over onto my blog too: a weekly post about one of my plants, with a few care tips, a few photos, and some suggestions about where best to keep it. Plus, of course, the luxury of a little more space to write than I get in my Instagram stories.

So, if a plant filled home sounds like your kinda bag, check in each week for a meet and greet with my houseplants.

The first post is up now, and I’ll add each new plant here as it goes live…

Maidenhair fern

London with kids: the V&A Museum

V&A Museum Cast CourtsMost of the time, if I’m planning on taking the kids into the centre of London, I try to find somewhere that is super child-friendly and where we won’t be the only ones running, jumping and yelling at the top of our voices.

But occasionally – most especially during the school holidays – my one priority for a central London day out with my children is to find a place where there won’t be too many other families.

Yes, I love the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Tate Modern as much as the next person (or, not quite as much, if the next person is one of my offspring) but I do not love queuing for hours to get into a museum or have lunch and (whisper it) I am not actually a huge fan of being surrounded by millions of other people’s children. My own three can be a stretch at times, and I am basically contractually obliged to love them.

That happy medium between somewhere not heaving with hundreds of other people’s children, but still not too disapproving if your own are behaving a touch on the loud side? The V&A Museum.

I took my oldest there for a day at the start of the Easter holidays and we really couldn’t have had a better time.

The place was pretty busy, to be sure, but it was mostly busy with incredibly chic women of a certain age. (That age being about a decade older than me.) They were wafting around looking at the Dior and Quant exhibitions, eating lots of cake for lunch and showcasing seriously sharp haircuts, red lipstick and well-tailored, clearly very expensive but very edgy clothes. I was properly inspired.

But back to the kids. I’d read a tip that there were special gallery backpacks available for children, so our first port of call was the Sackler Centre on level 1 to pick one up.

There was a list of different activities to choose from, with suggested age ranges. The six-year-old chose one on ceramics, and we set off with the bag for level 4, to open it up and explore.

V&A museum childrens activity backpacks

Inside the backpack were individual drawstring bags and an instruction booklet, telling you what to open when. We felt raw clay, searched for giant vases and designed a “flower tower”. The 6yo was pleasingly engaged the whole time and loved completing the tasks, and we spent a fantastic hour wandering around talking about pottery.

Child enjoying V&A museum activity backpacks

(I actually think all my parenting goals are achieved when my kids want to talk to me about art or books or history. My all time favourite ever conversation was when the eldest and I discussed the ethics of creating a clone of a woolly mammoth from its frozen DNA and he said about six times, “Of course, it’s just our opinion, we can all have our own opinion on it…” Just to reassure you, this sort of conversation only happens about once every few months; most of the time they are just busy punching each other and asking me whether Superman or Spiderman would win in a fight…)

Hungry from all of our lovely ceramics chat, we ate lunch in the frankly palatial surroundings of the café. The food ranked around average for museum fare. My fish was tasty, though slightly dry (as I suspect everything was, sitting on the hot plates waiting to be selected) but my slice of potato gratin was incredibly delicious. The sproglet had a children’s macaroni cheese, which had little identifiable cheese and a lot of very milky sauce. He was in the mood for being delightful though, so told me a lot of times how much he was enjoying it (he knows all too well that I get exasperated by the constant complaints about food that come from the kids) before deciding he was “really quite full up” after five mouthfuls. I couldn’t blame him, it really was very runny.

V&A cast courts
Spot the boy

After lunch, a wander round the cast courts, which were bathed in the most heavenly sunlight. We sat inside the replica Trajan’s column and I bored on for a little bit about when I used to live in Rome. We watched someone winching a piece of carvings out of the way for repair. And the sproglet obligingly stood in all the locations I asked him to, so I could take a photograph.

The sunbeams tempted us outside, where I sat by the pool, watching the sunlight dancing across the water and the sproglet – quite worn out now by all the most excellent behaviour he’d been doing – ran round and round and round quite a lot of times, incredibly close to all the other people relaxing, and we decided it was best to head for home.

Sunlight on marble

A fabulous, picturesque day. One to be added to the memory banks of parenting triumphs, and thought about in days of total parenting fails.

 

The rusty old cogs whirring into life again

Processed with VSCO with a1 presetAt the start of this year, I had a great plan. I was going to write a novel.

It would be a great novel.

It would almost certainly win the Booker prize.

There seemed to be no reason at all why I couldn’t put this plan into action. The littlest had started nursery two days a week, so I had two whole days to myself. Six blissful child-free hours, between 9.30am and 3.15pm, in which I could sit down and – hey, why not? – write my novel.

And so I sat down to write.

The blank page loomed at me.

And I discovered I had forgotten all the words.

Two solid years of doing nothing but child-rearing had wiped all of the complicated words from my brain. Straightforward concepts I could still deal in:

“Do you want a sandwich?”

“That person is feeling sad.”

But words with any nuance in them had disappeared. All the grey words had fled. And taken with them my grasp of syntax, any writerly turns of phrase, and – the real kicker – any belief in my own ability as a writer.

Turns out, it’s quite hard to write a novel if your vocabulary has been reduced to that of a seven year old.

I spent less time sitting down to write the novel as the weeks went on, and more time avoiding writing the novel.

I started to hate the damn novel.

Any time I opened my laptop, it seemed to mock me. “Write a novel…” it would wink. “Go on, I dare you! Try and remember all those words you’ve forgotten…”

I decided that perhaps writing the greatest novel of all time, after doing sweet FA with my brain for two years, was a slightly big ask. Perhaps I needed to start smaller. I realised that writing, like all skills, needs to be practiced, and I remembered this neglected old blog of mine with renewed interest.

And so, though I am pretty sure nobody reads, or even writes blogs anymore, I am returning to mine in 2019, as a place to re-learn what once came naturally to me, and a place, once again, to record those little bits of life that would otherwise be lost forever in the mind fog that comes of spending so much time with small people.

I’m not planning on changing the format in any significant way, if there does happen to be anyone here reading who remembers me from all that time ago. There will be posts on plants and gardening, books I am reading, London events, snapshots of an eternally partly renovated house and – because I haven’t really changed that much – definitely much waffle.

Thank you if there is anyone still out there, patiently wondering what happened to me. And hello! if you have stumbled on me freshly. I’ll be back with more, soon.

Sabrina Xxx

(Photo of me at the top from a recent trip to Paris, taken by my excellent friend Kelly Macnamara. This is the topic for a whole other post, but I have also been thinking a lot recently about being visible, especially as a woman over 40, and how important it is to stand in front of the lens sometimes, as well as hide behind it. So I thought I would start as I mean to go on…)

New home snapshots

Farrow and Ball downpipe on walls

Goodness, hello my poor old deserted blog! How’s everything going over here? If anyone’s still out there, hi! *waves* Hope you’re all well.

I’ve noticed I’m not the only one whose blog has been receiving far less attention than usual. Are we all about to jump ship completely to somewhere like instagram? Is this the death knell of blogging? Who can say. Speaking for myself, at least, the intention to write posts over here still arises fairly frequently, but the notes section on my phone has become littered with half thought out ideas and three-sentence-first-paragraphs, abandoned as something always seems to pop up half way through any attempts to write a post.

Still, the baby is napping now, the other two are dropped off at school and nursery, so I thought it was high time to pop by and say hello and share a few quick snaps of our new houses. Because, drum roll please, we finally moved in two weeks ago.

It’s not completely 100 per cent finished (of course!) and the builders still have a bit of painting to do, a leaking basin to fix and a few other bits and pieces to sort out. But we’re in and it’s really rather wonderful!

Most of these photos were taken just before we moved all our stuff in, so it’s more a tour of paint colours by room than anything else, but I promise to share some more pics once we’re properly unpacked and there aren’t boxes in every corner…

So, here we go:

We’ve knocked through the wall that separated the front two reception rooms and now have one big sitting room / playroom. At the far end (the playroom half), the most gorgeous original door opens up onto a plant room and then to the garden.

VIctorian house

The colour on the walls is Down Pipe by Farrow and Ball. A lovely rich, deep grey. I was a bit worried before it went up that it might make the rooms look too dark, but I am really delighted with the final result.

Farrow and Ball Down Pipe walls

Out the back, the plant room is still filled with paint and various things for the builders. I can’t wait to get it cleared and put up more shelves for plants. But for now, I have a few hanging down in the light.

Plant room

The main kitchen is untouched since we bought the house. I thought I could live with the old tiles, 1950s cupboards and MDF work surfaces for a few years until we do an extension, but it turns out I can’t. We’ll be saving up to put in new work surfaces and cupboard units and (of course!) my favourite open shelves made from scaffold planks. The kitchen is tiny, but joins on to a big dining room, complete with the most beautiful built in shelves.

Kitchen shelves

This room gets loads of sun in the morning, which is glorious. It’s painted in Farrow and Ball Cromarty and, at the risk of sounding like a Farrow and Ball rep, I absolutely love this colour as well.

Upstairs, we’ve got three bedrooms. The nursery is packed floor to rafters with boxes at the moment and for some reason I’ve not taken any snaps of the boys’ room, but here is our room in the evening sunlight just before we moved in:

Bedroom

It’s a total mess in here now (our room always being the last to get sorted after we move anywhere) with all sorts of bits and pieces (photos / pictures / mirrors) lying around and waiting to be put on the walls. I snapped a reflection of me and the littlest for instagram the other day:

SaOh, and the walls here: F&B Card Room Green.

Finally, my favourite room in the house, our glorious bathroom. We’ve pushed the boat out here, grabbing some space from the back bedroom so we can have both a walk-in shower and large freestanding bath.

bathroom

If you remember my post from a while ago, featuring inspiration for this space, I feel like it’s come out pretty well. As with all the rooms, it’s not completely finished — we need a shower screen to be fitted and the vanity unit to be put up for the basin, but then it’s just a case of adding plants! Will share more photos once it’s done.

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A new garden and some new plans

With great excitement, we handed in our notice on our rental house recently.

Our definitely-completed-in-six-months building project is now at the start of month eight and, finally, builders have started on the final phase. The project has been drastically scaled back (the attic conversion is now going to have to wait for another time) but I am insanely excited at the prospect of finally moving in in mid June.

Most excited of all, possibly, at the thought of our new garden.

The view of the garden from the upstairs window

When we bought the new house, the one (and only) concern for me was that the garden was a bit smaller than our old one. In our last house, the garden was extremely long and extremely narrow (5mx20m) and though our new garden is almost a metre wider (believe me, in London, these kinds of small additions count for a lot!) it’s about two metres shorter.

But, after eight months in our rental house with just a tiny shaded courtyard out the back, the space is looking pretty palatial right now.

Since we moved in, while all the building work has been going on, I’ve been taking photos of the garden. Both to give myself some proper “before” shots to look back on, once the “after” is resplendent (hem hem) and also so I can remember what will flower where and what everything looks like at its best season of interest.

Garden

So this view, above, is looking from the patio down to the end of the garden in early Spring (with a little ornamental cherry in bloom in the middle of the grass).

Pyracantha blossom

And this is how it looks right now, with the old spiky, but rather attractive pyracantha in full blossom.

London garden

And this, above, is the view back to the house, from the end of the garden.

As you can see, it’s all pretty overgrown, but there is lots to work with. The shrubs and trees are mature but now too large for their spaces, so my plan with these is just to do a bit of a constructive edit. I’ll prune some right back and remove others, to leave a smaller number to shine. There is an acer, in particular, that is going to be delightful.

Arch

The patio is separated from the garden with some rickety trellis, that is looking pretty unstable now. I think it will have to come down fairly soon (or fall down on its own) but I love the idea of a separation here and am thinking I might try and put a huge corten steel circle in, as a modern take on a moon gate. Watch this space!

Fence

The equally rickety fence at the back conceals three lime trees and a small strip of council-owned land. Both neighbours have taken the fence down to reclaim the land and absorb it into their garden. After a mere 20 years, apparently, it will be your own… And the wooden bear was left by the previous owners. The boys already love it.

Pond

There is a small and rather sweet pond, backed with overgrown dogwood. I am planning to coppice the dogwood asap, so that next year it will just be a small collection of bright red newly grown stems, reflecting in the water.

The lawn is curved at the sides and covered in moss, but a great space for the boys to play. I’m not too bothered by the moss actually, but I do plan to straighten out the edges, so that it’s a regulation rectangle, surrounded by similar-sized beds.

Camellia

There are quite a few flowering shrubs jostling for space, but little herbaceous interest in the beds. A camellia in the front garden is looking nice. A pieris could have a chance to shine with some judicious pruning around it. All in all, lots of tidying and shaping to be done, and then some herbaceous perennials planted in the newly created gaps.

Scrappy side return

At the side, a really quite large patio with a pergola that we’ve had to remove (it was dripping damp into the house). Here, I am planning on festooning the fence and walls with green and making a shady little evergreen nook to sit in on really hot days.

And, what’s this here? An extremely ugly add on to the house, you say? A no, no, no! This is actually the room in the house I am most excited about because, for the next few years until we can afford to build a side return, this is going to be my plant room. My urban jungle. My green retreat. My wannabe-orangery. It’s a bit hard to imagine, looking at it like this, but I have high hopes of making something very beautiful in here!

So, lots to do, lots to decide and lots of promise for the hot summer months. May mid June roll on as quickly as possible!

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Currently reading: The other side of the bridge

Reading The Other Side of the Bridge

I’m recently returned from Dorset. A ten day break over the Easter hols, staying in a glorious cottage done up in impeccable taste. (Ahem, for which read, done up in my exact taste…)

I have a no-TV-on-holidays rule that I tend to adhere to. In our normal life, we watch an insane amount of television. Rare is the evening that I don’t collapse, exhausted, in front of a Netflix boxset with a big glass of wine, desperate for a bit of a break from the relentlessness of raising three small people.

But there must be something slightly puritanical in my upbringing for I always feel that somehow I shouldn’t watch much TV in the evenings and that it is certainly not a suitable activity for a holiday.

Instead, I read.

I catch up on magazines subscriptions, read the weekend papers cover to cover and, of course, enjoy some books.

I had put aside a rather large pile of gardening magazines, a book on child-rearing (you know the kind: how not to turn out little shitheads by improving your terrible parenting skills) and a couple of books from the library. I was really looking forward to devouring them all. Only to arrive on holiday and realise the whole pile had been left behind.

But (and since this is a ‘currently reading’ post, there had to be a but…) luckily enough there was a small selection of rather excellent books at the cottage. Given that we were staying a stone’s throw from Lyme Regis, I was pleased to see The French Lieutenant’s Woman on the bookshelf. There was also an Alan Hollinghurst (The Stranger’s Child, which I have already read (and reviewed briefly here)). So I felt the collection had been left by someone with good taste (ahem, again, by which I mean similar taste to me) and I happily delved into a book I found that I’d neither read nor heard of before.

The other side of the bridge is written by Mary Lawson and (I’ve just discovered) was Booker longlisted in 2006. I found it to be a stunningly beautiful book; sparsely written, with deft, light descriptions and a wonderful evocation of place. It’s the kind of book that makes me want to book a plane ticket to go and experience a way of life hugely removed from mine.

It’s set in a small town the Canadian north, a land of hard cold winters, where everybody knows everybody’s business. The story emerges of Arthur Dunn, a local farmer, and the doctor’s son, Ian, who rebels against the expectation that he, too, must join the family doctor line and instead helps out Arthur in the fields. There book contains loss, heartache, jealousy, teenage angst and existential questions about the choices we make that decide who we become.

As you can probably already tell, I heartily recommend it.

And as for my Dorset holiday – expect a long picture-packed post coming in the next few days! (Followers on Instagram may have noticed how incredibly taken I was with the whole area…)

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An Eltham Palace jaunt

Eltham Palace window

1930s interiors, beautifully planted gardens and a pet lemur: surely an irresistible combination for a Saturday afternoon. On a recent drizzling weekend, we bundled the kids into the car and set off for a return visit to Eltham Palace and Gardens. (Disclaimer: the pet lemur is no longer there in any living form, sadly, though there is a huge number of pet lemur toys for sale in the shop.)

We last visited at the height of summer and spent most of the day in the gardens, with a quick detour inside. This time round, a mizzling rain was falling and the much-anticipated playground was closed for re-turfing, so we took the time to explore the house more fully.

Learning from our last visit*, we slipped past the persuasive English Heritage membership advocate on the door and managed to resist his attempts to sign us up for a year’s membership.

Eltham Palace cafe

After the rather disappointing discovery of the closed playground, we went straight for the cafe for a restorative cuppa and lunch, despite it only being 11.45am. The cafe tables are located in a greenhouse, surrounded by potted plants and views to flower beds. I think I would be happy if every meal for the rest of my life was eaten inside a greenhouse, but a slight word of warning to anyone else planning on eating at Eltham Palace: the food is good, the surroundings are lovely but the service is really incredibly slow. Start to queue up and order long before the pangs of hunger begin to nip.

Sated and quenched, and having answered the question, “Mum, what’s the name of that flower” about a hundred times, we set off to jaunt round the house.

Eltham Palace bedroom

If you’re visiting with kids, there is a good trail you can follow round the rooms with obligatory stamps and sticker prize at the end. This meant we could linger long in any room with an animal motif to search out for the trail, but rooms not included were rushed past, while I gazed in longingly. The rooms epitomise all that is desirable from the 1930s as far as I am concerned, and I took endless photos with the vague intention of making every single room in my house look the same. There is a brilliant austerity to some rooms, combined with extravagant luxury in others that greatly pleases me.

Eltham Palace Great Hall
The Great Hall

After a trot round the house, the rain had just about let up, so we explored the gardens. A lot of the planting here is herbaceous, so there wasn’t a huge amount to see at this time of year (nothing compared to our last visit, when the borders were heaving with blooms) but blossom was just starting to show on the trees and carpets of daffodils, crocuses and scillas brought colour to the grassy areas. The moat, rockeries and huge walls look just as splendid at any time of year.

Eltham Palace moat and bridgeSpring at Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace moat
Looking at the fish

All in all, it was so lovely that I’m really looking forward to visiting again in a few months to see how the garden is growing. Drat, I wish we’d bought that annual pass now…

*I’m sorry to say that, despite our best intentions, we actually never visited a single other English Heritage property in the year we held membership.

Mo’ babies, mo’ knits

Hand knit baby cardigan

The impending pitter patter of baby feet inevitably sends me straight for my knitting needles.

True to form, in late pregnancy, I started on a baby blanket for the littlest. But, in rather typical third baby syndrome, I haven’t actually managed to finish that yet. (Ahem, she is nearly four months old now, so I really need to get cracking.)

When I was a week or so overdue, I became convinced that she wasn’t coming out because she was indignant at my inability to have completed a knit for her, so I put the blanket aside for a bit, and knit a quick grey cardie, that she could wear home from the hospital.

baby cardigan

I followed a pattern I’d not tried out before, the bug warmer, by Tagia Hillard designs. It was a great knit, raglan style, and the end result was a perfect fit for a newborn and super easy to put on for a little winter baby.

I used a light grey Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, which is super soft, lovely to knit, but also machine washable (an absolute essential, as far as I’m concerned, for baby clothes. It’s not just me who always has vomiting babies, right?!) All details, as ever, on Ravelry here: baby bug warmer.

I was so pleased with the result that I knit a second one for my sister-in-law’s new baby, who arrived a month later, in the same type of yarn but this time in dark grey.

I fully intended to pick up the blanket again and finish it, but, erm, that’s still to happen, and instead I moved onto another cardie once the grey one was outgrown. I’d spotted a lovely mustard yellow garter stitch cardigan in John Lewis and was convinced I could knit my own version, but then I struggled to find a decent pattern. In the end, I went for the Iceling cardigan by Carol Feller. It’s not garter stitch throughout, but has a huge garter front and turn ups at the sleeves.

Hand knit baby jumper

Hand knit baby cardigan

My usual sewing-on-a-button-inertia struck once I’d finished the knit, so it sat about for nearly a month while I dithered over button selection, yarn selection (for a button. Yes, I know) and threw in some bog standard procrastination.

Eventually, though, I bit the bullet and sewed the little blighters on, and she has been wearing the cardie non-stop ever since. (That would be a better endorsement, of course, if she was actually old enough to choose her own clothes, ha ha.)

Once again, I went for the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, this time in a glorious mustard yellow. I love the slightly vintage look to the colour, matched with more modern big white chunky buttons.

I went for the six month size, which is a pretty good fit on her at nearly four months, but should have enough stretch in it to keep going for a while. Full details of the knit over on Ravelry: Iceling cardigan.

Hand knit baby cardiganHand knit baby cardigan

And finally, yes, isn’t this is a ridiculous amount of photos to show you one tiny little cardie, but, oh she’s too cute, I couldn’t resist – just look at those squidgy legs! Long-term readers might remember that I never usually share pictures of the kids here, but I’ve realised that they grow out of the baby stage so ridiculously quickly that she’ll probably be completely unrecognisable from these photos in a month or so…

And now, back to the blanket! I am determined to get it finished before winter is officially over…

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