We've made it to March. Current view is multiple windows pierced with sun rays. Tranquil. Throwing it back to the Christmas holidays, I went home to Leicester and I was happy to be
back. I do remember this little niggling feeling, as if there was something I missed doing. Something I spent many an hour engaged in, which I hadn't recently. It quickly occurred to me
that it was gardening. I stepped out briefly, just to see how it's all doing. As expected, bare branches, grey undertones and dormant bulbs. Winter isn't the most joyous time to don the
gloves and grab the bucket; some gardeners might enjoy a wintery spruce up. I prefer to leave it for late Feb/March. I'd like to think the the worst of the cold has been and gone. Thus
leaving time for straight-up blooming. Or so I'd like to believe. We all remember the Beast from the East last March...brrr,
The warmer months of course, are generally a happier time for all to be outdoors. This includes a few visitors I'd rather just looked at the plants, instead of think 'hmm..dinner'. I have to
say I'm not too keen on snails as a result, although they do get a fair amount of air time in this post. I'm sure they play an important part in the ecosystem...circle of life and all. That
aside. I'd be happy for them to just bask in the garden, take shade under a leaf and chill. Not to take chunks from the foxgloves and leave it looking like a Swiss cheese plant. After
reading the article, it was interesting learning that this particular plant hedges it's bets when it comes to extending in leaf size, in the chance of getting more dappled sunlight. Cool.
This is a retrospective post and this day actually took place around two years ago! A fair amount has changed since then. Dad's great DIY skills have seen the back wall regrouted and
painted white, as well as new slabs put down. Looking fresh. I'm happy to trade in my paintbrush for a trowel when I can and replace paint with compost under the finger nails
(although to be honest, I'd prefer to keep the fingernails clean). You have to get your hands dirty sometimes to get things done. It's all about embracing everything that comes with it -
want beautiful blooms...be happy in the soil. Sometimes I like to combine the two, as I did on this day. It was a cool spring day and the canvas, paints and plants came out to play. The
joy I find, is switching between it all. Don't think I had bought my gardening clogs at this point, as who knows, they might have made an outing on this occasion.
Two summers ago, I taught fashion illustration at a summer school in Cheltenham. In my spare time, I had the chance to walk around and explore the city. I remember spotting a wall-
mounted face with blossoming crown (and slightly alarmed faux pigeon) to foliage pouring from pots. Gardening feats to be found everywhere. Textures and patterns were evident
in many a trail. These repetitive forms reminded me of the winning moment in 90's Microsoft Solitaire, with all the cards dance in-canon along the screen, Does it ring a bell?
How fragrant is sweet pea? I remember the first time I planted them and catching the scent in the air. Silk purse-like petals in shades ranging from white to maroon. The bright
orange/pink variety was a delight, where I think back to the one I had to celebrate my 27th birthday. It's a shame that they are annuals and the delicate trail only blooms for one year.
That said, if you collect the seeds in the pods and keep them, they're good to go for the following year. Colours of the crocosmia buds below look like little pearls of fire. Alongside
them in the flowerbed, there's a hydrangea bush. When I bought it online, I didn't realise there were many a variety (realised after watching a feature on Gardeners' World) and I was
expecting the French hydrangea. It took a few months to settle and grow, where it revealed itself to be the pink 'Tea of heaven' variety. I was waiting for all of the tiny tightly-packed
buds in the centre to bloom, yet that's this fleur's style. It's still a lovely bloom. There's also scope to go ahead and plant another hydrangea in the future. Can't have too many.
For as long as I can remember, the back of the garden was lined with trees and a mass of spindly blackberry branches. Childhood memories include picking them and enjoying the
bounty of fruit every year. I recall attempting to make blackberry jam with my sis and bro, although we were fairly young and had no idea how to create it, so it was more watery
blackberry soup. Safe to say it wasn't spread on any toast. Memories. After the Summer school two years ago, I remember coming home to find the dense greenery being ripped out.
Technically, the green growth which draped over wasn't part of our property and the owner of the building behind had decided it was time to clear the area. The week which followed
was like a scene from FernGully/Avatar - roots hoisted out and sticky tar steamrolling over trunk stubs. The Evergreen tree. Gone. Elderflower tree. Gone. Blackberry brambles, no
more. I attempted taking a cutting from the tree and growing it. To no avail. For some time after, it looked bare when stepping out into the garden.
Onwards and upwards. Peering over the wall a few weeks later, it was nice seeing nature reclaim what once was, with a thick blackberry stalk shooting through the edge of the tar.
We're considering a trellis along the back and growing rambling roses through it. That or multiple pots, filled with various flora. Now, I love to find all types of nature residing in the
garden, from butterflies to beetles. I saw an angular beetle resting on the foxglove once; it like a prehistoric bug from the past. As I've mentioned, the difficulty in gardening remains in
keeping the plants wholly intact. Slugs and snails who can't resist the delicious lure of foliage. I can't blame them - it's just that I would once love to pluck a juicy strawberry and not
find a network of tunnels burrowed inside. A few summers ago, I tried a homemade rosemary oil and water concoction spray. I've read neem oil works a treat...maybe it'll do the trick?
I'm trying to find a way to purely deter them, in an environment and bug-friendly way. Any gardening tips? Would be great to hear them.
Creatures of the garden inspire many realms, including the fashion world. I'm a fan of the whimsical scenes shot by Tim Walker, such as watering of the giant roses whilst perched on a
ladder. Stumbling across a snail practically the same size as me and hanging from the door - I'm pretty sure I'd have the same reaction as her. Using fresh coffee grounds on the earth
is a measure I have heard of, which apparently keeps leaf-nibblers at bay. It has been used as a fertiliser, as it adds nutrient-rich organic matter to the soil. Costa Coffee have an
excellent initiative called Grounds for Grounds, where they can prepare a bag of grounds for you to take home, to use on your flowerbeds. I tried this method for a while, where I did
notice the berries and leaves were left, for the most part, complete. Not to mention - forget brewing coffee, you could wake up and smell the garden,
Floral clusters have been traded in for bead clusters recently, where I'm working on a small embellishing project. I'll share the progress soon. Vegetables found themselves dug up and
translated onto fabric, in Schiaparelli's S/S 2016 collection. Here's a close up. Jewelled turnips and Intricate seed-bead peas? I'd plate up to get my 5 a day.
There's a definite happy moment, when you see what you've planted bear fruit. Fruits of your labour indeed. Yet, it doesn't feel laborious to me, even when I'm in spade wielding mode,
digging away. When you lose track of time, you know you're onto a good thing, It's the kind of tired you'd welcome from spending the day doing what you love, I'm heading back home
for the Easter holiday...guess where I'll be.