It has been a while since my last post. We’re about to go into a second lockdown, and I’m bracing myself. I feel as if I am viewing the world with my hands over my eyes, hardly daring to peer through the gaps. Come on USA, please give us all a bit of hope! A winter lockdown will be a very different proposition to a spring/summer one, but I am determined to find some bright spots. The first of these is bulb planting. My daffodils, muscari and crocus have been in their pots for a few weeks now, but I am waiting a while longer to plant the tulips that I have been amassing from garden centres and my favourite market stall.
Bulbs in brown paper bags are a cheering sight. And I’ve been making my own wrapping paper and envelopes for seeds that I have saved from the garden this year. All you need is a pack of brown parcel paper, some leaves and paint or printing ink to create some gift sachets. They’re so light and easy to post out to friends who might need a boost.
Make the envelopes by cutting out a square and folding the corners inwards. Label and seal with washi tape. I just did a quick run to the art shop before it closes for a month. I bought some oil paints, air drying clay and a couple of new brushes to see me through.
I have brought my tender plants inside for the winter, and some are tucked inside my greenhouse cupboards. My son’s attic bedroom resembles a greenhouse (he has moved out now taking his enormous TV with him, so there is some space!). I have refreshed my pots with winter pansies and violas, and this year, I’m going for some foliage too. I like these cineraria plants, and I’ve also bought some heuchera in ‘Plum Pudding’ and ‘Lime Marmalade.’ The colours are just as delicious as they sound.
This is ‘Dusty Miller’ or cineraria. Lovely silvery green leaves.
I have been to one antiques fair this year, and I bought a couple of garden containers. One of these is enormous, and I hope it will house a small tree eventually. The other is this little terracotta one, which I have hung by the front door. As a rule, pots are cheaper to buy from antique fairs and emporiums, and they have the added bonus of a weathered patina. This one tones with the lovely old bricks of our house. When the sun shines, I grab the opportunity to head outside. There’s plenty of leaf-sweeping and tidying to be done.
I’ve gone big on plant labels this year, as I have a tendency to forget immediately what I have planted where. I made some labels by cutting up old plastic containers into strips, and then I tried using air dried clay to print some more. These might make good gifts. They are intended for the small seed trays where I start my plants off. I will need to make longer ‘stems’ on the labels if they were to go in larger pots outside.
I used an alphabet set from Muji to press the letters into the clay. It took about three days to dry.
A Posca pen is good for lettering outdoor labels, because the ink won’t run or rub off.
It has been raining quite a lot here through October, so I’ve been busy painting. My work is reflecting autumn colours now.
I am very grateful that this painting has sold.
Asters in gorgeous colours, inspired by ones I’ve been seeing in gardens.
And this one, a mini, is a work in progress. I will be layering on more colours.
There is still colour and vibrancy to be seen in garden borders and beds. I have discovered a wonderful plant nursery near us, Rasell’s of Little Bytham. I took my parents there for a visit the other day and we had a lovely time admiring the plants and buying a few for our winter pots. Garden centres will remain open during lockdown, so at least there’s that.
Meanwhile, I have work to do. Garden journalism is ticking over nicely at the moment. I even managed to get out to do a face to face interview for a magazine. It was my first one since February. We wore masks and sat in a room with all the doors and windows open, but it was a taste of normality. I have finally finished my novel and I have sent it off to an online publisher. I don’t really expect anything to come of it, but I must say, it was very satisfying to write it and even more satisfying to press ‘send.’
Sending best wishes to everyone. I will try to post again during the coming days, with small survival strategies, things to make, and always, always plenty of plants.