A few weeks ago there was a real shift in the seasons as things tipped from late summer into autumn. Since then we’ve had a number of frosts at the allotment and as a result some things suddenly faded and flopped. As well as gathering produce in for eating and preserving I have been gathering materials too and preparing what I can for storage, meaning I have a supply of colour or fibre when I need it. Various flowers have been dried and bottled up. Some are ones I know are worth keeping for future use, others are more of an experiment. I’ve also dried various plant fibres to make into cordage when I have time over the winter.
I set up a series of solar dye jars in the summer and these were eventually emptied out to reveal dyed linen squares to add to my on-going collection of colours from the plot. Sunflowers have been quite a revelation, with interesting colour from leaves and petals. I grew a mix of different coloured ones and they were really happy with the particularly hot summer we had.
Things are growing a-pace at the allotment, although it has been so very dry and warm that some plants are struggling. I sowed some flax back in early May (a bit later than intended but the spring was so cold). It has been good to see it grow and now bloom with its dainty blue flowers that only last less than a day each.
This is a very small patch of flax, which I know won’t result in much of a quantity of linen, once it has been retted, processed and spun. But it is an important part of my experiments in using gathered fibres for my MA project. Last year I grew an even smaller amount in large pots at home. I didn’t manage to process it over the autumn, so I left it dried until we had warm conditions. It has now been retted and is drying again in the green house before I can do the breaking, skutching etc. ready to hopefully spin some thread.
I have been gathering all sorts of plant fibres from my plot and using them to make cordage, including nettle fibres shown drying below. I’m really enjoying experimenting with these different materials and working at the plot when I can. You can see some of the cordage results on my instagram account here.
> There is daily change at the moment as everything seems to be growing and filling out at great speed
inside and out.
I found this beautiful nuthatch in my front garden a week or so ago. I can only guess that it succumbed to one of the cats. I’ve never seen a nuthatch round here before … perhaps there aren’t any round here any more!?
It is absolutely beautiful and I’ve had it sitting around waiting to be drawn. I now realise I’m not going to manage to find the time to draw it (before it gets a bit smelly) so I photographed it and I’m going to put it in the compost heap to rot down and hopefully I can collect the skull. I have done this in the past with all sorts of found birds. As a child I was really quite fascinated by collecting dead insects, skulls and other things macabre, purely in the interests of natural history study I hasten to add! I still have this collection.
Today I happened to come across Susan Silas‘ stunning work recording found birds.
>I’ve been playing with ideas for greening the grids I’ve been looking at and one of those ideas is growing things through them. Cress seemed the obvious fast-growing plant, so here are my cress squares: