I spent a couple of hours in my garden the other day. It was sunny and mild and the perfect opportunity to clear some of the debris left from Summer’s abundance and to collect some seed before it all falls to the ground, and before British wintertime began with the clocks changing.
I gathered seed and/or seed heads from poppies, fennel, aquilegia, love-in-the-mist, cerinthe and from some runner beans that had been left on the plant far too long to make pleasant eating.
While I sorted them for storage I laid them out, enjoying the different seed heads and forms of the seeds.
Then I put them away into paper bags, ready for a new season and, hopefully, for a new garden.
I’m making the most of the last of the Indian summer we’ve been having (it seems it will be all change by the end of the week): lunch outside, feeling the warmth of the sun, breathing in the delicious smells floating about on the warm air – a cocktail of summer and autumn.
There are some glorious clashes of colour going on at the end of my garden; lots of reds (poppies, crocosmia, runner bean flowers) and lilacs (opium poppies and chard stems) and much of it completely random with self sewn things growing where the hell they like. I love that accidental aspect of gardening, that mix of the controlled and uncontrolled. I was reminded today of visiting Great Dixter at this time last year – they really know how to make the most of the accidental there.
I found these strange marks on the glass of my Mum’s greenhouse. They’ve been made by some sort of animal scraping off the algae. They are very curious and beautiful and look just like the kind of mark I might have made stitching something.
I missed my garden while I was away last week. It such a lovely time of year and everything has filled out beautifully with the heat and rain.
The day before I went away the first buds on my sweet peas were tantalisingly showing a little colour, ready to burst open as soon as I closed the front door to go for my train. On my return there were enough flowers for the first posy to go on the dining table.
For me that is the point at which summer has truly arrived. The smell drifting around the house takes me right back to my childhood and picking great bunches of the multi-coloured blooms for the dining room at my grandparents’ house.
I’ve been picking salad leaves for a while but the beans have finally started producing and I picked the fat golden balls off the gooseberry bush yesterday.
The plant itself looks very worse for wear as it has been ravaged by saw fly larvae again. It happens every year: they completely decimate the leaves, but it doesn’t seem to stop it producing the lovely fruit.
Current listening: Michael Nyman, The Piano (dreaming of distant shores)
I have a few days left until my final deadlines at college and I still have a good long list of jobs to work through. Half term comes at a bad time but, having spent most of the week on family and other commitments, I can now give my full attention to that list.
All my development samples are mounted, labelled and their technical details recorded accordingly. I have lots of small pulling together and finishing off kind of jobs to do.
The beautiful weather we are currently having means that when I do leave my desk I can sit in the garden for a few minutes or eat out there. I love sitting and noticing the detail of all the little changes that have happened since I last sat in the same spot.
What is it that makes iris leaves do this? I’ve noticed it before and I can’t find an insect that might have caused this intricate puckering.
There have been insects at work on my gooseberry bush – saw fly larvae. But even if they have stripped half the leaves the fruit is unscathed and swelling nicely.
Current listening: lots of radio in my studio: BBC 6 music with interludes of Radio 4 today.
Yesterday I was at Manchester Metropolitan University for the Pairings conference. 15 Images was included in the programme as an ‘intervention’, which meant a performance after the main papers and events of the day and hopefully gave the delegates a little time to chill out and reflect on all the stuff they’d been listening to all day.
15 Images is of relevance to the Parings project, which is all about cross-discipline collaboration, because it brings together 4 individuals from 4 different disciplines: composition, textiles, digital technology and performance. There were some lovely comments following the performance and hopefully some useful contacts made.
It was good to get back into my studio today and get things straight in my head in terms of what is left to do before my final deadlines at college. I had a useful afternoon planning how my main printed and stitched felt pieces will be arranged in my space, working out what is missing and the jobs left to do. I then spent what seemed like ages grappling with various social media type things. Not my forte but a necessary part of set up and promotion as an artist in this day and age!
Meanwhile, there seems to be some rather good collaboration going on in my garden. The rain is back in play and is boosting everything beautifully. There is suddenly lush growth and a fullness that was lacking a week or so ago.
This time of year is when things are most harmonious in my garden as blues predominate and work together with the purples and pinks. I have a lovely viewpoint from the kitchen window that looks past little blue and yellow violas in the window box, through to the blues of rosemary flowers, the ceonothus (which is at its peak), irises and aliums. Every now and then there is punctuation from a citrusy yellow euohorbia or alchemilla mollis just starting to flower.
>End of term: everyone is tired. I’m completely exhausted actually. Having finished off my dissertation this week and got three copies bound ready for submission…
I should be celebrating. But actually I’m rather overwhelmed by everything that I need to do in the next couple of months. For most of the other students on my course the Easter holiday is a chance to catch up and get lots of work done. For me it is a time to spend with family. I have to put my work aside for a while, get the house in order, try to relax a little.
I spent most of yesterday asleep, just trying to catch up with myself and I did have half an hour of garden therapy.
I planted out these lovely broad beans as well as runner beans and climbing beans. I constructed wigwams for them to climb on. It felt a little like the preparation of a warp: getting the structure right before adding the in-between bits.
There is a lot of hope involved in this game. You nurture these little things, watching them grow in the protection of the pot and the window sill and then release them to the mercies of the weather and the slugs.