Friday, December 30, 2011

past and present

A short distance from the busy, bustling city of Glasgow are 260 hectares of ancient woodlands, moorlands, wetlands, river and loch at Mugdock Country Park.
Away from scurrying shoppers, concrete towers and cars is a place where faces in trunks peer at our ant-sized bodies. Let’s follow a tree-lined path through 5,000 years of Scottish history: from  a stone age site, a bronze age farm and an iron age fortified site, to ghostly memories of boats on the lake, animals in an ark and a zoo in the 1940s. The last picture shows Charlie the elephant with his beloved keeper Singh Ibrahim. They were inseparable and when Ibrahim decided to go for a drink in a local pub Charlie followed quietly behind. He was only discovered when he got stuck in the doorway and had to be removed by firemen. How many regulars swore never to touch another drop that night?

Best wishes all for 2012 from the Green Lady X

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

make believe

I love the tiny dog and the snowman made from bricks. I love Polly's felt polar bears and toadstools. I love icy ponds. I love that my son believed a bright green, talking tree at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park was real. I love to stare up at trees that are one hundred years old, with their feet planted firmly in the ground. I love to see the shiny fire engine hanging from a ribbon on a branch. Though yours looks beautiful, I would feel sad to see a fir in my living room without roots. This is why I am happy to take my everlasting tree out of it's box to decorate every Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Liebster award

A big thank you to Jo with the adorable cavalier King Charles spaniel for giving me this award today. I was attracted to her blog The Good Life because the title is the same as a 1970s comedy about a couple, Tom and Barbara,  who are trying to live a self-sufficient lifestyle with hilarious results. They convert their small garden into a farm with pigs and chickens running around to the horror of their immaculate, posh neighbour Margo. They grow their own crops. Barbara attempts to make her own clothes and tries to dye wool with nettles. I hope you don't have quite so many disastrous episodes Jo. Though it's good to have a sense of humour when it comes to 'doing it yourself', because inevitably things won't always turn out as you hope.

I found out from another blog that "Liebster" is the German word for friend or love. I've met some lovely friends here on blogger and want to send love to you all. The Liebster award is intended to bring more attention to blogs with fewer than 200 followers. There are rules in accepting the award.
1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
2. Thank the giver and link back to them.
3. Choose five blogs which you would like to pass the award on to and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

As Jo mentioned, because it's a bit of a faff to accept with the rules and all, some folks choose not to. So no obligation at all. But I would like to share some blogs that I find inspiring and that brighten my day. So I'd like to pass the award to:

Thanks for all the time and effort you put into your blogs everyone x

Friday, December 9, 2011

Digging for gold

For a "no dig" gardener I seem to do an awful lot of digging. I am planning to follow a more natural, wilder form of vegetable and fruit cultivation but there are some things that have to go first, like couch grass and bind weed and black plastic. The person who owned the plot before me only grew fruit I've been told. This could have been about 10 years ago as the site lay empty for a long time. I have a large carpet of wild strawberries that grow in couch grass, on a layer of soil on top of black plastic bags (that must have been used as a mulch all that time ago). I can almost roll the soil off the plastic. The strawberries don't grow well here so I have transplanted them to an area that previously had potatoes, then onions, then beans. I attempted to turn the soil over but it was so dry it was like an old, dried out loaf. Perfect habitat for slow worms, but I would rather have earth worms and rich, dark soil that my plants will love. This may take some time. (The slow worms already have an area at least a metre squared all of their own; a large family live under an old carpet).

Much of my plot is covered in clover. I never have to cut the grass where the clover grows. I am enjoying reading The One Straw Revolution at the moment. The author, Masanobu Fukuoka revolutionized a natural form of agriculture in Japan. He used clover (as well as straw) as ground cover on his fields and in his orchards as a living mulch. When you 'top' clover it stimulates the roots to grow more and fix more nitrogen. My plan is to use clover more in this way. Nature has been kind enough to do much of this work for me already on my plot; I'm a lot slower to catch on.

Barney spaniel settled himself down for his umpteenth snooze of the day. He watched me through heavy eyes as I struggled with the spade. "Do nothing" Fukuoka reminds us. By using nature more we are able to work less. He thinks a person should have time in their lives to sit and write poetry or to take part in community activities. That's the kind of world I want to live in! So I followed the lead of my enlightened dog and left the digging until some rain comes to soften the ground. A few days later my Polish friend asked which areas of my plot I want dug over. Her husband has finished work on theirs and wants to help me now. He has already completely transformed the plot of a single mum who hasn't had time to get up lately. Amazing.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Being a bohemian - in the Village Voice

My blog has been featured in the Bohemia Village Voice which is available free from 180 locations in Hastings, St. Leonards, Battle and Bexhill. Thanks go to John Humphries, editor and publisher. It's a great little magazine. I found out about "A Flock of Crafty Birds", a shop in St. Leonards that sells locally crafted goods. The owner used to work in a well known DIY store and broke away to start up her shop because she wasn't happy with their customer care. Good for her! Can't wait to visit.

With all this publicity I was hoping to have my own on line shop up an running to sell my wares. But I'm not quite there yet. You can see what I have been doing so far in my craft folder on flickr. I have recently gone back to crafting and portraiture and it may take a while to build up my business. My plan is to donate a percentage of sales to the Bridge community Garden and Sacred Heart School growing project. I took a huge cut in pay to work at the Bridge community garden but the wonderful people I met and the amazing transformations I saw in lives in that garden made it all worthwhile. I am so frustrated seeing gardening projects struggling because of lack of funds when they are so very much needed. Lives become enriched, friendships are formed, people are healed.

If you are visiting my blog as a result of viewing the article, "hello!". I hope you enjoy my photos. Please "like" me on facebook, share and follow as it may help me with funding applications.
I mentioned thrifting and upcycling in my piece and said I had just made some roses out of an old pair of pyjamas, a jumper and some fabric scraps. Here are the results. Really easy to do with a hot glue gun! I can't afford to buy flowers and the ones my mum bought me are quickly deteriorating (though I quite like them in their dying state) - these ones will last me all through winter.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

tie a yellow ribbon

I was keen to make something outdoors when I went for a walk at the weekend. My son and husband decided they were cold and wanted to go home so I was left to get on with it myself. There were still a lot of autumn leaves on the ground; sycamore, horse chestnut, oak and a small yellow leaf that I can't identify. You can see it in the second and third photos. It has a sort of fruit on it in late summer. Does anyone know? The sycamore leaves were an amazing bright yellow. I tucked some into some ivy that was curling around the trunk of a tree. There is a custom of tying a yellow ribbon around a tree to symbolize waiting love that goes back to Roman times. This tree is at the bottom of a flight of stairs frequently used by dog walkers. In fact I bumped into a friend walking her spaniel and felt a little odd to be standing there, on my own, with a handful of leaves. I also made a little forest sunflower with the sycamore leaves and a horse chestnut shell. Doing an activity like this definitely made me look at my surroundings more closely and notice the different colours, textures and shapes much more than if I was just walking through.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Feel better outside, feel better inside

Sweet chestnut owl Summerfield woods 2010

Chemin de St Jacques France 2009

In October I blogged about the leaf pictures my family and I made while out for a walk in Summerfield woods. You can see the owl I made in my banner above. I made an owl in the same woods exactly one year before this one. Now that my son is four I'm finding it easier to do fun activities like this. Before, he wasn't really able to join in and hated it when my attention was on anything other than him. I couldn't take photographs either. He was two when we went on holiday to France. We came across the Way of St. James and cycled along the medieval route for a short while. We arrived at a lookout point with a standing stone in a huge field of grapevines.  I had the notion to make a heart with some of the stones piled at the base of it. I thought it would be fun for someone to come along and find it. The day was still, hot and hazy. I arranged the stones carefully while my son pulled on my leg and complained.

Land art by Richard Shilling

Land art by Richard Shilling
I have just come across an amazing, inspiring land artist called Richard Shilling. His hanging leaf sculptures look like exquisite stained glass. Lots more beautiful pictures on his website. I'm also really excited by his site Land Art for Kids which has lots of great information and ideas on there. His book he created with Julia Brooklyn, 'Land Art for Kids in the Woods' is all I want for Christmas.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The bigger picture

View from my garden
Allotment fire viewed from the path outside

The allotment viewed from the East Hill

My son and husband (left) on the East Hill

View from the allotment and head in the clouds on the way home

I'm quite often stooped over, looking downwards, earth between my fingers.
I spend a lot of time closely studying the leaves of plants for signs of disease or invading critters.
You may see me in the street with my nose buried in the petals of an overhanging rose bush.
I sometimes see the world from the perspective of a grasshopper through skyscraper blades of grass.
But when I stand back, really far back, I get a different picture completely.
I see what a small role I have in a very busy and beautiful natural world.
I stop and enjoy the view.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Golden walk

It's getting colder, darker, murkier outside.  The bonfires have all burned out, leaving behind cold, grey ash. The earth sends chills up through my feet. I don't want to linger. I'm remembering a walk home from the allotment before Halloween, when we collected twigs to make a broom. The heavy sun threw giant sized shadows across damp grass. The chill in the air drove us home sooner than I wanted to go.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Can a scarecrow crow scare crows?

We have a new resident at the allotment; his name is Colin the crow. Though with his big orange beak he's more like a blackbird, with green eyes. I'm hoping he'll scare off the birds and animals that spend a good deal of time devouring all my hard work. He's made from black bin liners stuffed with supermarket plastic bags. I read that movement and sound frighten the birds away, so Colin has 'feathers' that flap about in the wind. However, I have a feeling that every mammal and bird in the neighbourhood will be congregating on my plot to laugh at the new curiosity.
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