Sunday, 24 July 2011

A busy weekend!

Gosh, what a lot we seem to have done.

Yesterday we went to this amazing place to choose a wood burner for the sitting room. I'm hoping to be warm this winter!
Mark Ripley Forge

It was an eclectic space, full of all sorts of architectural reclamation, most of it to do with iron or fires, or fire irons! We have ordered a little chunky stove, to fit our small narrow fireplace. We have to have a survey and stuff done to the chimney, all of which should be delightfully disruptive, along with the hall floor being sanded and vinyl being laid in the conservatory!

Then we went to our favourite Merriments for garden tour, lunch and a bit of plant buying to go with those I brought back from Hampton Court. The garden was, as ever, delightful - a showcase for the plants they sell, but also a lovely space to wander through, with a dell full of wild birds at the bottom.

curious development of flower head

birch grove

Common Blue Butterfly on clover

Goldfinches here and gone!
Today, in a fit of delight in the sunshine, I cleaned all the downstairs windows at the back of the house! Then, inspired by India Flint's book and blog, I had another go at some simple eco dyeing.
First I assembled some cotton, yet more sheets from the past, but good for tearing into bits and doing "stuff" to. Soaked in washing soda to prepare them for dyeing.
then the copper pan, which has spent at least some of its life in red soiled Africa, and has the most beautiful verdigris on the bottom.
and the plant material - onion skins, walnut leaf and bark, and bits and bobs from the garden, soaked first in hot water.
onion skins and hypericum
laid out on the fabric, which was then folded around the leaves
and finally tied round hard objects - here a rock from the nearby beach, before being
bundled into the pan on the stove to simmer for a while, then left to steep for a while more
Then unwrapped - or at least two were, after around four hours in the pan simmering and steeping.

Results! I am amazed - though the colours here are on wet fabric. You can really see the way the copper has brought green into the mix - it's very different from the hankies I dyed a while back. The one on the left above had hypericum leaves wrapped in as well, the other had some elder leaves, which had no effect, but the hypericum has given a very clear yellow.
Two are still steeping, I will leave them overnight and see what happens after work tomorrow, we are due some sunny days so time for drying.

Meanwhile my dear one was digging and delving in the back garden creating a new bed,
A well earned rest
or rather extending the one he created last weekend.
As with the moon bed, we are clearing grass to bring flowers into the space.

These are all in shades of rusty reds and orange, though there is a steely blue eryngium hidden away, which we brought as a seedling from the old garden. I am hoping that all these will delight the bees and hoverflies - there's also achillea, echinacea and bergamot, along with some rather lovely grasses to sway in the evening breeze and catch the light as it slants across the lawn. 
Raisin, unimpressed by all this activity, saunters up from the bottom dell, hoping he's in time for a few biscuits.

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