Sunday, 29 May 2016

Hidcote Manor Gardens

A couple of weekends ago we took the opportunity of a sunny Saturday to take a trip to Hidcote. Just over an hours drive away, and conveniently National Trust where we have membership, we set out hoping to find ourselves some inspiration for our own garden, along with a good spot for a picnic!

Hidcote was the private garden of Lawrence Johnston who divided the whole area up into a series of rooms, each with it's own identity and character. While the arts and crafts styling wasn't what we wanted to achieve ourselves, we eventually stopped worrying about that and set to looking at how he had attained that unique feel to each space and found that a limited plant range, colour palate and textures seemed to be at least part of the key. On top of that there were a few themes that carried throughout the garden to give it a sense of unity. Brilliant planning on the part of Mr. Johnston.

Careful thought had also been given to the line of sight as you moved through the garden. High hedges and walls obscured your view in most directions, so when you did get a glimpse through you could be sure it was deliberate - a tantalising peek at what was to come next.

It's certainly given us some food for thought as we're in a definite planning stage with our own space. We often think about our garden as distinct areas, each with a different purpose - the veg patch, the chickens run, the pond, the patio, the lawn. The patio is next up for a change, but our trip to Hidcote has also inspired a look at our garden as a whole - thinking about the differences of these areas while considering themes we want to carry through each. Debating how each section works with it's neighbours and maybe planning a few tantalising sight lines of our own...

It proved to be a lovely day out, sunshine, plants and good food. Perfect.

Read More

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Is it socks again?

I often take my knitting out and about with me, in the car, to friends houses, on holidays and day trips. When people spot me quietly adding a few stitches to my work in progress this naturally this sparks the question "what are you making?". Nothing unusual there. Of late though I've noticed that this is sometimes followed with the second question "is it socks again?!".

Why yes, yes it is. Socks, socks and more socks. They're certainly not the only thing I knit but it seems every time I finish another project and I hit that lull where I'm just not sure what to make next socks are always the answer. Small, useful, portable projects with endless possibilities to be tried. I think the real trick though is that they take a relatively standard weight and thickness of yarn so I never have to worry about getting the right pattern/yarn combination, I can just grab a ball from my box, find a pattern that tickles my fancy and away they go. 

Where they're all going though I'm not sure as I still only have one pair of hand knitted socks to call my own, so my latest pair - these ones are for me.

Pattern: It's Tea Time from Around the World in Knitted Socks by Stephanie Van Der Linden
Yarn: West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in Nutmeg.
Read More

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Wall Building

Where best to start blogging again than a project that's been going for almost as long as The Urban Cottage, and was finished just last week. We have a lot of projects around here that are half finished. Some tucked neatly away in a corner waiting for the right moment while some are deliberately left where we can't ignore them until they've been there long enough that that's exactly what we do. Some take forever in the planning stage, and some linger endlessly in the finishing stages.

This particular project has been all of those and more! Three years ago we were offered a large quantity of stone that we decided was just the thing for replacing a hedge we weren't particularly fond of. We sat it in an unused corner of the drive "temporarily". It's also been three years since we bought a set of lavender plugs to go in a new flower bed we would build with the stone and gave them a temporary home.

Skip on a bit to last summer when we moved all the stone onto our patio, sorted by size and shape. It took over the area somewhat! Then the old hedge came out thanks to brute force on Joe's part, and it was time to start being constructive. By the end of the summer we'd successfully put in the two smaller walls that now form flower beds alongside the drive, and had made a start on the main wall that will divide the front garden from the back. Progress at last.

Once more the project lay dormant, this time for a just a few months. Wind, rain and generally winter got in the way.

And then it was spring again. Looking at what to do next we decided it was more important to get the plants in place and finish the construction around them, than leave them in their rather overgrown temporary home any longer. The beds got a good filling of muck and grit and the lavender finally got space to breath. We also popped in quite a few allium bulbs that had been in the conservatory all winter and were starting to sprout. Both are showing excellent signs of new growth already which is very pleasing.

The last few weekends have been just right for a final push. Joe's steamed ahead and I think we can now say that is is done. All in all this has definitely been a successful transformation.

There's so much more to do in this area of the garden and we're both really excited by the blank canvas that this wall has given us. The phrase "courtyard garden" has been bandied about, sometimes accompanied by "Mediterranean"; we'll have to see where our ideas take us with this one.



Read More

Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Catch Up, Anniversary Edition

Hello! It seems we hit a bit of a blogging burnout back there. There was a tangible sense of freedom in making the decision to put it down for a while, to not have to make sure that we had photos of all the things we were up to. We just wanted to get on with life and the pressure to document had become just that, a pressure.

Almost 1 year later, and conveniently 3 years since our first post and I've found myself wanting to write again, planning posts in my head. So, here are a few photos we've taken in our absence while I wonder what to write about first...

[Southwest Coast Path, North Devon; Birdwatching at Hardwick Old Hall; 
The gardens at Hardwick Hall; London Nightscape; Selfie at the British Museum]
Read More