Clematis, roses and garlic

Not much to show in the making line this week though I have been working hard.

So I thought I would take the opportunity to fit in another garden update. I am so enjoying my new style garden taking shape.

These photographs have been taken over the last month. All taken and processed rather quickly, just as a record really.

Before I went on holiday I looked at my clematis. The Vagabond is only meant to grow to about four feet but of course it won’t get that high this year. I saw that it had a good crop of blooms The Vagabond clematisbut also realised that it needed spreading over the trellis. Clematis on trellisIn a way it looked better with the flowers closer together but this was for the future!

My clematis on the other side of the garden was in a similar state, though less ready for spreading out. Diana's Delight clematisOdd really given that it was planted first.

After I came back from holiday after all that sun and only a little water, courtesy of my son, the same clematis looked like this. Clematis after hot weatherThe first clematis is still producing the odd flower, now further from the ground and so free of slug damage Single clematis flowerbut the clematis the other side only has seed heads. I wait to see if I will get a second flush later.

At the same time I was pleased to see that the rose bush had plenty of buds. Rose buda and alliumsand the alliums (Christophe – my favourite) were developing their flower heads.

When I came back from holiday the roses were in full bloom and the alliums much bigger Roses and alliumsThey seemed bigger than I remember them but then they are in a much sunnier location now and the ones in this bed, the sunniest, are bigger than those in my herb bed. More recently they are so big and heavy I have had to give them support.

Those extra green floppy leaves either side of the single allium are from my garlic.

I have been growing garlic for a few years now.

I always take a few of the fatter cloves out of the fridge because the garlic cloves for sale in the garden centre cost as much as a whole head of garlic in the greengrocers!

When I started, I read that you plant garlic on the shortest day of the year and harvest on the longest and I have always stuck to this pattern up till now.

I was always a little disappointed that each clove only multiplied itself into four new cloves, so last Autumn I decided to try an experiment and I planted the garlic at the same time as the daffodils.

When the garlic was beginning to flop over and produce flowers I decided that it was time for harvest even if earlier than before. I dug up one first, just to see, and then decided to dig up the rest.

I always plant three or four cloves and here they are when I had just dug up the last three. garlic just dug upAnd here with all of them washed. garlic washedThey gave me six or seven or eight cloves this time so I will be planting them September/October time again this year.

I have a lot less flowers in my garden at present as the first flush of roses is over and the other new plants are small, so of course I have less bees than I used to. Though here is a rather poor photograph of one taken a few weeks ago. bee on alliumI do have a lot of different greens though. green leavesAnd my fuchsia is covered in flowers as always. So there are a few bees there. I was rather pleased with this photograph bee on fuchsiaas normally all you see are their bottoms! bee in fuchsiaA few of the pansies are also hanging on thoughpansies

but I don’t know if bees like them.

 

Monthly Montage – May

This last month, photographically, I had four photos for the Monthly Challenge: Bird, Cycle, Stationary and Lost. I also created a lot of ‘flower portraits’ of flowers in my garden. Monthly montage - MayApart from that I put together a tutorial on knitting fair isle and, to stick to knitting for a moment, I showed you some socks I have knitted for my daughter. Crochetwise  I wrote a  post about my search for the perfect Celtic Cross bookmark and another showing how my Celtic plaitwork bookmarks compared to earlier bookmarks in use.

Flower portraits

I find it hard to take good photographs of my flower beds but I do love taking close ups of individual flowers, so I am going to share a few flower ‘portraits’ of some of the current flowers in my garden.

First some landscape portraits in alphabetical order

Allium (this is the Cristophe variety)AlliumThen one of the Clematis, (This is called Lemon Dream.)ClematisLily of the Valley. Lily of the ValleyA Pansy (sold last Autumn as winter pansies.) PansyAnd a Wallflower (also bought last Autumn). WallflowerAnd now a couple of square ones

Apple blossom in full flower. Apple blossomLithodora Diffusa (This variety is called Grace Ward.)Lithodora Diffusa (Grace Ward)Though if anything I prefer the one called ‘Heavenly Blue’ which I also have. Lithodora Diffusa (Heavenly Blue)A slightly more turquoise shade of blue!

And a pansy’s face close up.

Quick garden post!

I couldn’t resist giving you a quick update on changes in the garden.

The wallflowers that I planted to keep the cats off the place where I am going to plant a daphne have come into flower and make a colourful show!            WallflowersThe pansies that equally were planted to keep a spot for some lavender are flowering again though I can see the slugs are having a field day! Pansies and forget-me-notsThe forget-me-nots that I love are flourishing.

The apple tree not only is coming into leaf but has blossom. apple blossomI know I must not let the tree produce apples this year but I will enjoy the blossom.

And finally: the clematis that I showed you in an earlier post (taken last September)clematis last Septemberalready has lots of new buds. clematis buds

Another peak at my garden

I was pleased to find that the primroses at the front of the middle flower bed are now all in flower. PrimrosesHere’s a closer look.   Primroses close upThe same person who gave me the primroses, when she was clearing an area of her garden, also gave me some violets.

They seem to have survived less well. (They were all enmeshed in the primroses when I got them!)

But I was pleased to find that at least one had produced some flowers. VioletsIn the herb bed some of the scilla siberica that were part of my earlier planting seem to have survived the upheaval.Scilla SibericaAnd the taller daffodils are now in flower. DaffodilsBut I am not entirely happy with these as they were sold to me as ‘February Gold’ which I love because of the swept back outer ring of petals that these seem to lack.

As you can see here in a photograph I took of the ones in a pot in the front. February Gold daffodilsAnd my latest addition: some golden sage Golden sageto replace the broad-leaved sage that was getting a bit old and was out of proportion in my tiny garden. Not that my younger daughter considers it a garden to her it is little more than a ‘patio’ and there is some merit in her opinion I suppose.

Make you own Orchids!

There are many sorts of orchid but when researching what I could make all those months ago when I wrote my first post about it, I decided to try to create the Moth Orchid – Phalaenopsis.0551-spray-of-orchidsI wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in how I made the spray of orchids but since someone has asked I have decided to share what I did. I am not sure whether to call it a ‘pattern’ as my patterns are normally things I feel anyone could make and I am unable in this case to tie down a rigid method, more just a description of what I did.

This is aimed at confident crafters who can make sense of what I write. (On this occasion I have written only in UK terms)

I used Ricos Essentials Cotton, DK weight, in white. The cotton has a sheen which gives the flowers a bit of a glow. You will also need a small amount of red and also green yarn for the stems.

I used a 3.5mm hook, though I crochet fairly tightly, so you may prefer a 3mm hook. Anyway since the size of the flower is not critical, use whatever size you feel most comfortable with and that gives the best result.

Did you know that when you make a slip stitch, you can either make it so that pulling the tail tightens the loop or that you have to pull the main yarn to tighten it? Surprisingly, I didn’t realise this till recently. For this pattern you need to make your slip stitch so that pulling the tail tightens the loop. I achieve this by holding the end in my right hand. (But I wouldn’t want you to think I am trying to “teach my grandmother to suck eggs” if all this is second nature to you.)

[I have added some charts at the bottom. They have been made relatively quickly and I have used my normal trick of mirroring the stitches so the diagonals on the trebles won’t all go the right way but I thought they might be of some use to some people.]

White Orchid (make 4)

Central circle and column.

Column appears to be the most common term for the nobby bit in the centre above the two side petals.

I found that making a circle of twelve htrs worked best. I used a magic loop but any other way of starting would work as well as this part should not be seen in the final flower.

At the end of the 12 htrs, slip stitch into the first st then work 4ch, and dc into second ch from hook and the two after that, then ss into start. Pull firmly and sew in ends.

This excrescence will naturally curl up

Side Petals (make 2)

Start: 2 ch

Row 1: 3dcs into second chain from hook.

Row 2: 1 ch, 2dcs into first dc, dc into dc, 2dcs into last dc.

Row 3: 3 ch, 2trs into first dc, 2trs into next dc, then tr into next, 2trs into next and 3tr into last.

Row 4: 1ch, (dc, htr, tr) into first tr of row below. The 2trs into each of next two stitches. Now you work what I call a half double treble (hdtr) into the next stitch. (See below for explanation). Then a dtr into eah of the two central stitches, a hdtr into the next, 2trs into each of the next two stitches and (tr, htr,dc) into the last stitch.

Now continue down the side of the petal working a slip stitch into the side of the end of the three rows below. Then a final ss into the starting chain.

Followed by: 2ch, tr into starting chain, 2ch, ss into starting chain.

Now work up the other side of the petal making a ss into the side of each of the three rows.

The way I finish off is how I often finish off these day which is to extend the remaining loop on the hook until it is long enough to give a good length of yarn and cut in the middle. I then thread it on a needle and pass the needle under, in this case, the first dc of row 4. I then thread the yarn back where it came from and sew it securely into the back of the petal.

This gives the appearance of an unbroken row of stitches round the edge of the petal.

0552-side-petalI leave the starting yarn to sew the petal on to the centre of the flower later but pull it to tighten the starting chain.

[Hdtr: I make a dtr in the normal way except that when there are three loops left on the hook. I pull the yarn through all three.]

Rounded Sepal at the top

(I discovered that this part is a sepal and not a petal as I originally thought of it.)

Just two rounds this time.

Start: 7ch. (Remember to make the slip knot so you can tighten it.)

You will be working into the back loops, then back up the other side into what have now become back loops if that makes sense.

Round 1: dc into second ch from hook, then dc into each of the next four chains. When you get to the starting chain, I work 2dcs before the knot then one after it, making three in all. You are now working down the other side. Work five more dcs, one into the one loop of each chain. Then a ss into the turning ch.

Round 2: ch1, then dc into first dc, htr into next, tr into each of next four dcs. Then 5trs into next dc, tr into each of next 4 dcs, htr into next, dc into last. Ss into start. Tighten starting chain and sew in end securely. Leaving a good length of the yarn at the other end to sew this sepal onto the centre later.

Pointy Sepals at the side (make 2)

Just two rounds again.

Start: 6ch. (Remember to make the slip knot so you can tighten it.)

Round 1:dc into second ch from hook, then dc into each of the next three chains. When you get to the starting chain, I work 2dcs before the knot then one after it, making three in all. You are now working down the other side. Work four more dcs, one into the one loop of each chain. Then a ss into the turning ch.

Round 2: 2ch, tr into first four dcs, (tr, dtr, tr) into next dc, then tr into each of last four dcs. 2ch, ss into turning ch of first round.

Finish off as sepal above.

Red Petal or Lip

Now using red yarn ch4, ss into third ch from hook, ch2, ss into starting ch, 3ch, tr into starting chain, 3ch, ss into starting chain, 4ch, ss into third ch from hook, 2ch, ss into starting chain.

This should give a wide central piece with two thin side pieces that should arch upwards either side. 0552-lip

 

The petals and sepals have a natural tendency to curl and I felt that when arranged they did so in an appropriate way so I did not try to stiffen them at all just adjusted them with my fingers at the end since they will not be being touched in use. However if you want to experiment with stiffening feel free.

0552-orchid-charts

Construction

The first thing I did was to attach the rounded sepal to the central circle behind the column. I then attached the two pointed sepals symmetrically at either side. They should stick out at an appropriate angle for an orchid which meant that there was an angle of about 90deg between them and one or two stitches of the edge of the circle. The sepals need to be secure.

I then took the two petals and attached them to near the centre of the circle so the narrow part was just below the column. These I sewed on with reference to pictures of orchids so they overlap both upper and lower sepals.

Finally, I threaded both ends of the red yarn of the lip into a needle, threaded the needle through the centre of the circle secured the ends either side at the back so it wouldn’t swivel then for speed and simplicity just tied the ends together in a double knot and cut off short.

I do not consider sewing things together to be one of my strong points so if you have a better method of getting the same result that is to be recommended.

Stems and attaching Orchids

When I made some knitted roses (from a book) I made a knitted I-cord for the stems and had thought to crochet something for the orchids but couldn’t quite see how. In the end the fact that I had very little green cotton yarn decided me on a simpler choice.

I had bought these flower wires 0229-flowerwirewhen I made the roses and thought I could also use them for the orchids.

Part 1 (make three)

I took my jewellery pliers and bent over the ends to make a small loop. I left it open and made a slip knot in the green yarn leaving a very long tail. I then wound the tail yarn tightly round the wire working upwards towards the loop. When I had enough I slid it round so it filled the loop closed the loop with the pliers and tied the end to the main part of the yarn the other side of the slip knot. I used what was left to sew the loop on the back of the flower. But first I continued down the wire with the main ball of yarn, winding it so the wire didn’t show, until I had enough for the curving stem behind the flower. I then cut the yarn and took a small piece of sellotape which I wrapped round yarn and wire (50/50) to hold the yarn in place.

Part 2

For the fourth orchid I did as above plus working extra to cover the gap between the stem of the end and adjacent orchid. When I came to the end I didn’t cut the yarn and used a paperclip to hold it in place.

Attaching the flowers.

I laid each wire to the back of a flower with the loop behind the centre circle and the rest of the wire pointing upwards behind the rounded sepal. I sewed the loop in place at the back of the circle (using an extra bit of white thread when I found I didn’t have enough green!)

I then bent the wires in a curve for the individual flowers stems followed by a 90deg bend for the part between the individual stems. If that makes sense. Obviously I let the yarn covered section extend just beyond the bend.

The fourth orchid was the front one (so in a sense the first!) and I took one of the other three and laid the wires against each other, so that the stems were spaced correctly and started to wind the yarn round both wires, covering the last of the green and the sellotape for the second flower. I added a third flower and then a fourth at suitable intervals then continued winding the yarn round the wires until there was no more wire left. I was not too bothered about the appearance of the stem, though I tried to make it neat, as it would be inside the vase. I think that I bent the last of the wire up and tied the yarn to stop it slipping. I am sure you can make a better job of it!

Finally

I arranged the flowers so that they overlapped each other with the end one in front as you can see in the picture. 0551-closer-view-of-orchidsI straightened the petals and sepals and pulled the wide part of the lip so it was horizontal.

It is possible that the individual stems should have been a bit shorter and that I should bend the flowers forward more so they don’t show.

I leave that to your judgement. There are plenty of photographs of orchids online.

[As always do let me know of any mistakes. I have put this together fairly quickly.]

 

 

 

 

A Spray of Orchids!

Having made two crochet orchids the week before last, I made two more this last week and then combined they into a spray 0551-spray-of-orchidsthat I will put on my kitchen windowsill along with my African Violets and Cactus. 0265-morningwindowsillOn the left so they arch over the violets. 0551-orchids-on-windowsillHere is a closer look. 0551-closer-view-of-orchidsThey are far from perfect but I am very pleased with them and will enjoy looking at them.

Mainly bees……….

Not a lot to show you this week. I was going to work on my seahorses but I seem to have mislaid one! I know I saw it somewhere recently but can’t remember where.

So I finished a floor cloth 0550-floor-clothsince I thought it would last longer than the shop sort and I believe on getting down on my hands and knees with a cloth to clean the floor.

I also made a couple of crochet orchids. 0550-crochet-orchids(I devised the pattern about eighteen months ago  ago – https://rainbowjunkiecorner.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/orchid-obsession/) and had so many helpful comments I became lost in indecision. There was also the question of size since some sprays of orchids have flowers of different sizes and also how to create the stems.

However I have now seen sprays of four equal sized flowers in shops so I am making one of them! There were suggestions for making multi-coloured orchids that I would like to try but I decided to just start with white. I am using my original pattern which I think is the best I am going to get.

However as that is not very exciting I thought I would share some photographs of bees that I took in Chichester last Autumn plus one of a different sort of bee I took in my garden. 0550-bee-1The others are all square. 0550-bee-2-squareI love the veining on their wings. 0550-bee-3-squareThey are so delicate 0550-bee-4-squarewith frilly edges.0550-bee-5-squareAnd such fluffy bodies!0550-bee-6-squareI think these are what are called white tailed bees. 0550-bee-7And one (I think it is a honey bee) from my garden.0550-bee-one-square Except the first, that is on a buddleia plant, they are all taken while feeding on sedum plants.

Photo Challenge – Still

I do find it much easier when the subject of these challenges is a noun. Whenever it is a adjective or another part of speech I struggle.

Of course ‘still’ can be a noun but the first meaning that comes to mind is that of the equipment needed for distilling! so I decided I had to look elsewhere.

Although it is beginning to get much colder I noticed that my fuchsia is ‘still’ flowering and so that is what I chose for a photograph. photo-challenge1648-still

 

Photo Challenge – Frivolous

This is a difficult subject for me as frivolous is just not my sort of thing. I am a very serious person, maybe too serious. However when thinking about what I might photograph I did find a photograph of some fuchsia flowers.

I think that fuchsia is maybe the most frivolous of flowers and this is a variegated one. Photo Challenge1620- frivolous