Monthly Archives: June 2015

Hexagon Hat - upcycling project header

An upcycled sun hat for Recycling Week 2015

The week from 22nd-28th June has been Recycling Week here in the UK.

Hexagon hat - upcycling worn-out cargo trousers
Upcycling worn-out cargo trousers into a sun hat

I’m a great fan of recycling and upcycling and my latest project has been an upcycled sun hat for one of my sons. I have refashioned this hexagon sun hat from a pair of worn-out cargo trousers.

Hexagon hat - hexagon shaped crown
The sun hat has a hexagon shaped crown

The crown of the hat has six segments with a flat hexagon-shaped top. I put together some scraps of heavy linen to stiffen the brim before attaching it to the crown.

Hexagon hat - cutting bias strips for hat band
Cutting bias strips for the hat band

I made a bias strip to catch up all of the seam edges and act as a hat band and I’m now just ready to stitch that in place.

To finish off the outer edge of the brim, I’m going to make a thin cord from thread and weave it in and out of the running stitches that are holding the linen brim stiffening in place. Then the sun hat will be complete – a free hexagon sun hat made from upcycling old clothing and scraps.

Hexagon hat - almost finished
Hexagon hat – almost finished

Now all we need is some sunshine 😉

J Peggy Taylor

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Three - three hedgerow trees - header

Finding Three for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

We’re looking for groups of three items for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week. I was keeping my eyes peeled as we went along on our woodland and wayside walk on this midsummer’s day – this is what I spotted:

Three - three foxgloves in flower
Three foxglove spikes, flowering in the woods

Foxgloves are definitely a sign of Summer for me. I love their spikes of purple flowers against the rich Summer greens of the woodland.

Three - three ox-eye daisies
Three ox-eye daisies flowering by a fence

These three ox-eye daisies looked much lovelier than I have managed to captured in my photo! Their sunny faces were looking up at me from beside this wooden fence.

Three - three red poppies
Three wild red poppies flowering by the field edge

The object of our walk today was to see the wild poppies flowering along the field edges. I’d planned to take more photos but the breeze had picked up again, which was better for walking uphill on a rather warm day, but was not so good for photographing poppies! Never mind – the poppies danced for us in the breeze instead, which was still lovely to see.

Do take a look at what others have found in groups of three for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

First flowering dahlia

Dahlia delight!

I love dahlias. They’re definitely one of my favourite Summer garden flowers. I’m often admiring Cee’s photos of beautiful dahlia blooms over at Cee’s Photography. In my small back yard, I don’t have enough space to grow the tall varieties of dahlia, but this year I decided to sow a few pots of dwarf dahlias. I tried this a few years ago, but that Summer was a bit of a washout and the dahlia flowers only grew to the size of large coin.

This year, as part of making more use of the vertical space in my yard, I have my dahlia pots carefully balanced on the new plant shelf, so the plants can catch more of any Summer sunshine that comes their way. I’ve been watching with hopeful anticipation as my dahlia plants have grown on and developed their first flower buds, despite our largely cool and windy weather so far this Summer. Then, on Thursday this week I was delighted to see the first dahlia bud had burst open to reveal its sunny radiance.

J Peggy Taylor

Happy Summer Solstice :)

Summer wildflowers for Summer Solstice
Summer wildflowers for Summer Solstice

We might have no Summer sunshine to share with you (at least not here in North East England!) but never fear, here is a Summer meadow filled with the sunshine of flowers for our Summer Solstice celebration.

While I’m sharing my Summer meadow flowers with you, let’s also be thankful for the bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies and many more pollinating creatures that feed on our wild flowers – and garden flowers – and allow us to enjoy their beauty. Another blogging friend shared in a wonderful post that it has been Pollinator Week this week and she gave some great gardening tips on how we might all do our small bit for our pollinating creatures. You’ll find Woodland Gnome’s post on her Forest Garden Blog.

Happy Summer Solstice 😀

J Peggy Taylor

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Ground

Magnesian limestone and sand at Trow Point, South Shields - b-w image
Magnesian limestone and sand at Trow Point, South Shields

For Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week, we are looking at the ground. I often find the ground quite interesting because it is full of history.

The first image I’ve chosen shows an example of the Concretionary Magnesian Limestone on our North East England coastline. If you’re a geologist, you’ll certainly have heard of this well-known rock formation. The rocks were formed during the Permian period, over 250 million years ago, after rising sea levels flooded the adjacent sand dunes. The UK was still part of a large landmass at that time and lay just north of the equator. I always find it fascinating that we can just look down at the ground and look back so far into pre-history.

Another aspect of this particular spot that always strikes me as we walk across it, is the contrasts in texture. The sand is smooth, soft and usually cool, as the rising tide is normally casting its white foamy fingers across it. The Concretionary Magnesian Limestone is, by contrast, very rough. It really does look like concrete, with lumps of stone set into it, created entirely by the forces of Nature without any human help.

Stoney Road - surface - b-w image
The road surface gives the Stoney Road its name

My second image is of the old road that runs through our woods. It still retains its old surface of local sandstone gravel, though some parts have been reinforced with newer limestone. Unsurprisingly, this road is known as the Stoney Road and a hundred years ago was the main road linking our village to a neighbouring one. We often walk along the old road when we go into the woods, to see the carpets of bluebells in Spring or the carpets of leaves in Autumn but it is also a cool green tunnel in high Summer. I’m sure this old road would have many tales to tell, if only the ground could talk!

Do take a look at the ground with other entrants in Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week – there are some wonderful shots to see.

J Peggy Taylor

Back yard gardening: Spring Onion success

Gardening in a small space means there’s never enough room for everything you want. I’ve begun to make more use of the vertical space, especially along the sunny fence as I was showing you in this previous post. During Spring and Summer, my indoor window ledges are also pressed into service as ‘gardening’ areas for herbs and salad leaves. I try to grow some food crops as well as flowers.

This year I’m experimenting with growing Spring Onions both outdoors and indoors. The variety is DT Brown’s classic, White Lisbon. The indoor Spring Onions are in an upcycled apple juice carton. I wasn’t sure if this would be deep enough for them to fully grow.

Indoor-grown Spring Onions
Indoor-grown Spring Onions in their upcycled apple juice carton

The idea initially was to pot them on into a deeper container but somehow time got eaten up by other things and the seedlings grew too large to be able to transplant them without damaging the roots. Hence, the Spring Onions are still growing in their apple juice carton on my kitchen window ledge, but they don’t seem to have suffered too much it seems. They’ve grown on well from sowing in early April and some are almost ready for harvesting now. As I was preparing this post, I noticed I’d sown 20 seeds and this has resulted in a dozen plants.

Outdoor-grown Spring Onions
Spring Onions grown on outdoors after seedlings germinated indoors

My first two pots of outdoor Spring Onions were first sown into a small ‘propagator’ (upcycled food packaging) and kept on the kitchen window ledge. When the seedlings showed, I transplanted them into upcycled milk cartons and then I moved them outdoors.

Spring Onions sown and grown outdoors
Spring Onions sown and grown outdoors

For the final sowing of Spring Onions at the end of April, I sowed another small batch of seeds directly into their upcycled milk carton pot and hung them outside straight away. The milk carton plant pots are just hung on the sunny fence with string. Keeping the jug handle on the milk carton plant pots is useful for tying them onto other supports, I’ve found. I’ve done this with the air-pruning plant pots I made from milk cartons to hang on my willow garden screens too.

Outdoor Spring Onions have grown on well
Outdoor Spring Onions have grown on well in their upcycled milk carton plant pots

All of the outdoor Spring Onions have grown on well, despite regular buffeting by the seemingly incessant wind this Spring and Summer. The White Lisbon Spring Onions have been easy enough to grow. Regular watering has been the only after-care needed.

Sweet Pea plants showing some snail or slug damage
Sweet Pea plants showing some snail or slug damage

I’ve been pleased to note that another benefit to my vertical gardening experiments has been … so far! 😉 … the plants seem to have stayed safe from the munching molluscs that share my yard – or perhaps they’ve just been too busy grazing on my Sweet Peas!

J Peggy Taylor

A woodland wander in search of Wood Avens

There is no better time to enjoy the beauty of our woods than after a spell of Summer rain. The new season’s greenery is washed clean and refreshed. The dark, wet tree trunks contrast strongly with the bright greens of early Summer leaves. The air is laden with the delicious earthy scents of damp woodland, mingled with the fragrance of ‘green’. Did you know you could smell ‘green’? In damp woodlands in June, I am sure you can.

Beechwoods in June after rain
Beechwoods in June after rain

As well as enjoying the woods and their glories generally, on this occasion I was watching out for one particular woodland flower, the Wood Avens Geum urbanum (also known as Herb Bennet). Last week, when I was giving you the answers to my fun plant quiz, I discovered that somehow I did not have any photographs of this very common woodland flower. Hopefully, we would be able to rectify this situation.

Wood Avens growing by woodland path
A bank of Wood Avens growing by a woodland path

Soon after entering the woods, we were spotting Wood Avens growing beside the woodland paths. Their delicate yellow flowers dotted the path-side greenery.

Wood Avens (Herb Bennet)
Wood Avens (Herb Bennet)

Here you can see the Wood Avens plant, nestled in amongst the grasses with its bright yellow flower.

Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) flower
Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) – a closer look at the flower

Here’s a closer look at the Wood Avens flower. The yellow petals are very fragile and look as if they may blow away at any moment.

Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) seedhead
Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) – red hooked seedhead

The Wood Avens flower only lasts a brief time before the red hooked seedhead develops. The seedheads are rather more robust and will stay around across the Summer. The hooks of the ripe seeds would enable them to hitch a ride on a passing animal and so spread the flower seeds further.

Clover leaf raindrop face
Clover leaf raindrop face

Later on our woodland walk, I spotted this little Woodland Spirit resting on a Red Clover leaf. Can you see him too? 🙂

J Peggy Taylor

Spring Shadows for Cee’s Black and White Challenge

02 Spring shadows in black and white
Spring shadows among the trees

As sometimes happens, I was browsing through some images looking for something entirely different when I spotted these two images I took when we were taking one of our regular woodland walks a few weeks ago.

01 Spring shadows in black and white
Spring shadows on the woodland floor

The woods looked beautiful in their new Spring greens but what really struck me was the way the leaves and trees were casting their shadows in the bright afternoon sun. It was quite mesmerising to watch.

Cee has given us an open theme for her Black and White Photo Challenge this week so I thought I’d share my Spring shadows with you.

Do take a look at what others have found for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor