Monthly Archives: June 2015

Hazel and willow basket planter with yarn bombing

Yarn bombing and willow weaving in my yard: gardening meets craft

This Spring I’ve been building on my back yard gardening ideas from last year but to make sure there’s always colour in my yard – regardless of whether the plants thrive or fail – I’ve also gone in for a bit of yard yarn bombing this growing season too.

I’ve tidied up the wild crochet jute and willow garden screens that I made for my Sweet Peas last year and turned them into slightly neater, but still very rustic, willow arches.

Willow garden screen rustic arch
Rustic willow garden screen ~ now an arch

This Summer the willow garden screens are going to support the nasturtiums I have sown in their fabric growbags in some of my upcycled air-pruning plant pots. The fabric growbags and air-pruning plant pots have been made the same way as last year.

Nasturtiums in air pruning plant pots
Nasturtiums in air pruning plant pots

If you’re interested in seeing how I made these upcycled air-pruning plant pots you can see the process here and here.

Keeping with the rustic woven willow theme, I’ve added a large basket planter on the outside wall of my yard, overlooking the street.

Willow Garden Screen Arch and Hazel rod basket frame
Willow arch garden screen and hazel rod basket frame
Hazel plant basket frame with coloured yarn ties
Hazel plant basket frame with coloured yarn ties

The basket frame is made from green hazel rods, carefully bent around into an oval shape and fastened with some brightly coloured crochet chains. I added some thinner willow rods that I had to hand to make the top half of the basket. I plan to finish off the weaving with some green willow rods at some later time.

I then lined the basket planter with a sliced-open empty plastic compost sack and I filled up the basket with a soil and potting compost mix. I used some soil to create weight in the base of the basket and also because the soil will help to retain water better than just potting compost alone. My old-fashioned ‘Johnny-jump-up’ violas had grown on well from sowing at the end of March and were just beginning to flower when I planted them out into the new hazel and willow basket planter on my back yard wall. I do think the violas look lovely with their little purple faces nodding in the breeze.

Johnny-jump-up violas flowering in rustic basket planter
The Johnny-jump-up Violas in their rustic basket planter

With so little growing space, I’ve gone further overboard with vertical gardening this year in my back yard gardening, with a new plant shelf to take more advantage of the fence area that sees plenty of light and sunshine.

Yarn bombing plant pots - header
Pots of dahlias and irises on the plant shelf with their colourful yarn plant pot slings

This new plant shelf is now home to pots of dwarf dahlias, which are growing on well since I potted up my seedlings, and some irises that don’t seem to be growing on too well at all just yet. To secure the pots onto the shelf, I devised a strong crochet plant pot sling and crafted these in different colours to give this new growing area an instant colour splash.

First dahlia bud
First dahlia bud

As I was watering my pots yesterday, I was excited to see the first dahlia flower bud appearing on one of my plants … I will be watching and waiting – what colour will it be!

J Peggy Taylor

“G7 leaders just committed to getting the global economy off fossil fuels — forever!”

Avaaz – From G7 to Paris: Goodbye Fossil Fuels!

I don’t generally share the news of the day via my blog, but this planet-friendly news is definitely worth sharing 😀 😀

… I know there’s still a long way to go, but this is certainly one giant step forward. Next stop … Paris!

J Peggy Taylor

Greater Stitchwort's starry flowers

Let’s find out ‘What I’m going to be when I grow up’! The plant quiz answers.

Last Monday I posed a little plant quiz here on Oak Trees Studio … the plants were mainly flowering woodland plants that had not yet quite flowered. A few of my keen-eyed readers have had some fun puzzling over the photos and trying to work out “What I’m going to be when I grow up”. Everyone correctly identified some of them and came close on others. Here are the plants in their more usual flowering glory, complete with their names.

Mystery wildflower No.1

This one was definitely going to be a member of the thistle family, but which one?

Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustra

The very spiny Marsh Thistle, growing in damp woodland
The very spiny Marsh Thistle, growing in damp woodland

We see lots of these tall and rather slender thistles growing in our damp woodlands.

Mystery wildflower No.2

The best clue I could find was its muddy habitat – this one likes its feet wet. I love its Latin name! I always think it should be a Roald Dahl character.

Brooklime Veronica beccabunga

Brooklime - the puddle flower
Brooklime – the flower that likes to grow in puddles

Here’s a closer shot of those beautiful blue – but rather shy – flowers …

Brooklime flowers
Brooklime flowers

We find lots of Brooklime growing on one of our favourite woodland paths – we call it “the muddy path”!

Mystery flower No.3

This strong-growing umbellifer with its large hairy leaves grows ubiquitously in our area, along roadsides and woodland rides. Perhaps it is not quite so common in other parts of the country, though it evidently reminded some people of other members of the umbellifer family.

Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium

Hogweed flowers with hoverfly
Hogweed flowers with hoverfly

Mystery flower No.4

This delicate woodland flower is almost bursting into flower in our woodlands now. It is a plant with two common names – it probably depends where you live as to which name you know it by. One quiz entrant named it as Wood Avens and that’s its main name in my wildflower ID book so there we are. It’s delicate bright yellow 5-petalled flowers don’t last long and soon turn into hooked reddish seedheads.

Wood Avens (or as I know it, Herb Bennet) Geum urbanum
[and would you believe it! I can’t find any photos of it just at the moment! photo will follow! … fortunately they are almost flowering now! :)]

UPDATE: 15th June 2015 ~ After our woodland wander this weekend – here are the photos I promised🙂

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

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

Mystery flower No.5

This was the easy one that everyone spotted. The trifoliate leaves and those fluffy pinkish buds were a give-away, weren’t they?

Red Clover Trifolium pratense

Red Clover on the Railway Meadow
Red Clover on the Railway Meadow

… and here’s a closer view of this Summer meadow stalwart.

Red Clover flower
Red Clover flower

Mystery flower No.6

This flower has those small and shiny, spoon-shaped leaves with serrated edges on quite solid, straight stems. Its flowers form as dimpled buttons then burst open with sunny radiance in late Spring and early Summer. Many people will have a version of this flower growing in their gardens.

Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare

Oxeye Daisy flowers with gorse
Oxeye Daisy flowers with gorse

We find Oxeye Daisies growing along some of our old railway paths but they are equally at home along our woodland rides too. I love their sunny flowers.

… and finally – what was that mystery seedling?

At this time of year, the large seed leaves of these tiny seedlings are just beginning to be overshadowed by the first true leaves of this popular forest friend. The woodland floor is dotted with these curious seedlings as they form a mini-forest of their own among the feet of their super-sized parents.

Beech Fagus sylvatica

Beech seedling at the foot of a Beech tree
Beech seedling at the foot of a Beech tree

… and here are our beechwoods in their cool luxurious Summer greens.

Summer Beechwoods

At the end of last week’s quiz post I mentioned how the Beech seedling’s over-sized seed leaves reminded me of an umbrella and how the leaves of the parent tree can make a useful umbrella when caught in a sharp Summer downpour. Here are our younger boys in their Beech tree ‘rain shelter’ when we were caught out in one such Summer rain storm a few years ago.

The beechwood drenching and 'rain shelter'
The beechwood ‘rain shelter’

Thank you to everyone who took part in my little plant quiz and for all your comments. It’s been fun finding the photos of the plants in flower … even though Wood Avens seem to have slipped through our usual enthusiastic level of photography of woodland wildflowers! Ah well, another trip to the woods is going to be needed to remedy that soon 😀

J Peggy Taylor

Rayon fabric

Celebrating Purple for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

We’re celebrating purple for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week and purple is one of my very favourite colours. From the shiny rayon fabric of my vintage shirt above, to my favourite flowers, landscapes and vivid Winter sunrises, purple colours my world.

Spring

As Winter turns to Spring, I always look forward to the purple crocuses blooming in my yard. For me, this is a sign that Spring really has sprung.

Crocuses in bloom 2015

Purple and orange - crocuses in early Spring
Purple and orange – crocuses in early Spring

Summer

Last July I wrote a post called “Purple Wildflowers of Summer”. In it I said,

“the colour of Summer for me is definitely purple.”

Summer is when most of our purple wildflowers bloom. We see several members of the thistle family in their varying shades of purple. Thistle flowers are popular with bees, butterflies and other interesting insect-life.

Spear Thistle, or as we call it, the Scotch Thistle
Spear Thistle, or as we call it, the Scotch Thistle
Carder Bee feeding on Common Knapweed
Bee-on-a-flower – a Carder Bee feeding on Common Knapweed

Purple flowers of Summer - Rosebay and Thistle
Small Tortoiseshell at the Nectar Cafe … aka Creeping Thistle. That’s some spikes of Rosebay Willowherb behind too.

And here is more Rosebay Willowherb below …
Purple flowers of Rosebay Willowherb
The Rosebay Willowherb Epilobium angustifolium paints our roadsides, riversides and railway embankments with its purple spikes. As I also noted in my previous Purple Wildflowers post, it was the Rosebay Willowherb that led Sir Edward Salisbury, the 20th century botanist and ecologist, to coin the word “empurpled”, as he described the propensity for this flower to cover London’s World War II bomb sites.

Purple patch of Tufted Vetch growing on the cliff top
Purple patch of Tufted Vetch growing on the cliff top at South Shields Leas

In Summer, whole landscapes become coloured in their own purple hues. Large patches of Tufted Vetch adorn the grassy clifftops along our North East coast. Nearer to home, our valley view across to the North Pennine moorland develops its characteristic purple tinge when the Bell Heather blooms.

Purple heather moors in Summer
When the Bell Heather’s in bloom the moor takes on a purple tinge

Autumn

Autumn is not without its own occasional entrant in the seasons’ celebration of the colour purple. Sometimes we’ll see clusters of this fungus, the Amethyst Deceiver Laccaria amethystea among the leaf litter on the woodland floor.

Amethyst Deceiver fungus in leaf litter
Amethyst Deceiver fungus in leaf litter

Winter

In Winter, the landscape and its inhabitants may be taking their well-earned season of rest, but then it is the sky that puts on its spectacular performance in the celebration of purple. We are often treated to magnificent Winter sunrises in vivid yellows, pinks and purples.

January's lilac sunrise

I hope you have enjoyed my celebration of the colour purple for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week. Please do take a look at what others have found for this week’s theme too.

J Peggy Taylor

Greater Stitchwort's starry flowers

When I grow up, I’m going to be a …

As we were taking one of our regular woodland walks this weekend, we couldn’t help but see that the woodland floor is now growing abundantly with wildflowers. There are carpets of Greater Stitchwort – that’s the white flowers in my header image. I think it lives up to its Latin name: Stellaria holostea. The bright white flowers really are like myriads of little stars.

I found myself noticing not only the plants that were actually flowering, but also those that were still pouring all of their energies into growing and had yet to flower. I decided to photograph some of the yet-to-flower plants I spotted and make it into a fun quiz. Here are my woodland wildflowers.

Can you identify the wild flowers I spotted?

A fun quiz – featuring some common flowering plants you might see in UK woodlands just at the moment.

Mystery wildflower No. 1

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.1 is a spiky character, tall and lanky. The purplish tinges to the stems and leaves might help you to imagine it in flower.

Mystery wildflower No. 2

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.2 with its oval fleshy leaves. Its immediate environment might tell you where this plant likes to live and that’s a bit of a clue to its name too.

Mystery wildflower No. 3

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.3 is a very common plant of waysides and scrubland, not just in woodlands. It’s another tall-growing robust plant that’s very popular with insects, though I’m not sure about pigs!

Mystery wildflower No. 4

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.4 is one of the archetypal woodland flowers of early Summer for me, though its bright flowers are very delicate.

Mystery wildflower No. 5

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.5 is a nice easy one. Just look at those fat and fluffy flower buds ready to burst open!

Mystery wildflower No. 6

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

No.6 is one of favourite flowers of late Spring and early Summer. I love its clean and sunny nature.

… and finally – a mystery seedling

When I grow up I'm going to be a ...?
When I grow up I’m going to be a …?
Can you name the plant?

My children have always noticed these little seedling plants on the woodland floor. Those enormous seed leaves always look to me like an umbrella. Its fully grown parent makes a rather good umbrella when we’ve been caught out by a sudden Summer rain storm too.

How many of my mystery plants can you name? Please leave your answers in a comment on this post. I think all of the plants I’ve chosen have featured in previous posts on my blog … complete with their flowers. I’ll post up photos of the plants with their flowers and name them all next Monday. Hopefully I’ll be able to find the Summer rain storm ‘umbrella’ to show you too 🙂

Have fun with the quiz!

J Peggy Taylor