Tuesday 15 October 2019

My Pet Plants ... the carnivores living on my window sill

It all started with the teenager. He saw them in the garden centre, and was immediately fascinated. And, as I've always been keen for him to share my love of gardening and the natural world, it wasn't hard for him to persuade me to buy them. So, home they came.

At first I was unsure about them. They struck me as being the delicate, demanding sort of plants that don't survive long in the spartan conditions of my care regime. Let's just say I'm not the most consistent of pot-plant parents. My charges tend either to be forgotten about completely, or over-watered to the point of root-rot and gangrene. It's a harsh climate in my house that's best suited to bomb-proof cacti and succulents that can withstand weeks of neglect.

But, determined not to disappoint the teenager by killing his new pet plants, I placed them on my very best south-facing window sill where I can't help but see them multiple times every day, and made a note-to-self about stepping up a gear and trying not to kill them - for at least a month or two, anyway.

Quite miraculously and against the odds, they and I seem to have found a way of getting along together. Their care labels advised me that they were swamp plants, and I've discovered that in a well-ventilated room it's very, very difficult to over-water them. So, four months' down the line, they've not succumbed to root rot and gangrene.

I've noticed how flies from the garden tend to be attracted to them. I've read that they secrete nectar to attract them, and I've had a good old sniff, but haven't spotted any tell-tale odours. Indeed we've all watched with interest to see how many flies they catch.  The Venus Flytrap, true to its name, has caught a few. Like a new mum whose toddler has just taken his first step, I was really excited when I spotted its first victim, and then alarmed when that cup went black and died off - a frenzied check of the gardening books reassured me that this was normal.

I suspect that the pitcher plant is a little more discrete, and that deep down at the base of those finger-sized pitchers there's a host of half-digested bugs. 

The books tell me that they're both going to die back for a period of hibernation over the November to March period, which will be traumatic for me as my unconscious will insist that I've killed them! 

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Thursday 12 September 2019

Seed Stitch Gardening Socks

I've been having a play with my standard sock pattern and designed something that's a bit chunkier than the normal vanilla sock. The seed stitch with the Dutch slip stitch sole creates a much more resilient sock that works well with boots. All things told they're perfect for wearing with wellies for an autumn tidy-up outdoors!

Wednesday 13 February 2019

WIP Wednesday ...

I'm really looking forward to seeing the spring bulbs and, in anticipation, I'm working on a row of cheerful tulips. I've up-cycled some old bed-linen for material, drawn out my posies and I'm working in tapestry wool and stranded cotton.

Friday 8 February 2019

Instagram Royalty at Osterley Park

Last Wednesday I got to play with Ros Atkinson (@her_dark_materials) at Osterley Park, where she hosted a fun workshop for about a dozen enthusiasts. She'd set the props up in the Osterley kitchen before we got there, and we had a couple of hours to go nuts and take photos.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

WIP Wednesday

What have you got on-the-go at the moment? I've not got a lot of knitting to show for WIP Wednesday. There's the usual collection of things that have lived in the WIP corner for a-g-e-s, and with which I have totally fallen out of love with, and am never likely to finish anytime soon - short of a miracle.

Friday 1 February 2019

London Institute of Photography

Last week I shimmied over to the London Institute of Photography on Brick Lane to do their beginners' course. I've been taking photographs pretty much all of my  life,and it's been something that I've hugely enjoyed doing. I've owned a succession of fairly respectable cameras, but I've pretty much always kept them on automatic or some other-semi automatic programme that did all the thinking for me. I haven't troubled my head with the physics of how any of it worked. And I've been delighted with myself on those rare occasions when the planets have aligned and I've bagged the odd decent shot here or there.

But last week all of that changed. I explored the mysteries of the exposure triangle, learnt how to pan, investigated how to achieve shallow depth of field with good bokeh, and how to get greater depth of field for landscape or street photography. It was an eye-opener as I discovered more and more of what my respectable but not-very-fancy camera could do, and how the art of taking a decent photo actually has more to do with technique than simply being in the right place at the right time.

Friday 25 January 2019

Minestrone Soup ...

I'm in the throes of seasonal grey. I am filled with admiration for those people who can enthuse about all the seasons and extol the delights of our great British seasonal variety.  I try. I really try to mimic them and muster some enthusiasm for January, but it always defeats me. January is just a month too many in the book of my year.

If January were cold and crisp and full of frozen cobwebs and ducks slipping and sliding on the lake over at Osterley Park, where the WonderDog and I like to stretch our legs, it might be different. But right now, right here in the Big Smoke January is cold and grey and wet and miserable.

So I'm hunkering down and making soup. I've been on a health crusade since last June, which involves not eating many processed carbohydrates so I've left pasta off the list of ingredients and bigged up on the beans for this fortifying Minestrone: a small midday fix for the January blues.

Sunday 6 January 2019

January ... bleurgh! - time to grab a book ...

I'm back for my start-of-the-year moan about January. I know I do this every year: so grey, so bleak, so ... predictable.  I've just taken down all the Chrimbo decorations, sent the cards for recycling, clinked all the empties off to the bottle bank and then, to add to the grimness, I've taken the pledge for a dry month - no more vino til' February 😨. I'm about as cheerful as that pitiful pile of denuded conifers waiting on the Common for the council to carry them off for composting.

So, what do you do when it's so grey and uninviting outside? You could do worse than reach for a good book ...

Cold grey London skyline

And if, like me, you're a crafty type you may enjoy the Golden Thread by Kassia St Clair, which sets out to explore the history of fabric, but in effect gives us an needle's eye view of world history. It's a whimsical subject that takes you on a romp through all the ages of clothing from the linens of ancient Egypt to the silken robes of the Chinese emperors to the woollen sails of Viking longboats to the space-age fibre technology of what astronauts wear on moonwalks. It's all there, and it's all compelling.