Category Archives: Flowers and Plants

A Christmas Wreath

How many lists have you got lying around the house/in your bag/on your phone at the moment? One for the presents; one for the food; another one because you’ve run out of space on the first ones? Not to mention what’s going on in the diary…

There’s so much going on in the run up to Christmas alongside keeping everything else ticking over. So in between the endless lists; shopping expeditions and Google searches for the best deals, it is a real tonic to have a breather and step away from the commercial side of the festive season and get creative.

I always enjoy making a Christmas wreath to put on our front door – it’s the original door from when the house was a school and it lends itself to some kind of decoration. In the past I’ve used dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks and pine cones for my wreaths, but this year I wanted to see if I could make the wreath entirely from foraged finds from my garden or on walks. And here’s what I came up with…feathers included!



Last Sunday was a bright, crisp winter’s day so I got wrapped up and headed out into the garden with a steaming mug of tea. First up was gathering the moss to wrap around the copper wreath base (apologies to any worms or bugs who have ended up as part of my Christmas decorations – I think I managed to remove you all).


Next is the fun bit – deciding on the look you want and finding the decorations. I must say that my wreaths always seem to evolve and end up looking completely different from the design I had in my head – but not in a bad way. This is the lovely thing about making your own wreath as each year it will look different according to what you have found on your foraging forays.


After attaching various pine and conifer foliage to the moss wreath for my backdrop, I got stuck into the finer details. I love the idea of using hydrangea heads but as I didn’t have any in my garden I used these gorgeous pink sedum heads as my main flower instead.



Then I added sprigs of Viburnum Tinus which has such glossy, green leaves. For a bit of extra detail I slotted in some rose hips and tiny larch cones. I scooped up the pheasant feathers on a walk a couple of months ago knowing they would come in handy for some creative project. In the end I didn’t feel the wreath needed a ribbon as the feathers kind of do the job, looking like ribbon ends. I also made an extra wreath for my parents as an early Christmas offering.

The wreath is such a Christmas tradition, originally created from fresh evergreens symbolising strength as evergreens survive the harshest of winters. In Christianity the circular shape with no beginning or end was supposed to symbolise eternity or life never ending.

Two years ago we went to a wonderful celebration for Sankta Lucia, an atmospheric, candlelit Swedish carol service, held at York Minster where a girl dressed as St Lucy wears a wreath of candles on her head. This beautiful event takes place this Friday, December 8th at York Minster.

You can read more about it on my post here. Until next time…


Autumn Days

Much as I love summer, there is something to welcome about the shift in seasons as we head towards Autumn; russet, red and gold leaves; pinecones, conkers and acorns to collect; low sun filtering through the trees and long country walks on crisp, bright days.


We’re lucky to have some beautiful walks on our doorstep and since getting a dog we’ve certainly got out more than ever. I’m rarely without my camera on my wanderings – and because I’ve become a fan of Instagram, I’m always on the look out for the perfect composition. If you use IG you’ll know that as well as the perfect composition you’re also looking for the perfect square shot to fit into IG’s little boxes.

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For a small village ours has an impressive number of bridges – three in total. There are two railway bridges and one footbridge built in 1885 which links the North Riding of Yorkshire to the East Riding. This ‘bouncy’ bridge as we’ve always called it always slightly terrified me with toddlers in tow – and more recently with the dog as I really don’t fancy diving into the murky waters of the Derwent to fish her out. I’m presuming all dogs can swim so hopefully it wouldn’t come to this.

Back home, I’m planning to tidy it up for winter. Some plants are still looking vibrant even if the rest are in their twilight days. I’ve been snipping away at some of the flowers to display in jugs and vases – Japanese anemones, crocosmia and sweet peas which are still producing plenty of blooms.

Autumn is such a lovely time of year for getting outdoors; wrapping up warm; misty mornings; dazzling copper shades; beautiful sunsets and fruits to harvest. Having said all this, the skies can sometimes look like this…so remember to take your coat!


I hope you enjoy your own Autumn ramblings…

Helmsley Walled Garden

A walled garden must be every gardener’s dream – sheltered from the elements that often take their toll on our own patches – especially after a heavy downfall – whose delphiniums aren’t looking a little sorry for themselves after the recent soaking?

A couple of weeks ago a good friend of mine, who happens to be a professional gardener, suggested a trip to Helmsley Walled Garden. We often meet up and do a walk together but it was looking like quite a hot day so a lovely garden with some shade – and nice café beckoned.

This idyllic five-acre site sits beneath the ruins of Helmsley Castle and is just a stone’s throw away from the pretty market town of Helmsley.


The garden originally provided fruit and vegetables for the Feversham household at Duncombe Park until just after World War One when it got leased out as a market garden. Sadly, it fell derelict over the years and it wasn’t until 1994 that its restoration started thanks to the vision and sheer hard work of a local lady, Alison Ticehurst. Alison wanted the garden not only to be a beautiful site once again but also to be a place for horticultural therapy. Today supported volunteers learn horticultural skills here whilst at the same time benefiting from new skills and gaining confidence.


The garden now contains a spectacular long double herbaceous border planted with vibrant reds, yellow and oranges; a white garden; a clematis garden and orchards. Wherever you are the castle is always a looming presence – whether behind formal layouts….


…or as a backdrop to pretty wildflower meadows. Doesn’t this look quintessentially English with its daisies and bright red poppies peering out from the long grass?


Even the cow parsley looks gorgeous rather than unruly especially when it’s set off with a mowed path down the centre with an orchard either side.


The bright yellow laburnum arch and purple alliums dancing at either side look stunning at this time of year…it was an irresistible photograph to take.


Did you ever read The Secret Garden as a child? Well, this door really reminded me of this book. Wouldn’t you have loved to find a hidden garden like Mary Lennox did in the story? I wonder what is behind this lovely old door.


As well as the gardens, the glasshouses have all been restored and house a fantastic array of plants including succulents and this impressive display of gourds.



Alongside the floral attractions and not forgetting some rather cute looking resident hens, there is also a wonderful cafe here. The Vine House Café is in a restored Victorian vinery where you can eat beneath the vines or in the courtyard.


The café serves mouth-watering cakes and gorgeous lunches including delicious salads. Mine contained strawberries and blueberries which I wouldn’t have thought of adding. I did try this at home afterwards, serving up a mixed salad with grapes and blueberries – it took a bit of convincing my brood that the fruit hadn’t got in there by accident – I have now moved over to the ‘anything goes’ mindset when putting together a salad thanks to my fruity salad encounter.


If you get a chance to visit, the garden is looking stunning at the moment with a blaze of colour in the borders; lovely wildflower meadows sprawling out beneath orchards of apple and pear trees as well as a plant centre offering plenty of inspiration to take home with you.






A wild end to the month

Good morning Monday! Good morning February! Looking out of the window today, I am not sure February is looking much different to January.


The weather has been extremely windy up here in North Yorkshire, causing havoc, not least in our own garden.

You may have read my post earlier last month about the boys’ den that Mr B had spent daylight into twilight hours erecting before Christmas. On Friday I looked out of the kitchen window and the den had blown across the garden with just two corners held together. A tremendous gust of wind must have ripped it up from its base. It took us completely by surprise as it hadn’t looked that windy outside.

Hopefully it will be salvageable with a few new pieces of wood but we will wait until the weather calms down before fixing it.

In the meantime here’s hoping the weather calms down in February and that Spring isn’t too far away….


Wishing you all a good week ahead!


Finding Joy in January: Flower power

Well, January is almost over and as the first month of the year goes, this one seems to have been particularly grey and wet.

With a lack of brilliance outside it’s always welcoming to bring some colour indoors to brighten a dull day.IMG_6310As soon as I see tulips in the shops I can’t resist bringing a bunch home.


And for a bit more longevity I also pick up some pots of early flowering narcissi which I put in a favourite vintage box. Flowers and plants can look good in the quirkiest of containers – old treacle tins, tea cups, rustic enamel – anything goes.

Some flower heads still look lovely even after they have died. I was given a bucketful of dried hydrangea heads a few months ago so I put a stem in an old bottle that I dug up while gardening when we first moved here. I have never managed to properly clean this bottle but that’s part of its charm.


The name printed on it is ‘Chas Rose & Co, Malton’. I researched the name and Chas Rose & Co was a Malton brewery dating back to 1767. Malton, our nearest town, as its name (malt) suggests, had several brewing industries with as many as nine in the town at one time. There is now a resurgent brewing industry in the town with several craft beer companies that have set up in and around Malton. The Beertown beer festival is running on April 21st-23rd 2016.

Back in Autumn, I planted some bulbs in pots outside, not expecting to see much sign of life until at least February, but as I am typing I have just noticed a little purple flower that has already opened. And out on a walk yesterday there were drifts of snowdrops in the hedgerows and little yellow aconites are injecting some much-needed colour into parts of our garden.

So, for some of us it looks like Spring is just around the corner….

Making a Christmas wreath

Here’s the wreath I have made for Christmas. It’s made from foliage gathered on a walk, pine cones from the garden and some oranges I dried. If you would like to make a similar one then read on for instructions….


First, gather all you need. I used a 14 inch wire wreath ring available from craft stores. I bought mine from Yorkshire Trading in Malton. You will also need some garden twine, available from any garden centre. Use one that is easy to twist and bend. Then gather your foliage. Pine is ideal as it is easy to work with and curves nicely around the ring.


The pine foliage needs to be cut to 20cm long stems. I used 10 stems but you can use more if you want a fuller wreath. Tie the stems together in pairs with the garden wire.


Then attach the double stems to the wreath ring. You might want to lay it out first so it is even all the way round.


Now the fun bit. You can add whatever you like – plain and simple or glitz and sparkle! I inserted some sprigs of rosemary (so whoever comes to the door will also be greeted with a lovely herby fragrance). I added pine cones, dried oranges and some artificial berries for extra colour. I had thought of putting a ribbon on it but it didn’t seem to need it in the end.


Finally, show off your festive creation to your nearest and dearest, hang it on your front door, stand back and admire….


The razzle dazzle of late summer

I love the zany flowers that are around at this time of year – dahlias, gladioli and zinnias. It’s almost as if the gaudiness of their colour is in defiance of the fading light of summer’s end. I was driving home the other day when some blooms for sale at The Wall at Coulton caught my eye. So I reversed, scooped up a bunch of zinnias, popped my coins in the honesty box and smiled at how much pleasure this pop of colour would bring.


I love the bold colours

All these flowers were a little unfashionable not so long ago. Dahlias have been enjoying a renaissance thanks to gardeners like Sarah Raven. We like growing them in our own garden as they are wonderful as cut flowers. But gladioli? I hadn’t really thought about growing these. But I think a huge vase of them would look stunning.


The Wall at Coulton – says all you need to know

The Garden Wall at Coulton really is a wall situated in a small village in the Vale of York where you can buy a fantastic range of seasonal fruit, vegetables and high quality and welfare meat as well as these lovely cottage flowers. It’s pretty unique as everything sold here is either grown or reared here. You can’t get more fresh or traceable than that.



A great choice of seasonal vegetables