Books on Printing

The word ‘Printing’ is a word from Middle English (1250-1300), denoting the impression made by a stamp or seal and deriving from Old French preinte ‘pressed’, feminine past participle of preindre, from Latin word premere meaning ‘to press’, thereby implying a process that uses pressure.

Printing is defined as the process for reproducing text and images using a master form or template. It started with wood block printing in China before 220 AD, the technique accelerating with the development of the Gutenberg Printing Press in 1450, resulting in the proliferation of books and great strides in communication and education.

I own a number of books on printing in my craft library, however, their content refers more to two specific types of printing:

Printmaking, the process of making artworks by printing; and

Textile Printing, the technique of applying surface pattern to fabric.

This post will focus on Printmaking, with subsequent posts featuring Textile Printing, followed by Textile Dyeing.

Printmaking

The process of making artworks by printing to create a series of impressions (edition) from an original or a specially prepared surface. Prints are created by transferring ink from a matrix or through a prepared screen to paper and textiles. Techniques include:

Relief Printing: Ink is applied to the original surface of the matrix, with any parts of the design not to be printed being cut away, leaving the image raised in relief eg woodcuts and wood blocks; wood engravings; linocut and metalcut;

Intaglio: Ink is applied beneath the original surface of the matrix, usually a metal plate, with the design incised or etched into the surface eg engraving and etching; mezzotint, aquatint and drypoint;

Planographic: The matrix retains its original surface, but is specially prepared and/or inked to allow transfer of the image eg lithography, monotyping and digital techniques; and

Stencil: The ink or paint is pressed through a prepared screen eg screenprinting and pochoir;

Collagraphy: Textured material is adhered to the printing matrix.

These processes are all explained very well in the following theoretical book:

The Encyclopedia of Printmaking Techniques: A Step-by-Step Visual Directory of Printmaking Techniques, Plus Practical Projects and an Inspirational Gallery of Finished Prints by Judy Martin 1993

After an introduction explaining the different techniques; the work environment; printing presses; inks and papers; and proofing and printing, the book explores each technique in detail from Monoprints (one-off impressions); Linocuts; Woodcuts; and Wood Engraving; to Screen Printing (and the use of stencils); Drypoint; Mezzotint; Aquatint; Etching; and Lithography.

Each chapter explains the tools and materials required; their maintenance and / or sharpening; planning the design and cutting the block; proofing and printing; and colour printing, as well as the specialised aspects of each technique, with step-by-step illustrations describing each part of the process.

The final section of the book focuses on design elements common to all artmaking, with the themes of:  Line and Tone; Graphic Impact; Pattern and Texture; Colour; Composition; Mood and Atmosphere; and Style and Content, with lots of photos of artworks produced by a wide variety of printing processes. It is an excellent book for explaining all the basics of print making.BlogPrintingBks4018-02-06 10.17.22I love art prints, but it is quite a specialized field and inevitably requires the purchase of a printing press, quite an expensive outlay requiring serious dedication to the craft. Fortunately, it is still possible to enjoy more simplified printing techniques, with relief printing being one of the easiest techniques to practice at home for the child or beginner, yet still being highly effective. The following swag of books focus on this simple form of printmaking:

Print Making: Practical Techniques for All Junior Printmakers by Elisabeth Harden 1995

A good starting point for children and adults alike!

After a brief look at materials (papers, tools and paints and inks), the book suggests printing mediums from :

Body Parts: Footprints ; Finger and Hand prints and Lip Prints;

Fruit and Vegetables:  Potato prints; Apples; and Broccoli;

Natural Objects: Leaves and Stems; Ferns; and Feathers;

Found Objects: Paper Doilies; Corrugated Cardboard; Collage Blocks; and Coiled String and Wire; and

Rubber Stamps and Cork Seals.

It also touches on: Printing with Bleach; Marbling; Stencilling; Using Photocopiers (to transfer images); Linocutting; Embossing; Rubbings; Etching; Silkscreen Printing and Fabric Printing.

It has lots of fun ideas for making prints cheaply and easily, with lots of suggestions for using these prints as well, including wrapping paper; paper bags and cardboard boxes; cards and envelopes; artworks; book covers; t-shirts, tea towels and cushions.BlogPrintingBks25%Image

Simple Printmaking: A Beginner’s Guide to Making Relief Prints with Linoleum Blocks, Wood Blocks, Rubber Stamps, Found Objects and More by Gwen Diehn 2000

This book has three main sections:

Developing a Design: How to Find Ideas; Doodles; Found Objects; Rubbings; Lettering; Nature Tracings; Photographs; Colour Tracings; Wood Grains; and Tips on Drawing.

Materials and Tools:

Printing Blocks: Wood; Linoleum; Erasers and Soft Rubber Sheets; and Cardboard;

Cutting Tools: Knives; Gouges; Veiners; Chisels; Mallets; Sharpening Stones; Bench Hooks and Clamps;

Printing Materials and Tools: Paper; Inks; Spatulas and Skin Papers; Brayers; Ink Slab or Tray; Barens and  Other Burnishing Tools; and Printing Presses;

Cleaning Supplies and Tools: Razor Scraper or Putty Knife; Rags; and Vegetable Oil.

Techniques:

Transferring a Design to the Block (Photocopy; Charcoal or Graphite; and Transfer Paper); Repairs to Blocks; Printing with Found Objects; Distressed Blocks; Negative and Positive Carving; Multiple Block Prints; Reduction Block Technique; Sawn Blocks; and Collagraphs.

Each section details materials and tools and the process, including different methods and variations, with step-by-step illustrations.

There are sidebars throughout the book with information on the history and traditions of printmaking, including famous printmakers, as well as gallery sections showcasing the work of other printmakers to inspire the imagination and display the potential of the medium.

There are also a number of printing projects with detailed instructions from cards, envelopes and wrapping paper; personalized labels and posters; and book covers  to  children’s books, calendars and jigsaws; paper bag lights, paper fans and lampshades; and materials and cushions.BlogPrintingBks3018-02-06 10.16.56Every learning style is different, with people responding very differently to different approaches, so I have included the next three books, as they all slightly differ in style and presentation.

Lotta Prints: How To Print With Anything, From Potatoes to Linoleum by Lotta Jansdotter 2008

Lotta is a Swedish designer, whose lovely prints adorn textiles, leather, shower curtains, bedding, tableware, gifts, stationery, ceramics and product packaging.

After an introduction including notes on inspiration; working environment; printing surfaces; printing materials; inks;  and preparation, she provides step-by-step instructions to a wide variety of techniques and projects, each discussed with the headings: What You Need; What to Do; Tips; and Inspiration.

These techniques and projects include:

Rubber Stamping: Wrapping paper and Ribbon; Labels; and Pant Hems;

Iron-On Transfer paper: Skirts and Shirts;

Leaf Printing: Curtains; Pillow Cases and Cushions;

Stencil Printing: Tote Bags; Runners; Walls; Umbrellas and Scarves;

Potato Printing: Skirt borders; Pillow Cases and Tea-Towels;

Lino Block Printing: Cards; Tags; and Wall Hangings;

Screen Printing: Contact paper/ Screen Filler and Photo Emulsion Methods: Table Linen and Aprons; bags; Ties and Socks;

The book finishes with a List of Websites and Books, as well as an Appendix of Lotta’s Stencils for use in her projects. The presentation is very modern with discrete, long, vertical, grey- coloured bands of text, which I found a little difficult to read, but which did nevertheless separate the different sections quite effectively.BlogPrintingBks4018-02-06 10.17.31Printed Pattern: A Guide to Printing by Hand From Potatoes to Silk Screens by Rebecca Drury and Yvonne Drury 2010

Written by the mother-daughter team behind MissPrint, English textile designers, Yvonne and Rebecca Drury (https://www.missprint.co.uk/), this book has a similar size and shape, contemporary feel and presentation and teaching technique, including seven of their own stencil designs for reader use and a list of suppliers in the back. However,  their style is different to Lotta’s Prints and they only show photos of potential products rather than providing step-by-step instructions to specific projects. They founded their company in 2005 and now produce printed wallpapers, fabrics, cushions, notebooks, lampshades and window films.

The first section of the book is devoted to:

Inspiration: Collating imagery; Composing Mood Boards and Making Sketchbooks; and Design Composition and Layout; and

Getting Started: Printing Surfaces; Basic Equipment; Materials; and  Inks and Colours.

The rest of the book discusses different types of relief and stencil printing techniques, under the general headings of: Materials List; Making Your Print; and Useful Tips, though some of the techniques have extra headings like: Preparing Your Stencil, Screen or Medium.

The techniques (with product samples) include:

Relief Printing:

Potato Prints: Bags and Table Mats;

Lino Printing: Book Covers and Pant Hems;

Rubber/ Eraser Printing: Ribbons, Labels and Tags; and

Vintage Woodblock Printing: Wrapping Paper and Blinds;  and

Stencil Printing:

Stencils: Lampshade, Wall Panel, Cushion and Bag;

Screen Printing: Stencil Method; Stencil Filler Method and Photo Emulsion Method:  Runners, Aprons and Upholstery Fabric.BlogPrintingBks4018-02-06 10.17.38Printing by Hand: A Modern Guide to Printing with Handmade Stamps, Stencils and Silk Screens by Lena Corwin 2008

My favourite book of the three, this lovely spiral bound book is divided into four main sections:

Getting Ready to Print:

Materials:

Printing Surfaces: Smooth and Textured Paper and Fabrics; Wood; and Sheetrock or Plaster Walls;

Inks and Paints: Liquid Ink; Ink pads; Acrylic Ink; Block-Printing Ink; Screen-Printing Ink; Spray Paint; and Latex Wall paint; as well as tips on thinning and thickening water-based inks; printing in more than one colour and achieving the desired colour;

Design: Sources of Ideas; Drawing; Transferring a Design; and Pattern Repeats; and

Printing Methods: Their optimal surfaces and artworks; and their surface and artwork restrictions.

Each method is then explored in detail with project suggestions and instructions including a Boxed List of Materials and the Headings: Have Stamp Made; Prepare Work Surface; Test Print; Print; and Clean Up. They focus on Stamping, Stencilling and Screen Printing:

Stamping:

Tools and Materials:

Custom Machine-Made Rubber Stamps; Acrylic Mounts; Foam Sheets; Rubber Blocks; Carving Tool; Soft-Lead Pencil; Bone Folder; and Inks.

Techniques:

Design Transfer; Carved Away vs. Built Up;  Making the Stamp; Mixing the Ink; and Stamping Tips for Printing.

Projects:

Custom Rubber Stamps: Stationery: Cards; Letter Paper and Envelopes; and Traveller Pouches;

Foam Stamps: Japanese Furoshiki Gift Wrap Material; and Notebook Covers;

Carved Rubber Block Stamps: Tablecloth and Napkins; and T-Shirt.

Stencilling:

Tools and Materials:

Freezer Paper (I save the wrapper from the large packets of A4 photocopying paper); Contact Paper; Mylar (polyester film); Hole Punch and Mallet; Scissors and Utility Knife; Soft-Lead Pencil and Bone Folder; Stencil Brush; Inks and Paints; and Spray Mount and Dry Mount.

Techniques:

Standard vs Reverse Stencils; Loading and Stippling; Making the Stencil; and Printing with Stencils.

Projects:

Freezer Paper Stencils: Chair Cushion Fabric; and Handkerchief;

Contact Paper Stencils: Dresser Fronts; and Linen Lampshade;

Mylar Stencils: Walls; and Canvas Tote Bags.

Screen Printing:

Tools and Materials:

Stencils (Paper; Drawing Fluid, Screen Filler Stencils and Photographic Emulsion Stencils); Silk Screen Frame; Mesh; Squeegee; Scraper; and Inks and Retarder.

Techniques:

Making Stencils; Setting Up the Screen -Printing Area; Taping a Screen; Screen Printing; Cleaning the Screen; Artwork for Screen Printing; Repeating Patterns; and Troubleshooting.

Projects:

Paper Stencils: Baby Quilt; and Dog Bed;

Drawing Fluid and Screen Filler Stencils: Artwork;  and Apron;

Photographic Emulsion Stencils: Sheet Set; and Upholstered Chair.

In the back of the book are lists for supply sources and recommended reading, including sources of copyright-free artwork and an envelope of project designs and patterns.BlogPrintingBks3018-02-06 10.17.05And finally, some very specific books on printing with natural materials and stamps and Screen Printing!

Hand Printing From Nature: Create Unique Prints for Fabric, Paper, and Other Surfaces Using Natural and Found Materials by Laura Bethmann 2011

While specifically using on natural objects to provide direct impressions of life, this book is similar to the last one in that it also offers plenty of projects to get you started! This ancient art form requires no special equipment or training , just an appreciation of different patterns and shapes, design and colour and textures. In this book, Laura discusses:

Materials:

Natural Objects: Including Vegetation: Leaves; Flowers; Fruits and Vegetables; Seeds; Feathers. She discusses their collection, transport, storage and record keeping, as well as Pressing Plants;

Pigments and Inks: Ink pads; Water-Soluble Block-Printing Inks; Mixing Mediums (Acrylic Retarder or Extender); Flat Sheet Palettes (Glass or Freezer Paper); Fabric Paints; Acrylic Paints; Pigment Applicators (Dabbers; Brayers and Brushes);

Paper: Art Paper; Paper Terminology; Other Printing Surfaces: Fabric, Wood, Terracotta, Ceramics and Walls; and

Other Supplies: Pigment Mixers; Tweezers; Cover Sheets; Watercolour and Coloured Pencils; Spray Finishes; Workable Fixatives; Acrylic Clear Coatings; Fabric and Upholstery Protectors; Pressing Tools; Printing Presses; and Hand Stitching Supplies (threads, needles, scissors, pins, markers, iron).

Printing Methods and Projects: Like the previous book, the author believes in Learning by Doing and provides plenty of practical projects to illustrate and develop direct printing techniques. She starts each description with a checklist of materials and general hints on the use of tools and mediums.

These include:

Printing with Ink Pads and Felt Markers: Personalized Stationery and Note Cards;

Printing with Ink on Paper with a Dabber or a Brayer: Nature Notebooks;

Indirect Printing with Ink: Coordinated Desk Set: Message Board; Lampshade; Tape Dispenser; Pencil Cup; Notecard Holder; and Receipt Box;

Printing with Paint or Ink on Fabric: Apple-Starred Hassock; and Shirt. She also discusses Design and Colour;

Single and Repeated Motifs: Printed-Pocket Tote Bags; Key Holder; Cushions, Pillowcases, Lampshades and Aprons; Boxes and Frames; Furniture: Chairs and Tables; and Ceramic Containers and Plates;

Creating Patterns and Printing Yardage: Shell Hamper; Curtains; Lampshades; Pot Holders; Sheets; Table Runners; Tablecloths and Napkins; Tables and Upholstered Chairs and Footstools; and

Printing Scenes: Wall Hangings; Covered Tin Holders; Screens; Cushions; Art Prints and Wall Murals.

She also has sections on Design and Colour Principles and Lists of Resources and Other References and a Bibliography in the back.BlogPrintingBks4018-02-06 10.16.38Making an Impression: Designing and Creating Artful Stamps by Genine D. Zlatkis 2012

Genina is a wonderful artist, as can be seen if you follow her blog at: http://blogdelanine.blogspot.com.au/. She is also a Stamping Maestro, designing and hand-carving some highly original and delightful stamps. This book shows you how!

She starts with Stamping Basics:

Sources of Design Ideas: Nature; Books; and Internet. She also provides a number of design motifs and project templates in the back of the book.

Tools and Materials:

Rubber Carving Blocks;

Transfer Materials: Tracing paper; Soft-Lead Pencil; and a Bone Folder or Small Spoon;

Cutting and Carving Tools: Paper Scissors; Craft Knife; Lino Tools (Nos. 1, 2 and 5 cutters);

Inks: Pigment Ink Pads for Paper; and  Textile Ink Pads for cloth;

Printing Surfaces: Paper; Fabric; and Painted Surfaces; and

Other Tools and Materials: PVA Glue; Sewing Machine; Embroidery Threads; Beads and Charms; and Cording.

Techniques:

Transferring the Design;  and Cutting the Block.

Design:

Texture; Repetition; Positive and Negative Space; Pattern and Rhythm; Composition; Colour; and Hand Embroidery Stitches.

The majority of the book is devoted to Projects and Ideas for

Stamping on Paper: Eraser Stamps; Gift Tags; Stationery (Letter Paper and Envelopes); Bookplates; Wrapping Paper; Photo Frames; Journals and Book Covers; Postcards and Embroidered Cards; and Heart Wall Art and Posters.

Stamping on Fabric: Embroidered Bags; Coffee Cosies; Beaded Bird Brooches; and  T-shirts and Cushions;

Stamping on Other Surfaces: Clay Lids for Trinket Boxes; Terracotta Pots; Stones; and Wall Borders.

I love her style and this book makes you want to go straight out and start stamping!BlogPrintingBks3018-02-06 10.16.48 The final book also features stamping, as well as stencilling and screenprinting.

Prints Charming: 40 Simple Sewing and Hand-Printing Projects for the Home and Family by Cath Derksema and Kirsten Junor 2010

Another lovely book with a very similar size, spiral binding and straight-forward presentation to Printing by Hand, reviewed three books ago, though a much more restricted subject matter (screen printing) and an emphasis on 40 printing projects. By rights, it could also fit equally well into my next post on textile printing, since most of the projects involve fabric, but I have included it here, because of the similarities already mentioned and because it concerns a specific type of printing and lastly, as a taster and introduction for the next post!

The first section covers the Basics of Sewing and Quilting, including an Equipment List and  a Stitch Guide; and Screen Printing, including a Step-by-Step Guide to Printing; Printing Stripes; and Printing Two Colours and Overprinting.

The majority of the book covers Projects for each room of the house with an introductory page, featuring the projects for each area and a key motif, and pattern sheets in the back:

Nursery: Heart: Cot Quilt; Embroidered Heart Cushion and Mobile; Curtains and Laundry Bag.

Girl’s Room: Bird & Flower: Kimono; Hexagon Cushion; Star Quilt; Treasure Pockets; Book Covers; Bird and Brooches;

Boy’s Room: Star: Singlet; Cushion; Sheet Set; Quilt; and Pinboard

Adult’s Room: Bindi: Bedhead; Quilt; Cushions and Lampshade; Kimono and Scarf;

Living Room: Paisley: Patchwork Throw and Cushion; Footstool; and Artwork;

Kitchen: Candelabra: Tea Towels; Apron; Tablecloth; Napkins and Placemats; and Tea Cosy;  and

Outdoors: Mixed: Beach Bag; Shorts; Sun Shirt; Sun Dress; Umbrella Bunting; and Picnic Rug.

I loved this book, because it combines printing with embroidery and sewing to create highly original and beautiful functional pieces.BlogPrintingBks3018-02-06 10.17.14

I shall be exploring further books, combining all these areas in my next craft book post on Textile Printing Books, but next week, I am introducing you to our Tea Garden.

The Autumn Garden

It has been a beautiful Autumn with good rain early in March; a superb display of colour with the deciduous foliage from April to late May and long-lasting zinnias, dahlias and salvias, as well as a repeat-flush of roses; and lots of gardening activities, creative pursuits and local exploratory trips!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-17 11.35.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.44.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 14.34.52BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1019BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-28 11.58.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-10 12.50.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.30Autumn vies with Spring in my affections. The weather is much more stable, though is tempered by the knowledge of the impending Winter, only to be assuaged by the parade of brilliant deciduous colour, as each tree prepares for its Winter dormancy.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.08.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.51BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.01.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.52.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.59.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-20 16.12.47 The verandah is such a vantage point, the backdrop changing daily.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 17.16.16BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.23.52BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.37.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-26 18.02.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 09.47.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.25.17BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.59.23The zinnias and dahlias lasted well into late May, having been touched up by a few early frosts, and Ross has finally put them to bed with a good layer of protective mulch.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0199BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 11.06.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 18.53.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-25 11.50.02The roses have taken centre stage again with a wonderful Autumn flush. These photos were all taken this Autumn. I have organised them into their separate beds:

Soho Bed:

Top Row: Left to Right: Just Joey; Fair Bianca; LD Braithwaite and Alnwyck.

Bottom Row: Left to Right: The Childrens’ Rose; Mr Lincoln; Eglantyne and Icegirl.

Moon Bed

Top Row: Left to Right: Golden Celebration; Heritage; Windermere; William Morris

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Lucetta; Jude the Obscure; William Morris; and Troilus

Main Pergola

Top Row: Left to Right: Mme Alfred Carrière and Adam

Bottom Row: Left to Right: an older Adam bloom and Souvenir de la Malmaison

Hybrid Musk Hedge : Left-hand side : White Roses

Top Row: Left to Right: Autumn Delight and Penelope

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Penelope and Tea rose Sombreuil on arch.

Right-hand Side: Pink Roses

Left to Right: Cornelia on arch; Stanwell Perpetual and Mutabilis

Rugosa Hedge

Left to Right: Fru Dagmar Hastrup and Mme Georges Bruant

House

Left to Right: Cécile Brünner first two roses and Mrs Herbert Stevens

Shed

Top Row: Left to Right: Viridiflora and Archiduc Joseph

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Archiduc Joseph and Countess Bertha

I have organised the rest of the garden blooms by colour:

Blue :

Top Row: Left to Right: Wild Petunia, Ruellia humilis; Violet; Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Poor Man’s Lavender Plectranthus neochilus; Plumbago; and Hydrangea

Green :

Top Row: Left to Right: Tree Dahlia buds and Elkhorn Fern

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia new bud and Bells of Ireland, Molucella

Orange, Gold and Yellow :

Top Row: Left to Right: Paris Daisy with Salvia, Indigo Spires; Woodbine; and Paris Daisy

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Hill Banksia, Banksia collina; slightly older bud of Rosebud Salvia; and Orange Canna Lily

Pink :

Top Row: Left to Right: Fuchsia; Salvia; Christmas Pride, Ruellia macrantha;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia, Salvia involucrata; Christmas Pride; Pink ‘Doris’

Red :

Top Row: Left to Right: Grevilleas Lady O and Fireworks; and Salvia ‘Lipstick’

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Grevillea Lady O; Echeveria and Azalea Dogwood Red

Purple :

Top Row: Left to Right: Mexican Heather, Cuphea hyssopifolia; Cigar Flower, Cuphea ignea

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Dames’ Rocket, Hesperis matronalis, and Violet

White :

Top Row: Left to Right: Nerines; Honeysuckle; Strawberry flowers and first of the Paper White Ziva jonquils for the season!

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Autumn Crocus; Windflower; Tea, Camellia sinensis; and Viburnum opulus – an out-of-season bloom.

We have been very busy and productive in the garden, gradually crossing jobs off the list! Weeding is a constant in the Soho and Moon Beds, as well as around the feet of all the shrub roses and bulb patches.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 13.25.16 We have just dug up either side of the shed garden path, so the shed roses are now in garden beds and we planted out many of the potted cuttings, which we took from my sister’s garden at Glenrock. All are doing well!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1186BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1237We also made two arches out of old gate weld mesh, one leading into the future chook yard and supporting Cornelia (photo 2) and Sombreuil (photo 3);BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 18.04.14BlogHybridMusksReszd2016-11-10 09.19.26BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0877 and the other on the corner of the shed, with Reve d’Or (photo 3) and Alister Stella Grey (photo 4) either side.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 15.33.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.27.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 18.58.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.13.31 Ross defined the edges of the vegetable beds with old recycled fence palings and planted out young vegetable seedlings, which he then mulched. We are really enjoying their Winter crop in our salads at lunchtime.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0277BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0274From front to back in the photos below: red and green mignonette lettuce; spring onions; broccoli; spinach; cos lettuce and kale. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.07.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 19.24.20 We harvested the pumpkins, which again engulfed the compost heap, zinnia bed and maple tree, as well as the last of the tomatoes, making 3 bottles of green tomato chutney.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.43.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-05 11.44.26 We also have plenty of late Autumn fruit, now that the bats have gone, though I suspect our citrus is fairly safe anyway!  Unfortunately, the figs did not ripen in time, but the Golden Hornet crabapples have lasted well on the tree.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0879BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.15.23 All the new citrus are growing madly  and bearing fruit – the lime (photo 1) has a particularly fine crop and the lemonade (photo 2) is also bearing well.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 18.09.05BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.33.13 The cumquats have been an absolute picture, both in full blossom and fruit.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0773BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0774BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0778BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.12.41We picked 6 Kg of fruit to make into cumquat marmalade and there was still fruit left!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.35BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.48The loquat trees were in full bloom for weeks,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1241 attracting huge noisy parties of rainbow lorikeets,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 10.54.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-28 14.30.57 which then went on to eat the Duranta berries, along with the Crimson RosellasBlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.34.29 and huge flocks of King Parrots.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.57.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.04BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.30.07BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.28.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.01.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.59.33 Up until early May, we had even larger flocks of screeching Little Corellas in the thousands, gathering in the trees, recently vacated by the bats,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0518BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0642 then flying off en masse right on dark to their roosting trees to the north,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 08.51.21-2BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-03 19.44.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 19.54.50BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1253 occasionally accompanied by the odd Galah!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.46.46BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0807 We have enjoyed flyovers by the local Gang-Gangs (photos below) and Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos. We even had a rare flypass by a Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, en route to the local mountain forests. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.08.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.20.25Other exciting glimpses included three Dollar Birds (photos 1 and 2) and a Figbird (photo 3), both Summer migrants, normally found further north.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0116BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0090BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.16.41 Other larger birds in our garden at the moment include very quiet Australian Magpies (photo 6), a pair of courting Australian Ravens (photo 2), a Grey Butcherbird (photo 3), Pied Currawongs (photo 5), Spotted Turtle Doves (photo 4) and our Blackbirds (photo 1), which have been on holiday and have just returned.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.40.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-04 14.53.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 12.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-13 17.29.54BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 14.37.25BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 17.46.44 And our littlies: the Eastern Spinebills (photos 1 and 2), Silvereyes (photo 3) and Double-barred Finches (photo 4).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 11.54.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 14.54.51BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0707BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0319 all of whom do a stirling job keeping the bugs in check.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.48.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.07.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.30.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-06 12.11.05We found this delightful Grey Fantail nest in our old camellia tree at the front door.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 14.54.13The slightly cooler weather has been wonderful for pursuing creative tasks from cooking to sewing, embroidery and paper crafts. I made my son a delicious carrot cake, using a recipe from https://chefkresorecipes.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/carrot-cake/ for his birthday:BlogAutumngardenReszd7517-04-25 17.56.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-25 15.00.36 and hot cross buns for Easter Friday, using a recipe from https://bitesizebakehouse.com/2017/04/08/cranberry-hot-cross-buns-2/ , with a fun Easter Egg hunt in the garden with friends on the Sunday.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-12 13.33.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 12.09.54 My friend Heather, who visited us during the Candelo Arts Festival and is the Melbourne agent for Saori (http://artweaverstudio.com.au/), gave us a Saori weaving workshop and we were thrilled with our woven runners.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 14.27.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 15.36.30BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 16.16.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 10.56.10 I gave my friends Rae, Brooklin and Kirsten, a hand embroidery lesson, inspiring Rae’s wonderful exhibit. I was so impressed!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0441BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.19.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.23.44 I made embroidery rolls for their birthdays,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0510BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0516BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0845BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0505 as well as a pair of felt appliqué cushions for my sister’s bed.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-06 17.44.17 And another decoupage floral card and a paper owl, assembled from a German kit, which was given to me by my daughter in Berlin.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0499BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1220BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1221And finally, there were the bouquets from the garden! Masses of colourful zinnias…BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0037BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-29 20.26.32BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.12.28 and bright dahlias;BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0226BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1148 Scented roses;BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.32BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0888BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.26.09BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.58

Simple blue salvias and bold hydrangeas;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 10.20.45BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0264BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0261 And wonderful mixtures of colourful blooms!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 18.58.02BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.49.40BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0021BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 12.16.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.49.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.50.00 How I love arranging flowers!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 14.11.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.07.18BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0003And finally, we had some wonderful days out, exploring new spots and revisiting old haunts. The Bendethera day in March was rather inclement and while we could not reach our final destination due to the amount of water in the final creek, we did ascertain that our vehicle could manage the 4WD tracks for a future camping trip and despite the rain and constant cloud, it was still a lovely day out.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1007BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0985BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0995BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0998BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0948BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0952 We had much better April weather for our Monaro drive to Delegate, Jindabyne (including the wonderful Wildbrumby Scnapps Distillery in photo 2) and Thredbo (the Kosciuszko chair lift in photo 3) and discovered a wonderful birdwatching and trout fishing  venue, Black Lake, near Cathcart, on our way home (photo 5), where we saw six elegant Black-Winged Stilts (photo 6).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 11.21.45BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 12.59.21BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 13.28.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 15.11.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.14.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.48.57 We introduced friends to Bay Cliff and Greenglades (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/12/13/wonderful-wonboyn/) in late April (see if you can guess the tracks on the beach in photo 7!); BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 15.15.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 13.45.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.50.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.12.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.55.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.09.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.10.41 and Aragunnu (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/11/aragunnu-and-bunga-head/) in May, two of our favourite spots on the coast;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.37.22BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.40.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 16.05.58BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 15.28.36BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 13.43.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 17.30.24as well as revisiting Nunnock Swamp and Alexander’s Hut (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/10/18/south-east-forests-national-park/).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.15.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 13.16.33BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.21.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.23.20BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.15.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.52.27And we went canoeing on Back Lake at Merimbula, where we photographed a beautiful Azure Kingfisher, as well as a teenage cygnet and white egrets.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.40.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.09.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.49.59BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.26.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.20.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.39.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.01.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.56.10 We are so lucky to have such easy access to these beautiful unspoilt natural areas! Next week, I am returning to our dreamy roses!

The Festive Season

Seasons Greetings! We hope you all had a wonderful relaxing Christmas and are now gearing up for New Year. We had a lovely first Christmas here in Candelo with perfect weather in the mid-twenties.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 10.21.17 My daughter was up early and not because she couldn’t wait! She has been babysitting our neighbour’s beautiful black Labradors and they were very impatient for the day to begin! Caro took the following photos:

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Photogenic Dougal in Black-and-White
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Everything a girl could want: a guitar, computer, mobile phone and a friend staying over!
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Dougal and Jamie with their Christmas toys
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Do you have to go up for Christmas?

We started the day in a very civilized fashion with delicious fruit, sourdough toast and lime marmalade and tea before sitting down to open our gifts.

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Christmas 2015
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The youngest always distributes the presents!
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A reminder of Caro’s field study on moulting Fairy Penguins
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Christmas breakfast

My daughter has rediscovered water colour painting and has been busy this past week making beautiful cards for all her family and friends.

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Watercolour cards for Christmas
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A kookaburra for Ross and a hedgehog for me
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More cute watercolour cards
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A Christmas card for sister Jen and her boyfriend
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The fox and the butterfly

We organized Christmas lunch, then I popped down to the neighbour’s house for a Christmas photo shoot with the dogs! They are such characters!! It was quite a saga getting them to wear their antlers at the same time and long enough to be photographed!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 13.25.10BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 13.23.51BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 13.28.17I love Dougal’s eyes! He is such a handsome fellow, but a bit of a rogue!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 13.28.41BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 13.29.08Caro has a real soft spot for Jamie!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 13.26.44Lunch was delicious! Roast turkey with fig, orange and cranberry stuffing, ham, roast potatoes, roast pumpkin with rosemary, little onions roasted in thyme and balsalmic vinegar, green beans and a delicious home-grown, red cabbage dish. We crashed for a much-needed sleep, forgetting that we had left the pudding on to boil! Luckily, Ross topped up the water and even though it boiled for an extra hour than it should have, it didn’t affect it and I think it was the best Christmas Pudding ever! Thank you Syd for the tip about Gladwrap – a perfect seal (see my late November post: Christmas Pudding Wishes : https://candeloblooms.com/2015/11/26/christmas-pudding-wishes/) . We were also very impressed with the Christmas Cake this year- lovely and moist and not burnt for once!!!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 15.21.47BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 17.42.47BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 17.40.09The festive season has also definitely begun in the bird world! The Little Corellas (white) and Pink Galahs are loving the ripe Duranta berries.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-20 10.13.25BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 20.27.54BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-20 10.07.44BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 20.28.02Some of their more rogueish elements have also started on the plums and apples!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-19 20.59.37BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-20 10.08.24BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-20 10.13.59I am always amazed at the pink plumage of Galahs and Little Corellas are such endearing clowns with their blue eye patches and engaging antics!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 20.27.20BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 20.28.28BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-20 10.08.51We are still treated nightly to their aerial manouevres and mass flock spectacles, occasionally livened up with a blur of pink from the galahs joining in!

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A blur of pink!
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Mixed flock of Little Corellas with the odd Galah!
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The density of the flocks always amazes me!
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A tree decked in pink!
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Night-time companions

It is lovely having the Eastern Spinebills back in the garden and the verandah is an ideal spot to watch them sucking the nectar from the agapanthus.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-24 12.37.58The latter are now in full bloom and absolutely stunning!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 13.35.37BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 18.29.53BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 19.03.26BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 18.30.44The hydrangeas are forming giant flower heads of soft mauve, blue and pink.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 19.06.29BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 19.06.22BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 20.10.44BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 19.06.41We were thrilled to discover a Blue-banded Bee (Amegilla cingulata) in the Soho Bed. ‘Cingulata’ comes from the Latin ‘Cingulum’ (belt), referring to the bands. Apparently, the males have 5 stripes and the females 4 stripes on their abdomen. These beautiful Australian native bees are quite solitary, unlike their Honey Bee cousins. The males cling to the plant stems overnight, while the females live in burrows in the soil or soft stone and have a limited foraging range within 300 m of their nest, so they must be resident in the garden! Perhaps they nest in between the old bricks of the Soho Bed path. Apparently, they love blue flowers, so they should feel very at home in our garden with all the lavender, blue salvia, agapanthus and hydrangeas! Photo 1 shows a Blue-banded Bee on a Lavender stalk. The 2nd photo is a close-up, in case you could not find it! BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-21 11.58.47BlogFestiveSeason30%Reszd2015-12-21 11.58.47 (2)Here is a Honey Bee on a rose leaf.

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The Soho Bed is the home of the Blue-banded Bee.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-21 11.28.50Perhaps, the female has her nest in between the old bricks of the path, shown in Photo 5, with the Pink Verbena.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 19.59.52The insect world and its ingenious defensive mechanisms and camouflage never ceases to amaze me! If I was a bird, I wouldn’t want to eat this spiky spider with its yellow dots.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-19 16.12.49 Nor this spider with the scary face on its bottom!!! BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-19 16.44.26This spiky furry caterpillar would be quite a mouthful! (Caro’s photo)BlogFestiveSeason70%Reszd2015-12-20 06.38.27

I love all their patterns and dots.BlogFestiveSeason40%Reszd2015-12-19 16.36.19 (2)BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 11.11.19BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-21 11.55.48BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-21 10.51.59BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 18.30.22We felt pretty special finding this Christmas Beetle down in the vegie garden on Christmas Day.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 18.27.23Another very exciting discovery on the day after Boxing Day was the opening of the sunflower blooms, all ready for the New Year!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 20.05.37BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 11.10.42BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 11.11.04The pumpkin flowers are prolific and their parent plants and the zucchini plants continue their relentless march across the garden, consuming everything in their path!

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A pumpkin flower
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Heading for the Moon (Bed)!
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Pumpkin Attack!

I love all the warm colours in the garden too : the Dahlias, the Red Hot Pokers, the Calla Lily seeds and all the ripening fruit and vegies.

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Bright sunny Dahlias
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Our very own Red Hot Poker
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Calla Lily seeds
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A tiny pumpkin forming!
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Golden Heritage Cherry tomatoes
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Tom Thumb cherry tomatoes
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Rouge de Marmande tomatoes
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Within the day, the above tomatoes had turned red!
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Parrot delight!
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Purple plums
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Almost ripe!
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Maybe this is a Golden Hornet Crab Apple after all!

For Christmas, we decided to buy the hardwood posts and cross-beams for the Main Pergola. The steel posts in Photo 1 show the position of the uprights. Adam (Photo 2) and the other climbing roses are growing so quickly, they urgently need support.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-21 12.01.13BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 20.07.12Here are the other beautiful blooms this week: In order, Penelope; Blanc Double de Coubert; Troilus; Eglantyne; The Children’s Rose and LD Braithwaite.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 11.08.50BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 13.21.09BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 18.29.36BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 19.59.14BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 19.59.20BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 19.59.28And my Christmas vases: Agapanthus; Orange Calendula and Blue Cornflowers; LD Braithwaite (red), Eglantyne (pale pink), Children’s Rose (globular pink), Feverfew and Catmint; A vase of Troilus with Buddleia, white and purple Stock, Feverfew, Catmint and Blue Salvia complements the beautiful Simplicity calendar, which our son gave us; Close-up of the same vase; Stunning red dahlias and finally, cheery orange dahlias for Christmas!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 11.06.19BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 10.04.11BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 11.24.29BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 11.33.37BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 11.35.11BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 10.05.48BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 10.06.44Finally, some photos of our beautiful Full Moon over Christmas. If you look at the 4th photo carefully, it looks like there is a 2nd very faint moon above the real moon! I loved the cloud effects! The last photo was taken on the full zoom of the camera, but has not been further enlarged. It is an amazing little camera and really comes into its own with long-distance shots!!!BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 22.13.13BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 22.10.36BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 22.11.16BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 20.04.57BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 22.15.08BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 22.17.40

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Christmas!

Christmas has always been a very special time in our house, especially the lead up in the month beforehand, with all the food preparation, gift making and present wrapping!

I have already written posts about :

  • Desserts for Pre-Christmas work parties : The Sweet Spot (October)
  • Christmas Cake and Pudding (November)
  • Christmas Drinks and Nibbles (December)

I much prefer to think about Christmas gifts well in advance, so there is no panic closer to the day, when the shops get so busy and crowded and choosing gifts becomes very stressful!!! If time allows, it is a wonderful opportunity to use all those craft skills and, at the same time, make so many people very happy! Home-made presents are THE BEST and are appreciated long after their store-bought equivalents. The recipient not only appreciates the originality and sometimes quirkiness of your gift, but also the talent and skill involved and the sheer amount of time devoted to their production, while thinking about their recipient during the whole process! My family adore my embroidered cushion covers and I get much joy out of planning and executing their design, as well as admiring the finished product, and then seeing the joy and love they bring to their recipient!

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I made this cute Christmas bag for my daughter from a pattern in ‘Scandinavian Stitches‘ by Kajsa Wikman. See her blog on : http://syko.typepad.com/.

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I embroidered this cushion cover with rainforest birds for my husband’s birthday this year.BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-29 16.34.36A Christmas tablemat for 2000!

I have loved all my children’s home-made gifts over the years and our house and lives have been enriched by all their wonderful creations! It is also a great way for children to develop their creative skills. Here are some great books with gift ideas :

‘The Good Gift Guide : Creative Gift Giving For All Occasions’ by Alison Pearl

‘The Good Gift Book : Ideal Presents For Every Occasion’ by Judy Hubbard

‘A Touch of Christmas : Easy To Make Stockings and Gifts’ by Pamela Allardice

‘Christmas Treats To Make and Give’ by Linda Collister

‘Homemade’ by Kay Fairfax

‘Creating Gourmet Gifts’ by Barbara Beckett

‘Aromatic Gifts : Scented Ideas From Kitchen and Garden’ by Stephanie Donaldson        and

‘Beautiful Homemade Presents’ by Juliet Bawden.

Gifts can be more intangible too : a massage, a song, a performance, an IOU promise. My daughters made this hand-painted Monopoly board and these delightful wooden coasters for past Christmas gifts. A friend made this delicious Christmas cookie decoration one year.BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 15.25.37BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 15.12.40BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.32.04I really enjoy making Christmas cards and Advent Calendars in late November, the latter to be opened from the 1st December on. The last few years, I have used folded blank card, stamps and ink pads to create much more personal (and far cheaper) cards! Alas, this year, because I worked right up until the last week, I had to resort to using commercial Christmas cards!

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There are so many different patterns for advent calendars from felt pockets with little treasures and sweets to this wonderful paper pocket Christmas Tree, which I made for our 2013 Christmas. Each pocket held a small gift or a rhyming clue to a treasure hunt for larger items, which could not fit in the pocket. The pattern came from ‘Folded Secrets : Paper Folding Projects: Book 4’ by Ruth Smith and is based on the old Chinese Needle Thread Pockets. You can order all 4 books from the author by emailing her at : eruthsmith@btinternet.com. For a quick view of them, see : http://purplemissus.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/happy-families.html

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It is also fun making Christmas decorations throughout December, then finally decorating the Christmas tree in the last 2 weeks! Some people do it in early December, especially if they own an artificial tree, but I much prefer fresh trees, which do not last the whole month well.

I love the scent and colour of traditional fir trees, which are often sold on the side of the road in the weeks up until Christmas. After the 1967 Tasmanian bush fires, which devastated the native forests, my parents planted a large number of these quick-growing evergreens along the fence line of our property, only to spend every future Christmas chasing off would-be Christmas Tree thieves as the trees grew to maturity!!!

For the last few years in the city, we bought our trees from the same supplier, who harvested them from their country property then sold them in their suburban driveway. We’d select a small, well-balanced tree, then place it in a tub of water within an old rusty family cream can (from dairying days), decorated with Christmas wrapping paper and a large red bow. I love this old photo from the early 1900s of my husband’s grandparents’ Christmas tree with all the toy animals underneath.BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-29 16.33.46Back in the country, we would cut our own tree – maybe a feral cypress or a native she-oak (Casuarina) or even a gum tree (Eucalyptus). This year, we had hoped to purchase a Wollemi Pine in a pot, which we would keep outside during the year, then bring inside for Christmas until it grew too large. Wollemi pines are incredibly ancient and very special, as they were thought to be extinct until a small stand was discovered in 1994. See : http://www.wollemipine.com.

Alas, they were too exorbitant for us this year at $ 169 for a 150mm pot ( plus $14 for shipping and handling). I know we would probably recuperate the price after 3 to 5 years of buying ordinary cut Christmas trees, but you would have to be certain that the plant survived!!! Maybe when we’re rich and famous…!!! For those with disposable income, see : http://www.wollemipine.com/order.php

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It is always such fun decorating the Christmas tree with friends and family with all the old Christmas favourites, as well as a new purchase/ creation each year. After the baubles and ornaments, we drape the tree with tinsel, then last of all, the Christmas lights – so magical!!! Here are some photos of hand-made Christmas decorations: a simple, bright felt star for my eldest daughter’s first Christmas tree of her own; Christmas angels being made by my daughters : I made the middle angel, Caro the blonde angel and Jen, the angel with the dreadlocks!; I also made a beaded/ sequined and embroidered Christmas angel and pear one year.BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 004BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.48 - CopyBloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-13 14.31.53BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-13 14.34.34We were a bit late putting up our ‘tree’ this year, but it was just as well as the weekend before Christmas we experienced 40 degree days! We now live on a corner block fringed with very old Cypress trees, so we cut 5 branches, which were extending into the lane way, then bound them together and put them in the old family cream can. I think it looks great and it’s hard to detect that it is not a complete tree! My daughter made a beautiful wreath with the trimmed branches as well (bottom photo).BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-19 20.26.16BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-19 21.38.59BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-19 19.28.22BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-19 18.26.23And finally, Christmas Eve has arrived! When we lived in the ‘Big Smoke’, we always use to enjoy making a special visit into the city to see the Christmas decorations.

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I loved the illumination of the Geelong Town Hall last year.BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2014-12-18 22.19.05And on the night of Christmas Eve, it was always worth doing the rounds of the neighbourhood to view all those outrageous Christmas decorations and lights. Some streets specialize in it!!!BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-24 22.51.01BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-24 22.22.36There were even still a few here in country Candelo! While the 3rd photo took the prize for effect, I must admit that I much prefer the simpler more discrete ones like the hammock shot (4th photo). Someone had even draped a large fir tee in their front yard with lights, which changed from green-and-blue to red-and-gold (5th and 6th photo)! A local farmer tied a big red bow round each of his fence posts, which looked really effective, though perhaps not so good at night-time! (1st and 2nd photo)BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-24 11.46.22BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-24 11.46.10BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-21 22.52.22BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-21 22.42.27BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-21 22.44.14BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-21 22.44.05It is always fun seeing everyone get into the Christmas spirit, including our old postman last year! We had a hilarious Christmas Eve a few years ago, when we came across a long line of ‘Father Christmases’,  university students on their way to the pub, who then very good-naturedly, carjacked us for a lift to said hotel!!! I think my daughter thought all her Christmases had come at once! We caught up to their companions and dropped them off, little realizing that one of them had lost his mobile phone in our car! Two suburbs later, we received a very sheepish phone call, asking us very politely if we would mind dropping their phone round to the hotel! So funny, though it did highlight how quickly a car can be hijacked!!!

BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-24 10.20.48BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-24 22.18.59This year here in Candelo, we were hijacked in a different fashion! I saw 3 Santas walking up the hill, only to have a large group of them materialize on our doorstep to sing us Christmas Carols, then we were bundled up and absorbed into the group, as we wended our way back up the hill to accost other suitable benefactors! My daughter grabbed her Santa hat and reindeer antlers, which she had bought for my neighbour’s handsome black labradors, whom she was to babysit over Christmas, but unfortunately not her camera, otherwise you would have had some classic shots of me in her  antlers with multicoloured flashing lights. It took me a while to realize that the faint Christmas jingle I kept hearing was also actually coming from  those same antlers!!! It probably would have been a bit dark for a decent photo anyway. We found it increasingly difficult to read the words by candlelight, so ‘Deck the Halls’ was very dodgy and thin in the verse singing, but voices swelled considerably in the ‘Fa-La-La, Fa-La-La, Fa-La-La’ chorus! We finished at the local bakery, where we were kindly given a fresh, warm sourdough loaf straight out of the oven and a lovely moist Christmas Cake, which we quickly wolfed down with French Champagne and tea back at my neighbour’s house. It was such a fun night and a great way to meet all the locals!

Father Christmas certainly gets around, as can be seen by these eye witness accounts on our drives to visit family interstate over the Christmas period!BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 013BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 043BloghappyXmas40%Reszddec 2010 073BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 072BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 071BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2014-12-14 08.13.18He is such a busy fellow and must get so exhausted with all his travels! We have a family tradition of writing Father Christmas notes to attach to our stockings. He would then have to reply in the wee wee hours of the morning in an increasingly illegible scrawl! Funny how he always knew what had transpired during the year! When the kids were little, we always used to visit him in the shopping mall, resulting in a wonderful family photographic record of the childhood years.

Every Christmas Eve, we would leave him a slice of Christmas, a beer and a carrot for his reindeer and in the morning, we would discover cake crumbs, the bottle drained and little bite-sized bits of carrot all over the garden.

The kids would be up so early on Christmas morning, excitedly opening their Christmas stockings or, in later years, sacks! After the stocking opening and a much-needed cup of tea, we took it in turns to open the gifts, which had accumulated under the tree in the previous 2 weeks and had suddenly swelled in number dramatically overnight. The youngest often had the job of finding each person’s gift, while Mum (usually) kept a note of ‘who gave what’ for later thank you correspondence.

After the last gift had been opened, the kids all gathered around the open window to yell at the top of their voices ‘Thank You Very Much, Father Christmas!’, a tradition carried through from my childhood!

Because everyone tends to nibble stocking fruit and sweets and are a bit exhausted by this stage, we often have a rest till mid-afternoon, then prepare for Christmas Dinner : a roast turkey with stuffing, a clove-studded ham, roast vegetables and the finale, the flaming Christmas Pudding! One year, when we had just moved over into a cottage built to lockup with no electricity, water or stove, the thought of preparing the traditional Christmas dinner overwhelmed me and it was so wonderful when my ‘kids’ (late teens by this stage) took over and bought 2 barbecued chickens and boiled up vegies over the camping gas stove – the most relaxing Christmas dinner we have ever had!BloghappyXmas40%ReszdIMG_9113BloghappyXmas40%Reszddecember2011 200

I love setting the Christmas table and organizing the flowers ! For a few years, we even made our own Christmas Crackers, complete with corny jokes!!! We will miss our dear Scampie this year!BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-25 11.00.35BloghappyXmas20%ReszdJens Xmas 2013 055

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Our old dog Scamp used to love Christmas!

I will leave you with a few photos of our iconic native flora and fauna. Happy Christmas and All our Best Wishes for a Wonderful 2016!!!

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A koala sitting in an old gum tree!
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Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
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Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo
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A pair of Pink Galahs
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A Pretty-faced Wallaby browsing a friend’s Bauhinias
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Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius)
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Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum)
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Rainbow Lorikeets at home for Christmas!
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Oliver, our resident King Parrot, also at home for Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer’s Here!

I love the start of Summer! The warmer temperatures before it becomes too hot; the longer daylight hours, so you can still garden at the end of the day after work; the excitement of watching the fruit develop and ripen; and the amazing colours in the garden!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-26 16.40.36BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-26 16.40.27BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-26 16.41.26BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-26 16.41.36Roses love Summer too! Here are photos of the roses blooming this week :

In the Soho Bed :

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Lolita
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Mr Lincoln
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Fair Bianca
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Alnwick

In the Moon Bed :

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Windermere
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Golden Celebration
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Heritage
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William Morris

By the shed :

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Countess Bertha
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Archiduc Joseph

On the Main Pergola (desperately waiting for its construction and madly growing in the mean time!) :

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Devoniensis
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Devoniensis

And in the rose hedge behind the vegetable garden :

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Mutabilis

I love creating new bouquets from them all!

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Copper Queen, Blue Salvia and Catmint
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Heaven Scent, Copper Queen, Lolita, Just Joey, Icegirl, Dahlias and Salvia
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Alnwick, Windermere, Children’s Rose, Heaven Scent, Verbena and Catmint
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Closeup of first photo
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Calendulas and Cornflowers
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Left to right : Mr Lincoln, Icegirl and Lolita

The dahlias have blasted on to the scene with their eye-catching gold and red.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.18.07BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.54.02BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.53.47BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.52.32BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.52.05Their magnificent bold display is only matched in intensity by the scarlet pomegranate flower and the bright orange Calendulas. They are paving the way for the orange Monbretia later in the season.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 19.37.37BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 11.10.32BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.51.03BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.54.30Lily time is almost upon us. I expect these Madonna Lily buds will open next week. The blue and white Agapanthus (also known as ‘Lily of the Nile’) are forming great regiments to supersede the Acanthus, once it finally finishes. It is amazing how their giant heads can be contained within the cases of their tight buds.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-23 18.00.11BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.58.53BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 19.39.42Blue and white is also provided in the stocks and cornflowers of the Cutting Garden.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 19.36.36BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.48.28The growth in the Hydrangea corner is mind-blowing, especially when you consider how heavily we pruned them last Winter!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.58.05Nandina is in full bloom along the back path.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-23 19.12.41The Buddleias also responded very vigorously to their pruning with many beautiful purple, mauve and pink nectar-laden blooms for bees and butterflies to feast on. The scent in the air is beautiful!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.47.45BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 12.06.21BlogSummers here 30%Reszd2015-11-27 12.04.48 - Copy - CopyBlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 15.29.30BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 15.36.37BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 15.34.59BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 15.38.04The soft pastel blooms complement their grey-green foliage and wave gently against the bright blue sunny skies. However, these same pastel colours can also look very dramatic against a background of navy blue felt, as seen in this cushion cover I recently made for a friend’s birthday.photoBlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-13 08.55.34I based it on a fuchsia design, which I had made in a past lino-cutting class. The following photos show the whole process.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-07 21.10.49BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-13 08.45.07BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-12 22.36.13BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-13 08.54.30BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-13 08.54.38I also made her a matching card from the images, which I had googled and printed out to help me choose the felt colours, then laminated it. Yes, you can laminate an A4 card, so long as you crease it immediately after it has emerged from the laminating machine, while it is still warm and malleable!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-12 11.12.55In the vegie garden, Ross has removed all the old radish and lettuces. The Dutch Cream potatoes are in flower and the tomatoes are setting lots of fruit. Here is some of our fresh produce, which Ross harvested for one of his stir-fry dishes: our own onion, broccoli and silver beet! Not to mention Ross’s fresh home-made bread!