Growing Flowers for Cutting

I decided to share a round up of my garden flowers this year, as I’ve really enjoyed growing them and using them in flower arrangements. There are lots of pictures in this post!

This year I grew quite a wide selection of flowers as I wanted to use them as cut flowers for the house as well as fill up a large empty border in our new garden.

First up sweetpeas. I didn’t plant these early enough so ended up buying some plug plants from the garden centre. They did fairly well at first but then the support fell down in strong winds! I enjoyed them while they lasted.

I found lots of Nigella in the allotment and decided to plant some directly into the soil in the garden, as well as Cerinthe and California poppies. All the flowers came up to my surprise, as I haven’t had much success with direct sowing in the past.

The majority of the flowers were actually grown in module trays and planted outside after first frosts. The ammi visnaga was one of my favourite plants for foliage as well as the frosted explosion grass on the right.

This is cosmos ‘cupcakes’. I love the perfect bowl shape and frilly edge, so pretty. I couldn’t get these to last well in a vase but they are lovely in the garden. Any tips on keeping them alive once cut would be appreciated! 

I went overboard with the sunflower vanilla ice. They are about 8 ft tall and produced masses of flowers, and i think there are at least four plants! I got a little bit fed up of them after a while and will try another variety next year. I might plant one Vanilla Ice but not much more.

This vase is a combination of dahlias with annuals. I grew pink dahlias as well as red and darker colours, however the pink ones thrived and the others didn’t do as well!



I did manage to grow one pale dahlia, this stunning cafe au lait flower. It only produced three flowers though. 

These pink roses are from the front garden and are very pretty and delicate. I also have a David Austin rose I dug up from our last garden on moving day, which has really thrived.  The petals drop very quickly so they don’t do well once picked but they have a beautiful scent and are nice for styling. 


I love putting together little posies of different colours in assorted vases. They remind me of boiled sweets!

The cosmos are still going strong in the garden. The border itself is not as pretty as I’d like as the colours are quite distinct and separate, it looks a bit wild!

Next year I plan to grow fewer pink flowers (!) and more foliage plants. I’m also planning a tulip patch for spring time, just for cutting! Really looking forward to growing and styling my own tulips. I will also try some new varieties of dahlias too.

Rachel Top

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There’s been a bit of a blogging hiatus again! Ramadan was busy and then we had the usual end of term madness. You may have seen some of my makes over on Instagram but I will try and catch up here as I’ve made quite a few new things recently that I want to share.

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This is the Rachel top by See Kate Sew. I really liked the shape of the sleeves and the exposed zip at the back.

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Ruffled sleeves are a big trend this summer and they are everywhere at the moment! It was actually very easy to add the ruffle.

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I added a pink exposed zip which pops against the dark blue Art Gallery print fabric. This is a cotton voile from the Katarina Roccella collection.

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I wore it with some pink Biden Richmond trousers and an Inayah collection sleeveless crepe jacket. I also have quite a lot of aqua in my wardrobe so it coordinates well with other items. It is a little short for my preference and has a bit of a maternity look to it because of the gathers above the bust so I’m not sure I’ll make it again but I learned a lot doing this project and will use the skills again.

An Unusual Penge Garden

|I have lived in London for over ten years now and have come across many a front garden, from the scruffy and unloved to those with beautiful tiled and box edged paths. This is a completely different type of garden.

This little garden in Penge is a feast for the eyes with its incredible array of exotic and succulent plants.

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The owner was kind enough to speak to me about his collection which he has curated from specialist shows and bought from nurseries and online shops.

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There are lots of amazing varieties I’ve never seen before, such as this beautiful flowering plant.

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This house is in a beautiful area of Penge. It’s a lovely area for a walk to end with a cup of tea and cake at Alexandra Nurseries.

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It was inspirational to see someone’s passion for their collection and that they were able to display it so beautifully in a small space.

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Have you come across any beautiful, unusual private gardens?

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In My Garden

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The light in the garden in late afternoon was beautiful yesterday.

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These roses surprised me, we’ve lived in the house for over a year and I didn’t see any of these last year. They are beautiful, huge pillowy flowers with a beautiful scent.

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Perennial herbs – sage, chives, oregano and rosemary survived the winter and are flourishing again.

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This chard was also planted last year. I put a couple in the flower bed and the rest in the vegetable raised beds. They are pretty much the only vegetables that survived the winter, we did have a broccoli but it flowered before it grew much, as well as lots of purslane which no one was very interested in eating. We also had some of the leek today. garden3

I’m so pleased with the lupins. I have tried to grow these for years without success, mostly due to slugs. These were planted last year along with aquilegia, echinacea and verbena bonariensis which have all grown very well this year. I’d love to fill the bed with perennials and shrubs so its a little or no work garden. garden1

The colour is very striking, although I’m not sure it seems perfectly natural. It’s almost a royal blue.

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I’ve also started hardening off the seedlings (all ten trays!) but not everything looks ready to go out yet. Some plants don’t seem to have grown much in the last few weeks, but we haven’t had much sun really.

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I planted Little Leprechaun lettuce and Descartes from Sarah Raven, as they looked very pretty (as with everything from Sarah Raven!). There s also sweetcorn, squash, courgettes, cucumber, artichokes and various herbs. I also have seedlings for cut flowers – cosmos, cerinthe, sunflowers, zinnias, ammi majus, to name a few. There are just a few sweetpea plants (most didn’t germinate) which is a shame as I love them.

There’s plenty of work for me to do in the garden, and I am also trying to get our allotment in some sort of shape for beans and the big veg like squash. Are you growing your own plants from seed this year?

Sunday Thoughts

I’ve been doing some thinking about the blog and have made a few changes, including the theme which some may have noticed. I’ve also decided to add some more lifestyle and personal posts which I hope you will all like.

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One thing I’d like to do is to have a regular post to add some thoughts about how the week has gone, and interesting things that have caught my attention, such as great blog posts, progress in the garden, places I’ve been to or would like to visit or recipes I’ve tried. It will also help me to be able to look back on them all.

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We made two batches of scones this weekend, which the two younger children enjoyed helping with. I used the BBC Good Food recipe, which is reliable and straightforward.

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More crumbs ended up on the floor than in the bowl with this little one’s help, so he was dispatched to his dad after a little while!

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All three children love helping with baking, and it’s something we don’t do enough. Pancakes are made most weekends here but not quite as much cake as we’d all like!

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A bit wobbly round the edges, but delicious all the same.

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Good things this week:

Me Made May 2017 is underway, and I’ve managed to wear Me Made clothes most of the week! I realised I need more skirts and trousers to have a proper handmade wardrobe, as I haven’t made any of those so far.

My sister stayed with me for a few days as she’s come from abroad for a month or so. I got to babysit my adorable nephew while she went out to the theatre, he was a bit sad without his mum but at least let me give him some cuddles. We also went fabric shopping in Lewisham.

I had an article published on Amaliah.com on Fashion Revolution and making my own clothes. Please have a read and a look at the rest of the site which is full of great articles and fashion inspiration.

We did a bit more work on painting our fitted shelves and wardrobes, we might even finish one set by next week!

 

 

 

Liberty Painted Portrait Dress

It’s been a little while since I made this dress but it has a springy palette so provided the weather improves, it should get some wear soon!

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This dress is made entirely in Liberty Tana lawn. The main fabric is Tuesday Trees, which was designed by Lauren Child (the creator of Charlie and Lola). It’s a pretty print with a hint of colour, just enough to complement the patchwork panel.

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The pattern is the Painted Portrait Dress by Anna Maria Horner. I purchased both the pattern and fabric quite a few years ago and it is wonderful to actually see them made up into something wearable finally.

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I used a variety of prints to make up the panel, which was actually very easy to sew. I found it a bit tricky to attach the side panels to the main bodice and had to reduce a bit of the fullness to get it to fit in. The fitting is still fine, I made a size Small.

 

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My only regret is not making the sleeves full length, as it would be much more practical for me in the summer.  I even considered remaking the sleeves but didn’t want to unpick all my stitching and overlocking. This may be an option still if it annoys me enough! But overall I’m very happy with the style and fabric combination, it’s something that would catch my eye if I saw it in the shops and it is comfortable and light to wear (once the weather cheers up!)

 

 

Waterfall Raglan Dress and Top

I managed to send off both my giveaway packages this week, thanks to everyone who took part on Instagram. I made this patchwork pouch out of a stack of my favourite Anna Maria Horner prints using the In Color Order Lined Drawstring Bag tutorial . It took a bit of time as I haven’t done any patchwork in a long time but I really enjoyed the process and love the result.

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I used a pink and red striped Tula Pink print for the top of the bag which I think complements the colours nicely. I hope its new owner enjoys using it, and I’m thinking of making another one for myself.

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I’ve been meaning to share this top for a little while, its the Waterfall Raglan by Chalk and Notch patterns. I made both the top and dress versions for my daughter.

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I used a beautiful Art Gallery Fabrics knit for this. The fabric is from the Fleet and Flourish collection  by Maureen Cracknell and is called Swifting Flora Fond.

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I cut a size 5 for my daughter and it fits her well with some room to grow (she is just over 4 but quite tall).

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The loose style of the top looks great over trousers. She doesn’t have many tops at the moment so I am planning to make a few more using this pattern.

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I made the dress using a jersey which is overlaid with a cream corded lace which I bought from Simply Fabrics in Brixton.

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At first I thought the fabric would be fine to use as it has a jersey base but when I did the stretch test I found that it only had about 20% stretch due to the lace which is bonded on to the jersey. When I initially sewed the sleeves they were a bit tight so I unpicked and sewed them again using a 1/4 inch seam instead, which gave a bit of extra room.

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I also  used a thinner fabric to make the facing for the neckline and turned that inwards which made the neckhole a bit bigger. waterfall3

It’s a great dress for twirling in and the fabric makes it special. I also bought some velvet as I have seen some beautiful velvet versions online too.

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