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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Charlie Hoodie

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I made this hoodie for my little boy a while ago, and it has been very useful in the cold weather we had the last few months.

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The pattern is called the Charlie Hoodie and is by Two Stitches. I bought the pattern and fabric at the Eternal Maker stall at the Knitting and Stitch show last October.

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This sweet wall art (by Dopeism) is not too far from us so we stopped by for the photos.

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The fabric is Kiyohara sweatshirt fleece and is very squishy! It’s held up very well to frequent washing.
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I traced the pieces and it was fairly easy to put together. The pockets in this size haven’t been used really as they are tiny and he doesn’t really understand what they are for yet!

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I definitely plan to make another of these soon, maybe with a plain front. I just need to find some more cute sweatshirt fabric!

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?

Winter Coat patterns + Simply Fabrics Brixton

I have been thinking about making a wool coat for my daughter and saw some beautiful ones  at the Hand made Fair last weekend. I don’t think I could ever justify spending nearly £200 on a child’s coat no matter how beautiful so have been looking at patterns and fabrics online. I also went to Simply Fabrics a few years ago and remembered they had a selection of coat material so thought it would be worth going on a little outing.

The shop (or rather two shops on the same road) has been mentioned on a few blogs, including on Tilly and the Buttons, so is not such a well kept secret any more but is a great place to pick up something unusual at a good price.

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photo 2 There are some beautiful wools and unusual technical fabrics, including Japanese wools and coated silks. I spied some lovely delicate Roland Mouret silks and a shelf of Liberty silks, lawns and wool blend fabrics. They also had dupion silk, linens, jersey and faux fur fabrics. In the end I came away with a piece of faux fur to make my daughter a gilet for the winter and some Liberty Lifestyle Garnett fabric in a colourway which I’m fairly sure is sold out elsewhere. The prices are amazing also – all the Liberty fabric is £12/m, and most of the other fabrics are much cheaper.

I also wandered into the Brixton market which was a real surprise – quirky shops and wonderful places to eat. We stopped at French and Grace where we enjoyed a delicious mezze plate before heading back home

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As for children’s coat patterns, here are a few that are in the running:

Make it Perfect Serendipity coat

I made this last year for my daughter so of course I could reuse the pattern. I do love this coat and it was adorable, so will definitely consider it if I don’t find anything I love more.

Sydney by C’est Dimanche

This version is stunning but I’m not sure my French is up to the challenge! The Volga pattern is also lovely. I like that you can add on variations to the patterns to change the look, but they start from age 4 so think I’ll have to save these until she is older.

Stylish Double breasted coat by Dear My Kids

Another double breasted coat – can you see a theme? I do like classic shapes on young children!

The Bubblegum Coat by See Kate Sew

I love this pink version, it has a more modern look, maybe a bit more sixties because of the big buttons.

Cecily by Citronille

Another classic coat, this time by French company Citronille – again a little deterred by it being in French but could give it a go with the help of Google Translate!

School Days Jacket by Oliver + S

This is a different style with a practical hood and nice finishing details, but also looks a little more challenging.

Of course, I haven’t had a chance to look at the Simplicity etc pattern books and I’m sure they will also have some great patterns. For now I will start thinking about fabrics and colours and hope to get going before the cold sets in.

Reversible Staple Dress

I bought the Staple Dress pattern from M is for Make a couple of months ago, and thought it would work really well with a reversible gauze I bought a couple of years ago. I couldn’t really think of a pattern that would make the most of both sides until I came across this one. As you can see, the reverse fabric shows through because of the dipped hem so I thought it made an interesting contrast.

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This is the ‘wrong side’ of the fabric, but I wear it just as much this way round. Sorry about the wonky photo!

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This is the best photo I could get of me wearing it! Unfortunately there is never anyone on hand to take a picture for me.

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I do like having pockets, and actually made the whole dress with pockets initially, which meant that it was not reversible. I had a change of heart so had to rip out all my sewing and overlocking, and started again! The second time, I used French seams on both sides, which provided a neat seam on both sides. For the bottom of the skirt, I cut a separate piece of fabric on the bias and sewed it all around the edge (same technique as for the neck and arm holes). Unfortunately my sewing machine was not working well and the fabric kept pulling – I only thought to change the needle after I had nearly finished, and the tip was broken! I did one row of shirring as I don’t like things too tight around my waist.

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I wore my new dress on an outing to Dulwich (to buy Annie Sloan chalk paint, more on that later!). The photo above was taken in Ed on North Cross Road, and we finished with a latte and raspberry financier at Gail’s.

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Brand New Knitting Group in Penge

I am really excited about our brand new knitting group in Penge! The idea came about after I enquired about local groups, and although there are several in the vicinity (Bromley, Croydon, Crystal Palace), there were a few knitters in Penge who were interested in setting something up closer to home. I had recently looked at the Alexandra Nurseries website and thought it sounded like a lovely venue, and another Raveller kindly offered to go down and have a chat with Sarah who runs it.

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Alexandra Nurseries is a beautiful independent garden centre, gift shop and cafe in Penge

Thankfully, Sarah was enthusiastic about the idea so I visited myself soon after, and thought it was wonderful – beautiful vintage china, quirky gifts and of course, an amazing selection of plants! The upstairs space is a relaxed setting which will be great for informal knitting, tea-drinking and cake-eating.  We have decided to start off the group on Sunday mornings every fortnight and see what happens. So if you are a knitter, please join us for the first meeting this Sunday (17th March) at 10.15am! If you’d like to join the mailing list, please email se20knitters@gmail.com for updates.

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Even if you’re not a knitter, if you are in the area its a great place for a gift or a leisurely lunch.

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I love the furniture and vintage tins, and have my eye on these little packets of seeds below!

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As an aside, it’s really great to see so many new independent shops and cafes in Penge, as well as interesting events like the SE20 Craft Fair on 7th April. I would love to have been there but will unfortunately be away that week. It sounds really good, and is a 5 minute walk from me! I hope I can make the next one, and perhaps even have a stall there.

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Sunday on Columbia Road

A free Sunday means a stroll down either Brick Lane or Columbia Road. Yesterday, I chose Columbia Road. It’s not especially buggy-friendly, so I left S with his dad and wandered down. It’s amazing how so much bustle and colour can be hidden away until just before you turn the corner into the road itself.

My lovely new shoes!

As I hadn’t been there for a while, I took my time and explored all my favourites. Far Global is a treasure trove of antique pieces from India, including these beautiful turquoise cabinets. They are expensive, but would add amazing character to a room and be a loved heirloom to hand on to the next generation. In fact, I made an enquiry on one and am waiting for an email – I’m thinking it would be perfect for all the craft bits and bobs. It’s a bit smaller in scale to these ones, and has glass doors.

Ryantown, the wonderful Rob Ryan shop didn’t disappoint with lots of beautiful new cut outs and quirky designs. This design almost made me teary:

It’s of a child being comforted by his mother. Somehow (maybe now I’m a mother myself) I found it very poignant.

Next stop was the new (to me anyway) Jessie Chorley shop. She used to have one upstairs, but I think the new shop will get much more footfall and introduce her nostalgic, delicate style to many more people.

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As usual the flowers were the biggest draw for most people. People were walking away with armfuls of sunflowers, gladioli, roses and peonies. I love peonies, so brought a bunch home too. I also stopped in at Beyond Fabrics which stocks a great range of fabrics from well known designers e.g. Moda, Alexander Henry, as well as lots of beautiful vintage ribbon reels, and ready made items such as aprons and tea towels. I spotted a blanket by the talented Tree Fall there too.

So if you haven’t been there yet, put Columbia Road down on your To Do list for London, it’s medicine for the jaded urban soul..