Early Flowers and an Update…

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This winter has been so mild and today even has a bright blue sky hinting that spring might be on the way. But there is always the thought that there might be a cold snowy snap still lying in wait. The flowers in the garden are starting to peek through , and not just the snowdrops . Crocus are up and lots of the bulbs are starting to push through little green points.
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As most of my flower phtography has been happening inside until now, and I thought I’d post a little round up of the most recent ones here. I am missing the Dutch flower markets at the moment – at this time of year the tulips are starting to be in full flow – but even more lovely are all the branches of different types of blossom. I only rarely find them in the florists here. Time for a trip perhaps ?

“Normal blogging” is a bit disrupted at the moment due to the upper floor being renovated. Sounds quite nice and contained , but in fact means that all the stuff from up there is filling every available space. Once the joinery has been done it will be time to spring into action with a paintbrush, so Starrybluesky matters are on a bit of a go slow. I do have a lot of plans bubbling so hope I will manage to keep on track with them all the same.

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Brightening up December

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Now that it is December and there is precious little left in the garden ( although I am impressed by the few hardy plants that are still flowering ) I thought it was a good time to finally hang up the second Ixxi that I had made while I was in Holland.

I showed the other one I made a while back – which was of pictures from a “Leiden Year”. This second one is of flower images taken throughout a year. As with a lot of things that you leave for a while and come back to , there are changes that you would make second time around, but I still enjoy the reminder of all these flowers that have crossed my path. Some were taken out and about in Holland , others on my favourite Scottish windowsill and yet others are wildflowers from the meadows of Transylvania.

Even if you don’t live in the Netherlands you can use Ixxi to create a design for you, or you can also select something from their own collection.

If you’d like to know a bit more about the “behind the scenes” and get tipped off about my regular subscriber bonus you can make sure you get the studio newsletter by subscribing here . There should be one coming along quite soon.

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Day 26 – A Little Friday DIY

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Earlier this year I made a whistle stop trip to London and as part of that I visited Selina Lake’s book launch and vintage fair. I was lucky enough to get one of the goody bags containing a couple of tins of Plastikote spray and they have been great fun to use.

First up were a few flowerpots that I picked up for next to nothing. A quick spray with the paint and they turned into something a lot nicer and a happy home for the Dutch daisies.

Second in the queue was something a lot less pretty. I have been looking around at things that I throw away and wondering if there are any ways to give them another lease of life. I’m sure I saw this idea somewhere online or in a magazine but can’t for the life of me remember where – so if you know, please tell me and I’ll add a credit.

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Requirements – a few ice cream sticks. I’d like to point out that it was not just me eating all these ice creams ! Quick coat of plasticote on one side, let them dry and spray the reverse. And voila – handy signs for writing the names of plants once they are in the garden. I used one of those all purpose pens to write the names, and hopefully they will stay legible. This is a really good idea for me as sometimes it is a while , between planting something and finding out if it is happy in the garden. Hopefully it will make it easier to choose the right things in future. Plus I will finally get to grips with plant names too.

The colour that I used for these is Leafy Rise . They say on the can that you can use it inside if well ventilated . Personally I’d use them outside as they do give off quite a lot of fumes . For more info see the Plastikote site .

Yvonne from Yvestown was also at the fair, giving a crochet tutorial , and she also came up with a fun use for the paint – very sweet little containers. You can see her post over here.

Day 25 – Flower Studies

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Although I have a long “to do ” list , including such unglamourous tasks as sorting out my website changeover , I did sneak a few minutes to do some flower studies . The garden is in full bloom at the moment and I want to capture some references for later in the year when there is less activity.

The vases in the first image are all from the garden . I particularly love the allium . The others are from a little bunch of wild flowers from the farmer’s market .

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Day 18 – In and Out of the Garden

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Yes , I slipped up . I didn’t keep to my self imposed 30 weekdays of posting . But I’m just going to pick things up where they are today . Not ideal – but then yesterday was a bit of a special case – between flying back to Scotland and popping in to the hospital , en route ,to see my nephew who was waiting for an op on his broken arm . I was determined to keep to this programme – but the lesson is – sometimes things will happen that make it hard to stick to what you plan – the main thing is to get right back on track the next day .

When I got home I was really happy to see there were still lots of tulips in the garden , along with another favourite , the bluebells . Here is a quick stroll round for you .

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Day 17 – A Little bit of Friday DIY

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This is a really easy idea that could be adapted to a whole lot of subjects . Main requirements – a surface with a removable glass top . A scanner, ( optionally also a camera ) and a printer . That would be the way I’d probably do it these days . But this project was completed in the “olden days ” – so I headed off to the photo copy shop with my bunch of gerberas in hand .

It raised a few eyebrows at the printers but I just breezed on with my plan . Once copied I cut them out – you need to take a little care over this to get a good effect , but nothing too difficult . Remove glass panel , position images , replace glass , admire.

This would work with colourful sweets , travel elements like tickets and stamps ( you could blow them up a bit if you are using a scanner to do it . Although you could use decoupage to make a permanent design , the beauty if this is that you can change it around if you get bored with it , or if you change your colour scheme . These days I would probably paint the base piece , but this lets you make changes that are not permanent . If you wanted to give the impression of a painted background you could cut a piece of paper to the size of the surface , paint it , and stick the images onto it before replacing the glass .

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Day 14 – The Day the Sun Came Out – Leiden Botanic Gardens .

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The sun was shining this morning so I changed my plans . Seems so long since there was a properly sunny day , and Berlin was 2 days of very heavy rain .

So – I headed for the Leiden botanic gardens – one of my favourite spots while we lived here – to see what might be flowering . Plenty , as it happens . And also an interesting theme throughout the garden , based on plants from 1001 nights . There are beribboned hands of Fatima to show the relevant places.

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Part of the garden is laid out in a historical style .

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And I was lucky to catch the last of the tulips . This bed was planted up beautifully with pinks ,lilacs and a very dark purple – which worked very well and is a bit more delicate than the usual reds and yellows .

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Students “studying” on the banks of the Witte Singel which forms the border to the gardens on one side.

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Plenty of other flowers in bloom too , including a few patches of bluebells . I’m still waiting for the Scottish ones at home.
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And the gardens are also known for a few very large old trees that have branches that create huge circular green caves . At this time of year it was carpeted with flowers too .
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I took a lot of photos – this is just the tip of the iceberg . But the plan is to do a lot of sketches from them over the next few days that I can incorporate into the painting course I’ve been doing. If it rains tomorrow I am prepared !

(I’m also managing to keep pace with my 30 days of blogging , despite being off on my travels . Not always easy to find the wifi , but so far so good .)