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On your special day…

Here are two examples that use the same Lisa Audit image from Pad 2. I am a huge Lisa Audit fan, I love her style, her choice of colours and I really hope we can do more pads in the future.

The card is simple but effective – I will forever be a lace enthusiast! The base is a 180mm square card in cream, add backing papers and, of course, there’s a border on the same sheet as the image and sentiment, which has been matted on cream for the border and kraft for the sentiment. Cut out the extra roses and leave to one side. Layer up the main image onto some backing paper and then onto kraft card.

Attach at an angle and then add the label tied with lace. All the layers are also defined a bit by gently antiquing the edges with distress inks. Now add the extra roses using Pinflair glue gel.

But if you want to play with something sturdier than a card, then this plaque uses the same image and would make a fabulous little gift.

This is a thick MDF base, the first layer is a piece of torn kraft card and then the main image. This is then layered with a few extra roses and leaves. You can just decoupage the roses or if you want to splurge and use the second sheet with this design in the pad you can cut out the leaves and buds in the corners too.

The string is attached by stapling on the back into the MDF. Finally, add the ribbon and the gift tag.

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Roses, roses all the way!

It’s roses, roses all the way in today’s quick inspiration blog that uses our Climbing Rose die SD526 which have been die cut in both pink and green card to save any colouring. The papers come from the Jane Shasky ‘From the Heart of the Garden’ CD and the circle and scalloped circle can be any nesting dies that you happen to have.

The edges of the backing paper have been antiqued a little with some Tim Holtz distress ink (Mowed Lawn) but this is just a little extra touch that you could skip, it just adds a little depth to the papers.

To make the tying of the bow easier – the ribbon is stretched around the strip and secured at the back and then a pre-tied bow glued on – much easier I always think!

The final touch, of course, are the sparkly bits in the corners, these could easily have been pearls or whatever you have in stock!

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Divide and rule!

David Perry demonstrates how to divide a clump of Miscanthus.

This week, I’m handing over to my partner in crime writing, Julia, to tell us about her latest trip to RHS garden Rosemoor where she received some seasonal advice.

It is such a treat to visit Rosemoor on a regular basis, as I am doing this year attending a series of talks, and to see the garden evolving with the seasons. Last week, I went on a garden talk entitled ‘What now? Spring’

The course notes said: ‘Let the RHS experts help you through the gardening year providing a whistle-stop tour of techniques, tips, tricks and advice on seasonal tasks so that you know what you could be doing when. Spring topics covered – dividing and planting herbaceous perennials, spring shrub pruning, cutting back of ornamental grasses, plus other topics of seasonal interest.’

This was exactly what I needed as I am never entirely sure what I should be doing when especially when it comes to pruning. Somehow, I had it firmly in my brain that I had to cut everything back in the Autumn… and was then surprised how many plants I manage to kill off every year! There really is no excuse for such ignorance as there are tutorials online and thousands of excellent gardening books but, somehow, it is always better to be shown how to do something first hand.

Our tutor at Rosemoor was Garden Manager, David Perry. Pruning is always a thorny topic, but within the first minute, David had explained two pruning terms that I had followed but did not know why – prune back to two buds and cut on an angle. Why two buds? If the top one gets frosted and dies, you still have the second one. Why cut on an angle? To provide a difficult surface for water, dust or parasites to settle on. Obvious, really!

The ‘bare bones’ at Rosemoor, beautiful in their own right.

Shrubs grown for their colourful stems or foliage, such as dogwood, need to be cut down in the spring to encourage new growth, known as coppicing. No wonder they hadn’t done well for me before, as I had chopped them off in November! He also demonstrated how to prune shrubs and roses into a ‘goblet’ shape, cutting out shoots that cross over, or were growing inward, to allow free airflow and a general rather lovely shape.

Buying plants can be expensive, so it is really useful be able to identify ones that can be divided to create more. All clump-forming herbaceous perennials, including ornamental grasses, can be divided and, when done regularly, helps ensure healthy plants that will continue to perform year after year. While perennials can be divided at almost any time if they are kept well-watered afterwards, David said it is best to do it when the plants aren’t in active growth. He demonstrated how to divide a substantial clump of Miscanthus using two garden forks back-to-back as levers to loosen and break the root mass into two sections. He made it look easy!

It was interesting to see the ‘bare bones’ of the garden at this time of year. The shape of espaliered and step-over fruit trees were art forms in themselves and it was also great to see the wooden supports staff were creating with coppiced sticks – so much more natural than bamboo poles!

How to divide perennials

Here are simple tips for dividing perennials from the RHS website:

  • Lift plants gently with a garden fork, working outwards from the crown’s centre to limit root damage. Shake off excess soil so that roots are clearly visible
  • Some plants, such as Ajuga (bugle), produce individual plantlets which can simply be teased out and replanted
  • Small, fibrous-rooted plants such as Heuchera, Hosta and Epimedium can be lifted and pulled apart gently. This should produce small clumps for replanting
  • Large, fibrous-rooted perennials, such as Hemerocallis (daylily), require two garden forks inserted into the crown back-to-back. Use these as levers to loosen and break the root mass into two sections. Further division can then take place
  • In some cases, a sharp knife, axe or lawn edging iron may be needed to cleave the clump in two
  • Plants with woody crowns (e.g. Helleborus) or fleshy roots (e.g. Delphinium) require cutting with a spade or knife. Aim to produce clumps containing three to five healthy shoots.

Top photo: Lovely pair of pottery chickens by Somerset artist George Hider.

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Guerrilla gardening!

There is a roundabout, just off the A30 on the way to my crime writing partner Julia’s house, that is a delight to behold in the spring and summer when it is a mass of colour with wildflowers in profusion. This oasis in the middle of a three-way junction is the work of a local ‘guerrilla gardener’!

Marvellous, we cry! But did you know that planting roundabouts and road verges with flowers and plants is actually illegal? Going onto and planting any land you do not own is illegal in most countries in the world. How very dull…

However… very few people have ever been prosecuted. Councils are in a difficult position because there are, understandably, health and safety issues around people gardening on roundabouts at night and they can’t be seen to condone it. Sense seems to prevail though and most authorities take a relaxed stance and, if people enjoy the results and no damage is done, they tend to turn a blind eye.

If you fancy a bit of rebellion in a terribly nice and green-fingered way, you may want to look at The Guerrilla Gardener’s blog. He says: “Let’s fight the filth with forks and flowers” which strikes me as a very fine sentiment!

As you may know from previous blogs, I am a bit of a fan of things in miniature. So if you fancy trying some guerrilla gardening on a smaller scale, have a look at the fabulous images and ideas on The Pothole Gardener’s blog. He creates miniature gardens in potholes – and before you rush out into the middle of your local dual carriageway, I should add these are potholes in pavements, not roads! As much as I would love to do this, I fear my knees would not be co-operative!

Have you spotted any guerrilla gardening near where you live? Or, have you ever undertaken any yourself…? Do let us know!

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Patchwork and Roses

FloralThatchThe idea for this card came from the saying “roses around the door”. I was trying to get the feel of a country cottage with patchwork and roses growing around the door. We used to have roses climbing up the front of our cottage but sadly the ivy got the better of them and now we just have ivy round the door, which really doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

Thomas Kinkade is always a good ‘go to’ product for cottage designs and this is from the Thomas Kinkade Card Collection Volume One. The backing papers are from the Joanna Sheen Backing Paper pads Volume 3.

This is a very simple card to assemble – just use a Spellbinders oval nesting die to create the aperture and then get to work on the roses.

The Wild Rose Signature Die is a pleasure to use, the diecuts fall out of the die beautifully so no scrabbling about and there are various different ways you could colour the flowers. You can just cut them from assorted pink/lilac/pastel coloured card. Or, alternatively, you can cut them from white card (our Elegance Satin 300gsm) and work on them with Promarkers. It really is easier than you may think. Just scribble across all the edges using the chisel end of the pen (don’t panic or try and colour it all completely) and then take a lighter colour and again using the chisel end, cover the entire flower, focussing especially on the joins between dark and light. Then if you want to blur the joins even more, take the blender pen and use that in circular motions to mix it all together.

I like adding self-adhesive pearls in the centres but you could just have, say, some yellow card behind them or leave it as it is. I use Pinflair glue gel to attach them to the card, then they will be movable for a little while.

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