Creating an Allergy Free Garden

Some of you might remember that last summer I had some scary incidents with what I thought were food allergies.  I was very lucky that my GP took me seriously and referred me to the local allergy clinic where I was throughly tested for everything and anything.

Turns out I’m not allergic to anything food related (thankfully!) but as you can see from my allergy test I’m allergic to grass, trees, shrubs, weeds and a little bit to milk (who knew!). Which as you all know,  I love my garden and this has broken my heart.

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It also means that my attempts to be helpful and mow the grass last summer because Paul was working long hours in London, pretty much made me really far more ill than usual with Hayfever. It also made me develop seasonal Asthma – which because it wasn’t controlled is now proper year round Asthma – who feels like an idiot now? Yeah me!.

But I have a large garden surrounding the house, there’s about 60ft at the front and about 150ft at the back, I can’t just leave it for 5 months of the year when the pollen’s at work.  I’m going to have to adapt it so I can still go out there without making myself ill. But how?

I’ve been going through the web and Pinterest trying to find out about Allergy friendly gardening and gardens. I remembered there was one at the Chelsea Flower Show and I’m still looking for more information on it.

Thankfully I don’t have any long grasses in the garden – they are a massive no, no! And I’m going to have to hire someone to cut my grass this year as Paul’s still doing a long commute and it’s not really fair to ask him to do it at the weekends.

But what to plant in the beds closest to the house?   My beloved roses are thankfully ok, and a lot of them are about halfway down the garden anyway.  However there are lots of lillies, stocks and hollyhocks near the house so they are all going to have to come out and be moved further down the garden. So I can still see them, but from a nice distance, through a window!

Lucky Apple, Plum and Magnolia trees are all fine – which is handy as I have all three in the garden.

But here’s a list of good allergy friendly plants, that I’ve found so far:

Flowers:

Daffodil

Tulip

Daisy

Geranium

Iris

Daylily

Pansy

Petunia

Rose

Sunflower

Zinnia

Shrubs:

Hydrangea

Azalea

Rhododendron

Viburnum

Boxwood

So it looks like I can still have lots of colour and structure. I also need to learn more about allergy gardening with veggies, but I’m sure that must be less of a problem?  I just need to think about how I’m going to re-model the garden and concentrate on getting it done before April. That way I can get it all in and then leave it to grow during the allergy months with minimal gardening from me.

If you want to know about allergy free gardening, I’ve pinned some sites to my Gardening Pinboard http://pinterest.com/violetposy/beautiful-gardens/ and I’ll be adding more as I find them.

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Dahlia’s

Mine are out and are so pretty, this year they are a mix of shop bought and home grown. So far I’ve been lucky and the slugs have left them alone *fingers crossed*. I just love all their jewel colours and the boost they give the garden once the roses have gone and how pretty they are cut in a jug.

They are in the markets and garden centers at the moment and should last through to the end of October, flowering throughout.  So if you fancy a bit of end of season colour stock up now, either pop them in a pot or in a boarder and they will look amazing.  My perfect flower!

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{Tots 100 Homebase Challenge} The Garden

This month’s Tots 100 – Homebase challenge was the garden – hurray!  My hayfever is now over and I can finally get back out there and give my poor neglected garden some love.  But for this challenge I decided to concentrate on the patio which was looking a bit rough and as it’s closest to the house it’s also the the most visible part of the garden. Our patio is old, grey, prone to weeds and frankly not like you’d see in a magazine.  I’m forever out there trying to kill the grass that comes up between the cracks, and pulling weeds out.

There used to be pea shingle around the edges but the birds used to throw it around everywhere so I’ve replaced that with heavier slate stones and that’s worked pretty well. It doesn’t go everywhere and looks better next to the grey patio slabs.

I was looking for a quick fix solution for the patio – you’ll see why when I post about my bathroom at the end of the week!.  So I decided to ‘dress’ the patio to brighten it up, rather than do major work.  Armed with my £100 voucher from Homebase and gardening obsessed daughter we headed off to Homebase and bought garden wood paint in Cuprinol Willow for the bench to give it another coat, some solar lights, a bird bath (Miss L thought they needed one) and lots of pots and plants to ‘dress’ the patio with.  We also grabbed some pillows from inside and some bunting from Miss L’s room to make a pretty seating area.

I went for a pink/purple/white palette as I thought it would tie in nicely with the green of the bench and the pretty duck egg pots I found in Homebase. If it had been earlier in the season I would have bought some veggies and herbs for the pots but the growing season is pretty much over for them now, so we only bought some Swiss Chard which will be a nice autumn/winter veg and it’s still something for Miss L to grow.

I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out, it feels quite tranquil out there now and looks a lot better from the dining room window. Amazing the difference a few pots and some greenery make.  If you’d like some more inspiration about how to make a quite change to your home pop over to the Homebase Facebook Page

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Floral Gifts

Miss L broke up last week from school and she always likes to take a posy of flowers from our garden into her teachers every year (I send in wine, they’ve most certainly earnt it!).  Here are some of what we’ve taken in over the years  2008 2009 2010

This year was a little different the rain had rotted most of the roses and peonies on the bushes so there wasn’t as much to use as in previous years.  So Miss L added some Nasturtium’s that she’s been growing in her little raised bed – they have gone mad so it was good to use some up.  But I think they worked really well with the white and yellow roses she used for her teaching assistant’s present.

And then for her teacher’s flowers we went with what was left of the pink roses and peonies. It was so pretty and I put a bottle of pink Prosecco in with them.

Hopefully next year they’ll be less rain and I’ll have some more flowers to use *everything crossed*

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Raised Beds Update

So they’ve been in a while now, seen all that rain and lots of sunshine this last couple of weeks and it’s all growing well.  I’m so pleased with how they are progressing – here’s how they looked before.  I’ve not really done much to them other than water them every other day in the heat we’ve had and pulled the odd weed out. They’ve been pretty low maintenance.

The only thing that’s failed really are the peas and I planted them too close to the broad beans and they went mad so that’s my own fault.  But I’m quite pleased with how the rest of it is going, I’m looking forward to trying the spinach and carrots – yum!.

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Fast Week

Last week was just manic and seemed to go at twice the speed of a normal week. Miss L had her first school trip away for 2 nights and we missed her loads.  The early part of the week was taken up with packing and re-packing her bag at least 20 times before she went – you know so you don’t forget something important like soap in a box!.  However she had a great trip, they went to an Eco-Centre (great news she’s now turning light off around the house!) and she loved having a massive sleepover with her friends.  Like her mother she took at least a 100 photos of anything and everything – it’s been lovely seeing them and the trip from her point of view.

While she was away I was working like a mad woman because school breaks up this coming Friday for the Easter holidays.  I’m proud to say managed get out two beautiful sites for Mummy From The Heart and I have two more to get done this week.  But then it’s the Easter holidays and I get to play in the garden with Miss L and Betty for the next 3 weeks – hurray!

In preparation for the next few weeks, this weekend we planted up our pea plants, carrot, lettuce, spinach seeds, laid the onion sets and then sanded down the garden seats ready for painting – I’m thinking pale green this year.

After all that work I spent yesterday relaxing with my favourite decorating book and a bottle of coke – how decadent! 🙂

Here’s to the holidays!

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Starting the Veggie Patch

Sorry I was so quiet last week, I had a stinking cold and was feeling quite sorry for myself.  But this weekend I’ve been feeling much better, so we got a start on making the raised beds for our new veggie patch.

We actually dug it last year, but never got round to well…. putting any dirt in it!  So it was nicely overgrown when Paul started digging it out for me yesterday afternoon.  If I can grow veg there like I can thistles then we are going to be doing brilliantly!  I don’t even know what those tall alien looking weeds are??

Paul dug like a trooper an cleared the area in about an hour, while Miss L, Betty and I all helped from the sidelines – made tea, hot cross buns and heckled. While my lovely man was digging, Betty and I made the mistake of sitting on the ancient garden bench at the same time and went through the seat! Totally killed by our combined weigh – oops!!

But the results were worth the effort (and seat trashing!) and I can’t wait to plant them up, raspberries and strawberries are going in one this week, and I need to think about what’s going in the other one – maybe some peas, spinach and carrots?.

I’ll take some more photos when we have some greenery in there to show you, how they are getting on.

 

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Spring Buckets

Remember my little silver buckets from Christmas?

Well I’ve added some mini daffodils from the market, a bit of dirt, and spring is in the lounge!

Just be careful not to overwater them as there is no drainage, so a tiny drop will keep them going.  Try different bulbs, whatever your local market or garden center has flowering at the moment will work.  Have fun experimenting!

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Pots of Flowers

Now the super cold weather has finally passed – fingers crossed – I decided to refill my pots by the front door.  They were as you can see pretty dead

Classy or what?

So I went to the market, bought lots of pretties for a fiver. Got home realised that the lavenders were indeed now super dead and throwing water at them probably wasn’t going to work this year,  so headed out to the garden centre to buy some lavenders and a big bag of compost.  But they also had lots of gorgeous spring flowers, including violets – I may have gone a bit mad but I have missed colour so!  And you know I have a garden, so they could go out there too……any excuse! 🙂

An hour later my posts were transformed and now look like this

And these little Violet beauties were planted in the back garden so I can see them from the kitchen window, they smell as divine as they look.

 Only a few more weeks and I can start planning my veggie raised beds.  Here’s hoping that bitter cold weather has passed, and Spring is here!

 

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{Guest Post} DIY Tutorial About Flower Arranging – Easy Steps to Creating Your Own Flower Arrangement

Patricia my guest poster today is a florist from one of my advertisers and knows her stuff about flower arranging.  So I thought it’d be nice to have a tutorial from a professional florist, who explains how to get the most from your market or supermarket flowers.  Over to Patricia:

Flower arrangements brighten up any home or office, but the problem is that it is sometimes difficult to get the perfect effect that is desired. While it is possible to search for florists, it is also simple to take matters into your own hands and start making their own flower arrangements. The truth of the matter is that flower arranging is relatively simple, and when time and money are short, it is essential to think about how this skill can help the buyer cut costs.

 Preparation

In the first place, consider the materials that are necessary. A vase of some sort is necessary, as are the flowers for the arrangement. Secateurs, also known as pruning shears, help trim the flowers down to the right size, and ribbons can help hold the flowers together.

Beyond this, there are some trims that help the flower arrangement look more professional, but that is essentially all that is necessary. Think about what size and shape the flower arrangement should be, and choose the flowers and vase based on this decision. Take some time to think about how tall the arrangement should be and how the flowers should sit in the vase.

For example, if a tall, spare arrangement is required, choose a tall fluted vase with tall flowers, like lilies, for the arrangement. On the other hand, if a squat cheerful arrangement is preferred choose a round, short vase and rounder flowers, like daises. Choose flowers for the arrangement that are as fresh as possible, whether that means picking them by hand or ordering from a very good florist.

While florists will often put the flowers into arrangements themselves, many online florists will be more than happy to sell purchasers simple bundles of flowers at a reduced price. It is best to get the flowers as close to the date of the event that the flower arrangement is meant for as possible. When one wishes to buy flowers from UK seasons are an important thing to consider, as it will determine the flowers’ cost.

Think about the color of the event before making these flower arrangements. For events held during fall, look for golden, brown and red blooms; spring calls for fresh pinks and purples, while summer allows the purchaser to take advantage of a multitude of different colors.

Creating a Flower Arrangement

First, take care to pinch off any yellowed blooms or leaves. This is something that allows for a very fresh, very perfect look for the arrangement. Yellow or brown foliage creates a dreary look that brings the entire arrangement down. Clasp the stalks of the flowers in one hand, holding them together. Shift them so that the flowers with the longest stems are towards the middle of the bundle. This will allow for the creation of a gently rounded shape. This will also give the arranger a good idea of what he or she has to work with.

Place the largest, showiest flower with the longest stalk in the vase. This is the centerpiece of bloom, and it will be ideal for catching the eye. Slowly, surround the centerpiece with flowers that are shorter, trimming the stalks with secateurs if necessary. The result is a lovely, rounded flower arrangement that is suitable for both formal and informal occasions. If the flowers look a little scanty, it is possible to plump out the arrangement with greenery or with other types of foliage.

A taller arrangement is something that is even simpler to create. Simply gather the stalks in one hand and trim them so that they are even, though once again, it is attractive to leave a longer stalk to act as the centerpiece. Cut the stalks off so that they are even and set them in a tall vase. To keep flimsy flowers supported wrap a ribbon around the stalks. Finish off the ribbon by holding it in place with a dot of glue or simply tying it into a quick bow.

There are many different options open for someone who is looking to save some money while still having lovely flowers at an event. DIY flower arrangements provide any event with a sense of class and glamor without breaking the bank.

About the Author

Patricia Hall works part-time for a florist focusing on floral delivery but loves to surround herself with flowers at any given point of time. Even in her free time she loves to involve herself with everything flora and fauna. ‘To me there is nothing more beautiful and global as the language of flowers – it is the easiest to understand all around the world in the same way. That is one reason why I truly admire flowers for what they represent in some ways – unity of all mankind!’

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The Tragic Bird Accident

**Don’t read ahead if your squeamish**

I’m so mortified by this, but I had to share it as a public service announcement for birds.

So as you know Miss L *loves* to feed the birds in the garden, we’ve got feeders all over the place, all types seed, nuts and fat ball ones – you name it we have it. Last week we stocked up with bird food and filled all the feeders up. One of the fat ball feeders, I moved closer to the house onto our rose bush so we could see the birds feeding from the kitchen window.

All good…or so I thought!

Tuesday morning, I’m standing in the kitchen filling the dishwasher and I look out and see a sparrow with his back to me on the feeder. I think ‘Aww look he’s enjoying those fatballs’. Think nothing more of it…..

Fast forward an hour later I go to make a cup of coffee…the sparrow is still on the feeder in the same place he was an hour before…..at this point something doesn’t seem to be right with this picture.

So I go outside and the sparrow doesn’t fly off or well even move.

I realise something really horrible has happened….in a Final Destination way the sparrow has put his head through the bars of the feeder and the fat ball had falled on his head, trapped him and he’s gotten stuck and died. OMG! I was in tears, I felt so awful that this had happened, our kindness had killed a poor innocent bird.

Thankfully it was before Miss L came home from school, so I disposed of the body, took the feeder down and put the food on the floor to feed the birds.

Here’s a picture of the feeder, before I throw it away.20120113-162832.jpg

It was the type that had large gaps,  in future I’ll only buy the ones that have tiny squares in them so that way they can’t get their heads in. I don’t know if this was a common accident or if this was some weird freakish one off? But I’m never buying on of these again!

 

 

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{Easy to Make} Simple Flower Buckets

I love making these little flower buckets. They are a nice little thing to make for either a ‘thankyou’ present, to leave scattered about the house or for on a Christmas table.  They only take about 10 minutes to make and really simple but look good.

 

I’ve bought some inexpensive buckets to make them with this year (£2.80 in Hobbycraft) but you could easily do them in terracotta pots or in a mug – anything you can use as a container really.

You don’t need that many flowers just some with stout steams, I’ve used 7 red roses in this one.  Check out your local market, which will often stock interesting colours and if their anything like mine really cheap – a bunch of roses at mine is £1.50. If you don’t have a market a bunch from your local supermarket will do.

Check out your garden, if you’re lucky enough to have some Holly and other greenery out there use that to fill in any gaps or maybe cinnamon sticks to make it smell extra festive.

What you need:

A Container

Flower Foam (Wilkinsons, Hobby Craft and Supermarkets now stock it)

Water

Flowers

Scissors

Extras like ribbon, cinnamon sticks or maybe diamonte’s or pine cones on sticks?

How to make

1. Soak the Floral foam for a few minutes in some water and then pop in the container.

2. Trim the steams of the flowers to a bit shorter than the container, for the mini buckets I did them to 5 inches.

3. Fill the container with flowers, do it so you’re happy with it. Easiest way is to get the heads so they are level with the top of the container.

4. Either leave it as is, or add some cinnamon sticks, diamonte’s or pine cones on sticks in with the flowers, ribbon around the bucket.

5. Pop in a small box with some tissue paper give as a gift.

Check out more simple Thrifty Christmas ideas from other crafty bloggers here

 

 

 

 

 

 

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