Keeping up our British spirit in the rain (and thunder)!
Without wanting to sound like a broken record, the summer weather was pretty rubbish this year, but with a bit of good ‘ol British determination we threw a steely glance at the grey storm clouds, packed a picnic (!) along with our raincoats, wellies and umbrellas and headed to Chartwell, once the home of Sir Winston Churchill and now in the care of the National Trust.
I've wanted to visit Chartwell for so long, having spent such a large portion of my years in education studying World War II and actually to visit during a thunder storm only made the place more atmospheric. Sadly you can't take photographs in the house, so I can only recommend you go and see the place for yourself! A couple of highlights were Churchill's Monet in the Drawing Room, his Study and desk featuring his glasses and of course a cigar, and the Dining Room (my favourite room in the house) built in the slightly newer extension, with floor length windows on three sides of the room and botanical print soft furnishings covering the chairs and windows. If it looked inviting on such a grey, rainy day I can only imagine how beautiful it is in the sunshine.
Churchill's studio, a separate building in the gardens was another highlight, I hadn't realised he was such a prolific painter and even had work accepted into the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. The double height studio walls are filled with his works, many featuring Chartwell and the gardens, all in his impressionistic style.
Gritting our teeth and gripping our umbrellas through the storm paid off and after lunch (which was a picnic in the car, thanks for that, summer) it stopped raining! Just in time for us to have a look around the gardens, which feature stone terraces with lavender lined steps, a rose garden, kitchen garden, cutting garden, lake and huge lawn, perfect for summer parties no doubt. All in all, including a visit to the shop and tea and huge chocolate brownie in the cafe, we were there for about five hours and the day completely disappeared.
“A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted” Sir Winston Churchill
I’d hugely recommend it. Have you been to Chartwell before?
You can’t go wrong with a bit of reuse and recycle and when it’s also space saving, well count me in! This DIY pallet planter can be easily knocked up in an afternoon and is a super cheap, space saving way of injecting a bit more greenery into your small garden or balcony. It would also be great if you’re a renter who wants the option to take your hard grown herbs with you if you move.
It’s been so satisfying to pop into the garden each evening with some scissors and gather a few herbs to add to our dinner. Remembering to keep them watered (less of an issue now it’s raining every day) and looked after is also a great learning curve for beginner gardeners, like me.
First off though you’ll need a pallet and to make this a cheap DIY you’ll really want to find one for free. Top tip – keep your eyes peeled and if you see one that looks spare ask if you can have it. I noticed a couple of pallets left after some building work down our road and the home owners kindly let me take them off their hands.
You will need:
Black landscaping/ weed control fabric (you can get about 10m for £5 at most garden centers or DIY stores)
Staple gun and staples
Roughly cut your landscaping fabric into a rectangle large enough to fill one of the sections on the pallet. Test it to make sure it fits (but don’t staple just yet!). Once you’re happy with the size, use this as a template to cut fabric pieces to fill the remaining five sections. Now it’s time for the best bit… who doesn’t love a bit of time with their (or in this case their Dad’s) staple gun?
Staple the fabric in place around the edge of each planting section. Make sure it’s not too tight and that you’ve left plenty of slack to fill with compost later, it should be about as deep as the wood on your pallet, so the fabric is hidden behind the wooden plank. Don’t worry about keeping the edges neat as we’ll tidy these up later.
Repeat for all six spaces. You might have to do turn the pallet on its side and front to get the right angles to staple. Also temporarily breaking your staple gun halfway through when filling it up with staples is totally optional, in fact, if I were to do this again, I’d miss that bit out!
Once all six spaces are filled use your scissors to cut away all the excess fabric.
Put into desired place and get planting! I went for herbs we use regularly in the kitchen - rosemary, thyme, mint and chives with a row of strawberry plants along the bottom (these have finished now so if I’d recommend leaving a gap until next spring if you want strawberries). But you could fill with any type of container plants, ones for colour, flowers, texture, anything you like.
You could also customise your pallet and paint it before starting, I love the look of weathered wood so left mine natural, but a pastel colour would look great in a cottage garden or a bright colour would make a city balcony pop.
This month I completed my first ever instagram photo challenge and joined in with #30daysofcomposition hosted by the wonderful Emma Davies of Photography for Blogs. It was certainly a bit of a challenge remembering to post each day! However I'm feeling pretty good about completing it, so here's a round-up of all the prompts and my images...
Images run left to right on each row
3: negative space
5: rule of thirds
6: leading lines
8: fill the frame
13: straight horizon
16: look into/out of the frame
17: creating depth
18: suggest movement
21: aspect ratio
22: focal point
23: choice of lens
24: colour - complementary
25: colour – mono
26: colour - harmonious
27: colour – discordant
30: break the rules
Check out the hashtag on instagram on twitter to see some brilliant photos from the others who took part. And if you visit Photography for Blogs you can sign up to a year's free photography lessons in weekly emails!
Have you taken part in any instagram photo challenges?
p.s. I'm always looking for people to follow, so leave your account name in the comments. You can find me here.