Thursday, 30 June 2011

let's have a bit of colour

The weather here is not as it has been Daan Saaf in the Tropics of England (yeah, my English Facebook friends taunting me with their heatwave..) - it's been intermittently sunny but breezy and Not That Warm, pleasant enough in direct sunlight and out of the wind, but a bit cool otherwise. And pretty showery. But when the sun comes out the colours are so intense, and at least I'm not having to water many of the plants. Anyway, look at that amazing leaf! I can't remember what the shrub is called - it's got purple leaves that can look red (sounds very Roald Dahl) - but it's given me so much visual pleasure this year.

I can almost see the garden growing - or rather I turn away for a second and when I look back Things Have Changed, a bit like the scarey angels ('Don't Blink!') in Dr Who but with more chlorophyll and less of the aura of menace. I'd swear the anthemis tinctoria have doubled in size in the last two days!

And a good thing too - these are my dye garden and I'm impatient!

Meanwhile at the front of the house..

.. a mystery solved! If you look over on my other blog you'll see this mystery plant which had been, well, mystifying me. After discussion with my Dad (my plant-guru) we've decided it's an orchid, which was what I'd thought it looked like but seemed just too big as the only wild orchids I've ever seen are pretty short. However Dad assures me that there are loads on the boggier bits of the golf-course in his neck of the woods that grow that big, and after googling 'dactylorhiza' (Dad's good on botanical names) and finding loads of images that match the Mystery Plant I'm convinced!

I'm just blown away by the fact that a sad little windswept shady patch of earth in between paving slabs and monobloc driveway, previously inhabited only by an annoying spiky shrub should have managed to produce first the big soft-leaved plant (that is also a mystery) and now a big purple orchid. And I'm even more blown away that I didn't notice it 'til the other day when I was pulling up some weeds in the paving cracks. It was well tucked away in the other plants. I've been reading Weeds by Richard Mabey, borrowed of course from Dad, which talks a lot about the extraordinary persistance of wild plants so I shouldn't be surprised!

This afternoon I decided to do another bit of dyeing and use up the last of my mordanted yarn - a tiny skein of what was left of the 4-ply and a squidgy skein of Aran-weight. I'd been tidying up a kitchen cupboard and found I'd accumulated enough red onion skins to play with. So here's the yarn simmering gently.

I've let it cool now and will just leave it to soak overnight. I've dyed with red onion skins before and got a really rich brown but I'm really interested to see how it'll turn out because you can see the little 4-ply skein on the left looking a slightly different colour from the Aran.

While I was messing around with the dye-pot this afternoon my son was running in and out giving me breathless updates on how he's getting on with riding his bike. He's only recently got the hang of the balance thing, but his new bike is slightly too large for him so getting started each time had been tricky. But for the last couple of days he's been going out voluntarily on his own to practise in the cul de sac (this is an excellent street for it) and is cracking it, hence the updates. I couldn't be more proud of him :-).

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