One week to go until construction starts on the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.
The birds and the bees.
Wildlife in a garden is as important as the plants. A garden without insects, snails, small mammals and birds would be a very sterile environment. Granted, there are many of these mini beasts I would rather not have in the garden such as, slugs, snails, caterpillars and aphids. But for every pest there is a predator, and so it makes sense to attract these helpful creatures into the garden. One way is to provide a habitat that will help them thrive. As the garden is quite small, piles of rotting logs and weedy patches of nettles and stones was not really an option, so I have opted for insect houses, nesting boxes and bird feeders.
This is an insect house for solitary bees and insects such as lacewings.
This one is specifically for butterflies. So as the butterflies are in no doubt, I have painted the Native American symbol for butterflies on the front! It may seem counterproductive to encourage butterflies when caterpillars can do so much damage. However, butterflies are on the decline, so with the exception of the voracious cabbage white I am more than happy to provide shelter and food for them.
The woven structure in the centre is a nesting box for birds – quite reminiscent of a weaver birds nest.
Well, construction starts in a weeks time. Everything is all set and ready to go. The plants are growing well and the hard landscaping is coming together. I have a man with a van booked for Monday to transport stuff to site.
Does anyone have an old kettle I can borrow – the type that could be used on an open fire?
Also, if anyone wants to come along on Tuesday to rake sand, I can promise they will be rewarded with tea and cake!
Enjoy the week ahead. If you are going to be at the show, come and say hello. 🌻
Three weeks to go until construction starts on the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.
Fun with fabrics v frustration with fencing!
Firstly, my apologies for being a bit late with this blog. Whilst all is going well with the plants ( this warm weather has sent them into overdrive, producing an abundance of fruit ), the same cannot be said of the hard landscaping. During the past week, 250 metres of 2” x 1” timber has been crisscrossing the county with me in hot pursuit. The timber has finally come to rest in a temporary location where I can transform it into fencing and screening for the garden. However, before construction begins I have had to paint it! If you find it hard to imagine 250 metres of wood, believe me, it is a lot! Two days of painting, and I’m nearly finished.
Construction, I am reliably informed, should only take half a day!
On a brighter note, do you remember printing with potatoes at primary school?
Well 50 years on, I decided to revive this noble craft and try some fabric printing.
As a first attempt, I was quite pleased with the result.
Celebrating creativity is an important part of the garden. Textiles, displaying different colours, textures, patterns and techniques, draw inspiration from cultures around the world.
Below is a sample of a variety of textiles that will be used in the garden.
Have a good week (end)!
4 weeks to go until construction starts on the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.
Fun with pallets!
Furniture making with pallets is rather on trend at the moment. Sofas, beds, tables, fences, decking, planters and much more can be created easily and for minimal expense from a few salvaged pallets – or so we are led to believe. The reality is somewhat different. This week I have learned more than I ever really wanted to about the humble pallet. So if you are contemplating a project of your own I will share a few pearls of wisdom which may save you a bit of angst and wasted time.
Unless you are very lucky, finding pallets for free, of the right size, weight and uniformity for your project, is not a walk in the park. Another option is to buy secondhand/reconditioned ones, but you need to know your pallets. Let me explain… Pallets come in different sizes, different weights, different depths. The planks on each pallet also differ in depth, number and spacing. Of the eight second hand pallets I acquired, no two were alike. From these I needed to create five close boarded platforms of equal dimensions, capable of being transported and assembled on site to form the decking.
A reciprocating saw is recommended as the best tool for taking apart pallets. Not having one, I borrowed a claw hammer, jemmy and a blue wedge shaped thingy. Eventually I triumphed. The pallets were reduced to a pile of wood and nails, it was time to put them together again!
Following are some images of work in progress – there is still some way to go – and a lot more painting to be done.
I am now the proud owner of a pair of ox blood red cowboy boots. These will definitely be a feature in the garden, but not as you might expect!
Have a great week.
5 weeks to go until construction starts on the Humanist Garden.
“He aha te mea hui? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata”.
“What is importaWhat do l need the pallets for? I’ll show you next week!nt? It’s people, it’s people, it’s people”. Maori proverb.
A few months ago, whilst living in New Zealand I had the opportunity to visit two community gardens in the Tauranga region of the Bay of Plenty. These gardens had been created by a local charity, the Good Neighbour Trust, to help bring communities together. Sharing knowledge and produce, socialising and supporting – neighbours building neighbourhoods – places where people have a sense of belonging. The Trust’s aim was simply to transform communities through simple acts of generosity and kindness.
Community gardens have been shown to have a very positive effect on physical and mental health. A report by Essex University proposed five evidenced based ‘Ways to Wellbeing’ – connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, give. Community gardens provide an ideal environment for people to connect, socialise and make friends, be active, observe the natural world, share knowledge and experience, give time, share abundance and help others.
Going back to ‘simple acts of generosity and kindness’. Last week I purchased six pallets from Shropshire Pallets and explained that I needed them the show garden. The following day I returned as I needed two more and was given them free of charge. It really made my day. So a big thank you to Shropshire Pallets.
What do I need the pallets for? I’ll show you next week!
Enjoy the week ahead.
6 weeks to go until construction starts on the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.
As part of the ethos of the garden is the celebration of creativity, there will be many elements of artisan art and crafts included in the garden. For example, pottery, basketry, weaving, textiles, art glass and sculpture.
One aspect of textile will be batik. This is the technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to cloth. Hot liquid wax is applied to the cloth using a tjanting tool, a small copper reservoir with a spout and a wooden handle. The areas of applied wax then resist the dye. Repeated layers can be built up to create colourful patterns.
Batik is an ancient art form dating back to the 4th century BC, where the fabric was used to wrap Egyptian mummies. The technique is widely practised in China, India, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and sub Saharan Africa. However, Indonesian Batik is probably the best know.
The following images show the build up of wax layers and colour. The final image shows the completed fabric, but before the wax has been removed by ironing between sheets of paper – it’s just been too hot to iron!
The different areas practising batik developed their own recognisable styles and patterns – many with symbolic meanings. For this reason I have incorporated the Happy Human motif into my designs.
The fabric will be made into cushions for the seating area of the garden and should provide a vibrant splash of colour against all the green of the vegetables.
Enjoy the week ahead.
Seven weeks to go until construction starts on Sundance, the Humanist show Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.
The Trouble with Beans
Well, this week I was going to talk about Indonesian batik, but, after a cold wet spring this glorious weather has kick started the plants into a sudden growth spurt. Well, perhaps not all of the plants. Frustratingly the French beans, which had just poked their heads through the soil and started to grow up alongside the maize, just shrivelled up and died.
Timing is all important, as the maize needs to have reached a sufficient height in order to provide climbing support for the newly emerging beans. A dash around local garden centres provided some rather sorry looking replacement French bean plants.
The central focal point of the garden is a tall sculptural structure which will also double up as a support for runner beans. The structure will be built on site which means that the runner beans need to be grown separately, transported to site and encouraged to climb up the structure.
Calling on all my Blue Peter acquired skills I set about constructing what I hope will be a portable climbing bean frame.
Using 8ft canes, plastic piping, large pots and string I have cobbled together a framework which I hope will do the job. The plastic piping is there to insert elements of the sculptural structure…..confused?…..come to the show to see how it works.
A big thank you to my sister Jenny who didn’t realise that she would have such a large structure sitting on her patio, which she is also obliged to water for the next seven weeks!
Have a great week. Enjoy the weather.
Only 10 weeks to go until construction starts on ‘Sundance’ the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show. Following several weeks of research and designing, I’m now excited to be bringing the paper drawings to life.
Over the next 10 weeks l will be sharing different aspects of the gardens preparation with you (without revealing the whole scheme). Hopefully, this will give you some insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ activity surrounding the creation of a show garden, while also providing tantalising glimpses of the finished product.
But first a little about the concept behind the garden. The floral theme for this years show is Buffalo Bill and the Wild West. An interesting and challenging brief, especially when trying to reflect the ethics and values of humanism. Using the buffalo as a starting point l discovered some interesting facts:
- The nomadic American Plains Indian tribes relied almost exclusively on the buffalo to provide food, shelter, clothing, tools and fuel.
- In the 19th century the buffalo population fell from 60,000,000 in 1800 to only 750 in 1890.
- Many Plains Indian Tribes faced starvation and were forced onto reserves.
Southern Plains Indian tribes fared better as they supplemented their diet with subsistence farming.
It was from this that the idea of a community garden began to take shape. Providing food, water and shelter, the garden emphasises the basic necessities for life and promotes the values of human welfare, happiness and fulfilment, and is a celebration of the joy of sharing, companionship and creativity.
On the subject of creativity; using a limited palette of yellow ochre, red iron oxide, turquoise and black and inspired by Native American textile patterns ( with a happy human or two thrown in) l have been busy transforming a rather large gourd.
More next week!
For the next 10 weeks until the Shrewsbury Flower Show, we will be featuring a special weekly blog by Carol Seager who is creating a “Humanist Garden”. The blog will give you weekly updates on the progress Carol is making with preparations for the show.
We really hope you enjoy this guest blog – please feel free to get in contact if you have any questions about the Flower Show or the Humanist Show Garden. For more information about our involvement with the Flower Show and how you can help us finance the Garden, please see the attached leaflet. Thank you as ever for your continued support!