The Final Countdown – 3 Weeks To Go

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.week3-3

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)!

Carol

The Final Countdown – 4 Weeks To Go

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 projectis 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. 

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 triumphedThe 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.

Week4-3 Week4-2
Week4-4 Week4-1

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.

Carol

The Final Countdown – 5 Weeks To Go

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!

week5

Enjoy the week ahead.

Carol

The Final Countdown – 6 Weeks To Go

6 weeks to go until construction starts on the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

Celebrating creativity
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!

Week6-1 Week6-2
Week6-3 Week6-4

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.
Carol

The Final Countdown – 7 Weeks To Go

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.

Week7Image1

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!

Week7Image2

Have a great week. Enjoy the weather.
Carol

The Final Countdown – 8 Weeks To Go

Eight weeks to go before construction starts on ‘Sundance’ the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

It’s been a busy week, mainly because I moved into my new home in Shrewsbury. All my worldly goods have been in storage for six months so it was quite a surprise to open boxes and discover the contents. Less exciting has been trying to find a home for everything.

As I mentioned last week, the garden uses companion planting. Companion planting and permaculture are an essential part of the ethos of the garden. Permaculture is built on a foundation of ethical principles – caring for the planet, caring for others, sharing abundance. Using techniques from indigenous peoples around the world, permaculture embraces traditional (pre-industrial) agriculture, and influences from other cultures.

Companion planting is the technique of growing compatible crops together such as maize, beans and squash – also known as ‘the three sisters’. The corn provides a climbing frame for the beans. The beans are nitrogen fixers and improve the soil. And the squash provide ground cover and suppress weeds.

In addition to the three sisters the garden will also have tomatoes, chillies and onions growing together. Herbs and flowers are also very beneficial in a variety of ways. For example, between them, camomile, marigold and comfrey enrich the soil by providing calcium, potassium, phosphorus, silicon, nitrogen, and magnesium. Nasturtiums attract black fly away from beans and sunflowers attract pollinators.

In the week ahead, as well as nurturing plants, I hope to get started on the batik panels for the screens. More about batik next week.

Have a lovely week – I think it’s going to warm up a bit!
Carol Seager

The Final Countdown – 9 Weeks To Go

Only 9 weeks to go until construction starts on ‘Sundance’ the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

Why ‘Sundance’?

Each year, North American Plains Indian tribes would gather together for the Sundance. This was a time of feasting, dancing and sharing and an opportunity to reinforce their relationships with the environment, the animal kingdom and each other.

These events, which differed somewhat across the Plains, were chronicled by early western observers. More sensationalist reports focused on the Sundance as a rite of passage. Young warriors were attached to a long flexible pole by ropes skewered through the skin on their backs. They would then dance for 24 hours – a bit like a puppet on a string – perhaps a forerunner of reality TV!

Before I am inundated with offers from eager parents nominating their sons for this role; I must stress that this ritual is not a feature of the garden. The Humanist Garden focuses on sharing abundance, celebrating creativity and reinforcing caring relationships.

Using the happy human logo I have created a Humanist Sundance design. Look out for the finished product at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

week2(1)

Finally, the main focus this week has been on potting up plants and seedlings. Timing is critical for the plants to be at their absolute peak for the show. Some warmer weather would be very welcome. Most plants are doing well, apart from the butternut squash – not too sure what’s going on with them. They’ve been fed, watered and sprayed with insecticide – hopefully they’ll pick up soon.

week2(2)

As a community garden, the planting is largely fruit and vegetables. The planting scheme is inspired by the South American practices of companion planting. I’ve also been looking at permaculture and how it can be used in a small garden. But more of that next week.

Enjoy the week ahead.
Carol Seager

%d bloggers like this: