Blooming Secrets!

April 15th, 2014

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red flowers being sprayed with a yellow water bottle

It’s been a beautiful, sunny day and we’ve just spent the afternoon on our new allotment – digging, weeding, planting & pruning. It’s tough work as the site has been neglected for many months, but it’s great fun.

view of our garden

Having had a hot bath to ease those aching muscles we’re now relaxing at home – and are actually browsing the web doing some virtual gardening!

garden peas

We consider ourselves garden novices really. We have a small courtyard style garden at home & our newly acquired allotment. They’re quite different spaces. One is shady & damp – the other more open & sunny. Each has it’s own distinct challenges and indeed opportunities – and we’re always happy to get personal tips or improve our knowledge through books & websites.

'Caribbean Cocktail' flowers

The Blooming Secrets website is an ideal port of call.

tomatoes, beetroot and carrots growing in the ground

It’s best described as a personalised gardening service founded by John Toepfer and Susan Brandt – a brother & sister team who launched their site after John shared stories with his sister about the numerous questions he’d received from his neighbours asking for advice and help with their own gardens.

selection of herbs growing in zinc containers

You create a personal profile which is free of charge. It then recommends products based on interests, suitability, skill levels & growing conditions.

seeds in brown envelopes and seedlings and bulbs in plant pots

The website is easy to navigate, combining shop & blog which can offer information, advice and answer questions. The shop sells a large range of plants, seeds, tools and other accessories. Every month, there are be exclusive gardening offers to purchase.

watering can and other garden tools with a straw hat

The founders stated goal is to inspire people to garden and make a positive impact on our environment. This isn’t just lip service – the icing on the cake with this website is that a percentage of each purchase goes to a gardening or conservation organisation of your choice. You simply click your preferred option at checkout – blooming marvellous!


Allotment Diary: Going to seed

April 15th, 2014

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Two seed catalogues

Two seed catalogues that we’d ordered online arrived this week. A mind-boggling array of fruit, vegetable and flower seeds lay within their pages.

Two seed catalogues open on the sweet pea pages

But we remained single-minded and didn’t allow ourselves to go wild with the ordering. We were only after some scented sweet pea seeds for now.

Justin digging and weeding a bed on the allotment

Our idea was to break the allotment up into small areas and concentrate on them one at a time. Rather than to try and tackle the whole plot in one go. We chose a spot that we wanted to make into a bed to grow, you guessed it, sweet peas. We dug it over…

Justin laying a path with salvaged bricks on the allotment

…and Justin laid a path using some of the salvaged bricks we found strewn all over the allotment last week. I know, it looks like Justin did all the work… someone had to take the photos!

A robin visits us on the allotment

With all the digging going on, it wasn’t long before this cute, little robin stopped by to feast on the worms that we’d uncovered. Smart little birds, robins – get the humans to do all the hard work!

unfinished sweet pea wig wams on the allotment

By the end of the afternoon, the bed was dug, the border and path were laid and the first few canes of the sweet pea wig-wams had been erected. Not a bad day’s work.

Etsy List: Easter Eggstravaganza!

April 14th, 2014

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'Easter Eggstravaganza!' Etsy List from H is for Home

Have a look at our eggcellent, eggstraordinary, eggsciting array of Easter items from Eggtsy!

Easter Eggstravaganza!
curated by H is for Home

Pick of the Pads: Art House

April 13th, 2014

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May 2014 Elle Decoration magazine with collection of fat lava pottery

For this month’s Pick of the Pads, we’ve chosen the gorgeous home of Tony & Theresa Tilly featured in the May 2014 edition of Elle Decoration. They share a passion for collecting, particularly Mid Century Modern, so it’s joy to view their pieces – and interesting to see how they’re displayed in a domestic setting.

May 2014 Elle Decoration magazine with 'Art House' article title

Situated in the forests of Arden, this secluded modern home is built from locally sourced stone & wood – natural materials that sit perfectly in the landscape.

May 2014 Elle Decoration magazine showing garden looking towards the house

It’s full of light and space – and large enough to accommodate their wonderful collection of art, pottery, furniture & cacti!

May 2014 Elle Decoration magazine with 'Art House' article double page spread

The couple have filled their house with wonderful pieces – and we like their philosophy for collecting. To quote Tony -  “Before buying a piece, I ask myself – Do I like it and does it fit our style? I don’t chase design names.

May 2014 Elle Decoration magazine showing art collection with a background azure blue wall

They display objects with care & imagination. There are hundreds of pieces, but there’s no sense of it being cramped. The vases are almost like a flowing river!

May 2014 Elle Decoration magazine double page spread showing sitting room with large glass floor to ceiling windows looking out to the garden

The artwork on the walls is striking, the furniture & lighting well considered. There’s also a real warmth to the spaces.

May 2014 Elle Decoration magazine showing collection of blue pottery vases

There’s no sense that you couldn’t get on with day to day activities. The collection enhances rather than hinders life.

May 2014 Elle Decoration magazine showing sitting room with wood burning stove, logs and pottery vase collection

Actually, the couple seem to have a near perfect existence! When Tony is asked to describe a typical day, this is his answer:

“We spend a lot of time outdoors. I collect timber in the forest for our wood-burning stove, I walk the dog, and sometimes my wife rides one of the horses while I cycle alongside her. Sometimes I get up very early so that I can get to the fleamarkets in the cities. I don’t like routine so each day is different.”


Charity Vintage: Carr biscuit tin

April 12th, 2014

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vintage Carr biscuit tin being sold on eBay for Charity by & in support of Isabel Hospice(ends 15 Apr, 2014 09:05:55 BST)

This vintage Carr biscuit tin is being sold on eBay for Charity by & in support of Isabel Hospice*. It looks as if it’s been through the wars. Lots of scratches and other wear and what looks to be a large, sticky black area on the top where there was once a label.

But it’s so pretty; such a lovely illustration… and it’s only £5! The good news is that rubbing it gently all over with a bit of Brasso wadding should get rid of much of the ancient dirt and sticky black stuff (this is one of our little restoration secrets!).

*Isabel Hospice is a charity needing to raise nearly £4 million per annum to provide their free services to the people of eastern Hertfordshire. Their ethos is that they treat the whole person, not simply the illness. They offer a complete hospice service through their team of Community Nurse Specialists, a 16-bed, in-patient hospice, a day hospice, outreach day hospices, hospice at home and a family support and bereavement service.