Fantastic Mr Fox

It struck me yesterday that there’s quite a lot of foxy business going on in our house at the moment, but a lot less going on in the garden.

I told you a while ago about our fox pooping problem in the garden. Well that seems to have stopped, which is good for our garden but potentially not good for the fox! I googled the life span of a wild fox, and it doesn’t make for happy reading. Although in captivity foxes have a similar life span to their domestic counterparts, in the wild foxes only live for two to five years. It’s a hard life out there, they have to contend with disease, parasites and predators (which in the UK is pretty much us with our cars and chemicals).

I’ll be quite happy if I see the fox again (even if it does mean picking up fox poo) but if, as I suspect, our fox is one of these cubs that were born in our garden a couple of years ago, then he will have reached the lower end of his life expectancy. I’ll think positive: he didn’t look diseased or parasitic and I never saw him roadside, so maybe he’s just gone to poo elsewhere!

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Inside our house it’s a different story. I have a crochet drumroll moment for you coming up.

I’ve been working on a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law for a few weeks. She has a fox that visits her garden that she feeds every day so when I bought this book by Sarah Zimmerman ….

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….. and saw the fox motif, I knew I had to make it for her. This was my first experience of corner to corner (c2c) crochet, and I have to say, while I love the finished project, I didn’t love the process. In order to get the different colours in the right place you end up having lots of different little balls of yarn attached to your work which get tangled up as you crochet and turn your piece.

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I do love the effect when it’s finished though. I think it makes all the detangling and rude words worth it!

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Here’s the motif finished. I decided to make it into a cushion with a stripy back. The stripy c2c was much less faffy than the fox because the colour changes were much less frequent.

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You can see my lovely new clover hook had arrived by this point. This hook practically glides through my work with no snagged yarn and very few dropped stitches. I’ve since ordered lots more sizes so I’m never without a clover hook.

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Anyway, back to the foxes.

Time for the drumroll moment …….

Whoop! Not even into November and I have one Christmas present sorted already!

Now you may think one fox is enough for one house, but not this one. My Little Box of Crochet for September arrived on my birthday (what impeccable timing). Obviously I opened it straight away to drool over the scrummy contents, but I was very disciplined and didn’t start it until after I’d finished the cushion. Look at the box.

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Gives you a good clue to what the project might be, and I’ve also given you an extra hint with our foxy tray behind. 

Here’s the fox himself on the cover of the pattern booklet.

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As ever, the box is crammed full of everything needed to make Gareth the Sleeping Fox as well as some super cute extra gifts.

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There’s a foxy stitch marker which is needed to keep track of your rounds with this project. This was designed by Beth from Koruclay. You can find Koruclay on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram if you’d like to have a quick peek at the goodies.

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And some gorgeous little chicken buttons by incomparable buttons, who are also on Etsy.

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This beautiful, and so so useful tape measure is in perfect keeping with the theme. I told you about the tape measure before here, but here it is again in all its wonderfulness.

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Little Box of Crochet always includes a postcard. This one is designed by Jennie Maizels.

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I’d love to know what other Little Box of Crochet subscribers do with their postcards. They’re far too lovely to actually send (or is that really selfish of me?) I feel I should display them somehow because they’re sooooo pretty.

This project uses waistcoat stitch which I’ve never done before. I started it last night and, oh my goodness, I found waistcoat stitch difficult. I just couldn’t see where my hook was supposed to go, but after frogging my work a hundred times, I think I cracked it, although it doesn’t look perfect!

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I really like it, it looks like knitting. In fact, one of the tutorials I found on YouTube called it knit stitch.

I should probably explain frogging for non-crochet people. It’s a fairly new word to me, and I have to admit I thought it sounded a tiny bit rude and had to google it to reassure myself that the crochet world hadn’t lost its collective marbles, but I get it now I know what it means. I’m sure it wasn’t around before I took my kitten enforced crochet hiatus. It comes from the frog sound ribbit, ribbit. It sounds like rip it, rip it which is essentially what you do when you undo your crocheting.

Well, I think that’s all I have to say about foxes for now. I’ll be sure to show you all my finished Gareth when I get there.

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend, rainy and blustery though it may be!

Green Girl Gardener does some gardening

Afternoon lovely people who kindly take the time to read my ramblings. I do hope you’re all having a good weekend.

I’m aware that I have probably written more posts not to do with gardening than I have that are to do with gardening, which may seem odd given the title of my blog. It seems that I have quite a few passions, and they’re all spilling out on to my blog. I didn’t really realise this until I started telling you all about the things that are important to me. Quite simply, I’m writing down what happens to be falling out of my head at the particular time that I come to write. Hope you don’t mind!

Today, however, I have been at one with nature, revelling in what is probably one of the last times I’ll be able to get out there without freezing my toes and fingers off. It did try to rain a couple of times while I was out there, but it must’ve got annoyed with me ignoring it and it took its rainy self off in a huff.

What I really wanted to do was tidy up our newly created bistro area.

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This is what it looked like in early June. Crazy huh! This is after we’d paid to have someone cut back all the trees too! It took a lot of hard work to clear this, but I had a vision of how it could look, so I ignored the back pain and forged ahead.

I haven’t done any maintenance on it for a few weeks so first thing this morning it had quite a few leaves on it and fox poo! The fox seems to regard it as a giant litter tray!

Not a major difference, but you can see it looks tidier. It took quite a while to do that, I wish it looked more impressive! There is a massive difference between June and now though.

I pottered around after this and did some deadheading and general weeding. We have a delivery coming next week (weather permitting) and I wanted to clear the area ready for it. More on that soon. As an aside, I bought a hoe earlier in the year and couldn’t work out how it was better than getting down on your hands and knees and pulling weeds, but today, when I had a reasonably big area to clear it really came into its own.

After I’d turned the soil, a chirpy chappy came down to inspect the work and check if I’d turned up some lunch.

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These photos are zoomed in, but he was pretty close to me. If I moved too quickly he flew off into next door’s trees and sang beautifully for me, but would come back down once I was still again.

Now I have to admit to having had a near failure in the garden. A couple of weeks ago I decided that, as the hot weather had passed, it would be safe to plant out my Berberis which I bought from Hop Pocket out near Worcester. It had beautiful red leaves edged with gold ….

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…… but something has gone wrong! I don’t know if it didn’t like the kind of soil we have or if it was still too hot for it or if I gave it too much water, or not enough water, but today I decided to dig it back up and put it back in a pot to see if I can revive it. It’s still really prickly so I think there’s life left in it yet.

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The poor thing looks really sorry for itself and I feel like I’ve let it down, but I hope I can show you another photo in a few weeks of it looking much happier. If I succeed in nursing it back to health I think I’ll keep it in a container.

Gardening brings me such happiness and peace, but this is the downside, when something doesn’t work. Keep your fingers crossed for it folks!

A September Saturday

Oh my goodness, it’s September! How has that happened? The last time I looked it was the beginning of the summer and we had all those long, hazy days ahead of us but now the nights are drawing in and there’s a chill in the air. I’d almost forgotten what a hoody was until a week or so ago it’d been that long since I’d had the need to wear one!

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I like September though, despite the slight sense of foreboding of winter on the way. I don’t know if it’s because it starts with the same letter as my name or just because I like the curliness of an S, but I think it’s the nicest sounding month, the softest sounding month. It could be that I like it by association because my birthday falls in September. Yep, I’ll reach the ripe old age of 41 at the end of this month – feel free to eat cake!

The leaves start to turn in September and the outside world starts to be filled with vivid shades of red, orange and yellow which makes me happy. The garden is still plodding along though, seemingly unaware that summer is almost over. I think it’s just breathing a collective sigh of relieve that it’s cooled down a bit, perhaps with the exception of the Gazanias which are the beach babes of the garden. I went out there today, despite being exhausted after a late night last night, to do a bit of general housekeeping (garden keeping?) because there won’t be too many weekends left when I can, and I felt so much better for having got out there for a bit in the fresh air.

I got the yucky job out of the way first. We have a very handsome but very naughty fox who has decided he wants to make our garden his territory and he keeps leaving us little presents of the poop variety, so that needed to be cleared. I think it’s one of these two that I believe were born in our garden last year, although he looks a lot less Disney and rather more wild now after living through a cold winter outside.

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It actually wasn’t as disgusting as I thought it would be, and I was purposely lacklustre in my cleaning efforts because my theory is, if the fox can still smell his scent, hopefully he won’t feel the need to top it up, if you get my drift!

On to more sweet-smelling garden topics. My standard rose bushes which I picked up for a fiver each have absolutely excelled themselves. They look and smell AMAZING!

None of them even needed deadheading. The flowers are lasting really well.

I did have to deadhead my dahlias though, and although I know this should encourage more flowers, it always grieves me because I think even dead dahlias are pretty. My wheelbarrow planter is still full of colour despite the deadheading. There are a few more buds coming through so hopefully it’ll stay beautiful for a few more weeks yet.

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My Eupatorium is still dancing and swaying in the wind and looking stunning. I just love it for its flirtiness. I’m sure it’s grown since I planted it a three weeks ago but I haven’t compared the photos so I’m excited to see these next two pics to see if I’m right.

Yay! Look at that! The angle’s a bit different, but it’s definitely bigger. It should get to a metre and a half when it’s fully grown so I guess it’s kind of like a teenager at the mo. Luckily it’s not at all moody!

Thanks to my obsession with the sale table and poorly plants and also the generosity of Debbie, our work cleaner, who has gifted me several plants from her own garden, our border is looking much fuller.

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There are a couple of new additions in there that I didn’t add, and I’m not sure if they’re weeds or not, but they’re pretty so they’re staying for now. My grape hyacinths that were a gift from my step mum (the ones that look a little like chives in the foreground next to the wall) are clearly a little confused. They shouldn’t come up until spring, so I’m intrigued to see what will happen with them.

I’m particularly pleased with my Japanese Cherry Blossom.

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This was (surprise surprise) from the sale table at Notcutts. It was 70% off and was looking very sad and unloved. I now suspect that may have been a ploy to get itself a loving home because there was clearly nothing wrong with it and it’s now saying ‘thank you for saving me’ by treating me to this beautiful display of delicate blossoms. It really is so rewarding to create a garden, and even more so when the plants were otherwise destined for an early floral funeral!

This post was originally supposed to be about this week’s Gousto meals but I seem to have got carried away with the garden! I hope you’re not disappointed! I’ll get right on to the Gousto news now!