Now that I am a flower grower I do not have as much time to read as I used to, it may also have something to do with having a small child and running a business or two. On holidays I tend to lose myself in a grisly thriller by Tess Geritsen or Karin Slaughter. During the rest of the year the only things I manage to find time to read are horticultural books. They may be tending more towards the growing, top tips and advice about which varieties to grow for cutting, or more towards the arranging side of things. Not quite books, but I do also flick through bulb or seed catalogues to find new gems to grow in my own Flower Patch usually resulting in me selecting far too many "must have" tulip bulbs or dahlia tubers to grow. Obviously, they are all necessary purchases! One book I do find time to go back to again and again is the first book by Louise Curley "The Cut Flower Patch". You can find a review that Cally Smart wrote about it, on the blog for my other business, Our Flower Patch here. I still find The Cut Flower Patch a source of inspiration and useful information. Therefore you can imagine I was eagerly awaiting Louise's second book "The Crafted Garden".
The Crafted Garden is all about getting closer to natural items and using them to decorate our lives. Some of the projects could be used as decorations in your own home or to create items that could be given as very thoughtful gifts. Each project is thoroughly explained by Louise and beautifully illustrated with photographs by Jason Ingram. Each activity not only has a "How To" section explaining how to make the project, but contains background information and useful snippets about the plants, flowers, leaves or seedpods that are used to create it. The craft projects are arranged season by season, with plenty to get your teeth into in each section.
This is so much more than a garden craft book. By dealing with the horticultural elements of each of the "My Key Plants" used in each project, you will find out how to grow, propagate or be given suggestions of where to buy the plants used. As a grower I love this element of the book. It may mean that some of the projects take a bit longer to complete if you choose to grow the "ingredients" first from seed to complete an activity but that is all part of the journey of discovery. Rather than a tub of glue, a can of spray paint or a load of sequins that may create something that is often quickly discarded, some of the projects may live for weeks or longer, gracing your table or your windowsill, often with suggestions of then planting them into your garden to continue to grow and develop. It is all part of enjoying the changing of the seasons and appreciating what nature has to offer close up, kind of like the school nature table that so inspired Louise in her childhood.
One of my favourite activities is the eggshell vases. It reminds me of something I used to do as a child, but with the stylish twist of the weeping birch nest. A perfect way to see Spring flowers up close and remind us that the warmer brighter days are arriving. I have had requests for an Easter door wreath workshop, so I may just adapt Louise's idea to create a wreath. I am enquiring about egg shell availability from a friend who has chickens with different colour eggs, now wouldn't that be special. The days just need to get lighter fro them to start laying, come on girls! You can do it!
I also love the squash vases. So bright and colourful and something I've not thought of doing with the ornamental or edible squash I grow most years. Perfect for an Autumn display in your home. What a wonderful way of making just a few blooms look so special. I must confess to being a bit of a dahlia addict. We will have some amazing new varieties at My Flower Patch later this year...watch this space.
Louise also discusses responsible foraging, endangered moss and reminds us when flowers or plants are toxic. In a gentle way Louise helps us realise that creative projects can be made in such a way that they have a minimal impact on the environment. Reusing, re-purposing, recycling, re-creating and eventually composting your projects are all elements which are much discussed. Rather than traditional glitter why not use sugar frosting to bring a bit of sparkle to a Christmas table arrangement for example.
Louise has already inspired me to have a go at an unsealed terrarium. I potted up some offshoots of succulents into a variety of open topped glass containers. Here is one, as they say, I made earlier. I am now looking around for funky containers, and planning a succulent planting workshop for later in the year. Get in touch if you would like to know more about any workshops we are planning. Our newsletter subscribers get told the details before the general public, so do shout if you would like to be added to the newsletter mailing list. The workshops will be held at Sticks and Stones in Woodborough, Wiltshire. So we get to have delicious cake and coffee at the same time as having fun and being creative.
So if this review has inspired you to take a have a go at some of the projects in Louise's new book take a look at the special offer we have for you. To order The Crafted Garden by Louise Curley at the discounted price of £13.99 including p&p* (RRP: £16.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and quote the offer code APG355.
*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.
Enjoy! I'm off to pot up some new perennials that have just arrived. Have a great weekend!
Images extracted from The Crafted Garden by Louise Curley, photography by Jason Ingram. Published by Frances Lincoln.