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Instalment one of Mrs M’s Scrapbook is now live.

This scrapbook starts in the garden for very specific reasons. 

Although gardening is not the first activity people think of when we mention craft or making, for me it is very much an act of slow creative making. A canvas on which I can enquire about and work with texture, colour, shape, scent and movement. It is a slow endless work in progress. Even when I hit milestones like the lush green early spring tapestry, the vibrant splendour of summer or a harvest of autumn crops, the “make” is not truly finished as there will be maintenance and modifications next growing season. As such it is a form of making that is endlessly engaging and satisfying.

Another important reason for placing gardening firmly in the realm of my making podcast is because working with soil, this life giving medium, is a good reminder that ultimately all the crafts and materials I enjoy are derived from the soil. And in light of the increasing pressures on our planet, and all its inhabitants, spending time with the soil, investing in it, appreciating it… are more important than ever.

January is a slow month for a gardener but I have been getting out to lay the groundwork for some fruit crops. 

After cutting back and digging out a sprawling Salvia ‘Amistad’, I planted up some bareroot canes, the autumn fruiting variety ‘Autumn Bliss’.

I also gently dug out our slightly neglected rhubarb crown and moved it to a more generous spot, both in terms of container and positioning. I’m not sure what variety of rhubarb it is as it was a gift from a fellow gardener.

The timing of both these fruit operations was probably a little sub-optimal as both were starting to show signs of new life. As I discuss in the podcast episode, there is however a big difference between the ideal timing for gardening jobs and what happens in practice, amidst the whirl of daily commitments, competing priorities and physical energy. Some timing guidelines are critical but there’s a degree of flexibility in others, which I plan to explore more in future instalments of Mrs M’s Scrapbook.

Gardening generally involves tasks that merit an entry on a To-do List (whether an actual or mental one), like sowing seeds, planting out bulbs, moving plants, seasonal pruning even… and then there are the general maintenance tasks like watering, feeding and weeding. 

The bindweed has not come back to life yet – it’s a little early for that – but I am already staying on top of the alkanet and share my tips for distinguishing young alkanet from foxglove in these early weeks of the growing seasons.

In keeping with my general podcasting style, the snippets in Mrs M’s Scrapbook will touch up the “why” as well as the “what”, “when” and “how”. If you have any questions about my gardening practices/choices or any gardening jargon (which I will try to clarify as I go), or if you want to get growing but are utterly stumped by instructions you’ve read/heard, feel please do feel free to ask questions.

And if you want to follow my gardening pottering between scrapbook episodes, you can find me on Instagram as Mrs_M_Curiosity_Cabinet

Our urban cottage garden in the “dead” of winter


A quick word about the illustrations. About two years ago I started to develop a sketching practice to support my ceramics and weaving. At some point over the past two years though I also started to sketch what I saw in my garden and neighbourhood. Not so much with the aim of developing my sketching skills but rather to reinforce the act of noticing the natural world. As a way of identifying the similarities and differences between plants, their visual features and growing habits.

Music: Windswept Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

  • Jane Gibson January 24, 2020, 10:33 pm

    That’s an a large number of pots to water. Have you thought of replacing some of them ( maybe the centre aisle ) with a raised bed to increase the growing space?

    • Mrs M January 25, 2020, 12:53 am

      One of the plans for this year is to move a raised bed that is tucked in the back of the garden and pretty useless there to the main area. I will still be keeping my shelves of herbs in pots because despite the watering they are a very joyous part of my garden. And depending on how this move goes, I may be add another one between the urns but as that spot is next to the “pit” – the dark, damp lower deck, I am very wary of how little light there is there. I add small changes and additions on a rolling basis, not least of all to test space, crops and of course spread costs…

  • Louisa February 1, 2020, 5:32 pm

    I admire your extensive use of pots and trellises to get the most out of your wee space! I have a lot more room to garden in but it’s becoming ever more constricted as to what will grow thanks to my monster trees. The invasive roots and overarching canopy are frustrating. We can have them pruned which is very expensive but we can’t chop them down thanks to city ordinance. However I really enjoy mucking about in the dirt though we joke about our $50 tomatoes! The connection to The Real World is priceless, isn’t it?


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