Petal & Pins

Tag: winter

After the Solstice

winter vase

vase of bergenias, hellebores, jonquil and camellia buds & leaves


For a couple of weeks before the winter solstice my garden seems devoid of flowers and then after it seems like each day something new appears in bloom.

It starts with a smattering of jonquils and then a patch of snow drops. I can begin to gather tiny bunches of violets and the hellebore buds start to open.

But it’s the bergenias and swamp iris that make a real statement with their pink and purple splashes of colour throughout the garden. They invoke an air of anticipation although there is a good two months to go until Spring.

When the sun’s out and the temperature agreeable it’s a great time to be in the garden which is just how I spent my Saturday with Mr Petal & Pins.

swamp iris garden fairy's wardrobe dress by petal & pins

swamp iris dress for My Garden Fairy’s Wardrobe

Embroidered Light

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens trees lit red for Dark MoFo

illuminated trees

trees lit red for Dark Mofo

trees illuminated for Dark Mofo

illuminated trees

Last night we went to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens  to see artist Tyrone Sheather’s sculptures as part of the Hobart Dark Mofo festival.

The trees along the avenue to the gardens were lit up red and the effect was very beautiful, it reminded me of oriental embroidery or brocade.


all images © Sandra Alcorn 2015

Child’s Play


Several glass jars filled with water were the perfect size for small hands to do some flower arranging when my five year old friend Audrey came for a visit.

We took my flower basket down into the garden to pick some flowers and I showed her how to pull  the leaves off the lower part of the stems.

The arranging was all Audrey’s and it was fascinating watching her at work choosing what she put together. I love the ‘looseness’of the arrangements.

That evening I had visitors coming for dinner and arranged all the vases on a wooden tray with some tea lights – a happy colourful display for a winter Sunday supper.

Other Places & Sunny Faces

The heartsease seeds I planted in summer are thriving.

Even with our cold start to winter they are still flowering and I find myself wandering down to where they’re growing just to see their ‘sunny faces’ –  such a simple thing always makes me smile and lifts my mood.

I’ve been picking some and letting others go to seed so I can scatter them in other places.

You may remember the tiny no bigger than a thimble vase I use for them in Love-in-Idleness – just one of the other names they go by.

I have been contemplating designing a dress with them for My Garden Fairy’s Wardrobe but so far have just picked enough to create this delicate bodice.

© Sandra Alcorn 2015

© Sandra Alcorn 2015

In A Corner

© Sandra Alcorn 2015

© Sandra Alcorn 2015

Since it was cold and drizzly  it was a quick sprint outside to pick something to use for joining in with Julie’s ‘In a Vase on Monday’ meme today.

At this time of year I can always find some bergenia flowers in my garden. I chose an old brass vase which I don’t usually use for fresh flowers and its oriental style has influenced the style of the arrangement.

The plum sticks I used in my ‘String of Pearls’ vase have dried nicely (as have the rowan berries) so I decided to make a lattice like element with them.

Combined with the bergenia flowers are three bergenia leaves in graduating sizes, a piece of clematis vine  and a sprig of a variegated ground cover that no matter how much time I spend pulling it out of the garden it persists!

I have also added one of my silk butterflies – you can see how I’ve used them before in my post Butterfly Wings & Other Things.

© Sandra Alcorn 2015

© Sandra Alcorn 2015

I have photographed it in the corner of the fireplace bookshelf near a lovely embroidered panel my sister bought me on a trip to China, it’s not a spot I usually sit a vase but it works rather well so perhaps it’s time to rearrange a few things.

© Sandra  Alcorn 2015

© Sandra Alcorn 2015

© Sandra Alcorn 2015

© Sandra Alcorn 2015

I have made several dresses for My Garden Fairy using bergenia flowers that you can see here and here .

If you have been enjoying seeing My Garden Fairy’s Wardrobe designs I have three new card collections available from my new petal & pins shop and I’m offering free shipping worldwide on the card collection sets until the 30th June 2015 with the code FREESHIPPING615

Four Seasons

SummerRoyal Botanic Garden, Sydney Australia © Sandra Alcorn 2015

Holly Leaves & Xmas Doves

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

Back in winter, when the berries were red, I created my garden fairy several holly gowns with Christmas in mind and chose this one for a special festive edition card.

Early in December I took my Garden Fairy’s Wardrobe collection to the market. Although my Petal & Pins stall was quite petite I wanted something else to have alongside my card sets and decided to make origami doves that I strung on fine gold thread.

petal and pins xmas cardspetal and pins market stall








origami dove

The cards and the doves proved so popular that I never got to send any of the holly dress cards myself and needed to make more doves to use for my own festive decorating.

We have had house guests over christmas including ball obsessed Oscar the Groodle so the safest place for my glass baubles was in a vase rather than dangling tantalisingly from the tree.

With the addition of a branch and some of my origami doves it made a striking centrepiece on the dining table on christmas day and now graces the cocktail cabinet ready for New Years Eve festivities.

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

Time & Tide

There was wild weather all around Tasmania last week and it was still pouring with rain as we headed off for a few days up the east coast on Friday for some time out and to celebrate Mr Petal & Pins birthday.

We arrived at Rocky Hills Retreat pleased to find the wood heater already lit and we could enjoy watching the brooding atmosphere outside while cosily tucked up on  the couches with a glass of champagne.

The Retreat has an old weatherboard church relocated from Hobart which has been turned into a creative studio for guests so on Saturday morning we wandered up after breakfast to explore and play.

Mr Petal & Pins dusted off his musical skills and found a spot to sit where the sun was streaming in to strum a guitar while I chose to sketch him with charcoal.

Sunday we woke up to blue sky and sunshine, perfect for a drive further up the coast to Friendly Beaches in the Freycinet National Park.

I made this Garden Fairy’s dress in situ and then left it for the tide to take.

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

I went a little crazy taking photos on the beach and I thought I’d share a few since you might not be familiar with this part of the world.
It is a beautiful place, the colours magical on a sunny day…and as you can see we had the whole beach to ourselves!

Friendly Beaches Tasmania

Friendly Beaches Tasmania

Friendly Beaches Tasmania

Friendly Beaches Tasmania

beach flora

rocks east coast Tasmania

rocks east coast Tasmania

Friendly Beaches Tasmania

view from Cape Torville

all photos © Sandra Alcorn 2014

Jewelled Webs

misty morning

I woke up this morning to a view of fog and only the tops of the bare branched trees visible. Walking down the street the city and river were also blanketed in white.

After raining most of the night everything glistened with raindrops and I decided when I returned from my morning walk I would go looking for ‘raindrop beaded’ spiderwebs in the garden.

cobweb series

cobweb series

cobweb series

cobweb series

spiderweb series

On the weekend I discovered snowdrops in flower and one or two early blossoms on the plum tree but this morning’s fog showed there is more winter to get through yet.


And beauty to be found in the garden whatever the season.

birds in cherry tree

cobweb in the lilac treeAll photos © Sandra Alcorn 2014


© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

I’ve been bolder this year in pruning the lavender bushes back in the half circle garden bed that follows the path to my front door.

Over summer they were taller than me and a buzz with bees. The ants seemed to like them too which made me less inclined to pick it for vases.

But as the days grew cooler, the ants moved on and I harvested the flower spikes to dry.

My mother took some back to Sydney along with some pretty lace scraps to make lavender bags.

There are now new shoots appearing  on the bushes and I await with interest how tall they will be come Spring.

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