Tuesday 1 September 2015

'The Crafted Garden' by Louise Curley - a book review

I'll admit I was a bit it doubtful when it came to this book. I thought it might be one of wasting time and getting frustrated at fiddly ephemeral projects, but reading the introduction Curley makes me want to be more in tune and celebrate the seasons inside my home. When you have had weather like us (no summer to speak of) it is a joy to see fresh flowers and plants whilst cosy and away from the constant rain.

It seems that at Christmas many of us find no problem in bring the outside in with wreaths, garlands and trees etc. Why not make this a year round event and as Louise says, invoke those days of the nature table in primary school, taking time to truly study the intricate beauty of nature in seeds, leaves and lichen etc. A miniature world of magic and miracles, free, forgaged or grown yourself.

On this point of foraging, there are great guidelines provided which are so very important and tips on cut flower care. All this before the book starts in earnest, broken up into the seasons....

As with every season Lousie provides a stunning variety of flower and foliage for you to grow or look out for. Yes, there are some fiddly projects (not great when you have permanent double vision like me) but the terrariums (which are so trendy) and the alpine theatre are really two projects I could see myself doing. Oh, and I love the tips on collecting quintessential spring flowers and pressing them; a fun record of a place or season and educational.

Each chapter ends with making use of nature at every turn, in this case how to make leaf mold.

The big question is put forward - why buy imported flowers when you can celebrate your garden and allotment?! I know we are all guilty at some time of buying exotic blooms when our own home grown are just as beautiful. This chapter provides great advice on choosing and growing cut flowers but also using colourful veg and herbs as centrepieces. There are instructions on drying flowers and tips on how florists make arrangements. Perfectly for the season, this chapter includes some fun kid projects too.

A celebration of the colourful leaves, autumn vegetables such as gourds, bare trees, making very simple but effective decorations showing their fragility and beauty. We have guidance of picking plants and trees with great seed heads and foliage and how to preserve with glycerine. To end we learn the best way to gather seeds for the next year.

Scandinavian style projects of rustic Christmas d├ęcor abound here, such as those found in beautiful and expensive shops. Making your own could be fun for all the family and I did really like the alternative tree featuring pine cones, twisted hazel and natural baubles. Napkin rings and gift embellishments are sweet and easy...why have I never thought of this beautiful heartfelt touches before?

The book ends with a long, extensive list of suppliers, so no excuses :)

Overall this is an excellent quality book with stunning photography and written in a friendly and relate-able way. Some projects are childish, but that's not a problem, getting the kids involved and appreciating the beautiful outdoors is a lovely family activity and great teaching method; it also takes you back to your own sense of childhood wonder. Further, if you live to entertain this book is for you and when I think about it now, it would be of fabulous help for great cost effective wedding solutions!!

Love and hugs