Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Garden's Baubles . . . and Mine

Admittedly, the above is not a particularly convincing photo, but it's meant to show you that the "strawberries" on my Arbutus uneda (Strawberry tree) are plumping up and changing colour. While I've had berries on this good-sized specimen the first year after I planted it (thanks to whatever was laid down at the nursery, presumably), I've been disappointed each year since. This is about the sixth year it's been here and it's going to be well-decorated by Christmas!
Interesting to note how much further ahead is this smaller specimen (also arbutus uneda) potted in the front yard -- its berries are already red. I expect it will shut down after this year and make me wait years for more redness as well. Both of them happily remind me of the many Arbutus uneda shrubs we noticed growing wild, roadside, in hilly rural Portugal.

When I was shopping this weekend in Vancouver, I was dismayed to hear Christmas carols being piped through the stores. While that's a cliché I can't appreciate, the fresh green-and-red of Skimmia japonica pleases me, especially when it's brightening up the shady side garden while flashing its holiday colours.

Much darker, potentially more sombre, are these deep purple berries of the Sambucus nigra (Black beauty). I love the subtle contrast with the red stems, and I was pleased to have caught these raindrops adding some sparkle.

But if it's sparkle you're looking for, you'd better come inside and I'll show you my new bracelet.

I found it at my local boutique, From A to Zebra; it's handmade, probably in papier-maché and collage/decoupage (although there's no school hall craft-fair roughness to this). The glossy finish is gilded with a raised gold paint and studded with wee rhinestones. It's light and lovely and lends fabulousness to any simple outfit.

And it's got most of my favourite animal prints represented, to boot. Karen (of a Certain Age) and I have been chatting through our comments about the wonders of these prints ever since her great post 'fessing up to her huge stash. I don't think I ever considered wearing zebra or cheetah before my 40s, and now I've got my own fairly hefty stash. I try my best never to wear more than one at a time (that's the start of a slippery slope, no?), but I do love their speedy delivery of glam. What about you? Are you a fan?
And what about your gardens, or the gardens around you? Any sparkle or colour there to cheer up this greyer time of the year?


  1. That is the cutest handmade thing I've ever seen. Not to "craft fair" and very unique! Love it!

    PS--Saw a scarf like your new one today. It was at Target, had the chevrons and the same colors, but alas, not my colors.

    My little old lady next door is so amazing at what she knits. She offered to teach me. Imagine that, knitting lessons, next door! How will I find the time? I hear it is soothing for the nervous soul...

  2. I love the idea of you wearing purple and red together--it's one of my favorite combinations, so much so that I'd like to make a quilt with those colors (after pink and orange--when will I find the time?!).

  3. What a lovely bracelet! I appreciate it being handmade. The print on it is cute. Generally I don´t like animal prints,too exotic for me ,living here-way up north.

  4. I love the bracelet. Whoever designed it has a great sense of style, regardless of the humble origins.

  5. Karen: I find knitting really relaxing -- and you can't argue with the convenience of having lessons right next door!
    Miss C: Inspired by your post, I just might try it!
    Metscan: Ah! I see you're in Finland -- that definitely qualifies for "north," doesn't it! And I can see how animal prints might seem exotic, but I'm beginning to think of them as classic, somehow, or classic-with-a-punch, in the correct doses, at least.
    Nancy: Thanks! I think so too -- the handiwork is so fine, but there's also a great sense of proportion that really appeals to me.

  6. Jewels in your garden and the wild on your wrist. Gorgeous garden shots, as usual, and I am wild for your exotic bracelet.

  7. Right now my garden looks like brown...brown and infested by wasps.

    But my eyes are still too dazzled by that bangle.

  8. The bangle is very 'White Mischief'
    What I love is the pattern on the inside, I love it when people pay as much detail to the inside as the outside. Even though no one sees it I love the secrecy of it all.
    I am the same with clothes, I have a skirt that is beautifully lined with a pattern only I can see. Love is in the detail.
    Before I had children I wore armfuls of bangles a la Nancy Cunard, now I cannot wear anything on my wrists , not even a watch. I have become very claustraphobic as I have got older and so donated my collection of bracelets to mother.

  9. Hello, just popped by to tell you that we had a lovely time on the weekend. The hotel was great - unfortunately, Jennifer wasn't around, but everyone else was very friendly and helpful. Friday evening we spent a couple of hours in the Louvre, then we had dinner at your Maroccan restaurant. We had to wait for a table, but they gave us wine and nibbles (marinated veggies and olives), so we didn't mind. The food and atmosphere were wonderful. Saturday we walked and walked .... We had shawarma at Chez Hanna and Mexican food in the evening. Needless to say, we hope to return soon! Patricia

  10. LBR: Ah! you're a wild punner, aren't you!
    Thomas: Brown can be good, and wasps have their place, but maybe your garden wants a berrying shrub or three . . .
    Alison: I'm pleased someone (and not surprisingly, it's you!) noticed the inside, which I love. as well for the same reason. I have a leather jacket I cherish as much for the pink satin lining trimmed with gold pleated satin in place of bias tape -- for my pleasure only.
    I was on a barely successful hunt this weekend for cherry-red bangles -- could have just asked you?
    Patricia: Too bad you didn't meet Jennifer, but sounds as if you had a wonderful time. Glad you enjoyed the hotel -- I always worry that folks I recommend to might not be as happy with 2-star as we can be. You're obviously much more sophisticated than we are (or me, at least, I'm the early diner) -- we've never been late enough at Sirocco to have to wait for a table. It would be an even cozier room now than it is in the summer -- I'd love one of their tagines right now!

  11. Fabulous bangle and although I am late to the party I loved the inside too, especially the contrast in feel between the inside and outside. That is the kind of thing that can bring quite a smile in the wearing.

    I have been putting the yard and garden to bed. Not that I did much with it this year, but at least it can be cozy for the coming cold. Next year is always a new beginning, isn't it.

    And if you find cherry red bangles I am so envious, I was jut thinking today that cherry red was exactly what I needed. I must have been channeling the spirit of your quest.

  12. This was fun for me, because I got to experience gardening and backyards vicariously through you. I haven't had any ground of my own for years.

    That bracelet looks like you. :D

  13. Mardel: Good for you doing the fall tidy-up. Somehow, by the time I should be doing that, I get too busy with other things, and before I know it, I've ignored it right into winter, and then, you know, might as well wait 'til spring. . .
    Enc: I've always had a little patch to garden, but if/when we eventually move full-time to the city, I'll have to give that up. Guess I'll just have to find a blogger and find some vicarious backyard action!
    And thanks (I think) on saying the bracelet looks like me -- fun to hear that from a virtual acquaintance, rather than one who knows my flesh-and-bones self -- I always wonder what I "look like" to my blog-readers, don't you?

  14. Again, with the beautiful garden pictures. You've giving me a complex! Seriously though, isn't it great to have so much nature as inspiration around you? I remember one drive through the Salinas valley in California one December day. It was in between rainstorms, and the combination of steel greys in the sky, the bright green of the new grass (like the sidebars of your blog, incidentally) and the ochre brown of newly ploughed earth is something I'll never forget. I want to design a quilt in those colors. Someday I will.

    Love the flower cuff especially!! I'm on a Chanel kick these days.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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