Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Monday 29 October 2012

Long overdue flock management

I knew what had to be done . . . but even so it wasn't easy or pleasant to do.

After losing two hens, the flock was down to four hens and three cockerels. It was time to stop agonising and organise.

So, this evening the deed was done; now the sole remaining senior under-gardener, Phoebe, and the Spice Girls (Saffron, Nutmeg and Ginger) can settle down with their head-boy, Cheep.

One day I'd like to add three new pullets, but I think that I'll leave that plan for the new year.

Celia x

Sunday 28 October 2012

. . . and the pumpkins weigh . . .

The two Galeux d'Eysines Squash weighed 11kg and 11.5kg - surprisingly heavy, but these are densely fleshy gourmet squash and not your bog standard jack o'lantern pumpkins!

Here's a chart of the guesses - as you can see most people under-estimated. Zoe's deductions were along the right lines but then she went to far over the top! And Debs Dust Bunny, I thought you'd were bang on target but you then said 'combined' - so you ended up way off target.

The closest guesses were Su (I thought she'd get close), Geiger (brilliant estimating) and best of all .... drum roll .....

Cat of Stripes - a kilo short of the mark but an excellent guess - if you email your address to me: studio at celiahart dot co dot uk I'll pop a small prize in the post.

Thanks for taking part

Friday 26 October 2012


You may remember that I was doubtful whether this year's squash would have time to mature - on 1 September there were 2 Galeux d'Eysines Squash about the size of grapefruit.

Well, here they are harvested and I'm impressed by the size and weight - probably the largest squash I've ever managed to grow in the 3 sisters bed.

They are roughly the same weight - can you guess how heavy they are?

Who's guess is the closest? 
Competition closes Sunday 28th October
6pm GMT

I might give a prize if someone is spot on ;-)


PS: the Tabby studio assistant weighs 4.5 kilos

Thursday 25 October 2012

Holiday souvenirs . . . what do you buy?

What do you buy when you're travelling? . . . things that remind you of your adventures but not too bulky and heavy or fragile . . . things that are small, inexpensive and useful . . .

With apologies for the rubbish photographs (we are shrouded in thick autumnal fog in Suffolk this week), these are some of the things that fell out of my bag when I unpacked after our travels through Oregon and North California . . .

But I've discovered a new favourite souvenir – not only is it light weight and unbreakable but you meet lovely people to chat to in gorgeous shops and when you get home you have hours of happiness making it into wearable things which reminds you of the places you went to on your adventures . . .

Here's my holiday stash . . .

from left to right we have

• Miro 'Portland' by Abstract Fiber bought from Knit Purl in the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon

• Royal Platinum Alpaca 'Spice Rack', Hand Dyed by Royal Fiber Spinnery bought from Brownsville Stitching Parlor in Brownsville, Oregon.

• Gombe Superfine Alpaca 'Desert Varnish' by Curious Creek Fibers bought from the Mendocino Yarn Shop in Mendocino, California

• Sonoma 'Chocolate Cherries' by Baah! bought from North Coast Knittery in Eureka, California

Knitting and yarn is BIG and COOL in the Pacific NW, the shops were overflowing with beautiful yarn (most of which is sourced from the UK, Ireland and Europe) and buzzing (click-clacking?) with enthusistic knitters. Just stepping through the doorway and whispering that you knit, is your passport to be welcomed like an old friend who speaks a common language.

Oh yes . . .  and thank you to Cliff for waiting patiently while I selected xx

Before I finish, I've got to show you this . . . it's my souvenir from Portland Saturday (& Sunday) Art Market . . . I couldn't resist buying a handbag from Mugwump, aka Suzanne Keolker. She makes funky accessories from upcycled books and stuff that is heading to landfill.


Sunday 21 October 2012

Meeting giant trees

Hello! and thank you for the kind wishes in the comments after my last blogpost. This post is a bit long so settle down with a cuppa . . .

I'm now back in British Summer time, the post holiday washing is all done and I've answered all my emails and dealt with the post; I'm starting to remember what a wonderful adventure Cliff and I had on our long journey from Seattle down the Pacific North West coast of the USA to San Francisco.

One of the reasons for deciding to go back to the US west coast . . . well actually it was THE main reason . . . we both wanted to see the Coastal Redwood forests.

After a lovely train journey from Seattle, we spent a weekend in Portland - which was fabulous and fun; followed by a week in the Cascade Mountains before driving down the stunningly beautiful Oregon coast before we reached California and the Coastal Redwoods.

So far, the sun had shone every day of the trip (yes, even in Portland!) but as soon as we reached California the mornings were cool and foggy; we stopped at The Lady Bird Johnson Grove to meet our first giant trees . . .

We walked along a short trail into the forest and soon reached the Redwoods, their straight trunks like columns disappearing high above us into the mist.

These photographs remind me of the experience, but I'm not sure they really show you the sheer vastness of the trees that we saw here, and in the Redwood forests through Humbolt County over the following three days.

This photo may help you to grasp the scale . . . that teeny little toy-person propped against a tree is in fact really me standing against 'BIG TREE' one of the biggest of the ancient 'old stand' Redwoods still in existance.

This tree is 304 feet (92.6 metres) tall, that is roughly the same height as the Statue of Liberty in New York or Big Ben's Clock Tower (The Elizabeth Tower) in London.
The diametre of its trunk is 21.6ft (6.6 metres) and the circumference is 68 feet (20.7 metres).
The estimated age of BIG Tree is 1500 years.

For such huge trees the leaves and cones are surprisingly small scale, here are some leaves I picked up from the forest floor to stick into my travel diary - they are very similar to and not much larger than English Yew tree leaves. The tiny cones are about the size of acorns, and are full of hundreds of seeds.

But, although some Readwoods do grow from the scattered seeds, the more usual method of reproduction is by side shoots - which explains their scientific name: Sequoia sempervirons, meaning 'everlasting'.

The life cycle of the tree spans a millennium . . . one thousand years . . . new growth from the knobbly 'buds' around the base of the trunk is triggered when a mature tree becomes stressed - a severe drought or a lightning strike starting a forest fire is often the cause. The side-shoots grow fast and straight, it is the survival of the fittest and one, two or sometimes three eventually out-grow the others.

The side shoot has the same dna as the parent . . . in all respects it is the same tree with the same roots.

The parent tree often already weakened by fire damage, is gradually broken down by winter storms and the ring of new giant trees takes its place around the ancient stump.

Fire can burn away the dry heart-wood but this rarely kills the Redwwod - its thick bark holds a huge amount of water and protects the vital outer layer of the trunk - the tree survives until it's off-shoot is tall and strong. The ancient burnt out trees provide safe winter shelters for forest animals . . . cougar, bobcat and bear.

Eventually the biggest giants fall . . . the tree in the photo below was, until 1991 the biggest in this area of forest . . . a bigger and older neighbour of 'BIG TREE', it toppled over in a storm. The sound of it crashing onto the forest floor was heard miles away and people feared they had heard a train crash!

Twenty years later the fallen giant is providing nutrients for the ferns that have colonized its thick, soft bark; the succession of decomposing fern leaves make compost for various smaller shrubs and trees to colonise a 300ft long seed bed.

The legacy will eventually be a straight line of trees through the forest, and the vast trunk returned to the forest floor. 

The Redwood timber was prized by logging companies who had already felled almost 2 million acres before a few concerned people in the early 20th century woke up to the fact that the unique habitat was about to disappear for ever. Even so, the biggest of the giants had been felled - here is a slice of the largest tree felled in Medocina County with the saw that was used to cut through it's vast trunk.

It was estimated to have been 1900 years old when it was felled in 1943. By the early 1960s, about 95% of the original Californian Coastal Redwoods had gone, but thankfully the voices of those who fought for the protection of the remaining 100,000 acres were being heard and state parks were created around the last remaining pockets of the forests.

I can't find the right words to thank the sense and foresight of those who saved the trees, just being able to stand in the forest is a deeply moving experience and unforgettable.

These trees are as old as our written history and hopefully they will survive far into the future.


I hope you got an idea of what it's like to walk though the Coastal Redwood Forests . . . it really is magical.


Thursday 18 October 2012

A bumpy homecoming

Hi . . . I'm back!

Cliff and I went off on another long adventure, we arrived home on Tuesday afternoon and I'm still feeling muddled and exhausted.

We had a rough landing. No, not the plane! – in fact it was the gentlest, smoothest plane landing I've ever experienced – thank you Mr BA Pilot; it was the bit after we collected the car at the airport that shook us up – we found out that my Mum was in hospital, like mums do, she had ordered everyone not to contact us while we were away! So before going home we went straight there to see her.

We'd not long been home when my neighbour who had been caring for the studio assistants and the flock, called me to break the news that Pearl the little Araucana hen had been found dead :-( she had probably fallen into the duck-weed covered pond and although she managed to get out she had collapsed and died nearby. Poor little Pearl – and what a shock for my friend, who kindly buried Pearl in The Wild Wood.

Thankfully the hospital has got my Mum back to normal again and she's back home. But I'm still very jet-lagged and all shook up. Cliff and I went to so many places on our road trip and saw some amazing things . . . I will blog about some of them when I get sorted out and start to remember them!

I really will be back soon,