Word is out; autumn is on its way. Here in Touraine a chill in the morning air foretells the shift between seasons as summer yields gracefully to autumn. The angle of the sun is lower now too, making the light less intense and enhancing pure reds and their complementary greens. When ambling through the vineyards this weekend we observed rich clusters of glossy berries in the hedgerows like rows of jars of jam shining like jewels on kitchen shelves.
Today is wash day.
And while the leaves of our cherry tree undress as the green pigment chlorophyll very slowly breaks down I find myself embracing the promise of hedgerow crimson fruits and lazily ripening green grapes while feeling nostalgic for summer strawberries. It's normal; we are on the cusp of two seasons cheering on the hedonistic pleasures of autumn and mourning those long, idle summer days of our childhood innocence.
This week I turned to my childhood memories and drew inspiration from Kate Greenaway. In a letter she wrote to her dear friend John Ruskin in May 27 1897 her love of gardens shines through:
"I often think [...] that a little door leads out of the garden wall into a real old flowering garden, full of deep shades and deep colours. Did you always plan out delightful places just close and unexpected, when you were very young? I did. My bedroom window used to look out over red roofs and chimney-pots, and I made steps up to a lovely garden up there with nasturtiums growing and brilliant flowers so near to the sky. There were some old houses joined to ours at the side, and I made a secret door into long lines of old rooms, all so delightful, leading into an old garden. I imagined it so often that I knew its look so well; it got to be very real. And now I'd like somehow to express all this in painting, especially my love of old gardens with that richness of colour and depth of shade."
Extract from M. H. Spielman and G. S. Layard, The Life and Work of Kate Greenaway (Bracken Books, 1986).
My Strawberries and Cream are a dress and pantalettes the pattern for which I found in dear Valerie Janitch's The Kate Greenaway Doll Book. I think most of you will heartily agree the garish strawberry fabric, which appeared in the lining of my Potager Bag does not exactly recall the delicate Regency style garments Greenaway used to paint and draw but it celebrates how I feel about this time of year. For a touch of authenticiy a very dear friend of mine, who collects nineteenth-century fabrics, gave me an antique piece of bed linen for the pantalettes. The material is so thick that I almost broke two needles whilst sewing it last night!
If you would like to discover more about the connection between Jane Austen and Kate Greenaway I discovered this informative post on Jane Austen's World.
Let us talk about my GIVEAWAY!
A few days ago I was reading this post written by dear Annie in which she writes about a read along of Jane Austen's novels she has signed up for here . I suddenly jumped up, rushed to my book shelves and found a spanking new book:
|Why is this book in the cherry tree?|
This book is fabulous!
Have you seen it before? It was first printed in 2009 and offers a stroll through the gardens that Austen would have known and visited, from Bath and London to the houses of friends and family in Hampshire, Warwickshire, and Kent, yes KENT - did you hear me, Pomona ? ;-)
It is full of lush photographs and period drawings, social history and biographical details together with delicious excerpts from Austen's novels. The bibliography is rich with information for Austen fans.
As Fanny Price, the heroine of Mansfield Park, observes, 'To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment.'
I am offering this book - and I love the recipes for Mrs Norris's Dried Roses - as part of my giveaway.
But that is not all!
To raise a cheery glass to the onset of not-too-distant AUTUMN I am offering a knitting pattern of your choice from the wonderful Alana Dakos's Never Not Knitting Autumn Collection.
To Enter My Giveaway:
1. You need to be a follower of my blog and leave a comment on this post. Feel free to start following me now :-)
2. If you blog about this giveaway on your own blog please let me know and I will enter you twice for the giveaway.
3. This is, of course, an INTERNATIONAL giveaway!
4. You will need to visit the Never Not Knitting pattern store and chose which Autumnal pattern you would like to win. Come back here and tell me in your comment which one you would fancy.
5. This giveaway will finish on Sunday September 11th at 11pm.
Good luck and have a magical week.