Enticed into the garden by some bubble wrap

And escaping bubble wrap at that. So once I'd recaptured the bubble wrap and replaced it, hopefully more securely around the pot it was supposed to be protecting, I couldn't help but have a look around. 

On the patio edge above the now mossy bricks, I spotted snowdrops looking quite at home in the new black grass I planted last year. My plan is for the black grass to spread and cover the weeds, but to allow the bulbs through. So far, it seems to be working.  


In one of my still- bubble-wrapped-pots it seems an anemone has already flowered. 


Further along there were more snowdrops, these ones looking slightly less picturesque among the decaying leaves. See the black grass is a genius idea.


The bay tree was doing well, with relatively few nibbles.  


And the winter jasmine is in flower. I'm not sure if it's just finishing though, or if there's more to come. 


Mid-way up the garden I paused to admire the grape hyacinth and the ornamental quince.  


Before almost walking over the mini cyclamen, which seem to have multiplied this year - and now I wished I'd opted for the full-size version instead.  


I've some daffodils out too under the yew - but it was too windy by now to get anything other than a blurry shot as they danced along. There'll be other opportunities though, as the patio daffodils are only just in bud. 

At the back of the garden I checked on the hellebores, and they were as beautiful as usual. They too have multiplied and the largest of my self-seeded plants is also flowering. In a year or so, it'll be a hellebore-tastic part of the garden. The new white camellia is in bud, and after watching the squirrels pick the pink buds to nibble at from my neighbour's garden, I'm hoping they'll have had their fill by the time they spot mine. Or perhaps that white isn't so tasty...


The prumulas are once again doing their thing - they really are quite prolific, and cheery too.  


In the far corner of the garden a quick check ensured the Christmas tree was still standing. It looks to be thriving outside and I really should get it dug in where we wanted it. But first the rhubarb needs to make way... 


Walking back down the garden the fatsia is its usual bundle of green and white loveliness. 


And while the berberis is misshapen and hardly spherical, its bursts of orange are welcomed.   


So after a very quick tour of the garden, I can report I've still got a rainbow of colour just outside my back door. Winter really is more colourful than I remembered.  

Love This #64: Markovitch Shaker Boxes

Aren't these boxes beautiful? 

Well, yes I know I have a bit of a thing for boxes, but with boxes like I think it's understandable. Sadly not all of my boxes are as beautiful as this, and since I saw them I've been wondering about how I could wangle some of these for myself.  As yet, I haven't managed it and the yellow handbag I saw put paid to one of these sewing boxes as a Christmas present.

It was at Made London in October where I saw a whole stack of these boxes and spent quite a while speaking to Murray the Shaker boxmaker, who's based in Romsey, Hampshire. He makes his boxes in the traditional Shaker way, without glue and using copper rivets and tiny wooden pins to fix the tops and bases to the sides. The swallowtail detail at the front of each box - that's the shaped design element - is more than just design; it helps prevent the wood splitting and helps spread the pressure where the wood bends.


As well as stacking to form a tower (see the last image below) the clever boxes also fit inside one another so if you're not using them they store easily too. They're available in American maple (the lighter colour shown) and red cherry which was a deeper, richer colour and I think my favourite, just.

Murray says they were the Tupperware of their day, now I'm wondering why Tupperware didn't just sell these instead?  Anyway... The design dates back over two hundred years and their first use - by the Shakers - was as food storage containers, which soon became a must-have item in many American kitchens. I can see why, but surely too nice just for food?  

The Shakers thought so too, and the bigger boxes were used for sewing and other practical purposes around the house. Murray makes and sells the larger sizes as dedicated sewing boxes (or as boxes for anything that you need compartments for I guess). At first glance you might think they're costly at £150 for the medium sized box and £200 for the larger box, but given the amount of work that goes into making these by hand in the traditional way, I don't think it's so bad.

And even so, they look a good way of storing your materials to me...

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Tea and coffee with Alessi

Back in July I was invited to Alessi's press preview for their Autumn-Winter range at the Ily cafe in London's Regent Street. I walked into a full blown Christmas, which wasn't quite what I was expecting and must have been an unusual sight for the cafe's regular coffee drinkers.


I should warn you now, there's plenty of Christmassy things to follow, so if you have an aversion to Christmas as this time of year then you should look away now, as they say on the television.  

There's been lots of research into making the perfect coffee pot and the Pulcina espresso coffee maker is the result of that research. To me it looks as if it's got a little beak and that's a design feature too - it's designed to be drip free, and if it works I'm sure it'll be welcomed by many.



I did like this “Quattro muri e due case” tray made of bamboo wood. It looked comfortable to carry and the perfect way to display Santa's note. 



Would you believe the design for the kettle below is thirty years old?  It was designed by Michael Graves in 1985 (hey - how is this thirty years ago?) and to mark this anniversary he's redesigned the whistle changing the iconic little bird to a Tea Rex - ahem. That's a reference to Chinese culture where these beings symbolise strength and fortune. It looks great and is a bit of fun too.





This lamp made of plastic looks stylish and would be good on a table or as a bedside lamp. It's called Lady Shy because the light source is at once visible and hidden, and is protected by the lamp structure that resembles a skirt blowing in the wind. But whatever, I think it's stylish and pretty minimalist.





You might have already guessed but the tea infuser above is designed by the same designer as the Tea Rex kettle.  And below is a pretty holder for your bottles, a very pretty way to stop them leaving a mark on your tablecloth,



Each year the Alessi release a Christmas ornament which I'm sure become highly collectible. This year's ornament is by Italian Laura Polinoro. If I'm honest it's not really my thing, but I can see how they could become collectable and something that collectors would want to add to their collection, but not me.



The last item I'm going to share was easily my favourite, and it's one I will buy at some point. It's polished chrome, looks like jewellery but is for use in the kitchen. I was bemused as to what it was, but once it was explained it was a trivet I was fascinated and I could see just how useful it would be. And super stylish too - but it still reminded me of jacks I used to play growing up.

The stars (or jacks) can be arranged to suit any size dish, large or small and then when it's done it can be hung on a hook or left on display. Great isn't it? At £29 it's a more expensive than other trivets I've bought, but then again this is something entirely different altogether, don't you think?



So there was lots to see at this event, and lots more that I can see will be added to the Design Classics of the future.  Thanks to Alessi for inviting me along, it was great to see these products up close.


* This is a collaborative post but all words and opinions are my own