Friday, 22 May 2015

Styling the Seasons - May 2015

Decorating the mantelpiece for May (late autumn) - Camellia Rose
Welcome to my Styling the Seasons post for May. It's nearly winter and the fireplace is in use again, so this month I decided to style my mantel. I haven't really done much with it since summer (you can see it here in an earlier post) and it was definitely time for a refresh! 

Every good mantel display needs lights so I started with the & shaped marquee light. I balanced the black with a black metal terrarium and dark twiggy branches in a vase, and added soft natural colours to the rest of the display. At this stage of the year winter is a peaceful and restful time so I didn't want any energetic colours (that will change later in the season no doubt...)

Decorating the mantelpiece for May (late autumn) - Camellia Rose
I love the pale aqua tea light holder/vase, and the way it echoes the filigree ceramic balls.

Decorating the mantelpiece for May (late autumn) - Camellia Rose
Some little succulent cuttings are coming along inside the terrarium.

Decorating the mantelpiece for May (late autumn) - Camellia Rose
I made this little planter by putting clay around a can. It was inspired by many I've seen on Pinterest including the ones by Atelier Stella. There's no way I can get my hands on one of those so I thought I'd make one of my own, and I love how it turned out. Pressing the texture into the bottom was really fun! Then recently I found this chain of hearts plant and knew it would be just perfect for planting inside... it trails beautifully and leaves that look like hearts win me over every time!

Decorating the mantelpiece for May (late autumn) - Camellia Rose
It wouldn't be May without the sweet fragrance of wintersweet. My tree has just started blooming and for the next few weeks I'll be filling the house with fragrant bunches! It has the most divine smell and makes the transition into winter much easier for me.

Decorating the mantelpiece for May (late autumn) - Camellia Rose
Styling the Seasons is a monthly styling challenge hosted by Katy at Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte at Lotts and Lots. Find out more by searching the hashtag #stylingtheseasons on social media. 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Autumn potager

As we head towards the end of autumn, the days of big basketfuls of produce from my potager are at an end. But that doesn't mean an end to the growing season. Our climate here in Christchurch means that I can still grow plenty of things over winter, as long as they are frost hardy, so I like to plant accordingly. When evenings are dark I can't pop outside after work with my basket like I can in summer, so I usually take a tour at the start of the week and bring in enough for the next few nights. Spring onions, leeks and broccoli can be stored in the fridge, and herbs or leafy greens like silver beet go in vases on the windowsill. I'm even getting the occasional strawberry or raspberry, so if they're still fruiting at the end of May then that's really only about 4-5 months until the first spring berries start up again... not so long really!

My favourite season in the garden is summer, but I also really like the tidiness of the winter potager! I've trimmed the lavender hedges and the rosemary balls, and they'll provide shape and structure until the spring growth hits. I've also created some scalloped garden edging which really tidies everything up and looks great with the black metal arches. The edging was so easy to make and I'll share a tutorial very soon.

In this bed I have silver beet (not pictured), cabbages, broccoli and the last of the chillis. The chillis are doing well, they will last until frosts get them and provide a good spark of colour until then. In the bed behind are leeks and spring onions.

 In the two beds closest to the glasshouse, I planted a green crop of mustard, lupin and some kind of grass. I haven't grown a green crop over winter before so I'll see how it goes. I do intend to put garlic in one of those beds so half of it will be dug up, we'll see if it makes a difference! 


The cherry tree is always the last on my property to shed its leaves and it's doing so quite spectacularly! It's amazing to see how many different leaf colours and patterns come off one tree.

A sunny autumn day in the potager is like heaven. Hope you're having equally good times in your patch, wherever in the world you may be! xx

Monday, 18 May 2015

A walk through the autumn garden

A walk throught the autumn garden at Camellia Rose
 Hello again! I thought I'd take you on a walk through my garden just before it undresses for winter. The seasons are shifting and it's time to say goodbye to endless foliage and bright summer flowers. I have leaves on the lawn and seedheads in the garden, but it's a small price to pay for the fleeting glory of an autumn afternoon.

A walk throught the autumn garden at Camellia Rose
 Even on a cloudy day this tree glows like a beacon. It is probably the last season for this tree actually... I love it a lot, but it is so big and still seems to be growing, blocks the light from our windows, plus it drops seeds everywhere and gets infested with whitefly in late summer. I've got two ornamental prunuses to replace it with so sometime this winter, my big tree's number is up.

A walk throught the autumn garden at Camellia Rose
 This little red and purple gem is Cercis Forest Pansy. It's beautiful through all the seasons, and I'm hoping it will grow bigger (but not too big) to take on more of a focal role.

A walk throught the autumn garden at Camellia Rose
A walk throught the autumn garden at Camellia Rose
 There are still some late summer flowers hanging on, but they will be finished before long. I'll miss them, but I'm looking forward to the time of camellias, hellebores, wintersweet and anemones.

A walk throught the autumn garden at Camellia Rose
 I also enjoy the remnants left behind... seed heads, last leaves, graphic lines of stems and twigs.

A walk throught the autumn garden at Camellia Rose
I love to sit on the deck in the afternoon, sipping a coffee and planning my next garden adventure. Pop back in the next few days and I'll show you how my potager looks now that the mad summer harvest is over!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

May flowers

Welcome to May in my autumn garden. It's late autumn and while there are a few brave souls soldiering on, many of the summer flowers are at last fading. Winter isn't my favourite, but I always embrace the change of season - with the emphasis on change, meaning a new range of blooms for enjoying and picking. New this month is the wintersweet, a seasonal delight and something that always gets me through the first month of winter. My camellia Elfin Rose is still going and looking lovely when backlit by the sun, and I hope the rest of my camellias won't be far behind.

Clockwise from top left: autumn coloured hydrangea, cheerful pansy, possibly the last rosebud for the season, the first wintersweet for the season, Elfin Rose camellia, sweet alyssum, hollyhocks, a late rose, Baujade apples, nerines, astrantia, pink penstemon.

I kind of missed Bloom Day this month (time is flying by lately) but I'm linking up now, I'm number 100 so there are plenty of other gardens to check out if you click the link!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Finished at last: Moonlit Night blanket

Camellia Rose - the Moonlit Night blanket
I've finished my Moonlit Night blanket, hooray! It's lovely and soft and snuggly, just in time for winter. Let me tell you a bit about it!

I first had the idea back in 2011 when I was making granny squares for another project. You can read the details on that in this post. I never finished that project though, and actually ended up reusing a lot of the yarn for this blanket!

Camellia Rose - the Moonlit Night blanket
I used three shades of grey yarn and a white. They are all different brands... a fuzzy dark grey for the centre, then a mid-dark grey, then a pale tweedy blue-grey. The white was a super cheap ball of acrylic that wasn't that nice but did I say it was cheap? Important as I used so much of it. I'm not a yarn snob with my projects, I'd like to be but just can't afford to!

Camellia Rose - the Moonlit Night blanket
The last step, and that which I modestly think sets it above other granny square blankets, was adding mother of pearl buttons to alternate squares. These represent the full moon slipping behind clouds. Also, they are shiny and pretty and really catch the eye when the blanket is draped resplendently over the couch.

Camellia Rose - the Moonlit Night blanket
 The blanket is 10 x 15 squares. It turned out to be the perfect size for couch-draping! I also congratulate myself because it took less than a year to finish! Ok, eleven months actually. But since my last blanket took two and a half years, I'm happy with that!

Camellia Rose - the Moonlit Night blanket
 Here it is in its full glory. I used the join-as-you-go method for joining the squares which saved a heap of time. It's great for a blanket like this where you don't have to work out a colour scheme as you go.


Camellia Rose - the Moonlit Night blanket
 Here is the pattern for the edging:
Round 1: SC in white all the way around to even off your granny squares. SC two together where the squares meet.
Round 2: in dark grey, sc 2 in 1 sc space, ch 1, skip 1 sc, sc 2 in 1 sc space, repeat. (I did 2 sc because the dark grey fuzzy yarn is fairly thin - if your yarn is thicker just do 1 sc in each space.)
Round 3: in white, 1 sc in ch 1 space, ch 1, skip 2 sc, 1 sc in ch 1 space, repeat all around.
Round 4: in white, sc all around.
Round 5: in mid grey, sc all around.
Round 6: in light grey, sc all around.
Round 7: in white, make scallops: 5 dc in one sc, skip 1 sc, 1 sc, 5 dc in 1 sc, repeat.

Camellia Rose - the Moonlit Night blanket

You can also see this project on my Ravelry page. I'm so happy to have this finished but I'm already having withdrawal... the only question is, what to make next?

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Crochet musings

 I'm nearly finished my Moonlit Night blanket. 99% in fact - so close I can taste it - but, as always happens when I'm close to completing something, I've lost interest in it and can't concentrate due to thinking about what I'll start next. So many possibilities! But before I start trawling Pinterest for yet more ideas, I thought I'd better cast around and see what else is lying around that I could do. There are plenty of other projects at the 80-90% mark, and also supplies I've bought and not got around to using yet... maybe just maybe I could actually use up something I've already got on hand!

 I've got this white jar cosy almost finished. All I have to do is edge it, and then I want to cross stitch a rose on it, a bit like this pin. I also have this pretty vintage pillowcase which I think will suit a pink lacy border.

 Every year I crochet myself a new pair of fingerless gloves. Last year I made the super cute Mr Fox fingerless gloves. This year I want to do this pattern by Crejjtion. I've even got the yarn, this lovely soft grey.

 I've also been obsessing over this hat - again, it has a cross stitch rose on it, clearly I need to make at least one thing embroidered with a rose before I'm able to move on! I still have this strip, left over from another project, to use and there should be enough colours in my cotton thread stash. Hmm, ponder ponder.

There's also a skirt which I want to hem with a lacy border and I'd like to make some more padded coat hangers. I've had plans for ages to make another crochet handbag and my life isn't really complete unless I'm working on some kind of blanket. So... there's no shortage of things to do, the biggest trouble is just deciding which project to work on!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

April flowers

We had a short sharp introduction to winter this week as a cold front blew across the country. It's not really acceptable, snow forming on the hills and sleety showers in the city - what is this, June? and as I write this gale force southerlies are still slamming the house. So, summer has gone and at this stage it feels like we skipped autumn and went straight into winter! Luckily there is still plenty of colour in the flower garden and there are even some surprises this month, including some confused anemones which are sending up flower buds!

Above, clockwise from top left: salvia, Cecille Brunner rose, astrantia, dahlia, pink-tinted succulent, sedum flower, fairy mushrooms, camellia Elfin Rose (another surprise. I bought this in a bargain bin last spring and it had a couple of flowers then, so I wasn't expecting that it would flower so early in the season), cosmos, cosmos and scabiosa backlit by the sun (a quintessentially autumn combination for me), calibrachoa, penstemon Blackbird.

How is your garden this month? Hope you're having good weather and good flowers. Don't forget to check out Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for more flowers from all around the globe!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Gardening in Tinyland - my miniature garden

 This summer I planted a new garden, on a slightly different scale than my normal one. This is a miniature garden in a pot. All the plants are living, but by using miniature and small scale plants and combining them with tiny accessories, you can create the illusion of a complete garden within a very small space!

I was inspired after reading Janit Calvo's book, Gardening in Miniature. I've always loved tiny things and as soon as I realised it was possible to garden on a miniature scale I knew I had to get in on it. This garden was about a year in the planning, but was paved and planted in an afternoon! 

I used leftover tiles from our fireplace for the paving stones. I used a hammer and chisel to chip them into roughly rounded paving stone shapes. I set them on a bed of sand and then swept Pavelock sand between them to hold them in place.

 You can see how much the plants have filled in during the 2 months since I planted it! The plants I used are:
Tree - Irish Yew. Not really a miniature, but it's slow growing and I hope I can prune it to keep it small. I actually cut about half of the tree off when I planted it so it no longer has its distinctive conifer shape. I also trimmed the lowest branches off to expose the trunk. I'm not sure how long the branches will grow but perhaps a bit of selective pruning will enhance them. Don't you love the red berries for autumn colour!
Groundcover - creeping thyme. Small leafed and low growing.
The pink flowered shrub is Serissa Pink Mystique. I've seen it trained as bonsai so I thought it would go well in this tiny garden. I'll keep it trimmed to large bush scale, I think it looks like hibiscus or rhododendron.
To the left of the yew tree at the back is a miniature fuchsia called Lottie Hobby. I bought it years ago (this is a cutting) and it has tiny flowers the size of your pinky nail. It grows quite vigorously so I intend to keep it trimmed to a small tree scale.
The neat round bush just behind the two terracotta pots is Calluna. It's a true miniature form of Erica that I got from the alpine plants show. The stallholder I bought it from said it won't grow much bigger than that - perfect! It has the most delicate tiny foliage.
And to the left of the calluna is leptinella. This is a groundcover with tiny fernlike leaves. 
Succulent cuttings last well in the pots - just don't forget to water them occasionally!

 Once I had the garden planted up it was time to start making accessories. Overseas, mini and fairy gardening is a fast developing hobby and big industry but not so much here in NZ (although a few people have heard of fairy gardens). I managed to source a few furniture items but I made most of the garden accessories myself, including the hanging bird feeder, birdhouse, solar lights and hanging lantern.


I even made this fish pond! I actually wanted some kind of ceramic or polyresin one that could hold real water, but couldn't find one. So I made this one out of a small metal pie dish, coated with clay and painted to look like stone. I put some gravel and rocks in the dish and poured in a layer of resin. Then I added a tiny koi fish and poured in another layer of resin so the little fish is suspended. It looks pretty good I think, and you can still 'float' leaves or flowers on the surface.

 There is a lady here in Christchurch who has a dolls house miniatures business and I sourced a few items from her, including the mini teracotta pots and the birds nest. I got the metal wheelbarrow from a fellow mini garden enthusiast and knew I had to make some gardening items to go with it. So I made the little crochet hat and the garden gloves, and this wooden trug full of spring bulbs (must get these planted out for tiny blooms in spring! ;)

 Hope you've enjoyed this peek into my tinyland garden! Have you heard of miniature gardening before, or tried it yourself? (For more information have a look at Janit Calvo's book or excellent website, Two Green Thumbs.)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Styling the Seasons and Urban Jungle Bloggers - April 2015

This month I've decided to combine my entry for Styling the Seasons and Urban Jungle Bloggers. I hope it's not against the rules, but since it's Easter and that would have been my theme regardless, it seemed a bit much to recreate the same thing twice for different posts. So here is my hall table, bedecked with eggs and flowers and lights in celebration of Easter and autumn.

 Styling the Seasons is a vignette created to show what this month means to me. April in NZ is autumn, the end of Daylight Savings time and Easter. The Easter part is obvious - I've put up my decorated Easter egg tree! This is one semi-commercial trend I really enjoy... why should a decorated tree be just for Christmas? Especially when eggs are the perfect size and shape for decorating.

 It might be autumn but I'm still in denial a little bit, and as long as the dahlias are still flowering I'll keep pretending it's summer! One thing I can't deny is the end of Daylight Savings time this weekend. Longer nights call for more lights, so I fashioned a wreath of sorts from a bamboo circlet wrapped with ribbon and my string of beaded fairy lights. (Side note: aren't we lucky to live in a time of great advancement in decorative lighting options? Fairy lights, solar lights, flameless candles, waterproof candles, LEDs, battery powered lights... it almost makes long dark evenings fun!)

The theme for Urban Jungle Bloggers this month is Happy Green Easter. I've brought in my lovely pink cyclamen, whose blossom co-ordinates most beautifully with the pink foil Easter eggs!

 I had my niece and nephew over for an Easter egg hunt yesterday. They had a blast running round the garden with baskets, finding chocolate eggs. They didn't find these ones though... Greedy Rabbit and I are pleased about that :)

 These Easter eggs are ones I decorated a couple of years ago. I shared the tutorial here if you'd like to make some of your own! It's not too late... I for one won't be taking this lot down until I've had a good few weeks' enjoyment out of them.

 Urban Jungle Bloggers is hosted by Judith at JOELIX.com and Igor at Happy Interior Blog. Find out more at urbanjunglebloggers.com

Styling The Seasons is hosted by Katy at Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte at Lotts and Lots. Find out more by searching the hashtag #stylingtheseasons on social media.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Talking about tomatoes, part 2 - March 2015


Tomato season is coming to an end, so I want to quickly jot down some notes here to refer back to next season. We had a great summer but the tomatoes took a while to really get going, especially the outside ones, so next year I will need to think twice about whether it's even worth planting them outside - perhaps just the tried and true varieties. (Oh who am I kidding, I always have too many seedlings and I'm not going to just throw them out, am I?) Anyway... when you are picking that sweet, savoury, juicy, delicious fruit and putting it straight into your meal (or your mouth), you forget all the challenges and it all becomes worth it.

Tomato notes - glasshouse

  • The caterpillars were slow arriving but they did come at last. Not as bad as previous years.
  • Tomatoes succumbed to blight at the end of the season as usual, but fruit not affected.
  • I usually like to make my own fertiliser from comfrey but I just couldn't be bothered this year. I also had a bag of Tui Novatec to try, which did a good job.
Tomato notes - outside

  • Tomatoes outside were much slower to flower and ripen. The plus side is that they are continuing after the glasshouse ones have finished.
  • The best performers are Juliet and Kumato... the rest really aren't worth the trouble.
  • For fertiliser I used Novatec, sheep pellets, compost and neem granules (for pest repellant).

Tomato varieties

  • Juliet - always reliable. First to ripen, prolific. Firm skin and fruit, not really the best texture but they store really well, and fallen fruit don't tend to rot and will continue to ripen.
  • Brandywine - same growth habits as other beefsteaks. Nice flavour, but didn't beat my favourite Black Krim!
  • Brown Berry - Prolific cherry tomato with nice flavour.
  • Black Cherry - slightly more pink/maroon than Brown Berry, otherwise very similar.
  • Black Krim - didn't set a huge amount of fruit this year but I think that's normal for beefsteaks? As the fruits they do set are so big. My favourite sandwich tomato!
  • Yellow Pear - the slowest to get going, but good once it did. Doesn't set quite as much fruit as the other cherry tomatoes.
  • Green Grape - I remember this one being fussy when I first started growing it, but I've been saving my own seeds for several years so I must have kept the good ones! They have chartreuse skin and green flesh with a lovely sweet taste. 
  • Kumato - this was the wild card this year and it's proved itself. It did ok outside and would have been even better in the glasshouse. Medium size, brownish maroon fruits with firm skin. They had a nice smoky flavour and were good in sandwiches, also the firm skin meant it was easy to remove when blanched, so they are good for making sauce/relish. I've saved seed and am looking forward to trying it again next year.
I've been gorging myself on fresh tomatoes, in sandwiches and salads, on toast and mixed into almost any dish I've cooked! I made a batch of relish and several batches of semi dried cherry tomatoes in the dehydrator. I dry them for about 8 hours so there is still some moisture in them, then pack them into bags and freeze them. They are a treat in winter.

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