Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Summer in the potager

 My potager is all planted up with happy growing seedlings for the season ahead. I love it in early summer.... the plants are growing well and looking healthy, everything is green, nothing has overgrown or flopped or fallen and it's all showing signs of promise, promise, promise.

 I've put all my tomatoes in the First Quarter this season. We'll see how they like it here... hopefully it's not too shaded from the tree. There are Sunset runner beans growing up the arch and sugar snap peas growing on the fence next to it. Basil is edging the path.

 The Second Quarter has garlic and shallots in the closest part. They have gone a bit yellow at the tips. This happened last year too... perhaps they didn't get enough water at the early stages. (I don't always water the potager much in the early stages of the season, at least until more seedlings go in.) Also, they've got infested with small black bugs that obviously like the tast of garlic (that's not supposed to happen!!) so I'll need to google those and deal to them.

In the second half is sweet corn, interplanted with some heritage bean seeds I was given. They are called Cherokee Cornfield beans, and since I've never tried growing beans and corn together before I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try.  I've also got a couple of pumpkin seedlings which have sprouted from the compost. Pumpkins never do well for me but since they're part of the traditional Three Sisters arrangement I'll chuck them in too!

 In the narrow Third Quarter I have borlotti beans, lavender hedging and chillis at the far end. I normally grow potatoes in this bed but they weren't up to much last year so I've moved them on.

 In the Fourth Quarter I have La Ratte potatoes at the left, broccoli and cabbages in the middle, celtuce at the right (a cross between celery and lettuce I believe? It's ready to harvest so I better look up what to do with it!) and yep, more beans at the back. I do like beans, luckily. The big clump in the middle are Sunset runner beans (so reliable) and I have some more heritage ones that have just come up. They're called Hidatsu Shield Figure Climbing Bean and they look like a borlotti bean that's been half dipped in white paint. It will be quite interesting to see what these heritage beans turn out like!

 I love it when the beans start to scramble over the arch. It makes it feel like a secret garden. I tried sweet peas on the arch at the front, but they don't climb very well. Back to the planning notebook for that one.

In the glasshouse I have seven tomatoes, six peppers, two pots of gherkins and a mandarin. Oh yes, three pots of basil, three hanging baskets of strawberries and some lavender seedlings. The tomatoes in the glasshouse are quite rampant, I do hope the fruit won't be too far away... (though they have only just begun to flower so it will). With this cold start to the season I'm even more grateful for my glasshouse though! The only problem is that with all the plant growth, there's no longer room for my chair. Guess I'll just have to sit on the ground...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

December flowers


Well, here we are in summer already. How did that even happen? The weather is certainly not pretending to be summery... it's windy, cloudy, often raining, and if it weren't for the late light evenings I'd think it was still September. Luckily the garden has proceeded pretty much as normal, and even if the vege garden is a little slow the flowers are giving it their all.

Above, clockwise from top left: Cecille Brunner rose, pink penstemon, white gladioli nanus, fejoa flowers (looking suitably festive), sweet peas, peony poppies, lupins, star flowers on a small succulent, pink poppy, lavender, gypsophila, peony. Middle: penstemon, gladioli and white hydrangea make a pretty bouquet.

I'm hopefully not too late to join in with Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. I've missed it for the past couple of months so I'm trying to get back into the routine! I'm also going to try and get back to some regular blogging, as it's been pretty bare around here. See you again in a day or two!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Geraldine Garden Tours Part 2

On the night before Day 2 of the garden tours there was a terrific wind storm. It woke me in the night, violent gusts slamming the house, and in the morning there were leaves and flower buds strewn about. Out in the country the wind was even stronger, bringing branches down, and all the garden tour owners had been up since dawn cleaning up. Several were also without power, and I heard a story of one farm garden where the electric fences were out and a herd of cows wandered through!

So hats off to these gardeners who, after working so hard to prepare for the event and contending with the whims of nature, still generously put their own inconveniences aside and allowed people in.

A sheltered verandah in this country garden supports climbing roses, delphiniums and dahlias.

The large grounds were criss crossed with streams, diverted from the nearby river. A great way to irrigate, and the sounds of the little waterfalls were better than any water feature.

Another garden had its own secluded lake!

I love it when pencil conifers are used to frame an entryway.

A beautiful flowering cherry.

I like this idea - using a small hedge to frame a statue.

Here is the idea again. I'm trying to think of somewhere at home to carry this out.

This edging is the best idea I took away though! The look of woven willow, but using black irrigation hosepipe. I plan to replicate this in my potager as soon as possible!

This property also had a very impressive sunken greenhouse which they use for drying nuts.

That's it from my garden tours. As usual I've come away with lots of ideas and plans to make my garden better... I can't help but feel that it's a bit dull compared to all these lovely properties I just looked at. Perhaps I need a giant hare sculpture to liven it up!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Geraldine Garden Tours Part 1

 A couple of weeks ago I got to do some garden tours as part of the Geraldine Arts & Plants festival. I love garden tours that feature real people's gardens, not just show gardens, as I find them the most inspiring for ideas to use at home. Would you like to see what tickled my fancy this time?

I like this secluded patio, above, almost hidden behind the exuberant planting. 

 Here's another sweet little patio, tucked away at the end of a garden under a shade tree. The trimmed hedges finish the space off perfectly.

 I like this sheltered garden room. The heuchera makes a striking edging.

 Hand painted garden signs add whimsy (essential to every good garden).

 I love the pastel mix of these aquilegias.

 I've never seen ixias this colour before! They are extremely striking when backlit by the evening sun.

 Wooden sleepers create terraces next to the fence. This would be a good way to display tiny alpines, or create a rambling miniature garden!

 Spot the birdhouse... or maybe at this level it's a hedgehog house!

 I'm not a fan of flax. But this cream striped leaf is gorgeous...

 This house was not part of the official garden tour, but it's on a main street and has no fence so I stopped and had a look from the kerb. Such a beautiful cottage garden.

 Maybe one day my front garden will look like this!

I like how they've even planted the street light!

The gardeners we met were so friendly and nice. One man even gave me a tweedia seedling that he'd grown, which I was quite excited about as I haven't seen it for sale at the garden centres. I also went shopping at the markets and got some succulents, geraniums and a couple of peonies, so I'm inspired to add and improve my own garden! If only the weather would cooperate. Well, at least rain and cool temperatures mean good conditions for planting.

That's it for Part 1! I still have pictures from the second day of garden tours, so pop back in a couple of days to see those! Have any of the ideas here inspired you?

Monday, 24 November 2014

November flowers

Oh November, where have you gone? I looked forward to you all year and you've passed in the blink of an eye. The garden is peaking and I haven't had time to appreciate it. When I went out tonight to photograph the roses I realised most of them were overblown and browning off. Oh well, tomorrow night I'll get out and deadhead them and hopefully some more blooms won't be too far off.

I've bought two peonies recently and today my neighbour gave me one he was getting rid of. I am going to have to have a reshuffle to fit them in, especially as I've realised the spot I'd planned for them isn't sunny enough. I have one there and every spring it buds up, but the buds don't swell or develop and eventually fall off. So I will need to put them all somewhere sheltered with full sun. Fussy little buggers, aren't they... but the flowers are worth it!

Above, clockwise from top left: lambs ears and geraniums, staples in my spring garden; Ash Wednesday rose; unknown peony (but doesn't give me any trouble with flowering); snow in summer; sweet william; Queen Elizabeth rose; dusky pink foxglove; Claire rose; peony poppy; chive flowers; unknown white rose; Sexy Rexy rose.

Our spring weather has been quite volatile. Wind is the norm, if we're lucky it's just a brisk breeze but often it blows up into a gale. I came home from work last week to find my Queen Elizabeth rose blown right over and the wooden stake I'd tied it to snapped in half. I found an old fence post and hammered that in and that's held it up so far.

That's it from me tonight... I'm going to try and organise my garden tour photos so I can get a post done on that soon.

Monday, 17 November 2014

October flowers

 I've gotten a bit behind with my posting in the past couple of months but I've still been taking photos! We haven't had the best spring weather but luckily that hasn't stopped the flowers. I had a reasonably good crop of ranunculus (not all the bulbs delivered on their promise though) and the anemones were very impressive. I also planted some out some new plant including two kinds of viburnum which will be nice next spring when they've bushed out a bit.

Above, clockwise from top left: clematis montana, pink and white ranunculus, apple blossom, miniature blue anemone (a special treasure from the alpine plant show), pink rhododendron, snowball viburnum, pastel anemones (with petals looking like they've been brushed with watercolours), violets, viburnum Mariesii, yellow ranunculus, white ranunculus, red watercolour anemone.

 I used this vase to grow hyacinth bulbs in and it's also been good for showcasing smaller blooms. I just put a small glass bottle inside to hold the bloom. (The anemones last a long time in the vase, opening and closing with the daylight.)

 Cherry blossom makes a frothy background for this ranunculus.

I didn't have garden roses in October so I bought some from the supermarket to tide me over!

That was October in flowers - it feels so long ago now. November has been hectic so far but I hope to get a post together soon to show you what's in bloom right now in my garden. I also did some garden tours on the weekend and I have some gorgeous photos to share... soon I promise!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

My kitchen shelfie

 Hello again. It's been a while and I didn't really intend to be absent from my blog for two months, but once I let things go it was difficult to get back into the swing of things. I'm still dealing with earthquake repairs to the property and the uncertainty has made it difficult to focus positively on the house and garden, so it's just been easier not to do anything! However, I did start to miss my blog and having a record to look back on, so here I am again.


 A recent email from Gardenista pointed me in the direction of Urban Jungle Bloggers, who do a monthly plant themed styling challenge. This month's theme is My Plant Shelfie. I love a good shelfie and it seemed like a good reason to rearrange the houseplants, which I needed to do for summer anyway. The cyclamens have been banished to a cool dark room and the succulents have come forth.

 On this shelf I have my favourite little handmade houses and an art print of lavender, held in a vintage floral frog. The little brass chair is made from the cage from a champagne bottle.

 This is a new addition, with rather cool, graphical silver and green spotted leaves. It has a bit of attitude, don't you think? The plant label says it's called Scilla or Ledebauria Socialis. It's a nice compact size to fit inside this ramekin.

 I love the silvery green and plum tones on this succulent. It's container is a cat food can wrapped with rope (thank you Pinterest).

 I really love the tarnish and patina on this silver-plated salt shaker. It contrasts most beautifully with the delicate green leaves on this plant. I've had the plant for years and I forget what it's called! It's pretty impossible to kill but the leaves do have an annoying habit of turning brown from the base of the plant outward. I'm thinking of replacing it... does anyone have any suggestions for a similar nice, delicate trailing plant?

Now I'm submitting this post for the challenge. I'm actually very late with it, almost at the deadline in fact but I'm calling it a win that I even got the post written at all :) Thanks to Igor at Happy Interior Blog and Judith at Joelix.com for the prompt!

Monday, 15 September 2014

September flowers

Spring is here, hooray! The weather hasn't been exactly quick to cooperate, but there's no denying the swiftly lightening mornings with slightly less chill to the air, not to mention the explosion of bird activity around dawn! It's finally time to do things in the garden like planting out shrubs, and preparing the potager for spring veges. There's also time to appreciate bulbs and blossoms, and to say goodbye to some winter performers whose season is almost over.

Clockwise from top left: vivid coral blossoms on peach Rose Chiffon, a hellebore setting seed, the first anemone of the season, almond blossom, a cheerful pansy, a pretty white and cream daffodil, gorgeous hycacinth, camellia Fairy Blush (still going strong and having bloomed since May!), the first lavender of the season, blue star flowers (ipheon uniflorum), the blue and pink flowers of pulmonaria, a gaudy but welcome daffodil.

How is your garden this season? Pop over to May Dreams Gardens to find links to gardens all around the world blooming in spring and autumn!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Macro phone photography

I've been having a play with some new lenses I got for my phone. There are 3 lenses, including fish eye and wide angle, but it's the macro that I've spent the most time with. Springtime blossoms are perfect for macros.

Above: a ruffled daffodil, fresh growth on lavender, peach blossom.

I got this set on Trade Me for about $25.00. There is a separate fish eye lens, and the macro and wide angle lenses screw into each other. When you use them both together it's wide angle, and if you remove the wide angle lens it's macro.

 They just clip over the phone camera, so can be used with any brand of phone or even tablets.

With the macro lens you need to be 1-2 cm away from your subject. It's amazing how much tiny detail it captures! It works much better than I thought a cheap lens would.

Above: fine hairs on an anemone petal, fuzzy hairs and raindrops on lambs ears, a teeny tiny unfurling leaf on the cercis tree. 

 Above: pollen-covered stamens in an almond blossom, leaf buds on an apple tree, the glistening petals of a hyacinth.

 One thing I quickly realised is that as well as magnifying detail, the lens magnifies any camera shake. It can be hard to hold it steady while getting in close to a subject which might also be blowing in the wind. I accidentally tore through the spider's web I was trying to capture!

Above: Cercis buds, torn spider web, a drop of water cupped in the tiny new leaves of a lupin seedling.

Just for comparison, here are the little seedlings in their punnet. 

Spring is here so there will be plenty of new leaves and flowers to photograph in the coming weeks. Pop back tomorrow to see what's been flowering in my garden this month!

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