Friday 27 December 2013

Summer potager

 We had some lovely warm weather just before Christmas and the garden responded. Here is the potager, full to the brim with wonderful things to eat, some ripening and some ready for harvest.

 In the first quarter, several plants of different growth habits are nestled together. At the right hand side are spring onions and lettuces. They grow quickly and will soon be harvested, leaving room for the zucchini next to them to spread. There are some pumpkins at the back which will sprawl on the ground behind the glasshouse (this was formerly a weedy wasteland, which I've covered with weedmat to get somewhat under control. The warm, dry weedmat should make an ideal surface for nurturing the baby pumpkins!) Next to the pumpkins is a feathery patch of cosmos - essential for prettying up a vege garden in my opinion - and in front of them are cauliflowers (ready to harvest) and red sprouting broccoli.
 In the second quarter is a big patch of sweet corn. Next to that is the garlic/shallot patch. I harvested the garlic and shallots right after I took these photos because we had rain forecast, and it's good to get it out while it's dry. I'll dig this bed over and plant my leeks there in the next couple of weeks.

 In the third quarter it's all about potatoes! The nice deep green leaves and purple flowers belong to Heather, a pink-skinned variety I grow every year. The tatty foliage to the right is Laratte, an heirloom variety given to me by my mum's neighbour. I planted them early and they're ready to harvest.

 In the fourth quarter I have lots of beans. Along the front are borlotti dwarf beans. At the back, climbing the frame are Sunset runner beans, and cannelini climbing beans. I didn't have a very good strike rate with the cannelini seed for some reason, so there won't be many to harvest this year. But there are plenty of runner beans... I'll be eating them till they come out my ears! I also have six tomato plants in this patch and a row of chillis along the path.

 I love all the different textures together.

 One day's harvest: cauliflower "cheddar", zucchini, runner beans, Laratte new potatoes, strawberries, raspberries and boysenberries.

 I'm still loving the pinkness in the flower garden.

Storm clouds rolling in, and with them the rain. We had some beautiful days just before Christmas and have had nothing but rain and drizzle since them... and the forecast is similar for the next 10 days or so. Isn't it typical... I predict it will clear up on or around the 6th of January, when lots of people go back to work. Guess I'll be finding some inside jobs to do!

Hope you all had a nice Christmas, and that your weather is better than mine!

Sunday 22 December 2013

Christmas lilies

 Anyone in New Zealand will tell you that it's not really Christmas until you have a bunch of Christmas lilies in your house. The heady scent, rich as incense, will easily fill a room and anyone walking in immediately takes a deep breath and says, "Ahhh. Christmas lilies!"

 You can buy them pretty much anywhere at this time of year, but mine of course are from my garden. I grew these from seed about 3 years ago, and this year is their best yet. I think they look pretty fine in this patch, surrounded by complimentary tones of silver and magenta. The neighbouring pink godetia provide a soft frilly contrast to the sleek lily buds.

 I brought two stems in and put them in my biggest vase with some airy bunches of gypsophila. It might be a bit of a cliche putting these two together, but I think the tiny pink fairylike flowers are a nice contrast to the huge lily heads. Some more gypsophila in a little jug helps keep the arrangement from being too static.

Breathe in, and say it with me. "Ahhh. Christmas lilies!"

Sunday 15 December 2013

December flowers

I'm just loving the garden right now. It's full to the brim with pretty, romantic flowers. Lots of the perennials and shrubs I've planted in previous years are now growing together, which looks natural and also means less weeding! These days I love sitting outside under the umbrella with a book. I start off reading but usually end up looking around and making garden plans!

Clockwise from top left: gladioli nanus, Cecile Brunner rose, pink rippled carnation, Ash Wednesday rose, delphiniums, peace rose, rhodohypoxis, blue aquilegia, gladioli nanus, pink peony, hot pink geraniums, lavender. Middle: lavatera with a cloud of gypsophila in the background.

I'm also happy to report that I've joined the summer-flowering hellebore club! Only one of my plants (Pink Lady) is doing this, but the flowers are normal sized and just as lovely as in winter.

I'm linking up to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens. Who else has hellebores flowering in their garden right now?

Thursday 12 December 2013

Summer afternoon

 This is a beautiful sunset we had about a week ago. It was one of those ethereal moments where the colour from the clouds reflects back and gives everything a rosy glow. I ran outside because I just had to be in it, experiencing the colour for as long as it lasted.

 The lavatera is growing tall and spreading. I cut this shrub back every couple of weeks it seems, to keep it in check, so I've taken some cuttings and I'll probably replace it in autumn with a smaller version of itself.

 My gypsophila is a beautiful pink cloud, half obscuring the potted lonicera. I love the softness of the cloud next to the tall spires of lambs' ears.

 On a warm afternoon I decided to relax with a magazine, some crochet and views of the garden. It was lovely and peaceful, and I worked my stitches and daydreamed some garden ideas and watched as some clouds rolled in.

 And within a few minutes my sun umbrella had become a rain umbrella. Oh well, nice while it lasted right...

I had to go inside and admire the garden views from the windows. At least I didn't need to water anything that day!

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Garden visitors

 I made these lemon honey puddings recently when we had some guests for lunch. The recipe is from Annabel Langbein and you can find it here on her website. It's really easy to make (I make it in the microwave) and it looks super fancy if you serve it in little teacups! I also had some candied lemon peel and some fresh raspberries from the garden which were just gorgeous with the lemony custard.

 My visitors were Keity from La Vie En Rose and her husband Hiro. They were visiting NZ all the way from Japan and made a special visit to see my garden, and I was happy to be able to show them around while the garden is looking its best. I love having visitors especially when they also enjoy gardening - it's nice to show off what you've been working so hard on to someone who understands the work that's been put in! We had a nice lunch before they left to go shopping and then to the Botanic Gardens (and hopefully didn't get caught in the downpour we had later)!

Keity was kind enough to bring me some gifts - among them these cute little house ornaments. I love them, they are like little fairy houses and will look perfect on my windowsill tucked among plants. The little castle design is actually a planter for a tiny plant - if you don't believe me here is a post on Keity's blog about it! It's so cute and I can't wait to try growing something in it. Thank you Keity!

 This is my new rose Ash Wednesday, just as lovely in a vase as it is in the garden.

 And this is scabiosa. I love this one both as a flower and a seed head.

Have you had any garden visitors lately?

Sunday 8 December 2013


 I had to trim my lavender hedges recently because they were overgrowing the path. This is a dwarf variety called Dwarf Munstead. It only gets about 40 cm tall but can sprawl out a bit at the sides. Luckily it takes well to having a haircut!

 Here it is after having a trim. I left all the flowers along the top so it still looks full and lush.

 It's so nice lining the path, and smells lovely when you brush against it! Bees and insects love it too and the garden is always busy with them - that's a good thing in this day of declining bee numbers.

I hung the bunches up to dry in our back porch. When they are dry I'll fill little organza bags, and then I'll put them under my pillow for sweet dreams.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Pinterest made me do it: Heart shaped wreath

Oh, Pinterest. Such a great way to spend an hour or an evening, browsing and finding inspiration and being able to save it to come back to later. That's what I tell myself anyway, as I create boards and pin picture after beautiful picture, mind buzzing with ideas and creative plans. The reality is, I have hundreds of ideas pinned and while I love every one of them, I'll never get through them all in ten lifetimes. You might remember at the start of this year I decided to take 12 of my unfinished projects and finish one each month? Well, I fell off that wagon pretty quickly. That's why it's worth me celebrating when I actually finish something, and if it's come about because I saw it on Pinterest, that's fine too! So here's the first thing Pinterest made me do... a heart shaped wreath.

I was inspired by this pin. It's pretty simple... a wreath shaped like a heart with a few delicate roses attached. I used flax to make my wreath, and joined it together with fine wire. Then I wired on some leaves and roses.

They used paper flowers in the original but I thought I'd try attaching some of my Cecille Brunner rosebuds, as they should hold their shape when they dry. The cherry tree leaves got floppy quickly so I used some double sided tape to hold them in place. It will be interesting to see how this holds up as it dries - I may end up using paper flowers in the end if I don't like how it looks.

For now I love this easy and completely home made piece of decor! How about you... has Pinterest inspired you to create anything?

Monday 2 December 2013


 It's summer time, and that means roses! Here's a selection of the ones I have flowering right now. First up is Sexy Rexy. This rose is a good performer, but mine is looking a bit spindly this year. It's my fault, for letting the bed it was a part of completely overgrow with grass and clover and other nasties. I don't have a clear plan for the bed and I really need to sit down and work one out, because I have three roses in this bed so it's obviously in my best interest to keep it tidy! I did start by weeding it last weekend and that was a vast improvement.

 This is Claire Rose, a very frilly English rose. The heads are so heavy after it opens and the petals fill out that it droops on its stem. It's great in a vase though.

 This is Queen Elizabeth. It has very nice, classic looking pink blooms on long stems, and it's very good for picking.

 This is a new acquisition this year. It's called Ash Wednesday, and the flowers are an unusual muted lilac mauve colour. I love the colour, and it's growing quickly and strong.

 This is Frau Dagmar Hastrupp, a rugosa rose. It has lovely glossy dark foliage which doesn't get spotty. The flowers are big with five single petals and it's gorgeously scented. It's meant to have big red rose hips in autumn, but last year it dropped all the hips before they changed colour. I'm hoping for a better performance this year!

 This is the ever lovely Cecille Brunner. Such a vigorous strong grower. I cut her back hard every year and within three months she's towering over my shed again, covered with delicately scented petite pink blooms. The tiny blooms make beautiful tiny posies in tiny vases!

 I recently visited a friend's garden and took some cuttings to see if I can increase my collection. Most of these are for scented climbers and I have no idea where I'll put them if the cuttings take, but I'm sure I'll think of somewhere.

And this is a baby that another friend grew from seed. Have you ever heard of anyone growing a rose from seed? I must admit I thought it wouldn't work, but there are actually two little seedlings in this punnet! And look - one has a bud! I can't believe a tiny little four month old rose is actually going to flower. It looks like it might be pink too!

Do you grow roses? What are your favourite varieties to grow or arrange?

Sunday 1 December 2013

Time, where do you go?

It's the first day of summer today. In the past month, I've spent pretty much every daylight minute that I'm home out in the garden, weeding and tidying and trimming and sowing and planting and weeding and transplanting and feeding and watering and staking and mulching and weeding. It's a neverending cycle, but luckily I love it. Being outside this time of year is wonderful... it's warm, bright, beautiful and smells good. The flower beds are full without being overcrowded. Some of my favourite summer stars are just opening their first buds in preparation for several months of blooms. The promise of spring is being fulfilled.

And as I rush by with the trowel or the watering can in hand, I pause, notice, and appreciate. I make mental notes that I really must take some photos, once I've finished for the day and all the strewn tools have been put away, then at the end of the day I tell myself I'll do it tomorrow.

One thing I am managing to do is pick and arrange flowers. Especially now that my roses are in bloom! I also have masses of sweet peas, and the best thing you can do for them is keep picking them, so I have scented bunches in nearly every room. It's wonderful.

Well, I'll try and take some garden photos to share with you this week. In the meantime, here's my latest arrangement of roses, sweet peas, lambs' ears and scabiosa.


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