Monday 22 December 2014

Christmas decorating

 Hi again friends! Christmas draws nearer and I thought I'd show you some of my decorating this year. Settle in because this post is picture heavy! Normally I'd break it into two posts but I've pretty much run out of time - I'm travelling tomorrow so if I don't get it done now it won't happen...

 My Christmas tree this year is in the dining area. I kept the tree fairly pale and vintage inspired. It has silver balls with the occasional pearl pink or gold one, and a few more detailed ornaments. The lights are those LED ones that are super bright but also blue tinged, so I coloured them with pink nail polish. (You can see more about the technique on this post.)

 This is an ornament I made back in November. It's a tiny bottlebrush tree in a salt shaker, with glass glitter instead of salt.

 Here's another glass bottle tree. I made four in total, with slightly different trims on the lid.

 I have a couple of these little clip on birds.

I wanted white ornaments with pastel polka dots but couldn't find anything like that. I couldn't even find white ornaments to paint dots on, so I had to spray paint some coloured ones. It was a bit of a performance but I love how they turned out. I only made four in the end so not enough to do the whole tree... maybe next year I'll do some more!

I had time this year to do a bit of Christmas baking. This is shortbread, dipped in pink tinted white chocolate and chopped pistachios and dried cranberries. Simple but delicious and looks pretty and festive, I think. I've also made a syrup for cocktails with raspberries and basil leaves, and I tried a little bit out as a tea... delicious and perfectly summery!

 I also made this summery garland to hang in the window. A lot of Christmas decorations are winter themed, and sometimes that's ok. But since it is summer here, I'd like to acknowledge that and a flowery garland is the perfect way to do it! The garland is off Trade Me (party supplies section) and I've hung glass jars of flowers and various ornaments I've either made or been given. (The rest of my polka dot ornaments are here!) Below are some close ups of some of the ornaments.

 Here's my kitchen shelf in it's latest fit out...

 I love these bottle brush trees in teacups! Bottle brush trees are actually really hard to come across in New Zealand. I read sometimes on American blogs about how they go into chain stores and buy big bags of them... not so here! I actually found it really hard to go through with glueing the pearls onto the trees because you know... so hard to get more! But I did it in the end and I'm really happy with how they turned out. I also found some tiny glass baubles to put in the cups, and this tree topper which looks vintage but is just a really cheap one that the glitter is flaking off.

 On the top shelf I have some more Christmas tree ornaments and tiny baubles, and I put some rosemary in glass candle holders. I wanted some greenery somewhere and this puts out more of a traditional Christmas vibe.

Last but not least, this is the table in the hallway. I started up a small Christmas village and it's slowly being taken over by cards. Every year I plan to make some glitter houses for a village but once again it hasn't happened, but I like the eclectic look here too!

Hope you've enjoyed this tour. Now it's time for me to start to pack and get organised as I'm going to visit my family for a few days over Christmas. The weather forecast is fantastic and I'm looking forward to some long summer days relaxing with family and friends, before I come home and get stuck into the garden and other projects. Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate it, and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. xxx

Saturday 20 December 2014

Summertime garden views

Hi again, and welcome to summer in my flower garden. It's getting pretty full in here which is good - more plant coverage means less weeding! I do need to get in there and tidy up a bit, especially the edges, and trim back the geraniums which have stopped flowering.

On the right is a mass of Queen Anne's Lace which has self seeded. There is also borage amongst it, so the bees are happy! I also have dahlias, catmint and lambs ears in this bed, and some tall dusky pink foxgloves in the bed at the back by the fence.

This penstemon has exploded in a mass of colour this season! The coral pink is stunning, especially when backlit by the sun.

Lui always enjoys prowling through the garden looking for catmint, well that and mice. There were some mouse families last year and he brought some of them inside... they seem to have moved on this year!

I'm edging a lot of beds with lavender as it's so easy care and looks gorgeous. You can never have too much lavender, and the bumble bees agree with me.

Lavender sachets for every drawer!

The sweet peas are also doing well and I'm picking big bunches a couple of times a week. I've also got some lovely self sown poppies this year. I had some last year but they didn't do any good - I've realised they don't like to be transplanted, so just have to wait for the seedlings to pop up and hope they're in the right place!

This variety is appearing in all shades of pink and purple.

Here's a picture from a few weeks ago when the peonies were still in bloom. Such show stoppers they are!

Now, after doing all those garden tours a few weeks ago, I want to add more garden! I thought about enlarging the garden by my fence (as seen in the first photo), but I don't want to lose the curve. So then I thought perhaps I could mirror it by making a curved bed opposite, so that there is a patch of circular lawn between two beds. I'd edge it on one side with lavender to frame the path and put some stepping stones through the middle. Half the bed would be quite shaded in winter but the other half would be very sunny... could be the perfect spot for my new peonies!

Anyway, whatever happens here won't be done in a hurry as we are still awaiting repairs to the path and driveway. So that gives me plenty of time to daydream...

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?


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