Tuesday 29 December 2015

The Christmas mantelpiece

 Hi again! Christmas has been and gone, and I thought I'd better share these pics of the Christmas mantelpiece before they become too redundant. I meant to do this a couple of weeks ago but the silly season got away on me, as it generally does! There is quite a lot going on here with the advent calendar in the background but I kept the colours soft and calming. I would have liked to finish it off with a big sign or star at the top of everything but I didn't come across anything exactly right, and as I said the time got away from me... I'll improve on it next year!

One thing I like a lot about this display is that I kept my plants in it! I also added fresh garden roses.

 There is a little light-up Christmas tree along with some glass baubles (and is that Santa I see peeking out of the door?)

 I finally got around to glittering some little houses to use in my village scene. 

 I really like this calendar! It's called the Silent Night Calendar and has such sweet illustrations. One of my favourite childhood Christmas memories is opening the doors on the advent calendar, excitedly waiting to discover what the little picture would be. We didn't have chocolate advent calendars and I didn't care. These days it's so hard to find a calendar that isn't licensed to Disney and full of chocolate crap, and I was super happy to find this one. It's been as thrilling as I remembered to open the little doors, and I intend to put it carefully away so I can bring it out every year.

 I made this retro ornament garland in soft colours to tone in with the calendar. The pattern came from the Persia Lou blog.

It's nearly time to take down the display in favour of something more summery, but I think I'll enjoy it for a few more days first. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and holiday time! xx

PS I'm also going to count this as my last Styling the Seasons post for the year! 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.

Saturday 19 December 2015

A summer hailstorm

 My lavender bushes are at their peak right now, loaded with fragrant purple sprigs. The best way to spend a summer evening is out in the garden with snips and basket, harvesting bunches and hanging them upside down to dry. They only take a week to dry and then it's just a matter of crumbling the dried buds into a container and hanging some more up to dry. When I've harvested all I can, I'll fill lots of little organza bags for under-the-pillow sweetness.

 Of course I'm not the only one who likes the lavender... bumble bees are very busy getting in there and gathering pollen. I must say I enjoy the company of these hard little workers and I find them very obliging in getting out of the way as I pick my bunches, although they do often continue to harvest the flowers in my basket!

 The plants on the deck are filling out as well. 

 In fact everything was looking pretty good, until last Sunday when a rather bolshy thunderstorm blew in. Rain and wind lashed the garden, and then hail pelted down. It was rather heavy and rather loud.

 Not to mention cold... brrr! This looks like a nice coating of cherry blossom, but it's actually hail. Fortunately more rain came along after this and washed most of the ice away.

 This is not as bad as the big storm that lashed Sydney, but it was enough for me and my garden! 

Most of the damage was sustained by big-leaved plants which are all looking battered and tattered. I was sad to see the damage on the Cercis Forest Pansy (top left) because I love it's heart shaped leaves. The hosta my neighbour gave me (top right) really took a pummelling. I might be able to trim and feed it to convince it to grow some new leaves. 

In the vege garden, the beans mainly bore the brunt of it (bottom left), but luckily they have only just started producing flowers so there weren't many to be knocked off. My apples have been the main casualty (bottom right), with lots of little apples knocked off (I'll consider this nature's way of thinning them out), but the rest were badly pock marked. I'll still use them for cooking and cider making, but I feel bad for commercial growers who have probably lost entire crops.

So that's the latest from the early summer garden! How are your summer/winter gardens going?

Thursday 17 December 2015

December flowers

Here we are in the December flower garden. Rose season is in full swing, and I have to say the roses have never looked better! All that watering at the start of the season has led to strong foliage and lots of flower heads. Take note for the future, self! 

Above, clockwise from top left: purple poppy, pink gypsophila, The Fairy rose, Claire rose, sweet peas, Queen Elizabeth rose, pink peony poppy, Peace rose, a little pastel pansy, lavatera, Sexy Rexy rose, Queen Anne's lace. In the middle is a grouping of sweet peas and roses in little glass bottles... a lovely scented centrepiece.

This area in the garden always gets a bit wild over summer as everything grows tall and bushy. I like the pastel tones of the lambs' ears and lavatera but I realised recently that something had always struck me as jarring about the scene, and that something is the pink penstemon. It's a really hot coral pink (more so than this picture shows I think), and just clashes too much with the surroundings. So I'll leave it be since the weather is too hot to shift it now, but next winter I'll whip it out and replace it with something more pastel.

Everything looks much prettier when viewed from the other side! I'm enjoying the poppies while they last too. They are self seeded from last year and about every third plant has reverted back to red, so I pull those ones out, and hope I'll still have some pink seedlings next year!

It started to rain while I took these pictures, so I popped into the glasshouse and spied on the sparrows in the feeder. I love hearing birdsong in the garden.

That's it for today! I have some more garden pics to show soon along with some Christmas decorating. This month is flying along so fast!

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Snapshots from November

 Hi again - it's time to recap November in phone and Instagram photos. Greg the CAL blanket has been my constant companion, although the Tim squares above gave me a bit of trouble! I ended up switching them with another block pattern so I didn't have to make so many.

I got a lot planted in the potager at the start of the month - October was cold so I waited a couple of weeks past the usual time. Then I planted beans, tomatoes, leeks, sweet corn, chillis, zucchinis, spring onions and capsicums. The picture above shows some of my heirloom bean seeds, I just love the variety they provide. Anyway, Mother Nature had some more winter up her sleeve which she threw at us in the start of the month - there was even a frost or two! Luckily most of the beans weren't up yet and everything else was sheltered by taller plants, so there wasn't any vege garden carnage.

 At the beginning of the month I was still picking anemones. Catmint and lambs' ears also filled vases.

 Rhododendrons and roses... Mrs GW Leak (left) and Peace rose (right). Peace goes a dark pink on the outside when the weather is cold.

 In the middle of the month the long-awaited moment happened... I finally had a bloom on the Sarah Bernhardt peony! Just one bloom, mind you, and I'd been waiting four years, but at least she finally knows what to do. Moving her to full sun obviously did the trick.

And I made some more squares for Greg - these are the flowery Ian blocks.

 Cecile Brunner roses were next in the flowering schedule, and look sweet combined with aquilegia and catmint. I'm happy to report that the weather warmed right up and we've had some lovely hot days already! Hopefully this is a taste of the summer to come, as long as there is enough water to go around the garden.

 And not long after, the rose season began in earnest. In the basket above I have Peace roses (yellow), Queen Elizabeth roses (pink) and one pink Claire rose - you can see her better in the vase pic to the left. My roses are performing better than they ever have. I replanted their bed in early spring, mulched, weedmatted, and watered regularly which I haven't really bothered with before... and this is the result. It's clearly worth it!

Towards the end of the month I put Greg aside to begin some Christmas crafting. There will be more to show as the decorations go up!

 Let's end this post with some dreamy petal perfection! I just love my early summer garden.


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