Christmas Pudding Wishes

It’s the end of November and Christmas is just around the corner! I always try to be on top of things coming up to the Festive Season, so I can enjoy it, rather than be stressing about getting everything done at the last minute!

Some things cannot be done until the day itself, like cooking the turkey and decorating the ham ; Some things need to wait until December, like decorating the Christmas tree or writing Christmas cards, though these days, instant email has a lot of advantages. I do still like Christmas cards to hang on a string across windows or decorate the mantelpiece, but I’m very selective now with my Christmas card list, especially given the price of postage these days!

Christmas gifts are often bought during the year, when I see the perfect present or a great sale price!

And I really like to prepare my Christmas Pudding and Christmas Cake by the end of November at least, so their flavours can develop!

There are so many wonderful recipes for these Festive offerings. These are my favourite standbys :

Light Christmas Pudding

BlogXmaspudding40%Reszddec 2010 110

I found this recipe in a book called  ‘Creating Gourmet Gifts’ by Barbara Beckett, which I bought over 20 years ago. It is a lovely book with many wonderful culinary gift ideas, so well worth searching for in secondhand bookstores.

I really like this recipe, as it is comparatively healthy and much lighter than the old suet-based recipes. Remember to allow extra time, as the fruit needs to soak for a few days before cooking and make sure all family members are present in the house on Pudding Cooking Day to make their wish for the coming year!

A few days beforehand

Slice 1.5 cups of prunes and put in a bowl with 2 tbsp mixed peel, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 cup sultanas, 1/2 cup currants, 1 grated carrot and 1 grated apple (I like to use a  Granny Smith apple).

Pour over 1/2 cup brandy and stir well. Cover and leave to macerate for several days.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-07 19.02.36BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-07 19.04.23Pudding Cooking Day

Put the zest and juice of 1 lemon and 1 orange, 2 tbsp sugar and 2 eggs in a bowl and whisk well. Stir into mixed fruit.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.43.32BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.47.05BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.49.10BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.50.12Add 1 tsp grated nutmeg, 1 tsp ground allspice, 1 tsp ground cinammon, 3 cloves ground, 1 cup fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs, 1 cup sifted wholemeal self-raising flour and 1/2 cup slivered almonds. Let stand for 1 hour.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.55.07BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 09.57.26Meanwhile, double-grease the pudding basin to ensure the pudding turns out easily. Grease the bowl well with butter, put in the fridge for 15 minutes, then grease it again and refrigerate until ready to use. In the old days, I used to tie the pudding mixture up in a boiled, sterilized calico pudding cloth, but it was messy to clean up at the end and in the hot, humid Queensland Summers, I would invariably end up with a mouldy pudding by the time Christmas arrived. It is so much easier and quicker to use a bowl, so it is well worth investing in a classic pudding basin!BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.14.46BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.11.58Clean and sterilize pudding silver and let dry before use. I have a much prized collection of old shillings, sixpences and  threepences, which I count out every year after eating the pudding, as they are not so easy to come by now. When our family was young, we also bought each family member their own significant sterling silver charm – a lyrebird for Ross (which has disappeared since) , a thimble (well-chewed) for me and a pig, camel and hippo for the kids, representing their alter-egos.  Note that the silver used must be sterling silver, so modern currency cannot be used. Also, be extra carefully when eating, so that you don’t swallow the charms or break a filling or dentures!!!

Put the coins in the pudding mixture.

Assemble all the family to each take their turn at stirring the pudding mixture and making a wish for the coming year, eyes shut of course !BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.40.52Fill the pre-greased pudding basin with the pudding mixture and smooth the top flat. Cover the top of the basin with 2 layers of Gladwrap for a tight seal, then 2 layers of aluminium foil and tie around the lip of the bowl with string, then create a string handle to lift the bowl in and out of the boiling water.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.43.23BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.43.28BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.56.35Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then lift in the pudding basin and replace the saucepan lid. Make sure you don’t put too much water in the saucepan, as the pudding bowl will displace water. If the pudding bowl is sitting on the bottom of the pot, put a folded teatowel between the bottom of the pot and the pudding bowl, so the heat is not concentrated on the base.

Steam pudding for 4 hours, covered. Check the water level regularly and keep topped up with boiling water. When the four hours is up, remove the pudding basin from the hot water very carefully with the string handle and let cool.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-15 15.33.06When cold, refrigerate pudding till Christmas.

On Christmas Day, boil for another 1.5 hours before eating.

Remove pudding from the basin. It should slide out easily. Serve upside down on a Christmas plate and decorate the top with a holly leaf or greenery.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2014-12-25 11.25.06BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.31.41When you reach dessert, remove the decoration, then pour over spirits – rum, brandy or whiskey and set it alight! When the flames have died down, cut slices for everyone, hiding any exposed silver as you go, and serve with Hard Sauce or Rum Butter, both recipes of which also come from Barbara Beckett’s book ‘ Creating Gourmet Gifts’ and both of which can be made days or weeks beforehand.BlogXmaspudding40%ReszdIMG_8983BlogXmaspudding40%ReszdIMG_8988

Hard Sauce for Christmas Pudding

Mix 1/2 cup caster sugar and  1/2 cup milk powder together.

Add 1/3 cup melted butter and 3 tbsp rum and mix well.

Chill and serve cold with hot pudding.

Rum Butter

Put 1 cup unsalted butter in a bowl and stand in a saucepan of simmering water.

When the butter has melted, stir in 1.5 cups soft brown sugar.

When the sugar has dissolved, pour in 1 cup brown rum slowly, whisking all the time.

Add 1 tsp ground cinnamon and 1 tsp grated nutmeg.

Pour into a butter dish and when cool, cover and keep in the fridge. This recipe can be made weeks beforehand.

Christmas Cake

BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 20.39.17

For the last few years, I have used an Irish Fruit Cake recipe, as I love the idea of soaking the fruit for three weeks, turning it every day and dreaming of the coming Christmas. It’s an exciting time! Here is the method :

Three weeks beforehand

Chop 360 g raisins, 360 g sultanas, 90 g dates, 90g glace cherries, 60 g mixed peel, 60 g depipped prunes and 30 g glace pineapple.

Combine in a large screwtop jar with a tight seal with 1 tsp grated lemon rind, 1 tsp grated orange rind, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/3 cup whiskey and 1/2 peeled grated green apple.

Shake well to mix fruit evenly.

Store in a cool, dry place for 3 weeks, reversing the jar every day.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-07 18.45.21

BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-07 18.49.10
At the start
BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.38.27
After 3 weeks

Baking Day :

Line a 20 cm square tin with Gladbake, extending 5 cm in height above the top edge of the tin. Set the oven to 150 degrees Celsius, with the baking shelf in the middle of the oven.

Add 30 g chopped walnuts and 60 g ground almonds to the fruit mixture in a bowl.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.42.27BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.43.02BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.43.42Sift 1.5 cups plain flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg and 1/4 tsp salt.

Cream 180 g butter and 3/4 cup caster sugar and add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.38.01 - CopyAdd fruit and nut mixture to the above, then fold in the flour and spice mix.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.47.18BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.48.29Pour into tin and flatten the top.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.52.49Decorate with blanched almonds in your desired design.BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.58.07Bake in 150 degrees Celsius oven for 1 hour, then reduce the temperature to 140 degrees Celsius for 1.5 – 2 hours, covering the tin with reflective aluminium foil,  if the top of the cake looks like it is burning .BlogXmaspudding20%Reszd2015-11-22 20.39.17

When cooked, brush with 1 tbsp whiskey, cool in the tin and wrap in greaseproof paper and foil.

Remember to leave a slice out for Father Christmas with his beer on Christmas Eve ! Happy Feasting!!!




The End of Spring

The rain has eased off a bit this week and while the rest of NSW has been sweltering, we have been enjoying very civilized sunny days in the low to mid 20s! Perfect weather for both us and the garden!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.37.33BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-15 12.17.23

The Soho Bed is still revelling in Peony Poppy Fever! How can I not share these photos with you!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-15 12.14.59BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 08.42.15BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.40.31BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.38.58BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-17 19.12.51BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 08.58.07BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 08.57.23BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.39.23BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 08.57.08

The roses adore the warmth and longer days of Late Spring:

In the Soho Bed :

BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-18 20.06.56
Copper Queen
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 18.27.58
Just Joey
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.39.07
Just Joey

In the Moon Bed :

BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 17.48.52
Jude the Obscure
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-15 12.14.29
Jude the Obscure
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.43.38
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 16.59.26
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.11.27
Golden Celebration
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.10.51
William Morris

And now the debut of the final David Austin rose in the Moon Bed :

BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.42.52

On the Main Pergola :

BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-17 19.18.14
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.11.40

Beside the shed, Viridiflora is still in full bloom, while Archiduc Joseph and Countess Bertha are preparing for another rendez-vous!

BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.13.02

The Dahlia season has started! Our stunning red dahlia from last week has been joined by this beautiful gold bud, which opened into this striking flower.BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 08.59.02BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 18.35.37BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 18.35.44BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 18.35.54BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 08.27.28

The Tree Dahlias against the shed are growing like Jack-and-the-Beanstalk. See the difference one week can make!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.18.53BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.13.19

The Acanthus and Geranium are still a delight and the purple heliotrope smells divine!

BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 17.16.01
View of Acanthus mollis stalk from the top
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.37.47
Rosalie Geranium
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-18 20.04.20
Heliotrope ‘Lord Roberts’
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 17.17.04

We have had our first Buddleia flower, a sure sign of the advent of Summer, as are the hydrangea buds and lilies.

BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 09.01.21
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-18 20.03.42
Madonna Lily

The NSW Christmas Bush is almost ready for the festive season!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.16.00

The vegetable garden is thriving. I can’t wait to taste the Dutch Cream potatoes and Heritage tomatoes! We are enjoying daily fresh salads, straight from the garden, though I am still a bit uncertain about the colour of these carrots and the size of these radishes!!! However, I am  looking forward to the apple crop!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 17.00.10BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 13.34.02BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-18 20.12.13BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 13.27.48BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 18.37.28BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.09.51

Here are photos of the bouquets for this week:

BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 10.36.54
Calendula flowers and herbs
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 10.37.15
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 10.37.33
The Children’s Rose, Heaven Scent, Catmint and Lavender
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 10.37.55
Copper Queen, Catmint and Lavender
BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 10.38.33
Mr. Lincoln

The local birdlife has been amazing! Lots of flyovers by Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and their raucous cousins, the white Sulphur-crested Cockatoos; huge flocks of noisy Galahs and screeching Corellas; manic Storm Birds heralding the hot Summer days and Channel-billed Cuckoos striking fear into the nesting bird population, as does this visiting Butcher Bird!

BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.26.30

The following visitors were even more unwelcome : Stink Bugs! Also known by the name of Bronze Orange Bug (Musgraveia sulciventris). They love our Cumquat trees and new Lemon tree and their population was increasing daily! Ross gave them a welcome with soapy water and they responded by releasing their foul smell, but at least he reduced their numbers, for this week at least! He will also spray the trees with Eco-oil every fortnight to control them.

BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.45.40BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.12.26BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.12.40BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 18.47.01

We planted out the potted Golden Hornet Crabapple (foreground left in photo), though I have yet to be convinced that it hasn’t been mislabelled, due to the red hue of their ripening fruit. Whatever their variety, the fruit will still be good for making crab apple jelly!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 08.14.34BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 18.26.11

We also repotted all the rose cuttings from last Winter’s foray up north. Some had died, but the majority had developed excellent root systems, with one or two even flowering. We will leave them in their new larger pots until June next year, when we will plant some out in the garden and sell the rest.BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 10.39.32BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 17.59.59

BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.25.26
Bloom on Albéric Barbier cutting

I was kept busy in the sewing room, helping my daughter to make mozzie net curtains for the van and then, we sadly farewelled our travellers! Bon Voyage and Many Happy Adventures!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 09.32.32BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 20.03.10

Finally, I will leave you with a photo of our beautiful red maple, with the sun shining through its foliage. Roll on Summer!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 17.37.01




November Falls

Finally!! The long-promised blog post on the beautiful Nethercote Falls! We first visited this area at the beginning of September, when hearing of the imminent road closure to this special spot.

BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.47.27BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.09.03Nethercote Falls is situated on the Yowaka River and is part of Nullica State Forest. As such, it comes under the jurisdiction of the NSW Forestry Corporation. Initially, they had plans to permanently close all access to the falls (due to risks to public safety, as well as ongoing road maintenance difficulties), but there was such a hue and cry from the locals, many of whom had been visiting Nethercote Falls for generations, that there was a change in policy, still allowing the general public to visit the falls, but on foot only!

A barrier gate was to be erected in early September, so we beetled down there very quickly and managed to still use the steep 4WD road down to the Lower Car Park. We were so happy to have still been able to do this, as it confirmed that future visits by foot were indeed worth it!

Here are the directions to find Nethercote Falls :

  • Driving south on the Princes Highway, just south of Pambula, turn right on to Mt. Darragh Rd for 5 km.
  • Turn left on to Back Creek Rd for 5 km.
  • Turn left into Pipeclay Rd for 400m. At this point, the road forks. Take the right hand fork, but not the sharp right turn, on to Nethercote Falls Link Rd. Follow the road for 1 km to the Upper Car Park. It is a very narrow dirt road, so take care to allow room for vehicles coming in the opposite direction.

On our first visit, we were able to take the steep 4WD dirt track to the Lower Car Park, but now this road has been blocked off by a barrier at the top, so you must walk down this steep hill (and up it at the end! But it is well worth it, even if you may need another swim at the top to cool off!!!)

From the Lower Car Park, it is a 300m walk down to the main falls with one river crossing. There is a long, deep pool (40 m long, 15 m wide and over 2 m deep) within a rock gorge with steep sides and a 40 m drop waterfall at the end.BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 11.10.31BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 09.47.00BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.08.53BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.10.12Unfortunately, there have been quite a few accidents with foolhardy, risky behaviour on those steep sides, leading to very tricky and costly helicopter rescues, the very reason cited by the Forestry Corporation for closing public access to the falls.

But, as one objector pointed out, you can never totally prevent idiotic behaviour and to close all spots with potential risks is unfair to the careful majority, counter-productive to tourism and well-nigh impossible! Yes, put up plenty of warning signs, including  the notion that accidents may incur huge personal expense if helicopter rescue is involved. But I think that people do have to accept personal responsibility for their actions, especially when that activity may involve some risk!

So, be extra careful on the rocky ledges, especially on wet rainy days, when the rock surfaces can be very slippery. Remember, as my Mum always used to warn us as kids when peering over the edge of the wharf, ‘Your head is the heaviest part of your body’!!! And if planning to dive or jump into the pool from a height, ALWAYS pre-check the depth of the water into which you are to jump, as well as checking for submerged rocks/ logs and objects. There have been far too many unnecessary spinal injuries from diving or being thrown into shallow pools and while it might be fun or a buzz at the time, spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair (especially a high cervical injury) is not!!! Also beware of any undercurrents in the water, especially if you are not a strong swimmer. Needless to say, kids should always be supervised and please leave your dog at home! One of the rescues earlier this year involved a dog, who was stuck on the cliff face!!!

The falls are well-visited on hot Summer days, so the main pool is often quite busy, but fortunately, there is a small track, which leads up the side to above the falls to a series of smaller necklace pools, 1-10 m wide and more smaller falls, so it is one surprise after another until you end in the quiet river flat at the top, overlooked by huge gums, sheoaks and wattles.

BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.25.57BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.33.06BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.24.02BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 09.58.52BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.32.26BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.34.43BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.35.05BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 09.57.02BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.37.35BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.35.47The gorge is comprised of rhyolite and its unusual weathering has been the subject of geological research and intensive scientific interest. I love the worn round pools, formed by whirlpools of water eroding away and smoothing the rock surfaces.BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.25.35BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.31.46BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 09.58.42BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 09.56.57It is such a beautiful area and we felt it really should be part of National Parks or designated as the Nethercote Falls Flora Reserve, as has been proposed. It is a really interesting area botanically, as it is the southernmost limit of distribution for many species, which are otherwise unknown on the Far South Coast. For example, Pultenaea villifera and Daviesia acicularis are both otherwise unknown South of the Tuross River.

The rhyolitic soils support 4 rare plant species :

  • Phebalium ralstonii
  • Acacia subtilinervis (1st 2 photos below)
  • Pseudanthus divaricatissimus   and
  • Hakea macreana (3rd and 4th photos below).

BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 09.47.50BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.13.02BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 09.54.11BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 11.05.28There are also 2 undescribed species of Grevillea (with affinities to Grevillea miqueliana) and Westringia ( with affinities to Westringia glabra).

Much of the vegetation is Shrubland, dominated by Kunzea ambigua and Melaleuca armillaris.

Here are some of the botanical photos we took back in early September. The 1st photo is a Hovea species, followed by Hakea macreana and a Forest Clematis (Clematis glycinoides). The latter is called Headache Vine in Queensland, as the crushed leaves are supposed to alleviate headaches.The 4th photo is the Rock Waxflower (Philotheca trachyphylla), followed by Sweet Wattle (Acacia suaveolens) and the last photo is Hardenbergia violacea, seen on the drive along Yowaka River on the way home.

BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 11.02.26BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.05.28BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 11.29.52BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 09.49.58BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.02.47BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 11.44.29I love the tenacity of these little battlers, ekeing out a life on the rocks!

BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.48.35BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.47.22BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.46.49BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.46.58Also these resourceful carnivorous sundew plants and beautiful moss!BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.48.08BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 11.07.59We revisited Nethercote Falls in late October on the strength of the masses of Rock Orchids (Dendrobium speciosum), high on the cliff face above the main pool, which by now should have been in full flower and absolutely stunning! In Queensland, we knew them as King Orchids. Unfortunately, we could not find one bloom, even a trace of a spent one! We were either too late, too early or maybe they just didn’t flower this year!!! At least, we saw their blooms at Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra!BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.08.06BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.35.02We recently visited these botanical gardens, where they had a whole glasshouse devoted to this species and its variety of forms. Current scientific thought is of the opinion that they are all the one species with geographical variations in their appearance, rather than a number of different species. Apparently, the aborigines used to roast and eat their starchy stems.BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.40.47Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.40.06Blog Early20cent BG20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.39.35BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.39.51But back to the falls! There was also a huge wasp nest on the cliffs.BlogNovFalls30%Reszd2015-10-28 09.22.01 - CopyBlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 10.07.47These were some of the flowers we did see in late October!BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.03.17BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.08.07BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.03.49BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.07.17BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.03.35BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.24.54BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.18.26BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.50.31BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.32.19BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.25.46BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.55.37BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.03.26And it was good to check out the new barrier gate and get an idea of walking times. It really wasn’t too bad! Walking downhill was very pleasant, listening to the constant peal of Bell Miners; the creak of a Gang-Gang Cockatoo; the trill of a Fan-Tailed Cuckoo; the ‘Duke-Duke-Wellington’ song of the Grey Thrush and the beautiful song of the Golden Whistler. There were so many birds! We also saw Grey Fantails, Scrub Wrens, Eastern Yellow Robins (see below) and Lewin Honeyeaters.BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-09-05 09.52.08And it only took 5 minutes (8 minutes on the way back up) to walk down to the Lower Car Park, a further 2 minutes down to the creek and a 5 minute walk up to the Main Pool! The walk back up was quite possible and not nearly as bad as I envisaged, though it might be slightly more arduous on a hot Summer’s day!BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 08.56.27BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 08.59.32It was so lovely to revisit the Falls and Main Pool again, even though the King Orchids were nowhere to be seen! There is always next year! Third time lucky, though I suspect that we may be back again before then! The lure of that long cool pool beckons this coming Summer!BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.27.14BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.18.47You can see Ross on top of the cliffs in the first photo above. The following photos were taken from that vantage point, looking across at the journey of the falls.BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.32.58BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.33.09BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.33.15BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.34.07BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.34.49BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.33.40BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.31.30BlogNovFalls20%Reszd2015-10-28 09.45.23I think Nethercote Falls is destined to become one of our favourite haunts! It certainly is a very special place!!!

1st October 2016   Update on the Nethercote Kings

Having discovered the wonderful King Orchids in full bloom along the cliff-banks of the Merrica River as it enters the sea at Discovery Bay yesterday (see Merrica River post on:, we beetled down to Nethercote Falls to check whether the Kings were in bloom there too and I am happy to report, they were – third time lucky (!) , though I must admit to having been a bit spoilt yesterday! Nevertheless, the Nethercote Kings were still very beautiful and well worth the walk down. They grace the top of the falls, as well as the length of the side cliff, as shown in the photos below.blognovfalls20reszd2016-09-29-14-56-24blognovfalls20reszd2016-09-29-14-55-44blognovfalls20reszd2016-09-29-15-08-32They really are such lovely orchids, as well as being incredibly tough!blognovfalls20reszd2016-09-29-14-55-04blognovfalls20reszd2016-09-29-14-58-18blognovfalls20reszd2016-09-29-14-56-45blognovfalls20reszd2016-09-29-14-56-53It was so good to finally see them in full bloom, as well as reacquaint ourselves with the local Spring wildflowers, which we saw last year. We also discovered a Native Indigo, Indigofera australis, as well as this sweet little bird’s nest, which had already served its purpose!blognovfalls20reszd2016-09-29-14-44-06blognovfalls20reszd2016-09-29-14-39-55

Peony Poppy Heaven

Wow! What a season we are having! Another week of wonderful nitrogen-rich rain and 183 mm ( over 7 inches) for November so far!!! Not so good perhaps for the sodden blooms, but fantastic for the growth of new shrubs! We have also had an explosion in the snail population and have discovered all the leaks in the house.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-31 08.46.21BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-11 09.15.59Candelo Creek is full of water for once. The Silky Oaks are looking superb at the moment!BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-10 11.28.43BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-10 11.06.45BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-10 11.06.19The red dahlia is spectacular and the gold dahlia is forming buds.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-11 09.18.14BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-10 15.48.45BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-11 15.34.54The NSW Christmas bush is turning red, while the bottlebrush is in full bloom. Lady’s Mantle holds her raindrops like jewels and the Tree Fern is sending out new spiral fronds.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-10 15.42.39BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-10 15.49.59BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.13.23BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.23.06The Acanthus and Convovulus are still beautiful. Blue Rosalie geranium blooms alongside the rose-scented geranium and the white lilies are in full bud.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-27 18.06.39BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 13.23.15BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-28 07.33.12BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-30 09.49.41BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-10 15.40.11The cornflowers have collapsed under the weight of their blooms and all the rain, so are now propped up with tomato stakes!BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-10 15.48.27BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 13.40.54BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.17.03BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.12.52BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-10 15.48.15The Soho bed is looking so lush and bountiful!BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 11.55.02BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 10.06.10BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 11.57.17BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.17.47The peony poppies are spectacular. I love everything about them – their winding buds, their luscious blooms, their colour, their artistic pods of future promise! The bees love them too!BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 10.03.09BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 12.01.56BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.14.40BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 12.02.06BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 13.38.37BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 13.37.44BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 10.02.57BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-11 09.17.08BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-11 15.30.08BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-11 09.16.26The thyme carpet around the sundial is growing madly.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 11.58.57The David Austin roses in the Moon Bed are all blooming : Jude the Obscure (photos 1 and 2); Windermere (photos 3 and 4); Lucetta (photos 5 and 6);William Morris (photos 7 and 8);BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-11 15.33.01BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-11 15.32.26BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-11 15.32.54BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-10 15.45.25BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 13.40.39BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 12.01.11BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 12.00.44BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 12.00.52Copper Queen (gold) contrasts well with the mauve spires of the catmint and blue Salvia. The Children’s Rose (pink) is so generous with its blooms. In the shed garden, Maiden’s Blush (white) is finally blooming.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 13.39.08BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 13.39.23BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 11.57.46BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-11 15.37.27I love this time of year, as I can pick flowers for the house again!

  • A bouquet of wayward Cornflowers;
  • Fresh herbs : Parsley going to seed and Chocolate Mint, which badly needed pruning to allow the fresh shoots to come through;
  • Lolita (orange), Mr.Lincoln (red) and Children’s Rose (pink) with Catmint;
  • A smaller vase of divinely scented Mr Lincoln and Children’s Rose, again with Catmint;
  • A blowsy gold arrangement of Hybrid Teas : Copper Queen (gold) and Just Joey (salmon) and David Austins : Troilus (cream) and Golden Celebration (gold), contrasting with the mauve Catmint and blue Flowering Salvia.
  • And lastly, a photo of last week’s Acanthus, just to show you how long the blooms have lasted! Incredibly good value!!!

BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 13.22.16BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 17.13.06BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 13.16.34BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 13.15.26BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 13.20.31BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 13.21.53The major job this week was the installation of a new garden arch over the front gate onto the laneway. Our climbing Cecile Brunner is bounding ahead and desperately needed a supporting arch! We cleared heaps of ivy, then hammered in short star pickets to reinforce each leg of the arch. It is going to look wonderful when it is fully covered by this sweet little pink rose!BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 17.05.31BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 17.16.35BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 13.12.23BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 13.12.56My daughter and her boyfriend are visiting this week on the first leg of their exciting Australian adventure. I can now finally reveal some of the projects I finished a few weeks ago in preparation for their arrival.Their combi van will be their home for the next year, so I made them a large cushion, based on a child’s map of Australia (since my daughter is a primary school teacher) and backed with a fabric with a vintage world map design (since they are both keen travellers!) By clicking on the photo below, see if you can find 13 plants, 31 animals (including 10 birds), 12 agricultural enterprises, 10 mining areas and 29 famous landmarks or events. There are 4 major rivers, 6 major rocks and mountains, 2 major rail routes, 7 capital cities (red dot), 29 major cities and regional towns (purple dot) and 4 special places (green or pink dot)!

BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-26 15.56.51BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-26 15.57.12

I also made them a travelogue from a pattern I found in a library book called : ‘Creating Paper Crafts’ by Labeena Ishaque. See : I covered it again with a child’s map of  Australia on the front and a world map on the back and included blank paper, tracing paper and graph paper. Because the holes all lined up differently, the pages needed recutting on the top edge and the end result certainly wasn’t perfect, but by the time the pages are full, any defects will be covered over, so I’m not unduly concerned! I also glued more maps on the inside of the covers.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-29 13.18.13BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-29 13.18.20BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-29 13.18.29BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-10-29 13.49.14Finally, I printed out hard copy of her travel blog so far and assembled it in a yellow folder. She writes so beautifully and her boyfriend’s photos are superb, so I look forward to following them on their adventures around our wonderful continent on

While I often like to make a complementing card, I could not have done better than these 2 Christmas cards, which I found in our local newsagent- both so perfect, I could not choose between them, so my daughter and her boyfriend will get one each!!!BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 15.35.42BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 15.35.46Here are some photos of our intrepid travellers!BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.00.03BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-15 12.19.52BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-15 12.18.15BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-15 10.00.12

We also had quite a few avian visitors

: a flock of pink galahs, feeding on the ripe Duranta berriesBlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 09.41.10BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-13 09.42.02: A magpie on the verandah, a mother magpie with her insistent starving baby and another very quiet magpie searching for worms in the fernery.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 09.30.09BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 09.30.37 - CopyBlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-12 13.24.15BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.21.06BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.21.37

: And a flock of Musk Lorikeets feasting in the Bottlebrush on our laneway.BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.07.45BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.05.04BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.04.57




My Love Affair With France

I have always loved France, ever since my youth! I studied French at school to matriculation level, by which time I had started to automatically think in French! I loved the lyrical flow of the language and translating ‘La Gloire de Mon Père’ by Marcel Pagnol. This autobiography was later made into a film by Yves Robert called  ‘My Father’s Glory’, along with its sequel, ‘My Mother’s Castle’ , both very romantic movies, which showcase Provence through the eyes of a child. See :  and .

We love French films – their beauty, sensitivity and humour – and really enjoyed our visits to the French Film festival every year in Melbourne. Another two lovely French children’s films are ‘The Fox and the Child’, set in the beautiful countryside of the Jura Mountains in Eastern France (see trailer at : ) and the magical ‘La Clé des Champs’ with a wonderful soundtrack by Bruno Coulais. You can see the film trailer at :   and . The film makers Claude Nuridsany and Marie Perennou also made ‘Genesis’ and ‘Microcosmos’.

Some of my favourite artists are also French. I love the light-filled joyous art work of the Impressionists, which we viewed at Jeu de Paume in Paris, on my first overseas trip. We loved every single painting! We visited Monet’s home in Giverny on our second trip to France ten years later – such a spectacular garden ! We loved all the roses and of course, the famous Waterlily pond. See : also adore Renoir’s sumptuous women and would love to visit his home and garden, ‘Les Collettes’,  at Cagnes-sur-Mer in the South-East France one day. See : The recent film about his later years, titled ‘Renoir’ is another beautiful romantic movie, set in the Domaine du Rayol. The trailer can be viewed here :

There are some wonderful French gardens from artistic potagers to medieval herb and physic gardens and of course, roses!!! The French have a long history of rose breeding and appreciation.

Empress Josephine, the first wife of Napoleon I, adored roses. Between 1804-1814, she amassed the greatest and largest rose collection in the world at her Château de Malmaison. The collection was made up of about 250 species and varieties, including 167 Gallicas, 27 Centifolias, 22 Chinas, 9 Damasks, 8 Albas, 4 Spinosissimas, 3 Luteas, R. moschata, R. carolina, and R. setigera. During the Napoleonic wars, the French Navy was enlisted to confiscate any plants or rose seeds from ships at sea and her large purchases from the British nursery, Kennedy and Lee, were permitted safe passage through the naval blockade. She commissioned artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté to paint all the roses in her collection  and he produced 3 beautiful volumes with 170 watercolour plates, ‘Les Roses’, which were published from 1817-1824. Josephine’s contribution to rose history is remembered in the names of 2 Old Roses : a Gallica called ‘Empress Josephine’ and one of my favourite Bourbons, ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (2nd photo). The 1st photo is a Moss rose called Chapeau de Napoléon, with its buds shaped like his three cornered cockade hat.BlogFranceLoveAffair20%Reszd2014-11-22 14.26.37BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdIMG_2508France has produced a number of very famous rose breeders and growers from Josephine’s gardener, André Dupont, to Jacques-Louis Descamet, who produced 200 new varieties of roses between 1804-1814; Jean-Pierre Vibert, the first French rose-breeder, who bought Descemet’s nursery in 1815 and produced more than 600 new varieties and Alexandre Hardy, who was the chief horticulturalist at Luxembourg Gardens in Paris from 1817 to 1859 and left more than 80 cultivars with China genes in them, including the Damask rose in the photo below named after his wife, Mme Hardy. Her blooms each have a beautiful green eye and smell superb.BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdIMG_2506

There are some very famous rose breeding families in France :

  • Brothers Philippe and Louis Noisette  launched the Noisette rose group in Europe.
  • The Guillot family (with 6 generations involved)  are famous for producing the first Hybrid Tea, La France, in 1867.
  • The Pernet-Ducher  family produced the first yellow Hybrid Tea ‘Soleil d’Or’ in 1900 and also boast 6 generations of rose breeders.
  • The Delbard family has operated a rose nursery in Allier for over 75 years and
  • The Meilland Family are also very famous, especially with their breeding of the Hybrid Tea, ‘Peace’, released in 1945 . Its story is recounted in that delightfully charming book : ‘For Love of a Rose’ by Antonia Ridge. Peace is photographed below and also goes by the name of ‘Madame A. Meilland’ (the name of the breeder’s deceased mother), Gioia (Italy) and Gloria Dei (Germany).

BlogFranceLoveAffair30%ReszdIMG_2507Other well-known French rose breeders include :

  • Réné Barbier, who developed the Wichuriana ramblers;
  • Gilbert Nabonnand, who bred a number of Chinas and Teas;
  • Jules Gravereaux, who developed Roseraie de l’Hay, the first garden devoted exclusively to roses;
  • Jean Deprez, who bred one of my favourite Noisettes: Deprez à Fleurs Jaunes, featured on the top of my blog page and in the photo below               and
  • André Eve, a passionate collector and disseminator of Old Roses.

BlogFranceLoveAffair30%ReszdIMG_2501If we are ever lucky enough to travel overseas and visit France again, I would dearly love to visit ‘La Bonne Maison’, Lyons,  the wonderful rose garden developed by Old Rose expert, Odile Masquelier. My daughter acted as proxy on her overseas trip a few years ago and returned with Odile’s book about the development of her garden, unfortunately written in French! I spent a lovely dreamy week translating her book and hope I did it justice!!! You can view her website here : . These are a few of my daughter’s photos in tulip time, unfortunately a little too early for the roses!BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdP1190592BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdP1190546BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdP1190564BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdP1190597

I would also love to visit Eléonore Cruse’s amazing rose garden ‘Roseraie de Berty‘ at Largentière, Ardeche. See  and for an English version : .

As well as Roseraie de l’Hay, les Jardins de l’Imaginaire, Les Chemins de la Rose in Doué la Fontaine, Château de Miromesnil, Coulommiers Medieval Garden, Jardin aux Plantes parfumées la Bouichère, Terre Vivante and Jardin le Vasterival to name a few….

For a taster, see :

and .

The French Motorways are lined with huge hedges of Rugosa roses : Rugosa Alba (white) and Scabrosa (purple).


Also read any books by Louisa Jones : Gardens of the French Riviera 1992; The Art of French Vegetable Gardening 1995; Kitchen Gardens of France 1999; Provence : A Country Almanac 1999; The French Country Garden : Where the Past Flourishes in the Present 2000; Gardens in Provence 2001;  and The French Country Garden 2006    or

Mirabel Osler : The Secret Gardens of France 1993; A Spoon with Every Course: In Search of the Legendary Food of France 1996; and The Elusive Truffle: Travels in Search of the Legendary Food of France 2000)

One garden we did visit on our second trip was Château de Villandry, an amazing potager with wonderful abstract patterns created by clipped box hedges . See : .BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdIMG_0632BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdIMG_0631BlogFranceLoveAffair30%ReszdIMG_0630BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdIMG_0633We have so many wonderful memories of our two trips to France. Some of the highlights included :

My 35th birthday at a private château near Limoges;

BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.57.19

My infant daughter’s first totally independent hike for 11 km in the Pyrenees;BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.28.13BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.28.30The flamingoes in the Camargue;BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.19.40The wonderful artist villages like Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in the photos below;BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.59.42BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.59.23The 20,000 year old prehistoric cave art in the Dordogne. This photo is a bas relief of aurochs from Forneau du Diable, Bordeilles;BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.59.07The Cathar ruins : Roquefixade in the top photo; Montesegur in the 2nd photo.BlogFranceLoveAffair20%Reszd2015-10-13 08.29.04BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.18.36The Standing Stones of Carnac;BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 09.01.55BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.59.56And the beautiful countryside, wild flowers and poppies in wheat fields, rustic villages and the generosity of the French people, who love children and opened their homes and hearts to us!BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.26.55BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.28.50BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.25.26BlogFranceLoveAffair30%Reszd2015-10-13 08.25.35Mean time, we enjoy our little corner of France in our Candelo garden at ‘Maison Rose’ and enjoy the beautiful fragrant blooms of roses with French names : Mme Alfred Carrière (1st photo), Mme Isaac Péreire (2nd and 3rd photo), Lamarque (4th photo), Gloire de Dijon, Chapeau de Napoleon, Madame Louis Lévêque, Aimée Vibert, Mme Hardy, Mme Georges Bruant, Roseraie de l’Hay…!!!BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdIMG_2502BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdIMG_2505BlogFranceLoveAffair30%ReszdIMG_2503BlogFranceLoveAffair20%ReszdIMG_2500And there is always the annual pilgrimage to Werribee Mansion, Melbourne (photos below), or St. John’s College, Sydney in January, to enjoy the wonderful music, French food and champagne and French fashions at ‘So Frenchy So Chic’ ( PubHxH&G20%Reszd2013-01-20 12.52.53BlogFranceLoveAffair20%Reszd2013-01-20 17.10.04BlogFranceLoveAffair20%Reszd2013-01-20 15.06.19BlogFranceLoveAffair20%Reszd2013-01-20 15.50.43

Or ‘Paris to Provence’ at Como House every November ( . Both are wonderful days out and incredibly civilized!!!

BlogFranceLoveAffair20%Reszd2014-11-22 10.20.17BlogFranceLoveAffair20%Reszd2014-11-22 12.03.06BlogFranceLoveAffair20%Reszd2014-11-22 13.33.39BlogFranceLoveAffair20%Reszd2014-11-22 10.28.06I believe there is also a very active Alliance Francaise community in Canberra, our closest city (, so we look forward to fuelling our passion further in the years to come! Vive la France!!!




Soft November Rain

It has been a beautiful week of soft continuous rain, causing the garden to explode! It is amazing seeing all that lush green growth after the slow start to the season, when you wondered if plants had died over Winter or if they would ever come into leaf again!!!BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-02 17.33.50BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-04 08.41.13All my small plants from White House Nursery- the Virginalis Philadelphus, the Viburnum burkwoodii and the Flowering Currant – have tripled in size and look exceedingly healthy. The black bud of my Carolina Allspice, which was the last shrub to come into leaf,  has opened out into an exotic rust-red bloom, the colour mirroring the winged seeds of the maple tree.BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-07 18.17.52BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-04 18.22.47The peony poppies have been closely watched this week and within 2 hours of this first silken glimpse, the bud had opened into this luscious two-toned flower. So exciting seeing the first bloom and there are many more to come!BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 13.23.42BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 10.46.14BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 13.23.58BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 16.58.04I still love the simple wild poppies too!BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 10.19.01BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 10.19.09Not to mention the bright Iceland Poppies and Ranunculas!BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-03 16.14.37BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-06 18.01.07BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-03 16.14.59BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-06 18.00.23The Moon Bed has come into its own this week, with its beautiful soft  pinks, golds, lemons and creams. My photos below show : Jude The Obscure (photo 2); Evelyn (photo 3); Windermere (photo 4); Troilus (photos 5 and 6); and Lucetta (photo 7 and 8). While it is so tempting to cut the blooms for vases, I have to resist, as I do want the roses to develop into large shrubs! Photo 1 shows the nearby Mme Alfred Carrière, now in full bloom.BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-07 17.52.52BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-07 17.52.35BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-04 08.49.08BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 16.59.25BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-04 08.48.48BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 13.24.51BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-03 16.13.17BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-06 15.54.17My vases this week include : Homely carnations; Soft pastel roses; Stunning architectural Acanthus; and Cottage garden favourites.BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 13.57.59BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 10.06.29BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 11.17.07BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 11.21.01The Mulberry tree still has masses of fruit, which we picked early in the morning for our first Mulberry Pie! I used the recipe from this site :, though I had already made a sweet shortcrust pastry, so I used that instead. We were very impressed! I had not held out great hopes, since my pie making skills are very basic (note the  photo of my dodgy, very home-made looking pie!), but it was delicious and I will definitely try making it again!BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 10.24.57BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 10.25.11BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 10.38.13BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 10.38.20BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 16.31.05BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 16.48.05BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 16.54.34BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 18.16.17We have been nibbling away on fresh strawberries all week- so tasty and juicy and so superior to the chemically blasted, store-bought variety.BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 17.02.28BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-31 08.46.01We are in for a wonderful foraging season with raspberries, plums and apples.BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-04 18.08.25BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-04 18.20.36We were a bit delayed with our garden tasks this week, because of the wet weather, but once the rain had stopped and the sun and light breeze had dried out the ground sufficiently, we were finally able to plant more seeds :

  • Bupleureum and Nigella in the Iris bed
  • Cosmos and Borage in the Poppy bed   and
  • Rudbeckia, Zinnias and Tithonia in the Anemone bed

This photo shows some of the earlier Bupleureum which grew from seed.BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 17.20.15We mulched all the vegetables and berry patches with pea straw and the Moon Bed with Sugar Cane mulch. Ross also started defining its crescent border with old bricks on their side. It will make future whipper-snippering the edge much easier!BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 17.01.38BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-05 17.01.23BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-06 16.44.05BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-06 17.55.25We also finally threaded 3 wires the length of the wooden fence for the honeysuckle to clamber up!BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-07 18.20.45BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-07 18.18.58 (2)BlogSoftNovRain 20%Reszd2015-11-07 18.19.15Look out for ‘My Love Affair With France’ next Thursday!!! Until then, Au Revoir!!

Favourite Late 19th Century Botanic Gardens in Australia

The following botanic gardens were developed much in the vein of the early colonial gardens, but as the new century approached, garden styles changed from a layout of  systematic experimental trial beds to more landscaped park-like pleasure gardens with sweeping green lawns and display beds for general enjoyment.

1. Portland Botanic Gardens, 3.2ha, 1858     and

: One of the earliest regional botanic gardens in Victoria ( 3rd oldest in the state).

: Has retained the original squared layout of the traditional experimental trial grounds and systematic gardening, which is rare in Victoria. The Curator’s Cottage, 1859, is one of the oldest garden buildings in Victoria.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4141Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4149: This botanic garden is of scientific significance for its collections of plants, characteristic of Late 19th Century Victorian gardens. It has garden beds of roses and dahlias dating back to 1857. There are 300 different roses and 170 types of dahlias, 13,000 of which are bedded out annually. I love their colourful patches, right next to the old Croquet Club House and lawns. It is a delightful step back in time!Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4155Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4150: I also really like the way they have incorporated native plants in amongst older exotic species.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4168Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_41742. Ballarat Botanical Gardens, 40ha, 1859

: Located on the western shore of Lake Wendouree, this botanic garden is one of Australia’s most significant cool climate gardens. Here are some local pedestrians!Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4080Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4055: There are 52 mature trees listed on the National Trust Significant Trees Register  and many lovely heritage buildings and pavilions, housing beautiful classic Italian marble statues (dating from 1884-1888).

Blog late19centBG20%Reszdmid september 2012 108Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4060

:  The Prime Ministers Avenue is of national significance and contains a collection of busts of Australian Prime Ministers, set in the magnificent Horse Chestnut Avenue of the Gardens. The collection includes a portrait of one of the founding fathers of Federation, Alfred Deakin, who was the first Federal Member for Ballarat and the second Prime Minister, as well as giving his name to the future Deakin University, Geelong, where I used to workBlog late19centBG20%Reszdmid september 2012 097: There are  thematic collections of ferns, grasses and indigenous plants, a sensory garden and display beds of bedding plants, roses, rockery and woodland plants. We used to love visiting these gardens in Spring, when the Iceland Poppy beds were a mass of colour !Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_3425

: Lake Wendouree is  also a great spot for bird watching and photography. We saw our first Crested Grebe (4th photo below ) and first Musk Duck (5th photo below) there, as well as plenty of cygnets (1st and 2nd photos below) and felt very privileged to watch the rare courting rituals of a Blue Billed Duck (3rd photo below)!Blog late19centBG20%Reszdmid september 2012 041Blog late19centBG20%Reszdmid september 2012 027Blog late19centBG60%Reszdmid september 2012 091 - Copymid september 2012 092 - CopyBlog late19centBG20%Reszdmid september 2012 1323. Hamilton Botanic Gardens, 4ha, 1870

: Another early provincial garden in Western Victoria with heritage-listed buildings and fountains, 8 trees on the Register of Significant Trees, sweeping lawns, rockeries, lakes and islands, a delightful sensory cottage garden (bottom photo), an aviary (where we saw our first Princess Parrots – see 1st photo below) and an Abutilon collection. It is a pleasant spot to picnic and play.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4353Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4340Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4370Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4361Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4368Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_43444. George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, 42ha, 1886

: Set on Fannie Bay, it is one of the few botanic gardens in the world to have native marine and estuarine plants occuring in the garden naturally. It has survived the devastation of both cyclones and the bombing in World War Two.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_6263Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_6286

: It has the oldest church building in the Northern Territory, the former Wesleyan Methodists Church, 1897, which was moved there in 2000.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_6267Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_6268

: Plants include tropical orchids, bromeliads, cycads, palms, rainforest plants, native Top End plants and a Baobab collection.

5.Cairns Botanic Garden and Flecker Garden, 38ha, 1886

: A tropical paradise, renowned for its 4000 species of tropical flora from South-East Asia, South America, Africa and Far North Queensland, including orchids, bromeliads, tropical fruit trees, palms and ferns, bamboos and gingers (see 3rd photo below), aroids and Nepenthes (carnivorous Pitcher Plants – see 2nd  photo below). It contains some of the rarest plants in the world, including the tropical flower Amorphophallus titanium, which weighs 70kg and has a leaf diameter of 7m – only 1 of 2 in Australia.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1347Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1269Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1285Blog late19centBG30%ReszdIMG_0682Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1249Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1369

: Comprised of the Flecker Garden (formal garden), salt water and freshwater Centenary Lakes, a rain forest boardwalk (1st photo above), the Gondwanan Heritage Garden showing plant evolution, an aboriginal plant use garden and the Mt. Whitfield Conservation Park, which contains 700 native plant species and has  lovely walks (Red Arrow 1.5 km and Blue Arrow 6.6km) with great views over the coast.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_0679I loved the variety in these tropical leaves – quite stunning!Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1262Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1270Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1282Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1255Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_1258

6. Kings Park, 400ha, 1892 and Western Australian Botanic Garden, 17ha,  1967    and

: Prime position on Mt. Eliza, overlooking the Swan River and the city of Perth.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3410Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3414

: Originally designed as a European style garden, influenced by the English and Aesthetic Movements.

: Includes 267 ha of significant remnant bushland.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3402Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3404

: Focuses on the conservation of the state’s unique and diverse flora.  Western Australia is home to half of Australia’s 25,000 plant species, most of which are found nowhere else on earth. The South-West region of Western Australia is a global diversity hot spot with more than 8000 native plant species. Beds are grouped by state regions, taxonomic groups or purely spectacular displays. When we visited WA in Spring 2008, we found that every region in WA had a totally different set of flora and it was great seeing the display beds with representatives from all these different areas. These include : Wheatbelt, Goldfields, Stirling Ranges, Rottnest and Garden Islands, Kimberley, Mulga, South Coastal and Darling Ranges.Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3398Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3431

: The Conservation Garden (4,600 square metres) contains 400 species of the most critically endangered and rare species in the state.

The photos below show Mangle’s Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthus manglessii) and Gilham’s Bell (Darwinia oxylepsis).

Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3392Blog Early19cent BG20%ReszdIMG_3437