The February Garden

The February garden has been full of excitement and industry with the construction of the Main Pergola, the decommissioning of the pumpkin patch and the harvesting of all the Summer fruits and vegetables, not to mention finishing the brick edging of the Moon Bed and the multitude of Summer tasks from weeding, watering and mulching to lawn mowing and planting out new vegetables and seeds!

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The February Garden 2016
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Harvest time!

We were so thrilled with the Main Pergola and even though it is far from finished, the positioning of the new stringybark uprights gives a real sense of its potential and provides a framework and a perfect entrance way to the garden, as can be seen in the photos below. We used 2 old tall fenceposts (from the old Kiwi trellis) in the middle of the pergola. which lend it a rustic air and fit in well!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0235BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0236BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0237

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Looking back from the garden to the street

Wombat Ross dug all 6 holes by hand, all to a depth of 850 mm, which was as long as his arms could reach to scoop out the loosened soil with an old salmon can, but that was sufficient!

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Wombat Ross
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Super-Ross! Do not be fooled!
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The First Post!

We strung up a horizontal wire and tied the laterals of the climbing roses to it, finally providing them with their much-needed support! As we source the wooden beams, we will gradually complete the top of the pergola, but the major part of the work has been done!

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Adam finally under control!
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Devoniensis opposite Adam
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Adam’s beautiful Tea bloom

Having achieved the major goal for February, Ross then turned his attention to the rampant pumpkin patch, which was again threatening to take over the maple tree and was growing pumpkins up the back chook fence and sneaking through to the neighbour’s garden!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0062BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0300Even though it was still producing tiny new pumpkins on a daily basis, we felt we had more than enough for the season and Ross was keen to reinvent the No-Dig Bed. My friend’s prized dahlia seedlings were up and running and we need to thin them out and transplant the extras to a larger area. I just hope that they last the distance and can reveal their beautiful flowers before the late Autumn frosts!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0060BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0196BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0285He was also keen to establish a Winter crop of peas, cauliflowers and brussel sprouts, while we still have this wonderful growing weather. He has already planted new chard, carrots, lettuces and baby spinach, as well as a late Autumn crop of Dutch Cream potatoes.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0063But back to Ross’s revenge attack on the pumpkin patch! It was swift and it was brutal and in no time at all, we had a new vegetable garden, as well as 37 Queensland Blue pumpkins and 4 GINORMOUS marrows, which are really zucchinis or courgettes, which have been let go (or forgotten in our case!)BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0195

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Hidden treasure!

Leaving one for our neighbour, we stored the rest in the shed in our trailer, bringing back memories of Ross’s mercy mission, when he and his brother delivered a trailer load of Queensland Blues to the starving people of Brisbane after the massive 1974 floods! A bit ironical really, given that Ross has always disparagingly referred to them as ‘pig food’! Please don’t read that the wrong way!!!

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The start of the Pumpkin-for-pears scheme!
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Ready for the next flood!

We much prefer the smaller, striped Jap pumpkins, which are growing in the future chook enclosure and to which we have allowed a grace of one extra week to fully mature!!!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0173BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0175So, plenty of hearty Winter Pumpkin soups ahead! Fortunately, our son is staying with us at the moment, so not only was he able to help Ross out with the pergola posts, but he has been concocting the most delicious lunches and dinners from produce, fresh from the garden, including the dishes photographed below. As my son remarked, he feels he has given the humble and much-maligned marrow a measure of respect! Even though considered quite bland and requiring other ingredients with strong complimentary flavours, the texture of the flesh was superb! I had half expected this old zucchini to be tough and stringy, but it is tender and really quite delicious, even on its own. I’m a fan!!!

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A proud father!

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Delicious Roast Marrow slices baked with Bolognaise sauce and fried egg
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Warm Chicken and Marrow Salad, made with chicken, onion, marrow, red cabbage, lettuce, mallow (the last 4 ingredients home-grown) and a dressing of soy sauce, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, tomato paste, olive oil, chilli and pepper. Divine!!!
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Delicious Marrow Soup with bacon, onion, carrot, tarragon and chicken stock
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Vietnamese-style Pumpkin Flower Soup with onions, coriander, basil, chilli and chicken stock. The green flower ends were a bit bitter, but the rest of the soup was lovely!

Today, we enjoyed an exquisitely light and creamy  home-grown Red Cabbage Soup, garnished with parsley and an Italian Lavender flower! Red Cabbage is also incredibly healthy: see website: Garden20%Reszd2016-02-20 13.25.36We harvested the last of the Dutch Cream potatoes. When Ross dug up the old pumpkin patch, he discovered another bucketful of this delicious and much-coveted potatoes. We are storing them in a bucket under the house, but I dearly wish we had kept our old wire safes to store them!!!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_7043

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Beef Stroganoff with our own broccoli and delicious Dutch Cream potatoes

We have also been very impressed by our colourful capsicums, a first-time crop for us!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0262BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0316BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0317BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0167The heritage tomatoes also produced a large crop and we made tomato chutney and a spicy tomato sauce, not unlike Barbecue Sauce, as well as using them in all our salads and on toast for lunch!

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An interesting character!

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Making Tomato Chutney
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We filled these old commercial bottles with Spicy Tomato Sauce- Home brand in the true sense of the word!
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A delicious Summer lunch! Tomatoes and Basil on toast.

We also made a Sweet Apple Chutney from our small apple crop. Unfortunately, the birds had demolished a fair number of them, even though they were not ripe enough to eat!

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One of the few apples showing signs of ripening!
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A meagre harvest!
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Sweet Apple Chutney

The neighbour’s Beurre Bosc pears appeared to be about to suffer the same fate, so we picked them all for her (and lucky us!), to later discover on researching their harvesting that pears are always picked unripe and stored in the fridge to ripen. We have already enjoyed 3 delicious dessets of stewed pears and cream. It really is a beautiful pear with a sweet taste and firm flesh.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_7074

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Bird attack!

BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0248 I knew it was only a matter of time before the birds stooped to harvest the tiny new crab apple, being one of the last fruits left for the moment, and I didn’t want to see the fragile branches damaged with the weight of the raiding Vikings, so I picked all 135 fruit, yielding 758g fruit, just enough for 2 scant jars of crab apple jam. The fruit was quite golden by this stage, despite the reddish tinge, so I am assuming its labelling as a ‘Golden Hornet’ crab apple was correct after all!!!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0210BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0102So now we are waiting for the raspberries, our one fig (courtesy of the neighbour on the other side!), our first lemonade fruit and our cumquat marmalade crop!

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Our raspberry crop shows great promise!
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A lonely and very brave fig!
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Our first Lemonade fruit!

Ross continues to wage war on the stink bugs, who have now just discovered our new citrus trees, as have the Orchard Swallowtail Butterflies (Papilio aegeus) ! Despite the fact that they are bad news for citrus trees, I really do love these huge handsome butterflies, who are a mainstay of the garden. I have been voyeuristically chasing courting pairs around the garden with my camera, obviously to no real detriment, as their spiky progeny is now appearing on the citrus leaves!

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Chasing round the garden!
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Post-coital recovery!
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The peak of condition!
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Slightly bruised and battered, but still hanging in there!!!
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Baby larvae of the Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly
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Teenage Orchard Swallowtail Caterpillar

These slightly plainer brown butterflies are also very attractive, as are these stunning flies, wasps and beetles!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0183BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0191BlogFeb Garden40%Reszd2016-02-06 15.41.38BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0111BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0322BlogFeb Garden20%Reszd2016-02-12 10.24.58The praying mantis keeps a much lower profile in my washing basket, as do the house spiders with their cunning camouflaged egg sacs, masquerading as leaves, suspended mid-air in their webs.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_6887BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0013

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Egg sacs of the above spider
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Similar egg sacs, but belonging to a different spider- see photo below.

BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-03 15.20.28Mid-air antics are not just the preserve of the arachnids however! On investigating some luminescent shiny tracks on our stone wall one night, we were introduced to the fascinating Leopard Slug (Limax maximus), one of the largest of the keeled slugs. Apparently, they mate mid-air, spiralling down a thread of their own mucus, which they consume after exchanging their sperm! For more information, see : Garden20%ReszdIMG_0022BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0020We did not see their twirling dance, but for mucus of a different kind, see the next photo:BlogFeb Garden20%Reszd2016-02-13 16.28.20My sewing room is proving to be an excellent vantage point for bird photography! I really must clean my windows!!! Often, I will have my head down writing or sewing, only to look up at a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo quietly watching me from the Pepperina tree or a King Parrot feeding its offspring!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0097BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0092BlogFeb Garden20%Reszd2016-02-13 16.28.54BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0120Now that the apples have finished, the King Parrots are feasting on the maple seed.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_7027BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0084BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0350BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0080 We often watch them from the verandah or surprise them as we walk down the path, but they must be very hungry or very quiet, as they rarely fly off. And some like Oliver are just plain nosy parkers! He often startles us by swooping in close by our heads to land closeby and check out our latest activity!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0365 Candelo really is Cockatoo Heaven! This month, we hosted a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Convention down in the bottom corner of the garden. We are mystified about their food source, as the plums and apples are all gone. Perhaps the tiny fruit of the Floribunda crab apple has fallen!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0137

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All in order!
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From the State Box!

And my beloved Gang-Gang Cockatoos have returned, doing their morning and night-time flyovers every day, though unfortunately, I haven’t yet captured them on film. I can however show you a photo of them feeding on Hawthorne berries last Autumn!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_2645We have also had garden inspections from a Spotted Turtle-Dove , a  Red Wattlebird, a female Satin Bowerbird and some migrant Dollarbirds, as well as a very noisy, but as yet unphotographed, Cuckoo baby (possibly a Stormbird or Koel- its timbre is the same!), whose non-stop demands must really annoy its overworked host parents even more than us!!!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0083 (2)BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0290BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0272And finally to the flower garden…BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0284BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0306BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_6995

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We now have a ‘Full-Time’ carpet around the sundial!

The Soho Bed, as generous and abundant as ever:

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Fair Bianca with her own carpet of white petals
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Eglantyne also has a pale pink carpet
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Fair Bianca
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Heaven Scent
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Lady X
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Just Joey
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You could drown in a bloom of Just Joey!
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Copper Queen

The Moon Bed, glowing in satisfaction with her beautiful soft David Austin blooms and flowering Paris Daisy, as well as her fully completed brick edging at long last!BlogFeb Garden20%Reszd2016-02-19 13.27.36

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Paris Daisy (Euryops chrysanthemoides)
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Golden Celebration
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Leander, the cutting which we just planted out on the shed corner, has been generously proving her worth, as has the continuous flowering Cornelia in the Pink Hybrid Musk Hedge and Frau Dagmar Hastrup in the Rugosa hedge against my neighbour’s fence.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0265

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Frau Dagmar Hastrup

The Cutting Garden has been ablaze with colour, the Zinnias taking over from the Dahlias, which are just about on their last legs.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0294BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_7014BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0258BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_6949BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0056BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0059BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0260 We also have some late Cosmos, in amongst the stock, and Foxgloves.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0311BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_6985BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_6982 I finally discovered the identity of these weird looking plants. I was mistakenly sent seeds for Nigella orientalis ‘Transformer’ instead of the blue variety : Nigella hispanica, which I had ordered.BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_6906BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0299 They certainly have dramatic seed heads!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0039My Ceratostigma plants have finally flowered and have an electric blue colour, which goes well in mixed bouquets (see rose bouquet later).BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0161 The Sunflowers were casualties of the pumpkin rampage, but fortunately most of their blooms had finished. I tied paper bags to their spent heads and hung them under the house to dry, so I can save their seed for next season.BlogFeb Garden20%Reszd2016-02-12 10.21.10 Our other giants, the Tree Dahlias, having attained their full height, are now gearing up for their brief spectacular finale before the first frost obliterates them. The grevilleas and Silky Oak in the rainforest area behind the shed are powering along!

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Tree Dahlias ready for action!
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Grevilleas growing well!
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Silky Oak hitting the high stakes. Last year on planting, it was one quarter the size!

And the Giant Bamboo on the side fence has finally made a recovery, as has the Banksia Rose over the outdoor eating area! BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0016The Woodbine is also well on the way to scaling the fence and has such pretty scented blooms! BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0291BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0292The hydrangeas are still blooming. I love their soft blue-green petals and the purity of their white blooms. BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0118BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0354The Cannas are beautiful at the moment with their orange flowers and ruby-red fruit!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0373It is impossible to resist making up bouquets with all the beautiful garden blooms :

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Heaven Scent, The Children’s Rose, Troilus, Jude the Obscure, Blue Sage, Lavender, Ceratostigma, Feverfew, Stock and Catmint
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Sweet and simple Cosmos
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Old-fashioned Hydrangeas
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Zinnias with Zing!

I just had to include a photo of my neighbour’s beautiful rambling back garden. I feel we complement each other well!!! Till next month…!BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0219


It’s Party Time!

It’s my eldest daughter’s birthday today. Unfortunately, she cannot be with us today, as she is travelling round Australia and having some wonderful adventures (to read about her travels, see :, so I thought I would do a special birthday party post to celebrate, with a few delicious birthday recipes thrown in for good measure!!! Happy Birthday Darling!!!Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0021During their childhood, my kids had many wonderful birthday parties at home in an era of MacDonalds-hosted parties! Their friends used to love our parties! Admittedly, they were a lot of work and often it was so tempting to wriggle out of them as the party day approached, but once all the preparation was done, we really enjoyed them!Blog Itspartytime20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.48.28The birthday table would be set with lots of colourful tasty dishes including :
• Meringue mice with black licorice tails and eyes and pink musk stick noses and ears
• Jelly boats in orange quarters with jelly made from orange juice and gelatine, toothpick masts and sails of tissue paper
• Banana muffins decorated with viola flowers
• Bowls of smarties
• Melting moments
• Freckle sandwiches and
• Fruit Salad in a bowl or a carved watermelon – see The Sweet Spot : 15.04.00 - Copy

One year, I made a beautiful jigsaw puzzle ginger cake, whose recipe I found in ‘Entertaining at Home’ by Sheridan Rogers. See : Unfortunately, this lovely book is now out-of-print, but it would be worth trying to find a copy. I have included this particular recipe later in the post.Blog Itspartytime20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.48.40For drinks, we’d make a delicious fruit punch from a large tin of pineapple juice, 2 large bottles of orange juice and apple juice and pieces of pineapple and chopped kiwi fruit, passionfruit, mint and ice blocks- so much nicer and healthier than fizzy drinks with red food colouring! I’m sure the parents appreciated it!!!Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0061The birthday cake is always special! I love that moment when the birthday cake, aglow with candles, emerges out of the dark! It’s so magical! Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0025

For many years, we used my Mum’s old Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe- see later- decorated with strawberries.Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_6930Ross’s favourite birthday cake is a layered sponge cake with cream and strawberry jam- see recipe later. His birthday is in the Spring, so one year, we decorated the top of the cake with dusted icing sugar, pink striped candles and apple blossom.Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0064I loved it when the kids were finally old enough to cook my birthday cake!Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0023We have also made very rich chocolate mud cakes, carrot cakes and even pavlovas for birthday cakes.Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0054Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0047As you can see from the photos, we always have a lot of fun decorating the birthday cake! Flowers are essential! Often, I will ice the cake and mark out the birthdayee’s name or age in silver cachous balls or fruit, but sometimes, I just dust the top with icing sugar. I have some wonderful plastic cake stencils, which I use to create beautiful patterns. Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0063Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0022Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0045Candles vary from metallic silver or gold to coloured stripes and dots; singing candles and frustrating candles, which won’t blow out; long skinny tapers and even sparklers, which are very dramatic! We always tie a bow around the cake knife. Once the candles are blown out, the birthdayee cuts the first slice and makes a wish!Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0039

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Finished off with a singing candle!

We’d play lots of old-fashioned games including :

• Pin the Tail on the Donkey
• Musical Chairs
• Pass the Parcel- with a little gift for everyone
• Treasure Hunt
• The Chocolate Game

The last game was a particular favourite. The game was timed, so at the start of the session, you had to don woollen cap, scarf and gloves, then use a fork and knife to eat as much chocolate as you could before the time was up! We always made sure every child had a prize and a party bag of sweets and a slice of birthday cake to take home.

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Solving clues in the treasure hunt

Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0059Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_6928As the kids got older, the parties became fewer, though just as memorable, and the kids were able to have much more input. Caroline’s 18th birthday party was a surprise party, organized by her friends and hosted at home.Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0030Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0032Jen had a wonderful Middle eastern party for her 19th birthday just before she left to start her university studies. All the guests came dressed as Arabian sheiks, harem girls and belly dancers. One clever fellow came as a camel in a coat. He bought 2 matching tweed coats from the op-shop and cut one up to cover a polystyrene foam boulster hump.

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Bedouin tent created from sheets hung from the ceiling

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We transformed the lounge into a Bedouin tent with multi-coloured sheets draping the ceiling and sat on floor cushions to partake of our Middle Eastern feast! Some of the food included:

• Pomegranate dip
• Freshly-made flat breads
• Fruit salad in a watermelon with a carved camel
• Layered pavlova with cream, strawberries, blueberries and rose water
• Camel birthday cake
It certainly was a night to remember!Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0037Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0042

And now for some special birthday recipes !!!

Mum’s Chocolate Birthday Cake Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0046

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Cream 125g butter and 250g sugar. Add 3 eggs singly.
  • Sift 250g self-raising flour, 1 tsp cream of tartar, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1 tsp salt at least 3 times.
  • Add to the butter mixture alternately with 1 tsp vanilla in 1/2 cup milk.
  • Add 1/2 cup cocoa, dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water.
  • Spoon mixture into 2 cake tins (18 cm diameter), lined with Gladbake.
  • Place on middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  • Turn out onto cooling racks.
  • When cool, ice one of the cakes with chocolate icing made from : icing sugar, cocoa and 1 tbsp melted butter. Decorate the top with silver cachous balls or berries and candles.
  • Place the other cake upside-down on serving plate, spread with strawberry jam then a layer of whipped cream (with 1 tsp sugar and a few drops of vanilla in it), then top with the iced cake. Make sure the serving knife is tied with a bow, then light the candles! Happy Birthday!!!


Jigsaw Puzzle Cake  (Credits : ‘Entertaining at Home’ by Sheridan Rogers)

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  • Cream 250g softened butter and 185g brown sugar. Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, then add 300g honey.
  • Sift together 750g plain flour, a pinch of salt, 3 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp cinammon and 1/2 tsp allspice.
  • Add to butter mixture alternately with 3 tsp bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in 125 ml boiling water. If the dough feels too soft, add more flour. Shape dough into a ball, wrap in Gladwrap or greasedproof paper and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray (40cm by 33cm) with Gladbake.
  • Roll dough directly onto this tray to a depth of 5mm with a well-floured rolling pin.
  • Trim edges, leaving 1 cm round the sides to allow for spread.
  • Cook for 15 minutes, then remove. Cut into large jigsaw shapes with a sharp knife.
  • Return to oven, reduce heat to 150 degrees Celsius and cook for a further 25-30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and separate the jigsaw pieces slightly. Cool on wire rack, keeping the puzzle in shape.
  • Brush crumbs off each piece and coat with royal icing smoothly with a spatula. Leave to set for 2-3 hours or overnight.
  • When dry, paint a picture on the surface with small clean paint brushes and food dyes, diluted in water or mixed to produce different shades. Have fun !!!

Royal Icing

Whisk 2 egg whites until stiff. Gradually, beat in 500g sifted icing sugar and the juice of a small lemon. Beat till smooth. Keep icing covered with Gladwrap to prevent it from drying out.

Sponge Cake     (Credits : The Essential Baking Cookbook Murdoch Books, 2000)

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  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 2 cake tins (22cm diameter) with Gladbake.
  • Beat 6 eggs in a large bowl with an electric beater for 7 minutes. Gradually, add 220g caster sugar, beating well after each addition.
  • Sift 150g self-raising flour and 75g plain flour 3 times and using a metal spoon, quickly and gently fold in sifted flours and 2 tbsp boiling water. Do not beat.
  • Spread mixture evenly into the 2 tins and bake for 25 minutes till lightly golden. The sides of the sponge should have shrunk slightly away from the sides of the tins.
  • Cool in tins for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  • When cold, spread 1/2 cup strawberry jam over one of the sponges. Beat 1 cup cream, then spread on top of the jam and top with the other cake.
  • Dust with icing sugar and decorate the top with flowers and candles.

Melting Moments   (Credits : The Essential Baking Cookbook Murdoch Books, 2000)

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  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 2 baking trays with Gladbake.
  • Cream 250g softened unsalted butter and 40g icing sugar in a bowl with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla essence.
  • Sift 185g self-raising flour and 60g custard powder and mix into the butter mixture with a knife, using a cutting motion, to form a soft dough.
  • Roll level tablespoons into 28 balls and place on trays. Flatten slightly with a floured fork.
  • Bake for 20 minutes till lightly golden. Cool slightly on trays, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
  • Make Passionfruit Filling : Beat 60g unsalted butter and 60g icing sugar in a bowl, then beat in 1.5 tbsp passionfruit pulp. Use to sandwich the biscuits together. Leave to firm before serving.

Meringue Kisses : An instant sugar hit!!!

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  • Preheat oven to 110 degrees Celsius.
  • Beat 6 egg whites until stiff.
  • Add a pinch of salt, ¼ tsp cream of tartar and 1 tsp vanilla.
  • Add 1.5 cups caster sugar 1 tsp at a time and beat well. When all the sugar added, beat for a further 6 minutes.
  • Spoon mixture into a piping bag with a 1cm star tip and pipe kisses onto a tray lined with Gladbake.
  • Reduce oven to 100 degrees Celsius and bake for 1.5-2 hours till dry to touch.
  • Note : You can use the same recipe for Meringue Mice. Pipe the mixture into a long body; cut tails out of licorice sticks, with tiny bits for eyes, and ears and noses out of finely chopped pink musk sticks. For Meringue Hedgehogs, pipe as for meringue kisses, then use slivered almonds to create the quills and tiny licorice bits for eyes. You can also sandwich them together with a coffee cream filling made from 1 cup icing sugar, 3 tbsp unsalted softened butter, 1 tsp vanilla and 2 tsp coffee dissolved in 2 tsp hot water OR 5o g unsalted butter, 1/4 cup (45 g) icing sugar and 1 tbsp Kahlua or another coffee-flavoured liqueur.

Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0017Sending lots of meringue kisses your way, darling Jen! Happy Birthday once again and may your year continue to be filled with lots of wonderful adventures, laughter, love and happiness! xxx

Blog Itspartytime20%ReszdIMG_0013PPS. We have been checking out the planets at 4 am each morning in the first week of February. See : The night sky is so beautiful! If you have missed out this month, all five planets will be lined up again in the evening sky in August. I just had to include this dodgy photo of Venus for Jen’s birthday : it really is the Planet of Love!!!



Favourite Gardens Regularly Open to the Public: Historic Homes and Gardens

Now to my next category of Favourite Gardens: those that are regularly open to the public. I have divided these into :

  • Historic Homes and Gardens
  • Famous Nurseries
  • Specialty Gardens
  • Education
  • Sculpture

There are many beautiful old homes with historic gardens open to the public in Australia. Each represents the time periods in which they were developed, as well as the personalities of their owners, and they are much treasured by the Australian public. Many have special features (for example, children’s literary trails or state collections) and all are well-used for plays and musical performances, weddings and private functions, film and photography, workshops and theme days.

The gardens discussed below are a mere taster. Please excuse me if your favourite has not been included. Most are in Victoria, our last state of residence, and we regularly visited them. We were also very impressed with the last garden, seen on our Australian travels in 2008. For information on more historic homes and gardens, it is worth consulting the following websites :

1. Rippon Lea House and Garden 1864

192 Hotham St Elsterwick VIC

Originally 26 acres (11 ha) and 8km from the CBD of Melbourne, Rippon Lea is the largest and most intact nineteenth century suburban estate in Australia. It was developed over 35 years by Frederick Sargood, a prominent Victorian businessman and politician, who made his fortune selling soft goods on the goldfields. His mother’s maiden name was ‘Rippon’ and ‘Lea’ is the English word for ‘meadow’, hence the name ‘Rippon Lea’. This is a photo of a map of the property from the official brochure.Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2016-01-01 20.30.14 - CopyIMG_9148 - CopyThe house, designed by Joseph Reed and built between 1864 and 1868, is an example of the polychromatic brick buildings derived from the medieval architecture of Northern Italy. It was two storey and had 15 rooms, including internal toilets, which was unusual in its day. In 1897, the house was extended to the north and a tower added. It was the first house in Australia to be lit by electricity, produced by its own generators.Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2013-01-10 14.42.34Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9154Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2013-01-10 12.38.08-1

By the late 1870s, the property had grown to 45 acres (18 ha) and included extensive pleasure gardens, glass houses, orchards, a 2 ac vegetable garden and a lake. Sargood was a keen gardener and with the help of Head Gardener, Adam Anderson, he designed the garden in the Gardenesque style, popular in the mid-nineteenth century, using dramatic plants with bold form, structure and foliage.Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2013-01-10 16.11.03Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9296Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9268William Sangster redesigned the garden in the Picturesque style of the 1880s. The current garden includes: an oak-lined driveway; extensive lawns (Western, Cedar, Central and Nursery); a labyrinthine grass maze; exotic and native trees including elms, oaks, Moreton Bay Fig and Monterey Cypress; herbaceous perennial shrubberies; flower gardens; terraces; and pergolas of climbing roses and ivy. Many of the plants were imported.

Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9151Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2013-01-10 14.55.50Sargood was very keen on his orchids and ferns. His prized exotic plants were kept in a conservatory, which still has its original ironwork. The fernery, built in 1884 and an essential component of the Victorian garden, is covered in wooden slats and is the largest covered fernery in the world still existing. It houses many rare and native ferns and palms and has meandering paths and little streams.Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2013-01-10 14.23.25Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9174Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9189Sargood was about 130 years ahead of his time. There was no mains water supply back then, so he devised a sophisticated rainwater and storm water collection, irrigation, storage and drainage/recycling system. A windmill pumped the water through underground storage tanks and pipes and ensured the entire estate was self-sustainable. It is still in operation today, supplying 80 percent of the garden’s watering requirements. Mains water became available in the 1880s and steadily replace the old system, but National Trust is currently restoring Sargood’s system so the garden can become self-sufficient in water usage again.Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9178

In the 1870s, a large lake was excavated to collect storm water run-off and store water to be fed back to the garden via irrigation pipes. In the 1880s, it was enlarged to a depth of 114 cm. It now includes: 2 islands; 5 water jets; a waterfall and a grotto; a boathouse and a summerhouse; bridges- new cast iron bridges were built in 1903; and a Lookout Tower, built in the 1870s and restored in 1980, a prime vantage point for overlooking the garden, as well as providing views of arriving ships in Port Philip Bay.Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9205Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9213Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9232Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9238Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9198Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9228Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9236Archery was a popular sport and Sargood built an archery hut (1st photo below) in the 1870s. Other buildings include a coach house and a stable complex 1868 and a gate house, which now has a gift shop and cafe (2nd photo).Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9240Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9306

Two parallel hedges separated the ornamental garden from the service areas, including paddocks, orchards, vegetable gardens and even a rifle range. The original orchard was much larger and on the corner of Gordon and Elizabeth streets, but the smaller current orchard still contains over 100 fruit trees, with many of the varieties being historically significant.Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9172Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9180When Frederick Sargood died in 1903, the property was bought by a syndicate headed by Sir Thomas Bent, who became Premier of Victoria in 1904. He used Rippon Lea for entertaining and charity events and began subdividing the estate to form the current suburb of Ripponlea. His death in 1909 prevented any further subdivision and the property was bought by Benjamin Nathan, owner of the Maples Furniture and Music stores, and became a family home again. He also loved the garden, especially orchids and employed 14-17 gardeners.Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9244Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2013-01-10 15.46.43Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2013-01-10 11.54.16

His daughter, Mrs Louisa Jones, inherited in 1935. A prominent member of the 1930s Melbourne social set, she held many balls, parties, weddings and musical performances. She redecorated the house extensively in 1938 in the classic 1930s style, epitomized by Hollywood movies. The original ball room was demolished and a new one built, as well as a swimming pool complex in 1939, complete with diving board, change rooms and tennis court. The 14 acre (5.7 ha) garden was maintained. She also built a modern kitchen, closing off and thus preserving in its original condition, the 1880 basement kitchen complex including a cool room, wine cellar, kitchen, scullery, fuel stove, pantries and servants’ hall.Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9160

Land was sold in the 1940s and in 1954, Louisa sold some land to the ABC for a television studio. In 1963, the Federal Government placed a compulsory acquisition order for a further 4 acres of land to extend the studios, a decision which Louisa totally opposed. Unfortunately, she lost the battle in the High Court and a demonstration against the acquisition attracted 10,000 people. When she died in 1972, Louisa left the property to the National Trust and the acquisition order was withdrawn. Rippon Lea was opened to the public on the 22nd February 1974 and in the first 3 months attracted 100,000 visitors.

Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9278Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9239Rippon Lea is now used for school programs, group bookings, weddings, photography and filming, themed birthday parties, teddy bear picnics and plays like Alice in Wonderland, which we attended in Jan 2012. The ball room and pool complex are leased by Peter Rowland Catering for social functions and the garden is maintained by a Head Gardener, 5 gardeners and volunteers.Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9286Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_9285

It is open daily from 10am-5pm from Sept-Apr; 10am-4pm Thurs-Sun from May to Oct. Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day.

2. Werribee Park 1877

30 minutes west of Melbourne and situated on the Werribee River (Wirribi Yaluk), the area was inhabited by the Kurung Jang Balluk clan for over 40,000 years and contains many cultural heritage sites. This is a photo of a map of the property from the official brochure.

Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2016-01-01 20.05.25Thomas and Andrew Chirnside arrived from Scotland in 1838 and 1841 respectively and set out to create a vast pastoral empire. The first residence at Werribee was a bluestone homestead, built in 1860, down near the river, and was first lived in by their nephew Robert, who managed the property from 1859-1862. The original farmyard was the working heart of the estate and included a blacksmith’s hut, men’s hut, rations house, stables, implement shed and a cottage.Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 085Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 084Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 082Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 096Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 089Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 093

They grew an orchard of apples, quince, pears, grapes, walnuts, olives and stone fruit nearby on the river. Many of the trees have been replanted, as well as native vegetation.Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 099Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 103

On the walk back up to the main house, there is now a Sculpture Park, containing the works of leading Australian sculptors , as well as that of selected winners of the Helen Lempriere Prize like the 2002 winner, Nigel Helyer, with his ‘Meta-Diva’, constructed from aluminium, digital electronics and solar panel, shown in the 2nd photo below. I love the first photo- a real Harry Potter moment for my daughter Jen!

Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 108Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 115Between 1874 and 1877, Werribee Mansion was built in an Italianate architectural style with several wings and 60 rooms. Andrew and his wife lived and entertained there, while brother Thomas lived nearby at Point Cook Homestead, another Chirnside property. Andrew died in 1890, leaving the property to his sons, George and John Percy.Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 163Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 242Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 127Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 121

It is uncertain who originally designed the garden, though it has been attributed to William Guilfoyle, Curator of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens from 1879-1909. The  European-style garden covers 10 hectares and contains many Australian native and exotic species. The Chirnsides were members of the Acclimatization Society, which introduced European flora and fauna to the new colony. The mansion overlooks a colourful parterre with 20,000 annuals are planted out every 6 months for a Summer/Autumn and a Winter/Spring floral display. There was a vegetable and picking garden nearby.Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 187Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 186Originally, there were 6 glass-houses for propagating seedlings for the parterre and kitchen garden, as well as exotic indoor plants for display in the mansion. There are now only two. The sunken glasshouse is a 1976 interpretation of the original design, which was first built with a hot house and a boiler. Air passed through openings in the base of the wall, across heating pipes and out through the raised roof.Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 236Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 240Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 238Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 233

The house also looks out of expansive lawns, dotted with heritage-listed trees (there are 8 trees listed on the National Trust Significant Tree Register) to an ornamental lake and grotto, a traditional component of the 18th century garden design. It was built in the 1870s from bluestone and granite boulders on a man-made island in the man-made lake, covered with succulents and lined with seashells, collected from the shores of their Point Cook property, as well as pebbles, bark, she oak cones, mirrored glass fragments, sheep knuckles and animal teeth.Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 213Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 225Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 223Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 220Werribee Park was sold in 1922 to Philip Lock, another self-made grazier from Warnambool, who then sold it within a year to the Roman Catholic Bishops of Australia to be used as a training college for priests for 50 years. They constructed a separate wing, which is now a luxurious 5-star accommodation venue, Mansion Hotel and Spa, with 91 guest rooms and suites, a conference centre, resort, spa and pool.Blog Lists40%Reszdnov 2010 060Werribee Park is now managed by Parks Victoria and the gardens are used for polo, films, evening plays, concerts and musical events like Christmas carols and So Frenchy So Chic, which we attended in January 2013. See photos below!Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2013-01-20 12.52.53Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2013-01-20 13.49.20Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre, Shadowfax Winery, Werribee Open Range Zoo and the Victorian State Rose Garden are also part of the estate. I will be describing the latter later on in the year in a post on my favourite rose gardens.

Entrance to the gardens is free, but a fee is charged for entrance to the house and guided tours. It is open from 10am-4pm weekdays and 10am-5pm weekend and public holidays, as well as week days on daylight saving time. The garden is open 9am-5.30pm daily, with an extra hour in the evening during Summer.

3. Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden 1929

1A Sherbrooke Rd Sherbrooke VIC

Set on a steep hillside of Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) in Sherbrooke, the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens are one of Australia’s premier cool climate gardens and were the original gardens of the Burnham Beeches estate. This is a photo of a map of the property from the official brochure.

Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2016-01-01 20.21.18Blog Lists30%Reszd2016-01-01 20.21.12Land in the area was opened up for selection in 1895 and in 1929, Alfred Nicholas bought 2 10-acre selections to build his home. He then bought the surrounding land to add to his estate, which he called ‘Burnham Beeches’ after the original ‘Burnham Beeches’ estate in Slough, England, near his Aspro factory. Alfred and his brother George made their fortune with the development of Aspro, the aspirin pain killer, originally discovered by the Bayer Company in Germany. During World War One, supply was halted and Bayer lost their rights to its 1899 worldwide patent after war reparations in 1919. George, a chemist, rediscovered the formula in 1915 and was awarded a patent by the Australian Government in 1919.Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_0040Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_0041The house was built at the top of the hill in an Art Deco Streamline Moderne style from reinforced concrete, painted cream, with Australian motifs like a koala and possums. It had a private theatrette, an electric pipe organ and orchid houses.Blog Lists40%Reszdmarchapril 091

On a trip to England, Alfred Nicholas met Percy Trevaskis, who worked for Kew Gardens and offered him the position of Head gardener at Burnham Beeches. Percy designed the garden from 1929-1936 with terraces, rockeries, pools, waterfalls and an ornamental lake. The rock terraces were made of local basalt and Castlemaine slate. Over 80 workers were employed at different stages of the garden development, providing many jobs during the period following the Great Depression . A 240,000 litre concrete tank was built on the highest point of the property, providing reticulated water. Advanced trees were sourced from all over Melbourne, including a 35 foot Canadian Maple. In 1933, 150 trees were imported from the UK, including the Green and Copper Beeches lining the driveway.Blog Lists30%ReszdDSCF2961Blog Lists30%ReszdDSCF2976Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_0043Blog Lists30%ReszdDSCF2974The main drive was asphalted in 1934 and was one of the first private sealed roads in Victoria. The cast-iron gates, hung on Sunbury sandstone pillars, are very impressive and feature bronze leaping deer. They were restored in 1989-1990.Blog Lists30%ReszdDSCF2960Blog Lists30%ReszdDSCF2951Blog Lists30%ReszdDSCF2950The plantings are a blend of natural forest and rare exotic plants. Seasonal interest is provided by azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, kalmias, viburnums and flowering cherry trees (Spring); hydrangeas, fuchsias, native ferns, rhododendrons, Giant Himalayan Lily (Cardiocrinum giganteum)- see first photo- and native terrestrial orchids (Summer); tibouchinas, maples, beech and golden gingkos (Autumn); and camellias and early rhododendrons (Winter).

Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_0037Blog Lists40%Reszdmarchapril 109Blog Lists40%Reszdmarchapril 085Blog Lists40%Reszdmarchapril 083Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_0070Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_0030

The hillside is steep, so make sure you are not down the bottom of the garden when a violent storm is brewing, as we were on our first visit! I had to hitch my skirt up in the side of my undies and run very fast uphill before the pelting rain drove down, then we drove away quickly before any eucalypt boughs fell on the car with the strong wind and arrived at our lovely upmarket Bed-and-Breakfast ‘Glen Harrow’ in the Dandenongs to introduce ourselves, not realizing that said skirt was still tucked up!!! Embarrassing to say the least!!! Yes, it’s that green skirt in the driveway photo!!!

Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_0053Blog Lists40%Reszdmarchapril 100Blog Lists40%Reszdmarchapril 114Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_0050Blog Lists30%ReszdDSCF2962We love the waterfall and the serene pool, with its boathouse and little bridge, at the bottom of the garden. The lake was rejuvenated in 1997 and the Blackfish pond rebuilt and rock walls and paths repaired.Blog Lists40%Reszdmarchapril 108Blog Lists40%Reszdmarchapril 104Blog Lists40%Reszdmarchapril 106Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_0054Alfred Nicholas died in 1937 before the garden was complete. His wife stayed there until the Second World War, when it was used as a children’s hospital. She returned for 4 years from 1950-1954, then gave the house and property to their company for use as a research laboratory. In 1965, the Nicholas Institute donated the gardens to the Shire of Sherbrooke and they are now managed by Parks Victoria. The house is privately owned. It was last used as a resort by Adrian Zencha in 1991. In 2010, it was purchased by Adam Garrison (Oriental Pacific Group) and chef/ restaurateur Shannon Bennett with plans to create a sustainable resort, but their proposal was rejected by council in August 2015 due to concerns about traffic management, bush fire response and its impact on the local residents.

The gardens are open daily from 10am-5pm except Christmas Day or when there are major works, high fire risk or dangerous weather conditions (like high winds!). There is no charge.

4. Heide Museum of Modern Art 1934

7 Templestowe Rd Bulleen VIC

Heide was originally an old neglected dairy farm with a weatherboard farmhouse, built in 1870, on the floodplain of the Yarra River at Fannings Bend. John and Sunday Reed bought the 15 acre property in 1934 and named it after nearby town of Heidelberg. Sunday was a member of the wealthy Baillieu family and both she and John were champions of modern art and literature.Blog Lists40%Reszdmid nov 072Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszdseptember 136

In 1935, they renovated the old farmhouse, now known as Heide I in a French Provincial style and it was their home for 35 years. Here they entertained the Heide circle and encouraged and promoted artists, writers and intellectuals like Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, John Perceval, Sam Atyeo, Moya Dyring and Danila Vassilieff. In the mid 1950s, they established the Gallery of Modern Art and in 1958, with Georges Mora, they relaunched it as the Museum of Modern Art of Australia. They amassed an outstanding collection of contemporary art.

In 1964, the Reeds commissioned David McGlashan to build a white limestone modernist gallery, ‘a gallery to be lived in’, Heide II, and they moved into Heide II to live from 1967-1980. They returned to live in Heide I after selling Heide II, most of the adjoining property and a significant portion of their art collection (113 works) to the Victorian State Government in August 1980. It was opened as a public art museum in November 1981. Both Reeds died in Dec 1981.Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.51.24

Since then, the gallery has had 300 exhibitions of contemporary art including Sidney Nolan, Sam Atyeo, Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman, Joy Hester, Albert Tucker and Mirka Mora. Contemporary exhibitions have included : Susan Norrie, Rick Amor, Kathy Temin, Fiona Hall, Stephen Benwell and Emily Floyd. Here is some art work from a recent exhibition:

Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 11.55.11

: Sun and Star Sculpture  Emily Floyd 2009 Synthetic polymer paint, ink and beeswax on wood (Huon pine and Cherrywood)Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.33.01

Mirka Mora Chatter in the GardenBlog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.05.59When This Experiment Is Over We’ll Build Anew Together (left) and The Most Important Thing We Have On Rainbow is Our Labour, Emily Floyd 2013-14, both works: Synthetic polymer paint on wood, paper and aluminium;Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.05.22Life Has Taken The Place Of Dialectics…Emily Floyd 2003 Oregon and Victorian Ash wood, synthetic polymer paint, synthetic flocking

Heide III was designed by Andrew Andersens of Peddle Thorp Architects and built in 1993. Its black titanium zinc facade contrasts well with the whitelimestone of Heide II. Heide III was extended in 2005, along with the construction of the Sidney Myer Education Centre and restoration work on Heide II and the gardens. The centre offers innovative and diverse education and public programs based on the art, architecture and gardens of Heide. Cafe Vue was built in 2009 and Heide I restored in 2010. It now is dedicated to displays from the collection, as well as archives.Blog Lists40%Reszdjens visit jan 2010 190Blog Lists40%Reszdjens visit jan 2010 193Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7230Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.57.45Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7242

We have been to a number of exhibitions at Heide, but its the gardens that really draw me in! Like me, Sunday loved her Old Roses and was a keen gardener. At Heide I, she created a walled garden, a Provençal inspired kitchen garden, which now provides fresh produce for Cafe Vue, and a Wild Garden.Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7234Blog Lists40%ReszdIMG_7226The heart garden of violets, dedicated to Sidney Nolan, with whom she had a long-term relationship, has been restored.Blog Lists40%Reszdjens visit jan 2010 188Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.58.03Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.57.56

I love her 2nd blowsy overgrown kitchen garden at Heide II the best! The rose pavilion is delightful! See the first photo below.Blog Lists40%Reszdmid nov 126Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7249Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7250The bones of the garden are very clear in Winter.Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.50.46Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.48.20Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.49.32Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.52.24Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.50.28

In Summer, it comes into its own!Blog Lists40%Reszdmid nov 081Blog Lists40%Reszdmid nov 092Blog Lists40%Reszdmid nov 122Blog Lists40%Reszdmid nov 113Blog Lists40%Reszdmid nov 102Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7253Thirty contemporary sculptures are dotted around the 15 acre site, including works by Anish Kapoor, Anthony Caro and Neil Taylor. See : PubHxH&G20%Reszdseptember 131

Unfurling Andrew Rogers 2006 BronzeBlog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.54.21Southern Landscape Peter D Cole 1988 bronze, steel, aluminium, stainless steel, synthetic polymer paintBlog PubHxH&G20%Reszdseptember 134Under-Felt Donkey Yvonne Kendall 2000 Bronze and Mt Gambier limestoneBlog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.55.40Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2014-07-12 12.56.07Pebbles Wona Bae 2012 Victorian cork

The gallery also holds private art master classes in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and photography and school holiday workshops and has fun activities for the kids like Visual Treasure Hunts and Art/ Architecture and Sculpture Park Detective activities. There are many programs and events from Heide Art Bubs programs to Sunday Art Club and Grandparents Day. Heide also holds kids’ art parties and guided tours of the art, architecture, sculpture park and gardens.

The gardens are free and open all year round. The galleries are open Tues-Sun and Public Holidays from 10am-5pm.

5. Carrick Hill 1935

46 Carrick Hill Dr, Springfield SA

One of the few period homes with its original contents and grounds still intact, Carrick Hill is situated on a hillside at the foot of the Mount Lofty Ranges overlooking Adelaide, a 15 minute drive away. Below is a photo of a map of the property from the official brochure.Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7165Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7166Blog PubHxH&G20%Reszd2016-01-03 09.45.33

The 40 ha (of which 26 ha is native bushland) property was given as a wedding present from the bride’s father, Thomas Elder Barr Smith, to Edward (Bill) Hayward and Ursula Barr Smith for their marriage in 1935. Bill was the son of a wealthy merchant family, who owned John Martin’s Department Store in Adelaide for more than 100 years and Ursula was the daughter of an even wealthier family of Scottish descent, who had vast mining and pastoral interests in South Australia and were heavily involved with Elders. It was named ‘Carrick Hill’ after ‘Brown Carrick Hill’ in Ayrshire, Scotland.

During a year-long honeymoon in England, the couple bought 17th and 18th century panelling, fireplaces, doors and windows and even a grand staircase from the demolition sale of ‘Beaudesert’, a Tudor mansion in Staffordshire, owned by the Marquess of Anglesey.

Adelaide architect and family friend, James Irwin, designed the house with the appearance of a 17th century manor around these fittings , but with all the latest 1930s technology : heated towel rails, ensuite bathrooms and electric bell buttons to summon the servants. It was built between 1937 and 1939, while Ursula designed the Arts and Crafts Edwardian style garden. They had just moved in, when World War II intervened and Bill was away, fighting in the Middle East (where he was one of the Rats of Toobruk) and the Pacific. Ursula moved back with her parents. The couple started living in their home after 1944.Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7279After the war, they filled the house with paintings, drawings and sculptures, as well as antiques and Elizabethan and Jacobean furniture. They had the largest art collection of the day including works by Hans and Nora Heysen, Arthur Streeton, Augustus John, Stephen Spender, Fantin Latour, William Dobell, Joseph Turner, Donald Friend and Russell Drysdale. They entertained lavishly and supported many artists, musicians, actors and writers. Guests included : Sir Kenneth Clark, Sir Robert Helpmann, Catherine Hepburn, Anthony Quail, Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, Judith Anderson, Googie Withers and Barry Humphries. They had 3 other properties as well : a country property Delamere, where they raised Poll Herefords and polo ponies; a beach house at Port Willunga and a town house in Mayfair, London. After Bill died, Ursula having predeceased him, Carrick Hill was donated to the state and opened to the public in 1986.Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7294Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7157

We visited Carrick Hill in 2008 and fell in love with the garden- its high hedges, lawn terraces and stone paving. It has the appearance of an English country parkland with clumps of trees, orchards and cutting beds.Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7270Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7254Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7261Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7273Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7255Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7269The Inner Formal Garden has lawns, dotted with elms, overlooking Adelaide and a pleached Pear arbour, which separates 2 flower gardens. The cutting gardens contain rose, liliums, orchids and tuberoses. The rose gardens contain a collection of 30 Alister Clark-bred roses (1990). There are also vegetable gardens, a herb garden, a shade house, a stone bridge and a babbling rill, a popular Edwardian garden feature.

Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7256Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7260Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7159Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7277Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7278The Outer Grounds include groves of hawthorns, quinces, medlars, nut trees and olive trees; allees of oak and cedar; a heritage pear and apple orchard with over 100 varieties (established to preserve the National Collection , using root stock from Rippon Lea! ); a petanque court; sculptures by Arthur Boyd, Jacob Epstein, Lyn Moore, Greg Johns, Neil Cranney and Kempo Okamoto and a Grey Box woodland (Eucalyptus macrocarpa) of high conservation status.Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7295Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7192Even though the Haywards were childless, Carrick Hill is a wonderful place for children! With both Children’s Literature and gardens being major interests, we loved their combination in the Children’s Literary Trail, which portrays landscaped scenes from classic children’s stories, including :Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7164

• A.A. Milne’s Waterlily poem and Tiddalik the Frog, a legend from Australian Aboriginal mythology : Winnie-the-Pooh boardwalkBlog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7170Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7171

• Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham 1908: Ratty’s boat on pondBlog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7175Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7167Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7173

• The Hobbit by J.J.R. Tolkien 1937: Bilbo’s Hobbit House with dragon nearbyBlog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7176

• Norwegian folk tale Three Billy Goats Gruff, translated into English in 1859: Troll BridgeBlog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7182Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7184

• Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling 1997 : The Quidditch Tree and Harry’s broomstickBlog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7185

• The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett 1911 : a gate, robin on a lamppost and key (Sorry, I had no decent photos!)
• Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling 1894-5: Mowgli’s Camp, Howling Wolf on the Council rockBlog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7194

• Animalia by Graeme Base 1986 : elephants, tigers and zebrasBlog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7204Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7202

• The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis 1950 : the Lamp post and Aslan the Lion

Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7215Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7217

• The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton 1939-1941 : Tree with fairies and door    andBlog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7225Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7224

• Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White 1952 : large rope spider web for climbing with Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the PigBlog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7240Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7235Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7238There is also a hopscotch game in the grounds.Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7219

While we were returning to the house, we saw some 4-year old fairies running around the garden with their wands. It was Fairy Adventure Day, organized by Adelaide Garden Fairies, an off-shoot of Enviro-Mental P/L, a group of actors involved with environmental education and supported by That’s Not Garbage. See : There are also school holiday programs including Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows and Carrick Hill Pirate School and the Carrick Hill Acorn Club, which holds activities for children aged 5-10 years old on the first Sunday of every month including art and craft activities, nature walks, music, games, dressing up days and Teddy Bear picnics.Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7247Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7283Blog PubHxH&G20%ReszdIMG_7281Carrick Hill is regularly holds art exhibitions and is involved in events like the 2016 Adelaide Biennial and the Year of the Pearl, celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the opening of Carrick Hill to the public in 1986. It is also used for weddings, functions and catering. There are picnic areas, a cafe and marquee, an art gallery, a gift shop and the Australian Museum of Gardening, which includes Richard Bird’s Old Mole collection of tools and opened in November 2015.

It is open Wed–Sun and Public Holidays 10am-4pm for most of the year except on Christmas Day and Good Friday and the month of July, when maintenance is carried out. Admittance to the garden is free, but the house has a small entrance fee. Guided tours are conducted at 11.30am and 2.30pm. The cafe is open Wed-Sun and Public Holidays from 11.00am-4.00pm.








February Feature Plant : Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas have always been a favourite of mine. Their charming old-fashioned flowers are a stalwart of the cottage garden. I love their variegated flowers and their unusual and exquisite colour combinations, which are constantly changing as the flowers age.BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_5333BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_6888BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_6894They are usually planted in groups or in shrub borders and are highly ornamental. Our hydrangeas are massed in their very own bed (photo 1), but they can be planted in a shrub border along a path (photo 2) .BlogHydrangeas20%Reszd2015-02-03 11.42.04BlogHydrangeas40%ReszdIMG_0081Moreover, they are tough plants, often surviving long after their original garden or house has vanished. In my childhood, we had masses of them down by the creek, way beyond the garden boundary. When we built our cottage at Dorrigo on the site of the old ruins, the hydrangea bushes were enormous- at least 3 metres tall- and even though we pruned them right back, within two seasons, they were back up at the level of the verandah roof again! Here is an old photo of one of the original shrubs on the old house site during the building phase.BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_6706Hydrangeas belong to the Family Hydrangeacae . Their genus name is Hydrangea and contains up to 100 deciduous and evergreen shrubs, small trees and climbers. They are mostly found in temperate Asia (China, Japan, Korea and Himalayas) with a few species from North and South America. Their natural habitat is moist woodlands. They were introduced into Europe in 1735. Their name is derived from 2 Greek words : ‘Hydor’ meaning ‘water’ and ‘angeion’ meaning ‘vessel’, referring to the cup-shaped seedpods. They are thought to be over 140 million years old.BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_5334Most hydrangeas are 1-3 metre tall shrubs with brittle pithy stems and dark green oval leaves with serrated edges. They are grown for their beautiful flower heads of white, red, pink, purple and blue. Small fertile flowers are surrounded by larger eye-catching 4-petalled sterile petals or bracts. You should be able to see some of the fertile florets in the following photos:BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_6889BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_5812BlogHydrangeas30%ReszdDSCF7009The most popular species is Hydrangea macrophylla or Bigleaf Hydrangea. It is native to Japan and has thick individual canes, which grow from the base of the plant, big flat oval toothed leaves 4-6 inches long and 3-5 inches wide and huge round flowerheads up to 8 inches in diameter.BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_5225BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_6660There are 2 types of H. macrophylla :
Mopheads (Hortensias): snowball type blooms; over 600 named cultivars, including more compact and dwarf varieties. We have the standard H. macrophylla, as can be seen in the photos above. There is also a variety called Ayesha, which is 1.5-2 metres tall and is photographed below:BlogHydrangeas40%ReszdIMG_0070BlogHydrangeas40%ReszdIMG_0075Lace Caps: showy open sterile flowers hang down from a flat centre of tiny fertile buds; 20 cultivars.BlogHydrangeas40%ReszdIMG_0068Hydrangeas flower in Australia from late January to February and into Autumn on second year growth. Their flower pigment changes colour in the presence of Aluminium ions, which is translated into soil pH, so :

  • Soils with a relatively high availability of aluminium ions : acidic : pH 1-6 produce blue flowers and
  • Soils with low levels of aluminium ions : alkaline soils : pH 8-12 produce pink or red flowers.
  • When the pH is about 6, mauve flowers are produced.

Having said that, we did try checking the pH of our hydrangea bed. It was 6.5 under the white hydrangea and 7.6 under the pink hydrangea, but the soil under the blue and mauve hydrangeas was also 7.6! So either our pH measurer is dodgy, the roots of the blue hydrangea are in pockets of acid soil, which we cannot reach to test, or maybe the relative availability of aluminium ions is more important than pH as a colour determining factor. All a bit of a mystery, but it’s great having the colour variability!BlogHydrangeas20%Reszd2015-02-03 11.41.49BlogHydrangeas40%ReszdIMG_0067

The colour of hydrangea flowers can be manipulated by adding substances to the soil to change the pH, but it can take up to 2-3 years to achieve the final colour. Note : White flowers are not affected by pH or aluminium levels eg AnnabelleBlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_6659BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_6903To change pink flowers to blue : Add a blueing tonic containing aluminium and iron (eg 1 tbsp powdered alum or aluminium sulphate) to 1 gallon water. Apply once per month in March and April and again in August, September and October. Coffee grounds, organic matter and grass clippings, as well as a fertilizer low in phosphorous and high in potassium, can also predispose to blue blooms. In the past, iron nails and tin were often added to the soil . With our blacksmithing past, it’s no wonder that we have so many blue flowers!!! It is best not to decrease the pH below 5.0, otherwise the leaves will yellow.BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_5791To change blue blooms to pink : Add 1 cup Hydrangea Pinking or dolomite lime (calcium carbonate) in 1 gallon water to the soil in Spring and a fertilizer with high levels of phosphorous.BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_6902BlogHydrangeas20%Reszd2015-03-26 15.19.07Hydrangeas are very adaptable plants , but their ideal growing requirements are:
• Moist rich composted soil with good drainage. They don’t like heavy clay soils.
• Partial or dappled shade for most of the day or at least past 11am. An easterly to southerly aspect is best in the Southern Hemisphere. Our hydrangea bed is in an ideal location on the south-east corner of the house (see photo below). Ultraviolet exposure burns hydrangea flowers and leaves. Full sun and wind dry the plants out. Avoid heavy shade (insufficient light) or positions under trees due to root competition.
• Regular watering, especially in late Spring to Summer: a deep soaking at least 1-2 times a week
• Mulch: apply bark chips, leaves, pine needles or straw in Autumn, as the fibrous root system is close to the soil surface
• Low fertilizer needs, though use a slow release fertilizer with micronutrients in Spring if the soil is sandy and light.BlogHydrangeas20%Reszd2016-01-03 10.12.42Pests are minimal, though slugs like hydrangeas, but there are a few diseases including : powdery mildew, gray mould, rust, ring spot virus, leaf spots and white hydrangea scale. Powdery mildew occurs in warm wet weather or when there is too much shade or not enough water. The leaves are covered with a light grey powder, which starts on the bottom leaves and works its way up and it is worse on mophead varieties. It can be prevented by spraying the plants with 2 cups of milk in a bucket of water. White hydrangea scale can be picked off or if it is bad, sprayed with Eco-oil. Macrophyllas can also suffer from iron chlorosis (see photo below), especially in soil with a high pH, where less iron is available, so use a chelated iron fertilizer. For more on iron chlorosis, see : BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_6661Hydrangeas should be pruned every year to avoid the plants becoming leggy with dead branches and less flowering. Pruning should be done in late Winter (July/ August), when the plants are dormant. Each stem has a maximum life of 5-6 years. Old dead wood should be removed – look for exfoliating stems- and prune right back to the ground. Otherwise, trim back the green growth of the current season to ¼ inch above the 2 plump eyes or leaf buds closest to the ground. Do not prune stems, which haven’t flowered yet, as they will flower the following season. Apply compost after pruning. The photos below show our drastic initial prune at Dorrigo and the growth within one season.BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_6698BlogHydrangeas30%ReszdDSCF6988BlogHydrangeas30%ReszdDSCF7006Hydrangeas can be propagated by softwood cuttings taken in Summer, hardwood cuttings taken in Winter and seed. If you need to transplant a plant, move it when dormant in Winter.BlogHydrangeas40%ReszdIMG_0066Other species of Hydrangeas :
H. paniculata : The Panicle or Cluster-flowering Hydrangea : Has vertical growth and long plumes of creamy-white flowers, turning a very light pink; Similar to lacecaps in late Summer; Deciduous; Very cold hardy and tolerates more sun, dry spells and frost than other species; Prefers semi-shade; Prune in late Spring for more flowers.
H. quercifolia : Oak-leafed Hydrangea : Native to North America; Similar shaped leaves to Acer macrophyllum, which turn a deep mahogany red in Autumn; Long cone-shaped panicles of white to light pink plumes, which last on the bush until Winter; Can tolerate sunnier conditions and drier soils than other species, but does not like soggy soil! If it is affected by root rot, the bush looks wilted, but not for want of water, and it is usually too late by this stage, so good drainage is essential; Prune early Spring.
H. petiolaris: A climbing hydrangea : Native to Japan, Korea and Sakhalin, Eastern Siberia; Very slow growth; Can reach 9-15m high and 2m wide and takes 10 years to bloom; White lace cap type bloom in early to mid Summer; Likes filtered light; Do not plant against the wall of your house, as it leaves a residue, which is very difficult to remove.
H. anomala : Another climbing hydrangea, but native to China, Myanmar and Himalayas; Grows up to 12m up trees and rock faces; Needs a support to climb or will form a ground cover 1.5m high; Popular with nesting birds, especially blackbirds. 15cm diameter flower corymbs in Summer; Does not require pruning.
H. arborescens : Wild Hydrangea/ Smooth Hydrangea/ Sevenbark : Cultivars : ‘Grandiflora’; ‘Annabelle’ : Native to Eastern United States of America; 3-5 feet high; Thin leaves, so avoid bright sunlight; Large creamy-white dome-shaped flowers up to 1 foot diameter from Summer to Autumn; Cut back vigorously to 20cm at the end of Spring.
H. serrata : Mountain Hydrangea/ Tea of Heaven : Native to the mountains of Japan and Korea; Similar to H. macrophylla but hardier, smaller and more compact with smaller leaves and flowers; Panicles of blue and pink flowers in Summer and Autumn with showy sterile and less showy fertile florets in each cluster; Deciduous.BlogHydrangeas40%ReszdIMG_0064Hydrangeas are beautiful in a vase and last a long time, so long as the water is regularly changed and preservative added. Cutting their stems stops the colour-changing process and the further along the colour-change of the flower has progressed, the longer their vase life. A fully grown head near the end of its colour change can last up to 2-3 weeks. These photos show the development of colour as the blooms mature.BlogHydrangeas20%Reszd2016-01-03 10.12.28BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_5195BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_5331BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_5813Recut stems on the diagonal and do not split, sear or bash. Strip any leaves which would be under water. Preservative is essential. I love the subtle shades and colour combinations in the hydrangea petals, as well as the elegance of pure white blooms.BlogHydrangeas20%ReszdIMG_6899BlogHydrangeas30%ReszdDSCF7015BlogHydrangeas40%Reszd2015-02-04 15.17.44They can also be dried. For drying, cut flowers late in the season, when they are almost dry, and cut them at night time when the humidity is low. Put in 3cm of water only and do not add extra water. Alternatively, hang stems upside down in a warm, dry, dark, airy room for 2-3 weeks. Keep them out of sunlight to prevent fading. These autumnal mottly colours are seen late in the season:BlogHydrangeas40%ReszdIMG_0028

In the language of flowers, hydrangeas mean : ‘grace, beauty and abundance’, as well as ‘gratefulness and sincere feelings’. Pink hydrangeas are increasingly popular in Asia, where they mean ‘You are the beat of my heart’. My daughter Caroline used watercolours in this beautiful painting of a vase of hydrangeas.BlogHydrangeas50%Reszd2016-01-20 21.58.56

In Japan, a sweet tea, ama-cha甘茶 , or’ Tea of Heaven’ , is made out of the dried leaves of H. serrata. The sweet substance in the leaves is phyllodulcin. The leaves are crumpled, steamed and dried to produce dark brown tea leaves, which are then used in kan-butsu-e (the Buddha bathing ceremony) on 8 April, supposedly Buddha’s birthday, in Japan. The tea is poured over a statue of Buddha and served to people in attendance. In Korea, H. serrata (hangul 산수국; Hanja 山水菊 ) is used to make a herbal tea called sugukcha 수국차 or ilsulcha이슬차. Hydrangea roots and rhizomes are diuretic and are sometimes used to treat urinary tract problems. However, great care must be taken as all parts of the plant contain cyanogenic glycosides and can be moderately toxic if eaten. H. paniculata is sometimes smoked as an intoxicant, even though it can cause illness and death from cyanide poisoning.

A very brave butterfly!