Books on Specific Types of Gardens : Part Two : Vegetable Gardens; Sustainable and Organic Gardens; and Dry Climate Gardens .

Continuing on from my post last week, I am now focusing on vegetable gardens, organic and sustainable gardens and dry climate gardens, all of which are highly inter-related. In our view, vegetable gardens should only ever be organic and sustainable, as they contain the very food we eat, not to mention the importance of these concepts for our environment and the natural world around us! While most of the books are Australian, a few are written by English authors, notably Christopher Lloyd,  Joy Larkom and Jane Taylor. We might discuss the books by the first two writers first.

Gardener Cook by Christopher Lloyd 1997 was one of our early vegetable garden books and is a lovely introduction to the world of vegetable growing! His chapters on fruit trees, soft fruits, root vegetables, green vegetables, salads and herbs include delicious recipes and mouth-watering photographs by Howard Sooley. They include information on all the different types of fruit and vegetables; their varieties; cultivation and storage and lots of personal anecdotes.  An essential book for the gardener-cook and anyone who loves food!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-398

Christopher actually quotes from my next book: The Salad Garden by Joy Larkom 1984. It is a comprehensive guide to all things salad: creating salad gardens; the cultivation of salad greens; garden practices like raising from seed; sowing outdoors and indoors; germination; manures and compost; weeding; mulching and watering; greenhouses, cloches and container gardening; and pests and diseases; as well as specific techniques for salad plants like blanching; seed sprouting and cut-and-come-again; salad making – the different types of salad, preparation and presentation and delicious recipes for different salads and their dressings; and a large section on specific salad plants and their components – leaves; stems and stalks; fruits; bulbs, roots and tubers; cooked and cold legumes and potatoes; and the use of herbs, flowers and wild plants. The appendix includes salad crops for special situations; plants for saladini crops, a glossary and facts about salad crops, including their vitamin content, seed life, germination temperature and fertility index. It was written at a time, when Australia’s culinary world was suddenly and markedly expanding and has such a wealth of information, that I am not surprised that it was in Christopher Lloyd’s library!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd30image-401The Cook’s Garden : From the Garden to the Table by Caroline Gunter and Karen Green 2000 is an Australian Women’s Weekly publication and has its typically high standard! After a brief examination of planning for production and cultivation for success (including recipes for home-made sprays), it follows a seasonal pattern with a seasonal diary of picking and planting chores for each different climate zone (temperate and cool; subtropical and Mediterranean; and tropical) and detailed notes on the fruit and vegetables grown in each season, including their cultivation in the garden and their preparation and presentation for the table. It is a very practical and useful publication and has some delicious recipes. It finishes with a brief chapter on preserving the season’s abundance including freezing; bottling and drying, as well as a map of world climate zones.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-399

Diggers Club also produces wonderful books on heirloom gardens, especially vegetables! The Australian Vegetable garden: What’s Old is New by Clive Blazey 1999 is one of their excellent publications. Clive is a passionate advocate for heirloom varieties of vegetables, because of their superior flavour, longer harvest period and disease resistance, not to mention their decorative qualities! In this informative book, he discusses the value and importance of heirloom varieties; different vegetable gardening styles; space-saving; and growing basics – the soil; water; mulch; temperature and heat; as well as seed sowing and saving. He provides a calendar and plan for growing a year’s supply of food in just 42 square metres and another one for seed sowing. And he discusses each heirloom vegetable in depth, including its historical background; varieties; preparation and management. There are so many varieties which I had never even heard of!  Apparently, Diggers have over 112 commercial and heirloom varieties of tomatoes. One day, I would love to grow their Moon and Stars watermelon , an old American variety!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-400Organic Gardening by Peter Bennett , first published in 1979, is another very important and seminal book for the organic vegetable gardener. We have the 6th edition, dated 1999, but there is now a new revised 7th edition, published 2006. Peter is THE authority on organic gardening in Australia and a forerunner of the current sustainable and environmental movements. Even though he has since died, he can still be seen in this You Tube clip at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ua6Or0-W9W4. In his wonderful book, he talks about all the wonderful creatures that make up the life of the garden; the living soil; the preparation and maintenance of the organic garden; the use of natural fertilizers and acceptable alternatives to dangerous pesticides; composting; community gardens; and the organic cultivation of many different types of vegetables, fruits and flowers. His appendixes include photographs of useful tools and accessories for organic gardening, a table of the composition of compost ingredients; another table of the minimum depth of container required for growing vegetables in containers; a sowing guide for flowers and vegetables, including the best months for sowing in tropical/ subtropical, temperate and cold climates; best sowing method (seedbed or direct); the sowing depth for seeds; the number of days it takes for seedlings to emerge; the distance to thin seedlings apart; and the number of weeks till flowering for type of flower or vegetable. There is also a list of Goods and Services referred to in the book. This is an essential book for all gardeners! I cannot recommend it highly enough and the fact that it has sold more than 160,000 copies since it was first published in 1979 supports my claim!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-402

Now for another very important book, Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison 1988. Bill Mollison (1928 – 2016) was the co-founder of the permaculture concept, along with David Holmgren, from 1972 to 1974. The first classes in permaculture started in 1981 and since then, thousands of people from all over the world have studied this concept. It is now practised in over 20 countries, providing  wonderful hope for the future.

Permaculture, a term coined from two words ‘permanent agriculture’, is defined in the book as ‘the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems, which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people, providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.’ Its principles include: working with nature, rather than against it; the problem is the solution; make the least change for the greatest possible effect; the yield of the system is theoretically unlimited ; and everything makes its own garden and has an effect on its own environment. It relies on cycles; pyramids and food webs; complexity and connections; diversity; stability and harmony and self-regulation.

Permaculture garden designs are based on flow patterns and zones:

Zone 1 (ideally ¼ acre for a family of four) is the most intensively used space in the immediate area of the house and can include vegetables and salad greens with a short growing season; small trees with commonly used fruits like lemons; worm farms; workshops and sheds; glasshouses, cold frames and propagation areas; rainwater tanks; fuel for heating like gas and wood; and small animal pens eg rabbits.

Zone 2 (ideally 1 acre for a family) is also used  intensively, but less than Zone 1 and  includes perennials and vegetables with a longer growing season; fruit trees and orchards; compost bins; bee hives; ponds; chook pens and enclosures for larger animals requiring regular attention.

Zone 3 (4 to 20 acres) is farmland for main farming crops; orchards of large trees like oaks and nut trees; livestock grazing by cattle and sheep; and water storage dams.

Zone 4 can be any size and contains wild and partly managed land for the collection of wild foods; timber production; a source of animal forage and more pasture for grazing animals.

And finally, Zone 5 is unmanaged wild and natural ecosystems with bushland, forest and wilderness conservation areas for observation; meditation and reconnection with nature. Hunting and gathering can occur in this zone.

Permaculture garden design also involves planning to control external incoming energies like wind, sun angles, unwanted views and danger from fires and floods, using a number of strategies to block, channel or open up an area to their impact. It is a HUGE topic and an enormous door-stopper of a book, but essential reading for gardeners interested in the philosophy behind permaculture!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-404

The Permaculture Home Garden by Linda Woodrow 1996  is a much lighter, smaller, more portable and very practical book on the subject. It covers permaculture garden design based on the principles of time-and-motion; multiple use; working with nature; and synergy and using a seven mandala system of circles to maximize use of space and energy efficiency. She discusses : choosing a site; climate: light, temperature; wind; frost and pollutants; water; soil management; mulching, composting and worm farming; propagating plants; lunar planting; guild planting; maintaining the garden and coping with pests; building a chook dome; and the cultivation of fruit trees and a large variety of vegetables. It is a very useful book, especially for gardeners in Northern New South Wales.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-403

Two  more terrific practical permaculture guides, both of which I would not be without  and both written by gardeners in Maleny, Queensland are: You Can Have Your Permaculture and Eat It Too by Robin Clayfield 1996 and Paradise in Your Garden by Jenny Allen 2002. Robin has practised permaculture since 1983 and lives at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. This great publication is a fantastic book to dip into at random, with snippets of information on permaculture principles,  garden design and techniques; sustainability; natural pest control; cash crops; health and diet; food combining; natural cosmetics; food preservation; bulk cooking; bush tucker; gift giving; and even party games; all with lots of wonderful recipes from herbal teas to soups, nibbles and dips; salads and main courses; and desserts and party nights. It is a wonderfully generous book and has such a wealth of information to explore and digest! For more about Robin, see: http://dynamicgroups.com.au/ and  https://permacultureprinciples.com./post/permaculture-pioneer-robin-clayfield/.

blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-405Paradise in Your Garden is a beautiful book, both visually and creatively! Jenny uses photographs and experience gleaned from her own garden  to illustrate the  basic permaculture principles of multiple use; zoning; smart placement; elevational planning; diversity; recycling resources; homemade insurance; using nature’s gifts and seeing solutions, instead of problems. It’s an inspiring book, with lots of fun, imaginative ideas like aspirational trees; mediation areas; hammocks and swings; firepits and water features; places for wildlife; kids’ gardens; healing gardens and even an aphrodisiac garden! She has a large section on garden design and understanding site factors like sun and wind; weeds and stormwater; soil types; frost; and noise, providing an 18 point design checklist and techniques for managing these factors, like creating microclimates by managing Summer sun; building effective  windbreaks; managing soil, water, frost and weeds; and reducing annoying noises. She discusses integrated pest management and  smart use of monetary and time resources. Her descriptions of exciting and unusual edible plants and bush foods makes you want to go straight out and plant them and she also includes some great project ideas from sheet mulching and lasagne gardening (no-dig); building herb spirals, ponds, swales and paths; making worm farms, compost heaps and home brews for plants (comfrey tea); and planting green manure and cover crops. In the back of the book is a list of useful resources and recommended reading. For more current information  on Jenny Allen , read this article in the Hinterland Times on the 4th May 2016 at : https://www.hinterlandtimes.com.au/2016/05/04/is-the-love-affair-over/.

blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-406

And finally, a swag of books by the wonderful and knowledgeable Jackie French, who has a wonderful organic garden in the Araluen Valley near Braidwood in Southern New South Wales. On her website (http://www.jackiefrench.com/), she describes herself an Australian author, ecologist, historian, dyslexic and honorary wombat, which is all very accurate! She was also 2014 – 2015 Australian Childrens’ Laureate and 2015 Senior Australian of the Year and is the patron of Youth Educational Support Services (YESS),which delivers the MultiLit Literacy Program, developed by Macquarie University to improve reading skills in local primary and high school students. I volunteered with this rewarding program at Bega Valley Public School in our first year here. We have nine of her books, in order of their publication:

The Wilderness Garden: Beyond Organic Gardening 1992

Jackie has a delightful enthusiastic writing style and this book focuses on how to make gardening fun by changing our approach to gardening and using new or different methods or as she coins it: ‘the wombat way of gardening’ ! She has a very commonsense, practical approach in both her gardening and writing with chapters on different gardens for different places (wet areas; dry areas; polluted areas; seaside areas; and frost zones); feeding the garden (mulch; compost; nitrogen fixation); easy garden beds (weed-mats; hanging gardens; tyre gardens; raised beds; vertical gardens; and modified jungles (I just love that concept!); organic pest and weed control; and vegetable, fruit and flower gardens, with a very useful garden calendar at the end.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-411

Backyard Self-Sufficiency 1992

This publication has been a very well-thumbed book in our house over the years. While steering the reader away from the toil of total self-sufficiency, she has some wonderful ideas for still growing a fair proportion of your own food from staples (grains, legumes, oils and sugars and sweeteners) to vegetables and fruit all year round. We particularly liked her lists on fruit for small places; footpath trees; unusual fruits; edible fences; hardy fruiters and  fruit for cold, temperate and hot climates. She also has chapters on growing in adversity; scavenging in the suburbs; small animals for small gardens; saving the surplus; and the backyard supermarket and medicine chest with lots of great recipes for cosmetics and bath products; dyes; cleaning products; and drinks (beer, cocoa, tea and coffee and coffee substitutes). Her final chapter on self-sufficiency, including her self-sufficient owner-built house, and her general philosophy of simple living resonates so strongly with us and should be a blueprint for all human beings, living in harmony with nature and all is inhabitants on this very special planet we call home. This book also finishes with a comprehensive calendar covering planting; harvesting; other jobs; pests and fruit. This is such a useful book!

blogspecific-garden-bksreszd30image-408

Switch : Home-based Power, Water and Sewerage Systems For The Twenty-First Century by Jackie French and Bryan Sullivan 1994

This little book expands on the concept of the self-sufficient integrated house and gets down to the practical nitty-gritty of ways to actually achieve this. It examines home-based power systems (solar, wind, steam, petrol or diesel, hydro and hybrid or combined systems), as well as batteries and invertors; installation and maintenance and living with your own power system. There are separate extra chapters devoted to lights and a wide variety of appliances (power tools; vacuum cleaners; stoves; kettles and toasters; refrigerators; computers; sound systems; irons; washing machines and solar dryers, to name but a few); and heating and cooling (new house design and orientation; ventilation; insulation; greenhouses; pergolas and more active heating and cooling systems, as well as specific problems and solutions). The authors then turns their attention to water supply, including measures to reduce use; grey water systems; rainwater tanks; bores; pumping water and hot water systems. Sewage treatment is next and includes information on outdoor dunnies; septic tanks; methane digesters; composting toilets and finally garbage processing: the concept of reduce/recycle; compost; worm farms and chooks. Even though this is now quite an old book, it was cutting edge when it was first published. Renewable energy and sustainable technology and alternatives have come a long way since then (though it still has a long way to go and should have been de rigueur by now for every home!), but the basic principles are still the same and this is still a very valuable little book.

blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-407

The Earth Gardener’s Companion: A Month-by-Month Guide to Organic Gardening 1996

Exactly what it pupports to be! A very comprehensive month-by-month guide to organic planting and harvesting and pest control solutions, with some wonderfully obscure recipes along the way from culinary delights like Chinese pickled vegetables, soy cheese and beetroot flour to chilli massage oil and even a chilli bosom enhancer!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-413

Making Money From Your Garden 1997

This is another Earth Garden magazine publication and its treatise on ‘Time or Money’ is sufficient reason alone to own this book. We have photocopied and shared that article so many times in our lives, as it is the basic creed by which we live! While sufficient money is important, so you are not stressing out your little brain constantly, ‘sufficient’ being the key word here, time is a far more valuable and precious commodity, which is often under-valued in today’s busy world with its hectic lifestyles! While money may have been a constant challenge for us, we have raised a family to adulthood and always met our basic needs, and our lives have been very rich and fulfilled, with time for creativity, family fun and relaxation. In this book, Jackie shares so many ideas and recipes for making a living from your home and garden from selling surplus or gourmet produce, seeds, potted trees and bush tucker; herbs; bonsai; flowers; and animal produce to making garden gnomes, topiary pots and  terrariums; natural bath products, cosmetics and cleaning products; paper and textile crafts and of course, delicious culinary delights to opening your garden or providing accommodation or a much-needed service like child-minding; home or specialist catering; garden design; or running kids’ parties. So many wonderful suggestions….!!!

blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-415

Growing Flowers Naturally  1997

The world of flowers is such an enormous and magical subject, it requires a whole book of its very own! They speak to the soul and fulfil the human desire for beauty! Like Jackie state in her introduction, one can never feel poor when surrounded by beautiful flowers, especially when they are straight from your own home garden! This sentiment applies to home-grown vegies too!!!  After citing a dozen good reasons to grow flowers, Jackie explores flower magic; popular native flowers; cut flowers; drying flowers; roses; bulbs, corms and rhizomes;  perennial and herbaceous borders; and climbers, shrubs and trees, before delving into the practical advice about starting a flower garden; different ways of growing flowers; flower problems and their solutions; and propagating flowers. She even covers medicinal flowers and includes recipes for perfumes, skin and hair products, and flower food. She finishes with an alphabetically ordered flower compendium with notes on their description; requirements; sowing times and potential problems. I’d forgotten how good this book was!

blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-410

Seasons of Content: A Year in the Southern Highlands 1998 is a lovely dreamy read, which should possibly be part of next month’s post on inspirational gardens, but I am including it here, amongst Jackie French’s other books! Written in the form of a diary, it describes a year in the Araluen Valley, following the seasons and enjoying all that nature has to offer. It’s a delightful read, as well as being packed with delicious recipes! Equally good to read all at once or dip into for a quick revitalizing pick-me-up!

blogspecific-garden-bksreszd30image-409-copy

How To Guzzle Your Garden 1999 is a great book for kids and for inspiring the gardeners of the future! Linking gardens with food and eating is a brilliant and inspired decision, and such an obvious notion when you stop to think about kids! As a very popular childrens’ author, Jackie knows what turns kids on and this book is so much fun for a kid to read! I also love the pencil sketches by her illustrator Judith Rossell! The book is written in a question-answer format. It addresses making jam, cordials and sweet treats and eating edible weeds and flowers and bush foods, as well as the more practical aspects of planting from seed and pips; tree planting; and making compost.

blogspecific-garden-bksreszd30image-409

There are also lots of fun projects like growing plants in joggers, bottles and boxes; growing an apple tree in an orange; and making an egghead with watercress seeds or shrunken heads from apple cores. I blame Jackie for my daughter’s optimistic (and we thought doomed!) decision to grow a pineapple in a pot from the discarded top and leaves in the depths of the Armidale Winter, but would you believe, it did actually produce a small pineapple on our move to the warmer subtropical climes of Dorrigo !blogspecific-garden-bksreszd50image-423blogspecific-garden-bksreszd50image-423-copyThe Best of Jackie French  2000 Our final book and a culmination of over 30 years of gardening wisdom, this book is typical of all her other books- light-hearted and fun, enthusiastic and inspiring; practical and knowledgeable and incredibly generous with recipes, not to mention eminently readable! There is SO MUCH in this book, I will have to leave it to you to peruse at your leisure!!! Suffice to say Jackie has been a wonderful ambassador for sustainability, self-sufficiency and organic gardening!blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-412

Sustainability is a such an important issue, especially nowadays with the increased incidence of droughts and rising temperatures associated with global warming. The following books shed light on ways of dealing with our uncertain future and all the challenges it issues.

Earth Garden, the publisher of two of Jackie French’s books, has also produced a publication called The Earth Garden Water Book 2004, with lots of interesting articles by Earth Garden magazine contributors and readers on  water collection, purifying, conservation, reuse and recycling and water-saving tips.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-422

Readers’ Digest elaborates on these principles in their book Waterwise Gardening 2010 with chapters on climate; soil; waterwise garden design; waterwise plants; wise use of water; plant care and maintenance and a waterwise plant guide.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-419

And finally, two increasingly important books when it comes to choosing plants, which can cope with hotter and drier climates:

Even though Jane Taylor is English, her book: The Dry Garden: Gardening With Drought-Tolerant Plants 1993 focuses on Australian gardens and includes many Australian natives. It was published just before the start of the Millenium Drought (late 1996 to mid 2010) in South-Eastern Australia, so was a very useful book during that period. She briefly discusses dry climates and drought; plant mechanisms for coping with lack of water and the maintenance of dry climate gardens (including notes on soil; planting; windbreaks; lawn and lawn substitutes; and irrigation techniques), but the majority of her book is devoted to an in-depth discussion of over 1000 drought-tolerant plants of all types: trees and shrubs; conifers; palms and cycads; climbers; perennials and ephemerals; grasses and bamboos; bulbs; and succulents and xerophytes, the latter being plants especially adapted to dry conditions. In the back are lists of plants with special characteristics: bold and lush foliage; sword-shaped leaves; fragrance; wind-tolerance; and horizontal growth, making them ideal for ground-covers. It certainly is an inspiring book and offers hope and optimism for future gardens which, although different, can still be beautiful havens.blogspecific-garden-bksreszd25image-421

Plants For a Changing Climate by Trevor Nottle 2004/ 2011, an Australian garden writer and historian, who has also written books on cottage gardening, perennials and old roses, which I have already discussed in Part 1 Specific Gardens last week and favourite Rose Books. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/03/21/books-on-specific-types-of-gardens-part-one-cutting-gardens-cottage-gardens-and-herb-gardens/ and https://candeloblooms.com/2017/01/10/fabulous-rose-books/ . Being a South Australian gardener, Trevor has had to cope with a hot, dry climate for over 30 years and is well-versed in Mediterranean-style gardening. Unfortunately, with climate change and global warming, the rest of us will have to adjust to a different style of gardening, less dependent on unfettered water use and more appropriate to future climatic conditions. In the introduction to his second edition and concluding chapter, Trevor examines the future implications, especially for gardeners, in great depth and offers possible solutions for the challenges ahead. He has divided his plants into a number of chapters with interesting titles : Shademakers; Statement Makers; Structure makers; Scent Makers; Silver Superstars; Useful Food Plants and Vegetables; Super-Special Plants; Geraniums; Succulents; Perfect Perennials; Roses and Other Pricklies; Little Potted Histories; Surprises From Last Summer and a Motley Crew of 10 of his favourite plants. Trevor is so knowledgeable about Mediterranean plants and so generous with that knowledge. It is a great addition to any horticultural library and is particularly pertinent in contemporary gardens.blogrosebooks25reszdimage-234

Next month, I will share some beautiful dreamy and inspirational garden books from our library, as well as some fascinating books about gardening and plants!

Landmark Birthdays: Part 1

On the eve of my birthday, I thought a post on landmark birthdays was appropriate! My birthday falls on the first day of Winter, which is special enough in itself, and while I enjoy all my birthdays, there have been 3 stand-outs : my 35th birthday in France, my 40th birthday on Lord Howe Island and my 49th birthday on Cape York in Queensland. The Lord Howe celebration was planned, but the other two just happened to be in exotic places, because my birthday fell during our travels. As this post is fairly long, I have divided it into two sections, which I will post either side of my birthday week. I have had such a lovely time writing and researching this post. It has been like having these holidays all over again!!!

The year I turned 35 was a pretty special year, not only because we eventually found our home in Armidale, as well as our country property at Dorrigo, but also because just prior to these purchases, we had a wonderful ten-week holiday in England and France with the whole family. Most of our major holidays have been at turning points of our lives, between leaving our old home and settling down in our new life, and this occasion was no different. We had been renting for a year, all the time searching for our new home unsuccessfully, so we decided to take a break and fulfill that long-held dream of taking the kids overseas.

It was a wonderful experience and even though there was the odd moment, it was fantastic travelling with young children. Because they were so young – all under 8 years of age – we were able to plan a nature-based trip, staying mainly in country areas, and were able to avoid places like Disney World! It also opened many doors to us, especially in France. The French love children and were so impressed that we had brought the entire family from such a long distance away, as well as the fact that I was able to communicate with them in their own language! Whenever we arrived at a new place, the kids would be whisked away by the hosts and plied with hot chocolate and croissants at the kitchen table while we unpacked or we would find them playing upstairs with the owners’ children or reading Tintin books in French.

We had so many amazing experiences from sailing on the Norfolk Broads in one of the original wherries; sitting with the puffins on the cliffs at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory; walking on the Cliffs of Hermaness with the bonxies and tysties; visiting Gerald Durrell’s Rare and Endangered Species Zoo on the island of Jersey, viewing prehistoric cave art 14000 years old in the Dordogne, watching pink flamingos feeding in the Camargue marshes;  and hiking in the Pyrenees amongst wildflowers. I have touched on some of these experiences in my post: My Love Affair With France. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/11/12/my-love-affair-with-france/

BlogFranceLoveAffair30%ReszdIMG_0630BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (85)My 35th birthday in the Limoges countryside was definitely one of the highlights! We’d just spent the day exploring the beautiful potager gardens at Villandry and visiting Clos Lucé, the last home of Leonardo da Vinci, with models of all his amazing inventions (see photos above), and as we left the Loire Valley, I hinted to Ross at the possibility of spending the night in a château (see photo below) for my birthday, only to be told it was far too expensive!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (86) We drove on and on along the scenic back roads of the alternative tourist route and by 8.30pm, we still hadn’t eaten dinner, nor found accommodation for the night!  In the evening light, we spotted a little chambre d’hôte sign on a tree, just south of La Trimouille. Proceeding down the tree-lined driveway, we discovered the beautiful old Château de Régnier.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (87)

Because it was so late, we decided to enquire about the price , only to find that it was very reasonable and quite affordable! On asking about nearby restaurants, the hostess Anniq apologised profusely, saying that had she known that we were coming, she would have prepared us a meal. She also apologised for the overgrown state of the circular driveway lawn, which had not yet been mown for the upcoming hunt!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (88)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (98) She phoned the local hotel, only to be told that dinner might not be possible because they had run out of bread! I suspect the kitchen may have been about to close! But no problem!  Anniq had a whole loaf, which she sent down with us to the hotel dining room. After a five-minute wait, a surly waitress clomped out and took the bread from us without a word, disappearing back into the kitchen. Not a menu in sight, so no difficult hassles translating menu meals! Out came the bread, now sliced, with a huge bowl of pâté and some sliced avocado. Thinking this was dinner, we bogged into the pâté, only to be surprised by a main course of beef and fried potatoes with a delicious red wine, fresh pears for dessert and then coffee, all without having to make any decisions!!!

Because it was my birthday the next day and also because we were down to our last clean clothes, the’ best’ outfits, we decided to spend another night at the château. Doing the laundry while travelling was always a hassle and I was dreading having to use a French laundromat, but Anniq insisted on washing all our dirty clothes herself in her laundry, set in one of the lovely old outbuildings, and hanging them out to dry in her bat-filled attic overnight.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (99)The next morning was warm and sunny and we had a lovely extended breakfast with lots of conversation and laughter. Anniq was a wonderful communicator and between our dodgy command of each other’s languages, we were still able to make ourselves understood, even discussing quite complex matters!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (100) Ross gave me a beautiful green woollen cloak, which we’d bought in Ireland, and some lovely perfume. Anniq gave us a guided tour of the current château, built in 1820.  The original Château de Régnier was built in 1399 for the Loubes family, but it had been in the Liniers family for 5 generations since 1799.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (115) The château had 25 rooms, 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms and a small, disused, cobwebbed family chapel underneath our room (bottom photo). The walls were covered with an Aubusson tapestry and trophies from the hunt- stuffed birds, foxes, boars and deer. Anniq showed me her shell collection and her own hand-painted porcelain.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (101)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (89) - CopyBlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (89)Her husband Charles showed us the stables, laundry, machinery sheds and dairy, all housed in these superb old brick buildings. The bottom photo is of the gatehouse.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (91) - CopyBlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (90) - CopyThe kids ran all day, dressed in their Sunday best and gumboots, in the long grass with the family dogs, two friendly Weimaraners called Hamlet and Jean, and Ibis, a very active, visiting Jack Russell terrier, with whom Chris fell in love. He is in the photo below.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (90)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (92)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (93) After lunch, we wandered down to the creek, from where the château had the appearance of a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ castle!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (95)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (91) I picked a bouquet of Summer wildflowers- buttercups, forget-me-knots, grasses and lots of pink, purple and white wild blooms, as well as a bunch of apple mint for dinner.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (94)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (97) The girls found a baby bird and waded in the creek.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (96)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (102) Of course, Chris fell in and ended up swimming in his clothes!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (103)On our return to the château, Anniq made us a cup of tea with shortbread and we met an English couple, who had discovered this wonderful place a few years ago and now always called in en route to their holiday house in Spain each year. Because they could not speak French and Anniq’s English was limited (although she was attending English classes at night), whenever they called in,  Anniq would invite her neighbour Yvonne, who spoke excellent English, for dinner. Dear Anniq had made a special trip into Limoges to buy me a birthday present, as she didn’t have any spare hand-painted porcelain of her own to give me. She bought me a beautiful china terrine, decorated with French wildflowers, a cherished gift which I still have today. She also gave me a bouquet of her own pink roses- the first of the season.BlogLandmarkbirthdays20%Reszd2016-05-10 16.16.14My birthday dinner was amazing! An entrée of an egg, tomato and lettuce salad; a choice of roast pork or goose with fried potatoes, carrots and peas for our main course with a green salad made by Yvonne; and palate fresheners between courses and a different wine with each course.  The pièce de résistance was the homemade chocolate cake, aglow with candles and served with icecream, followed by a selection of cheeses and coffee. It was such a funny night! Both Brian, the Englishman, and Charles, the proud Frenchman, were very similar in character and neither was EVER going to learn one another’s language! They spent all night slinging off at each other in their own languages and Yvonne and I were very amused by their accuracy and similarities!

It was raining by the end of the night and as Yvonne departed, she invited us to visit her in her 11th century home at Courtevrault Manor the next day. It was amazing! Her bedroom, on the first floor next to the 11th century turret, was situated above a deep dungeon, accessed via a door on the ground floor and into which French soldiers would throw their English captives during the Hundred Years War. The depth and number of skeletons down there was unknown and did not unduly worry Yvonne!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (104)

There was also a 13th century addition with a well underneath and the main house with 11 bedrooms, a stone-flagged kitchen and amazing artwork, including a painting by Raphael. Yvonne was obviously very well-connected!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (105) She had her own gardener, who lived onsite, lit her kitchen fire every morning and kept her and his family in vegetables all year round.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (107) The vegetable garden and herb garden were huge and the flower garden filled with Old Roses and a huge Philadelphus shrub.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (106) There was also a dovecote, a pool and a creek, which ran through the garden.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (108)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (108) - Copy It certainly was an amazing opportunity, not often afforded to the normal tourist and a very memorable birthday!

Five years later, it was my 40th birthday and I wanted it to be equally special! I worked an extra job all year, sorting private mail boxes for Australia Post, in the wee hours of the morning – 4am on Mondays and 6am on the other weekdays. By the end of the year, I had earned enough to buy my coveted Bernina sewing machine and fund an 8 day trip to Lord Howe Island for the whole family to celebrate my 40th birthday. We had always wanted to visit Lord Howe Island. It is one of those very special places, especially if like us, you love nature, the environment, birds and bush walking.  It was listed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1982. We took a small plane with Eastern Airlines on the 29th May out of Sydney and, after a 1.5 hour flight, had to circle the island twice until the winds were conducive to landing on the tiny airstrip in the middle of the island. We had an excellent view of Ball’s Pyramid, the world’s tallest sea stack at 551m, 26 km south of Lord Howe , as well as the lagoon and all the island landmarks.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (109)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (110)Before you can purchase your flight tickets, your accommodation must be pre-booked, as there is a limit of 400 visitors on the island at any one time. There is no camping on the island. Because we had the entire family with us, we booked a self-contained apartment at Hideaway Apartments on Middle Beach Rd, halfway up the hill from Joy’s shop. Because there are weight restrictions on luggage, you cannot bring your own food and supplies are very expensive, due to the fact that everything has to be brought in via the Island Trader. Consequently, our diet was fairly basic, until a departing couple of tourists left us the stuff they hadn’t used! There are few cars, so we walked everywhere or rented bicycles for longer trips. It was such a lovely free feeling, cycling with the breeze in your face, past aqua seas and tropical palms, and not a care in the world about cars or traffic!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (111)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (112) We were so lucky with the weather too- sunny blue skies and no rain, unlike the mini-cyclone last week! Here is a link to the official brochure : http://lordhowe.com/files/2014/11/LHI-Holiday-Planner.pdf.

This brochure details the many walks on the island : http://www.lhib.nsw.gov.au/sites/lordhowe/files/public/images/documents/lhib/Tourism/LHI%20Walking%20Track%20Brochure%20-%20July%202014.pdf

and I have also included a map to give you an idea of some of the things we did from : https://www.lordhoweisland.info/travel-essentials/map-2/ Lord Howe Island MapOn our first day, we walked up to Clear Place to get our bearings and had a beautiful view of Muttonbird Island and Wolf Rocks. In the Valley of Shadows, the kids enjoyed playing in amongst the pendulous aerial roots and buttressed trunks of the massive Banyan trees (Ficus macrophylla subsp columnaris), whose long branches extended over a hectare (2 acres). There is also a forest of 40 feet high Kentia Palms (Howea forsteriana), one of 4 species of palms endemic to the island and the world’s most popular indoor palm for 120 years.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (121)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (116)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (114) The palm seed industry was started in 1906 with the formation of the Kentia Palm Seed and Plant Cooperative and is a key component of the island’s economy, along with tourism. See : http://lordhoweisland.info/library/palmseed.pdf. The Kentia Palm is a lowland palm. The other 3 endemic palms are :  Curly Palm (Howea belmoreana), another lowland palm, which grows slightly higher up;  Big Mountain Palm (Hedyscepe canterburyana), which grows from altitudes of 400m up to the summit of Mt Gower and Little Mountain Palm (Lepidorrhachis mooreana), which only grows on the summit.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (119)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (120) There are also some lovely specimens of Pandanus (Pandanus forsteri) with their long prop roots on the walk to Boat Harbour.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (118)

At Middle Beach, we came across 16 Landcare members planting 200 native trees for their Big Muttonbird Ground Project, which aimed to restore the natural bushland and nesting habitat of the migratory seabirds : the Flesh-footed Shearwater and the Black-Winged Petrel, both classified as vulnerable on the Threatened Species List for NSW. They were very appreciative of our help and wrote us up in the Lord Howe Island Signal, their local paper.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (117)BlogLandmarkbirthdays20%Reszd2016-05-09 12.29.09 - Copy We had lunch on the top of Transit Hill, which has a 360 degree view and was the site of the 1882 observation of the Transit of Venus across the sun. These photos are of the western side of the island: Mt. Gower; Blackburn Island; and the main area of settlement, looking across to the island and the lagoon.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (124)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (122)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (123) We saw our first Emerald Dove here. We loved the birdlife on Lord Howe Island. There are 180 species of birds on the island , which provides breeding sites for 32 species, of which 14 are sea birds and 18 are land birds. A good website to consult on the bird life of the island is : https://www.lordhoweisland.info/things-to-do/bird-watching/nature-calendar-2/ and http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2014/12/birds-of-lord-howe-island . BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (125)Because of its isolation, bird species are often similar, but not quite the same as their mainland relatives. For example, the  Lord Howe Island Currawong has a longer, more pointed beak and totally different call to its Eastern Australian cousin, the Pied Currawong. The Lord Howe Island Silver-Eye is endemic to the island and has a white ring of feathers around its eye. It has a heavier build, larger feet and claws and a longer bill then the mainland Silver-Eye.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (126) The lack of natural predators meant that the birds had little fear and were easy targets when humans arrived in 1788, followed by rats in 1918, as well as introduced owls and feral cats. Their habitat was further destroyed by feral goats and pigs. For information on the island’s extinct birds, see : http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/e137ac48-41b7-4f69-9b60-359a0763c635/files/lord-howe.pdf  and http://www.lordhoweislandbirds.com/index.php/extinct-birds.

The Lord Howe Island Woodhen, a flightless rail endemic to the island, was brought to the very brink of extinction (less than 30 in late 1970s and restricted to 2 tiny populations on the inaccessible summits of Mount Lidgbird and Mount Gower), but thanks to a successful captive breeding program begun in 1980, they have increased in numbers ( 200 in 1997; 117 in 2001), though they are still considered a highly  endangered species. We saw this woodhen up on the top of Mt Gower. For more information on this lovely little bird, see : http://www.lordhoweisland.info/library/woodhen.pdf       and         http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/animals/TheLordHoweIslandWoodhen.htm.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (128)Then, there are the migratory birds, who return year after year to breed. Lord Howe Island is the only known breeding ground of the Providence Petrel, which arrives in March for its Winter breeding season (see photo below). The island is also the only breeding site in Eastern Australia of the Flesh-footed Shearwater, which breeds in large colonies on the forest floor between September and May. It is the only breeding location in Australia for the Kermadec Petrel and Grey Ternlet and is the most southerly breeding location in the world for the Sooty Tern, Common Noddy, Black Noddy and Masked Booby. The White Tern breeds on Lord Howe Island between October and April.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (127)The Red-tailed Tropic Birds are also Summer visitors, arriving in September from the North Pacific Ocean and performing their airborne courting rituals off Malabar Hill (208m), where we saw them on our second day. Lord Howe Island has the world’s largest breeding concentration of Red-tailed Tropic Birds. They nest on cliff ledges between Malabar Hill and North Head and head off late May back to the North Pacific Ocean.

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (132)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (130)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (133)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (131)Looking to the  north from Malabar Hill, we could see the Admiralty Islands and to the east, Middle Beach (with Muttonbird Island in the background) and Ned’s Beach.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (115)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (135)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (134)We walked out to Kim’s Lookout, then headed back down to Old Settlement Beach, so called because it was the site of the first settlers in 1833. For more on the natural history, it is well worth consulting Ian Hutton’s website : http://lordhowe-tours.com.au/. Ian Hutton is the island’s resident naturalist and has written many scientific papers and over 20 books, as well as producing 3 videos about Lord Howe. He is a keen photographer and has run Lord Howe Island Nature Tours since the early 1990s.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (138)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (137)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (139)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (140)We had a beautiful day for my 40th birthday! It started with present-giving, including an unexpected bonus, when departing guests left us their food, including bottles of red wine and port! We spent a wonderful morning snorkelling down at Ned’s Beach.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (141)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (142) Lord Howe Island has Australia’s, and in fact the world’s, most southern coral reef ecosystem. Due to its location at the cross-roads of 5 major ocean currents and the influence of the warm East Australian Current, which flows south from the Great Barrier Reef to the Tasman Sea, the island has a rich and unique biodiversity of tropical, subtropical and temperate species, including 447 species of fish, 305 species of marine algae, 83 coral species and 65 species of echinoderms (sea stars and sea urchins), as well as sea turtles, dolphins and whales. There are over 60 world-class dive sites, including the spectacular Ball’s Pyramid, and most of which are only 10-20 minutes off shore. The alluring Admiralty Islands are home to 30 dive sites. See: http://www.prodivelordhoweisland.com.au/pages/admiralty-islands-dive-sites.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (113)We were blown away by the colourful corals, the bright green seaweed, the huge sea urchins and clams and the amazing variety of fish from rainbow coloured wrasses of pink-aqua-green or orange-yellow-green combinations with blue fins, blue double-header wrasses, black-and-yellow striped butterfly fish and purple striped fish to large schools of sea mullet. And that was only an nth of it! For a more in-depth look at the species list for Lord Howe Island, please consult : http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/3ed1e470-6344-4c6f-b8f1-c0e9774ce639/files/lordhowe-plan.pdf.

It appears that there is a video for everything on Lord Howe Island and snorkelling is no exception, See : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZpluoFDqRE. Not so sure about the accompanying soundtrack though!!! Scuba divers might also enjoy : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpwCwcBr8J4. The music is slightly better!

My birthday lunch was at the restaurant of the luxurious Capella South, now called Capella Lodge. It was delicious, especially the sticky date pudding, and having just watched the Getaway program on Capella Lodge, I feel extra lucky to have dined there, as the restaurant is now exclusively for Capella guests. See : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvtnYMx6ovM.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (143)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (144)Through the restaurant windows, we looked straight up at Mt. Gower, our destination for the next day.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (146) We cycled down to the start of the track to check it out and saw our first, very quiet Lord Howe Island Woodhen in the wild. The air looked like it was full of little specks of ash, with all the Providence Petrels being buffeted about by the strong wind. We met an older fellow, Les, who had been in ill health for 4 years with heart problems and  Ménières Disease, a disorder which affects the inner ear and balance, resulting in tinnitus and attacks of vertigo, so we really hoped that he wasn’t going on the guided tour the next day!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (145)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (147)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (150)The hike to the summit of Mt Gower (875m) is considered to be one of the 20  best walks in Australia. It’s a 14km round walk (7km straight up hill and 7km back!). Because of the rugged and often risky terrain, you can only access it with a guide and Jack Shick, our guide, is one of the most experienced on the island, having been a mountain guide for more than 20 years. See : http://www.lordhoweislandtours.net/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (149)We started walking at 7.45 am, as the walk takes 8.5 hours to complete. There were 6 adults (including our guide) and our 3 kids and yes, Les was there!!! He was determined to prove his doctor wrong, but it did slow things down a bit, especially on our return, and meant that we were often looking after Les, instead of keeping an eye on the children!!!  Luckily, they are an adventurous lot and fairly sure-footed when it comes to outdoor activities. It was such a great adventure for them.

The first lesson was climbing a Kentia Palm. Being a 5th generation islander, Jack was a master, but Chris quickly got the hang of it!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (151)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (152)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (148)Once everyone had arrived, we started on the track, ascending quite quickly to the first challenge of the day- the Lower Road, where we had to don our helmets and follow a rope along the edge of the black volcanic cliff, with a sheer drop of over 100m to the sea below! You can see the ledge in the photo above , as well as photos 1 and 3 below.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (153)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (155)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (154)We came to a clearing at Pandanus-lined Erskine’s Creek , where I surprised a feral mother goat and her two black kids and found a freshly-laid Muttonbird egg.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (158)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (162)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (159) We then walked up through a forest to the saddle and then finally, the Get-Up Place, where there is a rope to help you pull yourself up the incredibly steep slope. Below is a photo of my family with a much younger Jack and Les on the far left.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (157)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (160)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (161) From the summit, there are incredible views out over all the island and the ash-speckled sky is filled with Providence Petrels (Pterodroma solandri) , wheeling and whittering to each other. This photo shows the view to the north over the rest of the island. BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (164) These gentle, trusting birds can be called out of the sky, to land with a heavy thud at your feet and then be picked up and cuddled. David Attenborough has recorded them falling from the sky in this video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgHch5Bg9Jg. It is such a special experience to hold these fearless birds in your hand, a little akin to our experience sitting with the Puffins on the cliffs at the Fair Isles. See : https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/17/when-the-king-comes-to-tea/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (166)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (165)The summit is covered with 52 acres of mist forest with Dendrobium moorei orchids in full bloom, elkhorns, ferns and mosses, wet fungi bells, the Little Mountain Palm (Lepidorrhachis mooreana) in red berry, Green Plums (Atractocarpus stipula, the endemic Hotbark (Zygogynum howeanum) with its chilli flavoured bark, the Fitzgeraldii tree (Dracophyllum fitzgeraldii ) and the endemic Scalybark (Syzygium fullagarii) with its sharp, deep red fruit, high in vitamin C. The photos below show a mist-covered Mt Gower; a forest covered Mt Lidgbird; and the orchid Dendrobium moorei in full bloom.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (168)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (163)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (167) The vegetation on Lord Howe Island is also very special, with half of the island’s 241 native plant species being found nowhere else in the world. Overall, there are 52 tree species; 24 shrub species; 24 creeper species; 12 orchid species; 28 grasses and sedges; 48 herb species, 56 fern species and 105 moss species. There are at least 100 different types of fungi. For more information about the vegetation, see : http://www.lordhoweisland.info/library/plantlife.pdf and http://lordhowe-tours.com.au/biodiversity/plants/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (170)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (172)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (169)The high degree of endemism (up to 60 per cent in some groups) is also found in the invertebrate population with over 1600 species. There are 157 species of land and freshwater snails; 21 species of earthworms; 515 species of beetles; 27 species of ants; 137 species of butterflies and moths and 71 species of springtails. As with all oceanic islands, there are few vertebrate land animals, apart from birds. There are only 3 on Lord Howe Island : a small insect-eating bat; a gecko and a skink, both of which are endemic to the island. There are no native frogs or terrestrial mammals on the island.

Even though he is looking a little older than in our photos, it is worth watching this video, produced by Jack, to get a feel for the climb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRkb24DPjE0. We were so exhausted at the end of the day we fell straight to sleep at the start of The English Patient, a film we had not seen and which we had rented out on video at enormous cost, especially for my birthday! We woke up early at 6am the next day to watch it before its return!

We were so stiff and sore and very very tired, so we were fair game for the spruikers and easily convinced to join Ron’s Rambles boat trip around the island!  The boat was overcrowded with 40 people crammed in and the weather rough with a giant swell, so most of us (but NOT Ross!) were very seasick. Still, we did get to see the island from a different angle, but I was pleased to get back on dry land, safe and sound! This jaunty video was taken on a far better day, but will give you a bit of a feel for exploring the island by boat : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXcN2ZhzosM.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (171)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (173)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (175)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (174)

BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (176)
Ball’s Pyramid by sea

Still sore the following morning,  we had a low-key day : viewing the Woodhen breeding enclosure at Stevens Reserve, swimming at Lagoon Bay  and Blinky Beach and visiting Lovers Bay and the rock pools of Middle Beach, where we saw Turbans, Sea Urchins, Nerites, black-and-white Cone shells and coral. We fed the fish at Ned’s Beach: Silver Drummers, Mullet and enormous King Fish. This amusing video will give you an idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NbtNtlYf4U.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (177)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (180)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (179)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (183)We finished with an evening of jazz and dinner at Pinetrees Lodge, the largest and oldest resort on the island , having housed guests since 1895 and now run by the 6th generation of the original family.

Yet to explore Mt Eliza (147m) and North Bay, we cunningly decided to hire sea kayaks, so we could spare our still-sore legs! We had an easy and quick trip down to North Bay with the wind behind us, climbed Mt Eliza and explored the rock pools of Old Gulch, but at 3pm, when we started our return paddle, we discovered that the wind was now against us and it was strong!  We made little progress, so in desperation, we tied the kayaks together then, with much swearing and pushing, we finally inched our way past yachts, amused onlookers and the imminent arrival of the Island Trader, heading straight for us, back to the original beach. It was so good to get home and we’d achieved balance- now, our arms were as sore and stiff as our legs!!!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (182)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (184)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (188)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (187)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (181)We went down to the wharf the next day to see the MV Island Trader (http://www.islandtrader.com.au/) being unloaded.  Owned and operated by the islanders, it makes fortnightly trips from Port Macquarie on the NSW coast and delivers all the islanders’ needs from groceries, building supplies and hardware to cars and furniture, and even a few passengers- though the trip takes much longer than flying!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (185)  We revisited Old Settlement Beach, site of our other dream resort, Trader Nicks, now known as Arajilla Resort. If you had the money, it is so hard to choose between the two : Capella Lodge has the views, but Arajilla, nestled in amongst old Banyan trees, is closer to everything and has a lovely beach!  For information on Arajilla, see:  http://www.arajilla.com.au/ or http://lordhowe.com.au/.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (190)We watched White Terns wheeling in the sky and snorkellers in the Sylph’s Hole, then made our way back to Ned’s Beach to say goodbye.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (186) A Sacred Kingfisher farewelled us at the airport.BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (191)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (189) We flew home that afternoon, having had the most magical island holiday – an unforgettable way to celebrate my 40th birthday!!BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (193)BlogLandmarkbirthdays50%ReszdImage (192)

The March Garden

Officially, it’s the start of Autumn, but Summer is not quite ready to give up her reign, with a run of temperatures in the early to mid-thirties and quite high humidity over the past few weeks, though it has cooled off the last two days! It’s been wonderful for beach visits and sunbaking pumpkins! We have discovered a beautiful cooling swimming hole in the bend of the Bega River as it enters the sea!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6925BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0694We have finally harvested the Jap pumpkins! Here they are soaking up the last of the Summer sun before joining their cousins in the shed.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0955 BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-03-19 18.47.52The late warmth is also great for extending the growing season of our plants – I may yet get to view some of the new Dahlia flowers. The first flowerbuds are already forming!BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-25 11.35.18BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-03-19 18.42.40BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0862BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-03-20 16.52.17The Autumn raspberry crop is in full production- we have actually been able to feast on THREE raspberry fruits each at the one picking on one occasion! Luxury!!!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0681 The tomatoes and capsicums are still very productive.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0914BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0690The northern vegie bed has been planted up with its last vegetables for the season before the Winter shade : new carrots, lettuce and spinach with potatoes on the left and raspberries on the trellis at the back.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0958BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0956We may yet get our 2nd potato crop of Dutch Creams, so long as the 28-spotted lady beetle doesn’t decimate the foliage first! All the organic gurus advise that the best way to control them is to handpick off the ladybirds and their eggs and larvae, then squash them or drown them in a small amount of methylated spirits. Quite a task, but necessary, as we don’t want to kill all the  ‘good’ ladybirds and other beneficial insects!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0911 There is such an amazing diversity of wondrous insects in our garden. Whenever we venture down into the garden, we are assaulted by masses of butterflies from white Cabbage Moths flitting madly from plant to plant;BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0919 The more humble browns sitting quietly on foliage;BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-22 11.16.36BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-25 11.37.29BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-25 11.37.39BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-03-12 17.17.36BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0734 And majestic courting Orchard Butterflies chasing each other around the garden.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0113BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0155BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0127 We also discovered this precious little spotted moth and a stunning striped metallic green fly!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0645BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6957 The colourful zinnias host some equally stunning red and black beetles;BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0685BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6961BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6966BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0655 While the roses are home to grasshoppers and tiny spiders:BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0407BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0410BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0396Here is our old friend, The Blue-banded Bee, pollinating the Gaura in the Soho Bed.BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-03-12 17.13.50 I can’t wait to discover the creators of these leaf cocoons high up in the Kurrajong tree.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0922BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0921The abundance of insect life provides food for those higher up the food chain. This little brown frog hunts at night-time, while a variety of birds enchant us during the day.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0670 Now that the big boys of the Cockatoo family have finished their fruit-picking season, the smaller birds have reappeared. They especially love the birdbath on these hot days and often a number of different species will be taking the waters together!

BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0813
Eastern Spinebills and Yellow-faced Honeyeater
BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0798
Eastern Spinebills and Yellow Thornbill

BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0385 We often see a pair of resident Eastern Spinebills (first 3 photos) and a lone Yellow-faced Honeyeater bathing or foraging for food together. The last 3 photos are of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters (2 photos of an immature bird and the last an adult Honeyeater)BlogMarchGarden30%ReszdIMG_0782 - CopyBlogMarchGarden30%Reszd2016-02-23 10.19.19 - Copy

BlogMarchGarden40%ReszdIMG_0736 - Copy - Copy - Copy
A very wet, but cool, Eastern Spinebill!

BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0859BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0854BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0345We saw a New Holland Honeyeater partaking of the birdbath for the first time yesterday.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0945We have also watched a myriad of other small birds plunging in for a refreshing dip including : both Yellow (1st photo) and Brown Thornbills (2nd and 3rd photo).BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0803BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0753BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0218 Other little birds include a White-throated Scrub Wren, Silver-Eyes and a Grey Fantail (photo below);BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-23 19.07.59 A flock of Double-barred Finches has been grazing on the lawn.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0300BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0316Larger birds like  female Blackbirds and Bower Birds are also attracted to the birdbath for a cool drink.BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-23 19.10.47BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-23 19.13.47 We have heard the call of a Golden Whistler from the bottom of the garden, but have been unable to locate it yet, but I did finally see and photograph our cuckoo baby, an immature Common Koel,  whose incessant calls plagued us last month and I am gradually improving on my attempts to capture the Gang-Gang fly-past!BlogMarchGarden40%ReszdIMG_0239 - Copy - CopyBlogMarchGarden25%ReszdIMG_0241 BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0283Because this new camera has been upgraded from a 20x zoom to a 30x zoom, I am still learning how to control it, especially for objects in close or mid-range, which often end up blurred! It is however perfect for long-distance shots like the cuckoo, flying birds and even the moon!!!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0867BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-21 21.38.49 Back on earth, its namesake, the Moon Bed, is looking so established now. The David Austin roses are positively romping and the daisies are in full bloom.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0394BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0395BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0648 We planted a blue-purple flowering Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’, bought recently at the Lanyon Plant Fair, between William Morris and Lucetta and next to the daisy and their colours complement each other perfectly!BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0902BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0865 All the roses are blooming so profusely- it is almost like they know Winter is coming!!! The first 3 photos are of my favourite Jude the Obscure, followed by Golden Celebration (photo 4), Troilus (photo 5), Heritage (photo 6) and Lucetta (last 2 photos). BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-23 09.36.41BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0391BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0392BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-03-19 18.44.55BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0687BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_1047BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0449BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0393 The Soho Bed is also full of colour and scent. I love the golden-orange Lolita, as you can see in the 3 photos below!

BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0729
Ice Girl and Children’s Rose with Ceratostigma and Lavender

BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0406BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0695BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0397

BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0404
Ice Girl
BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0960
Copper Queen
BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0189
Heaven Scent
BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0448
Eglantyne
BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0405
LD Braithwaite
BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0961
Mr. Lincoln

Elsewhere in the garden, Alister Stella Gray (photo 1), Penelope (photo 2) and Devoniensis (photo 3) are also in full bloom.BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-23 09.35.52BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0400BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_1046Here are some photos of this month’s bouquets.

BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-25 11.19.38
Heritage, Lucetta, Jude the Obscure and Buddleia
BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0978
Eglantyne, Jude the Obscure, Troilus, Heaven Scent, Mr. Lincoln and Catmint
BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-25 11.22.51
Zinnias and Ceratostigma

BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0972The Cutting Garden is still ablaze with sizzling Zinnias, sprawling orange dahlias and intense purple and softer mauve cosmos.BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-25 11.35.04BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0905BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0915BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0684BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0673BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0414BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0660 BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6976BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_6974BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0187Nearby the rhododendron throws out a beautiful red bloom.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_1051The bright orange cannas glow like flames in the late afternoon sun.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0465 The Banksia is laden with golden candles and the protea is forming pink buds.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0479BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0666 The hydrangea bed provides a cooling respite on these hot days.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0044BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0043 I love the delicate mauve and white flowers of the feral Duranta.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0417BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0402 The white Nerine bulbs are gearing up for next month, as is the Tree Dahlia. Fortunately, we have not had last year’s windy weather, when we were constantly having to support the long canes.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0689 Instead, Ross has been attaching the long side-runners to the top of the new pergola.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0419 It’s a tricky job, as he is using recycled timber of different lengths and has had to mortise beams together to achieve the full 5m length.BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0480BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0899BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0471 He has done a wonderful job! All those years of building cattle yards and fencing have stood him in good stead!

BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0900
The roses on the top side have almost reached the top of the pergola!

BlogMarchGarden20%ReszdIMG_0898 Meanwhile, I have been creating another cushion cover for my highly creative and artistic friend Heather, who visited us for her birthday last weekend. As Heather loves colour and abstract art, I used a design by Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), who was a Ukrainian-born French artist, who founded Simultanism, a branch of Orphism, with her husband Robert Delaunay. She painted abstract pictures with colour rhythms, as well as designing textiles, fashion garments and stage sets. She was a thoroughly modern, independent, highly creative and versatile woman, who was a friend of Kandinsky and Chagall, so she is a perfect match for my friend! For more information about this fascinating artist, see : http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/mar/27/sonia-delaunay-avant-garde-queen-art-fashion-vibrant-tate-modern and http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/apr/13/sonia-delaunay-tate-modern-london-review

BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-23 13.07.01
Based on Rhythm Colour No. 1076, painted by Sonia Delaunay in 1939

It was an interesting and challenging design, involving many small pieces of felt and lots of decision-making about thread colour and embroidery stitch type, so as not to detract from the original design.BlogMarchGarden20%Reszd2016-02-23 13.15.40 I have also started some embroidered calico patches depicting Australian animals, which I will later attach to a cushion cover. I will show you some photos next month, when I have done a few more! It’s time-consuming, but fun! Luckily, the Easter break is coming up!!! Happy Easter!!!

Happy Christmas!

Christmas has always been a very special time in our house, especially the lead up in the month beforehand, with all the food preparation, gift making and present wrapping!

I have already written posts about :

  • Desserts for Pre-Christmas work parties : The Sweet Spot (October)
  • Christmas Cake and Pudding (November)
  • Christmas Drinks and Nibbles (December)

I much prefer to think about Christmas gifts well in advance, so there is no panic closer to the day, when the shops get so busy and crowded and choosing gifts becomes very stressful!!! If time allows, it is a wonderful opportunity to use all those craft skills and, at the same time, make so many people very happy! Home-made presents are THE BEST and are appreciated long after their store-bought equivalents. The recipient not only appreciates the originality and sometimes quirkiness of your gift, but also the talent and skill involved and the sheer amount of time devoted to their production, while thinking about their recipient during the whole process! My family adore my embroidered cushion covers and I get much joy out of planning and executing their design, as well as admiring the finished product, and then seeing the joy and love they bring to their recipient!

BlogCreativity140%Reszddec 2010 074

I made this cute Christmas bag for my daughter from a pattern in ‘Scandinavian Stitches‘ by Kajsa Wikman. See her blog on : http://syko.typepad.com/.

BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-03 13.31.41

I embroidered this cushion cover with rainforest birds for my husband’s birthday this year.BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-29 16.34.36A Christmas tablemat for 2000!

I have loved all my children’s home-made gifts over the years and our house and lives have been enriched by all their wonderful creations! It is also a great way for children to develop their creative skills. Here are some great books with gift ideas :

‘The Good Gift Guide : Creative Gift Giving For All Occasions’ by Alison Pearl

‘The Good Gift Book : Ideal Presents For Every Occasion’ by Judy Hubbard

‘A Touch of Christmas : Easy To Make Stockings and Gifts’ by Pamela Allardice

‘Christmas Treats To Make and Give’ by Linda Collister

‘Homemade’ by Kay Fairfax

‘Creating Gourmet Gifts’ by Barbara Beckett

‘Aromatic Gifts : Scented Ideas From Kitchen and Garden’ by Stephanie Donaldson        and

‘Beautiful Homemade Presents’ by Juliet Bawden.

Gifts can be more intangible too : a massage, a song, a performance, an IOU promise. My daughters made this hand-painted Monopoly board and these delightful wooden coasters for past Christmas gifts. A friend made this delicious Christmas cookie decoration one year.BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 15.25.37BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-10-13 15.12.40BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.32.04I really enjoy making Christmas cards and Advent Calendars in late November, the latter to be opened from the 1st December on. The last few years, I have used folded blank card, stamps and ink pads to create much more personal (and far cheaper) cards! Alas, this year, because I worked right up until the last week, I had to resort to using commercial Christmas cards!

BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-29 16.13.16

There are so many different patterns for advent calendars from felt pockets with little treasures and sweets to this wonderful paper pocket Christmas Tree, which I made for our 2013 Christmas. Each pocket held a small gift or a rhyming clue to a treasure hunt for larger items, which could not fit in the pocket. The pattern came from ‘Folded Secrets : Paper Folding Projects: Book 4’ by Ruth Smith and is based on the old Chinese Needle Thread Pockets. You can order all 4 books from the author by emailing her at : eruthsmith@btinternet.com. For a quick view of them, see : http://purplemissus.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/happy-families.html

BloghappyXmas40%Reszd2012-11-27 11.49.03

It is also fun making Christmas decorations throughout December, then finally decorating the Christmas tree in the last 2 weeks! Some people do it in early December, especially if they own an artificial tree, but I much prefer fresh trees, which do not last the whole month well.

I love the scent and colour of traditional fir trees, which are often sold on the side of the road in the weeks up until Christmas. After the 1967 Tasmanian bush fires, which devastated the native forests, my parents planted a large number of these quick-growing evergreens along the fence line of our property, only to spend every future Christmas chasing off would-be Christmas Tree thieves as the trees grew to maturity!!!

For the last few years in the city, we bought our trees from the same supplier, who harvested them from their country property then sold them in their suburban driveway. We’d select a small, well-balanced tree, then place it in a tub of water within an old rusty family cream can (from dairying days), decorated with Christmas wrapping paper and a large red bow. I love this old photo from the early 1900s of my husband’s grandparents’ Christmas tree with all the toy animals underneath.BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-29 16.33.46Back in the country, we would cut our own tree – maybe a feral cypress or a native she-oak (Casuarina) or even a gum tree (Eucalyptus). This year, we had hoped to purchase a Wollemi Pine in a pot, which we would keep outside during the year, then bring inside for Christmas until it grew too large. Wollemi pines are incredibly ancient and very special, as they were thought to be extinct until a small stand was discovered in 1994. See : http://www.wollemipine.com.

Alas, they were too exorbitant for us this year at $ 169 for a 150mm pot ( plus $14 for shipping and handling). I know we would probably recuperate the price after 3 to 5 years of buying ordinary cut Christmas trees, but you would have to be certain that the plant survived!!! Maybe when we’re rich and famous…!!! For those with disposable income, see : http://www.wollemipine.com/order.php

BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-24 23.16.03

It is always such fun decorating the Christmas tree with friends and family with all the old Christmas favourites, as well as a new purchase/ creation each year. After the baubles and ornaments, we drape the tree with tinsel, then last of all, the Christmas lights – so magical!!! Here are some photos of hand-made Christmas decorations: a simple, bright felt star for my eldest daughter’s first Christmas tree of her own; Christmas angels being made by my daughters : I made the middle angel, Caro the blonde angel and Jen, the angel with the dreadlocks!; I also made a beaded/ sequined and embroidered Christmas angel and pear one year.BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 004BlogCreativity120%Reszd2015-04-22 08.59.48 - CopyBloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-13 14.31.53BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-13 14.34.34We were a bit late putting up our ‘tree’ this year, but it was just as well as the weekend before Christmas we experienced 40 degree days! We now live on a corner block fringed with very old Cypress trees, so we cut 5 branches, which were extending into the lane way, then bound them together and put them in the old family cream can. I think it looks great and it’s hard to detect that it is not a complete tree! My daughter made a beautiful wreath with the trimmed branches as well (bottom photo).BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-19 20.26.16BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-19 21.38.59BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-19 19.28.22BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-19 18.26.23And finally, Christmas Eve has arrived! When we lived in the ‘Big Smoke’, we always use to enjoy making a special visit into the city to see the Christmas decorations.

BloghappyXmas20%ReszdIMG_3718

I loved the illumination of the Geelong Town Hall last year.BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2014-12-18 22.19.05And on the night of Christmas Eve, it was always worth doing the rounds of the neighbourhood to view all those outrageous Christmas decorations and lights. Some streets specialize in it!!!BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-24 22.51.01BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-24 22.22.36There were even still a few here in country Candelo! While the 3rd photo took the prize for effect, I must admit that I much prefer the simpler more discrete ones like the hammock shot (4th photo). Someone had even draped a large fir tee in their front yard with lights, which changed from green-and-blue to red-and-gold (5th and 6th photo)! A local farmer tied a big red bow round each of his fence posts, which looked really effective, though perhaps not so good at night-time! (1st and 2nd photo)BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-24 11.46.22BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-24 11.46.10BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-21 22.52.22BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-21 22.42.27BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-21 22.44.14BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-12-21 22.44.05It is always fun seeing everyone get into the Christmas spirit, including our old postman last year! We had a hilarious Christmas Eve a few years ago, when we came across a long line of ‘Father Christmases’,  university students on their way to the pub, who then very good-naturedly, carjacked us for a lift to said hotel!!! I think my daughter thought all her Christmases had come at once! We caught up to their companions and dropped them off, little realizing that one of them had lost his mobile phone in our car! Two suburbs later, we received a very sheepish phone call, asking us very politely if we would mind dropping their phone round to the hotel! So funny, though it did highlight how quickly a car can be hijacked!!!

BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-24 10.20.48BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-24 22.18.59This year here in Candelo, we were hijacked in a different fashion! I saw 3 Santas walking up the hill, only to have a large group of them materialize on our doorstep to sing us Christmas Carols, then we were bundled up and absorbed into the group, as we wended our way back up the hill to accost other suitable benefactors! My daughter grabbed her Santa hat and reindeer antlers, which she had bought for my neighbour’s handsome black labradors, whom she was to babysit over Christmas, but unfortunately not her camera, otherwise you would have had some classic shots of me in her  antlers with multicoloured flashing lights. It took me a while to realize that the faint Christmas jingle I kept hearing was also actually coming from  those same antlers!!! It probably would have been a bit dark for a decent photo anyway. We found it increasingly difficult to read the words by candlelight, so ‘Deck the Halls’ was very dodgy and thin in the verse singing, but voices swelled considerably in the ‘Fa-La-La, Fa-La-La, Fa-La-La’ chorus! We finished at the local bakery, where we were kindly given a fresh, warm sourdough loaf straight out of the oven and a lovely moist Christmas Cake, which we quickly wolfed down with French Champagne and tea back at my neighbour’s house. It was such a fun night and a great way to meet all the locals!

Father Christmas certainly gets around, as can be seen by these eye witness accounts on our drives to visit family interstate over the Christmas period!BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 013BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 043BloghappyXmas40%Reszddec 2010 073BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 072BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 071BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2014-12-14 08.13.18He is such a busy fellow and must get so exhausted with all his travels! We have a family tradition of writing Father Christmas notes to attach to our stockings. He would then have to reply in the wee wee hours of the morning in an increasingly illegible scrawl! Funny how he always knew what had transpired during the year! When the kids were little, we always used to visit him in the shopping mall, resulting in a wonderful family photographic record of the childhood years.

Every Christmas Eve, we would leave him a slice of Christmas, a beer and a carrot for his reindeer and in the morning, we would discover cake crumbs, the bottle drained and little bite-sized bits of carrot all over the garden.

The kids would be up so early on Christmas morning, excitedly opening their Christmas stockings or, in later years, sacks! After the stocking opening and a much-needed cup of tea, we took it in turns to open the gifts, which had accumulated under the tree in the previous 2 weeks and had suddenly swelled in number dramatically overnight. The youngest often had the job of finding each person’s gift, while Mum (usually) kept a note of ‘who gave what’ for later thank you correspondence.

After the last gift had been opened, the kids all gathered around the open window to yell at the top of their voices ‘Thank You Very Much, Father Christmas!’, a tradition carried through from my childhood!

Because everyone tends to nibble stocking fruit and sweets and are a bit exhausted by this stage, we often have a rest till mid-afternoon, then prepare for Christmas Dinner : a roast turkey with stuffing, a clove-studded ham, roast vegetables and the finale, the flaming Christmas Pudding! One year, when we had just moved over into a cottage built to lockup with no electricity, water or stove, the thought of preparing the traditional Christmas dinner overwhelmed me and it was so wonderful when my ‘kids’ (late teens by this stage) took over and bought 2 barbecued chickens and boiled up vegies over the camping gas stove – the most relaxing Christmas dinner we have ever had!BloghappyXmas40%ReszdIMG_9113BloghappyXmas40%Reszddecember2011 200

I love setting the Christmas table and organizing the flowers ! For a few years, we even made our own Christmas Crackers, complete with corny jokes!!! We will miss our dear Scampie this year!BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-25 11.00.35BloghappyXmas20%ReszdJens Xmas 2013 055

BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2012-12-25 11.36.32
Our old dog Scamp used to love Christmas!

I will leave you with a few photos of our iconic native flora and fauna. Happy Christmas and All our Best Wishes for a Wonderful 2016!!!

BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2014-12-14 11.06.07
A koala sitting in an old gum tree!
BloghappyXmas20%ReszdDec 2013 147
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2010 428
Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo
BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 050
A pair of Pink Galahs
BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 259
A Pretty-faced Wallaby browsing a friend’s Bauhinias
BloghappyXmas40%Reszdxmas 2009 270
Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius)
BloghappyXmas40%Reszdnov 2010 453
Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum)
BloghappyXmas20%ReszdDec 2013 102
Rainbow Lorikeets at home for Christmas!
BloghappyXmas20%Reszd2015-10-13 15.09.13
Oliver, our resident King Parrot, also at home for Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer’s Here!

I love the start of Summer! The warmer temperatures before it becomes too hot; the longer daylight hours, so you can still garden at the end of the day after work; the excitement of watching the fruit develop and ripen; and the amazing colours in the garden!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-26 16.40.36BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-26 16.40.27BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-26 16.41.26BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-26 16.41.36Roses love Summer too! Here are photos of the roses blooming this week :

In the Soho Bed :

BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.46.33
Lolita
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.45.02
Mr Lincoln
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.46.09
Fair Bianca
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.45.59
Alnwick

In the Moon Bed :

BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-21 18.42.17
Windermere
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-21 18.42.33
Golden Celebration
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.57.09
Heritage
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.57.16
William Morris

By the shed :

BlogLate20thCent BG 20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.16.40
Countess Bertha
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 18.00.24 - Copy
Archiduc Joseph

On the Main Pergola (desperately waiting for its construction and madly growing in the mean time!) :

BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-28 17.39.38
Devoniensis
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.55.12
Devoniensis

And in the rose hedge behind the vegetable garden :

BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 11.10.47
Mutabilis

I love creating new bouquets from them all!

BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-23 08.59.21
Copper Queen, Blue Salvia and Catmint
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 12.57.16
Heaven Scent, Copper Queen, Lolita, Just Joey, Icegirl, Dahlias and Salvia
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-23 17.32.39
Alnwick, Windermere, Children’s Rose, Heaven Scent, Verbena and Catmint
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 09.28.00
Closeup of first photo
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 13.01.41
Calendulas and Cornflowers
BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 12.59.06
Left to right : Mr Lincoln, Icegirl and Lolita

The dahlias have blasted on to the scene with their eye-catching gold and red.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-22 17.18.07BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.54.02BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.53.47BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.52.32BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.52.05Their magnificent bold display is only matched in intensity by the scarlet pomegranate flower and the bright orange Calendulas. They are paving the way for the orange Monbretia later in the season.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 19.37.37BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 11.10.32BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.51.03BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.54.30Lily time is almost upon us. I expect these Madonna Lily buds will open next week. The blue and white Agapanthus (also known as ‘Lily of the Nile’) are forming great regiments to supersede the Acanthus, once it finally finishes. It is amazing how their giant heads can be contained within the cases of their tight buds.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-23 18.00.11BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.58.53BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 19.39.42Blue and white is also provided in the stocks and cornflowers of the Cutting Garden.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 19.36.36BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.48.28The growth in the Hydrangea corner is mind-blowing, especially when you consider how heavily we pruned them last Winter!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.58.05Nandina is in full bloom along the back path.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-23 19.12.41The Buddleias also responded very vigorously to their pruning with many beautiful purple, mauve and pink nectar-laden blooms for bees and butterflies to feast on. The scent in the air is beautiful!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.47.45BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 12.06.21BlogSummers here 30%Reszd2015-11-27 12.04.48 - Copy - CopyBlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 15.29.30BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 15.36.37BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 15.34.59BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 15.38.04The soft pastel blooms complement their grey-green foliage and wave gently against the bright blue sunny skies. However, these same pastel colours can also look very dramatic against a background of navy blue felt, as seen in this cushion cover I recently made for a friend’s birthday.photoBlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-13 08.55.34I based it on a fuchsia design, which I had made in a past lino-cutting class. The following photos show the whole process.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-07 21.10.49BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-13 08.45.07BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-12 22.36.13BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-13 08.54.30BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-13 08.54.38I also made her a matching card from the images, which I had googled and printed out to help me choose the felt colours, then laminated it. Yes, you can laminate an A4 card, so long as you crease it immediately after it has emerged from the laminating machine, while it is still warm and malleable!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-12 11.12.55In the vegie garden, Ross has removed all the old radish and lettuces. The Dutch Cream potatoes are in flower and the tomatoes are setting lots of fruit. Here is some of our fresh produce, which Ross harvested for one of his stir-fry dishes: our own onion, broccoli and silver beet! Not to mention Ross’s fresh home-made bread!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 18.12.51The mulberries have finally finished, so Ross also pruned underneath them and cut back branches, which were shading the rose hedge and inhibiting its growth. He also got rid of all the invasive poplar suckers.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.54.07We are very excited about the amount of fruit in the garden. We tasted our first raspberry the other day. As a good Tassie ex-pat, they really are my favourite fruit and it is so good to be able to grow them again and know that they are permanent. No more moves for us!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-23 17.46.47We also have 2 different types of plum in the garden and a bumper apple crop.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.50.01BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.49.00We also admire both our neighbours’ fruit trees : pears and apples galore!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 18.01.22BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 18.02.02The sulphur-crested cockatoos are already massing in the gum tree on our laneway, waiting patiently for the apples to ripen, while outdoing each other in their acrobatic wheeling and aerial manouevres. When we were in Geelong, I remember returning home one New Years Eve to discover the local cockatoo gang had stripped the apple trees bare during a drunken raid that same night!!! I wish they would stick to these attractive Duranta berries like the King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-22 19.42.47BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-23 17.43.51The galahs also love feasting on the Duranta berries.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-26 19.36.09BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-26 19.35.55

BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-01-19 08.17.36
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo in the Mulberry tree

The photogenic visitor below also enjoys our garden- hopefully for the beauty of the blooms, rather than the small birds! We think it is the same cat we saw on our neighbour’s roof, no doubt getting his own birds-eye view of potential feasting sites and a true example of a ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’!!!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-21 16.10.39BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-21 16.10.30BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.59.07BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.59.45Please little blackbird, stay safe! Get Mum to come and feed you in the tree!!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-28 19.39.26BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-28 19.39.35BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-28 19.23.45A final farewell from our flamboyant Peony Poppies, which have entranced us for the last few weeks. Their blooms just about over and their foliage and stems brown and withered, we sadly pulled them out to freshen up the Soho Bed, saving as many of their drying seedheads as I could, despite Ross’s protestations that I only needed an ‘nth’ of what I collected!!! Here are a few final photos for the year! I marvel at the circuitous routes their seed head stems take and wonder why they make so many twists and turns! Life can be a bit like that sometimes!!!BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 19.38.16BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.45.46BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.44.49BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 19.38.28BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-23 17.54.42BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.45.32

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Printemps en Candelo

What a blast! Not just the garden explosion with Spring, but it has been almost a month since I started this blog and I’ve loved every minute of it ! So stimulating writing it and so exciting getting out into the garden every day to report on its progress !!!

It has been a cold week – both outside and in our heads (!) – with a mixture of sun and beautiful soft rain, so perfect for the garden ! We even had a short storm earlier in the week, which smelt of Summer and promised exciting times ahead.Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-22 09.32.46Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-22 09.32.51Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-22 11.04.49The crab apple is in full glorious bloom and has been joined by a wild flowering plum, which is trying ( in vain ) to give the former  a run for its money ! (The plum is shown in the first photo- against the fence in front of the house,  left foreground). The giant poplar is showing tinges of green and the maples all have fine leaf cover.

The Winter Honeysuckle is looking incredibly healthy with its fresh new growth and the Banksia rose is shooting madly, as are the buddleias. All the other bare-rooted roses are well-clothed in leaf and look like they have been in for ages. Some even have little buds forming. The race is on between newcomer Cornelia and our old Soho roses Lolita and Heaven Scent. I think the latter will probably bloom first, but what they don’t realize is that the old early Hybrid Tea rose, Chateau de Clos Vougeot, which is climbing on the side of the house and was one of the few originals here, has actually beaten them to the post!!! See later !

Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1268Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1154‘The Bride’  has arrived (top photo) and even though she is young, her future holds great promise and her bridesmaids, the tiny Virginalis philadelphus and Viburnum burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’, are developing well. In the Soho Bed, the lavenders, catmint and flowering salvias are all in bud and beside the house, Acanthus mollis spires (bottom photo above) are forming. They open white and a dusky purple-pink, which complements the house colour perfectly!Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1153Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-22 10.59.57The cutting garden has been fantastic, with lots of new anemones forming daily. All the daffodils and my magnificent tulips are out in full force and I think the ranunculas might finally be on their way!!! Even the dahlias are coming to the party! This lovely ,blowsy parrot tulip (above right) has opened out flat, but is remarkably tenacious, retaining all of its petals throughout wind and  storm. The cornflowers are growing madly and the poppies are in head, albeit a little bent and shy ! I look forward to them opening up, once the weather gets a little warmer! Photos below include a new salmon Bokassa Tulip, shy Iceland Poppies, my happy mix of bulbs and the snowball tree gradually coming into leaf.Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1170Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1168Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1183Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1246In the vegie patch, the raspberry canes are starting to get their leaves, the tiny blueberries are covered in flowers and everything is growing well. We had our first home-grown salad of lettuce, rocket and radishes the other day !!! I love it when the sun shines through the colourful stems of these chards.Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-24 13.09.46Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1255We haven’t done a lot in the garden this week due to this cold/flu freshening up, but the pergola uprights are up! Ross still has to fix the horizontal beams on top, but he did plant the citrus this last weekend. They will look good behind the moon bed and should grow well there in the full Northern sun The 2nd photo shows the order of planting from the cutting garden to the Main Pergola: a Washington Navel; a Lemonade Tree; an Imperial Mandarin; and a Tahitian Lime. We also planted another Lemonade, which was looking a little less robust than the other, opposite the cumquats, to form a colourful arch in front of the entrance to the Main Pergola. It will also form an arch (over the downhill path from the fernery and house ) with the quince tree, hidden behind Ross in the bottom photo.Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1180Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1239Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1252Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-21 13.14.04 We finally planted out the stocks, now that the frosts are in abeyance, to replace the tulips and erlicheers as they make their departure for the year.Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1256Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1257

We transplanted the strawberries to the berry section of the vegie garden (just in front of my neighbour’s washing line in bottom photo!) and sweet peas to climb up a feature tripod beside the chard (top photo on left side).Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1263Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1266 - CopyAnd we had visitors…

: a local horse, who slipped his paddock – I’m so glad my neighbour caught him before he munched into my roses and tulips!Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_0691Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_0690

:a flock of acrobatic silvereyes foraging for insects in the new foliage of the maple…Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-23 08.41.56Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-23 08.41.20: a return visit from the Kings ! This super-quiet pair are obviously very familiar with Candelo verandahs ! I think I might call them ‘Oliver’ and ‘Twist’ !!! We are a bit tough on succumbing to their cadging – when they realize no food is forthcoming, they retreat to feed on the Prunus blossom, which is where they should be !!!Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-23 08.12.01Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-23 08.12.12Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-23 08.11.30Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-23 08.14.10: The next-door neighbours now have two very cute  sheep to mow their lawn!Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1236Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1197: And a very noisy ultralight did a flyover the morning after our late midnight French sojourn! Assuming it was red and navy blue, the colours were appropriate, so we forgave him!!!

Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1213 - Copy

Yes !!!  We went to France at the weekend! My neighbour Anne had always planned to celebrate her 60th birthday in Paris, but plans had changed and so Paris, like Methuselah, came to her instead !!! It was a great night and wonderful for us to meet all the locals. Everyone dressed appropriately from very glam and sophisticated (not me!) to arty and flamboyant. If you click on our photo, then click on his neck, you will see Ross’s concession to dressing up !!! Anne had done a wonderful job with the decor from black cardboard cutout lampposts on the walls to an Eiffel Tower of fairy lights, surrounded by photos of her younger self.Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1205Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1207We had a magnificent feast, with everyone taking a plate of food. I made a quintessentially Australian dessert, pavlova, but shaped in a French flag with the tri-couleurs represented by blueberries, cream and strawberries (see ‘The Sweet Spot’ on Thursday ! ) . I couldn’t resist adding our first rose bud (Chateau de Clos Vougeot), even though it is not part of the French Flag ! We very carefully carried the pavlova, down the hill to Anne’s place, on an old, but firm, blue plastic tub lid, then decorated the outside of the tin pavlova tray with flowers (white plum blossom, forget-me-knots and periwinkle) to hide the ugly cooking marks!!!Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_1188Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-26 19.41.38

We also took along a bottle of Rosé ( albeit Australia’s Jacob’s Creek!) ; a bouquet of red, blue and white anemones in a recycled jar of our favourite delicious imported French jam, St. Dalfour, (blueberry jam of course!), and a gift of one of my hand-embroidered felt cushions, based on French themes, in red, blue and white, with a backing fabric of a Paris street map and wrapped in tricouleur tissue paper, complete with a handmade Eiffel Tower card !!!Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-15 16.19.29Blog Printemps20%Reszd2015-09-15 16.17.22Here is how I made the card :

  1. Google, select and cut-and-paste an image of the Eiffel Tower to a Word Document, resize if necessary and print out.
  2. Fold an A4 black card in half and place on the cutting mat with the card join at the top.  Using a tracing wheel , transfer the pattern onto the black card and cut out.
  3. Open up the card and cut out the negative space on the front of the card only.
  4. Using a silver pen, mark in the girders, as well as the inside window, write your message and put your logo on the back. Voilà !Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_0569Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_0575

I have always had a love affair with France, so much so that I think, in the interests of getting this post published, as well as not overstepping the mark with the length of my posts (though I am well aware that I already have!!!), I will reserve sharing my passion with you for a Random Thoughts post later this coming month !!! But it is great to know that I have some fellow Francophiles right here in Candelo !!! Especially my front neighbour in her beautiful blue house !  Au revoir !Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_0693Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_0696P.S. Would you believe it? Our amazingly generous camellia is still blooming. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving! She deserves a few more photos in recognition of her wonderful service and generosity !!!Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_0692Blog Printemps20%ReszdIMG_0695

 

Early Winter

The Winter frosts kicked in with a vengeance with the start of June, but the days were beautiful – crisp blue skies and we could still sit in the sun on the verandah. All the deciduous trees were now bare except for the maples, whose leaves were persisting in a blaze of rich warm colours.Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-04-17 09.42.06And the Winter blooms were appearing :

  • our wonderful multigraft camellia at the front door with its variety of coloured blooms from white to white laced with pink, light pink, pink striped with deeper pink and a full deep red – underplanted with white and soft pink hellebores, as well as pink and purple violets;
  • the divinely scented Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima);
  • Galanthus nivalis flowers- the true English snowdrop- I started with one bulb in a pot and now have 20 !
  • And snowflakes ( Leucojum), which replaced the nerines.
    Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-07-01 11.10.16
    Galanthus nivalis
    Blog Early Winter20%ReszdIMG_8905
    Species hellebores and violets under camellia

    Blog Early Winter20%ReszdIMG_8668
    Our camellia sports blooms of different colours

All these flowers were such good value, as they lasted all Winter and kept our spirits up. I have also included a photo of a magnificent camellia hedge at Kalaru.Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-14 12.43.36We fed the beds with more manure, severely pruned the old lemon tree, thinned the calendula and cornflowers and put cardboard over the 2nd cutting bed.

Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-25 16.04.03
New cutting garden on right under cardboard and lawn clippings

We planted the old in-ground septic tank, now filled with sand, with tiny native plants from the local market:

  • a Westringia fruticosa-Wynyabbie Gem,
  • a ‘Dusky Bells’ Correa (Correa pulchella X reflexa),
  • a Crowea exalata and

Dwarf Pink Diosma (Coleonema compactum), knowing full well that even just one of these shrubs will ultimately fill the tank alone and we will probably have to transplant 3 of them later on as they grow, but for now they all fit and its lovely seeing their tiny little blooms through Winter as well. The birds should love them and we will have a wonderful view of them from the verandah!

Other new plantings included:

  • Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) in the cutting garden for its pretty frilled foliage which holds raindrops and its yellow blooms;
  • Lilacs: Mme Lemoine (white) for the white border and Katherine Havemeyer (mauve pink);
  • Flowering Quinces ( Chaenomeles) in red, white and apple blossom pink and white.The japonicas and mauve lilac replaced the sheoaks and the red japonica graces the bottom of the garden; and
  • a red camellia (Little Red Riding Hood) and red rhododendron ( Vulcans Flame) on the side border under the deciduous trees to provide an evergreen screen.

    Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-05-30 15.27.16
    White japonica

We collected sand from the creek and laid the paths in the Soho Bed with rustic old bricks, which we found under the house or edging well established garden beds, where they were now superfluous. We only just had enough for 3 paths, so the last path was paved with my neighbour’s old bricks, hence christened ‘the Anne Path, ’ leading south towards her fence ! We planted 4 types of thyme around the central sundial : Ordinary/ Variegated Lemon/ Orange Peel and Creeping Bergamot thymes.Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-26 12.56.41Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-27 16.29.03

We also planted double pink and mauve Peony poppy seeds ( a bit like the old opium poppies) from Lambleys :  http://lambley.com.au/ , which were immediately picked off by some crazed drug-addled bird, rabbit or fox ! There were little pockmarks all over the Soho Bed the next day, so I don’t expect a great strike rate unfortunately !

And then the roses arrived ! My Mum gave me 3 David Austin roses from Treloars (http://www.treloarroses.com.au ) to start my David Austin bed early in June and my Misty Downs (http://mistydowns.com.au ) order arrived towards the end of June. It was so exciting planting them ! We dug holes for the David Austin roses : Windermere, Evelyn and Jude the Obscure – to be later formed into a moon shaped crescent bed with the best aspect in the garden – full Northern Winter sun all day !Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-07 12.08.54

White Hybrid musks: Autumn Delight and Kathleen joined Penelope at the back of the left hand vegie garden, the latter covering half the chook gate arch over the path. On the other side of the chook arch, we planted Cornelia, then the right hand vegetable hedge was continued with another pink Hybrid Musk Felicia, then Stanwell Perpetual, the already planted Mutabilis and at the end of the row and the start of the Rugosa hedge, running at a perpendicular direction around the corner, the exquisitely scented deep pink Roseraie de l’Hay.

The rugosa hedge also included the pale pink single Frau Dagmar Hastrup and my favourite double white rugosa : Mme Georges Bruant. I love the scent and generosity of the continuous flowering Hybrid Musks and Stanwell Perpetual is a favourite old Species rose, which is one of the first and last to flower. The rugosas, which we first saw lining the French motorways, are tough, beautifully scented and extremely prickly, so we will have to be very careful when patting our neighbour’s dogs !

We planted the Noisette roses : Alister Stella Gray over the Soho arch to be joined on the other side by a blue clematis one day,  and a creamy white lemon/apple scented Lamarque to climb the front wall of our high set wooden house. Ross is going to devise a fold-down trellis network of some sort, so he can still paint the wall in the future if he needs to, without disturbing the climbing rose too much!Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-09 08.06.25

While I was waiting for my roses to arrive, I was busy in my sewing room. I designed a new ‘vase of flowers’ embroidery, just using embroidery stitches (first photo), then when I was satisfied with it, I used it as a basis for an appliquéd felt cushion cover for myself.

Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-16 14.41.37

I traced glass circles on different coloured felts, embroidered each circle with a different combination of stitches and colours and then attached them to a dark navy felt front. I added green felt leaves, each one displaying a different embroidery technique to depict the veins ( that multi toned green Perle thread is fantastic for foliage !) and the mauve vase was again a sampler of different embroidery stitches in its own right.

I completed the centre of the bouquet with an  abstract flower and bud inspired by Angie Lewin ( see : http://www.angielewin.co.uk/ )  to complement the vase colour, then backed the cushion cover with a bright tartan plaid from my stash, a fabric once reserved for a girl’s skirt pattern. It has been wonderful to finally use some of my long held fabrics at long last! I love working with felt and shiny No. 5 Perle thread, though I used No. 3 Perle thread to blanket stitch the felt panel to the backing material instead of ric rac.Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-04 18.40.24Blog Early Winter20%ReszdIMG_8907

I also made 4 jewellery rolls (old Vogue Pattern 1528) out of fat quarters for my nieces’ birthdays with 3 zips, 5 pockets and a little silver charm or key ring hidden inside, as well as trying out a pattern for a petal pocket fabric knick knack holder designed by Valori Wells (http://www.valoriwells.com/ ),  a cute pattern which is very easy to make, so good for a quick emergency gift !Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-18 12.25.05

When my youngest daughter visited on her mid-semester break, I helped her to make a patchwork vintage cushion cover out of material scraps and some cosy wheatbags -with the proviso that she never sleep with them due to the risk of fire !Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-06-26 12.53.20