Camera Woes

Last Spring, just as the garden was getting into full swing with the October Iris in bloom and the roses in full bud, I had the distressing experience of losing, not just one, but two of my faithful little point-and-shoot digital cameras to lens retraction error.BlogCameraWoesReszd2517-11-28 08.53.47 I don’t know what caused it, as neither had been bumped or dropped, and whether it was a speck in the air or a bit of the pervasive cottonwood poplar fluff, which had been constantly floating around or just sheer tiredness from overwork, but my sturdy little red work-horse refused to budge and when I retreated to my default option, my previous slightly dodgy model, whose erratic prima donna behaviour had prompted the later purchase of the more advanced model, it took one gasp of fresh air and immediately joined ranks, its lens also refusing to retract!BlogCameraWoesReszd2517-11-28 08.54.02As a keen photographer and chronicler of the garden, I was desperate, especially as my husband had been given a whale-watching trip voucher for that same weekend. After getting no response from the local camera shop, which was undergoing a transition of ownership, we resorted to good old Google, specifically this site:, with a sequence of progressively drastic steps to follow to resolve the problem.BlogCameraWoesReszd2517-11-28 08.54.20By the tapping stage, we had convinced the old camera (photo above) to finally close, and even though it is still dodgy, suddenly closing down mid-shoot or mid-zoom or refusing to turn on, it still worked when it wanted to, but we have had no luck with the red camera, which hasn’t budged from its adamant refusal to work! Unfortunately, to send it away for repair could cost over 200 to 300 dollars, so it is scarcely worth it for a mere point-and-shoot camera!BlogCameraWoesReszd2517-11-28 12.12.17Fortunately, we were able to borrow my daughter’s far superior and more expensive digital SLR camera (photo above) for the whale-watching, though I really did need a telescopic lens for it, and also my dodgy old camera decided that it would help me out for the special occasion, so with the combination of the two, I was still able to get a few good shoots, improved markedly with adjustment on the computer (see below!), but I really missed having the red camera with its great zoom.2017-10-25 23.05.062017-10-25 23.05.07But now I had a dilemma with Spring marching on in all her full glory and our upcoming northern holiday to visit family, but also enjoy the Old Roses of Saumarez Heritage Garden and Red Cow Farm en route during their peak season, not to mention the future of the blog, which as you all know is heavily reliant on my photographs!!

Red Cow Farm

There seemed little point in buying a third version of the same camera! These little Power Shot cameras are so portable and convenient, but their constant zooming in and out every time the camera is turned on, means that the lens has a very limited life, especially if used as much as I do!

The far better option seemed to be to save up and buy the far more expensive digital SLR camera like Caroline’s, even though it is slightly larger and requires more frequent lens changes. We resolved to research all the different models and either get my overseas daughter to purchase one duty-free on her return home for Christmas or investigate secondhand options. But what to do in the mean time?!!!BlogCameraWoesReszd30%Ross mobph 034

Borrowing Caroline’s camera a second time for the holiday  was a possible option, though it would mean she was without her camera for two whole weeks, and even if we did that, I would need a fair bit of practice to master its focusing, so my holiday photos weren’t all a bit of a blur! Could I manage with the dodgy old camera, my mobile phone, which admittedly takes excellent photos, and the odd local borrow of friends’ cameras along the way?

I had just resolved that I could, when my darling daughter phoned to let me know I could borrow her good camera and saved the day! I gave my lucky girl the misbehaving cameras to play with in exchange!!!

It was good having the opportunity to experiment with my daughter’s Digital SLR over the fortnight and while I did still manage to get some good photos, especially macro closeups and landscapes, I really missed my zoom lens for the birds. We saw both a Tawny Frogmouth on its nest, as well as lots of parrots in the Blue Mountains, but I really needed a telephoto lens on the Digital SLR and my mobile phone wasn’t much help in these instances either! See if you can spot the Tawny Frogmouth in the first photo!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It was almost impossible to find the Tawny Frogmouth with the camera, a difficult task at the best of times, due to their superb camouflage skills and ability to freeze for long periods of time, so I literally did have to point-and-shoot blindly with Caro’s Digital SLR, but I was able to take a photo and the images above show gradual enlargement on the computer.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I could definitely pick the little Red-Rumped Parrots in her camera viewfinder (I would have to be blind not to detect their brilliant colours!), but my problem with them was not being able to zoom in close enough, even though I was just across a narrow waterway! The photos above (taken with Caroline’s camera) show the amount that I was able to progressively enlarge them on the computer before blurring of the image occurred.

My mobile phone wasn’t much better either! In fact, I think it was worse!!! Both images below were blurry to a certain extent. Enlarging the first mobile phone photo on the computer really wasn’t effective!BlogCameraWoesReszd3017-10-28 15.27.42BlogCameraWoesReszd5017-10-28 15.27.42 (2) Which got me thinking! I really didn’t want the inconvenience of having to constantly change lenses and there was also the possibility of blurring with the heavier camera, once the telephoto lens was on. I started veering back to my point-and-shoot models, despite their deficiencies!

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We visited a camera shop en route to research the options (see Buyer’s Guide above, as well as a possible point-and-shoot camera Lumix DMC-TZ80) and discovered Bridge cameras (photo below), which fit in between Digital SLRs and Point-and-Shoot cameras. They are slightly larger and more substantial than the latter, but don’t have as much lens movement on immediately turning on, as well as having a 60X zoom! I am now saving up like mad!BlogCameraWoesReszd3017-11-28 08.56.15Mean time, I also had to consider the future directions of my blog for next year, especially in the light of a potential lack of a camera for a period! I had thought for a while about showcasing the wonderful Australian bird life, especially in our local region, and luckily, I already have a huge number of bird photographs, some of which have already appeared on this blog, so that was one option and it tied in with my idea of presenting them monthly in line with the song, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’.

I also had many new photos from excursions this last year, which I can explore in more depth this coming year. I may even include one post in this section about major new developments in our Candelo Garden where appropriate.

My book posts are easy, as their photographs require scanning on the computer and I had already intended to explore my craft library this year. And for the fourth week, I was sure that I had enough photos of all the beautiful plants in my garden to revisit my monthly feature plant posts.

So, I think I am now all organized (!) and it won’t require an immediate camera purchase or as much flogging of any new camera this coming year! The final line-up is as follows:

Week 1 : Monthly Feature Plant;

Week 2 : Birds;

Week 3 : Craft Books; and

Week 4 : Places to Explore!

So, for January 2018, it’s Buddleias; Parrots and Cockatoos; Colour and Design Books; and the beautiful Murrah Lagoon!


Next Tuesday, we return to the last of my posts on Rose Types, with a look at other Modern Shrub Roses and their breeders.

Inspirational and Dreamy Garden Books: Part One: Inspiring Books and Garden Travel Books

As the growing season slows down and we head towards the cooler weather, it is lovely to know that we have some beautiful, dreamy and inspirational books to browse by the fire in Winter! As editor, Ferris Cook, writes on page 12 in the foreword to his book, ‘Invitation to the Garden’, the first book featured below : ‘ Like so many other gardeners separated from their gardens by darkness, miles or inclement weather, I love to read about other gardens when I can’t be in mine’. I have divided these books into four sections :

  • Inspiring books about gardening and plants in general
  • General garden travel books
  • Books about specific gardens
  • Books about specific plants

And once again, this post is too long – too many wonderful books and too much to say about them! – so I have divided it into three posts : Part One on beautiful garden publications and general garden travel books (today); Part Two on specific overseas gardens (May); and Part Three on books about Australian gardens and specific plants (June).

Inspiring books about gardening and plants in general

Invitation to the Garden: A Celebration in Literature and Photography, edited by Ferris Cook 1992

The perfect title to start a post on garden books and it certainly lives up to the claim of its subtitle, as well as its reputation! Indeed, it was the winner of the 1992 Award for Excellence in Garden Communication from the Garden Writers’ Association of America. Divided into seasons, it is a wonderful read, which can be dipped into at random, always finding an interesting snippet or pertinent quote, poem or prose and always accompanied by the most beautiful sumptuous photos by specialist garden photographers: Ping Amranand; Ken Druse; Richard Felber; Mick Hales; Harry Haralambou; Peter C. Jones; Peter Margonelli; Hugh Palmer; and Curtice Taylor.

A good example is the very first entry in Spring, ‘Down the Garden Path’ by Beverley Nichols, in which she describes that familiar daily habit of all gardeners, ‘Making the Tour’, involving a detailed examination of every square inch of the garden and noting all new discoveries and happenings! In reality, I probably do this at least three or four times a day!!!

There are poems by Homer and Shakespeare; John Donne and Robert Herrick; the three Williams (excluding Shakespeare, as he was so much earlier!) : William Cowper, William Blake and William Wordsworth; Matthew Arnold and Emily Dickinson; two Roberts :  Robert Bridges and Robert Frost; A A Milne and Virginia Woolf; Rainer Maria Rilke and William Carlos Williams (that’s two more Williams in one!!); Pablo Neruda; W H Auden; Sylvia Plath; and e e cummings; and that’s only a fraction of them!

There are also excerpts by Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Old Manse); Ivan Turgenev (The Rose); Lewis Carroll (The Garden of Live Flowers); William Morris (Collected Letters: Kelmscott); Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden); Edith Wharton (Italian Garden Magic); E A Bowles (The Passing of Summer); H G Wells (The Flowering of the Strange Orchid); Colette (The Ways of Wisteria; and Hellebores); John Steinbeck (The Chrysanthemums); and Laurie Lee (Segovia-Madrid), again only a small selection of the entries! Hopefully, the titles are enough to entice you to search out this book!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (430)

The Illustrated Virago Book of Women Gardeners, edited by Deborah Kellaway 1997

An equally delightful coffee-table book to be enjoyed at leisure! Illustrated with beautiful artwork and superb photographs throughout, this anthology of musings by women garden writers is divided (for easy reference) into chapters, titled : Weeders and Diggers; Advisers and Designers; Plantswomen; Colourists; Countrywomen; Townswomen; Visitors and Travellers; Kitchen Gardeners; Flower Arrangers and Visionaries. Its writers represent a ‘Who’s Who’ of the gardening world with names like Gertrude Jekyll;  Alicia Amherst, Elizabeth von Arnim, Norah Lindsay, Beatrix Farrand, Constance Spry, Vita Sackville-West, Margery Fish, Edna Walling, Beth Chatto, Penelope Hobhouse, Rosemary Verey, Nancy Steen, Mary Keen, Valerie Finnis, Ursula Buchan, Joy Larkcom, Jane Taylor and Mirabel Osler, but there are so many other authors!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (432)Natural Companions: The Garden Lover’s Guide to Plant Combinations by Ken Druse and Ellen Hoverkamp  2012

I loved both the first two books equally well, but I ADORED this book! This would have to be the mosr beautiful book I have ever seen ! Every page is such a visual treat and showcases all the incredible treasures our Earth holds and their infinite diversity of colour, form, texture and function! Absolutely stunning photography, both of beautiful gardens and separate plant combinations, presented dramatically against a black background in the style of a combination of 1920s and 1930s American photographer, Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) ( and English botanical collage artist, Mrs. Mary Delany, whose beautiful paper collages can be seen at: While I knew the work of Mary Delany, which inspired my floral collage cards (see:, I did not know of Imogen Cunningham, but have fallen in love with all her work, from plant studies and still lifes to portraits and romantic family shots; the beauty of the human body (nudes; dancers) and her street scenes and landscapes. I particularly loved her photographs of the stunning architectural blooms of the Bull Bay Magnolia (Magnolia Blossom 1925 and Magnolia Blossom, Tower of Jewels, 1925), as can be seen in the above link.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (455)

Ellen creates her floral photographs, using a flatbed scanner and produces images of unparalleled depth, colour and beauty. I found it impossible to select a favourite plate to show you, but here are some examples:

There are over 100 species botanical images of plants, which bloom simultaneously and compliment each other perfectly. They are organized by theme: seasons; plant families; form and function; colour; place (eg woods; open spaces; damp areas; rocky sites) and purpose (eg fragrance; butterflies; edible flowers; secret; literary; boxed; health and beauty; art; and nighttime). It is such a beautiful book and a lovely one to dip into whenever you get a chance! I cannot recommend it highly enough! Appendices include a list of edible flowers and flower meanings.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd60%Image (463)The Language of Flowers: a Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh  2011

A totally different book, both to the previous three coffee-table books, this one being a first-time novel, but also refreshingly original in concept and style. Based on the Victorian language of flowers, a compendium of which is included in the back of the book, this novel is written in first person, following the life of Victoria, an ex-foster child and florist and exploring complex themes like maternal love, forgiveness and redemption. Being a flower arranger, I was instantly attracted to this book and once started, I could not put it down! It is so easy to read and so hard to put down!  Plus, I have used the flower dictionary constantly, when making my floral collage cards for friends and family.

BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd40%Image (450) - CopyBlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd20%IMG_0499BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd20%IMG_0501Seasons at Home: Food, Family, Friends and Style by Holly Kerr Forsyth 2011

Another lovely offering from Holly Kerr Forsyth with her trademark style of seasonal projects and delicious recipes and preserves. I have given friends copies of some of her other books: Country Gardens, Country Hospitality and Seasons in My House and Garden: see  ; and

Both are beautiful books, which I would love to own one day, but in the meantime, I am enjoying this smaller book: Seasons at Home! While this book would fit equally well into my cookery book post later in the year, I have included it here because of its gardening and flower arranging content. Her photographs, styling and interiors are so beautiful and inspiring, how could I do otherwise!! Also, this book is a perfect lead-in to the next section with the first book also written by this knowledgeable lady!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd30%Image (433)

 General Garden Travel Books

Gardens of Eden: Among the World’s Most Beautiful Gardens by Holly Kerr Forsyth 2009

A Christmas present in 2012, when I was studying garden design at Burnley, this beautiful book covers fifty of the world’s most beautiful and famous gardens. Lavishly illustrated with over 500 photos, the gardens are divided into chapters titled : Lessons in Garden History; A Sense of Place; The Designer in the Garden; The Gardens of Politicians, Writers, Artists and Collectors; Clipped Perfection; Grand Passions and Private Pleasures; Water Delights; and Places to Pray or Play In. They span different historical periods, garden styles and cultures from the Paradise Gardens of Ancient Persia to the romantic rose-covered ruins of Ninfa and the Italian Renaissance gardens in Italy; the wildflower meadows of William Robinson’s Gravetye Manor to the Arts and Crafts gardening style of Gertrude Jekyll-Edwin Lutyens (Upton Grey and Hestercombe) in England and Beatrix Farrand’s Dumbarton Oaks in the United States of America; the famous gardens of Sissinghurst Castle (UK), Le Canadel (France) and the island gardens of Isola Bella, Isola Madre and La Mortella (Italy); and  the Buddhist-inspired gardens of China and Japan, not to mention Australian country gardens like Bentley (Tasmania), Jack’s Ridge (Victoria) and Nooroo, Bebeah and the Berman Gardens (NSW). A wonderful book for armchair travel and research for your next garden adventure!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (435)A Photographic Garden History by Roger Phillips and Nicky Foy 1995

For a more in-depth look at garden history, predominantly through photographs! This book is organized into three main sections. The first part covers the European Tradition, starting with Roman peristyle gardens and moving chronologically from Islamic influences to Italian Renaissance gardens; the French Formal movement and the romantic/ potager style in France; the Baroque German and Dutch gardens; and the British medieval gardens to the English Landscape movement; Victorian and Edwardian gardens and natural gardening styles. The second section focuses on Chinese gardens, while the third section explores Japanese gardens. The text is backed up with featured gardens with specific details and notes on their date and features, as well as their place and importance within the particular historical background. Throughout the book are topics of pertinent interest to the time period or garden style, covering a broad range of subjects from garden elements (potagers; parterres and carpet bedding; topiary and mazes; rockeries; water features (lakes; ponds and pools; waterfalls and fountains); the concept of garden rooms and borrowed landscapes; and specific gardens for roses, natives and Autumn foliage colour) to garden structures (garden buildings and furniture; arbours and arches; follies and grottoes; steps and staircases; gates and fences; and even ha-ha walls) and decorative techniques (trompe l’oeil; shellwork; mosaics; sculptures; and pots and urns). I initially borrowed this book from the library, but found it to be so comprehensive and interesting that I just had to order it for my horticultural library!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (436)

The Gardens of Europe, edited by Penelope Hobhouse and Patrick Taylor 1990

Edited by garden writing doyens, Penelope Hobhouse and Patrick Taylor, this book focuses on 700 European gardens, open to the public, from the Mediterranean gardens of Southern Europe (Italy, France, Spain and Portugal); the cooler, more temperate gardens of Northern Europe (Great Britain and Ireland; Belgium; Holland and Scandinavia); and the gardens of Central Europe (Austria, Switzerland and West Germany) and the Balkans, East Europe and Russia (Bulgaria; Czechoslovakia; East Germany; Greece; Hungary; Poland; Romania; European Russia; Turkey and the then, Yugoslavia). Even though this is quite an old book now and the details of opening hours and admission charges might be out-of-date, the basic information about its history, general design and prominent features is still relevant and is a starting point for further up-to-date research. There is a biographical list or principal architects, garden designers and gardeners in the back, as well as a glossary and bibliography of further books (guide books and history) to read.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (437)

Gardens of Persia by Penelope Hobhouse 2006

I have always loved the underlying concepts of the Islamic garden : an enclosed protected paradise with a quadripartite layout (a four-fold pattern called chahar bagh) and watercourses forming the principal and secondary axes, all meeting at a central pool or pavilion and representing the four rivers of life. They are full of colourful flowers and bulbs, shady fruit trees and birdsong; a place for contemplation and spiritual nourishment; and a little oasis in a challenging hot and dry climate, the latter, which I suspect will be increasingly valued in our Western world with the increasing temperatures and prevalence of drought with climate change. In this book, Penelope explores these notions, as well as the elements and history of Islamic garden design; the climate and environment; flowers and trees planted and of course, the spiritual dimension. Throughout the book, she provides many examples of Islamic gardens from Cyrus the Great’s garden at Pasargadae 2,500 years ago, Timur’s gardens at Samarkand (late 1300s); his son Shah Rokh’s gardens at Herat (1400s); and Bagh-e-Fin (1504) and other Safavid gardens to the 18th century gardens of Shiraz, ‘city of roses and nightingagles, cypresses and wine, and poetry and painted miniatures’: Bagh-e-Eram (Garden of Heaven); Bagh-e Golshan (1760s); and Bagh-e Shahzadeh (Prince’s Garden 1880s); the Mostoufi Garden, Tehran, 1930s; the geometric Moorish gardens of Southern Spain like the Generalife and the Mughal gardens of Northern India and Kashmir. All, of course, accompanied by beautiful Islamic architecture! In the back, notes on each garden for travellers, lists of the royal houses of Persia and Persian plants and a glossary of Persian terms. A very interesting and informative book, as well as a feast for the eyes! Readers, who want more information on Islamic Gardens may be interested in these links : and

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The Secret Gardens of France by Mirabel Osler 1992

I have already briefly mentioned this book in my post on Favourite Rose Books (see:, as it described one of my favourite bucket-list French rose gardens, La Bonne Maison, as well as the roses of André Eve. However, it discusses 18 other gardens in France from productive potagers to medieval herb gardens; Nicole de Vesian’s architectural topiaried balls of lavender and rosemary in the Luberon to a coastal garden in Brittany; and another bucket-list garden, Le Jardin des Cinq Sens at Chateau d’Yvoire on the shores of Lac Leman. Mirabel has a lovely writing style- very chatty, enthusiastic and inclusive- and all the gardeners featured are very inspiring! While many of the gardens are private and not open to the public, this book is a lovely read with a wealth of ideas and information.

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Kitchen Gardens of France by Louisa Jones 1997

I would love to do a garden tour with Louisa Jones (see: !!! While she has written many books on the gardens of Provence and the French Riviera, this particular book is about French kitchen gardens. She examines Heritage Gardens (medieval plots; renaissance gardens; potagers and heirloom vegetables ); Grassroots Gardening (from country potagers in the Ardeche to village greens and community gardens; city allotments in Paris and hortillinages (floating islands) in Amiens; and Hmong gardens at Alençon in Normandy); Dream and Utopian Paradises (the jardin de curé style; Rousseau’s orchard-garden; Pigeard’s mystic metalwork; photographer, Denis Brihat’s alchemist workshop in Provence and another bucket-list garden, the organic  garden of Terre Vivante in the Domaine de Raud in the Alps); and Vegetable Graces (gastronomic  creations and designer visions; Gilles Clement’s moving potager; and future fashions). This last chapter has an in-depth look at the Gardens For the Five Senses, mentioned in Mirabel Osler’s book. The text is supported by many showcase gardens and beautiful seductive photographs. It is such a dreamy inspirational book! Details about each garden featured can be found in the back. For more ideas about gardens to visit, it is worth consulting Louisa’s blog ( and Links pages (

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The French Country Garden by Louisa Jones 2000/ 2005

A very recent addition to my library and a wonderful find! Thank you, Denise! I was delighted to add this book to my library, as it discusses many French gardeners and their gardens, whose names I knew, but were not necessarily covered by my other books like Nicole Arboireau on the French Riviera; Doudou Bayol in Provence (what an amazing sense of colour!); Martine and Francois Lemonnier, who have the National Collection Label (CCVS) for Meconopsis and Hellebores, in Normandy; Mme Marie-Joseph Teillard in the foothills of the Pyrenees; Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières at Cordes-sur-Ciel; Eléonore Cruse at La Roseraie de Berty in the Ardèche; as well as old favourites like Alain Richert of the Garden of the Five Senses, Yvoire; Nicole de Vésian in Provence; Gilles Clément of the Centre Terre Vivante at the Domaine de Raud and the different biomes of Le Domaine du Rayol. These gardens and more are discussed in depth in her chapters, each featuring three gardens, and titled : Intimate Country Gardens; A Passion for Plants; Celebration of the Senses; Formal Play; Nature’s Ways; and Planetary Perspectives. The photos again are superb and complement the text perfectly. Another beautiful book to browse…!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd30%Image (543)Great Gardens of Britain by Helena Attlee 2011

A lovely book about 20 wonderful gardens in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. A difficult task selecting only twenty garden, but those chosen celebrate their diversity in garden styles, plants, settings and history. This is a wonderful guide with beautiful glossy photos and is essential reading for those planning a garden trip to Great Britain. Inspired and informed by this very book, I would love to visit Charles Jenck’s earthworks and waveforms at his Garden of Cosmic Speculation on the one day of the year it is open !; Ian Hamilton Finlay’s concrete poetry at Little Sparta; the famous topiary at Levens Hall; Scampton’s perennial naturalistic meadow, designed by Piet Oudolf; the rhododendrons and five terraces of Bodnant, North Wales, including its famous Laburnum Arch; the lakes and classical temples of Stourhead; Lawrence Johnston’s garden rooms at Hidcote Manor; Christopher Lloyd’s herbaceous borders of Great Dixter; the restored gardens of the East Ruston Old Vicarage and Beth Chatto’s gravel gardens; the holy grail of old rose gardens, Sissinghurst Castle, made famous by Vita Sackville-West, with its garden rooms and  white garden; the extensive plant collections, trial gardens and scientific research laboratories of Wisley, the home and flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society; the futuristic environmentally-controlled geodesic domes of the Eden Project, the brain child of Tim Smit;  and the unlikely Mediterranean-style gardens of Tresco Abbey in the warmer climes of the remote Scilly Isles in the English Channel. Addresses and websites for all the gardens are listed in the back. We have already visited Kew Gardens twice, but it is such a wonderful garden, that I would always include it whenever I visit England and I would really like to see the Marianne North Gallery, which is devoted solely to the wonderful paintings of this amazing Victorian botanical artist and explorer. See: and, specifically:

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For those of us who may not travel overseas again, this form of armchair travel is a wonderful alternative! This book explored many gardens, not covered in the other books. Another book that I would love to find is Around the World in 80 Gardens by Monty Don, see :, as I really enjoy his films, but fortunately the film version of his book can be seen on YouTube. For Episode 1, see : For a guide to the episodes, see :

A Happy Surprise: The Liebster Award

The Liebster award is an online award given to new bloggers or those with less than 200 followers by other bloggers- it’s all about providing support and encouragement and increasing exposure. Thank you so much, Jenny Stephens from  It was so lovely of you and totally unexpected, especially as you were on a plane to Germany at the time!!! Though really quite appropriate as it turns out, as ‘Liebster’ in German means ‘sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome’ and Jenny is all those things and more!

Apart from being my wonderful daughter (and I’m not biased at all!), Jenny is a beautiful person, whose kindness, sincerity, enthusiasm and vital interest in the world around her shines through in all her posts. She writes so well with lots of interesting details, which make you want to travel with her, as well as great photos, so it is well worth following her travel blog.liebster3

The Liebster Award has been going since 2011 and the rules have evolved over time. The official rules of The Liebster Award 2016, if your blog has been nominated and you have chosen to accept it, are below

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
  • Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.  Images you can use for your 2016 Liebster Award can be found here.
  • List these rules in your post.
  • Answer your nominator’s questions
  • Give 10 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers.
  • Create 11 questions for your own nominees to answer.
  • Once you have written and published it, you then have to: Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it.


My Answers

  1. What inspired you to start writing a blog?

Initially, I decided to write my blog as I wanted to document the development of our garden from its beginnings, as well as write about our new life here in Candelo. Jenny also inspired me, as she was just about to start her travel blog as well, so we launched both on the same day at the same time! It has been wonderful having another fellow blogger in the family for all those queries and moral support and encouragement!

Soon, I discovered all the other benefits of blogging like being an ideal way to use all those digital photos and view them in context, as well as keeping family and friends in faraway places informed about all your news, your home and life in general. I discovered that I loved the writing process and it soon became an addictive habit, one which I would now not be without! For me, the best things about blogging are:

  • The researching process
  • Putting it all together to form the finished article- eminently satisfying, as well as a big relief, knowing that you have made the deadline on time!
  • Meeting new like-minded friends in the blogging community and sharing experiences, queries etc

Writing a blog has :

  • Improved my photography skills- I’m much faster at capturing birds and insects on film and I have learnt so much about my camera, though I still struggle with the zoom. I think more about framing my photos and taking specific photos to complement my text. Having said that, I now take so many more photos than I used to and I probably still have to be a little more ruthless about my selections!
  • Improved my writing and editing skills- I am much more aware about my phrasing and grammar and am getting quicker at spotting errors, though I still find that I have to reread a post several times to pick them all up! And I have produced a few books for a very low cost- I now have a recipe book, an index of my favourite gardens, a management reference for my feature plants and a guide to the local area!
  • It has vastly improved my digital skills, from word processing to reducing photo size with Irfan, managing the Word Press site and Facebook!
  • It has strengthened my self-discipline and my organization and time management skills. I like to plan ahead and try to keep ahead by 2 posts if I can so I don’t panic!
  • It has heightened my curiosity, knowledge and appreciation of this beautiful world we are lucky enough to live in from the in-depth examination of our own garden to our beautiful local beaches, farmland, mountains and National Parks to our wonderful home country Australia with its wide diversity of landscapes, environments and natural history and the wider world beyond. As a relatively new resident in this area, I have learnt so much about the local geology, plant life and birds and the special spots.
  • I have discovered more about myself- what really matters to me, what my strengths and weaknesses are, what I love and I have grown with the process.

And finally, in a world that can seem to be full of doom and gloom, it is a wonderful way to focus on the positive and uplifting things in life and the things that are truly important – beauty, creativity, love and happiness and to share your beliefs and make the world a better place.girl-829183_12802. Tell me three things people might not know about you?

After the previous long spiel, I’ll keep this answer brief :

  • I once did a course in decorating Ukrainian Easter Eggs!
  • I tried learning the bagpipes, but I didn’t have enough puff (or dedication obviously!) to keep the bag up!I am an obsessive pixel puzzler!

easter-eggs-637110_12803. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Everywhere! Our beautiful garden and all its inhabitants, other people’s amazing gardens, our stunningly beautiful local environment and our precious fragile Earth, nature and  her eco-warriors, inspiring people, current world events and issues, history, books and films, other blogs. Sometimes, if I’m momentarily stumped, I start from  the photos and the text soon flows.

4. How has your attitude to blogging changed over time?

Because we were so busy actually establishing the garden, I didn’t start the blog till September 2015, so initially I posted twice a week to describe all the developments from  the start of our new garden at the beginning of the year. I really enjoyed  writing my blog, until I started to notice that I was positively gobbling up the amount of storage space allocated for photos, even after I had exceeded my free limit and taken up the premium plan, and it all became a bit fraught! I was staring down the barrel of probably having to give up the blog, as I certainly couldn’t justify the cost of the business plan, but then a friend solved the problem. I had been uploading all my photos in their full size- a big mistake and totally unnecessary as Word Press only requires a size of 800mm x 600mm  max, so he introduced me to Irfan, a great way of reducing photo sizes in bulk at a fraction of the time and I had 2 very busy weeks, replacing my original photos with new photos one fifth of the size. A mammoth job, but well worth it, as I reduced my photo storage space to 3 percent of the free Word Press! So all you new bloggers out there, be warned! Even though I probably didn’t need the premium plan this year after all, it is great having my own domain, I do plan to keep this blog going for as long as I can and it now means I can use as many photos as I like without stress- though I promise that I will still try to be selective!!! I now post just once a week on a Tuesday afternoon and vary each week between a feature plant, a favourite (still on the gardens, but eventually will include books, films etc), a monthly garden update and a special place or recipe! And I still love the blogging- it has become part of my life.

5. What’s one of the best places you’ve ever been and why?

A difficult one, as there are so many amazing places and I have loved every one of them. If I have to choose, and excluding our own wonderful country, I would have to say France for its beautiful countryside, its romance, its stylish elegance, its language and  its love of fine food, family and children, beautiful gardens and above all, its roses!!!

6. Name three things you always put in your backpack/suitcase.

My initial response was : camera, diary and a tossup between a guide book and  my latest pixel puzzle book! The camera was a no-brainer as it always goes everywhere with me and my blog relies heavily on my photographs. I have kept a daily diary forever- very useful for later consultation about events, appointments etc for all those blog followers who thought I must have a photographic memory! As you no doubt realize by now, I am an avid researcher, so guidebooks are my bible when travel planning and pixel puzzles are great to do in short periods of time like waiting at the airport, as well as being very addictive, satisfying, brain-stimulating and a good way to get to sleep! But then I started thinking, what about my mobile phone and laptop? Despite my previous Luddite tendencies, I am now totally hooked and could not live without either! So, given that I can research travel destinations, write my blog, read and send emails, make phone calls, Skype, download photos and even play pixel puzzles online and write my diary on my computer (though I still prefer to write my diary by hand), I would have to say : camera, laptop computer and mobile phone, even though I would love to say something more original and exotic! And there you have it- I’m a modern girl in the digital world and am nothing if not practical!

7. Name a few favourite books (preferably travel-related) – I’m always looking for new recommendations!

Sorry Jen, you may already have read these. Can’t get away with much  in a family! Here are my 3 selections:

  • ‘Wayward Women : A Guide to Women Travellers’ by Jane Robinson: I have always loved this book. Lots of short extracts and  interesting history about intrepid women travellers, very inspiring and can be dipped into at random.
  • ‘Full Tilt: Ireland to India with  Bicycle’ by Dervla Murphy: my first travel book I ever read and  so inspiring! A true traveller in every sense of the word, she has written a number of fascinating books, of which this one is the first! Tim Severin and William Dalrymple are also brilliant travel writers.
  • ‘The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel’ by Rachael Anthony and Joël Henry. Delightfully quirky and zany, this book is unique and offers a number of alternative suggestions to exploring and getting to know a place from different angles, especially if you are on a tight budget! In fact, I think this is the copy I gave you, Jen!!! Keeping it safe while you are travelling!!!2016-06-28 13.05.328. What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in a new place?

Read all the local literature over a cuppa, then collect vast numbers of brochures from the local information centre!2016-06-28 13.01.26

  1. How will your blog look in 5 years time?

Now that’s a tricky one. I know I like to plan ahead, but that far?!! I may have experimented with a different layout, although I really like this one (Penscratch) and I tend to be a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to less familiar territory, especially when I have found one I like! I may have managed to curb my photographic tendencies, but am not promising anything!

  1. How would you describe your travel style?

Organized but flexible, well-researched, intensive. Even though I plan well ahead, I still like to allow extra days for spontaneity, unexpected opportunities, sickness or just the need to relax and take a breather! I like to read everything I can lay my hands on before the trip, so I don’t miss anything I might later regret, but having said that, it all makes much more sense once you have actually visited a place! No matter how long a trip is, I still like to make the most of every day and fit in as much as I can, because we may never return!

11. Any travel goals for 2016?

How I wish! We probably need an income first! Probably local camping trips, garden visits further north when the weather warms up, family visits to Qld!

10 Random Facts about Me

  1. I was an amateur oncologist as a child, swopping shells with collectors in Qld and New Zealand
  2. I grew up on 3 acres in the foothills of Mt Wellington , Hobart, Tasmania with a menagerie of peacocks, pheasants, ducks, chooks, Anglo-Nubian goats, dogs (Irish and Gordon Setters) and bees and there was even a platypus in our creek!
  3. I was an adventurous eldest child and have already used up 8 lives!
  4. I’m a dodgy poet when the mood strikes! I love puns and word play!
  5. I love camping , bushwalking and exploring.
  6. Beauty, creativity and simplicity are important to me
  7. I am fascinated by the time period 1900-1910 just before the First World War, when so many new things were happening and the world held so much promise. I also love the fashions from that era. Maybe there’s another blog post?!
  8. I love the Art Nouveau period and the Arts and Crafts movement and
  9. If I had my time again, I would be a wildlife photographer!
  10. I am a keen environmentalist and believe we need a major shift in our thinking and the way we do things to conserve our beautiful planet and make it a fairer place to live.

2016-06-28 12.49.14

My Nominations






My Questions

  1. What inspired you to write a blog?
  2. What are your favourite things about blogging?
  3. What are your tips for new bloggers?
  4. What do you think are your 3 most important qualities in a person?
  5. If you were to make yourself a mood board about yourself, what are 3 core beliefs or loves, which you would include?
  6. If you could time-travel, which time period would you like to visit and why?
  7. If you could meet 3 famous people, who would they be and why?
  8. What is your favourite book or author?
  9. What is your favourite garden and/ or plant?
  10. Name 10 things which make you happy.
  11. What are your favourite hobbies/ pastimes (apart from blogging, of course!)BlogLiebster20%ReszdIMG_9009

Spring Feasting!

A quieter spell this week, but still plenty of important growth and a few new appearances. Time to take a breather and appreciate the fruits of our labour! Not that we had a lot to do with this year’s bountiful crop of mulberries! What a wonderful tree! See photos 1 to 3 below. Every day yields more ripe black fruit, which are tasty and juicy and full of antioxidants and healthy vitamins! It is also full of the twitter of nesting birds – lots of little blue wrens! No doubt, they are also feasting, but probably on  insects, while the feral Duranta (photo 4) is preparing for the onslaught of King Parrots later on!BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 17.34.58BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 15.48.07BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 15.41.22BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 19.39.31We are also really enjoying the produce from our vegetable garden : lettuce, rocket, radishes, chard and celery. The potatoes, carrots, broccoli and tomatoes are all growing well and the blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are setting fruit.BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 07.34.05BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 07.34.14BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 16.58.48BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-31 08.46.01The Oyster Plant (Acanthus mollis) is also a star this week, both in the garden and against the house.BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 15.52.27BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 14.54.33A few more roses have appeared in the Soho Bed: Copper Queen (photos 1 and 2) and Just Joey (photos 3 and 4).BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 16.56.55BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 14.55.56BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 19.34.40BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-11-01 13.52.26And more old ones : Autumn Delight (photo 1); Golden Celebration (photo 2); Mutabilis (photos 3 and 4); Penelope (photos 5 and 6); Felicia (photo 7); Alnwick (photo 8); Eglantyne (photo 9); Fair Bianca (photo 10); Troilus (photo 11); and Heaven Scent (photo 12).BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 14.57.33BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-30 10.01.21BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 10.16.23BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-30 09.59.30BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 07.34.54BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 07.35.08BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 10.16.10BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 16.57.01BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-30 18.30.17BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-30 18.30.56BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-11-01 13.53.12BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-11-01 13.51.47The foot of the sundial in the Soho Bed will hopefully soon be covered by my galloping thyme! Alister Stella Gray is living up to her other name : Golden Rambler.BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-30 18.30.39BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-31 08.40.00We are looking forward to seeing the Moon Bed in full bloom next week. Windermere (photos 3 and 4) is about to join Troilus and Golden Celebration. In the meantime, we transplanted the daisies ( grown from cuttings), the columbines (grown from seed) and the Bearded Iris (from under the cumquat trees) to the Moon Bed to complement the roses (photo 1). We also bought the timber for the Main Pergola, which we will start once the Snowball tree has finished flowering (photo 2). Not a moment too soon for Mme Alfred Carrière (photo 5 below), who graces the entrance to the garden! On the other side of the pergola, the Carolina Allspice is developing exotic black buds (photo 6).BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 16.57.39BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 07.36.19BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-30 18.27.53BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-11-01 13.53.26BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 15.49.27BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 07.35.50Elsewhere in the garden, Lady O (Grevillea) has sent out new red blooms and the Woodbine is gearing up to take over the fence. We must get some training wires up soon! The iron arches for the climbers over the front gate and path are also urgent!BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 07.36.57BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 16.55.23I love the clove scent of these pretty pink carnations and the sunny golden calendulas outside our back porch.BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 15.05.30BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 13.35.27I had a lovely time over the weekend arranging beautiful vases of flowers : the last of the Dutch Iris (photo 1); Pretty Pastels : roses, cornflowers, carnations, stock, anemones, ranunculas, lavenders and catmint (photos 2 – 4); and Sizzling Ranunculas (photos 5 and 6)! I wish you could smell the scent of the roses with the spicy undertones of the stock and carnations!BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 11.04.10BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 11.01.43BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 13.46.08BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 11.00.01BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 13.46.25We also attended a local Open Garden ‘Collinswood’, where I was delighted to find one of my favourite Wichuriana ramblers, Albertine, which has fierce thorns and needs a large area in which to grow (see photo 1 below). On our return home on our evening ramble, we discovered new poppy buds of a very different size and shape to the earlier wild poppies (photos 2 to 4). The leaves are also different  – a bluer-grey-green with a bit of a corkscrew twist to them! YES!!! We do have the double luscious peony poppies after all!!! Photo 2 shows the difference between the peony poppies either side of the path and the wild poppy in the centre.BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-30 12.02.12BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-30 18.29.28And most exciting of all, I have my new camera! It is very similar to my old one, but has been upgraded to a 30x  optical zoom. We did contemplate whether to buy an SLR, but this model’s size, portability and cost won the day! I can see we are going to have a lot of fun with it, but am not sure whether it knows how much work lies ahead!BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-31 07.26.17