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!

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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/.

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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!

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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!!!

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A koala sitting in an old gum tree!
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Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
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Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo
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A pair of Pink Galahs
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A Pretty-faced Wallaby browsing a friend’s Bauhinias
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Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius)
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Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum)
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Rainbow Lorikeets at home for Christmas!
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Oliver, our resident King Parrot, also at home for Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!!!

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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.
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    Galanthus nivalis
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    Species hellebores and violets under camellia

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    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.

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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.

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    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