Birthday Blessings

This is why I am NOT a millionaire! I NEVER win my bets!!! Amongst the known contenders for the Candelo Rose Cup, Stanwell Perpetual won by two lengths, followed by Heaven Scent, then Lolita. But the two dark horses were the unidentified (still!) rose on the lane side of the house (front/back wall!) and a very sneaky Alnwick in the Soho Bed, right under our noses!!! I think we decided in the end that the winning trio were : Stanwell Perpetual (photos below) , Alnwick , then the unidentified climber !BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.23.22BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-07 17.03.02I love Stanwell Perpetual! She is so modest and unassuming, yet so generous with her blooms. She is often the first and last rose to bloom in the season and she has a divine fragrance! The following photos show : Heaven Scent; Lolita and our two dark horses: our unidentified climber and Alnwick.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-08 13.35.33BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 07.56.22BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-08 14.26.19BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.10.47We visited Canberra on the hot Tuesday and caught up with old friends, who both work at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. The gardens are a real show at the moment and so impressive! There has been so much growth and development since our last visit 10 years ago.BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-06 11.31.16BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-06 10.29.43Afterwards, we called in to the lovely Heritage Nursery at Yarralumla (, where I found a scented rhododendron at long last. Rhododendron ‘Daviesii’ has a lovely warm spicy fragrance and will be perfect to hide the compost bay.

I  discovered and bought my long-desired crabapple , Malus ‘Golden Hornet’, but because it was a bare-rooted tree, which has been potted, we will have to wait till Christmas to plant it out, so that we don’t damage its fragile new roots. We also bought a French Tarragon and a Sprekelia bulb (Jacobean Lily).BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.24.45BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-08 13.37.29We arrived home to discover that the blue Dutch Iris and ranunculas had finally opened.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.21.07BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 16.28.51The poppies are a real show of happiness!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.25.01BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.16.59The ranunculas always remind me of Can Can girls, with their frilly skirts and rich exotic colours!

BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.30.03BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.16.45BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.20.06BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.19.52‘Madame Lemoine’ (white Lilac) and  the ‘White Caviar’ (Magnolia below) are still flowering, but the bluebells and  ‘The Bride’ have bowed out. It looks like we could get a bumper crop of navel oranges!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-07 17.05.35BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.25.25A few more unexpected discoveries :

‘Little Red Riding Hood’ has her first flower and I just discovered the first of the highly scented old-fashioned Grandma’s freesias!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 09.03.28BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.16.14The anemones continue their amazing display!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-08 13.36.51BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.18.08BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.18.23BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.17.54This is the last of the tulips, as well as the first blooms of a Scented Geranium.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.15.19BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 08.05.42The Banksia and Fortuneana roses are throwing plenty of blooms and our daisies are looking very happy!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 08.06.01BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.01.17‘Green Goddess’ has been joined by this exotic bromeliad bloom.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 08.04.29BlogBdayblessgs40%Reszd2015-10-10 16.59.10 - CopyLots of garden tasks this week!

We planted out the new Rhododendron in front of the compost bays behind the red Azalea, the new Lemon next to the Cumquats and the Black Passionfruit vine on our neighbour’s fence, about which she is delighted!!!BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-09 09.03.47BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-08 14.00.43We transplanted the herbs to new pots and replaced the Russian Tarragon with the tastier French Tarragon, banishing the former to the vegie garden. We planted out the Heritage tomatoes, the lettuces, the red cabbages and the mixed capsicums and sowed sunflower and carrot seed.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.21.14BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.21.32BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.37.58We planted the Jacobean Lily at the bottom of the steps, where its red blooms will be a real eye catcher. And we tied back the climber Clos de Vougeot, which is covered in blooms and found a home for my 3 metal fairies in the shady reading nook.BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-26 16.29.01Ross found a perfect spot for his Pink Rock Orchid in a natural depression in the trunk of the Pepperina tree, where it can be seen from all angles of the garden.BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.03.48BlogBirthday blessings20%Reszd2015-10-09 14.04.23And we celebrated Ross’s birthday at the end of the week. Finally, I can show you a photo of the gift I made him – a cushion covered in his favourite rain forest birds! It was so difficult finding Ross-free time to make it and I was almost caught out a number of times towards the end! He loved it !!!

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We had a great birthday dinner with friends and dear Katrina made him a spectacular chocolate cake, decorated with mixed berries, apple blossom and purple Bouganvillea and a cute little wheelbarrow, which she found in the toy shop! A great addition to the collection, though a trifle small!!!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 19.36.00BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-09 19.37.22BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 07.54.12BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 07.54.53A pod of 8 Humpback Whales even made it to the party (though a day late!). We were so thrilled to finally see some and they were so close into the shore. The adults and their babies are heading back down south for the Antarctic Summer!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.59.20BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 11.10.32BlogBdayblessgs40%Reszd2015-10-10 11.31.50 - Copy (3)BlogBdayblessgs30%Reszd2015-10-10 11.15.48 - CopyOn our way home, we took some photos of the beautiful Spring wild flowers in bloom.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.07.02BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.18.16BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.08.24BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 10.08.42But the best birthday treat of all was a surprise visit by our youngest daughter and friend on Saturday night! So it was back to Tathra the following afternoon! Alas, no whales this time, but we did find this little fellow moseying along the footpath!BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-11 12.13.09BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-11 12.12.43

My daughter was slightly concerned that the echidna might try to cross the road, but when she tried to divert him, he just dived into his ball and dug his toes in, so firmly that he wouldn’t budge! We waited and watched him as he approached the gutter, but I suspect he may have been pretty street-wise, as he veered away from making the leap down onto the road! They are such cute creatures and great survivors, being one of only two Monotremes (egg-laying mammals) in the world. It is thought that they originated over 200 Million years ago. When both whales and such primitive mammals turn up for your birthday weekend, you know it has been a pretty special one!!!             Happy Birthday Ross!!!

Ambassadors of Spring

September : the month when your spirits start to lift, the days lengthen, the frosts are fewer and the garden starts to slowly wake up ! Every day, it is so exciting to go down to the garden and inspect each plant for new growth. The blackbirds love it too!Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-09-02 17.16.47Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-09-05 07.50.21All the bare-rooted roses are developing new leaf, the crabapple has opened its first flowers, the Prunus has exploded into full blossom and the Exochorda shows great promise of a fine Spring show.Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-09-02 17.20.51Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-09-01 15.10.48

The cutting garden is dotted with colour and blue periwinkle romps through the fernery.Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-09-04 16.02.14Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-08-29 12.13.17 The Winter stalwarts like this Winter honeysuckle continue to delight.Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-09-05 08.29.43 We planted a new rhododendron under the Duranta canopy, on the left, behind the love seat, to mark the first day of Spring. ‘Bric-a-Brac’ (top photo)is a very pretty variety and should grow to 90 cm tall and 120cm wide. Later in the week, it was  joined by a ‘White Lace’ azalea in the middle and a Viburnum plicatum tomentosum on the bottom.Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-09-02 17.15.32Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-09-07 11.38.42Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-09-08 16.03.37I made one of my floral decoupage cards this week. In the past, I have used them for thank you cards, but this one was a condolence card. I was originally inspired to create them after reading Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s book ‘The Language of Flowers’. You can read a review by the New York Times : Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-08-30 15.23.28Its a delightful read and in the back, she has compiled a compendium of the meanings of all the flowers. I was so entranced with this notion that I decided to choose my card flowers according to their meaning and the message I wanted to convey to their recipient. I loved the way Kate Middleton did a similar thing with her bouquet when she married Prince William. I was also inspired by the exquisite paper mosaic collages  made by  Mrs Mary Delaney back in the 1700s. See  and

This is a lovely activity to do when Spring is just around the corner or when Winter makes one last ditch attempt to reassert itself ! Because of the time involved, they are very special cards for special people. And its fun ! So lovely choosing the blooms, then making up the bouquet- it appeals to my love of colour, flowers, beauty and home-made gift giving ! Here is the process involved :

  1. Decide what flowers you want to use in your bouquet for the card. You may choose, like me, to base your decision on the language of flowers or prefer to choose your or your recipient’s favourite flowers/ color scheme etc
  2. Find and cut-and-paste flower images from Google and paste to a Word Document. Resize the blooms in proportion to each other and print out. Alternatively, you could use magazine pictures or coloured papers like Mary Delaney. I usually make two bouquets, so I can decorate both sides of the card exterior, but really its because I can never make up my mind which flowers to use !!!
  3. Using a fine pair of scissors, carefully cut round each flower. It is often easier to use images on a black background if you intend pasting them to a black card. I use an A4 card folded in half and find black card provides dramatic contrast and shows off the flower images well.
  4. Play with the positioning of the flower cutouts in your bouquet on a practice card. This step is all really a matter of feel. I tend to have the dominant flower in the middle or slightly higher and work outwards. It is good to lighten the bouquet with smaller flowers at the top and edges. When you are happy with the result, take a photo. This is really important, as it provides you with a reference when you have to remove pieces to stick them down or if you foolishly turn on the reverse cycle air conditioner like I did !!!

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  1. Rule a thin border 3mm in from each edge of the card exterior with a silver pen and repeat on the inside of the card.
  2. When the ink is dry, glue  the flower pieces to the card. Work in layers from from back to front and keep a rag handy to firm down the glued papers and keep your hands clean. Its sticky work and you don’t want to smudge the paper pieces with black fingers !!
  3. Almost there ! Draw in the stems with silver pen, tie a ribbon bow and attach the latter half way down the stems with a hot glue gun. Don’t forget to sign it!
  4. Print out a list of the flowers used and their meanings and write your message.Your friend will be delighted to receive such a special card !Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-08-30 15.55.51Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-08-30 15.55.21 - CopyBlog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-08-30 15.52.55

Notes :

  1. It is worth printing out a few copies of your card, both in colour and black- and-white ( for tonal contrasts), as you could glue these copies to another black card if you need a  quick card another time.
  2. This technique could be extended to make pictures, paper fans etc. Remember nothing is ever a mistake ! I pasted  my second bouquet to the back of the practice card by mistake, so had to cut out the bouquet and stuck it to the back of the correct gift card. The wonderful advantages of glue !!! It is also great if you are not totally satisfied with the appearance of your bouquet !Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-08-30 14.14.30While we are on the topic of card making, I also recently made a never-ending card for my daughter’s birthday today. Using some lovely Kaiser Craft papers, available from Kaiser Craft : or Spotlight : , I assembled the card using Veronica Chamber’s technique shown on her clip on :
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    Never-ending Card

    It should have been so easy ! I watched the clip a number of times and even made the card twice, but every time I went to open it, I ended up producing an empty paper frame and yet I knew I’d made it correctly !

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    The wrong way!

    I felt so stupid, but after fiddling with it the next morning, I finally worked it out ! SUCCESS !!! So its well worth trying, even though I’m still not totally confident with my technique !

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    The right way!