The May Garden

With Autumn colds, exploratory trips of the local area and the demands of general day-to-day life, we have not spent as much time as we would have liked in the garden this month, but the weather has been superb! Hence, the recent excursions to the national parks of the hinterland and the escarpment, before it gets too cold or too snowy!!! We’ve visited Tuross Falls and the Cascades (Wadbilliga National Park); Deua National Park, both covered in last week’s post, and this last weekend, Lake Crackenback Resort, between  Jindabyne and Thredbo.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-12 12.27.36BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-02 16.50.50Ross has however managed to upkeep the vegetable garden from liming the soil to planting out new vegetable seedlings (sugarloaf cabbage, cauliflower, Winter greens and onions) and sowing spinach and snow pea seed.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-22 14.26.07BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-23 13.28.54BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-23 13.22.44BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.56.46BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0597 The capsicum are still productive, but the tomatoes are taking much longer to ripen. We harvested them all today to make Green Tomato Chutney!BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-22 19.22.03BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-22 13.36.01BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-22 13.36.30He has also totally finished the pergola, with all the wiring done as well, so we should be able to train the climbers correctly for next season.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-29 12.21.46BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0587BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-29 12.18.48BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-29 12.19.07 We were rewarded with some late blooms of the climbing tea rose Adam.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-06 12.42.31Other roses still throwing out blooms include: Alister Stella Gray; Jude the Obscure and Evelyn; Heritage, Eglantyne and Alnwick; Mrs Herbert Stevens and Lamarque; Icegirl and The Children’s Rose; and Mutabilis and Monsieur Tillier.BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0596BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.02.40BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0590BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-06 12.41.56BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.58.16BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0592BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0577BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0578BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0594BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0595BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-02 17.06.03BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-29 12.10.37As you can see from the pergola photos, the Autumn foliage of the Snowball Tree (Viburnum opulus) has been superb from muted golds (south) to fiery reds (north).  BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-12 12.11.02BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-29 12.19.22BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-11 16.37.59 The Carolina Allspice beneath the snowball tree is also turning, its golden green leaves contrasting well with the red of the latter.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-11 16.37.49BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-21 17.16.14At the bottom of the garden, where the poplar and plums are bare, the pomegranate provides a welcome splash of gold.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-11 16.33.20 A softer gold carpet is forming under the Floribunda Crab Apple Tree.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-21 17.13.10 The maples too vary from an green-orange-red combination to more red-purple-orange hues, depending on the variety.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-21 12.21.21BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-08 12.56.02BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 12.01.38BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-08 16.59.07BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-08 16.59.02 In fact, the whole backdrop to the garden is in its most interesting and colourful phase.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-06 15.34.41BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-08 11.55.52The Paris daisies are in full gold regalia in the Moon Bed and attract many butterflies.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-11 16.36.58 The dahlias are the other major highlight in the May Garden.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-23 13.21.56 The tree dahlias are finally in bloom, their fragile, soft mauve-pink flowers and buds superbly contrasted against the intense blue Autumn skies.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.56.04BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.56.45BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 12.00.35BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.54.33BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.56.37BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-11 16.40.03 This is why I still grow them, despite their instant capitulation to wind and frost!BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.53.27BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-29 18.43.05BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 12.01.27The seed dahlias have provided us with such joy and are unfortunately slowly finishing off for the season.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-08 12.56.15BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_1402BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.03.34 Knowing that their days are limited, their foliage already touched up by a few early light frosts, I have started cutting them with longer stems for beautiful floral arrangements for the house.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.44.04BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.35.40 It is such a shame that they don’t flower over Winter, as they really cheer the place up with their wonderful colours.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.31.59BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.33.19BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.32.23BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.32.46BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.47.18BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.47.23BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.46.38BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.46.49BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-01 12.10.49BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-01 12.11.12 While I love the flamboyance of the deep reds, deep gold and bright oranges and pinks, I equally love the softer warm orange-pink shades.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.34.29BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.36.46BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 12.21.41BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.36.08 I suspect this is the last dahlia bouquet for the season!BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-15 19.26.55BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-15 17.28.47BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-15 17.28.56Here is the last zinnia bouquet, picked in early May as we cleaned up the cutting garden, as well as a sweet little posy of violets, the first of the season.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-01 12.08.45BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-03 10.37.59We attacked the chaos of the late Autumn cutting garden with a vengeance, pruning back the rampant wayward stems of the ‘Meadow Lea’ dahlia, removing spent plants and transplanting the Angelica and Lady’s Mantle to more appropriate (ie larger) sites of the garden. We transplanted the foxgloves to the back of the cutting garden and left the old biennial stock, the new cornflowers and a very brave, tenacious but foolish Iceland poppy seedling !BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-02 16.55.28BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-02 16.55.55BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.58.43 I have sowed seed of Ladybird Poppies, Linum and more Stock in egg cartons, for less disruptive transplantation in the cutting garden later on.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.48.25  All the old bulbs are surfacing, except for the De Caen anemones, whose corms have disintegrated to nothing! Possibly, the ground was too wet during their dormant period or maybe the greedy zinnias took all their nourishment! We planted out Species Tulips (Tulipa clusiana ‘Cynthia’), as well as 3 ‘Bokassa Gold’ Tulips, down the centre of their empty bed on Mothers’ Day.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-06 12.37.17 We also moved 2 camellias (‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘Nuccio’s Gem’) forward, so they get more light, while still being shaded, and removed the dying Maple on the north-west corner of the cutting garden, which will be a great improvement , as it will decrease the amount of Winter shade on the bed.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-06 12.40.45 Earlier this month, we also planted the bulbs of Snake’s Head Fritillary, a Delft Blue Hyacinth and miniature Tête à Tête daffodils in the rockery garden, as well as 25 Grape Hyacinth, which are already up. I also planted some pinks: Valda Wyatt, Dianthus Pretty and Coconut Sundae into this bed . The Rockery Garden is a good spot for all my smaller treasures! We moved the Rozanne Geranium into the end of the bed, and while it will die back with the frosts, it should come again in Spring.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-06 15.34.49BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-15 17.31.54BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0579Across the way, the heliotrope continues to colour the foot of the climbing rose Mrs. Herbert Stevens.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-29 18.37.45 The violets are coming into their own, as are the forget-me-knots in the Soho Bed.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-15 17.30.20BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-15 17.30.34BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-21 17.18.56BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.58.09At the back of the house, the white Nerine show is coming to a close, but the Nandina is now taking centre stage with its red Autumn foliage and berries and the occasional cream flower spike.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-29 18.44.29BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-29 18.44.38BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0826BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.59.38BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.54.37 The Bowerbirds are  loving the black ivy berries.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.55.16 The Loquat trees are in full bloom this year, so we should get plenty of fruit (and probably accompanying flying foxes!).BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-15 10.28.02BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 17.17.13 BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-29 12.07.14The King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas are back to harvest the Duranta berries, as well as nibble the fresh shoots of the Giant Bamboo.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-08 10.08.59BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-08 10.11.01BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-08 10.09.20BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_1180  The bird bath is still a popular venue with female Bowerbirds, Crimson Rosellas and Currawongs all vying for a place!BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-21 14.16.29BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-21 14.18.38BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-21 14.21.30 And the first of the camellia blooms are out- a soft pink and a few deep rose pink flowers, complementing the warm pink cyclamen at the front door.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.56.10BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-13 11.58.44BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-24 15.34.24The Grevillea has grown so much and is in full bloom and the protea is flowering again.BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0584 BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-22 18.20.34We have started protecting our second Firewheel Tree and Silky Oak from the frost with hessian covers.BlogMayGarden20%ReszdIMG_0585The cumquats are covered in little orange globes – I can’t wait to make a new batch of Cumquat Marmalade!BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-06 12.44.14 BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-21 17.17.00This little thrush is doing a stirling job keeping the bugs under control! Not a sign of the bronze orange stink bugs, though Leaf Miner has been distorting the leaves on the new citrus plants, so Ross has administered an application of Eco-Oil to treat them. See : BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-12 12.13.50BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-12 12.13.56Maybe, we should send this little praying mantis down to the citrus!BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-09 13.23.07 I can’t wait for all the citrus to reach fruit-bearing age, though our Lemonade already has 3 fruits on it! I feel another batch of Lime Cordial is also calling!!!BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-04-29 12.09.30And my first ever Peony Rose (Dr. Alexander Fleming) and Lily-of-the-Valley bulbs have just arrived from Tesselaars, so I am back into the garden! Till next week…!


The April Garden

Autumn is well and truly underway in Candelo. The view from our verandah has turned into a tapestry of different colours as the leaves turn and then fall for Winter.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 13.56.05 Already our plum trees are bare and the poplar leaves are turning from green to gold.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-07 13.19.13 The leaves of the snowball tree and the local Liquidambar trees are turning red.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.13.00BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-08 12.35.16The Monbretia berries sport Autumn colours and our Japanese Maple is covered in red-winged seeds.BlogAprilGarden20%ReszdIMG_0201 (2)BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-07 13.20.36Our neighbour’s fence is also ablaze with vibrant reds of Virginia Creeper!BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-08 12.10.06BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-08 12.08.54Our cutting garden is providing a last blast of colour before Winter dormancy with its cosmos, zinnias and dahlias.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.11.53BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-07 12.45.10BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 13.56.15BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-08 15.03.04BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-05 12.36.08Unfortunately, the cosmos were just too rampant and their intense purple clashed too much with the zinnias, so we pulled them out! I’m sure there must be a spot, which is just right for deep purple cosmos, but it’s certainly NOT the zinnia bed! BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-07 14.19.30BlogAprilGarden20%ReszdIMG_0178 (2)The dahlias and zinnias however complement each other beautifully with their wide range of colour and form.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 13.56.30BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.31.38We are so impressed with the new dahlias, which grew from seed! Beautiful colours and forms and very fast growing! I love all the pinks, oranges and reds together!BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.09.47BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-13 11.05.35BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.10.30The zinnias are equally delightful with their long-lasting blooms. Even the dying ones exhibit beautiful faded hues.BlogAprilGarden20%ReszdIMG_0191 (2)BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.30.54BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.36.07BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.36.00BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-07 14.14.09And ‘Meadowlea’, our golden dahlia, just keeps on keeping on! Such wonderful value for money! Its days are numbered now, but we enjoy its splash of gold while we still can!BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.09.56BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.12.08BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.11.05The hydrangeas soldier on with their final days of blooming before the frost hits!BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-06 14.07.17BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.14.32BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.14.42The roses are also throwing out their last  blooms before Winter. Both the Soho Bed and the Moon Bed are well-established now.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-13 11.04.42BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.36.54BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.09.13BlogAprilGarden20%ReszdIMG_0174 (2)BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.28.43BlogAprilGarden20%ReszdIMG_0198 (2)BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.28.56BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.27.56BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.09.20BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.29.43BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.30.12BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.35.15BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-11 17.23.51BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.09.35 On our recent travels, we collected lots of Flowering Salvia plants and cuttings. We potted all the cuttings and heeled in all the tiny plants in any spare patches we could find. It will be interesting to see how many survive our Winter frosts! I love the huge variety of colours and versatility of Flowering Salvias. Our Pineapple Sage has bright red flowers – see photo below. The golden Euryops daisy came from a cutting earlier in the year and is now a substantial bush.BlogAprilGarden20%ReszdIMG_0169 (2)BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-07 13.16.33 We also planted a pink Weigela between the Quince tree and the Michelia and a Choisya between the pergola and the Tahitian Lime in front of the deciduous Snowball tree. Eventually the crown of the lime will extend across to the pergola, so the Choisya will provide an evergreen block at the base of the lime to enhance the privacy of the garden from the road. Its sweetly scented white flowers will complement the white citrus flowers.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-06 14.04.23The cumquat is covered in flowers and ripening fruit at the moment and fortunately no stinkbugs, so Ross’s efforts were well worthwhile!BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-11 13.51.30BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-07 13.17.43BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-11 13.51.51 The vegetable bed has been very productive with capsicums, lettuce and baby spinach.BlogAprilGarden20%ReszdIMG_0180 (2)BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.37.22We have also been busy planting out Spring bulbs in the lawn and the terrace bed : Dutch Crocus and Bluebells and Paper White Jonquils in the lawn, Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ under the quince and Snake’s Head Fritillaries, Grape Hyacinth , Miniature Daffodils and Delft Blue Hyacinth in the terrace garden bed. I’m waiting till Mothers’ Day to plant out my tulips, which are currently cooling in the fridge. In the cutting garden, all the old bulbs from last year are already sending out shoots and the cornflower seedlings have just been thinned out- see photo above.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-06 14.07.04BlogAprilGarden20%ReszdIMG_0172 (2)The native plants are also starting to flower -the Pepperina tree is flowering, the Correa has a mass of pink bells and the Banksia is covered in golden candles.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-07 13.19.34BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-11 13.56.12 The Protea is also blooming, however it is very slow-growing. I hope there is not too much shade in its current position and am really looking forward to seeing it grow a bit larger, as I’m sure the little native birds who visit the birdbath will love it! The Grey Fantail and Eastern Spinebill are two of my favourites!BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-05 17.34.56BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-05 17.35.03BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.27.36BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-08 15.05.39BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-08 15.06.19BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-06 14.13.19Larger birds like this raven and two Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos also visit the garden.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-07 12.44.51BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-16 13.34.08And our Little Corellas have unexpectedly returned! Why we don’t know, nor for how long, but they are certainly very noisy!BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-15 18.59.14BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-15 18.58.40BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-15 18.54.27We have been doing a lot of garden planning and have made the decision to eliminate the backing hedge behind the Soho Bed, as we are worried there is not really enough room between the Soho Bed and the cutting garden and the larger plants could cast too much shade, even though they are deciduous. So, we have a few plants to transplant in the coming month. My poor Philadelphus shrub, which is already very confused, sending out ‘Spring’ blooms in Autumn, won’t know what’s hit it! We will probably also move a few of the rhododendrons forward from the fence, so they have a bit more light. We also have a few seeds to sow – more cornflowers, calendulas, poppies and stock- to fill up the bare patches in the cutting garden. So plenty of work in the garden ahead!BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-05 17.36.28BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.35.01Because we have been away this month, our creative endeavours have lagged a bit! The pergola is almost finished- we had hoped to join the final cross-piece this morning, but the sun in the photos below turned to rain, so we could not use our electrical power tools! But we’re very close to the finished product and I think it already looks amazing!BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-16 10.08.45BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-16 10.11.55BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-16 10.10.17 While the sun was out, I couldn’t resist picking some of our beautiful dahlias and zinnias to brighten up the house. I am revelling in their cheery colour! Their only drawback is lack of scent, but my rose bouquet with its stock and ‘Indigo Spires’ salvia made up for that!BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-15 12.08.52BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-15 12.05.08BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-15 13.10.57And I have finally finished my zinnia and cosmos cushion ! Very bright like its subject matter and complements my abstract flower cushion well. I kept the top layer of petals free, so they could reflex back and give a more three-dimensional look and feel.BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.10.32BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 14.02.11BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 14.01.48P.S. More photos of my beautiful new dahlia plants! Such treasures! Thank you Jane xBlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-14 12.10.42BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-11 17.21.53BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.33.04BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.31.51BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.31.54BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.32.34BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-10 18.32.47BlogAprilGarden20%Reszd2016-04-06 14.46.13



April Feature Plant : Dahlias and Tree Dahlias

Another old-fashioned plant, which is very fashionable at the moment, and is a stalwart of country shows. Growing dahlias can also be quite addictive!!!BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 152
I remember visiting two elderly spinsters in their 80s, who lived with their brothers on their family property, just north of Guyra, New South Wales. The ‘boys’ had extensively cleared the farm of every little single tree, so much so that the paddocks looked like a dry crater on the moon! One of the sisters did all the cooking for the family, as well as feeding the chooks, bottle-feeding all the abandoned lambs, and caring for injured animals rescued by WIRES. We were treated to a magnificent afternoon tea of three different types of cakes, as well as freshly-baked scones and cream, biscuits and lamingtons, which we ate in the dark, poky kitchen with a joey in a sling on the back of a nearby chair. Apparently, this spread was standard fare for the boys, hungry after a morning’s work on the farm. She also cooked meals for the brother in town, whose wife had left him, and one of the ‘boys’ would drive the meals the half hour to town every afternoon. The only time this wonderful old lady ever left the property was Show Day, when they would all go to town to see how her sister’s dahlias had fared. The gardening ‘outdoor’ sister not only grew the family vegetables, but also had the most wondrous collection of dahlias of every type and colour in a neat patch next to the bedlam of the chook yard, full of random, makeshift wire enclosures for the poultry. It was an amazing sight!BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 174BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 171BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 170
Another wonderful place to see dahlias in all their glory is ‘Country Dahlias’ in Winchelsea, Victoria, as seen in the photos above and below. For their catalogue, see :  Jenny Parish has over 20,000 Dahlia plants of 2350 varieties. You can visit the farm from 1st March to 22nd April each year, as we did in March 2013. ($7 per adult; closed Fridays). There are display beds out the front, trial beds out the back and paddocks full of dahlias of every conceivable form and colour – a spectacular sight indeed!BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 156BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 154 Dahlias can also be bought from Tesselaars (see post on Favorite Nurseries : Tesselaar’s website is : . Other bulb nurseries nearby include: Club Creek Bulb Farm  ( and Drewitt’s Bulbs  ( Local shows are also a great place to see the dahlias growing in your area and if you become really hooked, the Dahlia Society of Australia ( can direct you to the Dahlia club in your area , as well as alert you to the upcoming Dahlia conferences and tuber auctions. These photos are from the 2015 Bega Show.BlogItsShowtime20%Reszd2015-02-22 09.49.16BlogItsShowtime20%Reszd2015-02-22 10.27.07 Dahlias can be found in many historic or old gardens like Rippon Lea, seen below. For more on the latter, see my post : Lists40%ReszdIMG_9180

I was not surprised to discover that there was a Portland Dahlia Society, as there is a wonderful display garden of some very old varieties in the Portland Botanic Garden, seen in the photo below. Some of the varieties were as old as 1857! See my post on Late 19th Century Botanic Gardens: Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4155
Dahlias are bushy herbaceous tuberous perennials with a huge variety in size (from 30cm up to 1.8m), type and colour. They have lush foliage with pinnate leaves of a variety of greens and even dark foliage like the red ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, a chance self-sown seedling from the 1920s garden of Cardiff grower, Fred Treseder; or the burgundy flowering Mt. Noddy with its chocolate foliage. My ‘Ellen Huston’ dahlia also has wonderful dark foliage. Sometimes the buds look positively metallic after rain! The flower colour varies from burnt red or scarlet to a softer red.

Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-04-12 12.50.29
‘Ellen Huston’ is a Decorative-type Dahlia

BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-25 18.53.47 BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 16.16.39Flamboyant, showy and long-flowering, dahlias bloom all Summer and Autumn from November to May. There is a huge variety of forms including : Single; Cactus; Laciniated; Ball-shaped; Pompom; Waterlily; Peony; Collarette; Stella; Orchid; Anemone; Baby Dahlias; Decorative and Novelty. See: for more information about their classification. Colour ranges from yellows, golds, oranges, reds and burgundy to pastel pinks, purples and whites, but there are no green, blue or black ones!

BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 159
‘Hillara Jean’ is a Collarette Dahlia
BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 161
‘Hillara Jean’ with another Collarette: ‘Signal Red’ behind
BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 132
‘Cheyenne’ is a Fimbriated or Laciniated Dahlia

Phylogeny : Dahlias belong to the Daisy family Asteraceae and are closely related to Daisies, Sunflowers, Crysanthemums and Zinnias. There are 30 species and 20,000 cultivars. They were bred from single species dahlias : D.coccinea; D. Rosea and D. Pinnata and named after the Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl (1751-1789). Famous breeders include : John Menzel (Winkie Dahlias); Keith Hammett from New Zealand; Jack Gott from Britain and the Verwer brothers from Holland.

Origin : Native to Mexico and Central America, dahlias were imported to Western Europe by the Spanish.

Growing Dahlias :
While some sources state : ‘full sun’ as a requirement, the Dahlia Society of Australia advises that the best position is one with morning sun and afternoon shade, probably because our Australian sun can be so strong in Summer and burn the blooms. They do grow well under filtered light and under 2.4m high shade cloth eg White and Sandstone 50 percent cloth.

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The plants at ‘Country Dahlias’ are in full sun

They also like a moist, rich, well-drained soil. Dahlias are very sensitive to too much or too little water, so good drainage is essential. They prefer a soil pH of 6.5-7. I also read that it is important not to water the dahlia tubers until their stems are 15cm high.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-19 16.15.52
Dahlias are greedy feeders, especially in the warmer months. Organic sheep or cow manure should be dug into the ground 2 weeks before planting. Do not use poultry or pig manure, as it is too strong for the developing root system. Fertilize in Spring, as well as in the warmer months, with a balanced fertilizer with a ratio of 8:4:8 for Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous. Do not use too much nitrogen as this will encourage leaf growth and less blooms. Weak weekly applications of a seaweed based formula (for example,  watered down Seasol) are beneficial for root development and serious growers use small amounts of sulphate of potash and sulphate of iron to encourage strong growth, vibrant colours and more blooms. Some swear by water-soluble tomato food. An 8cm layer of organic mulch will also prevent water loss and protect the tubers.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4149
Many of the larger varieties will need staking to support the lanky stems, especially with the weight of the flower heads. Tie the stems to canes with twine or use a metal cradle, trellis or tomato hoops. It is important to put the stake in before planting the tubers, so they are not damaged. Pinching out the young growth will also produce a sturdier plant.BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 138
It takes 8 weeks between planting and flowering. The Dahlia Society of Australia suggests planting tubers 2 weeks either side of Melbourne Cup Day ( ie 1st week in November), when the soil temperature is rising and there is no danger of frosts. In frost-free coastal areas of Queensland, dahlias can be planted in September. Exhibitors often plant in December for a March flowering to escape the heat in time for their show circuits.BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-27 12.57.16
Dahlias make excellent cut flowers. There is no need to bash the ends or plunge stem ends in boiling water. Just put cut dahlias straight into a bucket of water as you cut them, then recut their ends on a diagonal and arrange in a vase of water with added preservative. Cut blooms last well- at least a week- and water should be changed every 3 days and the stems recut.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5733BlogCreativity2 20%Reszd2015-10-13 16.37.37BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-22 10.06.44Dead-heading spent flowers on the plants will encourage the formation of more blooms and extend the flowering season. Make sure to cut the flowering stem right back where it joins the main stem.
The more compact varieties can be grown in pots with an underskirt of lower growing plants.BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 135Cut dahlias back to the ground in late May or early June. If the soil gets wet in Winter (risk of rot) or frosts are severe, or you need the space for Winter and Spring annuals, lift the tubers and store them in the shed in a shallow box covered with cane mulch or potting soil to prevent them from drying out, then plant them out again in September or October. Alternatively, wrap the lifted tubers in newspaper and check occasionally for rot. Otherwise, leave them in the ground and protect from light frosts with a heavy layer of mulch.BlogApril Dahlias50%Reszdlate apr 2013 173Propogation :
Dig up and divide every 3-5 years, so they don’t get overcrowded or produce less blooms. Dig up in September before they start shooting. Divide into portions, each with a part of last year’s stalk attached, otherwise they won’t regrow. Replant in soil with lots of compost and decayed manure. Make sure you put your stake in first before planting the tuber portion. Smaller tuber divisions develop roots quicker than larger pieces. Place the tubers horizontally 10 cm deep and 50mm away from the stake with the eye higher than the tail. The Dahlia Society of Australia website gives detailed information on planting tubers. Below are photos of my dahlias : ‘Meadow Lea’ a Waterlily-type Dahlia and ‘Ellen Huston’ (red), a decorative type.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5487BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.52.05Dahlias can also be propagated by cuttings of the young shoots in Spring. These cuttings develop very quickly into new plants, which are often stronger and healthier than those grown from tuber division. They can also be grown from seed and the offspring often look nothing like their parents. It’s a great way to develop new varieties. To save seed, remove the dead petals of the spent flowerhead to reduce the risk of botrytis, then when the flowerhead is dry, remove the mature seed and plant the following Spring.BlogBugsBBB20%Reszd2015-12-08 17.01.52
Pests and Diseases :
Snails and slugs like the fresh shoots in Spring. Two-spotted mite can cause leaf distortion. Other pests include : thrips and aphids; white fly; cut worms and meal bug, but generally dahlias are pretty healthy. They can also be attacked by powdery mildew. Viruses can stunt the plant and distort leaves, but unfortunately, there is no cure and infected plants should be removed.

Tree Dahlia    Dahlia imperialis

Another stunning dahlia, which is huge and a very dramatic addition to the garden. Native to Mexico, Central America and Colombia, it is hardy to Zone 8, though for longest flowering, it is best grown in frost-free climates.Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-05-23 11.03.06
Description : The tree dahlia is a herbaceous perennial 3 – 5 m tall with thick, hollow, bamboo-like stems, a large tuber, large bipinnate leaves and pendulous clusters of single lavender flowers with yellow centres in Autumn and Winter. There are single purple, pink and white varieties and a double white form is also available. The tubers can be bought from Diggers’ Seeds or Yamina Rare Plants. The butterflies and bees love the flowers! They flourish in most areas from the subtropics to cold regions.Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-05-15 09.25.26Growing Tree Dahlias :
They are easy to grow and propagate and very fast growing, as you will have seen in photos of my plants over the last year. Real Jack-in-the-Beanstalk type plants! They grow best with the support of a wall or fence and may need staking as their brittle stems easily break in the wind. Nylon ties are good because they stretch as the plant grows. Nipping out the tips when the canes are 1m high will result in a shorter plant, which is more resistant to wind damage. For a more compact plant, prune the soft new growth by a half to a third in early Summer and shorten 20-30cm shoots to 10cm. However, I love the appearance of the pendulous blooms and looking up into their sunny soft lavender faces ,which stand out against the deep blue sky. The little buds are so sweet!BlogApril Dahlias20%Reszd2015-05-15 09.24.38
Like all dahlias, they love a sunny spot with rich well-drained soil and shelter from wind and frost. They prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.1-6.5. Despite their propensity to wind damage and the fact that they flower late Autumn in the very last frost-free week of the season, hence experience a very fleeting flowering season, before crashing to a black mangled mess with the first frost, I still love my Tree Dahlias and wouldn’t be without them- that said, I probably wouldn’t plant them in the first place with our Winter frosts! Last year, they flowered from 15-26 May, being hit by the first frost on my Mum’s birthday! But their blooms are so pretty and silky and their fragility makes them even more special!!!
Prune the canes in Winter back to almost ground level and cover well with 8-10 cm compost or manure, then mulch for frost protection over Winter.

Propogation :
To propagate, take a piece of stem with one, preferably two nodes, and plant horizontally in the ground 20cm deep in Winter. They can also be propagated by taking tip cuttings in Summer, transplanting intact tubers or seed. It’s that easy! Here are some photos of the growth of our Tree Dahlias over the last 3 months from the end of Spring 2015 through to the present day as seen in my previous blog posts:

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3rd week November 2015: End of Spring
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Last week November 2015: End of Spring
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8 December 2015: Butterfly Heaven
22nd December 2015: Summer Splendours
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End of February 2015: The February Garden

No garden should be without at least one Dahlia. We have been enjoying the generous blooms of our dahlias : orange ‘Meadow Lea’ and burnt red ‘Ellen Huston’ all Summer and Autumn long !BlogSummers here 20%Reszd2015-11-24 17.52.32BlogPeonypoppy20%Reszd2015-11-11 15.34.54 I know that I have well and truly caught the Dahlia bug, as I could not wait till next Spring to try out my friend’s Dahlia seeds. I think I might have got away with a late Autumn crop! The seeds struck well and the little plants are positively zooming along, so I really hope that I get to see the flowers, as my friend assures me that the colour combinations are amazing! The photos below show the new seedlings in early March, then the emerging blooms this week.BlogApril Dahlias20%Reszd2016-02-25 11.35.18BlogApril Dahlias20%ReszdIMG_0202 (2)BlogApril Dahlias20%ReszdIMG_0207BlogApril Dahlias20%ReszdIMG_0186 (2)BlogApril Dahlias20%ReszdIMG_0208BlogApril Dahlias20%ReszdIMG_0185 (2)BlogApril Dahlias20%ReszdIMG_0183 (2)Here is another beautiful water colour from my daughter, a fitting tribute to such a beautiful flower!BlogAprilDahlias40%Reszd2016-03-14 19.08.02 - Copy


The End of Spring

The rain has eased off a bit this week and while the rest of NSW has been sweltering, we have been enjoying very civilized sunny days in the low to mid 20s! Perfect weather for both us and the garden!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.37.33BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-15 12.17.23

The Soho Bed is still revelling in Peony Poppy Fever! How can I not share these photos with you!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-15 12.14.59BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 08.42.15BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.40.31BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.38.58BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-17 19.12.51BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 08.58.07BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 08.57.23BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 09.39.23BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 08.57.08

The roses adore the warmth and longer days of Late Spring:

In the Soho Bed :

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Copper Queen
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Just Joey
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Just Joey

In the Moon Bed :

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Jude the Obscure
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Jude the Obscure
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Golden Celebration
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William Morris

And now the debut of the final David Austin rose in the Moon Bed :

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On the Main Pergola :

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Beside the shed, Viridiflora is still in full bloom, while Archiduc Joseph and Countess Bertha are preparing for another rendez-vous!

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The Dahlia season has started! Our stunning red dahlia from last week has been joined by this beautiful gold bud, which opened into this striking flower.BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 08.59.02BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 18.35.37BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 18.35.44BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 18.35.54BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 08.27.28

The Tree Dahlias against the shed are growing like Jack-and-the-Beanstalk. See the difference one week can make!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-14 09.18.53BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.13.19

The Acanthus and Geranium are still a delight and the purple heliotrope smells divine!

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View of Acanthus mollis stalk from the top
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Rosalie Geranium
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Heliotrope ‘Lord Roberts’
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We have had our first Buddleia flower, a sure sign of the advent of Summer, as are the hydrangea buds and lilies.

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Madonna Lily

The NSW Christmas Bush is almost ready for the festive season!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.16.00

The vegetable garden is thriving. I can’t wait to taste the Dutch Cream potatoes and Heritage tomatoes! We are enjoying daily fresh salads, straight from the garden, though I am still a bit uncertain about the colour of these carrots and the size of these radishes!!! However, I am  looking forward to the apple crop!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-16 17.00.10BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 13.34.02BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-18 20.12.13BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 13.27.48BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 18.37.28BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 11.09.51

Here are photos of the bouquets for this week:

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Calendula flowers and herbs
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The Children’s Rose, Heaven Scent, Catmint and Lavender
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Copper Queen, Catmint and Lavender
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Mr. Lincoln

The local birdlife has been amazing! Lots of flyovers by Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and their raucous cousins, the white Sulphur-crested Cockatoos; huge flocks of noisy Galahs and screeching Corellas; manic Storm Birds heralding the hot Summer days and Channel-billed Cuckoos striking fear into the nesting bird population, as does this visiting Butcher Bird!

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The following visitors were even more unwelcome : Stink Bugs! Also known by the name of Bronze Orange Bug (Musgraveia sulciventris). They love our Cumquat trees and new Lemon tree and their population was increasing daily! Ross gave them a welcome with soapy water and they responded by releasing their foul smell, but at least he reduced their numbers, for this week at least! He will also spray the trees with Eco-oil every fortnight to control them.

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We planted out the potted Golden Hornet Crabapple (foreground left in photo), though I have yet to be convinced that it hasn’t been mislabelled, due to the red hue of their ripening fruit. Whatever their variety, the fruit will still be good for making crab apple jelly!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 08.14.34BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 18.26.11

We also repotted all the rose cuttings from last Winter’s foray up north. Some had died, but the majority had developed excellent root systems, with one or two even flowering. We will leave them in their new larger pots until June next year, when we will plant some out in the garden and sell the rest.BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 10.39.32BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 17.59.59

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Bloom on Albéric Barbier cutting

I was kept busy in the sewing room, helping my daughter to make mozzie net curtains for the van and then, we sadly farewelled our travellers! Bon Voyage and Many Happy Adventures!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-21 09.32.32BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-20 20.03.10

Finally, I will leave you with a photo of our beautiful red maple, with the sun shining through its foliage. Roll on Summer!!!BlogEndofSpring20%Reszd2015-11-19 17.37.01




Late Autumn

May heralded the colder weather and the start of the Winter fire season and heavy frosts. The maples were in their full Autumn colour and the tree dahlias, which had reached the shed gutters and constantly frustrated my husband Ross with their tendency to fall over with the slightest gust of wind, had one brief glorious explosion before succumbing immediately to the first frost !Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-05-15 09.23.47Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-05-15 09.25.26Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-05-23 11.03.06We mulched all the dahlias and pruned the hydrangeas. We soon had a very clear idea of Winter shading, so sadly removed the she-oaks, thinned and pruned the tall bamboo stand and started digging the 2nd vegetable patch on the right side of the path (and full Winter sun !) in earnest !Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-02-03 11.41.49Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-03-11 09.05.43We planted out the tulips, erlicheer jonquils and Galanthus bulbs, took lilac cuttings and liberated the double (white/freckled white/pink/red and deep purple) and species hellebores ( which were last year’s birthday present from my Mum), white windflowers and the Fortuniana rose and jasmine, both of which I raised from cuttings. Each hellebore found a home under a different tree (to curtail their proclivity to promiscuity!), the anemones went under a maple tree behind Phoebe, our beautiful white statue, and the rose and jasmine had so intertwined with their roots that I planted them together on the bottom fence of the future chook yard.Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-05-27 16.01.17Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-08-12 15.49.09

We started digging holes for the ordered bare-rooted roses and planted the first 3 to arrive from Treloars ( ) :

  • a climbing Cecile Brunner with its sweet little pink Bachelor button blooms at the street gate;
  • Penelope as part of the white Hybrid Musk hedge at the back of the vegetable garden on the left and
  • Mutabilis (single orange, pink and gold blooms, which look like a host of butterflies) on the back border of the right hand vegetable patch.

We also planted a pomegranate (Punica granatum ‘Wonderful’) for its fruit and to hide the future compost heap.

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The cooler weather also freed up more time to spend in my sewing room. I made luggage tags for a Canadian friend and her Australian partner,  who were migrating to the Canadian Summer. For her, a maple and gum leaf  tag made out of felt to represent her two homes and for him,  my own embroidery design of the Australian coat-of-arms on a felt luggage tag design from ‘Stitch with Love’ by Mandy Shaw.  See :

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I designed and made  two T2 teapot cosies  to keep the pot warm with the colder weather:  a reverse appliqué leaf design for me and an appliquéd and embroidered chook cosy for my friend’s birthday, which unbelievably falls on the same day as mine ! I also embroidered her a’ thank you’ picture, as this wonderful friend has also supplied us with all our manure !

Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-05-19 10.58.29Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-05-08 19.14.25Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-05-19 11.02.46My success with the tea cosy designs inspired me to make my sisters embroidered felt cushion covers for their birthdays – for my writer sister, a design based on her books; Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-06-04 13.23.17And for my gardening sister, a very modern, dramatic yet simple design of flowers in a vase. Both designs were very colourful and simply appliquéd with felt shapes onto a contrasting felt front panel, outlined with blanket stitch and backed with a complementary fabric. I used large ric rac to define the edges of the front felt panels. I was thrilled with the cushion covers and so were they !Blog LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-06-04 13.22.36