Category: Other


Another year has gone by, and while most people find New Years a time of reflection of the past year and what they want to gain in the next – I find myself doing the same thing for the garden. What worked? What was a complete disaster? What do I need to plant more of this year? What do I want to try?

As the permanent plants and trees become larger in the garden I find myself needing to adapt and change where I am able to plant vegetables to still gain success. My knowledge grows each year though, which is something to be happy about. A good way of seeing how far I have come is a look over previous photos of how the garden has grown and changed since we first moved in four years ago. So here is a look over the evolution of the garden – I recommend all gardeners do the same thing; I promise it will make you smile. Happy New Year everyone, and for those who are gardeners – I wish you a large bounty and fast-ripening tomatoes this year 🙂

From the "for sale" adds - the garden when we first moved in

From the “for sale” adds – the garden when we first moved in

Initial work

Initial work

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Year 1 - initial brick work

Year 1 – initial brick work

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

Year 1

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Year 2 - making my mark

Year 2 – making my mark

Year 2

Year 2

Year 2

Year 2

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Year 3 - Spring

Year 3 – Spring

Year 3

Year 3

Year 3 - Summer

Year 3 – Summer

Year 3

Year 3

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Year 4 - Spring

Year 4 – Spring

Year 4

Year 4

Year 4

Year 4

One of the main things I had to learn about renovating was to be extremely flexible. At times I did struggle this, however overall now that we’ve finished – I think I did (reasonably) ok. A fair amount of tantrums occurred though when the garden was invaded. Over the past few years renovations have been mostly inside, however at the very end (back in September) all the weatherboards were replaced outside and the eaves etc were sanded to make the front look… well…stunning. The only problem with this was the garden underneath was trampled in the process. To be fair to my partner Chris, I was warned of this pretty much the day we moved in, so I’ve really only planted annuals and a couple of bulbs. But still – when the time came I guess I’d put it so far in the back of my mind, that it was hard to watch.

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I sulked for a good childish amount of time, but then given free rein to start building up the garden again did spark me out of my mood. I thought about it for weeks, trying to work out how to form a “screen” between the two new pillars. I thought about different grasses, small shrubs and even lavender came to mind. However a walk about our local streets revealed the inspiration I needed – my favourite native correas! It seemed very me and I loved the idea instantly.

What was left - a new blank canvas to work with

What was left – a new blank canvas to work with

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I dug through some compost under both windows and planted my “Alba” correa (had been growing in a pot out the back) between the pillars. I found a couple of cheap mini “Alba” cuttings too which I planted either side – hopefully as they grow larger they’ll continue to form a screen. I divided a grass that I already had growing there and added a lot of annuals around the front to hopefully give the areas a burst of summer colour.

Initial planting (in September/October)

Initial planting (in September/October)

Under the bay window I also planted three correas – this time a “Canberra Bells” as well as a couple of my “Relexa” cuttings I’ve been growing. Again annuals were splattered around to hopefully give a burst of life.

Initial planting (September/October)

Initial planting (September/October)

I’ve now also moved a few spring seedlings out there too – including dwarf beans, capsicums and pumpkin seedlings (a bit hopeful I think, but worth a try!). Now that it’s been a couple of months, everything has grown and the area is looking a lot better (see photos below)

Even though the garden went through a very negative patch, and a lot of my spring bulbs were nowhere to be seen this year – things are now back to positive and on the way up. Thankfully rennos are now finished, and I can go back to protecting plants just from snails – at least they’re smaller.

What the garden now looks like - photos taken this week

What the garden now looks like – photos taken this week

The garden now (photo taken this week)

The garden now (photo taken this week)

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Yes – I have a purple cauliflower. And while it is tiny, and probably won’t get much larger than this – it has made me very, almost childishly, excited to know I have a purple cauliflower in the garden at the moment. It’s actually called “Purple Sicily” and I grew it from seed, which has also made me pretty happy as I’ve never managed to grow a cauliflower from seed before. Now all that’s left is to eat… caulie 1 caulie 2

Revamping…

Last year we placed three small hanging baskets on the fence which can be seen out the window next to my desk where I write this blog. They flowered all spring and summer and made my work space very cheerful. However I’ve ignored them and they’ve been dead and empty for most of winter… With spring getting ever so close, it was time for replanting! I dug through some compost and fresh potting mix with the soil already in the baskets followed by planting some cheap flower seedlings and a few oregano cuttings. Instant colour & brightness! Hopefully they will continue to grow, flower and inspire me over the next gardening season.

Pretty much dead & empty...

Pretty much dead & empty…

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New view from the window

New view from the window

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One of the best things about having your birthday in early winter and being a gardener – people give you fruit trees. I now have 7. Not that I’m complaining – I’m absolutely thrilled with the additions! Enough so that I thought they should have their own introduction…

1. My “Oldest” Tree – a Dwarf Valencia Orange.

Ok, so 4 years isn’t that old, but I’ve had it the longest out of all the trees. I love the smell of it and the look of the beautiful white flowers it produces. Unfortunately I haven’t had any oranges yet (despite my initial hopes of making marmalade in the first year I had it… I’m so naive) but I still have high hopes for the tree. In spring the flowers are glorious, then buds form and one by one… they all fall off. I’ve tried different fertilizers, different watering methods, heaps of compost and lots of mulch… but still nothing. After the small fruit buds have fallen off, I throw around the idea in my mind of throwing out the tree and getting a “real fruiter!” But then it starts to flower again… and the smell is great… and it brings in the bees… and it wins me over again for another year.

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Dwarf Valencia Orange

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Orange blossoms

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The buds usually grow a bit larger than pictured

2My Kalamata Olive

A couple of years old now this tree has grown so much! Initially a small cutting, it’s now a miniature tree. Still waiting for it to flower, but at the moment the foliage is just as pleasing. I realise one day I’ll have to move it to the ground, but for now – until I make up my mind about where, it seems quite happy where it is.

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When I first planted the tree compared to now

3. & 4. My New Dwarf “Lots A Lemons” and Dwarf Tahitian Lime

I must admit, I have wanted both of these for quite some time. Given the limited space I have though, I’ve tended to remind myself “you have a citrus tree, just an unproductive one”. So this year when I was given both of these I was over the moon. The “lots a lemons” is a very small, pot friendly type of lemon which I have out in the backyard at the moment.  The lime I’ve put out the front and hopefully it will encourage the orange tree to fruit!

lemon

Lots A Lemon

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Tahitian Lime

5 & 6. My Two Ballerina Apple Trees

Another fantastic thing about birthdays is nursery gift vouchers so you can match companion apple trees which are needed for pollination! Another purchase I’ve put off due to limited space, but this year I couldn’t resist – particularly when I discovered these “ballerina” style apples which grow and fruit in a column shape rather than branching out making them perfect for small spaces for now. I have one green “Bolero” and a red “Waltz” which are a pollinating pair. At this stage I think I’m more excited about the idea of apple blossoms in spring than the actual apples – updates to come…

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7. And Finally – My Bay Tree.

Just a tiny cutting when it first moved in – it has continued to grow, be used for cooking and preserving, and has foliage which looks good throughout the year. All without a smidge of effort on my behalf. I can live with that.

bay

So there is a glimpse at my small space orchard – mostly unproductive at the moment, but I have high hopes for the future. Even so, at least the flowers and foliage are worth the trouble. Apart from the bay (which I bought), each of these trees was gifted from people who follow my blog – so thank you, thank you, thank you!

My indoor avocado “tree” is still growing strongly too… maybe one day it’ll make it to the list as well, but for now I’ll have to wait for a rather long time.

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(Almost wordless – these photos were taken in late May in the front garden, just found them on the camera!)

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I would have thought my garden would be feeling a tad neglected lately, with usual life distractions and an overseas holiday keeping me from spending much time in the garden over the past month. However it seems to be pottering along nicely and doesn’t seem to have noticed my absence in the slightest! Before I reunite with my own, I thought I’d share with you the most spectacular garden in Tokyo, Koishikawa Koraku, where I have recently been.

It amazes me that in a city so large, huge areas of landscape dedicated to beauty and respite can be found. Apparently very few foreigners visit this garden, and I honestly have no idea why – it was simply breathtaking.

Extremely well designed, Koishikawa Koraku has areas of interest for most seasons including autumn colours, spring blossoms – and in summer a huge display of irises which I was lucky enough to witness.

Although the real stars of the garden was a group of ducklings who seemed completely un-phased by the human visitors to the garden, happily walking through the crowds to get into the iris bed to hunt for bugs (check out the photos below!)

In true Japanese style the garden was impeccably neat and well maintained. I probably should learn something from that for my own garden, however I found I was drawn to sit and rest in the one slightly messy area of the garden as if I was instinctively drawn to it. Maybe it’s in me deeper than I thought…

A fantastic way to spend some time in this busy city, it was truly the highlight of my trip. The photos don’t do it justice. If you ever find yourself in Tokyo – this is definitely on the top of the “must see” list for gardeners. Enjoy!

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The stars of the garden

The stars of the garden

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The closest thing I could find to “messy”! A beautiful place for a rest, overlooking most of the garden

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Correas on show

Is it any wonder why I love these Australian natives! Now that it’s getting rather cold and everything else in the garden seems to be either dying or heading into winter dormancy, my correas are growing and starting to produce masses of flowers which will continue all winter. They really take the edge off the late autumn/winter lull. Previously my favourite correa has been “Marion’s Marvel”, however this year one of my new “Alba” plants has started to flower and it really looks remarkable! It may be my new favourite. But I suppose when there is competition for what flower/plant amazes you the most, it can never be a bad thing…

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Alba

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Alba

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Alba

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Alba

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“Calycina”

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“Fire bird”
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“Fire bird”

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“Chef’s hat”

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“Chef’s hat”

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“Chef’s hat”

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“Marion’s Marvel”

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“Marion’s Marvel”

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“Marion’s Marvel” planted in the front yard

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“Marion’s Marvel” (front yard)

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“Dusky Bells” in the front yard

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“Dusky Bells”

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first gardening photo

I had to giggle when I stumbled across this photo when searching for something on my computer. This is my very first attempt at gardening. Tomato seedlings – growing under a sunny (and yet to be renovated) window. As I thought only a few would germinate, so I had put lots of seeds in these little tubs (recycled fruit cups with no drainage! Ahh the inexperience) I ended up with 32 healthy cherry tomato seedlings that year, each individually nurtured and I completely fell in love with the experience. Small beginnings…

The front yard cleared
The front yard cleared

As we head into May and the temperatures start to quickly decline, I was reminded that the window of opportunity for my usual autumn overhaul will soon be closed. A day to complete my usual overhaul of the garden was essential. Weeding always seems to me to be the housework of the garden – really doesn’t take that long, but it’s amazingly easy to find ways of putting it off. And this year was no exception – the garden was almost looking like I was growing only weeds! Once I had gotten around to clearing all the now dead summer plants and removing all the weeds (and filling two compost bins in the process), I was left once again with the semi-empty template on which I could start to plan and plant out the winter garden.

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With each season and year that passes the better I get to know my plot. I know which areas get the best sun, or struggle to get any sun, where the snails will surely hunt first, or what is first viewed upon entering the yard, or from each window. Because of this it was already clear in my head where each seedling needed to go to get the garden to work this year – all that was left was to make it happen. After turning over the soil a little and adding some compost – the seedlings went in easily and extremely quickly. I’ll find out in the coming months whether a bit more time and structure to my planting would have paid off…

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The back patch however did take a bit longer to plan out in my mind, as I’ve never planted winter veggies there before. Needless to say the raised veggie patch we’ve planned is still not in, so the space is still mine to roam free with. I’ve spent many mornings staring at the patch with a cup of coffee drawing different ideas in my head. As usual the part of my brain that seems to yell “plant everything!!” always seems to win.

I’ve planted a row of broad beans at the back, which I can tie against the cucumber trellis still up from summer. In front of this I’ve put a mixed row of cauliflower and broccoli seedlings, finished with a mix of wombok and kale seedlings at the front. If I can get things to survive away from the snails long enough, I think I’ll be the best maximiser of the space and sun.
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I added some sugar snap, snow and sweat peas into pots with stakes to help them climb and topped everything with pea straw. Then I’d done it – both front and back autumn overhauls completed in a day! Absolutely buggered, all that was left was to head inside to find some wine…