Tag Archive: plant


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.

new bit 1

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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My orchid has been continuing to bloom over the past couple of months & brightening my room – it always makes me smile. While I’d love to put up photos of it in full flower, sadly a couple of the flowers are starting to droop. But the flowers have been, and still are, lovely and I thought it worth a few photos before the magic is gone…

orch 1 orch 2 orch 3 orch 4 orch 5

A New Arrival

A new pet? A small child? Pretty close – I have, with hesitation, introduced an orchid into our lives. I have always felt orchids indicated that next level of obsessive gardening, indicating a point of no return. The more time that goes on however, I struggle to see why that’s a bad thing. orchid 2 I fell in love with orchids back when I went to the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show in March, which had the most spectacular display, and the desire to own one has gradually been building ever since. With a nursery voucher left over from my birthday (to get something special) I found myself last weekend contemplating taking home an orchid. At the time, I decided the responsibility was too great and wandered home. However that very same day, my partner Chris came home after helping clean out someone’s house with what he described as a bag of leftover, unwanted soil. I wandered outside to find a small bag of orchid potting mix – surely it was a sign! The next day I found a “beginning with orchids” book on sale for $10. I took that as a sign too…

orchid 1

So today I ventured out with the knowledge there is no turning back. At the checkout the cashier said “oh you’re taking home a child!” which did make me feel a little better about the over-exaggerated feeling of responsibility growing in my head. She also made a comment regarding it not being too expensive if it dies. That really cemented it for me as my stubbornness boiled up thinking “I won’t kill it!” It’s now pride of place on my desk, beaming back at me. I’m also looking for names for my new “pet” if anyone has any funny or creative ideas…orchid 3

Autumn Pickings

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Now well into autumn – the hype and lustre of the summer garden has, for now, completely gone. My free time has been spent weeding, starting off the winter seedlings and clearing out all the dead summer plants. Although this is usually a “down” time in the garden, it can at times be disappointing compared to what the garden looked like and the harvests I had in summer.  Despite this, I have been encouraged and comforted by the continued small harvests throughout autumn of my eggplants (which have been a huge success) and capsicums.

I know the glory of these plants also won’t last, but for now the weekly harvests of supermarket sized eggplants seems just too good to be true! These have also far outdone any of my previous attempts at growing these veggies and have helped fill in the gap until the winter harvests start.

 egg 4 egg 5 egg 3 egg 6 egg 2 cap 1 cap 2

With a day off and the sun shining it was a perfect day to visit the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show. Here’s a look at a few things that caught my eye (sorry some of the pictures are a little blurry – only had my phone with me). The show was really enjoyable and some of the exhibits were just spectacular. I was even able to bring home a souvenir – a really cool new indoor plant (see the last pic).   

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My new indoor plant - now hanging above my desk

My new indoor plant – now hanging above my desk

I think the verdict is finally in on my seedling experiment (see previous posts: breaking the first rule of blogging and seedling experiment update) and now I know what to do in years to come. I’d love to show you a photo of the winning tray – which by far was the tray kept under a sunny window, but I can’t as the tray was so successful most of the seedlings are now out in the garden! Instead here are some healthy looking tomatoes, all grown from seeds from the winning tray and even starting to form fruit.

"Sweetie" tomoatoes

“Sweetie” tomatoes

"Florida Basket" tomatoes

“Florida Basket” tomatoes

"Tommy Toe" (left) and two "Sweet Grape" tomatoes

“Tommy Toe” (left) and two “Sweet Grape” tomatoes

Verdict 4

As the spring weather heated up – I did move this tray outside into full morning sun and then back inside at night for protection, which seemed to work well and the seedlings thrived.

Also a very big thank you to Rosalind (of Just Another Beer Blog) who recommended I try small shallow trays rather than just ready-to-plant paper pots. At first the tray was half demolished by snails in the greenhouse, but after I moved it inside the seedlings have grown really well. Particularly the eggplant seedling – I have never been able to grow eggplants from seeds into full size plants before! Now I know for the years to come how to make it happen – thank you!

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Eggplant seedlings growing

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Eggplants currently out in the garden

I’ve had a couple of chilli and capsicum seedlings growing – but they have been quite small and are growing a lot slower than the tomatoes and eggplants. Hopefully they’ll get big enough to plant out soon.

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Chilli and friend

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Capsicums

As for the control tray that was left outside open to the elements – I have planted out a couple of tomatoes from this tray, but that was really all and they haven’t thrived like the others. As for the greenhouse seedlings – it was a complete disaster. I have planted out nothing from this tray, and they barely grew after germination. Once slightly warmer weather during spring kicked in, despite leaving the door open during the day and watering daily, all the seedlings died.

So I may not be the best salesperson for greenhouses or paper pots – but at least I’ll be enjoying my very own tomatoes and eggplants this summer (and still hopeful for capsicums) – all grown from seeds. But I won’t be getting rid of my greenhouse just yet – because apparently I’m not the only one who uses it…

verdict 9 Verdict 10

 

unknown flower

Occasionally things get lost or forgotten about in the garden (probably a lot more that I realise), but this is very obvious this week as the above flower has started to bloom this week – and I have no idea what it is! I can’t remember planting it, and would love to know what it is if someone knows. The plant was there last year, but it didn’t flower, and the leaves have been there throughout the whole year (i.e. has never died off). I’ve checked all my seed packets and also searched online, but can’t find it. Let me know what you think ! Thank you 🙂

The garden at the start of spring ready for an overhaul…

I have to admit… it took me a bit to find the motivation to get out this spring to do my usual half-yearly overhaul. I should be excited and raring to go – spring is here! But I found myself putting it off for a few weeks and procrastinating with bread, blogging and coffee… Don’t get me wrong – I’m not afraid of hard work – but when all the winter veggies still look so lush and green (although no longer fruiting or ready for final harvests), it seems a pity to pull them out. However once I got going my usual optimism about what the next season of gardening would create returned, and my motivation quickly followed.

I started by pulling out all the spent winter vegetables. There seemed to be an awful lot this year – I filled an entire compost bin! Then I continued by turning over all the soil and adding compost back in. As always I tend to mix up vegetables to add an element of interest (or craziness depending who you’re talking to…I prefer interest). This also helps to confuse pests and prevent spread of diseases. So far this has worked pretty well – except for the snails, they’re not fussy and eat everything…

So far I’ve planted some zucchini, bean and sunflower seedlings that I grew from seed. I’m sorry to say that I did buy a couple of tomato seedlings to put in as well,  but I still have high hopes for my seedling experiment and hope to add more of my own a little later when they are large enough and the weather is warmer.

By the time I finished all this off (a little later) with some straw – the spring flowers were out in full swing and suddenly my garden had been filled with splashes of bright colour, which helps remind me of the changing seasons and that it won’t be long before my garden is full of plants and the promise of harvests again.

From what I can gather, the main idea of a blog is to demonstrate a passion, projects/ideas and a skill in an area you want to share with and demonstrate to others. Well I’m about to break the first rule of blogging – admit my skill is still growing and ask for help.

Here is my dilemma: apparently I’ve become appallingly bad at growing vegetables from small seeds. I know I can do it – the first year I started gardening I grew dozens of tomato plants all from seed, however over the past couple of years my ability to grow vegetables from seed into full size plants seems to be highly correlated with the size of the seed.

Give me zucchinis, beans, squash, cucumbers – no problem! These easily end up as harvestable plants at the end of the season. However tomatoes, eggplants and capsicums all seem to germinate, but grow so slowly that despite my best efforts they never get large enough to be transplanted out into the garden. I then end up admitting defeat and buy a tray of seedlings.

At first I blamed it on the brand of seeds I was using – but there’s only so long you can keep that up. So help me out – what am I doing wrong???

I’ve set up a “small seed experiment”, which I hope will uncover the solution. I’ve started three trays of seeds – one will be kept inside next to a sunny window, one will be kept in my small greenhouse, and the other will be left outside as a “control” as it will be completely unprotected from the elements…and snails. Each tray has the exact same number and type of seeds growing – a mix of tomatoes (both new and seed saved from my garden), eggplant, capsicum and chilli. I will be updating the progress of each every few weeks, and any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated so that hopefully my skill level continues to grow.

Tray 1 – inside

Tray 2 – greenhouse

Tray 3 – outside

While it may be bleak and cold outside, the garden is still looking healthy and vibrant. Even on the coldest or wettest of days, passing the garden in the morning can’t help but make me smile – feels like at least there is a point to winter! It desperately needs to be weeded, but that may have to wait till I get a day off that isn’t raining or bitterly cold. Otherwise it seems to be maintaining itself rather well at the moment with little input from myself. Everything is large enough now that I can even back off on my snail hunts (the small time of the year when we all live in peace).  

To add to the vibrance in the garden, my first tulip has started to flower! Hopefully my others won’t be far behind.