Our Summer Garden

We are having a very hot summer with temperatures often in the 30s. Hosing restrictions have started, but thankfully today we are having some lovely rain, which the trees and plants will be thankful for.

The tomatoes are growing well and we have started picking cherry tomatoes. Also picking zucchinis, beetroot, spring onions, lettuces, kale, chard, carrots, cucumbers, and strawberries.

Believe it or not, there are lots of veggies in there amongst all the flowers we grow for the bees. The potatoes should be ready to dig up soon.

Echinaceas are flowering amongst the lavender, rosemary, and lemon balm.

I was given this beautiful hibiscus for Christmas and have left it in its pot outside the studio for now until I decide where to plant it.

I have been bottling beetroot from the garden, to last us through the winter months, and making raspberry jam with raspberries from the local berry farm.

My husband gave me this lovely gardening journal for Christmas. It has the most beautiful nature illustrations by Hannah Dale, as well as seasonal recipes, and lots of room to record garden plans, notes and sketches. I’m looking forward to filling it up over the year ahead.

That’s it from our garden for now. I’m off to make some zucchini muffins, while watching the lovely rain through the kitchen window.

 

October garden journal

I love the month of October, before the season gets too hot, when the garden looks fresh and green and bursting with colour. I find that tending the garden, or just spending time in it relaxing and being amongst Mother Nature, feeds the soul, relaxes the body and stills the mind, allowing room for daydreams, imaginings, and creativeness to wander in.

This month has brought lots of lovely sunshine, warm days, and a little rain. Birds are nesting in the trees and the garden is full of life. Beside our front porch, the wisteria is dripping with cascading white blooms, its delicate fragrant scent welcoming visitors to the front door.

Anemones have continued to bloom, as well as poppies and dianthus, and the beautiful crimson Sweet William that we planted last year.

The trusty cinerarias return with their cheerful blooms year after year. They thrive in shady spots beneath trees, and pop up throughout the veggie garden, too. I love the wonderful variety of shades they come in – especially the blues and purples.

In the backyard, our orange tree is laden with blossom, filling the garden with its divine scent and attracting the bees in droves.

We continue to pick oranges, as well as lemons, chard, kale, spinach, lettuce, parsley, carrots, rhubarb, and herbs. Our little apple tree has its first leaves. In the veggie garden this month I planted tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, radishes, spring onions, beetroot, and more carrot seed as not many of the last ones grew (I think they must have been eaten).

Calendulas have self-seeded throughout the veggie garden and I have been picking the flowers and infusing them in oil to make lip balm and body lotion.

I have picked and pressed flowers throughout the month to use in art projects. It is always exciting to open the pages of a book after a few weeks and see how the flowers have held their colour. Pansies, in particular, always seem to produce a lovely result.

This is my seventh year of keeping a garden journal. I love looking back at my garden through the pages, month by month, season by season. Seeing all the loveliness of nature fills my heart with joy.

Hello from Finn!

Poppies and Bumblebees

A beautiful symbol of spring, there are poppies in gardens everywhere around here at the moment. This painting was inspired by photos of poppies taken in our garden a couple of years ago. I created layers on the canvas with tissue paper, scrapbook papers, acrylic paints, inks, and a honeycomb stencil, then painted the poppies, seed heads, and bumblebees with acrylic paints. The bumblebees were fun to paint. I think they help to add movement and life to the painting.

In the language of flowers, the poppy is associated with faith, remembrance, and consolation. The red poppy has come to symbolize the sacrifice of those who laid down their lives during the two world wars. According to folklore, if you sniff a poppy three times a day it will bring you luck. I have yet to test this!

 

September garden journal

Now that spring has arrived with sunshine, warmth, and longer days, there is lots to do in the garden. This month has been busy with planning, browsing catalogues and ordering seeds, composting, and planting. Carrots and potatoes have been planted in their garden beds, while trays of vegetable seeds, and seeds saved from last year’s flowers, are starting their growth under cover of the greenhouse, protected from late frosts and inclement weather.

The vegetable garden continues to provide us with a steady supply of greens – chard, spinach, kale and lettuces, as well as parsley, which has flourished alongside, and which I add to many dishes as it is highly nutritious and packed with vitamins and minerals.

Our rosemary is in full bloom and the bees are loving it! We often enjoy potatoes roasted with olive oil and rosemary.

The anemone bulbs we planted last autumn have produced these beautiful purple blooms.

Forget-me-nots and primulas self-seeded and sprung up throughout the garden.

I have been neglecting my garden journal over the winter months, but am back into it again with the new season, beginning with a garden plan of what will be planted over the next month.

Finn is loving the warmer weather and sunshine.

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly. “One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
Hans Christian Andersen

 

Something of the marvelous

I created this scrapbook page using paper from the  Kaisercraft Fairy Dust Collection. It is such a pretty paper that I wanted to find a photo that was as magical as the illustration and this pretty pansy captured in my garden seemed perfect. I added some pressed violas, washi tape, a metal butterfly embellishment, an applique dragonfly, some hand stitching, and some rhinestone embellishments.

I agree with this quote by Aristotle one hundred percent. Everywhere you look in nature there is something marvelous to be found, something to fill your heart with joy.

I love that pansies continue to bloom throughout  the cold weather, adding colour to the winter garden. Each winter I grow them in pots and tubs outside my studio where it is lovely and sunny. They provide a cheerful welcome to visitors coming through the gate.

I am joining in the Add a Quote challenge over at Try it on Tuesday.

Larkspur art journal page

I love purple and blue flowers, and larkspurs are one of my favourites. In the language of flowers, larkspurs signify lightness and levity. They also have magical connections to health and protection.

Larkspur

For the journal page I used paints and inks, washi tape, corrugated cardboard, a stencil, cutout butterflies, a pressed larkspur flower, larkspur seeds, rust-dyed fabrics, a white pen, and impasto gel medium.

Larkspurs self-seed in our garden and come up every spring in myriad colours of blues, purples and pinks. Their soft, feathery foliage is pretty, too.

At the moment, with the end of summer and herbs starting to die off, my studio has become a drying room with bunches of bergamot, lemon balm, and basil hanging from the rafters to dry for use in the winter.

In My Garden

Our garden is thriving beneath the hot summer sun for my last garden post for the year.

The sweet peas self-seeded in the garden where we planted them last year. They make a lovely show and are great for picking to put in a vase. The more you pick them, the more they flower. Our orange tree is laden with fruit that is just ready to start picking. We use the rosemary on baked potato wedges, and for adding to food on the barbecue.

Our front porch.

The hydrangea in our front garden is such a beautiful shade of blue.

I bought a punnet of this pretty little plant from the garden center and planted it in pots. It is called sisyrinchium.

The veggie garden is thriving. We have been picking broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spring onions, kale, spinach and lettuces, as well as lots of herbs. We planted potatoes for the first time this year and I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I also planted tomatoes, beans, beetroot, carrots, basil, cucumbers and pumpkin.

Calendulas self-seeded throughout the veggie garden. Although the flowers are edible and can be added to salads, I have never tried eating them. I do dry the flowers, though, to make infused oils for use in hand creams and body lotions and lip balms.

I bought a chocolate mint to plant in a pot. Amazingly the leaves taste exactly like peppermint chocolate and are great for adding a chocolate mint flavour to biscuits.

I love berry season. Our strawberries have done really well this year. This strawberry shortcake is one of my favourite desserts. It is delicious served warm with ice cream, or served cold for afternoon tea with a cup of coffee or tea.

Strawberry Shortcake

3 cups strawberries
250g butter or non-dairy substitute
200g sugar
2 eggs
400g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a deep-sided baking dish with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the creamed mixture. Mix until a soft dough forms.

Spoon half the mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Press down to evenly spread out the dough. Halve or quarter the strawberries (depending on their size) and spread them over the dough. Spoon over the remaining dough and press lightly with the back of a spoon to spread it evenly.

Bake for half an hour until golden brown on top. Serve warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar.

~ ~ ~

We hung fairy lights across the front of the garden studio to give it a festive feel.

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Pretty As A Pansy

Pansies are one of my favourite flowers. Their sweet faces brighten up the winter garden, and I especially love them in shades of purple and blue. When I saw this pansy fabric on Grandmother’s Garden Patchwork & Quilting website, I immediately began planning what I could do with it.

I made a patchwork table runner to cover my art table when I’m not using it.

Then with the leftover fabrics, and strips cut from the coordinating picture panel, I made a small wall hanging. I added some buttons, lace, and stitching, then I found two sticks in the garden – one from which to hang it, and one from which to dangle beads at the bottom.

Finn kept an eye on what I was doing.

This sweet pansy is called Matrix Denim.

In the language of flowers, pansy means friendly thoughts or think of me. These pansy cards are from my collection of vintage greeting cards.

With friendly thoughts from me to you, wherever you are in the world.

Garden Journal

There is still lots of colour in our autumn garden. Taking pride of place is the pretty cosmos, which is flowering after many of the other plants have finished. The weather is still warm and sunny, although we had a cyclone sweep through the country the day before Easter. It caused much destruction, with trees uprooted all over the town, including, sadly, our own lime tree, which we planted about ten years ago. In its place we have planted a bay tree, which we had growing in a pot, but it should do much better now it is in the ground.

I have planted a Camelia sinensis to have a go at growing my own tea! From the one plant you can make green tea, black tea, or oolong tea, depending on how the leaves and buds are processed.

The winter vegetable garden is planted with broccoli, cauliflowers, cabbages, lettuces, spinach, kale, and silverbeet. I still have leek seedlings to go in. I haven’t tried growing leeks before, so it will be interesting to see how they do.

These are my garden journal pages for March and April.

A book I have enjoyed reading this month is A Cottage and Three Acres by Colette O’Neill. Thirteen years ago Colette left behind her life in London to begin a new life in Ireland. She bought an old cottage with three acres of bare, wet, rushy land and set about transforming it into a beautiful, lush, permaculture garden, planting thousands of trees, as well as herbs, vegetables, and even a fairy wood. The book tells the story of what one woman with a dream can achieve on her own, and how a woman’s love of nature and incredible affinity with Mother Earth was able to heal, in her words, “Some of the saddest looking land I had ever walked upon.” Colette truly is an inspiration and I would recommend this book to anyone with a love of gardening, and of nature.

Colette has thousands of pictures of her garden and cottage on her website bealtainecottage.com and hundreds of videos on YouTube. Her book can be purchased through her website, and she is happy to sign it for you!

Garden Journal

It has been a busy month in the garden, in these last weeks of summer, with our vegetable garden cropping abundantly. We have been picking salad greens, beetroot, spring onions, tomatoes, basil, beans, cucumbers, cabbages, zucchinis, and strawberries. I was worried last month that we weren’t going to get many tomatoes as they were small and the birds were eating them as soon as they ripened. But what they lacked in size, they have more than made up for in quantity, and after one week of pecking, the birds have left them alone – not sure why, they must have found something tastier to eat elsewhere. I have made several batches of pasta sauce, bottled enough beetroot to last through the year, frozen loads of beans, dried herbs for use in body care products and for herbal teas, pressed flowers to use in my art, and had a go at eco-dying with plants.

These are my garden journal pages from last month and from this month.

garden journal

garden journal

garden journal

garden journal

I wanted to share with you a lovely book that I got for Christmas –  Garden Made: A Year of Seasonal Projects to Beautify Your Garden and Your Life by Stephanie Rose. Stephanie is a master gardener who became interested in gardening after a debilitating illness. She writes the blog Garden Therapy where she shares garden-related projects from making your own herbal skincare products, to growing food, recipes, and crafts. The book has fun projects to make, season by season. It has lovely pictures and is chock full of inspiration. Some of the projects I am looking forward to trying are homemade seed paper, teapot planters,  terrarium ornaments, and a bug hotel.

Garden Made by Stephanie Rose

Wishing you all a happy day in your garden!

 

Garden Journal November

Garden Journal November

The month began with the wisteria in bloom over our front porch, dripping cascades of white blossom. It makes a lovely display, but is over in such a short time, lasting barely more than three weeks. With November being a windy month, the path beneath soon became a carpet of white petals while the tree filled out with dense, lush green foliage.

wisteria

On one of our walks with Finn last year, we collected seed pods from wild sweet peas we found growing along a walking track. I planted a few along our side fence, with a trellis behind for support. They are the most beautiful shade of deep magenta and have flowered profusely throughout November.

sweet peas

The larkspur in our front garden self-seeded from last year and have come up in lovely shades of blue and purple.

larkspur

I grew violas from a packet of seeds and planted them around the garden and in pots.

violas

The strawberries are cropping abundantly now the warmer weather has arrived. We are enjoying them for breakfast and desserts. One of my favourite recipes to use them in is strawberry shortcake. Yum!

strawberries

I have been drying lemon balm to use in herbal infusions over the winter. Lemon balm is a calming herb. It also has anti-viral properties, and can soothe an upset stomach.

lemon balm

Curious Finn!

Pages from my garden journal.

garden journal

garden journal

I pressed a few of the sweet pea flowers and have left a space on the journal page to put one when they are ready.

garden journal

I hope you have a happy day in your garden!

 

Garden Journal October

I love the month of October in the garden when there is a sudden surge of spring growth and new life bursts forth. At the moment our garden is filled with the divine scent of orange and grapefruit blossom, which is especially strong at night time. Most of the seedlings I raised in the greenhouse have been transplanted into the vegetable beds. The bean plants are climbing up their strings, and the strawberry plants are covered in flowers.

Poppies are blooming in the front garden.

poppies

The foxgloves I planted last year are producing tall spires of pretty cream bell-shaped flowers.

foxgloves

Finn loves to doze on the sunny bench seat outside the studio.

I planted pots of mustard and cress to cut for use in sandwiches and salads.

mustard and cress

These are the October pages from my garden journal.

garden jouranl

garden journal

The card lifts up to reveal the cupcake recipe beneath.

garden journal

I hope, wherever you are, there is something blooming in your garden.

In my studio

My small studio in our garden warms quickly once the sun comes out and it is a pleasure to go out there on these cold winter days and lose myself in creative bliss.

I painted a couple more watercolour flowers for my garden journal, but after a few days my flower a day project gave way to some mixed-media painting on canvases. I will definitely be painting more watercolour flowers in the spring when our garden starts blooming with the seeds we saved and planted from last year – poppies, larkspur, snapdragons and foxgloves.

cornflowers

busy lizzies

Although I enjoy trying new things, I always seem to return to mixed-media. I just love being able to combine all my favourite things – paints and inks and scrapbook papers and fibres and fabrics and embellishments and collage and texture – together in one piece.

butterfly

Last weekend I went to a local fair where crafters were selling their unwanted supplies at bargain prices. I got some lovely fabrics, fibres, tapes, a broken string of beads and a mini kraft album, all for next to nothing. I think the fair was a great idea to give crafters a chance to have a clear out of their stash. One man’s trash is definitely another man’s treasure!

This month I signed up for Kelly Rae Unscripted with Kelly Rae Roberts. It is weekly painting videos of Kelly Rae painting in her studio. Each video is between one and three hours long and is unedited, showing her painting process from beginning to end as she creates a new mixed-media piece each week. She has a wonderful studio space in an old repurposed high school in Portland, Oregon. Sometimes she has her English bulldog, Lulu Butter Butter Bean, in the studio with her, and sometimes she has a guest painting alongside her. The videos are fun to watch. I am learning a lot of different techniques and getting loads of inspiration. Click here to learn more about Kelly Rae Unscripted, and here for Kelly Rae’s website.

Kelly Rae Roberts

For those of you who are wondering about my next book, there is also lots of writing going on. An update about that soon.

A Flower a Day

While it is mid-winter and there is not much going on in my garden at the moment to document in my garden journal, I decided to practice painting watercolour flowers. I have begun A Flower a Day project, challenging myself to paint a different flower every day. I paint them onto watercolour paper, referring to photos taken of my garden last summer, then I stick them into my journal. It is a good way for me to practice using watercolour paints and I am loving the process. Sometimes I like to add mixed media embellishments, such as washi tape or fibres, to my mini flower paintings.

This is what I have painted so far.

lavender

pansy

poppies

foxgloves

daisies

echinacea

 

Wildflower Meadow

I hope all the mums out there had a lovely Mother’s Day on Sunday. It was a beautiful autumn day here, continuing our run of amazing autumn weather.

I made my mum this mixed-media picture using watercolour and inking techniques from Jane Betteridge’s book Watercolours Unleashed. After the background was dry, I added pressed flowers and leaves from my garden, and a few butterflies cut from scrapbook paper.

wildflower meadow

Jane Betteridge does the most beautiful watercolour painting, using nature as her inspiration. I was so pleased to have discovered her book. You can see her lovely work on her website at www.janebetteridge.com.

Pressed Flower Journal

flower journal

I love collecting flowers from our garden, and wildflowers from our walks, to press and use in craft projects. It is always interesting to see, after they have been pressed between the pages of a book for a few weeks, what they will turn out like. Some hold their colour much better than others. I find that blue and purple ones seem to hold their colour well, while red and pink often seem to fade quickly.

I bought this lovely journal a couple of years ago and have been saving it for a special project. When I thought about keeping a record of the pressed flowers, the journal seemed like a perfect place to keep them. I simply attached a few of each of the flowers to the pages with washi tape, and wrote the names below on a strip of masking tape. These are a few of the flowers that I have pressed over the last two or three months.

pansies

wildflowers2

larkspur

white clover

violas

radish flowers

cornflowers

lobelia

lavender

feverfew

daisies

wildflowers

pansies

alyssum

I’m looking forward to filling up the rest of the pages as different plants come into flower over the seasons.