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

 

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!

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.

Summer Garden

Here, in New Zealand, summer is in full swing and the garden is flourishing with flowers, herbs, vegetables, weeds and wildflowers. The beautiful larkspur made a magnificent show during late spring and early summer. The majestic blooms ranged from a deep violet colour to a lighter lavender. Sadly, they are finished now, but we have saved lots of seeds and want to try growing them against the house next year, instead of out in the open where the tall spires are ravaged by the wind.

Larkspur

Echinaceas that I grew from seed last year are flowering earlier this year. They always remind me of my time working at Weleda where they were grown to make herbal remedies.

Echinaceas

Feverfew self-seeds all over the garden.

feverfew

In the vegetable garden we have just picked our first beans of the season, and have been regularly picking lettuces, baby spinach leaves, radishes and spring onions for summer salads.

Vegetable Garden

Lavender and borage are planted amongst the vegetables to attract the bees. This pretty purple plant self-seeds everywhere. I am not sure what it is called, but the bees love it, so I am happy for it to grow wherever it wants to.

bee plant

The citrus trees are laden with fruit and we always have a jug of freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice in the fridge.

These pretty blue cornflowers self-seeded in the planter outside the studio, as well as elsewhere in the garden. There are plenty for picking and they last well in a vase.

cornflowers

Garden Journal

There is a lovely lot of colour in the garden at the moment with all the spring flowers in bloom. Last summer, on one of our walks, we saw some pretty poppies growing wild and we took a flower head home to save the seed. We planted the seeds in our front garden, and they have been flowering the past few weeks. Nick took these lovely photos.

poppies

poppies

poppy

poppy

Yesterday I planted the veggie garden with the tomatoes, zucchinis, lettuces and spring onions that I raised from seed. I still have a lot of planting out to do of flowers and herbs. Hopefully we won’t get any more frosts. I’ve planted the beans, saved from last summer’s crop. Nick had to erect a new bean frame, as our old one blew over and broke in the wind. There are still a few cabbages, red onions, silverbeet and spinach growing in the garden from the winter, although the silverbeet and spinach are starting to bolt and go to seed now.

These are the October pages from my garden journal.

garden journal

garden journal

Garden Journal

September has been a very wet month here in Hawke’s Bay, but the beginning of spring has brought plenty of growth in the garden. Daffodils and tulips have been blooming, pretty blue forget-me-nots have sprung up all over the garden, the lavender and rosemary have been abuzz with bees, and the orange and grapefruit trees are laden with fruit, although not quite ready for picking yet. I planted trays of vegetable and flower seeds in the greenhouse, and we dug compost through the garden beds, ready for planting in a few weeks’ time after danger of late frosts has passed.

garden journal

garden journal

Garden Journal

Our garden has been fairly dormant over the winter months. A few annuals add colour – pansies, snapdragons, primulas – and lavender and feverfew flower continuously. We have a Wintersweet shrub in the garden beside our front porch, which in the winter has tiny, pale yellow flowers with the most divine scent. I love to breathe in their aroma whenever I walk past them.

Wintersweet

Wintersweet

These are the last few pages from my garden journal. I used some pressed leaves for the autumn page, and I pressed some pansies, lavender and feverfew from our garden to use on the July page.

A Love of Herbs

A Love of Herbs

My love for herbs began many years ago when I became interested in natural remedies and decided to do a correspondence course in herbal studies. The course involved the study of a wide range of herbs, their healing properties, and how to make herbal medicines and treatments. While studying the course, I got a job at Weleda NZ Ltd., a manufacturer of natural and herbal medicines and body care products. I worked in the despatch department, picking and packing orders and invoicing, and occasionally helped out in other departments, including a brief stint in the manufacturing department where I had hands-on experience in the making of the herbal medicines. It was a lovely place to work, surrounded by biodynamic gardens of healing herbs.

Weleda homestead

Weleda homestead

After working at Weleda for six years, I left to pursue my dream of a writing career, but my love of herbs continued in my garden at home. I grow herbs to use in cooking, herbs for healing, and some just for their beauty, and for the folklore and magic associated with them.

Whenever I feel a sore throat coming on, I make an infusion of sage and thyme and gargle with it several times a day.

Thyme

Thyme

The sage is lovely in stuffing balls at Christmas time.

Sage

Sage

To help relieve congested sinuses from a cold, I put a few sprigs of rosemary in a bowl of boiled water, cover my head with a towel, then lean over the bowl and breathe in the aromatic steam. I use rosemary a lot in cooking – rosemary shortbread, rosemary focaccia bread, rosemary roast potatoes, or a few sprigs thrown on the barbecue.

Rosemary

Rosemary

I add a few fresh leaves of stevia, the sugar herb, to fruit when stewing, to replace sugar. This year I’m going to dry the leaves and grind them into a powder to use in baking.

Stevia

Stevia

Borage is a good companion plant for my strawberries, and it helps to attract the bees.

Borage

Borage

Lavender is also a great bee plant. I use it in herbal crafts, and often pick a few sprigs to keep in a vase on the kitchen bench.

Lavender

Lavender

I keep a pot of Aloe Vera on hand in case of burns.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

Foxgloves just because they are one of my favourite flowers, and I love the folklore that surrounds them.

Foxgloves

Foxgloves

The leaves of lemon balm have the most beautiful lemony scent and possess many healing properties.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

I use garlic chives a lot in cooking, and their flowers are so pretty.

Garlic Chives

Garlic Chives

I use basil, parsley and mint a lot in cooking, too. The smell of minted potatoes always reminds me of holidays with my grandparents. It’s nice to be able to go outside and pick herbs fresh from the garden whenever you want to add them to a dish.

Mint

Mint

Anise Hyssop is another great bee plant. It is also very pretty and I love the aniseed fragrance of the leaves.

Anise Hyssop

Anise Hyssop

Feverfew and calendulas self-seed throughout our garden.

Feverfew

Feverfew

Calendula

Calendula

I used to love the mass plantings of echinaceas in the summers when I worked at Weleda. They are used in their medicines to support the immune system and to treat infections.
This year I grew my own echinaceas.

Echinacea

Echinacea

Echinaceas

Echinaceas

I am also growing bay, arnica, angelica, and comfrey, but they are only small at the moment.

Garden Journal – The End of Summer

The last month of summer, here in Napier, New Zealand, brought lots of sunshine and hot temperatures, but little rain. Flowers bloomed in the garden, while in the vegetable beds, beans, zucchinis, beetroot, chard, and salad greens were plentiful. Our blueberry bush provided a steady supply of berries throughout the month. The tomato plants gave us enough for salads and sandwiches, but not enough for preserving. We had loads of basil in the garden that we wanted to use, so while tomatoes were cheap to buy, we bought some for making pasta sauce and we now have several jars in the pantry and the freezer to see us through the next few months.

garden journal

garden journal

Garden Journal

I started a new garden journal this year that I plan to fill with collaged pages of photographs, sketches and journaling. These are the first pages. I’ve added some embellishments from Graphic 45s Time To Flourish collection, which has lots of pretty floral stickers, scrapbooking papers, chipboard tags and journaling cards. On January’s page I included a layout plan of our veggie garden to aid in planning for crop rotation next season. Garden Journal Garden Journal

Our Summer Garden

Our summer, so far, has been very hot, with not very much rain. The flowers, veggies and weeds are all growing well! Some of my favourite flowers in our garden this year are the foxgloves, snapdragons, asters. . .

Foxglove

Foxglove

Foxglove

Foxglove

Snapdragons

Snapdragons

Aster

Aster

Osteospermum

Osteospermum

. . . and the good old-fashioned hydrangea, which is a beautiful blue colour with tiny flecks of red.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

I love the soft blue and lemon of the newly forming blooms.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

These pretty blue cornflowers self-seeded throughout the garden.

Cornflowers

Cornflowers

Here are a few pictures of our veggie garden. Although it is small, made up of raised beds tucked away in a corner, we manage to grow a lot in it.

Vegetable garden

Vegetable garden

I picked our first zucchinis last week.

Zucchinis

Zucchinis

The climbing beans have lots of flowers, so shouldn’t be too far away.

Beans, Basil & Marigolds

Beans, Basil & Marigolds

I have bottled several jars of beetroot and there are lots more coming on.

Beetroot

Beetroot

Bottled beetroot

Bottled beetroot

We are picking radishes and lettuces and spring onions, and we had a really good crop of strawberries this year.

Radishes

Radishes

Lettuces with blue and purple flowers for the bees

Lettuces with blue and purple flowers for the bees

Spring onions

Spring onions

Tomatoes, Anise Hyssop and Feverfew

Tomatoes, Anise Hyssop and Feverfew

Anise Hyssop and Oleander

 

I hung shiny things over the spinach and chard to keep the birds from eating it, and surrounded the small plants with grit to deter the snails and slugs.

Spinach and Chard

Spinach and Chard

Finn keeps me company in the garden while I plant, weed, and harvest.

 

Finn

Finn

Early Spring Garden

Our early spring garden is looking pretty this year. A friend gave me a packet of tulip bulbs for my birthday. I had never grown tulips before, so I was excited to see what they would turn out like. They are a mix of colours and look stunning in our front garden amidst the wallflowers, calendulas, bluebells and purple alyssum. Nick took these lovely photos.

tulips1

 

tulip

tulips

tulips

tulips

tulip

tulips

I love the faces on these pretty blue pansies.

pansies

I have got some seeds on the go in our little shade house – tomatoes, peas, beetroot, spring onions, zucchinis, lettuces, marigolds, phacelia, echinacea, stevia, and bergamot. Nick has built a fence to stop Finn getting into the vegetable garden, so I’m able to start planting seedlings again. Finn was jumping up into the raised beds, digging and pulling out the plants. He developed quite a liking for broccoli and demolished most of the plants just before they were ready to pick. At the moment I can only garden in short bursts while Finn lies on the other side of the fence, patiently watching through the palings, until he becomes bored and starts barking and whining. Hopefully, over the next few weeks, he’ll get used to being on the other side of the fence as I spend more time in the garden.

new fence

 

Our Spring Garden

Spring is my favourite time of the year in the garden, when the flowers are looking pretty, the vegetables are growing nicely, and it’s not too hot for working outside and pottering amongst the plants.

I planted some sunflower seeds from a commemorative tin of Yates seeds that out friend, Erica, gave us, and the first flower is blooming already!

sunflower

We had loads of cinerarias self-seed in our raised vegetable beds this year, and they look so pretty, I couldn’t bring myself to pull them out. So although there has been less room for the veggies, I have enjoyed looking at the lovely flowers over the last couple of months.

cinerarias

I covered the lettuces with netting to stop the birds from eating them all.

lettuces

I hung tin foil from twine to keep the birds away from the silverbeet, which seems to have worked. Although I love having birds in the garden, and encourage them by feeding them, they seem to think that we grow the veggies just for them!

veggie garden

I plant lots of blue flowers to attract the bees. They love the borage, which is also a good companion plant for the strawberries.

veggie garden2

The tomato plants are doing nicely, although the oxalis is growing rampant in the tomato bed at the moment. I don’t like spraying anything, so have to try and keep on top of the weeding.

tomatoes

These dianthus in our front garden have the most beautiful scent.

dianthus

I think the blue lobelia and the yellow pansies look really pretty together.

front garden

This little rock rose (I think that’s what it is) loves growing under the dappled shade of the tree.

front garden2

There is always lots to do in the garden, but our efforts are rewarded with beauty and bounty. There is nothing nicer than looking out onto a pretty garden, and being able to walk outside and pick fresh greens for dinner.

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

butterfly