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.

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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 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.

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

 

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.