Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Selections :: 1

Thanks to Kim over at Frogpondsrock I have decided to join in on the fun and participate in the Sunday Selections series. I am going to share 3 images from Caves Beach, close to my home - nature's water plants, seaweed and moss and I love the way the water makes patterns in the sand and rocks:

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's a matter of style...but which one?

I have to say I definitely favour an eclectic approach to design, whether it's interior or outdoors. I love so many different styles, Modern (but not too minimalist), Indian, Asian, Japanese, French provincial, Plantation, Shabby Chic, New York loft-style, Art Deco, Bauhaus, Mid-century modern...the list goes on. Each style has its own appeal for different reasons. I wasn't always like this...there was a time I used to loathe modern, mid-century modern, Asian and Japanese, for example but gradually I have come to like it all.

Some of my favourite architects (in no particular order) are Mies Van Der Rohe, Luis Barragan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Glenn Murcutt and Harry Seidler, just to name a few...

Needless to say when I think about an overall style I would like to achieve in my home and garden it is just about impossible and so it evolves organically and hopefully will all make sense in the end.

I LOVE losing myself in the pages of House and Garden magazines and also enjoy watching those make-over shows on TV...basically I love transforming anything from bland to beautiful, or seeing it done. When I have to bite the bullet and de-clutter my magazine stash, I always go through them and rip out any inspirational stuff.

So, from time to time I am going to share some of the 'looks' that I love...not necessarily that I will want to achieve here but those that allow my imagination to carry me away and I can lose myself in daydreams of what it would be like to have a garden that looked like this or that...

Sorry, I am unable to credit original source of following images as they were removed from magazines and there is no longer any reference.  
Above and below are the same garden, not so keen on the painting on the wall in the image below but apart from that I love the glow from all of the lanterns, as well as that middle-eastern influence. A place I would definitely like to lose myself...

 More lanterns...and they don't even have to be in the context of middle-eastern style as I think lanterns just work anywhere, as seen in the image below. The lanterns are very definitely middle-eastern but the space is more old English colonial / plantation style. I love the patina of age and the relaxed style of this space.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Looking forward and looking up

Now that the pace has picked up again after the lull of the festive season, it's hard to find time to garden with all the business related projects I want to the weeds are taking over again and this is what happens...I use any spare time to weed and then the garden stays stuck in the place it's in now because I never have the time to push through to the next stage...but I remain determined and once I get a few creative tasks out of the way I will make time for the garden.

I was going through some photos today, I have loaded more images to my flickr photostream and thought I'd share a few here. These are not from my garden but from nature's garden across the road in the reserve. They are taken looking up at the tree tops and I manipulated the hue and saturation in Photoshop to make them a little other-worldly...

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 - plans for the back garden...

So here I am all caught up with my new garden blog - bringing you all up to date in a few days in what took place over a few years...

All I really want for this year is to move ahead with the back garden design and finish the bones of it - a garden is always a work in progress and can never be truly finished but I want it finished in the sense that all the design is in place, the big landscaping stuff is done, the rest of the beds planted out and then just to finally enjoy it as a whole and just worry about maintenance.

I've started on a good note...this was the task for yesterday...distribute 3 cubic metres of mulch over the back pine tree garden area...(by the time I thought to photograph before and after I had already done quite a few barrow loads)...


The top image shows the mound of mulch...very disheartening when you see such a big job ahead of you but oh so satisfying once it's all done, as you can see in the before and after shots (mostly after shots). I know this garden looks a little sparse, this is due to two reasons:
  • firstly it is one of the areas I haven't really had a chance to focus on yet though some attempts have been made, first by clearing it back a few years ago and laying down the first lot of mulch. I then transplanted some Bromeliads from the front left-hand path way as they were up against a fence that was to become a gate and this is a nice shaded area for them. I then created a small mounded bed and transplanted the Clivia's that were along the border of the back right-hand garden bed and finally I transplanted some daisies to mirror the opposite side of the garden. The latter however, will be coming out from both sides as I've decided the daisies don't work with the rest of the garden theme...they are too cottage-y and even though I LOVE cottage gardens this one definitely is not one. They self-seeded anyway so nothing lost here and you have to try to know. I think I will replace them with a border of Lomandra Tanika - like the one you can see behind Max in this bottom image, though the one to the side of it (in the image above it) is a much healthier specimen, probably because it gets more sun.
  • secondly because of both the shade and roots from the Norfolk Pine, nothing much is going to grow here. One of the reasons I had those posts constructed, as I wanted to create a timber structure (pergola) across that whole section of garden...with a frame around the Norfolk...but now I'm not so sure. I still want it over the other four posts where it's paved but I've thought about maybe knocking some bricks off the other four posts and creating a square bench seat all around the tree instead...nice shady place to sit. I also have to access good for clearing away all the pine needles occasionally as they just build up too much and don't break down quickly enough. I also don't want anything growing under here that needs a lot of water as I don't want to change the conditions for this tree. I have learnt my lesson with the Coastal Banksia's and am even thinking that watering the lawn in (a few years back when I first laid it) didn't do a great deal of good to those two trees as they weren't used to excess water. I still think it looks like a little fairy land all newly mulched and might even just add some pot plants here and there to fill some spaces and leave the rest nice and open as it is.
I'm using woodchip fines mulch here for two reasons, the first is because it breaks down easily and enriches the soil (which is essentially sand) and second, so the cats have somewhere that's easy to dig when they do their business >(*!*)<

I do, however, want to plant something along the back fence but have not yet decided what. I would have liked for the Murraya's to continue all the way around, as they are on both the left and right sides of the garden but as they grow to about 3m+ I don't think they're the best choice as I don't want to block the afternoon sun, especially in winter. The Norfolk already creates enough shade and so I'm looking for something that will only get to about 2m, just above the fence line...and I'm not into pruning and shaping hedges...I'm not that sort of a gardener, I much prefer to let things take their natural shape as well as simply not having the time. I really need to make the decision now as to what to plant there as I've put it off long enough.

While I was out there with the camera I took the opportunity to take some more recent snaps of the garden beds either side of the curved how they've grown and this humid, rainy weather is just urging all the plants along beautifully.

The top image is taken from the paved area looking back towards the house...can you believe how bushy that first garden bed is now - what a difference a few years can make, hey! The other garden bed that leads up to the pond is really established too now and the plants are doing really well.

You know the thing I love best about this garden is how the wildlife has made it home. I have all number of birds - from my favourite family of Wattle birds, Willy Wagtails, Kookaburra's, Butcher birds, Minor birds (yes, not so happy about those), Gallahs, Parrots, Finches, Sparrows, Wrens, Crested Pigeons, Magpies and more all come to visit at some stage during the day...and then there's the Blue Tongue Lizards that have taken up residence, one day I saw three different ones sunning themselves in the garden and my heart beamed that I had created this haven for them...even the cats leave those ones alone as they're so big...they just sit at a safe distance and look on in wonderment.

The ability to turn what was a pretty barren block of land into something so magical it is so utterly satisfying, nothing really matches it. Even on those days when I was not in such a good place (and believe me there have been many over the past five years here), if I made that first push to just get myself out there I was soon lost in a much better place...I find gardening very therapeutic and healing.

So...the next thing I want to do out the back to finally push into the next stage of transformation is to tackle that large lawn area (that is now half-covered in mulch that was left over from when the two trees were cut down and chipped). I put two photo's together to give you an idea of the big picture...

Down in the bottom left-hand corner you can see how the persistent couch grass just took over, the only half-way decent patch left is the patch you can see because that is almost always shaded and it was a shade tolerant grass which obviously did not like the sun at all. I'm not sad to see it go though as lawn needs too much maintenance for me.

So the plan for 2011 is...
  • to move that mulch over to the actual garden bed along the fence line and distribute any remaining on top of existing beds to top them up
  • to take up the remaining lawn
  • have the back yard dug up to replace the sewerage pipe - if you look hard you can see the outlet between the last post and the trunk of the Banksia tree in the top right-hand corner of the image, just on the edge of the grass-line where the brick edging is and it runs diagonally back towards the house - what a drag, hey...and you should see how deep it is, at least over 2m!!! But might as well do the job properly so it doesn't cause more major problems down the line as I would hate to have to tear out established garden beds to do the work
  • once the pipe has been done, extend the right-hand side garden bed out a bit more but leave this area relatively open...maybe just have a longish outdoor table with some chairs around it for entertaining
  • to finish the pond once and for all! It's been like this far too long and I have some nice ideas about how to edge it (the pavers are only resting there as I removed these as the edging for that right-side garden bed when the tree was cut down
  • have the pergola erected. I want to find some nice recycled timber from my local 2nd-hand building supply place. I already have four long round treated pine posts that I bought on eBay an age ago with the intent of cutting them in half - hence the brick posts to a certain height only
Once that's all done the really big stuff in the back yard will be done...well there's actually also the issue of the patched and cracked concrete off the back of the house (you can see some of it in the image below but believe me there's lots more)...the rotting timber of the back balcony and the rusted posts holding up the awning which you can just see in the image (made up of two photo's pieced together, taken from the back balcony)...such big plans but without the budget to match :( will just have to chip away at it bit by bit like I have been doing for the past five years...

...and just as a stark contrast and to show the journey so far...the bottom image is one of the first taken when I arrived here five years at it now in the image above it!!! Pretty damn fine...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010 - the front garden grows

Just like in the back garden, I didn't do any major work in the front garden in 2010 but nature was at work again....

Above: The top 3 images show the mounded garden bed from different angles. In here I transplanted the few Dietes and also planted Flax, Grevillea, Lavender, Coast Rosemary, Kangaroo Paw, Blue Fescue, Liropes, Mini-mondo grass and cat grass. The next image shows how big the New Zealand Christmas Bush has become. The next few show the front of the house from various angles and distances, in particular the front fence line, with the hardwood posts, now looks much more settled with the garden growing behind it and I LOVE that when you are sitting in the front courtyard area the mound and plants creates a privacy screening from the road, it's really very special. I didn't want anything too high here as I like the view and like looking across to the reserve and all the trees.

Amongst other things you will see:
  • the two cats in some of the images, always around when I'm in the garden >(*!*)< 
  • the front right-hand side of the driveway has been planted out with the Coast Rosemary against the picket fence and some Blue fescue as a border along the edge of the driveway, plus some self-seeding Coastal Wattles that now run down the right-hand side of the house*
  • the left-over mulch on the driveway from the Banksia and Eucalyptus trees when they were cut down (this was eventually moved out the back just onto the last section of lawn I want to kill off and will be moved again shortly, but more on that later)
  • the front balcony has been repaired, updated and painted (apart from the hardwood posts that will grey over time
  • the rest of the awning has been painted as the garage door surround, the front and back gutters, facia's and eaves
  • the last two images show a self-seeded gazania and one of two lovely terracotta pots I got from Bunnings

*As much as I like the Coastal Wattles (down the right-hand side of the house) they pose two problems. The first is that they attract Ochrogaster Lunifer (processionary caterpillars) which end up stripping their host plant (the wattle) and in some cases killing it. These caterpillars are quite harmful and it has been said they can cause miscarriages in horses! If you get a spike in your skin it can cause infection, so I don't really want them hanging around, plus when they strip the tree (around March / April each year) it looks unsightly. More importantly though, even though they provide a lovely privacy screening from next door they are not the right plant for such a narrow space. As I have to replace the drainage pipe down along that side they will have to come out I have to start over here once I find a more suitable plant.

  • Phormium tenax: Common name: Flax (Ultra compact - Sweet Mist); Approximate size - 35-40cmH; Habit - compact strap leaf plant; Features - bronze foliage; Conditions - grows well in full sun to shaded positions, tolerates heavy frosts and moderate dry conditions, suitable for most soil types, in humid areas care should be taken to plant in well drained soil; Common use - ideal for mass planting as a low border or fill in plant, also good for containers and patios.
  • Grevillea thelemanniana: Common name - Grevillea 'sweet mist'; Approximate size - 30cmH x 1mW; Habit - groundcover, shrub; Features - bird attracting, evergreen, hardy, fine mid green foliage with bright scarlet spider flowers; Conditions - full sun, part shade, well drained soil, coastal conditions; Common use - perfect for rockeries, embankments, native gardens, underplanting.
  • Grevillea lanigera dwarf: Common name - Grevillea; Approximate size - prostrate x 1.5mW; Habit - small, spreading evergreen shrub; Features - bird attracting, deep green foliage with pinkish-red, toothbrush flowers; Conditions - full sun, part shade, coastal conditions, well drained soil, tolerates light frost; Common use - ideal for hedges, shrubberies and large tubs.
  • Westringia: Common name - Coast rosemary; Approximate size - 1.5mH x 1.5mW; Habit - compact shrub; Features - green-grey, rosemary-like leaves which are velvety white underneath, white to light mauve flowers with purple blotches in the throat; Conditions - full sun, part shade, coastal conditions, tolerates a wide range of soils and conditions, grows best in well drained soil in a sunny open aspect, relishes coastal conditions including salt-laden winds; Common use - ideal for native gardens, seaside gardens, good as a hedge.
  • Anigozanthos Hybrid Rambodiam: Common name - Kangaroo Paw (Bush Diamond); Approximate size - 60cmH x 45cmW; Habit - compact, bushy flowering strap-leaf plant; Features - white kangaroo paw flowers with a hint of pink; Conditions - full sun, heat tolerant, light frost tolerant, drought tolerant, well drained soils; Common use - suitable as feature plant in a container or planted en masse, pots, cut flowers.
  • Liriope Muscari: Common name - Liriope (Evergreen Giant); Approximate size - 30-4cm H & W; Habit - clump forming evergreen strap-leaf plant; Features - densely clustered tufts of narrow grass-like foliage and lilac flowers; Conditions - prefers well-drained soil in a sunny to part shade position, tolerates full sun, dry periods and frost once established; Common use - ideal for defining borders, groundcover, suitable for pots and containers. 
  • Dactylis Glomerata: Common name - Cat grass; Approximate size - 30cmH; Habit - clump forming evergreen strap-leaf plant; Features: grass-like; Conditions - sun, sandy soil, mulch, water; Common use - garden beds and pots
  • Lavandula: Common name - Lavendar (Jack Pike); Approximate size - 60cmH x 60cmW; Habit - compact, ornamental shrub; Features - evergreen aromatic shrub; Conditions - grow in moderate fertile, free draining soil, full sun, tolerates hot summers and cold winters, grow and yield best when there is adequate calcium in the soil, lime may be added, avoid using excessive amounts of fertiliser and never use strong manures; Common use - ideal tub specimen, as a hedge and as dried flowers.
NB: Deites and Blue Fescue plant facts in earlier posts.

2010 - the back garden grows

No major work was done in 2010 by me but nature sure didn't stop. The garden beds have really established themselves by now and are looking beautiful. There are still some minor issues with plants dying and having to be replaced, some still waiting for me to make decisions on what to put in now. I've gone for mostly Australian natives but am not a purist and so there's a bit of a mix...

Above: the top image shows the path-way leading back towards the house, the right-hand side is the very first garden bed in the back yard and on the left side of the path is the newer one sloping up towards the pond wall.

In the first garden bed there have been many changes of plants, some just died but some I just changed my mind about. Currently (and this is probably the way it will stay) are the bamboo plants, Gymea Lillies, Kangaroo Paw, Strelitzia, Purple Pony Grass, Isolepis Grevillia, Callistamon, a Coastal Wattle and a new Coastal Banksia tree as well and my lovely Balinese Urn (even though this is not a Balinese-style garden) and the new planting along the fence line of Murrayas (put in once the Eucalyptus was cut down) - all can be seen in the top 6 images. The bottom image shows the first planting of Murrayas along the fence and you can see they are just divine and covering that awful fence, remember how little they were in one of the previous photos when they were first planted...

Below: One of the Kangaroo Paw is the absolute best thing in the garden. It was given to me by a neighbour as a strappy plant, I moved it once and nearly killed it but it came back and grew and grew and grew and is now taller than me!!! It is intoxicatingly beautiful because Kangaroo Paw are my all time favourite flowering Australian native plants and all the ones I've had before have either died or never gotten past knee height. I posted the same images (below) on my stilelemente blog as this plant definitely inspired my 'kangaroo paw' design for my fabric. The images also show how dense the rest of the garden bed has become as these images were taken quite recently compared to the ones above.

The newer garden bed that slopes up towards the pond is planted with Gymea Lillies, Isopelis, Rosemary, Liriopes, a Lilly Pilly and a couple of Grevilleas (images below show it in both directions).

Below: In about May or June the Banksia was cut down, as well as that diseased Eucalyptus on the left-hand fence and I got them to chip it all and believe it or not it was enough to cover all garden beds, front and back with some left over! The left over stuff needed to come off the driveway so I just laid it out on the last section of lawn out the back that I want to kill off. I am now in the process of moving that mulch over onto the side garden bed and top up other beds and will lay down a fine mulch (but preferably saw dust if I can find it) for now as that whole section has to be dug up to replace the sewerage pipe to the house and I don't want to plant a garden bed yet until it is done.


Above: the top image shows the tip of the large limb that came down into my neighbours yard, it doesn't look as menacing in the photo because most of it is masked by their plants but believe me it was a significant sized limb. The next few show the limb and where it snapped away from the tree, you can also see the sawdust created by the borers at the base of the trunk and the last two show the tree itself before it was cut down, in the bottom image it is the one in front (this was taken from the back balcony). I was very sad to see this tree go...I have now planted a Murraya in its place, as there were Murrayas planted along this fence line at the same time as the ones on the opposite fence line and at least now the fence line will be hedged uniformly, even though the new one has a bit of catching up.