Thursday 24 June 2010

Farm garden tour - Part 4

This is the final post of my farm garden tour. Today we'll wander about the side of the house, and to the vege garden out the back. Last post, we walked along the front of the house and turned left at the silver birches. If we take a right turn instead, across the stepping stones, we head down the eastern side of the house.

The stepping stones lead to a meandering lawn which swings in and out, corresponding to bedroom windows on this side of the house.

This is the view from the main bedroom window. I got a great deal on some standard Iceberg roses, so they dominate this part of the garden, planted on either side of the lawn. They are underplanted with catmint, irises and borders of a variegated geranium.

On my last post, Hanady (all the way from Egypt!) asked if I started with a design for the garden. We did sketch out a design for the front portion of the garden, but this side garden just evolved over time. I love this part of the garden - lots of curves, creating a sense of anticipation as you wonder what is around the next corner!

We spent a lot of time thinking about the garden from the inside of the house - thinking about what we wanted to see from each window. So each room of the house has its own little view, with 'appropriate' plantings. For example, the garden outside my son's room has lots of burgundy, orange & purple flowering plants, no pink!

Walking around the back of the house, you will see more meandering lawn, and my 'Burgundy Iceberg' hedge! There is a story here. I went off to a end-of-season rose sale a few years ago, promising my sweetness to purchase just two climbing roses that we needed. I returned with a car full of the white Iceberg standards I mentioned ($7.50 each, I couldn't leave them there!) and a bundle of Burgundy Icebergs tied up with string. I paid $20 for the bundle, and when I untied the string, discovered there were 42, I say 42, roses in the bundle! We had just finished the winter prune on the roses, not my Sweetness' favourite job. He threatened that the only way these 42 new roses were going to get pruned was with the chainsaw! So my Burgundy Iceberg hedge was born. It gets trimmed VERY roughly with the hedge trimmer and flourishes!

As much as my Sweetness might hate rose pruning, he LOVES to build stuff. I asked for a frame in the vege garden to grow my snow peas on. I got this!

The vege garden is at the back of the house, straight out from the kitchen window. This is what I see from the sink:

I wanted a vege garden that was 'pretty' and a nice place to be as well us functional, hence the 'Pierre de Ronsard' entrance! There is a small circular lawn with a fruiting crabapple in the centre. I have planted strawberries as a border around the lawn. We plant vegetables in straight lines radiating from the centre. It works really well.

Ferne asked about our paths. We have used decomposed granite for all our pathways. It is inexpensive, blends naturally with the garden, and drains quickly. We love it.

So that's about it. I could bore you silly for days with details, but I will spare you! I would much prefer to be taking you all on a 'real life' tour, but this virtual one is the second best thing.

So from my garden to yours, bloom and be happy!

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Confessions of a gift-making coward

I love to sew, and to play with fabric combinations. No news there! I love to sew gifts for other people. But somehow, when I need to bring these loves together, something goes awry. I lose my confidence in combining fabrics when I try to take someone else's fabric tastes into account. I become paralysed with a silly fear that I might make something that a friend thinks is hideous. If I am going to spend time sewing something, I really want it to be something they will love! Often, this fear defeats me, and I avoid making the gift. Ridiculous, huh?!
Months ago, I had promised to make a frilly dilly bag for my gorgeous friend Wendy (who would never tell me that my gift was hideous, of course - she is my friend after all)! But so indecisive was I about what fabrics she might like, that I had to resort to a desperate solution:
"Wen, can you please go out and buy some fabrics that you really like so that I can make your bag for you?!"
What a coward I am! These are the fabrics she sent:

And without further agonising on my part, here is her bag:

Having Wendy choose the fabrics took none of the pleasure away from the process for me. I loved making this for her, safe in the assurance that she would love the end result.
For the record, the beautiful fabrics Wendy chose are:
1. 'Shangri-La' stripe by 3 Sisters for Moda
2. 'Fresh Air' brown print by Chez Moi for Moda
3. 'Lily Pond' by Wendy Slotboom for In the Beginning fabrics
4. 'Arabella' by Pat Sloan for P&B Textiles
5. 'Midas Touch' #2906 by Ro Gregg for Northcott
Lining - Michael Miller 'Dumb Dot' C2490
Pattern - 'Frilly Dilly Bag' by Janelle Wind
Foundation fabric - Natural linen/cotton blend
I only hope that my round-about way of gift giving didn't diminish my dear friend's pleasure in receiving it!

Friday 11 June 2010

Daybook entry #4

Outside my window ... sun! after a few cold, miserable days. And the very last of the roses which are due for their winter prune.
I am hearing ... ABC Sydney 702 radio online. Morning show with Sarah McDonald.
I am reading ... Janelle Wind's stunning first book, fresh off the press. It is delightful. Called 'Pieces of Me', it is a collection of fresh & happy small projects. Janelle has posted about her book here, here and here. And you can find stockists here.
From the kitchen ... a recipe for a winter warming soup. I've not cooked this recipe for years, but after its popularity at a dinner with friends last weekend, it has been revived.
carrot & cashew nut soup
800mL well-flavoured chicken stock
½” piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
½ nutmeg, finely grated
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100g roasted cashews
600g young carrots, peeled & chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
natural yoghurt & parsley for garnishing
Sauté onions in oil until transparent. Add remaining ingredients, except stock. Cover & cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Add stock & simmer until well-cooked. Discard cinnamon stick & puree remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve with a swirl of natural yoghurt & garnish with parsley.
I am in awe of ... the talent of these young Aussie musicians. Calling themselves Aston, they are a group of classically trained musicians at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
I am hoping ... to sew today, with a Verna layer cake by Kate Spain. I have a quick quilt planned!
I am thinking ... of my Dad today. It is his birthday, and he would have been 70, had the dreaded cancer not struck 3 years ago. He would have dawdled up the drive in his farm truck, checked the lupin crop in the front paddock, joked that it wasn't as good as his, shared a cup of coffee, demanded 'something good to eat' & told me the same old stories he had been telling me for years. I miss him!
From my picture journal ... a favourite photo of my nephew at a family paddock barbeque recently. There had been so much rain that there were frogs EVERYWHERE. They are lots of fun to catch!
Have a great weekend, Bloom x

Sunday 6 June 2010

Farm garden tour - Part 3

I am glad so many of you are enjoying our walk through the garden. Thank you for all your kind comments on my last two posts. Feel free to ask questions as we walk! Passing across the front of the house, you look left over the front lawn to a stand of lemon scented gums.

Straight ahead of you, I've planted three silver birches, under grown with Australian native violet. This is what you'll see in the spring:

In the autumn, the late afternoon sun lights up the white papery bark of these birches.

And in the winter, there is the brilliant pink of a Taiwan cherry nearby to brighten an otherwise dull garden.

The path kicks around to the left at this point.

... around a Betchel crabapple (Malus ioensis) ...

... and on to our tennis court.

When we built the tennis court, we had to remove some dirt to achieve the correct slope on the court for drainage. This excess soil became a low sculpted hill next to the court. It is the highest point in our otherwise dead flat garden! And a great spot for a picnic & some tennis spectating. The hill is planted with lime green gleditsias for shade.

A connecting path meanders around the hill, and allows me more room for garden beds, and more roses!

One of my favourite views of the garden is from this path, looking back across the front lawn to the house.

If you keep wandering along this path, it eventually turns back onto the front lawn, through a mass planting of 'Double Delight' roses. If you know this rose, you may well be able to imagine how amazing it smells as you walk through here.

Fellow plant lover, KaHolly and fellow quilter Quiltsalott both commented perceptively that this garden represents 'a lot of hard work'. Well yes, that can't be denied. But it doesn't feel a chore to me. It is therapy. A way to relax. And a way to keep a little bit fit, supple and strong. I find a (weird?) physical pleasure in aching from a hard day's work in the garden.

Suzi-q hopes that I have my own gardener! Other than me, my Sweetness, and our three garden slaves, otherwise known as children? Nope, no gardener. I figure the day I need to employ a gardener is the day I had better downsize!

Mary Ann asks if we charge admission! Haha! There has only been one occasion when admission was charged. We opened our garden a few years ago for charity.

We had 1500 people visit our garden that day. It was unbelievable!

Amazingly, the garden held up well after all those visitors, and you could barely tell anyone had been there at the end of the day.

And in the true way of gardeners, there was not one plant damaged or a skerrick of rubbish left. It was a wonderful day for us, a very special opportunity to share our garden & help towards raising funds for our local cancer support group.
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