When I started making ceramics, I had no preconceptions about what I wanted to make. It was all just play: getting my hands into the clay and disconnecting from the left side of my brain. Over the years, I'd pinned quite a few ceramics pictures in Pinterest. There was no clear intention - I just [...]
The last stop on my day trip down the Cape Peninsula took me to Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens, the world's first indigenous botanic garden. We arrived at 5pm, an hour before closing time, after the sun had dropped behind the mountain. The gardens were lush and peaceful. In the cycad garden, life-sized fibreglass [...]
If there was a prize for worst vegetable gardener, I'd be a contender. Vegetable gardening is fundamentally incompatible with my gardening style, which consists of bursts of frenetic activity interspersed with long periods of staying inside with a good book. Every few years I resurrect a fantasy about tending a productive garden. Inspired by this [...]
Wine, cheese, fashion, architecture. I was expecting these. But no one told me about the street plantings! I associate French gardens with formality, symmetry, topiary, parterres. I thought Monet's garden at Giverny was the exception, not the rule. Yet wherever I went in France, the streets and parks were planted with dramatic foliage and intensely [...]
I know it's October when my son celebrates his birthday and the paulownia blooms in the back yard. A storm battered Melbourne on Sunday night, felling trees, taking out power lines, flooding roads and bringing the trains and roads to a grinding halt on Monday morning. Meanwhile, our paulownia sprinkled a few flowers onto the [...]
In July, I spent a day cutting back my shaggy front garden. At 10am the plants were in their full overblown end-of-season glory. The gravel path was an obstacle course and winter weeds filled any gaps. It's been a while since I planted small, pretty things. The toughest, most neglect-tolerant plants have taken over. By [...]
Late on Saturday afternoon on the first day of autumn. Air the perfect temperature - a touch above 'warm'. Bees, backlit leaves, blowsy roses, bit of a breeze. Time for a walk through the burbs. I never get bored walking round my neighbourhood. There's nothing glamorous about it. It's not urban enough to be edgy, [...]
Saturday afternoon on the Melbourne Cup Day long weekend. 28 perfect sunny degrees, the barest wisps of cloud in a blue sky. After a mild, wet winter, the garden is exploding with new growth. Grevillea 'Moonlight', 'Big Red' kangaroo paws, ruby bottlebrush, pelargoniums and climbing roses are in full bloom. Cotinus 'Grace' is glowing with [...]
Utter, utter bliss. Lying on a bean bag in the backyard with a Barbara Kingsolver novel. 26 glorious degrees. Sunlight glowing through the leaves, bees buzzing in the gum blossoms. Total stillness, except for three children exploding the biggest water-bombs they can concoct. This is why I love autumn in Melbourne.
After a record-breaking heat wave and dry spell this summer, my garden is looking a little rough around the edges. The tough conditions were exacerbated by me being away for a couple of weeks in January, while temperatures were in the 40s. I rarely water the garden, but during extended heat waves I do try [...]
It's that time of year again when I get out the secateurs, shears and loppers and hack into the garden. Since starting this blog three years ago, a clear seasonal pattern has emerged: Late autumn - admire the tangle of lush growth, bemoan the plants that didn't survive the summer, and start thinking "I really [...]
With all this gallivanting off overseas, my garden has had to fend for itself for a while. I have come back to find the front garden in full late-autumn sprawl; the weeds green and luxurious, salvia and plumbago flopping across half the garden, and pretty much everything in need of a good cut back. The [...]
Eleanor Joan Swan, 6 May 1920 - 11 June 2011. Rose lover. Grower of violets, daphne and other sweet-smelling plants. Gentle admirer of pretty flowering things. Sharer of cuttings. Patient tender of hydrangeas in a drought ("Just a cup of water a day"). Bird lady. And many other things besides. Rest in peace.
Normally I do my big annual cut-back in May or June. Somehow I didn't quite get around to it this year... then before I knew it, it was August, spring was springing, and I had a bushy jungle in the front garden, with new shoots competing with last year's leggy growth. (Similarly, I've spent the [...]
Our friends and former neighbours Sue and Glen have made a tree change to Woodend, an hour north of Melbourne. After renting for a year to try out the location and the lifestyle, they bought a 10-acre property earlier this year. A week ago we went up to visit them. The property was previously owned [...]