Tiny pottery studio

Tiny pottery studio

In the backyard of a house in suburban Melbourne sits a tiny house. Tucked into the corner between the carport and fence, under the shade of a lilac-flowered paulownia tree, it was built as a cubby for two children who have since outgrown it. After a trip to Scotland, I took to annoying my kids [...]

Creative rebirth

Creative rebirth

More than anything, I am driven by curiosity and a deep desire to learn. This desire led me, three years ago, to take on a job and postgraduate studies that exposed me to new spheres of knowledge and tested my capacity to deal with unfamiliar challenges every day. I believed in what I was doing, [...]

Suburban dreaming: a haiku sketchbook

Suburban dreaming: a haiku sketchbook

Last year I visited the Brooklyn Art Library, home of a brilliant public art project, The Sketchbook Library. Over 41,000 5"x7" sketchbooks from 130 countries can be viewed in person, on tour and online. I was inspired to bring home my own sketchbook, which I've now almost completed. My sketchbook combines pen and watercolour drawings [...]

Shame, regret and cruelty to tomatoes

Shame, regret and cruelty to tomatoes

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 [...]

Paulownia on a dark and stormy night

Paulownia on a dark and stormy night

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 [...]

A day of winter cutbacks

A day of winter cutbacks

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 [...]

Tough love summer

Tough love summer

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 [...]

The Big Prune 2012

The Big Prune 2012

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 [...]

Autumn abundance/chaos

Autumn abundance/chaos

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 [...]

Boston Ivy

Boston Ivy

A quick post on the glorious Boston ivy I planted late last year, which is growing up the wall in my back garden. The southern edge of my garden is abutted by my neighbour's brick garage, leaving me with a blank wall that I actually don't mind - it gives privacy and a sense of [...]

Catching up with some pruning, a season too late

Catching up with some pruning, a season too late

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 [...]

Zucchini relish

Zucchini relish

Wrapping up my pickles series (part 1: green tomato mustard pickles and part 2: sweet fruit chutney and apricot jam), I did finish the zucchini relish. It was made from two thirds of a freakzoid zucchini, sections of which were also grilled on the barbie and added to a curry. It was a seriously large [...]

Sweet fruit chutney and dodgy apricot jam

Sweet fruit chutney and dodgy apricot jam

Here's Part 2 of today's New Year preserving extravaganza. Having turned unripe cherry tomatoes into green tomato mustard pickles (see Part 1), this evening I got stuck into the ripe tomatoes. Another idiot-proof recipe courtesy of The Australian Women's Weekly Cookbook of 1970. This was followed by a less successful attempt at apricot jam. Sweet [...]

New year pickles and chutney

New year pickles and chutney

'Tis the season for a glut of tomatoes, and at my place that means pickles and chutney. I have to confess that I am a very poor vegetable gardener, because I hardly ever water. And then if anything survives, I forget to harvest it. Hopeless. But I am quite good at growing cherry tomatoes, because [...]

Spring in the backyard, starring Paulownia ‘Powton Sapphire Dragon’

Spring in the backyard, starring Paulownia ‘Powton Sapphire Dragon’

I have to admit I'm not really that fussed about big spring flower displays - my aim is to have happy plants in summer and autumn, when we spend a lot of time outside. But there are some plants that just go off like firecrackers in spring, and the paulownia is definitely the star of [...]