Christine's garden Home page features

Flowers to say “I’m Sorry”

Flowers to say I'm Sorry!

To all my dear gardening friends, I owe you an apology. Life and work (mostly work) caught up with me and have kept me from my garden and my blog. I miss the daily banter and commenting about our gardens tremendously and I’ve missed ‘watching your gardens grow’. Unfortunately it doesn’t look as if things will slow down anytime soon and I’m committed to this crazy work schedule for at least another three weeks.

I promise I will be back soon to following all my dear garden-blogging friends!


Bloggers Harvest Day Christine's garden Home page features

A Summer Harvest

My limited edible gardening produces just enough to keep me interested. I like to try new things to see how they grow here and this month I’m having great fun with the Brinjal “Black Beauty” I planted recently. It’s obviously in an ideal spot because it produced flowers almost immediately and the first Brinjal is almost ready for picking. I think I could pick it now but I’d like it to get a bit bigger – apparently the right time to pick is when it’s almost the size of my hand (it’s the size of my closed fist now, so not long to go). This week I read somewhere that Brinjals (Aubergine or Eggplant) like to be positioned where they have lots of space and against a warm wall. No wonder mine is doing so well. That’s exactly where I planted mine – in a very deep, large pot that stands against a warm wall.

Brinjal "Black Beauty"

In other January Garden Bloggers harvest day news, I have so much Basil again that I’ve made my own Basil Pesto. The lovely small leafed Basil (called Basil Minuet) is wonderful freshly picked in salads. It has a less pungent flavor than the ordinary Basil which makes it perfect for eating freshly picked. I prefer the ordinary Basil for making Pesto. So I grow both and hope I can keep getting seedlings of the Minuet.After picking all the lovely leaves it takes about 7 to ten days and they are ready for picking again (depending of course on how much I need). And so far its been bug-free! I love this variety.

[one_half]Look whats growing in my Herb GardenIn the Herb pot[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Six cups of Basil, ready for turning into PestoSix cups of Basil, ready for turning into Pesto[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Difference in size of the two varietiesDifference in size of the two varieties[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Insert your text hereAnother look at the gorgeous Brinjal[/one_half_last]

I’m still picking Rosemary, lots of Thyme and am loving the Wild Rocket (Arugula). I need to get more of them, two plants are not enough for us.

A quick update – I prepared this post two days ago, and today was able to harvest the now larger-than-my-hand sized Brinjal!

Brinjal black beauty

What are you harvesting or growing this month? Please join us for Garden Bloggers Harvest Day, we’d love to see what you are growing or harvesting!

Happy Gardening

Do it yourself Home page features Miscellaneous

The big reveal

Finally … I am able to show my daughters new house. It took quite some convincing for her to allow me to publish these and it was on the understanding that I explain that they are still busy varnishing floors, skirting boards are still missing, and, and, and … there are unfinished things all over the place – so please bear that in mind.

Still not quite finished (notice the work people and equipment in the photos) they have been scrambling and working around the clock to get things as ‘finished’ as they can. The reason for this final rush to finish is that they have guests arriving from the UK on Friday and are hosting Christmas Lunch at their new home next week. You can see how much they have achieved in the last two weeks if you look back at this post where I showed the “garden” – or rather, the soon-to-be garden. What a change … the pool is almost ready to be filled, the entertainment deck and patio have been tiled and lawn has been laid. A new wall is being erected around the front to accommodate the new entrance gate and to replace the awful wall that was / is still there (will be removed once the new wall is completed) and more cobble stones are being laid to complete the driveway.

A quick recap: They bought the house primarily for the location and mostly for view from the property of the mountain which they fell in love with. The original house was demolished (except for the foundations which were sound) and they designed their dream home (no architects involved). This was partly due to limited funds but also because they had a dream of building their own house for quite some time. A student then helped them draw up their plans, they got the plans approved by council and then employed a small team to help them with the build*. All the beams and doors have been made from wood they salvaged from the existing house, they’ve installed solar panels (I can’t believe how little electricity they are using – I am seriously considering going that route next year) and they have invested in a big Jojo tank (for collecting rain water) and wherever possible, built using reclaimed material from the old house.

But enough with all the waffling, let me show you what they’ve done …

First, inside downstairs in the open plan living / dining and kitchen (remember that they bought the house for the view which they want to see from nearly every room. Hence the massive windows all looking to the mountain).

[one_half]Downstairs living room area to patioDownstairs living room area to patio[/one_half]

[one_half_last]From lounge to double volume dining areaFrom lounge to double volume dining area[/one_half_last]

[one_half]From the lounge looking to the kitchenFrom the lounge looking to the kitchen[/one_half]

[one_half_last]From living room to the patio and poolFrom living room to the patio and pool[/one_half_last]

[one_half]View from patio onto the driveway and lawnView from patio onto the driveway and lawn[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Back inside … the kitchenBack inside ... the kitchen[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Dining and kitchen area from stairsThe dining and kitchen area from stairs[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Another view of the downstairs areaAnother view of the downstairs area[/one_half_last]

[one_half]From behind the kitchen islandFrom behind the kitchen island[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The downstairs Guest suite (off the living area)The downstairs Guest Suite[/one_half_last]

The downstairs guest suite (which looks small in the photo but is actually very large) has an en-suite bathroom and separate loo, and the doors lead out onto the back yard area – potential here is for a created garden, something lovely and private.

Now let’s go upstairs … the banister is still being completed, the lamp doesn’t live there and there is still a bit to be done, as you will see.

[one_third]Going up the (unfinished)stairsWe're going up those stairs[/one_third]

[one_third]The unfinished bannisterThe unfinished bannister[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Three bedrooms up thereThere are three bedrooms up there[/one_third_last]

[one_third]The double volume dining areaThe double volume dining area[/one_third]

[one_third]As seen from the landingAs seen from the landing[/one_third]

[one_third_last]The landing to the bedroomsThe landing to the bedrooms[/one_third_last]

The main bedroom leads to a private patio with the lovely view they bought the property for, I won’t bore you with photos of the two other bedrooms (each has its own en-suite bathroom) and their windows look out to the back of the property.

[one_half]Looking down from the stairsLooking down from the landing[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The landing seen from belowThe landing seen from below[/one_half_last]

[one_half]The main bedroom with its viewThe main bedroom with its view[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The view from their private patioThe view from their private patio[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Towards the dressing roomLooking towards the dressing room[/one_third]

[one_third]The dressing roomThe dressing room[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Seen from the dressing roomSeen from the dressing room[/one_third_last]

Ok, now for the outside and what still remains to be done …

[one_half]The House that Steffi built!The House that Steffi built![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Here it is from the front …Here it is from the front ...[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Trellises will go in between the pillarsTrellises will go in between the pillars[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The new lawn and newly built, unfinished wallThe new lawn and newly built, unfinished wall[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Old vs new wall (incomplete)Old vs new wall (incomplete)[/one_third]

[one_third]Almost there, tiling the lap poolAlmost there, tiling the pool[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Still lots to be done hereStill lots to be done here[/one_third_last]

So there we have it! The house that Stefani & Iain built – they are both notorious for starting projects and not finishing them … lets hope this is not one of those 🙂

Do it yourself Gardening Home page features Miscellaneous

The Old house

About two weeks ago I showed my daughters ‘new garden’, well, what is going-to-be the garden of her newly built home (see post here … Intimidating). These past two weeks they have been very busy cleaning up the front areas, erecting a wall around the front, paving the driveway, tiling the swimming pool and tiling the outside entertainment area. Its looking VERY different to the photos I showed you in that post and I’m looking forward to taking photos of the completed hard-scaping they are doing in the front garden area. Its looking superb! (I was banned from taking ‘during’ photos of this phase of the build :)).

But before I show off their beautiful new home in the next day or so (by popular request), I thought I’d show one last ‘before’ post. Prepare yourself … it’s pretty scary!

These are the photographs I took at this time last year, just after they had concluded the purchase of the house and took ownership of the property.

The old house

The old house

The old house

A couple more that you can click to enlarge:

[one_half]Old house[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Old house[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Old house[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Old house[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Old house[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Old house[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Old house[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Old house[/one_half_last]

And here they are, sometime around June this year after the steel beams had been laid (terminology?), well proud of themselves, and rightly so! Shortly after this photo the first bottle of champagne was consumed on the property, right up there on the beam!

On top of the house!

Photos of the new house are here.

Happy Gardening

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Seasonal Celebrations in the Rose Bed

If you come to visit me you’ll ring the door bell from outside and then as you enter and close the door, this is the first thing you will see …

Summer garden

It’s what I see every time I look out of my back door and its bursting with blooms right now. In this small corner of my back garden, the roses are maturing and much larger this year. Covered in so many more blooms than last year, I’m really thrilled with them. Who said roses are difficult? I find them easy – the instructions are so precise: I know exactly when and how much to water and fertilise each shrub and how and when to prune.

Besides the once a year chop, I finger prune my roses occasionally and I am rewarded with such wonderful blooms and greenery, they are an absolute pleasure to me. And when they are pruned and bare for a short while, they just blend into the scenery allowing the other plants in their midst to shine – but only for a brief time while they recover and then come back to steal the lime-light, because once they are flowering its hard not to notice them.

[one_half]Basking in the shadows of the RosesBasking in the shodows of the Roses[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Quite a few blooms on Monday …The rose bushes on Monday ...[/one_half_last]

[one_half]And lots more blooms by WednesdayAnd lots more blooms on Wednesday[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And even more today!And even more today![/one_half_last]

I’m tempted to cut the roses and bring them indoors, but I am enjoying this view so much I just can’t bring myself to cut them.

This is a ‘Summer’ Bed, at it’s best from December through to March. It’s far from perfect … I’ve made many changes and keep trying different things, but the roses are a constant around which everything else changes from time to time – except I think I’ll leave the Jasmine on the trellises now – I’m happy with them, even if they are too close in colour to the roses (the foliage). The result is that you do not notice the bare rose stalks when they are pruned and bare from the end of July through to early September – and when the Jasmine flowers in September and October, the scent as you enter the property is wonderful. Jasmine and Lavender …

Growing in the bed below I have Dietes grandilora, Penstemon, a Daisy bush, Heliotropium, a Duranta gold on either side and at the very front some of my Lobularia and Carex’s are really struggling because the dogs and the moles are at war here. Those dogs and moles have cost me a lot of plants! I’m considering other options – when they make me really cross then thorny plants, scarecrows, fences, ‘get off’ pellets … and other scary options spring to mind!

In other news, it’s a busy work time with little time for the garden and even less for blogging, but in two weeks time we will have a break and with it lots of lovely time to spend in the garden!

I’m joining Donna of Garden’s Eye View for Seasonal Celebrations. Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time!

Happy Gardening, wherever you are!


Bloggers Harvest Day Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

A Short but Sweet December Harvest

It’s a small harvest. Lots of herbs we use daily and I pick as I need, no big baskets full of produce here this month, just regular picking of the most delightful Basil I’ve grown yet. We’re eating it raw in salads and putting in everything it seems. This one is Basil “minuette”.  It is much smaller (smaller leaves, smaller plant) than the other Basil I grow which has a much stronger flavour and a very distinct, sharp taste.  The minuette is lovely raw. Sweet, slightly tangy, not strong at all. Lovely. Add some cherry tomatoes, parsely, mozzarella or feta, balsamic and olive oil and Yum!

Basil 'Minuette"

I now have a regular supply of Rosemary. With two plants flourishing I’m never short of this wonderful herb. The Oregano is great and the Lemon Thyme is marvellous to cook with. We are all on diet here and these lovely herbs add wonderful guilt-free taste and variety to the limited portions I have to serve at meal times.  The Herb garden really makes dieting a bit more interesting.

In the Herb planter in December

My potato plant burst out of its bag and has been re-potted into a container where it is happily growing up. I’ve planted an additional Lemon Grass (because I love the plants and we use it in cooking a lot), and I’ve planted my first Brinjal ‘Black Beauty’. The curry plant adds an interesting texture and fragrance to the herb growers and I’ve popped a few Marigolds in between things to help keep the bugs at bay. I never spray my herbs or veg with anything – they encourage the creepy crawlies to wonder on elsewhere (to my perennials, sigh).

Rosemary and edible Viola thriving in the shade

Also picking lots of chives and fennel is in abundance here, but Coriander keeps bolting and the lettuce are struggling – so instead I’m giving Rocket a try to see how that does.

What are you harvesting this month? Please join us for Garden Bloggers Harvest day in December and let us know how your Veggie Garden is doing!

Happy Harvesting

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Intimidating …

I have a new project. It’s extremely intimidating. Let me share …

In November last year My daughter and her partner took ownership of a house they bought, in the same block around the corner, from my home. It’s a fabulous area* and they bought at a great price. Reason the price was so great is the house on the property was so neglected it required extensive work. It was in fact uninhabitable and the garden was so overrun with weed and overgrown neglected plants that we had to chop back creepers to get into the house. Really. It was so bad I can’t describe it adequately, I will have to show photos some time. They bought the house for the area and the amazing view of the mountain from the property.

Long story short, the existing wreck of a house got demolished, a new one was built and they now have a beautiful new home, situated in a mess of a “will-be-garden-some-day”. I’d like to add to the story that these two built the house themselves. They designed the house (no architect involved), got it approved by Council, then gathered a small crew consisting of a bricklayer and three labourers and proceeded to build themselves a beautiful home. (At one stage my little girl was mixing concrete and laying foundations … I have the photos to prove it :)). The end result is a an impressive house and I am incredibly proud of what they accomplished. (If our readers are interested, I will show the house – leave a comment if you’d like me to show and I’ll do a photo post soon).

So being the avid gardener that I am, I somehow got myself roped into ‘doing the garden’. No problem I thought. How hard can it be? Filled with enthusiasm, Lovely Daughter and I spent last weekend planning and discussing and then went to photograph the area. What you will see on these photos is only the mess I have to work with. You won’t see the beautiful house they built – all you will see is the most intimidating project I’ve ever taken on. Seriously. Looking at the photos I am tempted to call in a garden designer and pay the big bucks to let someone else start it off for us. Unfortunately having just built a house there is no budget for fancy garden designers, so LD and I will have to work through this, one step at a time.

Please tell me this is not intimidating?

Front of the property (seen from above patio) – From left to right

Front of the property (seen from above patio) - Far left

Front of the property (seen from above patio) - Still far left

Front centre

Centre and right

The driveway area to the garage (note the bare soil area against the wall)

The left, driveway

End of driveway to garage

The back enclosed yard / garden area:

Back yard area

What a mess

Last shot ...

So would you tackle this yourself or call in help?

*Two excellent schools in walking distance, a lovely family neighbourhood … I’m praying for the pitter-patter of little feet in a few years time xxx

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Hello Summer

It’s the end of November and on Saturday we slip into Summer and the start of the festive season … where did this year go?

As the working year slowly draws to a close I am, at last, finding more time to spend in the garden. I’m delighting in the fact that many of my plants are finally leaping … Star jasmine is in full flower and the scent is wonderful all over the front garden. There is hardly a bare patch to be seen and the lawn is slowly coming back to its summer splendour. Slowly. And not without a huge effort. But it is worth it when it looks all lush and green, like a little carpet in the mass of plants at the back. Areas I focussed on last year, like the back left corner garden, are full of happy plants about to burst into bloom. The Agapanthus are looking great this year, and all my grasses are coming back strongly after their spring cut back.

Here’s a quick look around at some of my favourite spots.

[one_half]Petunias and Star jasmine leapingPetunias and Star jasmine leaping[/one_half]

[one_half_last]This corner was a “project” last summerThis corner was a "project" last summer[/one_half_last]

[one_third]The new bird houseThe new bird house looks lovely[/one_third]

[one_third]New grasses are coming upThe new grasses are coming up[/one_third]

[one_third_last]This Dahlia is taller than meThe massive Dahlia is taller than me[/one_third_last]

[one_half]Newly planted to replace struggling GardeniasNewly planted to replace the struggling Gardenias[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And a mass of flowers in the Rose bedAnd a mass of flowers in the Rose bed[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Jasmine climbing up the treeJasmine climbing up the tree[/one_third]

[one_third]In the pond …In the pond ...[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Thunbergia Alata (new)Thunbergia Alata (new)[/one_third_last]

[one_half]Solanum jasminoides behind the DahliaSolanum jasminoides behind the Dahlia[/one_half]

[one_half_last]A deep dark shade spot full of greeneryA deep dark shade spot full of greenery[/one_half_last]

After the trellis in the front garden “Gardenia bed” collapsed I decided it was time to redo that bed. The last few weeks I’ve been busy digging up the struggling Gardenias and painting the walls (yes I did have help :)), and then I planned, purchased and planted up the new bed. I’ll do a post about it soon, but the preview is above.

Happy Gardening

Bugs & Pests Christine's garden Gardening Home page features

Mole control

Tired of moles digging up your garden? Fed up with voles burrowing up your plants? Then you’ve probably tried all types of remedies that range from the moderately useful to totally useless – in the form of pellets, solar mole repellers, camphor blocks, garlic cloves … and still the moles return.

I’ve given up with trying to control or get rid of them. Nothing I’ve tried has worked. Until …

The best mole deterrent I’ve had so far …

On Mole Control

Unfortunately said “mole controller” does a fair amount of damage in her eagerness to get the job done …

Mole Control

Mole Control

But it works!!

I have no idea what happened to the mole, but there were no new mole-piles this morning so it seems her two hour barking and digging session paid off.

What have you found to be effective against moles?

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels

Just call me Daisy

A few months ago I saw a little four pack of seedlings marked simply “Daisy” at a local nursery. They were really small, as seedlings go, but I liked them and brought them home. Not really knowing what they are (try googling ‘daisy’, you’ll get hundreds of results, none of which helped identify the seedlings I’d bought), I planted the four “daisies” in different spots, shade, semi shade and full sun. The ones in the sunniest position took off straight away and started to flower in winter, the others all appeared to be dormant, but were hanging in there.

A few weeks later I found a six pack of the same plant, this time labelled as “Argyranthemum” and so I had the name. Googling “Argyranthemum” reveals that there are hundreds of different ones and I still don’t really know what mine are – but who cares … they are pretty, fill in some gaps and seem to flowers for months on end as mine have been doing, with no sign of letting up. I have pink ones and white ones and I love them. I found a slightly larger one, labelled “Argyranthemum frutescens” and that one is doing well mixed in with the Heliotropium. The white and yellow flowers are perfect with the purple of the Heliotropium and the Dietes Grandiflora that are also flowering now.

[one_half]I have them in white …I have them in white ...[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And I have them in pink!And I have them in pink![/one_half_last]

[one_half]Pretty with the HeliotropiumPretty with the Heliotropium[/one_half]

[one_half_last]In deep shade, filling a dark holeIn deepest shade, filling a dark hole[/one_half_last]

[one_half]These are “Argyranthemum frutescens”There are "Argyranthemum something"[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Thriving with Salvia greggii in full sunThriving with Salvia greggii in full sun[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Happy with Carex and SalviaHappy with Carex and Salvia[/one_half]

[one_half_last]A rare view of my Alley-wayA rare view of my Alley-way[/one_half_last]

In other news … after being away from my garden for almost four weeks there is quite a lot to do. Lots of pruning, cutting back and weeding required, but I’m thrilled that my garden has seemed to reach the “third year they leap” stage. Lots of the plants were planted three seasons ago and are now really coming into their own. Its a joy to behold. And I have very very few “holes” left to fill.

Here are a few things that make me happy …

[one_half]Dietes grandiflora and HeliotropiumDietes grandiflora and Heliotropium[/one_half]

[one_half_last]New leaves on the LiquidamberNew leaves on the Liquidamber[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Petunias have started to flourishPetunias have started to flourish[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Yesterday, today and tomorrowYesterday, today and tomorrow[/one_half_last]

[one_half]The bugs have moved back inThe bugs have moved back in[/one_half]

[one_half_last]+/- 40 Agapanthus about to flower here+/- 40 Agapanthus about to flower here[/one_half_last]

[one_half]My gorgeous boy, always helping meMy gorgeous boy, always helping me[/one_half]

[one_half_last]My roses are floweringMy roses are flowering[/one_half_last]

[one_half]My Birches are full of leaf and gorgeousMy Birches are full of leaf and gorgeous[/one_half]

[one_half_last]I wish I knew what tree this is …I wish I knew what tree this is ...[/one_half_last]

Happy Gardening