Lavender Farm

Lavender Farm

During our trip to the South West last month, we travelled to lots of pretty places, through still-green-and-lush countryside.  One such place was the Lavender Farm in Balingup (about 240km from Perth).  My Mum and I had been there before, about ten years ago and were eager for our UK visitor to see the property and perhaps share some delicious tea and scones.  We were disappointed to find they no longer serve lunches (I’m absolutely convinced that they used to – but maybe I am muddling them up with a different places…) so we just looked around the garden instead.  Sadly, the lavender itself was not out, having been pruned back to small clumps.  Disappointment again.  But, we made do with the rest of the garden which was pretty and colourful, with a few individual lavender bushes, California poppies, bulbs and other beautiful blooms.

The property is nestled in the hills of Balingup and the countryside itself is gorgeous.  It’s kind of an Aussie version of a English dale.  Green and lush, rolling hills dotted with fluffy sheep and little farmhouses.  So pretty.

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I love lavender – its smell and colour and just the look of it when it is in full flower.  It’s a shame we didn’t get to see the farm in full harvesting bloom, but the little amount we did see was lovely nevertheless.  The bees seemed to be happy enough 🙂

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The California poppies were gorgeous – that orange is so sunny and bright.  I loved the just-opening ones.

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We saw lots of these Scillas on our travels.  Scilla Peruviana to be precise.  I only know this because I looked it up ha ha.  SO pretty.  That bright, bright blue-purple is dazzling.  Another favourite with the bees.

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Lots of irises.  The icy white complemented the purple ones – very beautiful.  When we returned home, Mum was pleased to see hers had flowered in our absence – they are stunning.  Such a favourite in the garden at this time of year.  They are elegant without being too showy.

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I wasn’t sure what these flowers were called so I had to look them up when I got home.  They are everywhere at the moment.  Blooming on the side of the road, in people’s gardens, and in council displays.  They are so bright and cheerful and pretty.  They’re Ixias, or African Corn Lillies.  Native to South Africa, these bulbs seem to like our warm climate and flower beautifully in the Spring.  The colours range from yellow to red, pink to purple, with every shade in between.  Lovely.  They also make a nice cut flower – lasting well in a vase for a pretty arrangement.

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So, we had a nice hour at the Lavender Farm, despite the general lack of Lavender, and got lots of gorgeous flower photos.  Mum even got to see a Blue Wren, her favourite little bird, so it was worth the trip even for that.  I’ll write up about the bird life in a future post.

A beautiful part of the South West 🙂

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Bushwalkin’

Bushwalkin’

A long day today at work with no computers and no phones.  Difficult to get any work done and especially frustrating as this is my last week before I go on a month’s leave, so I’ve got plenty that needs doing.  I filed and sorted invoices, shuffled paper around and looked out the window a lot today.  It was chilly, but bright and sunny outside, so I decided to take a longer lunch break and have a wander in the nearby bush.

We are lucky enough to be surrounded by bushland on all sides (pretty much) at my work.  It won’t be there forever ; we are soon to have new premises built which will take away most of the natural flora and landscape.  While a new building will be nice and bring all my workmates back together in one place, it will be sad to see the loss of the trees and wildflowers, not to mention the birdlife and reptiles.  I worry about the cockatoos and skinks, snakes, and possums that make their home there.

So today I soaked up the sun, wandered among the grass trees and banksias, and took a few happy snaps of the surrounding bushland.  So many beautiful textures and colours.  I would have been quite content to amble about by myself for hours, but that’s probably not the safest idea and I was still expected to be at my desk (albeit positioned near a window so I could stare out of it) until home time.  Such a shame.

I should go for a walk more often during my lunch break. Most days I don’t even have a lunch break.  I just forget to.  I often eat at my desk, which is naughty, I know.  I sit at my desk, grumbling at my computer, drinking too much tea and getting fat.  A daily midday walk would be much more productive and would mean I could forego my after-work walk which, I must admit, has also fallen by the wayside, much like my promise to eat better and stress less.

So, today, I walked.  Not far and not too briskly, but at least I got up from my desk and got some fresh air and sunshine.
Hope you managed to do the same today (or can at least promise to try to do it tomorrow).

🙂

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Gardening for the Non-Gardener

Gardening for the Non-Gardener

I like gardening.  I like pottering about among the, um, pots and such.  I like watching things grow and bloom and I like having lots of greenery around me.  But, I am sad to say, I am not very good at gardening.  I forget to water things, am slack about repotting the seriously-in-need-of-repotting and I have a tendency to forget I even have a garden.  Which is why succulents are a good choice for me.  I can forget about them, at least a bit, and not have lots of dead plants everywhere.  They are easy to grow and come in all shapes and sizes so you can have a nice little collection of interesting specimens that often have pretty flowers and/or colourful foliage.  The best thing about succulents is that you can grow them from cuttings very easily and propagate more plants from just the leaves.  They are hardy (although it is still possible to kill them – trust me) and withstand a bit of punishment and neglect as long as you follow the basic rules.

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I have found that succulents do indeed need to be watered.  While many online guides and gardening books tell you not to overwater them, you do still need to keep them hydrated, especially here in Australia where Summer days are extremely hot.  I have killed one aeonium by letting it get too wet and nearly lost several spiky haworthias by allowing them to dry out too much and get burnt by the full sun.  But on the whole, they are fairly forgiving little suckers and I find that you can muddle your way through their care and keep them pretty happy.

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Tomorrow I have to pot up a bunch of cuttings and propagated “babies” that I have had sitting in my bath tub for over a month.  They’re perfectly happy in there – I haven’t even watered them or anything.  But I really need to get them potted up, although I am running out of room on my little outdoor shelves – might have to give some of the plants away or perhaps set up another area to house them.  I have several friends who also grow them, so giving them away won’t be a problem – I could even take some to work and have them in our little courtyard garden there.

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I had to repot a very fast-growing kalanchoe “Flapjacks”, with its large, paddle-shaped leaves.  It started out as a small cutting but has grown into three big plants that were crying out for a new pot.  So I did them this afternoon – hopefully they will be happier having a little more breathing room.

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I love my little Jelly Bean succulent.  It’s so cute!  It also self-propagates like nobody’s business!  Whenever a leaf drops off or gets knocked off, I chuck it into a nearby pot.  I don’t do anything with it, just leave it to do its thing.  Within a few weeks, there is normally the start of tiny pink roots and not long after that, there is the beginning of a brand new plant.  Amazing!  I love that they are that easy to grow.  I really need to repot my “mother” plant as it is getting way too big for its current pot (which is basically the one I brought it home in).  But it looks healthy and happy enough and has had lots of babies 🙂

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Another specimen in need of a much bigger pot is my beloved “Bunny”.  This little cactus makes me smile with its funny little arms and bunny ears.  I think it is waving in a desperate attempt to get me to find it a bigger home.  It has grown so much since I bought it last year at the swap meet.  I keep promising it a new pot (yes, I am one of those weirdos who talks to their plants!) but have yet to get round to doing it.  Tomorrow, hopefully.

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I’ve got various pots around the place with cuttings and propagated leaves growing in them.  When they’re big enough I may give them their own individual spot, or leave them to fill the pot they’re in.  I love the little mini gardens people make with various kinds of succulents all in one pot – it’s so lush and pretty.

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My other pot plants are also doing well.  I divided, cut back and repotted my poinsettias midway through last year as they were very leggy and a bit pot-bound.  I chopped them back to what amounted to bare sticks, but they are thriving now and have a healthy growth of foliage.  I missed out on their vivacious red colour last Christmas, but this coming year they should be back at their glorious best.  At any rate, I think they look nice even if they’re just green and healthy.

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My white geranium, though a bit shabby, is flowering well and I really like the bright white flowers against the dark green foliage.  I’ve always wanted a white one and I’m glad I have succeeded in keeping this one alive and reasonably happy.

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My Bay tree is growing at a rate of knots and always stays pretty healthy and glossy.  From a little seedling it has quadrupled in size and has been a welcome addition to my kitchen staples.  Adding a bay leaf to soups and stews really does make a delicious difference.

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A couple of months ago the gardener that takes care of the gardens at the front of our properties decided to viciously prune my fishtail ferns and azaleas.  I came home to a savaged, brown patch of garden – horrors!  It looks awful.  I loved my azaleas, and even the fishtail fern (as overgrown as it was) looked lush and green.  Now it looks as though a bushfire went through and desecrated the whole area.  I was hoping it would sprout quickly and grow back, but so far I’ve only got the start of some azalea shoots and the fern has given up entirely.  I hope that after Summer it might all come good again but right now it looks dreadful.  I still don’t really understand why they decided to chop it all down but leave everything else.  I just have an ugly brown patch in the middle of an otherwise green garden.

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      So, while I am no “green thumb” and have a lot to learn in regards to keeping a healthy, happy garden, I’m fairly pleased with how it is going.  It’s just nice to have plants around – I keep quite a few inside as well as they brighten the house up and promote a feeling of calm (supposedly!).  I have herbs as well, such as sage and rosemary, parsley and mint.  It’s lovely to be able to pick your own herbs to add to cooking and at least your know where they’ve come from and that they haven’t been treated with any chemicals or other toxic substances.

I’m determined to get the rest of my garden looking ship-shape this year. The soil needs improving, the garden beds need building up and borders formed to stop the soil running away, weeds need to be gotten rid of and the general overall look needs tidying up.  Because I am in a rental, it is easy to get stuck in the “it’s not mine – why should I bother?” rut, but I really need to make an effort and make it more presentable.  One day, if a miracle occurs, I might be able to afford a place of my own – and I want to have a beautiful garden that will be a joy to be in.  For now, though, I enjoy the little pots and courtyard areas that make up my “garden”, and I will continue to potter about, hopefully not killing things, and trying my best to turn my black thumbs to green.  I’m getting there slowly.

Do you have a favourite spot in your garden?  Do you get to potter about in it as much as you’d like?

Pots and Such (Another Adventure in Op-Shopping Land)

Pots and Such (Another Adventure in Op-Shopping Land)

Hi everybody! I hope your week has gotten off to a good start. I am gearing up for yet another move at work in the next couple of days and I am very tempted to either hide under my desk until it is all over or move interstate. I can’t wait for everything to be back in its rightful place, neatly organised (or not-so-neatly, I’m not fussy, as we all know), all the library books back on their shelves instead of packed in boxes all over the place, and to be able to run an efficient service again without having to tell people that we can’t access things at the moment. I don’t want to leave the other office though – I like it there with all my colleagues and will miss them (such a sap!) and the sound of chatter and laughter during the day. Hopefully I can make regular visits to see them and ensure the resources there are kept up-to-date and current.

I did do a spot of op-shopping on the weekend. I always call it a “spot” of op-shopping… Why don’t I just say I ran rampant in a few op-shops and emptied my purse? That would be more realistic. I didn’t buy clothes which is a miracle, but lots of china and pottery including a little, vintage porcelain brooch – which I promptly dropped as soon as I got it home and now it is chipped in several places (I am telling myself that it was already chipped and I failed to notice in the shop). This is also the only decent photo I took of anything so be prepared for a less than award-winning photography performance…

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I bought a few different receptacles for succulents including….

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…this cute pottery mug – the colours will go nicely with an aeonium (with it’s pink and yellow-tinged leaves).
Don’t think I am all up on the names of these things; I just had to look that up 🙂

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…these pottery bowls – so nice! I’ve decided to keep them for me and use them in the kitchen. I’ve already had my soup in them as pictured in my last post.
They were only about 25c each so I couldn’t pass them up (well, I could have, but I didn’t!)…

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…this little gobletty-thing. I don’t know what it is, really. I guess it could be a candle holder thingy. I’m going to call it a goblet.
If you know what it is, please tell me so I don’t look like a dufus (any more than usual). It’s made in Ireland and I really just liked the colours…

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…these ceramic clogs! So daggy and twee! But they will look cute with a little succulent in them, right? Not my kind of colours (a lime green clog? I don’t think so…) but they might go with someone else’s decor, you never know…

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…a couple of little white pots. Cacti and succulents always look nice in a fresh white pot, so I picked these up for a cheap price. The smaller one is made in Portugal…

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…I loved this sugar bowl. I’ve always liked this design – 70’s Figgjo Flint, Tor Viking – and this little vintage piece was in really good condition, no chips or cracks.
It was only $3.25 too… They had matching cups and saucers but I controlled myself ha ha… I’ll keep this piece for myself though…not planting anything in that!

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…of course I bought beads (that goes without saying). I found a couple of necklaces that had awesome beads and they were colours or shapes
I didn’t already have anything similar to…these blue/green cubed wooden ones were great and plenty of them on long lengths…

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…they came in a bundle with this necklace, which I probably wouldn’t have picked up on its own (turquoise – I think I have enough of that…
but can you ever have enough turquoise?) but I will use the beads nevertheless…

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…these ethnic-looking beads were perfect, especially as they are lighter in colour than the typically dark wood ones I always seem to get.
The pale terracotta shade is really nice with the white detailing…

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…LOVED this necklace with it array of pretty lampwork beads in shades of green and I’ve already made a pair of earrings with them…

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So, a pretty good afternoon of treasure hunting and actually not much money spent as most things were marked down from their already ridiculously low prices. I’m going to stop looking for and buying pots etc soon – the succulent “thing” is shaping up to be a bit of a fad/phase for me and I haven’t even potted any up yet (although my lovely cousin gave me a load of cuttings and leaves to propagate last night…) so I’d better start growing some before I buy any more containers to put them in. I do like the idea of plants that are hard to kill though…and if you can plant them in cute little pots, all the better!

What do you look for when op-shopping/thrifting? Do you only go for clothes or like looking at lots of different things? Do you go in with a budget, or just wing it? Do you share your favourite spots with friends, or do you keep the locations secret? I’d love to know your op-shopping “style”…

Have a lovely day, everyone x

Everybody needs a tiger in the garden, right?

Everybody needs a tiger in the garden, right?

Last week, when I was out with my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin, we spent some time in a little pet-supply-cum-garden-decoration place.  My Aunt and Uncle love it there and enjoy looking at all the amazing animal sculptures (fibreglass I think) you can buy for your home and garden.  Some of them are so life-like and would look great hiding amongst some foliage or peeking out from some ferns or tropical plants.  They also had dinosaurs (my nephews would have loved them!) that were almost life-size and some enormous garden gnomes which I kinda liked, despite not being a garden gnome kinda person.  My Aunt was in love with a rather dilapidated donkey statue which had seen better days – we eventually convinced her we didn’t have room for it in the car boot – and I found myself wondering if I didn’t actually desperately NEED a tiger in my front garden, y’know, just to add a bit of interest to it…

I’ll leave the pictures to speak for themselves…

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I’m off to the dentist shortly to have my temporary crown fitted and also my new night splint to stop me gnashing my gnashers at night. Not looking forward to it or the pain involved (in my mouth and in my wallet).  Oh well, could be worse I guess!  Hope you have a great day and do not have to go anywhere near a dentist!  Send me happy thoughts and courage (I’m not too bad at the dentist but my anxiety can get the best of me at any time so there’s always room for a little bit of extra bravery!).

🙂

 

April Blooms (while I curse the cold)

April Blooms (while I curse the cold)

It is raining.  Our parched state is finally receiving some blessed rain from above and my garden couldn’t be happier.  As everyone knows, I don’t like the colder seasons and whinge and complain for months on end until the sun starts warming the earth again and I can get out of the dreaded jeans and pants (I am a skirt girl).  However, I do love the rain and how it freshens everything up and makes the plants blossom and bloom and stand tall.  I love the sound of rain on the roof, especially when I’m tucked up in bed.  This morning I slept in, yet again, when I had promised to get up early and make the most of the day, and listened to the lovely gentle rain, watering my garden for me and making everything clean and bright.

So while drag myself out of bed and make plans for the day, my garden is happily soaking up all the moisture it can get, blossoming and blooming in an explosion of colour, to celebrate the breaking of the “drought”.  I’m just trying to wake up.  I’ll leave the exhibitionism and beauty to the plants 🙂

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Bloom on and grow…

Bloom on and grow…

My little mint plant is flowering. You’re not really “supposed” to let them get to flowering stage, but look at how pretty it is! Maybe if we all did what we were born to do, instead of trying to do what we’re “supposed” to do, we’d all be a lot happier and not miss out on what makes us truly blossom.
Or something like that. I don’t know…

Now if I could just work out what I should be doing, I’d be blossoming all over the place. Which sounds slightly messy and unhygienic but I’m sure it would be worth it in the end. I was going to say something about rooting too (as in the way a mint plant takes root wherever it can) but that sounded rude and could be taken out of context.  If you’re Australian you will know what I am talking about.

Grow little mint plant, grow 

 (Yes, I am in a weird mood).

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