Thursday, January 27, 2011

here be dragons

any county mum will tell you
seeing scaly things in your garden isn't a most desirable thing
but at the moment we have a community of blue tongue lizards
it seems a day hasn't passed when i haven't ushered one away from the dog
or spotted one in the flower beds

yes they do bite - i KNOW !

the tell tale empty snail shells is the first sign
and then the bite marks in your strawberries
and then they like a snack of slaters
so then you'll spot them amoungst the pot plants

an old wives tale says
that if you have blue tongues in your garden
then the snakes won't be

hmmmm - like i said old wives tale given what i found at the back gate a month ago !

evidence - guess who has found my latest camera hiding spot !

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australia Day !

while TOH has had to work for the day
we at home have other agendas
its slip and slide time !

take one length of black plastic
a slope in the garden
some washing up liquid
a soaker hose
and off you go
(and it waters the lawn !)


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

field trip: oatlands

callington mill

Wee Hermann and I had a field trip to Oatlands
with the big kids off visiting friends it was just us two
he loved it 
and he loved the callington mill
much finger pointing was done

callington mill and gardens

while we were there we dropped in on Rowena at Oatlands Handmade
we got to check out her new shop
do a bit of shopping
a lovely new upcycled ring made from an old teaspoon by supply bay designs
and some raw locally spun wool for a project

Rowena's cottage houses Oatlands Handmade

we also got to drop of some of my handmade goodies off
adding to the collection of great artisans and crafts people
all housed in Rowena's heritage listed sandstone cottage

natural tasmanian wools spun at waverley mills

we visited some gardens
and took some photos for the next project at the farm
hmmm - now to convince TOH to get his saw and drill out

project ?

garden visits: oatlands

callington mill

if you are at a loose end this weekend
try a garden visit
we have just gotten back from oatlands
in the midlands of tasmania

the new parterre

the village is magnificent
a construct of aged sandstone
and most of the village houses now sport wonderful cottage gardens
and they are growing on the hardest ground in very dry conditions
a french parterre garden is being constructed behind the callington mill
and they have wonderful espaliered apple trees
surrounded by wonderful dry stone walls constructed by local women

espaliered apples

so take a drive
enjoy poking about what must be tasmanians most beautiful village

a bit of history

Friday, January 21, 2011


Helenium "Dark Beauty"
an amazingly productive flower
heleniums are very tough once established 
only needing watering once or twice a week 

they grow to a good height of 120cm in full flower
making it ideal for a middle of the border display
planted enmasse provides a brilliant long lived floral display

Helenium "Dark Beauty" enmasse
heleniums seem pretty happy to establish in an only mildly improved soil
but the better the soil the bigger and better the plant establishment
so if you have access to good mulch or manure for Winter soil conditioning go for it
they do not like water logging, doing better on a well drained or slopped garden bed

(U.K. refereces say they need moist and constantly damp soil - but we haev not found this the case here on our harder drier soils)

Helenium "July Sun ?"
the unusual flowers have recurved petals curling down from the cone
this somehow deters people from these flowers in cutting bunches, as they mistake the recurved petals for wilting
just the same it is an excellent cut flower with a vase life of about a week
(longer if water kept very fresh and topped up) 
the flower works less well in arrangements
this is due to the slower water uptake caused by the foam

Helenium "Moerheim Beauty"
We mix our Heleniums into a hot and sultry garden bed full of dark and exotic colours of purples and deep reds. Lysmachia "Firecracker" with its deep purple leaves provides a wonder foil for the flowers.

Leave spent flowers to form dry cones for a lovely Winter display, white frost on the old seed spikes are lovely. Prune back the flowering stems in Mid Winter .

Divide established plants also in Mid Winter in Tasmania. I know that recommendations are to split these plants in Early Spring, but as our Winters are generally dryer then in the U.K. I prefer to get smaller split plants established before the wet and often water logged Spring. 
I'm not a fancy pants perennial splitter, I take to our Heleniums with a sharp edged spade once they are over 30cm wide - splitting a plant into fours directly down the plant middle.

cultivars we stock

"Dark Beauty" - a cultivar off "Moerheim Beauty" that has less of the orange streak infiltrating the petals, and great petal recurving. More vigorous and reliable then "Moerheim Beauty".

"July Sun"  - This plant was called "July Sun" when I bought it, but I tend to think it is another cross bred variation due to its orange petal streaks, rather then clear yellow that a true "July Sun" should have. However the variation we have is a reliable and vigorous plant, flowers readily and heavily.

"Moerheim Beauty" - the original favourite to come out of the U.K. it has less recurved petals then the "Dark Beauty", but has delightful orange streaks through the petals. Less vigorous, we have found its to be a lovely flowering plant but a bit "missish" - trying a few other locations to see if it can come right !

We are currently sold out of Heleniums this year. 
Pre order or get in early for next Springs stocks in September.


yes that's me

this Christmas past we hosted my hubbies annual Kids Christmas Picnic
out at the farm
apples for cows
chicken chasing
eating EVERY raspberry in my garden
digging up carrots
and a neglected jumping castle

hubbies work pays for catering
just a bbq, nothing fancy
santa claus (aka a chap from the office) arrives with parcels

but this year i said to the organiser - no plastic
no disposable cutlery
plates and cups are to be paper
it was no big deal

we keep a big jar of cutlery for just such an event
we also have a big stash of op-shop plates
and some re-useable heavy plastic cups (i'd prefer tin cups though)
they all get washed at the end of the day
stashed in a box ready for next time

why ?
i paid less
i used less
and i can use it all again
and so could the next generation

remove self from soap box :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

i felt like a beer

hanging around a felt maker has obviously rubbed off
not content with yet another crocheted pen holder
i made something for my mannie
yup - its a stubbie cooler

take one crocheted jar cover
made from a non machine washable wool
soap, hot water and some bubble wrap
and oh....about an hour to make the thing shrink
(never seems to take that long when said mannie washes woollens)

a bit of fun eh ?

instructions to follow . . . . .

Beer Cosy How -To

making a crochet jar cosy is as easy as pie
everyone is doing it
i like attic 24's method (which i first learnt)
but getting past the girlie do-dads and trying something a little blokey
a stubbie holder, 
a beer cooler, 
what do they call them at your end of the world ?
i'm thinking fathers day
my fellas' birthday
maybe a wine cooler next for a gift ? ?

please note this pattern is in australian crochet terms
please adjust as needed to U.S. lingo
I used Panda "Feltable Wool" an 8ply wool with a 4.00mm hook.

base of the cooler

For the Base
Foundation: start by making a magic circle ,2 chain, make 7 trebles (first chain makes it 8), slip stitch to join (8 stitches)

Row 1: crochet two trebles into each stitch, slip stitch to join (16 stitches)

Row 2: chain2, crochet 1 treble into first stitch, treble into next stitch, *2 trebles in next, 1 treble in next* repeat** to end, slip stitch to join (24 stitches)

Row 3: chain2, crochet 1 treble into first stitch, treble into next stitch, treble into next stitch *2 trebles in next, 1 treble in next*, treble into next stitch, repeat** to end, slip stitch to join (30 stitches).

This is the base for a pilsner sized beer bottle, add an extra row if you have larger type bottles using the obvious pattern forming from Rows 2 and 3. This is also a  felted project that will allow you to still see the stitches at completion. So shrinkage of the wool is not at its optimum. If you wish to disperse the stitches more to a smoother felt, make your cosy larger - i.e. add two to three more rounds to the base in the pattern.

building up the cosy sides
For the Sides
I won't reinvent the wheel about building the sides of the cosy. Lucy over at Attic24 has an excellent tutorial so pick up over there. 

But change your wool colour if you wish and chain (x 2) into one of the base stitches (it doesn't really matter where). Now treble into each stitch on the way around the base (30 stitches including first chains), slip stitch to join.

I worked 30 rows of this to gain the height of the beer bottle. As you can see the cosy is quite baggy when finished.

So now the fun (?) part.  
I hand felted my cosy using boiling water, soap powder, bubble wrap to create the agitation and good old arm muscles.
And did that all over again (and again, icy cold water, then again !)
Good instructions on hand felting can be found here
Or if you make a few try machine felting.

To block the felted work, simply let it dry around the bottle you plan to use it on.
Place the wet cosy and bottle somewhere warm to ensure the wool dries quickly.

You can of course add a simple fabric stiffener such as a starch to make the cosy firmer.
There are many variables to this project, such as wool type and weight, hook size and pre-felt size of the project - so experiment and see what you invent !

its been a while since i did a "how to"
so please send me an edit if you spot a boo-boo or an improvement !

Share you wares ! Have you made a cosy ?
Link up and show us all your wonderful efforts :)

not quite a nursery . . . . yet

nice palettes stacked on firewood - very fancy set up !

since starting to sell my plants i've had quite a few enquiries
did i have the nursery open ?

well hmmmm
i don't quite have a nursery yet
i certainly seem to have enough plants and range
but i'm not even vaguely ready for the visiting public
it isn't for lack of wishful thinking

one day, one day
soon ?
i can only hope !

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

the good life: cherries and pesto

fresh basil
the seasonal produce into my freezer continues
next on the agenda is pesto
hands full of basil from mums vegie patch, garlic and parsley from mine
a tub of pine nuts and a big splosh of oil
i don't add parmesan unless its going to be a fresh pesto
i freeze my green goop in small snap seal containers
taking them out of the chill when needed
less risk of spoilage and fuzzy molds
and more room in my fridge !

pesto ready to go back to mum and dads

fruit this time is Everslie Cherries from Grindalwald down the road from us
at $8/kg for seconds the are the right price to buy lots of
cherries are great to freeze, just don't pull out the stems when you box them
black lapin cherries from everslie
more planting in the vegie patch
seeds for winter beetroot, carrots, lettuce and some late quick radish
the flooding of last week has spread my previous seeds helter skelter
now as they germinate on the clear ground it will take a few weeks to decide whats what
like having salad on a grand scale
more rain predicted for tonight - joy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


i have been a bit partial to jar covers since making my first one last year
based on lucys instructions, i then elaborated and added a base
and a lacy one

so in an effort to get my crochet mojo back i embarked on a new project
it will also suite my joining in the felt fairies monthly make challenge this year

i quite like them !

an upcycled marmalade jar and an olive jar
some raw spun wools left from a knitting project
and an ever trusty red button

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

getting to market

colours of summer

last weekend i finally was able to head over to perth and attend the Ut Si Produce Market in person

fresh cut flowers from our farm
my flowers have been heading to Ut Si with suburban jubilee since december
 and at last i was able to reciprocate tanya's kindness by helping out at the markets

early morning set up
Held in the landscaped grounds of an old church converted to a cafe it was a lovely summery day to spend with new acquaintances and check out the kitchen gardens that supply the cafe

collette's grown ups choc crackles - organic dark chocolate !
i was a bit superfluous to requirements - tanya had the stall running hot with her salad greens
so i supped hot coffee and chatted with the other stall holders mostly
but what a great atmosphere and so many nice visitors

my lunch

stylin' it up

On Friday last week I had a most invigorating morning. Stitch of Love and Emma at Play both nominated me for a Stylish Blogger Award.

What a lovely surprise to be thought of so kindly. Especially after a stylish post that had my scruffy mountain bike shoes as the key photo.

It came on a good day, with T.O.H. down with a cold, two kids with almost colds and a market stall to prepare for. The Award was like having a very stiff espresso -  a great shake up from the drudger of the day.

So in keeping with the tradition of the Award I have to tell you seven things about myself.
Well, lets say I am a woman of elusive and discerning qualities . . . . . 

  1. I find sleep elusive
  2. I find a tidy home elusive as i am not a discerning housewife
  3. A finished project is elusive in my neck of the woods
  4. A discernible garden is elusive in my back yard
  5. Parental Control over my progeny is elusive
  6. Weight lose and fitness seem elusive priorities in my life (or maybe I am not discerning enough of my time ?)
  7. A good hairdresser seems elusive to my discernment of a stylish haircut (being categorised as a middle aged frump certainly doesn't make for a good haircut by a pre-pubescent hairdresser)
And I am passing on the Award to a few bloggers that have inspired me over recent weeks. Both for Style and Content of their blogs. So here goes:

  1. Elderberry Street  with Karen 
  2.  from Beyond my Kitchen Window
  3.  Wunderkrammer with Jessica
  4.  Marley and Lockyer with Ness
  5.  Suburban Jubilee with Tanya
  6.  Nest with Natalie
  7.  SIBOL with Sue
  8.  Sew Ritzy with Dawn 
  9.  Karin aan de haak with Karin
  10.  erika.tricroche with Erika
  11.  waste not want not with cherie
  12. icrochet with sarah 
  13. lalalizzie with lizzie
  14. heldasland with helda
  15. la belle helene with helene 
  To accept the award, you have 4 duties: 
  • link back to the person who nominated you (happy if you do/don't); 
  • tell 7 things about yourself (eek); 
  • pass it to the 15 recently discovered bloggers; 
  • contact them to let them know about the award. 

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Himalayan Fleeceflower

    Fleeceflower in Summer bloom

    Himalayan Fleeceflower or Knotweed
    ( Persicaria affinis syn. Polygonum affine syn Bistorta affinis )

    an unusual flower for the garden
    it is suited to both full sun and semi-shade
    once it is established it is a very hardy and dry tolerant plant

    creeping across the ground striking down new roots this plant will quickly settle as a good strong ground cover
    leaves are slender rounded blades 
    deep green with slashes of reddish-purple for new leaves and Autumn colouring as well as an indicator that your soil is drying out !
    it is a herbaceous perennial so expect dieback in Winter where you get heavy frosts
    otherwise you can expect the foliage to stay around in gentler climates

    reddened leaves for many reasons
    spikes of dusky dark pink, turning to soft pink flowers appear in mid Summer
    and continue to repeat flower through Autumn
    flowers grow taller as the season progresses
    starting at about 10cm and reaching 25cm in late Summer

    Common Name: Knotweed
    Botanical Name: Persicaria affinis
    Exposure: Full sun, Partial shade
    Hardiness: Hardy
    Soil type: Clay/heavy, Moist
    Height: 30cm
    Spread: 60cm
    Time to divide plants: September to May
    Flowering period: July to October 

    full summer form

    We have seasonal stock of the Fleeceflower. 
    As we get heavy frosts leafed 14cm pots are available from late Spring (October).

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    "Red Velvet" Yarrow

    deepest red wine flowers
    upon tall feathered stems

    a hardy and vigorous perennial
    showy flower display appearing mid Summer

    best for a bigger garden
    yarrow has a reputation for being pushy

    growing to 120cm high with an equivalent spread
    prune to ground level each winter as per regular perennial maintenance
    benefits from a nice dose of manure through winter to invigorate foliage growth
    mulching always helps to retain soil moisture, but will grow under poorer conditions

    available through out the year from our nursery and on-line in standard 14cm pots or in Spring as Slimline Tubes

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    finding my feet

    it has been some years since i raced a mountain bike
    eight to be precise
    a long breeding program overtook the training program
    it wasn't unusual to spend something in the vicinity of 20+ hours a week training or racing
    this was B.C. days of course

    last year i agreed to dust off the bike to join a team
    another cycling buddy and i would do a 24hr event known as kellevie
    luckily my partner got up the duff with her first child - i was off the hook !

    my hubbie, 
    ever ingenious to my return to the saddle,
    promptly lined up three new team members
     (all of them had had their kids too)
    bum !

    luckily breeding must be in the water the event organisers had also succumbed to parenthood - the race was off
    yay !

    little did i know that a 12hour event out at Blessington was on the cards 
    (run by a single guy)
    my warm up race it was to be
    well it's still going ahead

    so my new years wish of getting fit, loosing weight and finding some personal space shall all be met with an arduous training programme

    spend days with kids, 
    play dates, craft, swimming, riding
    tidy vege and garden patches
    weeding, pruning, mowing, 
    vacuum, washing,folding, cooking
    get dinner ready, 
    set out p.j's for kids
    get hubbie home - say hello, say goodbye
    go out on bike
    come home say good night to sprogs
    eat dinner, shower, do the accounts, say goodnight to other half, fall asleep

    yup - endurance training at its best !
    (wonder what olympic competitors get up to ?)