Showing posts with label The garden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The garden. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A pool landscaping update

We have made some significant changes to the landscaping around the pool in the backyard.  The pool was quite exposed previously,  with the neighbours house virtually looking directly onto it.  This, combined with an almost complete absence of greenery, made the pool area feel barren and boring.   We wanted to create a sense of privacy and also make the pool a more relaxing place to be.  We began by creating a garden bed along the fence line with the intention of growing plants to create a natural screen between us and our neighbours.   A second garden bed was then added between the pool and the cabana and we are thrilled with the end result, the entire area is far more intimate and more resort like now, a much more enjoyable place to go for a swim!

The new garden beds and decking going in.

The fabulous new garden bed in front of the cabana. We currently use the cabana as a guest room, however I am tossing up changing the space into a backyard games room. 

A sneak peak into the cabana through the bromeliads, gingers, cardboard palms, strelitzia and  one flowering canna lily.

The new garden beds with their amazing tropical plants have created an incredible pool oasis.  Ross spent hours scouring ebay and gumtree and was able to source most of the plants cheaply and in some cases they were even free! The mature yuccas for instance were free to whomever was prepared to dig them up.  Taking the time to source mature plants was well and truly worth it as the garden looks like it has been there forever.  We were also very careful to choose plants that do not shed lots of leaves as cleaning leaves out of pools is a nightmare and not something either Ross or I fancied spending our weekends doing.

There were two things that precipitated all this work to the back garden, the first was that all the decking had to be replaced around the pool. The previous home owners had painted the boards black which had damaged the wood badly.  We were unfortunately also unable to flip the boards as they had been nailed down.  Sadly we had to start again completely which really troubled me environmentally but at least the new decking has been screwed in and will be treated only with the appropriate wood decking products! 

The second thing that inspired the new pool landscaping was the position of the pool fence.  On the garden side of the pool there was a small strip of garden between the pool and the pool fence.  Visually and practically the position of the glass fence just didn’t work and I am so glad we moved the fence to the coping, as it has made an enormous difference to how the whole area appears.  Practically it has also made a big difference, as there are no more bits of grass and dirt being tracked by the kids straight into the pool!

New pool fence in and what a difference!  Meanwhile the plants are maturing well and it will not be long until the green screen takes it's full effect, providing some privacy from the neighbours.  The greenery when layered against the gum trees beyond will add even further depth to the garden, increasing the sense of space.   It is a lovely place to be now, it really is extraordinary the difference plants can make to the feel of a place.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A garden update

Lately I have found that rather than play "catch up" I long to simply document the day to day.  I find myself feeling guilty that I haven't written up the last trip to Canada (almost 5 months ago now, yikes!)  or the most recent school holidays and then, because I don't actually feel like writing about either of those things, the blog just gets ignored.  I am wondering if, rather than feeling guilty about not documenting my life in calendar order, it might be a better idea to just write about whatever I feel motivated to.  That way I might actually end up writing something on the blog, something is surely better than nothing!

Inspiration today lies in documenting the continuing work on the garden at our "new" house.  When we purchased this property the garden was virtually a blank slate and even featured a travertine path that quite literally led to nowhere.  As Ross and I are both passionate gardeners the unloved state of the garden actually appealed to us!  We both saw it as a welcoming challenge and have really enjoyed working on the transformation of the garden.

One of the first things that we addressed in the garden was the problem of the foot path that led to nowhere.

It is the front path that leads directly out from our front door to the street, but it just ended at nothing at the start of the nature strip!  It drove me mad as the letter box was on the other side of the driveway at the corner boundary of the property and there was no front fence, hedge or anything else installed to define the perimeter of the property or to make sense of that bizarre front path.

We deliberated for some months about whether to plant a hedge as a front border, install a traditional wood picket fence or to do a sandstone and picket fence combination.  The sandstone combination won out in the end.  We both felt that the sandstone/picket fence had more of a beach house feel and would ultimately be the easiest to maintain.  Picket fences are hard work, they need regular painting and hedges need frequent trimming.

Ross installing the frame for the wood "pickets" before the sandstone cladding went on.

The pickets going on post-cladding. 

When we installed the stone fence we also relocated the letterbox and chose one that could be integrated into the fence itself.  As someone will invariably ask, the letterbox is the Mr Kelly Integrated Front Open Letterbox from Robert Plumb .  Please ignore the front of the house and the rest of the front garden, that is all still a work in progress!  

In the rear garden the most recent gardening work has focused on building a garden bed that runs almost the entire length of the back of the house and deck.

We have clad this garden bed in the same stone from Eco Outdoor that we used for the front fence.  We also intend to use this stone in the landscaping that is currently taking place around the pool and to clad an indoor/outdoor fireplace that we have on the back deck/living area. 

Ross put a lot of thought into the plants in this garden bed.  Amongst hardy and drought tolerant succulents we have planted lots of sanseveria,  cardboard palms. philodendrons and rhoeo. At either end of the planter box have we selected two mature plants, a multi-headed dragon tree at one end and a frangipani at the other.  We placed the dragon tree at the deck end of the planter box as it is quite a statement plant and will look amazing once established.

The frangipani came from our next door neighbours garden and already looks like it has been there for decades with a lovely aged patina to it's trunk.  The planting of this garden bed has completely transformed the back of the house and I am thrilled with how it has turned out.

Meanwhile, work continues elsewhere in the garden, the pool truly is a construction site at the moment and another stone garden bed is about to be constructed further along the deck.  I am looking forward to sharing these projects once complete also!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Indoor Plant

In the late 1980s NASA investigated the benefits of indoor plant usage as a pollution preventative solution for possible use in space stations. They were able to find several plant species that assisted in reducing pollutants in breathable air.  More recently, scientists have discovered that planting green walls and vertical gardens in urban areas, reduces the most toxic pollutants significantly.   I could keep on quoting and referencing different studies but I think that there really is no doubt now that surrounding ourselves in plants and greenery is of significant benefit to both our health and the environment.

Visitors to our house often comment on our indoor plants. Our house does have a bit of a 1970s boho vibe though, when indoor plants had their first heyday!  All the greenery inside the house looks so pretty and it just makes so much more sense economically to decorate a house with living plants. A growing plant should ideally last a lot longer than cut flowers.

The above photo was taken in our dining room.  I have a fiddle leaf fig in the corner  and monsteria growing in the Turkish canoe.  The canoe was originally home to all the Cymbidium orchids but the orchids have all been relocated to the garden and are currently part of a new garden bed I am creating out of an old wood sabot sailing boat.  More on that another day though! 

Fiddle leaf figs are super easy to take care of and are probably my favourite indoor plant.  My number one tip for taking care of them would be to wipe their leaves down every 6 weeks or so with milk.  I know it sounds crazy, but I remember seeing this tip years ago on Gardening Australia and it just works I promise you.  I have huge, over 10 feet tall plants inside the house and they look so healthy with fabulous  glossy green leaves. I literally fill a small container with milk,  I know someone will ask, so full cream ordinary milk.  I then dip an old rag into the milk and wipe the leaves down with the dampened cloth. Make sure each leaf is wiped clean of dust with the cloth.  You may need to get a fresh cloth every now and then depending upon the size of your fig.  Other tips for taking care of figs would be to only water once a week or so, allowing the roots to dry out between waterings.   If you need to re-pot, find a pot that is only a fraction bigger.  They get distressed if the new pot is significantly bigger than the old one.  

This photo is of our dining table.  Where I have Phalaenopsis Orchids and a Cyclamen that is somehow flowering in both white and fuschia!  Phalaenopsis are my second favourite house plant and I have many in the house.  They thrive on neglect.  I water them very infrequently and I only ever use the water left over from steaming vegetables.  I wait until it is cold and then give them all a splash of it.  It seems to work and mine flower regularly with multiple stems.  I also wipe their leaves down with a wet cloth once a month or so.  I have never fertilised them (apart from the old veggie water!) or re-potted them, so I can't offer any advice on either of those aspects of Phalaenopsis care!

In our entrance I have a Cymbidium Orchid.  These I have more difficulty getting to re-bloom.  I have resorted to selecting a new one each year and the old one is relegated outdoors to the garden.  The only thing I have observed over the years, is that moving them around the garden often precipitates a new flower stem!  

On the coffee table I have a little marble pot of succulents.  These thrive on neglect too.  I rarely water them, maybe if one of the boys leaves a water glass on the coffee table I might splash the remnants on top!

In the living room, I have the most spectacular Sansevieria.  I don't know what it's full name is unfortunately, but it is definitely part of the Sansevieria family and it is the most incredible looking plant.   It reminds me of seaweed drifting in the ebb and flow of the ocean, as there is a lovely fluidity to it's shape.  When we bought it the nursery staff  instructed us to be very conservative watering it.  I probably only water it 4 or 5 times a year!  I do wipe down it's leaves with a damp cloth regularly though. 

As you can see above I also have Peace Lilies in the living room.  They do like regular watering.  I empty the boys drink bottles into them after school everyday in a loose rotation.  Ensuring that each plant gets a top up of water fairly regularly.  The main thing with the lilies though I find is to pop them outside whenever it is raining.  This seems to keep them very happy.   If you do not have an outdoor area to put them to collect rain, I would just pop them under a cold shower every now and then!   

Any indoor plants I am missing that I should add to my always growing collection?  Any other tips?  I would love to hear from some other plant fans.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The old boat sand pit or as it's being called on Pinterest, the sand box!

After writing the guest post for Carolyn I have received numerous emails asking about the boat sand pit/box.  The photo I posted of the boat is apparently very popular on Pinterest...

Before I even had children I had daydreamed about creating a play area that involved an old wooden boat.  As a child I adored many books that involved boats:

 "there is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats" (Ratty, The Wind in the Willows) or sailing to the end of the earth with Reepicheep and Prince Caspian in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (my favourite of all the Narnia series), or  playing pirates with the Walker and Blackett children in Swallows and Amazons and who wouldn't have wanted to run row away to The Secret Island?  One of Enid Blytons' first and possibly best books.

This early love stemming from children's books combined with my love for anything vintage and nautical and well, it is just simply something that I have always wanted to do.

So where did we get the boat from? Well, my aunt (technically my ex-aunt but she is still very much part of our family) and her husband live on the water.  Their garden is lovely green rolling lawns that wind down to a private sandy beach. After storms all sorts of debris washes up onto their little beach and they are then responsible for disposing of it. Often they find old tenders (or small row boats) washed up.  Naturally as soon as I wanted one there were none to be found.  However, the universe provided, one washed up on a nearby beach after a storm and remained unclaimed.  After waiting several weeks for an owner to materialise we nabbed it.  It was definitely not sea worthy anymore, so perfect to be re-purposed into a sand pit for my little pirates.  If you don't have access to a beach where boats might randomly wash up, try ebay and also the tip.  I have often seen old boats at our local tip, we do live near the sea though.

Do they play in it often?  In winter, yes.  In summer, not so much.  We have a pool though and in summer they spend a lot of time in the water.  In winter though they use it a lot.  Not just as a general sandpit for digging, trucks and the construction of elaborate waterways and dams. But also to play pirates and sailing around the world type imaginative games.

It is unique and I adore it.  I find the standard sanitised backyard play items available for children these days so boring.  An old boat, surrounded by sand, in a ring of old sandstone pavers truly is an enchanting and wondrous place for a child (or childlike grown ups!).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The view from the front door.

Every time I step out the front door the carpet of jacaranda blossoms covering the lawn takes my breath away.  The contrast between the purple of blossom and the emerald green of the grass is divine.  Reminds me of playing with my beloved box of 72 Derwent Pencils as a child, I used to love re-arranging the order of the pencils trying to decide which colours best complemented each other.

The little one is in flower heaven at the moment, the garden is in full bloom and he spends ages examing and gathering flowers.  Fla fla (flower) was one of his very first words and his favourites are the yellow ones.  Lellow being his favourite colour and all!

He is itching to get his grubby paws on some of these and keeps asking me to go "cut some flowers for the house please mumma" but I am loving the gardenias and their glorious fragrance so much that it is towards them that the secateurs are headed:

Lastly Julia... I can't find your email address (or your blog?) to send this to you but I have been wanting to show it to you for ages... just couldn't find my high school year book in the chaos of the renovation!  Very boring for everyone but Julia... anyway see arrow below!

Thought it might amuse you!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

so this is what has been keeping me busy....

The inside of the house has required some attention....  when we tackelled the original parts of the house internally we encountered some problems. The old termite damage is not the problem though... the floors weren't level and not one of the walls was straight!!!!  To put the new floor in and the new kitchen... we need level and straight.  Consequently, we have been very busy and as a result the blog and blog visits had to be put on hold.  Nevertheless, I have loved every minute of this renovation though and I have learnt so many new skills.  I have watched the tradesmen and Ross closely and am learning fast.  I feel confident helping to put gyprock up on a wall or ceiling and am quite the dab hand with a paint brush.  These days I don't even bother with the blue tape!

Life outside of the renovation has been equally busy.  Both my little pirates are growing fast.  There is so much to catch up on here and I have many blog posts planned but for the time being I will just document the last couple of months with some photos:

We spent a couple of weeks in Canberra, chez Grandma and Grandpa.

So we did a bunch of touristy stuff.

Canberra has some seriously cool playgrounds!

I can actually remember playing at this one, so it has to be around about 30 years old!

We went to the Fred Williams exhibition where Nicasso spent some time creating a Williams inspired masterpiece in the childrens room!

Every visit to Canberra the Captain asks to visit this installation by James Turrell in the grounds of the NGA.

Mt Stromlo (well what's left of it after the bushfires...)

The succulent garden in the backyard is finally starting to take off!

The bench seat in the dining room... can't wait till this is finished!

Front garden looking stunning at the moment.

Main bathroom is finished... we decided to go ahead and create the wet room area,  The best decision,  no more stressing about my two little ducks creating havoc in the bath. 

Halloween 2011... the little one is supposed to be Huckle Cat... he changed his mind at the last minute.  Fortunately, we did have some Lederhosen in the house. 

Ah well... I did my best with what we had in the house!


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