Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The side garden continues

It was hot on Saturday. Like, really hot. I went to the markets early in the morning to buy a couple more star jasmines, but it was way too hot to plant them or be outside generally.

A cool change came through on Sunday though so I spent 3 hours digging a trench. The glamour! 

I was originally going to terrace this section of the garden, but I realised that the gas man is probably going to have to run through here to replace the gas bottles as there won't be enough space down the other side of the house once it's subdivided. So I'm continuing the timber garden edging up to the front side garden.

I did all of this by hand with a mattock and the ground was pretty hard. This entire garden has been done by hand and sometimes I wish I could just hire some machinery to make it easier. But then I think of each hire cost in terms of plants I could buy and it makes it a little more palatable. Plus it's the only exercise I really get.

I'll continue the pattern of gardenia, gardenia, magnolia, star jasmine in this garden, but this time I'm going to dig up a lot more of the garden bed and put better soil in. Some of the new gardenias have gone a bit yellow already, like the other ones, but I've given them the Seasol/epsom salts/iron chelate cocktail so hopefully they will be ok.

Bella, as usual, spent the day in her favourite, middle-of-nowhere spot.

She's such a weird dog. And she has a new rashie!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Side garden progress weekend

OK my gardenia obsession is reaching fever pitch…I may need an intervention. But these are from the markets and they're such good value! Each pot has 3 gardenias in it and these four were enough to do the side garden with one left over. The star jasmine (in the small pots) is going cover the ugly wire fence and (hopefully) drench the house in their sweet fragrance.

I made sure I mixed in some organic compost and Osmocote cause the soil is so rubbish. Weirdly, the dog started feverishly licking the compost, like it was some gourmet meal. I chased her away cause I'm pretty sure that not only is the compost bad for her, the fertiliser is worse. (Note to self, remove dog from danger before taking photo.)

How beautiful does this look? There's 11 all up, but I've left a space after every second gardenia to put a magnolia. And between each gardenia I've planted star jasmine. Hopefully next weekend I can put the stones and path down and it will look a little more complete.

I've started training the jasmine to climb the ugly fence. There's fragrant flowers on them already, but it's pretty hard to tell with the weeds in the neighbour's garden bed.

It still looks a little bare, so I'm considering some white dietes to fill up some of the spaces. The leaves are quite pointy, so it will give it a little difference in texture.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Starting on the side garden

This weekend was the first weekend for a while that we haven't had a birthday party or baby shower or  catch up with friends so I took the opportunity to make a start on the side garden.

It looks pretty easy and simple but I won't lie, it was HARD work and I'm pretty sore all over today! Digging the trench for the timber edging was hardest part cause it was all done by hand just using a mattock. Luckily a few days of rain had softened the ground so it wasn't too difficult or too hot, there was just a lot of it.

Then I shifted about 18 loads of soil. The soil was on the spare block and even though it wasn't that far, it started to pour and the track beside it got pretty muddy and I got bogged a number of times. The soil is pretty rubbish (you get what you pay for) so before I plant anything I'll boost it with a heap of compost and maybe some chicken manure.

I'll put a path in the middle with pavers and stones so that gas people can have easy access to the cylinders towards the front of the house.

Pic from Home Forum

I'm still trying to work out what to plant there. I'd like to do something different, but I'm so in love with magnolias and gardenias I'll probably just end up planting those again.

Any suggestions?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Garden on the mend

The fabulous news is that the yellowing on the gardenias has stopped. The bad news is that because I smashed them with magnesium sulfate, nitrogen and iron all at the same time (not recommended by horticulturalists), I don't actually know what fixed them or what they were originally deficient in. Frankly I don't really care, I'm happy to smash them with all three every month to keep them looking like this. 

The gardenias on the balcony are continuing to bloom with that divine smell wafting into our bedroom every morning and evening. The gardenias in the garden beds are still yet to bloom, but the buds are there and we've had a heavy dose of rain this week so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be soon.

Buuuuut….the magnolias have bloomed!! Look at this gorgeous, goblet shaped magnolia flower. It bloomed overnight and was such a beautiful surprise walking out the gate to go to work. The perfume is not as heady as gardenias but still beautiful. There's loads of other buds on there so it's only a matter of time before they all start blooming.

The phalaenopsis orchid in the guest bathroom is in full bloom, although the stalk is starting to turn brown.

What a glorious time it is in my garden. Karina is v happy :-)


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Gardenia CSI

I'm so sad. ALL my gardenias have leaves that are turning yellow and I don't know why. They're in three different parts of the garden/house, so the cause of this is a mystery.  These are the ones on the side garden and all them are at different stages of yellowing, some more than others.

These are the gardenias in the middle garden and the ones closer to the house are a lot more yellow than the ones near the gate. The ones on the balcony are the same. 

I've had a look at the soil and it's not too wet or too dry so that's not the issue. I also gave them all a dose of epsom salts in case it was magnesium sulphate deficiency and Seasol in case it was a nitrogen deficiency.

I also did a pH test of both lots of soil in the front garden and while one is a bit too neutral, the other is acidic - the perfect level for gardenias.  The only thing I can think is an iron deficiency, so I gave them all a dose of iron chelate and prayed to the horticultural gods.

In the meantime, look at this beauty! They finally bloomed and they smell divine! These are on the balcony off the master bedroom and their perfume wafts into the room in the morning. Such a shame about these yellow leaves. I really hope all or one these things helps. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Oh hello!  Look what finally decided to make an appearance. And it was worth the wait - how lovely is it? My mother in law is particularly pleased as she was the one who gave it to me. Certainly brightens up the guest bathroom.

No movement though on the gardenias. The buds on those are still tightly close.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Backyard Garden Dream

I'm supposed to be doing a million other things today but I've found myself lost in a bit of backyard garden design haze of procrastination. Currently, this design is just a pipe dream. (Not to be confused with the design for underneath the house and the front of the house - this is in progress.)

Absolutely nothing is going to get done on this part of the yard until the subdivision is done because a massive bulldozer needs to come through and carve up half of it to lay a pipe, so it will remain as it is, a barren waste and current gauntlet for magpie attacks.

HOWEVER, when that is complete, then this is what I'm thinking of doing.

  • Citrus orchard at the back with lemon, limes and maybe pomegranate trees. After subdivision the backyard will be 10 metres wide. If I can fit a fourth tree in I'll make it a mandarin.
  • Firepit for those chilly winter nights. We had an awesome time toasting marshmallows and so did Josh when he had all his mates around for a campfire. 
  • Deck for those balmy summer evenings. I'm thinking some margaritas or just some cool lemonade in the sunshine. Might have to be before magpie nesting season though.
  • Raised veggie garden beds for some herbs and tomatoes. 
  • Mulberry trees for some fruit and some shade and to break up the rectangularness of the garden. We had a mulberry tree in the backyard when I was a kid and I thought it was the most awesome thing ever!
  • The rest will be mass planted with gardenias, murrayas, spider lilies, deities, azaleas and any other white flowered or fragrant plants I can get my hands on.

What say you? Yay or nay?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The birds

The backyard. Looks harmless enough doesn't it? Who would think it would be the scene of a bloody and coordinated attack by a flock of vicious, mutant birds, with razors for beaks and fire for wings?

Actually that's a bit dramatic. In fact there were only two and they were magpies. And they weren't on fire. And it is nesting season. This is the first time though that I've ever known magpies to nest in that tree and it's the first time I've been swooped before. It's pretty scary. 

I was just taking some compost to the backyard and I saw a magpie sitting on the ground. I thought perhaps it was injured so I went closer for a look but in hindsight maybe it was just a baby and learning to fly. One swooped me from behind and pecked me on the head and before I knew it another one was coming from the front. Luckily I was wearing a pretty tough baseball cap but I have no doubt that if I hadn't been the peck certainly would have drawn blood.

I retreated to under the house, which is a long way from the tree and another one just sat on the fence looking at me. I'm not sure if it was the same one but it looked pretty evil.

I just did a google search and apparently nesting season goes to the end of December. Arrrgh!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Interior Decorating Porn

All these items will definitely be in my new bedroom!

Excuse me while I indulge in a bit of interior decorating porn on the Adairs website. This is my favourite store ever! Loving all these items from their new season catalogue.

Want these chairs for the living room. That rug will do nicely too thanks very much…

For the lounge room or downstairs retreat perhaps?

Not sure why I love this but I do…

The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers Inspiration

You might have noticed that I'm not really into colour when it comes to flowers in my garden. It's just white, white and a bit of white. I took my parents to the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers last weekend though and I was sooo blown away by the amazing colour in people's gardens. I might just consider adding some colour to my garden!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Starting on the backyard

Now that the front yard is finished, it's time to move focus to the backyard…which is currently a disaster. As part of the subdivision we will have to run a stormwater drain through the side backyard fence line from the end of the house, through the neighbours behind us and out onto their street. So there's no point in doing too much along that side as a bulldozer will be coming through shortly. What we can do is fix up the section directly below the house and directly along each side of the house.

It's a long weekend here in Oz and I sacrificed a weekend camping trip to make a start on the backyard.   The first stage was to lay weed mat so we could put stones in the large section under the house and along the path.

I created this design for the house well over 18 months ago in this post, and while progress to date has been slow, at least there has been some progress. The front section has been completed, with the front timber deck path being replaced by a aggregate path, the driveway done and the front left side garden complete (just).

Under the back of the house
The large timber deck for underneath the back section of the house is just a pipe dream (for now). It's just too expensive and the subdivision is going to tie out most of our funds for the moment. The short term solution will be to fill the space with stones to tidy up up the area and reduce the area we have to mow. At present the surface is uneven and a stack of weeds are growing in there and it just looks like crap. I've seen some amazing creations with palettes and so I'm thinking we could even make some temporary pallet furniture so at least there's a place to hang out.

We'll also put stones under the front section of the house as well, where Bella's dog kennel and the clothesline are located. While there's not as many weeds under there, the surface is really uneven and it's just loose dirt which means we drag that up the stairs when we bring the clothes in and when it rains, the space just turns to mud.

River rock 40mm
I found a new supplier for the stones on Gumtree and we've come up with two budget options. This first one is river rock and one truckload (10m3) should just cover this entire space. This is the cheapest option and I think will work ok. The rocks are smooth, unlike the road base/gravel option I was also looking at so at least won't be too harsh on bare feet.

This is the second option - tumbled sandstone. It's a couple of hundred dollars more expensive, but looks a bit more interesting with its range of colours. Josh likes this option more. I really don't mind, but saving a couple of hundred dollars does appeal.

Anyway, it won't be done until next weekend as I ran out of weed mat and today is a public holiday so I have a week at least to think about it.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Spring has nearly sprung!

It's October, the second month of spring, but my my plants are still on the verge of blooming, keeping me in an anxious state of anticipation. These are the gardenias on my bedroom balcony and these buds have been in this state for what seems like weeks. I can't wait until for that gorgeous first bloom of white and that sweet fragrance.  Please put me out of my misery!

This is the phalaenopsis orchid in the downstairs guest bathroom. It's the first time EVER I've had an orchid survive a second year with me. There are two other orchids in the house, also in their second year, but they don't look like they're going to bloom any time soon.  They are still alive however so I'm declaring success.

Monday, September 28, 2015


I have a grateful post to share. When I bought this place, it was not intended to be our forever home. It was a strategic purchase. I bought one suburb out from a boom suburb, there was planned infrastructure  in development (shopping centre, train station upgrade) and it was on a block that could be subdivided.

While it is on a fairly major road, it was also close to amenities, major roads and public transport and schools - after all, they do say location, location, location!

We've reached a part of the journey that has always been intended, but come around so quickly. The development application (DA) I put on the property expires soon, which means I have to subdivide shortly. It seems like all the stars are lining up, as I had the property valued the other day and not only has it recovered from the flood, it's worth way more than I thought it would be.

I never really intended to become part of the community, but lately, well,  not lately, just maybe I've noticed more, we've gotten to know more people locally and the really lovely things they do. So here are the things I'm grateful for in this community:
  • The neighbour on one side that works from home and keeps an eye on the house when we're out and texts me with anything suspicious.
  • Two lots of people locally who called me when Bella dug under the fence and wandered a few blocks away. One even kept her for a while until she could be collected.
  • The neighbour who grabbed some timber and blocked the fence when he saw Bella trying to dig out for a third time.
  • The guy across the road who mows my nature strip.
  • The neighbours who offers me fruit from their fruit trees and cuttings from their plants.
  • The old couple who walk their dog three or more times a day past my house and stop to say good morning and good afternoon.
  • The lady who jogs past and stops to chat about the progress of the fence/house/garden.
  • The old man on the motorised scooter who stops to give me renovating advice.
  • The neighbour who brings my bins in.
  • The mystery person who's left brand new gardening appliances in my garage and trimmed my hedges back when I had them.
  • Yarns over the fence with neighbours and passers-by. Particularly when I'm out gardening. Our place is on a regular walking route and people are happy to stop and chat and tell you about how they've been watching the progress of the house and they like the paint colour or new fence.
  • I'm grateful for the vegetarian place that is just about to open down the road.
  • The sweet lady at the bakery who gives me freebies every time I buy something. 
  • My local newsagent who always has a smile and a wave when you go past.
Very grateful. I will miss this community when we finally leave.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Stage One Garden - Complete!

Man oh man, muscles I didn't even know I had are sore, but stage one of the front garden is….complete!!! Doesn't seem like that much work, but it's an 8000mm X 1200mm garden bed which is 600mm high in some places. That's a lot of dirt to move and a lot of wheelbarrows full to push.

The murrayas are at the back and will (hopefully) form a hedge along the fence. I'll probably hedge it to just above the fenceline. The gardenias are in the middle, but slightly to the back. I feel like I could add another row of something in front of it for a bit more interest, maybe some ground cover star jasmine. The spider lilies are at the front and should grow to spill over the pathway to soften the edges a little.

Some of the murrayas are already starting to bloom and smell divine and little buds are forming on the gardenias. The spider lilies are looking a little worse for wear (something about leaving them out in the elements for a week) but I'm sure they'll come back to life.

I was a good gardening girl and put newspaper down before I mulched, although I ran out halfway through cause I only had Saturday's Courier Mail, but better than nothing I would think.

Ta-dah! I used sugar cane mulch - I LOVE the smell of that stuff. I really should have mulched the other garden bed while I was at it, but I only bought two bales and that was only just enough to do this bed.

I saw an awesome quote the other day at my local nursery. It said, "The best time to plant was 10 years ago. The second best time is today." These little plants are so teeny, but I know they'll grow to be lush and fragrant.

Patience girl. Patience.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Garden Progress!

Finally started planting today. Jumpy claps!! Visited the old faithful Rocklea Markets where I've been getting my plants for years, and picked up some murrayas and gardenias - my all time favourites.

I filled up the rest of the garden bed with soil and planted the spider lily bulbs I bought last week. Tomorrow I'm going to try and get up super early to plant the rest out and maybe even get time to mulch before lunch. After that I have other, pressing matters to attend to.

As usual, Bella was my shadow. She even follows me walking back and forth with the wheelbarrow from the pile of soil to the garden bed. When I'm planting though she plonks herself in the dirt which is annoying because a) she gets dirty and b) she tramples on my plants.

Yes, she's wearing a dog sun shirt.

No, she doesn't like it. But she's prone to skin cancer so she has no choice.

I'm looking forward to those hedges growing so it can hide the neighbour's wheelie bins.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The slow garden

Progress on the garden is slow. So very, very slow. I have no time during the week and every weekend we seem to have something on. I look longingly at the bare garden bed every time I drive in, dreaming of a lush, green garden with fragrant white flowers.

This weekend I finally put some soil into the beds. I think I moved about 20 wheelbarrow loads in between breakfast with my cousin at the West End Markets and helping Josh with his assignment. It falls short by about 5 more loads, but I had to pull up stumps cause we had friends coming over for dinner and I had nothing in the fridge.

I did buy all these spider lily bulbs from a lady who was turning the space into a veggie garden. They were soooo cheap and way more mature than bulbs you buy. Win!! I'm certainly not adverse to moonlight planting, so maybe these lovelies will be going into the ground after dark.