Spring

The Potting Shed at Lydie’s

I’m excited to announce that in addition to our shop in Banyette Street, Bowral, we now have a beautiful new plant gallery at Lydie du Bray’s Antiques on Consignment in Braemar   –   “The Potting Shed at Lydie’s”.  It’s early days, and more stock is arriving daily, but if you call in to Lydie’s super glamorous shop this weekend you will find us in The Walled Garden which is now filled with potted foxgloves and delphiniums, lavenders, geraniums and advanced topiary in buxus, bay, citrus and olive.  Inside in the conservatory we’re showcasing big ‘glamour’ plants including massive crassulas, cycads, cyclamens,  Pieris and spectacular orchids – all perfect to beautify your home and garden.  Follow us on Instagram for lots of images, ideas and updates.  Hope to see you soon at The Potting Shed – now at Dirty Jane’s Antique Market in Bowral and Lydie du Bray’s Antiques on Consignment in Braemar. (address below).

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The Potting Shed at Lydie’s

Lydie du Bray’s Antiques on Consignment

117 Old Hume Highway
Braemar NSW Australia
Open 10am-5pm (EST) Every day.

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And then there were four.

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I’m heartbroken this morning. A fox got one of our ducks in the night.  Whilst we constantly worry about losing lambs to foxes, we feel pretty secure about the fowl as they are locked away each night in a high walled ‘fort’ almost impossible for a fox to breach.  But this morning I found one of our beautiful Pekins headless in the garden, still warm.  The latch on a little side gate to the run, which we never use, must have been loosened over time by the wind and had blown open, so Brer Fox had easy access to a pen full of geese and ducks.  Incredibly the four remaining ducks and all the geese were unharmed, though highly stressed.   Luckily I had let Sam out earlier than usual this morning so he must have frightened the fox before anymore damage was done. We’ve had our five Pekin ducks for years and they move about the garden and ponds as a unit, travelling everywhere together in a comical little regiment.  So it’s particularly distressing to lose a member of this tight knit group.  But that is life on the farm.  It’s all of us against the blasted foxes.  As I walked back from feeding everyone and cleaning up after the kill, I saw the culprit in the distance – as bold as brass.  But even though my father taught me how to handle a gun, I couldn’t bring myself to shoot anything.  Not even a fox.

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On a brighter note, we had 2 more lambs born yesterday, strong and robust and already playing together in the paddock. I’m hoping our little pack of donkeys will help keep them safe from the foxes.

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Above: This is Nigel.  His leg was broken in a fight, years ago when he was a lamb and though he’s quite lame, he manages to get around the paddock perfectly well so has been kept as a pet.  He loves lambing time and every Spring is very protective of everyone,  like an old uncle.  This morning he was greeting one of our new arrivals.

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Baby Phoebe peering over the Ha Ha and hoping for a little snack. We built the Ha Ha years ago so there would be no fence to ruin the view.  It’s a wonderful thing as at certain angles it appears that the animals are actually in the garden.  It’s too high to jump so they are separated from the gardens by a barrier, invisible from the house.

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Peas in a pod.  Phoebe and mother Clementine.

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Seeing the dams this low is worrying.  We are desperate for some good rains.

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Calling for mother.

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn in the garden

rainbowchardThough it is bucketing down as I write this, I have to still tell you that autumn is the best time to plant everything as it’s still warm enough for roots to grow into their new surroundings and the whole plant gets comfortably established and growing before next summer. So … put on your Drizabone and get out into the garden and get planting for a great spring spectacle!  I’ve just planted lots of Tuscan kale (for my healthy next door shop neighbour Suzie Anderson to take home and add to her morning juice!), ornamental kale (not to eat, just to admire), artichoke, lettuce, spinach and ruby chard at The Potting Shed Kitchen Garden … and leek, broad beans, cabbage, peas and cauliflower at home in our vegie garden .. and can’t wait to harvest it over the next few months. In early spring the combo of baby broadbeans skinned and blanched, drizzled with oil and garlic butter and sprinkled with fresh mint on grilled foccacia is unbeatable! IMG_6588And if you’re lucky enough to be on acreage or have friends who will let you harvest their paddocks, autumn is mushroom season … and there’s nothing like freshly picked mushrooms sauteed in butter on toast for breakfast … or as my mother used to do, reduced right down till the flavour is really intense, and added to casseroles or as a side with bacon and eggs. Mmmm.

Vegie and herb seedlings to plant
Broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leek, lettuce, onion, peas, radish, shallots, spinach, silverbeet. Herbs: Coriander, rocket, chives, lemon grass, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme.

Flower seedlings to plant
Now’s the time to plant alyssum, calendula, candytuft, carnation, cinneraria, cornflower, cosmos, daisies, foxglove, lobelia, marigold, nasturtium, nemesia, pansies, poppies, primula, snapdragon, sweet peas and viola.  Most of which we have in stock at the moment at The Potting Shed.

It’s the perfect time to plant camellia sasanqua and japonica, hebe, photinia, viburnum, lilly pilly and buxus and pick your deciduous trees whilst their foliage has its vibrant autumn colour and last but not least it’s time to plant spring flowering bulbs.  More on those soon. Meantime, happy gardening!

 

 

More is more …

I know the phrase ‘less is more’ is the catch cry of the fashionistas and stylists … and in fashion that generally is true.  But in the home and garden I say ‘more is more’!  More roses, more peonies, more trees, more hedges, more art and books, more gorgeous things to beautify our lives.IMG_5747_3On our farm we have, amongst lots of other things,  32 geese and some of my friends say I should reduce the numbers to lessen the workload … but I can’t agree.  To see them all take flight and land on the pond in a flourish of shimmering beauty is a sight to behold … their silhouette in the late afternoon as they come through the pines, and the river of white as they wind their way through the orchard gate each night to be fed is so very lovely. Much more spectacular than say 5 or 6 geese.  They add movement and interest to the garden. Plus,  they keep our sheepdog Sam amused!  Every day he wakes me at dawn to let his geese out.  He loves them and swoops excitedly about as they exit the yard into the orchard.  He rounds them up all day long splitting them into various groups, regrouping them, dividing them, herding them.  It’s funny and uplifting to watch.    It’s the same with gardening … one or two of anything looks lonely.  If you can, go for mass plantings.  Even if you have a courtyard garden, be bold.  Better to have lots of one thing than a little, meagre smattering  of lots of different things. And repeat the same plant or plantings throughout to bring continuity and settle the eye. Just as lots of one style of plants looks better, so too does a story of similar pots, or matching barrels. So if in doubt, choose a style of plant you like and say to yourself “more is more”!IMG_1448_2

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“Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.” Alfred Austin

Earlier this summer my friend Bridget invited me to see her parent’s garden in Canyonleigh. I knew from her expression that I was in for a treat, but nothing prepared me for the scale and size and beauty that was in store.  From a bare 10 acre paddock, Susan and John Carter have created an amazing oasis – a paradise.  19 years of love and inspiration was spread out before me. Kilometres of pathways wind through covered walkways, avenues of birches and maples, trees and hedges of every kind, arbors of wisteria, dramatic hedges of Rosa rugosa Scabrosa, and this (below) outstanding camellia walk shaded by trellis and trained into tiers of loveliness.  How absolutely stunning.  I raced home inspired and filled my notebook with sketches of new plans for projects to add excitement and interest to every corner of our ever expanding garden. You see a garden should not be a static place … it is a living, breathing thing and you can do with it what you wish. We are all constrained by budget … but let’s never be limited in our imagination.   John and Susan are testimony to the magic that’s possible when you let your creativity run wild. And it is utterly lovely and inspiring. Note: Though they will be babies compared to the lovely example you see below, we will be receiving this week, quite advanced espaliered camellia on trellis …  so you might want to try your hand at creating your own Camellia Walk!

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Note:  John and Susan Carter’s garden “The Burrows” at Canyonleigh  is open for inspections by garden clubs and also by appointment.   John is an artist who paints under his birth father’s name, Kirton. He established a gallery at The Burrows to showcase his extensive collection of works and it is also open by appointment. Visit http://www.johnkirton.com.au or phone 4878 9384 for details.

Time to plant tulips

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I can’t wait to take delivery of our tulip stock this month.  Late March is the time to plant for a spectacular Spring display and don’t be meek … go for drama. Not 8 or 10 … no, no, no … 80 or 100!   I was inspired by displays at Hidcote last year where giant troughs and tubs were packed with bulbs of a single colour.  And I’m planning to lash out and do a bold display of the spectacular Tulipa Black Parrot (above).  Bred in 1941 this magnificent tulip has violet black flowers and grows to approx. 50cm. Tulips in the Parrot class have feather-like flowers with some varieties having petals more incised than others. Parrot tulips tend to have large, heavy flowers and in the sun, the flowers open up horizontally. They are generally late flowering so be sure to have other earlier varieties to start the show and keep Black Parrot for the grand finale!  For those of you who live here in the Southern Highlands, tulip time co-incides with lots of Open Garden visits.  How lucky we are to have such lovely displays in our public parks and gardens.

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Growing Instructions – Tulips should be planted in late March – May, in full to partial sun. March planting is only for zones 1-3, (see map below) May for Zone 4. Once buds appear, a little complete fertiliser can be mixed into soil, and a high nitrogen topdressing should be applied at emergence. Water in as bulb is shooting, and water well after flowers die off to ensure good bulb growth for next year’s flowers. Lift bulbs when foliage is yellowed, and store in net bag in ventilated, cool area. Flowers in spring.

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Refrigerating Tulips Tulips love a cold winter, a mild spring and dry summer. You can’t control everything about your climate but you can control the winter period quite easily. If you live somewhere that doesn’t get any winter frosts your ground does not get naturally cold enough for tulips. You will need to give them a winter before you plant, this can be done by putting your bulbs in a fridge for about 6-8 weeks before planting. If growing in warmer climates planting is best in mid May so put into the fridge mid-late March.

Things to remember about putting bulbs in the fridge

1.Don’t freeze them 2.They need air flow around them. 3. Open the paper bags. 4. Store away from ripe fruit and vegetables. 5. They will grow taller, and flower earlier as a result of refrigeration, and this effect is cumulative.

In warm climates tulips grow well as annuals. Plant the bulbs up in large pots in late May after 8 weeks of refrigeration and put the pot in the coldest part of the garden (no sun) until the shoots are 5 cm high. Then move the pot to your favourite position and enjoy the spectacular growth and flowering of these energetic bulbs.

Great books for further reading on Tulips:

Intrigue, thievery and heart break… it’s all in the history of the Tulip

The history of the Tulip is filled with intrigue, skulduggery, thievery, instant fortunes and broken hearts. And, although these flowers are synonymous with the Dutch, tulips did not originate in the Netherlands nor were the Dutch always at the forefront of breeding these beauties. The Dutch obsession with tulips belongs to the relatively recent history of the tulip. The attempts to trace the exact history of the Tulip have been thwarted by a lack of reliable documentation over the centuries although art from as early as the 12th century does give some clues.

What historians have been able to establish is that tulips probably originated thousands of years ago in a ‘corridor’ which stretches along the 40º latitude between Northern China and Southern Europe.