Birds eye view of a woman gardener weeding an organic vegetable garden with a hand fork

The Wonders of a Winter Kitchen Garden

Life is busy, but not too busy to become complacent with what we are eating and putting in our bodies. Over the years the trend for eating locally, eating organic, eating ‘whole foods’ and eating ‘clean’ foods has grown exponentially and anyone who frequents the grower’s or farmer’s market scene knows that it costs considerably more to eat this way. The all important trade off is that you know where your produce is coming from, what conditions it has been grown in, whether or not it has been sprayed with any chemicals….PLUS, it’s fresher.

Growers markets have become more popular as people take more interest in their health
Growers markets have become more popular as people take more interest in their health. Source: Australis

Growing your own vegetables will save you money and is great for your health. But more than that, reconnecting with nature is incredibly beneficial for our health; time in nature is shown to reduce stress, improve your mood and be soothing. Plus, it is said to improve kids attention span as nature moves at a slower pace. Today’s youth are so accustomed to things moving quickly…..busy schedules, rapid movement via screens, and instant gratification. Setting up your own vegetable garden is easy and a fun project to do with the kids.  But It’s also a great way to slow down life’s pace whilst teaching them about nature.

Now, you don’t have to have a huge space to work with to get started. Prefabricated garden bed kits are readily available and super easy to assemble. Alternatively, wall hung systems are great in tiny spaces, as you use otherwise untapped real estate.

indoor herb garden wall mounted - Nice Indoor Kitchen Herb Garden Ideas Lovely Hanging Indoor Herb Garden
Indoor herb garden that is wall mounted. A great solution for those tight on space. Source:Live to Manage

What is incredibly important to consider however, is how much sunlight your plants are going to get. Let’s face it, without sunlight, your herbs and vegetables just aren’t going to grow. Ideally your garden will need to get approximately 6 hours of sunlight a day. It is also going to require regularly watering, so make it part of your daily routine to check over your plants and give them a drink.

You can get started with a selection of your favourite herbs, and plant them at pretty much any time of the year. Think carefully about what you love to cook with and plant those! It makes no sense to have oodles of something you don’t enjoy or rarely cook with.

The same goes for your vegetables….beans, lettuce, tomatoes and peas are all easy to grow, but you should consider what you like to eat. If you live in sub tropical areas beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, peas, lettuce, rocket, peas, garlic and snow peas are ideal to plant throughout June. In more temperate environments try Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, beans, radish, turnips, swedes, garlic, lemongrass, mint and strawberries.

Winter vegetables are interesting and varied.
Planting throughout winter does see slower growth, however once the plants take off you should still see a hefty harvest. Source: Pinterest

In our house, our favourite winter crops are zucchinis and coloured spinach: both take a little while to get started, but once they take off, you are left with an abundance of fresh produce. You will need to get creative in order to use your hefty harvest, but winter is a great time for making stews and soups, so you can throw a handful of each into most of your concoctions.

If you are trying your hand at beans, peas or tomatoes, try growing these at the back of your garden bed on trellises. That way you are able to harvest the produce in front easily whilst the crops are supported and out of the way.

Keep your vines like tomatoes and beans at the back of your garden supported on trellises
Keep your vines like tomatoes and beans (far right of adove picture) at the back of your garden supported on trellises. Source: IN Gun Owners

It is a great time to get into the garden as the sun is more gentle and it makes the day far more pleasant was you are working. Things do tend to grow slower in the cooler months so it also makes an ideal time to pull out the weeds and make sure your garden is ready for spring!

Happy planting

Fwf x

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Threatened, endangered and extinct

For animal lovers, the increasing number of creatures that end up on the threatened, endangered, or extinct list is devastating. Many organisations get behind animal conservation and mainstream entertainment activities such as visiting a zoo, or aquarium bring these issues to the forefront.

But you may be surprised to find that many plants also face extinction. In fact scientists estimated that a huge 20% of the world’s plants face extinction- that’s one in five plants. The World’s Botanic Gardens act as a safe haven for many rare plants. And while Botanic Gardens worldwide are popular tourist attractions, the purpose is also to serve as valuable research centres; for learning and educating and for important conservation work.

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Image via Wiki Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

For the first time, a detailed global study has been conducted of plants grown in botanical gardens, where they recorded more than 100,000 species. The study, conducted by the researchers from Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), has given great insight into what they have (of course), but probably just as importantly, what is lacking in the gardens. The Botanic Gardens is a huge resource of living collections as well as seed banks, and it is thought that perhaps more effort and energy should be focused on growing what they are able to uniquely grow, as there are no other parties able to do so.

Sydney Botanic Gardens
Image via Sydney.com of the beautiful Sydney Botanic Gardens

Dr Samuel Brockington of the University of Cambridge, and co curator of the study believes the global network of botanic gardens is our best hope for saving some of the world’s critically endangered plants.

Whilst the study showed a great cross section of living plants, Tropical plant varieties were under represented as were the Earth’s most ancient living flora, primitive plants such as mosses. Tropical plants only accounted for 25% of the gardens stock, however in reality, the majority of plant species in the world are Tropical. This is something they need to change; “Non-vascular species are the living representations of the first plants to colonise land,” Brockington said. “They are essential for understanding the evolution of plants.”

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Image via wiki Nong Nooch Tropical Botanic Gardens

He goes on to say;

“Currently, an estimated one-fifth of plant diversity is under threat, yet there is no technical reason why any plant species should become extinct. Botanic gardens protect an astonishing amount of plant diversity in cultivation, but we need to respond directly to the extinction crisis.”

“If we do not conserve our plant diversity, humanity will struggle to solve the global challenges of food and fuel security, environmental degradation, and climate change.”

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Image via Singapore Guide- The Singapore Botanic Gardens

The study which was published in the journal Nature’s Plants covered the shortfall in plants across 100 institutions. As the majority of the gardens were situated in the Northern hemisphere, the lack of tropical plants is understandable. To maintain the species would require heating and glass houses. Of course these species are more readily exhibited in their natural environment, however there are less gardens in the Southern hemisphere.

What was most interesting for me was that only 10% of the collections worldwide were dedicated to threatened species. Surely there is more that we can do to preserve some of the world’s most vulnerable plants!?

Fwf

 

 

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Xanthorrhoea- The Story of the Black Boy Plant

The Xanthorrhoea plant is uniquely Australian. It grows in the South East of Australia thriving in well drained, aerated soils with low nutrient content. It is a plant that can suit most gardens, and being endemic to Australia means it is ideal for our climate and environment.

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Image; Xanthorrhoea_drummondii via Australian Seed

All species of Xanthorrhoea are very slow growing BUT they are also long living; some elderly specimens are among the oldest living plants worldwide. They live for hundreds of years, some have been found to be up to 600 years old. A plant with a metre long trunk for example may already be 100 years old!!!

Xanthorrhoea plants are also known as Balga Grass Plants.  ‘Balga’ is the Aboriginal word for black boy and for many years the plant was fondly known as a “Black Boy”. It is thought that the Aborigines called the plants Balga because after a bush fire had ravaged the land, the blackened trunk of the Xanthorrhoea would be revealed beneath the burned lower leaves, and would resemble a child like black figure. Others believe that the plant, with it’s bush fire blackened trunk and long flower spike resembled an Aboriginal boy wielding a spear. Whatever the case, as the years have passed, it is seen as an extremely racist name, and is thought to be very offensive to the original custodians of the land, so the plants are more commonly known as Grass Tree, because let’s face it Xanthorrhoea is a bit of a mouthful.

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Image; Xanthorrhoea_preissii via Australian Plants

The Xanthorrhoea was invaluable to the Aborigine people. It was a source of food, drink and building material.

Food; Fleshy white parts of leaves and the succulent roots of the plants were frequently eaten. The seeds were collected, ground into a powder and used to make damper. They also collected grubs from the base of the plant.

Drink; The flower of the Xanthorrhoea was soaked in a trough of water extracting a thick sweet nectar which could be enjoyed as is or fermented for  3-5 days in order to produce an alcoholic brew.

Material for tools; The leaves of the Xanthorrhoea produce a hard waterproof resin, which is liquid form when warmed, but sets hard when cooled. The Aboriginals used the resin as a super glue type of material to attach blades to spears and as a waterproofing material for canoes.

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Image; Flower Spike going to seed via Anpsa

There are 28 species of grass trees in Australia. Xanthorrea Johnsonii is just one of these species, but is a popular variety in Australian gardens due to it’s singular trunk which can grow up to 5 metres tall. When you see a grass tree where the trunk changes direction, has major bends or even multiple heads, this is generally caused by new growth after the plant has flowered, or if the tree has been involved in an accident (another tree falling on top, or pushing against the grass tree). So essentially, the survivors turn into architectural masterpieces; each trauma, and struggle spurs them on, making them ever more interesting and beautiful. Each tree is totally unique and proudly displays its history in its shape.

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Image; Xanthorrhoea Australis Flower spike in bloom via Gardens Online

These plants often flower as a direct result of fire, quickly bringing an essential food source to the surrounding birds, insects and other wildlife. It is often the first spurt of colour in an otherwise blackened environment. The flower spike of the Xanthorrhoea is the growth point; after flowering, you will notice that the tree will remain dormant and cease producing new leaves for months or even years. Many people panic, but there is no need. The plant does not require extra water or fertiliser- it just needs your patience. This is the way of nature, and the Xanthorrhoea has survived just like this for hundreds of years; this is a defense mechanism. To encourage continuous growth, you will need to remove the flower spike as soon as it appears.

Fwf x

 

 

 

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Garden Inspirations- Palm Springs

I love conceptualising; Looking at ideas, researching a theme or a design concept and then building on it from there. Currently, I am finding inspiration from the gardens of Palm Springs. These gardens best suit the quint essential mid century modern home, however can be appropriated to work with modern day architecture where garden spaces are sleek, grouped, and focus on the balance between planted and empty spaces.

Obviously it is always important to look at the environmental factors, such as aspect and exposure to the sun within the garden and make appropriate plant choices. What is the soil quality like? Is there good drainage? How often are you prepared to water the garden? These are all factors that need to be considered when designing a garden.

Gardens that take inspiration from the South West of America focus on the intricate differences in colour, shape, size and most importantly texture. These gardens are often defined by the absence of grassy areas, and with the inclusion of rock beds, large feature rocks, stone pavers or gravel. These are appropriate options that have been considered, and make sense for the original environment; a hot, desert climate.

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Australia’s natural environment is often compared to California, and so many of the choices would be appropriate for our climate also. Instead of using mulch, or bark to retain water within the garden beds, a rock layer is a popular choice.

Get the look;  Cactus, Prickly Pear, Agaves and other geometric Succulents, Palms, Vertical plants like Mother in Laws Tongue, Shapely feature plants such as the Joshua Tree. There are hundreds of Palms available, and it all comes down to personal choice, but the Ponytail Palm will give you that special Palm Springs inspired look. It has a bulbous trunk and crazy head of leaves. You could also consider including a Australian Grass Plant, Xanthorrhoea- which for many years was known as the Black Boy. These plants often last for hundreds of years, require little water, and are striking in their appearance.

Joshua Tree, California Desert, Desert flora, desert cactus, desert plants, desert landscape, photography by Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach
Joshua Tree, California Desert, Desert flora, desert cactus, desert plants, desert landscape, photography by Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach
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Xanthorrhoea Grass plant via Trek Nature
Southwest Garden Designs | Great Southwest Landscape Design Ideas
Via Pinterest
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Amazing bulbous Ponytail Palm via Gardenia
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Besser blocks and feature rocks finish this garden design Via Kelly Go Lightly

Accessories; Gravel, Stone Pavers, Besser Block feature walls, Large feature rocks.

Colours; The gardens within this style tend to feature green, grey and white. Often the buildings are stark white, with strong coloured features (walls, entry doors, lounge/pool furniture etc). You can also include orange, red and chocolate coloured foliage plants for extra colour.

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Rock features and stone pavers in a neutral colour palette
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Pavers and rocks complete with a linear design of cactus= awesome Palm Springs garden via Kelly go Lightly

The Palm Springs inspired garden is not for everyone, but if you like low maintenance gardens, it could be a good fit. The rock layer reduces the watering, and as the plant choices tend to be hardy specimens which favour a more arid environment, they do not require daily watering. This garden style will complement formal settings, and sleek, modern architecture as well as vintage styling.

One thing to note is that many of the plant varieties that feature in this garden style are costly. Golden Barrel Cactus for example are hard to come by, and are slow growers, so even small plants will set you back a bit. You also need to consider that for the cluster plantings and linear plant work in this design style, you will require substantial numbers in many plant varieties. On the upside, choose wisely and this garden design will be low manintence and have great longevity.

Fwf x

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Green Cities for the Future

For a busy, burgeoning country like China; bursting at the seams with people, buildings and vehicles, it comes as no surprise that they struggle with pollution. For the mountainous regional city of Liuzhou, the pollution levels have not yet reached dire straits, but if they do not address this issue pronto, the city’s atmospheric health will of course get worse over time. Liuzhou’s Municipality Urban Planning department has commissioned a design firm to create a 175-hectare Forest City which will run along the Liujiang River in the northern part of Liuzhou. Towers that will be covered in thousands of trees and a million plants; more than 100 different species. The idea has become known as “Vertical ForestING”; a trend that is perhaps set to take over architecture the world over.  The concept is based on giving back to nature, as well as perhaps slowing down climate change and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

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The Forest City vision from Stefano Boeri Architetti

On June 26th it was announced that Italian design firm Stefano Boeri Architetti will create what they call a ‘forest city’ thaty will be able to help address the smog levels. The idea is that the neighbourhood will comprise of plant covered towers to help reduce pollution levels. But we are not talking about a few measly trees. The skyscrapers will hold a whopping 1100 trees and thousands of cascading shrubs on the rooftops and balconies. That means that the plants that will be used in each tower would cover approx 7000 metres squared on flat land! How incredible is that!!??  On top of that, the majority of the buildings energy requirements will be fueled from renewable sources such as solar power. The direct result of the plants within the tower structures will absorb 10000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, as well as 57 tonnes of pollutants each year. This is as effective as taking 2100 cars off the roads.

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Stefano Boeri Artiectetti

The two tower complex, called Nanjing Green Towers is modeled on a similar concept that Boeri designed and completed in Milan in 2014. They also have a similar concept being executed in Switzerland in the coming year. Luizhou’s “forest city” set in China’s mountainous region is set to be a reality by 2020. Whilst the impact that two towers will have on the pollution levels of the city will be minimal, they serve a blueprint for creating whole ‘forest cities’. If the Chinese government is able to change the mindset of growth and progress to include creating green cities, not simply perpetuating the problem of expanding, exceeding limits and putting such immense pressure on the surrounding natural environment, then buildings such as these may help combat the pollution problem in the future.

Boeri writes;  “The diffusion of plants, not only in the parks and gardens or along the streets, but also over building facades, will allow the energy self-sufficient city to contribute to improve the air quality (absorbing both CO2 and fine dust of 57 tons per year), to decrease the average air temperature, to create noise barriers and to improve the biodiversity of living species, generating the habitat for birds, insects and small animals that inhabit the Liuzhou territory.”

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Milan Towers completed in 2014. Image Stefano Boeri Architetti
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Nanjing Towers via Stefano Boeri Architectetti

What do you think- do these forest cities have a place in the world in the future? Or do you feel it is a misguided waste of time and energy?

Fwf x

 

 

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Gifts from the Garden – I

There’s nothing better than a thriving garden. For some it is not something that is easy to achieve and certainly many people struggle with keeping things alive, let alone thriving. There are plants that are easier than others to get going, and once you get it right, you can hit a sweet spot that sees things growing so well, that sometimes they stretch well over and above their peers, and start taking on more and more of the real estate within the garden.

When that happens in the herb garden (as it is for me right now) you have to get creative, and start to work out a way to use what you have immediately, or ways in which you can store them for use later.

Mint
Image; MINT E-agriculture

For me, Mint and Basil are two plants that get WAY TOO EXCITED; they are growing fast and spreading like weeds. (As a side note, we do live on the edge of a small rain-forest, and in a snake prone area and fragrant herbs are said to be a deterrent- rest assured, these plants are going nowhere!)

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Image: BASIL Home Guides via Pinterest

The basil plants are now getting so big that they end up growing horizontal from the weight- I just cannot keep up with the growth, and let’s be realistic- adding a few basil leaves to your pasta sauce just ain’t going to cut it if you are attempting to use what you grow without wastage.

So today, I’m sharing a couple of my favourite recipe ideas for you to enjoy, if or when your herb garden is flourishing.

My Lychee Mojito;

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My Lychee Mojito can be enjoyed with or without alcohol. Image; Serving Joy

Ahhh, nothing like an alcoholic beverage tarted up with tropical fruits and herbs to make you feel like you have escaped the rat race and are away on holidays somewhere luxurious. This recipe might be a little softer on the alcohol than if you were to order it at a bar, but the focus is instead on the fresh herb flavour. If you like it stronger hold back on the soda.

1T Brown sugar

10-15 mint leaves

1 Lime (cut into wedges)

200ml Soda Water/Sparkling Mineral Water

60ml White Rum (Bacardi)

3 lychees

Ice as required

Start by placing the lime wedges in the bottom of the glass along with the sugar- muddle them together so that the juices are released from the lime. Place the mint leaves in your hands and ‘clap’- the bruising will release the oils from the leaves, along with the flavour. Throw these in the glass along with the rum, then top the glass up with soda, lychees, and ice. If you like your drink sweeter, you can add a little of the lychee juice from the can. This drink is equally enjoyable sans alcohol; in fact it has been quite a few years since I have added alcohol to it with three littlies around. It is so fresh and tasty and certainly makes a tasty drink to enjoy at the end of the day or at a party without feeling it the next day.

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Basil Pesto is best enjoyed fresh, but with an extra layer of olive oil, can last for months. Image; Taste

The Besto Pesto;

Basil grows thick….and quick. It is hard to keep up when it is thriving, but then again, for many months throughout the year it doesn’t grow well at all. By harvesting your crop and turning it into delicious pesto, you can enjoy pastas, salads and more anytime! Plus, it freezes well so you can half your batch and putting it in ice cubes for quick defrosting!

2 C (firmly packed) fresh basil leaves

1/2 C nuts (lightly toasted in a non stick pan)- I like pine nuts and blanched almonds best

1/2 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A pinch of salt

Pesto is super easy- you basically just pop it all in the food processor and hit GO! You can add slightly more or less olive oil depending on how ‘lose’ you like it.

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If you have any plants that are growing particularly well and you need some help with recipe ideas to use the excess, drop us a line in the comments section or via our Facebook page.

Fwf x

5 Food Processor Hacks to Save Mom Time in the Kitchen

5 Food Processor Hacks to Save Mom Time in the Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last Chance to Bury Your Bulbs for Spring!

Quick! With May coming to an end, Autumn is almost over and Winter is on it’s way.  If you haven’t planted your bulbs already, it’s time to get busy! Now is the time to put in your last ditch effort to give yourself gorgeous flowers throughout Spring.

What can you plant? There are many different types of bulbs that may appeal. Many bulb plants can be poisonous, so be careful what you choose.  Common plants like the daffodil are one of the most frequent causes of accidental poisoning- can you believe that!!?? They contain toxic alkaloids that can cause dizziness, abdominal pain and when eaten, even convulsions. Generally the symptoms are fairly manageable and treatment at home is sufficient, still, you should be careful.

There is also a wide variety of plants that have beautiful fragrances so make gorgeous additions to an already established garden.

Popular springtime bulbs include;

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Image; Daffodils

Daffodils- there are many varieties of daffodils, so you can choose one, or plant a mixture throughout your garden for interest. Daffodils generally flower naturally late winter/early spring although you will see some varieties being ‘forced’ to flower earlier in the year commercially. Daffodil day takes place on August 25th and there are always plenty around.

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Image; Freesias via Thompson- Morgan

Freesias- freesias blooms are gorgeously delicate and highly perfumed. They are available in a variety of colours. Interestingly after a few seasons, you will find that the coloured varieties will revert back to white/yellow blooms, which is the natural (un-hybridised) version of the species.

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Image; J Parkers

Gladioli- long and dramatic blooms. Although not technically a bulb, but a ‘corm’, Gladioli can add a touch whimsy to your garden, almost as though you have fallen down the rabbit hole. They are available in a variety of pastel and bright colours as well as stunning white. Inconveniently, gladioli do not like tap water due to the levels of fluoride. They have been found to be extremely sensitive to fluoride which causes petals edges to deteriorate, florets will not open, and the sheaf burns/yellows or darkens.

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Image; Hyacinth via Longfield Gardens

Hyacinth- highly perfumed short stemmed blooms in whites, creams, pinks, mauves, blues and violet.

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Image; Siberian Iris via Gardening Know How

Iris- dramatic leafy spears sprout from the ground opening to striking blue, yellow and white frilly blooms.

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Image; Lily of the Valley via God’s Growing Garden

Lily of the Valley- are an extremely popular wedding bloom due largely to their divine perfume and delicate appearance. This makes them a gorgeous addition to your garden if these blooms were used in your wedding bouquets, plus as an added bonus, they have lovely lush foliage as well.

Certainly a gorgeous (however not exhaustive) list of bulbs that you could plant in the next couple of weeks. Just think, a little work now, could have outstanding results over the next few months.

Enjoy.

Fwf x

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Countdown to Chelsea

This morning I opened up my Facebook feed to find that an old travel companion had created an installation for this years Chelsea Flower Show. Is it really that time again….already? Jo was a uni student when we met many moons ago in Central America, but she has since forged a successful career in interior design and prop styling. The display she has created for the flower show features a Sunflower garden, made entirely of fabric and paper, held together no doubt with the assistance of every tradie lady’s favourite tool, the hot glue gun.

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Image; Jo Bailey

The Chelsea Flower show runs from Tuesday May 23rd til Saturday May 27th this year and promises to provide new ideas, fresh inspiration and as always wonderful, eye catching, stunningly beautiful garden displays. In addition to 28 gardens, and 100 plant displays, this year there is also a secret garden which is only visible from a viewing platform, BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens with each garden focused on heightening one of the 5 senses, a fruit and vegetable garden with over 50 varieties of edible produce, urban murals and much, much more.

The Chelsea Flower Show is certainly on the bucket list for most florists, and for those who are lucky enough to get there this year, I’m sure it won’t disappoint. As this is the first show after Brexit, the show organisers were keen to rethink the show and it certainly has been reinvigorated, with lots of fresh content which has been key in the increased interest in the event. In the past the tickets have been slow to sell with tickets even available on the day. However this year, unbelievably, the popular show sold out more than 2 weeks before it opens, and now tickets are being offered online for £1300 a pair!

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Image; Telegraph

Also this year, Dame Judi Dench is being celebrated; having a gorgeous apricot toned rose named in her honour. The rose has a medium tea scent, and is a David Austin style rose.

Judi isn’t alone though, over the years many celebrities have had roses named in their honour. Barbara Streisand, an avid rose fan, has a deliciously fragrant lilac rose named after her. Freddie Mercury fans are said to have fund raised over 2000 pounds to breed a yellow rose in his honour 2 years after his death. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Catherine) had a soft apricot rose that opens to white named in their honour at the show in 2011. And Julie Andrews had a rose named in her honour at the Chelsea Flower show back in 1992.

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Image; Barbara Streisand rose via Telegraph
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Image; William and Catherine Rose by David Austin

I can’t wait to see the photos emerging next week when the show opens, and I am keen to see how the public receives the new format and new features. As always, for the moment anyway I will admire the pictures from afar, but one day, maybe one day I will get there myself!

Stay tuned!

Fwf x

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Bee- autiful!

We all know bigger is not necessarily better, but isn’t it amazing how tiny little things can wield immense power?

Life as we know it, would cease to exist. The fruit that we are accustomed to eating, would no longer be an option, some animals would even become extinct, and flowering plants would also see a sad decline. And why? Because of tiny buzzing BEES.

Bees play a vital role in life here on earth. Pollinating insects, but particularly bees, play a integral role in agriculture. It is not simply the honey they produce, but instead, their role in the pollination of many flowering and fruit/food producing plant crops. Bees are responsible for 80% of all pollination worldwide- that is HUGE!

Have you ever heard the interesting fact that a Bee is responsible for 1 in every 3 bites of food you have? Up to 70 out of the top 100 food crops for human consumption are pollinated by bees. While grains are primarily pollinated by the wind, fruits, nuts and vegetables are pollinated by bees. No other single animal species has such an integral role in producing food crops that our vital to our (human) survival.  Bee The Cure sees the issue as paramount stating “No bees = no life”.

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Since 2006 honeybee populations have been suffering massive declines in numbers. This loss has been referred to as the Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and has become an urgent crisis.

“Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years.” 

Albert Einstein

Oh My Goodness!!! I always say this!! "When the bees are gone, we're screwed":
Source: Tumblr enigmatic-poeticism, via explosionsoflife

What is killing the Bees?

Despite their claims of innocence, studies show that chemicals such as pesticides and fungicides play a key role in the bee population decline. The pesticides have been found in the pollen, sometimes at lethal doses, used to pollinate food crops. Bees that are in contact with pollen contaminated by these poisons are also more likely to be infected by a parasite that is also contributing to the CCD.

The common and easily accessible gardening products such as “Round Up” weed killer and “Confidor” insecticides have been proven to harm bees. The active ingredient in these products, Glyphosate has been banned in several countries for being carcinogenic.

Other factors that are having a devastating effect on the Bee population are; drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficiencies, air pollution, global warming and more. Money hungry corporations determined to feed the world genetically modified food are putting us all in a precarious position. By promoting ecological farming, we can start to improve pollination, which in turn improves crop yields. Ecological farming is nothing new, it is the way humans have farmed throughout history, however as corporation squeeze more money out of every acre of farms, a change has seen some businesses turn to mono farming.

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It seems first world countries are often the one’s who are backwards in our thinking. Bhutan is leading the world by committing to a 100% organic farming policy and Mexico has banned all GMO Corn varieties in a bid to protect its native corn. Hungary burned 1000 acres of corn after  it was found to have become contaminated with GMO varieties, and parts of Europe have banned GMO crops altogther. China is importing Australian honey as their bees (and therefore their honey) have become contaminated.We send our finest honey overseas, and continue to buy honey from big supermarket brands using foreign bees and honey which are contaminated.

So, what can we do to help the Bees?

  • Plant your garden with species that will encourage bees to come visit!
  • Until a National/Worldwide ban is enforced, boycott using the seven most dangerous pesticides in your own home gardens. They have been found to be carcinogenic so it is beneficial for your own health too!
  • Buy REAL honey from farmers markets. Big brands that you find on the supermarket shelves tend to use foreign bees and honey which are contaminated.
  • Preserve the Bees wild habitat- this will promote pollinator health.
  • Promote Ecological Farming- do not buy Genetically Modified food.

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Bee Kind, Bee Careful, Bee Proactive, Bee Ware

Fwf x

 

 

 

 

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Creating Kitchen Garden Markers

Many people find gardening relaxing, something that is good for their soul. Countless hours may be spent, digging and planting, turning the soil and weeding. But it seems to be a special talent to get things to grow, and much more to have them thrive. Recently, the trend seemed to be bigger houses with less lawn and less garden, and certainly for many that is still true. But for many others, there is a change happening- turning our backs on mass production, and fresh fruit and vegetables being bought at big retailers. Instead we see the popularity of farmers markets increase, and the concept of ‘farm fresh’ and ‘paddock to plate’ becoming more important to a large percentage of the community.

There is a lot to be said for understanding where food comes from. As old fashioned as it sounds, I believe it is of vital importance to bring your children up in the garden and in the kitchen too. That is where they will begin to learn how to have a healthy relationship with food and understand that the food they choose sustains them and helps them thrive also.

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Image; Via Instagram

As a family, we longed for a patch of land where we could begin growing our own food,  as well as give the kids an everyday experience where they are encouraged to touch, feel and get dirty without concern. Oh, and what fun we have had since moving! 😄 So far our kitchen garden has provided literally kilos and kilos of zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, snow peas, corn cobs, cherry tomatoes, celery, chilies, rocket, and different lettuce varieties. We are also waiting on our crop of broccoli and silverbeet.

My husband certainly takes the reigns in the garden (as our resident horticulturist, I wouldn’t expect any less), but the vegie patch and the herb garden have somehow remained mine. Our herb garden has been thriving and we have had more than our fair share of mint, basil and parsley. We also have dill, lemongrass, rosemary, oregano, chives, purple basil.

Some may say it is because I am a control freak that I feel the need to label everything. My response is usually something to do with attempting to make things easier for others, you know so things can be put back in the correct spot or so that you know what is what. So after I had happily planted my seedlings I set about looking for some garden markers. Who knew anything nice was so expensive!!?? I really could not resolve the idea of just leaving the labels on or using those plastic white labels you can get from the hardware store so here are some of the ideas I found;

lab 1
Image; 5 Dollar Dinners
lab 2
Image; Pin and Paper
lab 3
Image; Best Friends for Frosting
lab 4
Image; Shrimps Salad Circus
lab 5
Image; Simple Details
lab 6
Image; Hardly Housewives
lab 7
Image; My Garden Your Garden

I found some raw wood spoons in a dollar store and took to them with my sharpies based on the above idea. I started just by roughly positioning the letters on the spoon in lead pencil. Then when I was happy, I penned them in and then added a greenery based design to each, unless it particularly called for colour.

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Whether you are happy to buy some of what you need, or you want to make do with what you have around the house, any of these options make great additions to your garden. And it goes without saying that the kids love getting in and getting their hands dirty.

Fwf x

 

 

 

 

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