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The Whole Big Banana

I’m pretty excited. This week, after a whole year of suggesting, asking, pleading….I have finally managed to get myself a banana plant for the backyard. It is no secret that we are a family that are pretty fond of growing as much produce as we can manage to eat, and at the moment I can see a huge discrepancy between the amount of bananas we eat (approximately 5 kilos a week) and the amount we produce (a big fat ZERO). What’s more, I have discovered that bananas have plenty of health benefits not just from the yellow fruit, but from the stem, the leaf and the flowers as well. The banana plant produces large pinkish/purple buds from the heart which develop into tubular, white flowers. The blossom hangs at the end of the cluster of bananas. On occasion I have seen fresh banana flowers (complete with cluster of bananas) in the Sydney Flower Market, but it is a rare treat.

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Image; Secretly Healthy
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Image;Dr Srevathi

Banana flowers are often used in Asian and South East Asian cuisines, almost in place of a vegetable in curries, soups and salads. The banana flower is sometimes compared to an artichoke in terms of its texture and taste, and like the artichoke,  both the fleshy bracts and the heart are edible.

Banana flowers are a rich source of Antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, Potassium, Magnesium and Fibre, making them an excellent food choice. Antioxidants are essential for health because they reduce stress on cells throughout the body and therefore help slow down the ageing process. Magnesium is said to help reduce anxiety and boost your mood, so for those of you who like to eat your way to health, they are a natural anti depressant. Magnesium also helps promote restful sleep. Potassium is fuel for the brain, so helps with concentration, making you more receptive to learning. It has been shown to be an effective remedy to high blood pressure, and has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Fibre is an important addition to any diet (both soluble fiber and insoluble) as it helps make digestion more efficient and reduces the instances of constipation.

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Image; Miss News

Banana are pretty much a super-food for women throughout various stages of life.  Cooked banana flower combined with yoghurt or curd is said to be one of the most effective home remedies for treating excessive (and painful) bleeding throughout menstruation. The unique combination increases the level of progesterone in the body which has been shown to help reduce bleeding. The Banana fruit is also rich in folic acid (required for making blood) making them a great choice for pregnant women who have increased requirements.  On top of that, the bananas high iron content assists in preventing anemia keeping both mum and bubs healthy throughout pregnancy.

Nursing mothers can sometimes struggle with milk supply and Banana flowers have been found to boost milk supply 😄 Any new mother knows making time to eat properly when you are tending to a new baby can be challenging. Bananas are the original ‘100 calorie snack food’; the perfect food on the go! With only 100 calories and high fibre, they will keep you feeling fuller longer.

Now, I’m under no illusions, one banana plant for my hungry tribe is probably not going to be enough, but it’s a start anyhow! And while this list is not exhaustive it’s clear to me, that bananas are certainly a good choice for the garden or your shopping trolley. Bananas are of course readily available, and Banana flowers can sometimes be found in Asian supermarkets. If you are ready to experiment check out this Banana Blossom Salad recipe.

Fwf x

Featured Image; New Vision

 

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Florist Bucket List; The Corpse Flower

When you think of a flower blossoming and coming into full bloom, you conjour up images of soft layers of petals and a sweet fragrances that dance through the air.

But the so called ‘corpse flower’ is quite a different specimen of flower. The Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), is a rare bloom that only flowers approximately every 3-5 years with a pungent odour likened to the smell of rotting flesh. Delightful.

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Image; Plants of the World Online

Amorphophallus titanum, a plant native to the rainforests of Sumatra, is a member of the Arum family. It is listed on the IUCN Red list of Threatened plants, noted as being ‘Vulnerable’. The plant produces the world’s largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, with the flowers measuring up to 3 metres high and 3 metres in circumference! The bloom appears green, however has a richly coloured flesh inside, with ribbed sides and a frilly edge.

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Right now, there are a few of these blooms expected to open at some prominent gardens around the world. In the Greater Des Moines Botanical Center, Iowa, an approximately 4 foot flower is about to bloom. This bloom is expected to open on or around July 22. For those who are unable to make the trip or perhaps are curious to see it open, but not endure the accompanying odour, the Botanical Centre has opened up a live feed that you can check out here.

The Paignton Zoo, Devon, UK, has just endured (errr….enjoyed) one of two resident Titan Arum plants opening. The second plant is expected to bloom just a few weeks behind. When the second plant was recently repotted, it weighed in at a whopping 56kgs, leaving the first plant to be dubbed ‘Tiny Tim’ in comparison to this giant at the Zoological and Botanical Garden.

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Image; The Mirror, The Paighton Zoo Titan Arum photographed with a staff member.

‘Carrion’ is defined as; ‘the decaying flesh of dead animals’. So Carrion flowers are flowers that emit an odor that smells like rotting flesh. The flowers ‘scent’ wafts through the air (particularly at night) attracting flies and other pollinators.

There are several Carrion flowers, the Titan Arum lily has a few smelly mates within this category, but the blooms are not necessarily related species. The Rock Island Quad City Botanical Centre has a Voodoo lily in residence which also omits a foul scent, and this blooms in late January.

 

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Image; Another Carrion Flower, ‘Voodoo Lily’ from Smart Seeds Store

What do they say ….”Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse.” I’m not sure that any of these Carrion flowers are the most attractive blooms on offer, but when something blooms so spectacularly (size- wise), so infrequently (every 3-5 years) and so fleetingly (living only 24 hours) is certainly still gets on my bucket list.

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Image; Spent flower, Australian Geographic

Have you ever seen a Titan Arum?

Fwf x

 

 

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Vegetation Levitation

Everyone these days is on the look for something new, something fresh, something different. We want everyone to want what we want- almost as if their reassurance will tell us we are on the right track. Everything about today is geared towards standing out, and gaining approval- that is the way social media appears to be working right?

So in a world that is forever trying to come up with the next big idea, design concepts like this one, are sure to impress.

A simple vase of fresh cut flowers certainly is beautiful and an attractive pot with a lush green plant will definitely help bring the outdoors inside but we have all seen that before.

Have you seen this innovative design that I stumbled upon? We all know how magnets work; opposites are attracted to one another, and therefore pull most strongly together. And poles of the same origin will repel. Magnets and magnetic force is almost like some special type of magic- stuck together like glue, or repelled. Well, this concept has been utilised to create a unique plant concept, whereby the planter hovers over the decorative base via magnetic levitation. The plant is gently rotated to expose the plant to sunlight, which is essential for the plants survival.

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Image; Spoon Tamago
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Image; Kickstarter
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Image; Spoon Tamago
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Image; Kickstarter

There are a few companies offering variations of the concept which begun crowd funding a few years ago via kickstarter. Bases are available in modern chrome finishes as well as lovely rich oak, or bases covered in pieces of wood that have a more rustic finish. Air plants such as the Tillandsia do particularly well as they are able to absorb the nutrients from the atmosphere. The rotating action allows the plant to be evenly exposed to sunlight.

Bonsai plants are another option on offer, as are some palm varieties. Initially, D.I.Y kits were also available so essentially you could plant whatever you like. The ‘little star’ plant base as it is called, is made of a unique super absorbent sponge like material which holds water so the plant does not dry out. With time the plants roots will fully anchor themselves to this base, making it stable and secure. The decorative base that sits on your table/counter etc does require power.

It’s a pretty futuristic concept, and certainly something that would look out of place in my home- but how cool is it!? It’s a gorgeous idea for minimalist homes, a fantastic house warming gift, or a gift for someone who has just about everything.

But if it’s not for you, you can still stick to a gorgeous fresh flower arrangement presented in any vessel you choose, and guess what, it won’t require power either.

Fwf x

Feature image via Wallhaven

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Gifts from the Garden- II

After last weeks post on harvesting some of your gardens gifts, I noticed that on various social media platforms many other Sydney Florists had been having the same idea. Throughout this last week, keen gardeners have been busy bottling up their garden in preparation for the months ahead. And really, it is the perfect time to do so, before the cold weather really starts! Winter often brings on the undeniable desire for comfort eating, so following on from last week, we have a couple more treats for you to create from your flourishing garden that should hit the spot. Citrus should be in full swing now, so it makes it the ideal time to preserve lemons which you can utilise in a variety of sweet and savoury recipes, AND a gorgeous lemon curd; an excuse to make a delicious tart or a pie for dessert! YUM.

Preserved Lemon:

Preserving lemons is a pretty straight forward process, but to speed up the maturing process and to soften the rind, Taste suggests freezing the lemons first, letting them thaw overnight before preparing them with the salt.

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Image: Organic Gardener
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Image: Delicious
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Image; Former Chef

What you need;

5 Lemons

1 1/2C lemon juice *freshly squeezed from additional lemons

1/2C sea salt

You might also like to add 1 cinnamon sticks and/or 3 cloves for a twist on the traditional. Alternatively you can use bay leaves between each layer of lemons. You must work into sterilised jars to ensure that mould does not spoil your efforts.

Ensure that you clean the lemons sufficiently so that no dirt or dust remains on the exterior. Cut the lemons in quarters but not all the way down. Fill each lemon with as much salt as possible. The salt draws out the juice from the lemon, softening the rind. Pack the lemons into the jar and top the jar with the remaining salt. Pour the lemon juice over the lemons so that they are all covered. The jar should be stored in a cool spot, away from direct sunlight for at least 4 weeks. As the lemons settle you may find you need to add extra juice to ensure the lemons remain covered.

When you are ready to use your lemons, remove the pieces required from the jar and wash under cool running water. Use a sharp knife to remove the flesh, and pith from the rind. Discard both the flesh and pith. Finely slice/dice the rind to use.

Preserved lemon is a great addition Middle Eastern inspired meals and salads, it works brilliantly with roasted chicken, and it is fabulous to utilise in desserts. This little gift from the garden project will certainly be worthy of the time you invest.

Lemon Curd:

Curd is a dessert spread/topping/filling, that can be made from pretty much any fruit however generally citrus fruit is used. We have included a recipe using lemon, but you could just as easily use lime, mandarin or orange depending on what you have growing at home, as well as passion fruits, or berries.

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Image: The Pioneer Woman
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Image: Epicurious

Creating the Curd;

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

3/4 C caster sugar

80g chilled unsalted butter

2 lemons, juice and zest

Whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks and caster sugar in a pan until smooth, then turn to a low heat. Add the butter, juice and zest and whisk continuously until thickened. Strain through a sieve.Curd usually keeps in the refrigerator for approximately two weeks.

Warm up the curd to add to pancakes, or as part of a sweet crepe filling, use it to top your cheesecake, a filling for a tart or just spread it on buttermilk scones. I think it is optimistic to think that it may keep for around two weeks….

Oh, and remember as the weather cools down, fresh flowers generally have a longer vase life. It makes it a great time to treat yourself or someone special. You can find great gift ideas on our website that can be delivered throughout Sydney, or pop in store to see what delights we have on offer!

Fwf x

Feature image credit: Couponclippingcook.com

 

 

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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.

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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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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;

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Image; 5 Dollar Dinners
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Image; Pin and Paper
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Image; Best Friends for Frosting
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Image; Shrimps Salad Circus
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Image; Simple Details
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Image; Hardly Housewives
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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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Style Revival- Retro

‘Sooner or later, everything old is new again.’ – Stephen King

You only have to look around to see influences of days gone by and there are many terms that are used for describing design styles from our past; ‘Vintage’, ‘Retro’, ‘Antique’, ‘Mid- Century Modern’, and ‘Art Deco’. As a quick overview; When something is referred to as Antique, this generally means it is more than 100 years old. Vintage pieces are from the 20th century, however are not 100 years old, yet. Mid Century modern is a term than was coined in the 1950’s but covers furniture that was designed in period between 1930’s- 1960’s with functionality key. Art Deco generally refers to 1920-1930’s ornate styling. For many, the terms are confusing, but for the purpose of this piece, whilst much of the furniture that features tends to be mid century modern, we are looking at retro styling broadly. How can we incorporate design ideas anywhere from 1930’s onwards into our modern homes and really harness that decor with the help of fresh flowers and plants.

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Image via Instagram, Joybird Furniture

‘Retro’ is a pretty generalised term anyhow. It can pretty much cover any outdated furniture/pieces that have come back into favour for a multitude of reasons. Retro can be as personal as you wish it to be, and as kitsch! The term alone often conjours up images of psychedelic wallpaper and drapery for me, velour furniture, and just a bold use of colour.

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Image; Nous Decor

After WW1 and WW2, people wanted ‘modern’ furniture and homes that lacked the ostentatious finishes that up until then had been standard. The style instead focused on functionality with clean lines, soft curves and the use of a variety of materials (often within one piece to create contrast). You will see a lot of wood teamed with vinyl or leather, or plastic or metal features. Many replica pieces that are found currently feature the turned wood legs that were popular within this style, although it must be noted that the style utilised any and every other material they could, unapologetically and often uncovered (i.e plastic) which had not been done up until that time.

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Image; West Elm

What I love most about this broad theme is the fearlessness when it comes to colour.  Strong, bright and earthy tones featured, and while neutral colour palettes do exist within this style, and black and white is often used in geometric contrast, typical colours used in this decorating style are; Mustard, Blue, Olive, Burnt Orange, Teal, Red and Chocolate.

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Mid Century Sofa in Orange http://uoeur.pe/uohomewares #Home #UrbanOutfittersEurope:
Image: Urban Outfitters

The easiest way to use fresh flowers and living plants in this style is by incorporating some sort of plant stand. Turned wood plant stands are incredibly popular and easily sourced at the moment, as are macrame plant hangers. Both perfect examples of retro styling.

Ferns are ideal for hanging baskets if your preference is for something pendulous. Mother in laws tongue, a popular and easy to care fleshy plant often fits well in this style. They require little water and look ‘modern’. Some ceramic vessels or glass vases will sit well in these plant stands and provide an interesting way to display cut fresh flowers too. Try Philodendron or Monsteria Leaves in a vase for simplicity OR, try using vibrant coloured macrame teamed with a vase of contrasting coloured fresh flowers- think Orange, Blue, or Mustard.

 

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Image; This Little Street featuring a Case Study pot and plant stand via Modernica
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Image: The Jungalow

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Have fun!

Fwf x

 

 

 

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Planting the Pea

Did you know that traditionally Sweet Peas are planted on St Patrick’s Day? No? Me neither, that is until last week. After more than 15 years in the industry I’m not quite sure how I missed this curious fact, but I did, and it just goes to show you can learn something new each and every day. Interestingly,  St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally a pea-planting time throughout the world, but in areas such as New York and New Jersey it is usually the green variety, no doubt because of the difference in climates.

Rather than listen to the Vatican’s recommendations for successful sowing, take it from the experts instead (that is, Horticulturists) who suggest that with careful planning you could see Aussie sweet peas flowering for up to 9 months of the year!! Short day varieties will need to be planted in March, May, September and December, and long day varieties in March, September and November, about 3cm deep, and 7cm apart. Once the seedlings have 4 sets of leaves, pinch the tip off the plant- this will encourage the plant to continue shooting, creating a fuller display.

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Sweet peas, (Lathyrus odoratus) which are part of the legume family, need plenty of sunlight (at least 6 hours) and soil that drains well. They also require a fair amount of support, in the form of a trellis, obelisk or tee pee. The tendrils grip on more delicate surfaces, so sometimes you may use a wire mesh/net for easy grip. Once the tendril reaches the base of the support it will quickly progress vertically with little or no effort on your part. In warmer climates, you should plant the peas where they will enjoy morning sun, which tends to be less intense. Peas are prone to mildew, so like a well ventilated spot, with moist (but not soggy) soil. It is important to keep the soil consistent, so avoid over watering after periods where you have left them overly dry (and vice versa).

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Truth be told, planting Sweet Peas in mid March is probably not the best time in order to see success in Australia, it’s probably still a touch warm. April and May are perfectly good times to sow your seeds. Try soaking your seeds for 24 hours in water before planting, and then, using a nail file, nick the seeds at the side to encourage the plant to sprout more quickly. Choose a site with good drainage, with alkaline soil, and where the sweet peas will have access to sunlight to dance in. If the soil tends to be acidic, sprinkle some powdered lime on the surface.

Some believe that although Sweet peas are not particularly difficult to grow, some people just have the knack and others do not. The trickiest bit is the germination process. Sweet peas are generally slow to germinate, taking between 7 to 15 days depending on the soil temperature….but as the saying goes, Good things come to those who wait. And oh, how totally divine they are. Peas have an unmistakable sweet fragrance that transports you to another time and place. They have their place firmly in cottage gardens, but will also provide a (pretty) and welcome change to the tomatoes growing on your trellis. Take a punt, and give it a go….maybe not on Friday, but at least mark it on the calendar for things to do in the coming months! 😜

Fwf x

 

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