Friday, September 19, 2014

Longleaf Pine

I grew up with pine trees in country South Australia. Pinus Radiata and Australian Cypress Pines were everywhere. But when I went to high school I saw the most lovely pine tree that had a long clean trunk with long weeping needles. It was magnificent! I spent many art classes trying to draw that tree. Then when I moved to the Adelaide southern suburbs, in a park behind my house...there was that same pine tree{sigh}. Who would have thought I would like a pine tree so much? Admittedly it is a little quirky.

So researching this tree a little more, all I could find was its Longleaf Pine category, but no official name. So if you know what Pine this is, please let me know.

Pine cones are beginning to grow right now, and most notably they only grow on the end of each branch.

Growing from this:

To this:

To become this:

Big beautiful pine tree. I always think of the needles as being pom-poms.

If you can identify this pine species, leave me a note in the comments. I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Can Fennel and Dill Cross Pollinate?

Gardening forums have been divided on whether the herbs fennel and dill can cross pollinate. This year my garden decided to prove that the warnings are true after all.

I planted my dill in a container right next to the fennel last year. This year, after the dill had died back, new plants began to emerge. I let them grow to see what would develop, and sure enough they weren't dill...and they weren't quite fennel. In fact the foliage colour seemed to indicate that it was a little bit different.

The bottom of each plant has a more fennel bulb look.
The taste is a confusion of both fennel and dill. A bit more fennel but less aniseed.
The texture, however, is far tougher than both fennel and dill which are much more softer.

Having learnt my lesson, I am now growing my dill far away from my fennel plants.

How to prevent cross pollination

  • Plant fennel and dill as far away from each other as practically possible.
  • Since both herbs grow well in pots, moving pots makes controlling their proximity easier.
  • Only plants from the same family can pollinate each other, so the same applies to any other vegetable or flower in the garden.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Magnolia season at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

September is the best month to visit Mount Lofty Botanic Garden to see the Magnolias in full flower. We celebrated Father's Day this year with a picnic beneath the gorgeous Magnolia trees.

Access via the bottom car park off of Lampert Rd from the Piccadilly Rd from Crafers.

A beautiful visit! Every month and every season it is different and a great workout. It is steep.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


This month I had a very special guest come visit me and my garden, gardening guru Michael Keelan who helped me create some amazing terrariums for Channel 7's SALife program (Sunday 5:30pm).


Terrariums are a great way to garden indoors especially if you live a busy lifestyle or you are away often. In fact these are a great gift for any one who loves gardening. This is even one for the lazy gardeners.

Being low maintenance and clean, a terrarium adds a beautiful living design element to any room that has naturally filtered light. Dress them up, get creative because there are no limits to your imagination when creating a terrarium.

And terrariums are so easy to create!

They really are like a mini rainforest, working on the principles of condensation, evaporation and precipitation. To get your terrarium working well there are some basic rules to follow so that the water cycle works effectively for your plants.

To get started:

Download the Fact Sheet

What you will need

  • Clear glass or plastic container (with or without a lid)
  • Pebbles or coarse gravel
  • Activated charcoal (the smaller granular type from aquarium shops are ideal)
  • Potting mix (Premium or Cacti & Succulent Mix)
  • Plants
  • Mist Water Spraying Bottle with fresh water
  • Decorative objects (optional)

Terrariums on a Budget

Terrariums can be made from the simplest and cheapest materials all the way through to the high end fancy display. Use an old 2 Litre soft drink plastic bottle or even an old food jar. It can start that simple.

So I did my shopping around to find the best buys to get the most for your money.

Choosing your Jar

To activate the water cycle, choose a jar or container that either has a lid, side opening or rounded top opening to help the condensation return to the soil.

If you like tall plants then choose a tall container. Just remember that the pebbles and soil will raise the internal height.

The width of your container and plants are also important to consider as we do not want the foliage to touch the sides of the container or this will lead to rot and fungal problems. Simply snip back any leaves that don't quite fit whenever you see them touching a side.

Homemade polymer clay mini mushrooms dress up this Moss terrarium

Plant Choices

Standard Terrarium Garden
Head to your local nursery to the shade plants section and choose from the mini pots.
Terrariums rarely host flowering plants, but African Violets do very well.


Its not always the mini shade plants that take pride of place in a terrarium.
How about these other combinations:

Moss Garden
Moss gardens do not need any form of drainage as they thrive in boggy conditions. Just remember to check on it daily to see that it is still moist. Dryness will kill the moss off quickly. Mosses are not commercially available in South Australia, so it will be up to you to hunt in those darker moist areas of the garden.

Cacti and Succulent Garden
Not all cactus are spiky. Using a more open bowl to allow extra moisture to escape will keep these beautiful plants in the best condition. Always use the right potting mix blend.

Air Plants Garden
Air Plants do not need any soil to grow, just attach to a rock or piece of wood with florist wire or a dab or glue. If your container only contains pebbles, simply wiggle the plant into place between rocks very gently and place in a location that receives fresh air flow as the particles in the air feed Air Plants. A little light misting every now and again is recommended. Air Plants come in plastic containers are available at most nurseries and hardware store garden sections.

Air Plants planted among pebbles

I hope this has inspired you to create your very own terrarium.
They make beautiful gifts as well as brighten up any room.

They only need a light spray of water every 2 to 4 weeks or as needed.

If you have made one, please let me know. You can follow me on Facebook and show off your terrarium creations there too.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Amazing Chinese Five Spice Recipe

I know what you are thinking: Does that spice ever make it out of the cupboard? Have you ever made Salt & Pepper Squid? This spice not only enhances the flavour, it IS the flavour. And WOW!

Having thrown out some old spices from my pantry I did not have a jar on hand so I searched for a recipe to make my own, and I found this amazing recipe and gave my own twist.

My secret? Long Pepper from Beach Organics (Middleton, South Australia).
Scored this from the Willunga Farmers Market.

Amazing Chinese Five Spice Powder


1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground Cloves
1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
1 teaspoon Star Anise
1 teaspoon Long Pepper
1/2 teaspoon cracked Black Pepper

  1. Grind up the Fennel Seeds, Star Anise, Long Pepper and Black Pepper in a coffee bean grinder or similar.
  2. Add the ground Cinnamon and Cloves.
  3. Mix the spices together and store in an airtight jar.

The original recipe says to toast the fennel seeds first. I did not do this.
Szechuan Peppercorns are used in the original recipe.
I have substituted the peppercorns with Long Pepper and Cracked Black Pepper.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rusty Bird Garden Jigsaw

Click on the image below to start today's jigsaw. Have fun!

preview120 pieceRusty Bird Garden

Spring is Door Knocking in my Garden

Spring is door knocking in my garden already. It always seems to make an appearance in my garden around the 23rd of August every year. The days are become just that little bit longer and the sun shines more warmly. This week I found buds appearing, new flowers bursting out and a personal flurry of activity in the garden. You couldn't have stopped me, the weather made me do it. Ha, ha! What a great excuse♥

Here's a look around my garden at the end of August this year.

Camellia Nuccio's Pearl flowering

Camellia Japonica - Angel

Camellia Japonica - Beatrice Emily

Double Poppies - my first try - seeds from a friend at church

Helleborus in full flower
Potted Freesias

One of my shade loving plants under the apple trees. Possibly an anemone.

Potted Arum Lillies

Meanwhile in the edible section of my garden, there's some activity brewing...

Dwarf Meyer Lemon is heavily laden with flowers

Dwarf Santa Rosa Plum is already budding, but the Satsuma Plum is still dormant.

Brown Turkey fig is not only growing leaves but fruit at the SAME time.

Garlics are growing well. Lost two earlier on in the season, but their replacements have caught up.

Growing Green Manure crop around the base of the Curly Kale to add more nitrogen to the soil.

On my list of Never Fail Crops - my leeks are growing well.

Broad Beans have started to shoot up fast

Turned over the compost bins. Beautiful stuff!


Baby Fennel is almost ready to harvest. Oh yum!

August always makes me feel excited in the garden. How is your garden going this year?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Helleborus Jigsaw

Click on the image to begin your jigsaw. Exit any time, it will save where you are up to. Enjoy!

preview108 pieceHelleborus

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Manning's SALA Sculptures 2014

Every year the SALA Festival has grown in popularity throughout South Australia as more people find local artists displaying in their local area. The creative whimsy and technical flare of these artists are the real draw card, that gets people hopping into their car to drive across town to go see them, too.

South Australian artists of every physical medium display in selected locations throughout the community, bringing their art to the masses in an ambiance that reflects their creative efforts. You may not go out of your way to visit an art gallery, so the gallery comes to you in the form of a cafe, winery or even a plant nursery. Seeing art displayed in your relaxed environment helps you to see the potential of it being displayed in your own home.

I have really grown to enjoy SALA. Its one of those events where even the hardest person to market art to can develop an interest, and I confess that is me. I need more than just a painting on canvas, I need to be able to touch the art that I love, and I want others to enjoy it just as much.

So this year, my hubby and I drove to Newman's Nursery at Tea Tree Gully to view the amazing rusty garden sculptures by Manning Sculptures.

You may have seen a Manning Sculpture before and not known it. Brighton beach in Adelaide plays host to many of their sculptures throughout the year, and also at the Royal Adelaide Show, where they display year after year in the Goyder Pavilion amongst the garden displays in the fruit corner. Its there you can buy something large or small for the garden. I started out with a small wren and a rooster that take pride of place in my espalier garden.

Manning Sculptures at Brighton Beach, Adelaide 2013
Rod, Ty & Judy Manning

SALA Festival - Manning Sculptures at Newman's Nursery, Tea Tree Gully August 2014

Other beautiful sights at Newmans too...

Look what followed me home...
So excited to add this to my garden, finally! Much planning, scrimping and saving. It will make it's way to my front garden, hopefully, to stand proudly in front my new fruit trees.

If you would like to explore the Manning Sculpture range and prices, you can find them here:
Facebook: Manning Sculptures

Manning's current price list can be found on this page at the top to download.

They are also showing at two other locations during SALA (August 2014). Visit their website for more information.

An amazing event, bringing it to the people of South Australia!