November 7, 2018
Comments Off on Garden renovations are always a stretch…
Your life is full and you love your rambling garden. One day you realise that the tree that shelters your favourite plants is dying. Summer is coming and you reluctantly decide it might be a good idea to remove the tree or cut back the deadwood.
Nothing will prepare you for such a big change. It’s going to be disruptive and messy and dusty for a while. If you sit on your hands wishing you’d never started you will face disappointment as your plants are overwhelmed by the heat and light they never had to cope with before. It’s smarter to embrace the idea of change. This is an opportunity to enliven those features that you love and remove the things that look wrong or out of place. If you have no clue where to start it’s a good idea to call a professional to help clarify the path ahead.
Maybe you already have some idea of what you want and then it’s all about engaging the right people to bring your vision into creation within your budget. Perhaps you need to build a pergola to provide shade; maybe you’ll take the opportunity to do some paving or change the layout of a path. It might also be an opportunity to re-think the whole layout.
I know it’s disruptive because this is what happened to me recently. Gardens are a bit like houses in the sense that they need renovating every 15-20 years. The exciting part is that you will have different ideas about what you want. 15 years ago you may not have had the funds. Perhaps you started planting without much thought about what things would be like when fully grown. This is an opportunity to be creative and reassert your sense of beauty in your private sanctuary.
Don’t be surprised to find more things that need doing once you start. You may find different areas of the garden need some attention as they simply don’t look like they belong anymore. Spend some time in the garden. Look at it with fresh interested eyes. Dream about the features you’d really enjoy. Within a few weeks it will be completed and you will be happy with the new look and feel of your garden.
January 11, 2018
Comments Off on ‘Design is largely about solving problems…………’
Today as I was reading a book loaned to me by a friend, I had an epiphany. As I answered some questions posed within the book I realised one of my greatest skills is problem solving. Sure I love plants and helping people create beauty. I love being in calm, beautiful homes and gardens….and I love solving problems that turn an average garden or home into a thing of beauty. The thing about Design, whether it is a garden, a home renovation or an office is that often a truly great solution comes from addressing the elephant in the room (or garden).
“Oh, I’d love a pool/deck/lawn/quiet nook…….but I can’t get rid of THAT!”
That’s right…theres an elephant standing there in plain sight that can’t be moved. But that’s where I come in. There’s a problem in getting what you want because of the immoveable object and so instead of putting it in the too hard basket you call in a Designer.
In the course of a Consultation, you learn that you can not only have it all but that it will be even more special because of that elephant!!!! To me that’s what good Design is all about. Taking into consideration all the limitations, the clients taste and style, the wish list, the budget and coming up with a solution that satisfies all those things. This makes me happy!
November 18, 2016
Comments Off on Summer is almost here….
Spring is one of my favourite seasons and I’m always a bit sad when it gives way to the hot days of Summer. However, these next few weeks before the real summer heat arrives is a wonderful time to get out into the garden or veggie patch and do a little bit of work.Try emptying out the compost bin or maybe a tray of worm castings from the worm farm onto the veggie patch and you will be rewarded for your efforts. If you don’t have either of those options available, you can always purchase some organic cow manure from the nursery. The warmer weather in combination with some good fertiliser in the form of compost will have plants jumping out of the ground in no time at all.
If you don’t have the luxury of even a small garden, large pots or even polystyrene fruit/vegetable boxes will do the trick. I’m such a fan of growing your own food. It mightn’t be practical to grown all that you need however even having lettuce and a few herbs will add vitality to your daily meals.
February 19, 2016
Comments Off on Day Spa is a sub tropical oasis
A few weeks ago I visited a sub tropical oasis. This amazing Day Spa is hidden from the world and is an oasis in the midst of sub-tropical wilderness.
(Please contact me if you would like further information about it.)
I’m mentioning it because I really enjoy visiting gardens and spaces that are inspiring in some way.
In the sub-tropics is important to get things right when it comes to landscaping. If you don’t, you will be forever battling against the forces of Nature and I know who will win out in the end. Gardening in the sub tropics takes time to understand because it’s not like anywhere else. You need to recognise the powerful growth patterns of plants and the seasonal demands. Nature is unrelenting in her growth cycles and its best to work with her, not struggle against her.
Apart from this Day Spa being a lovely relaxing escape from the world it has many examples of good garden design. You can relax in the pool with distant views of Mt Warning or sit on a rock and listen to birds, all without feeling too overwhelmed by the Nature surrounding you.
Plants are spaced correctly, not overcrowding each other and allowing each to follow its own growth habit. It’s great to see sensible plantings of bamboo. There are surprises around every corner. The paths are curved and encourage exploration. Best of all it all looks quite effortless. This is not easy to do in the sub-tropics where you can literally watch the grass grow in the summer months.
I’m planning another visit soon, this time with a bunch of friends and a picnic lunch.
Perhaps I’ll try a short video next time.
When you find something good to share….it’s good to share!
January 18, 2016
Comments Off on It’s 2016…. getting to the heart of the matter
Time is racing away or maybe I’m running the opposite direction. Life is throwing lots of new things at me and my task is to get to the heart of each situation.
Whenever I have a big decision to make I’m so glad I have a garden. Pulling weeds is one of the most therapeutic things a person can do. It somehow helps order the mind, removing ideas and thoughts that aren’t essential and allowing one to see the pure landscape in front of you.
Getting to the heart of the matter is essential in these fast paced times.
No mistakes, no accidents…..just being present to what’s happening and continually negotiating from the heart what is important. Whether its weeding the garden or the psyche it’s well worth the effort. Only you can feng shui your own mind!
November 13, 2015
Comments Off on An abundance of limes
10th July, 2013
Its Winter. The Lime tree is loaded with fruit. Never before has it produced such an abundance. The weather has been much wetter than previous years and I am wondering whether it is this extra water which has made the difference. Yes I did also give the tree a good feed and it has been well mulched for the past few years. Its probably perfect growing conditions for the old Lime tree. The veggie patch is not so productive with all the rain, cooler temps and not a lot of sunshine, however I am hoping the manure/mulch that I spread a month back will reap rewards come spring.
March 10, 2015
Comments Off on Travelling back in time….
10th March, 2009
Autumn has arrived and there is discernable change in the air. There is mist in the valleys and a heavy dew on the grass. I really enjoy the shift from hot to cooler weather, although I will certainly miss those balmy mornings on the beach. Last week I ventured up to The Pinnacle. What an incredible place! It’s like being on top of the world and in the centre of a land time forgot.
A tiny narrow bridge of land remains at the centre of a once active volcano, with 360 degree views including a
side of Mt Warning not often seen. The cattle grazing
below are mere dots in the landscape, and you can
make out slight differences in the foliage colours of the
trees. The scale of the landscape dwarfs man and it is
a truly humbling experience to stand in the middle of
this vastness and contemplate ones existence.
We visited a grove of ancient trees which had been standing in the same spot for more years than I could guess, covered with moss and all manner of ferns. Every square inch of the trees was teeming with life: moss, lichens, insects, bugs, birds, fungi and I daresay other things that were too disguised for my eyes to see. I stood with my hands resting on the tree trunk for a few minutes and felt a deep sense of calm and peace descend on me. I was surprised that I felt such movement and freedom from the tree, and I sensed that the tree was very well acquainted with every plant in the surrounding forest. Walking out of the shady grove I noticed a timber picnic table completely covered with moss. I was delighted to realised Nature was in the process of reworking modern man’s offerings and she was in fact far more resilient than we’d imagined.
Spending time in wild places is a wonderful way to restore connection with ones soul nature. It enables us to put our lives into some sort of perspective, to realise the connection of all life on earth and we awake refreshed from our sleep. Of course not everyone will make it out into the wild, and the next best thing has got to be having your own wild patch of garden where you can just be, to see how nature does things. Tending to a garden can be a wonderful stress release, and offers much more in the form of flowers, foliage, fruit and veggies. The sound of wind through trees, or the delicate wafting of a flowery perfume on an afternoon breeze can not be over rated. Once we are connected with the natural world life does indeed take on a magical quality.
September 10, 2014
Comments Off on Revisiting the garden a few years down the track….
Last week I revisited a garden I had designed and implemented several years ago.
My initial delight at seeing how well the plants had grown was short lived. The grass was growing well and had thickened up after being reshaped and top dressed. Then I noticed trees had self-seeded into very inappropriate positions and had just been left to run riot and honeysuckle from the neighbouring property was twining its way through other well established plants. A key plant had died or been removed and its spot was taken up with herbs, and the main feature area was unrecognizable with bare ground and things just stuck into the now exposed soil. Someone was obviously looking after this garden, but it seemed they had lost touch with its essence. Later I realised that the property had been rented for several years and the owners had relied on tenants to take care of the garden. It was a classic case of neglect. Had the owners scheduled the right sort of maintenance the garden would have grown into maturity along the lines of their original vision, rather than drifting into the “neglected but still has good elements” category.
Having your garden designed is a wonderful way to create a special space with all the features and plants you love. Plants do grow, gardens evolve and sometimes your needs change as well. It’s smart and sensible to call for help when/if things start changing in ways that aren’t pleasing to you. Often it will be something simple like a hedge that should have been pruned regularly but has been let go, a tree that has grown impossibly large, the house may have been rented and garden neglected, or sick tree was replaced with something not very appropriate.
It’s good preventative medicine to think of your garden in the same way you would a family member……and call for assistance before things get too bad. That way your garden will keep giving you pleasure and enriching your life for many years to come.
August 20, 2014
Comments Off on Feng Shui and Energy Clearing/Space Clearing
Did you know “first impressions” are energetic and everything that happens in a building is recorded in the etheric layers of it’s walls, furnishings and structural components. Energy imprints accumulate over time and can cause a space to feel very “full”. Buildings don’t distinguish between good and bad energy, they just record the feelings of the occupants. Because strong emotions are embedded into walls, furniture, personal belongings and people it is wise to clear the energy in your home and office before it builds up and makes life uncomfortable.
How can I clear my space?
Our ancestors cleansed their homes every year and they called it “spring cleaning”. It is most effective to do both physical and energy clearing at the same time, as both processes support each other and will create a change that is long lasting. Energy clearing is a step up from cleaning in that it helps remove stale energy and revitalises your home environment.
You can do it with the help of a Practitioner or you can do it alone with an Energy Clearing Kit.
The kit contains instructions and all the items necessary to do a number of thorough clearing rituals, so you can have fun with it.
The instructions also include suggestions for ongoing maintenance of the newly cleared space. The kit will be available once I have a shopfront operating, however in the meantime please telephone or email if you would like one.
Feng Shui Energy Clearing is a powerful way to surround yourself with supportive, nurturing energy and keep your home clear. It helps to create a feeling of spaciousness and opens us up to new possibilities.
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on A bit of Bali in the front yard
Out the front, the pond has been completed and everything has come into a state of balance. The water is clear, and the fish are breeding like mad. Most of the surface is covered by a pond weed that takes up extra nutrients in the water and provides a source of food for the fish so I only feed them every few days.
The water weed has other uses. Along with the inevitable pond slime or mud that gathers on the bottom, I have a ready supply of material for the compost bin or that I can apply straight to the garden beds. It’s easy to tell when a system is in balance because everything thrives. Not only have the fish doubled in number, I’ve spotted all sorts of creatures on and in the pond. The latest was a tiny green tree frog. It’s also great to have an enclosed courtyard because the cane toads can’t get in!
The fish are happy, I’m happy! Who wouldn’t be with wonderful sound of trickling water and a great place to sit and unwind the stresses of the day. Often its the simple things in life that make a difference. In our modern busy lives its sometimes easy to forget that being surrounded by beautiful things and having nature right in front of us can increase our enjoyment of life many fold. Perhaps we all try in our own way to make our homes and gardens more beautiful and enjoyable plalces to be. Some may be put off by the amount of effort required to achieve this, yet it is the very effort with this creative endeavour that you will savour for years to come. I offer consultations to help sort out what needs doing, along with a map of step by step processes. If you can follow a map you can make a garden….and if you’re going to the effort of making a garden…let’s make it beautiful!
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Small Veggie Patch
2012 is flying at record speed. Up here on the north coast it has brought lots of rain and humidity and has delayed the full on summer heat we often feel. It has been a great growing season for plants, although the veggie garden as had mixed fortunes. The climbing beans and cucumbers are loving it and the rocket survived. The bush beans and bok choy succumed to the plague of pests that followed the wet : slugs and grasshoppers. There’s only one thing to do when this happens and that’s pull them out, enrich the beds with compost and some good mulch and start again.
You may remember a few months ago I decided to double the size of my small veggie patch. It’s still small, however using trellis and bamboo sticks to make tripods is and easy way to use the vertical space. It’s amazing how much food a single vine will produce. A handfull of beans and a cucumber or two a day for weeks is a wonderful reward and they taste sensational.
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Celebrate the new year and plant a garden
1st January, 2009
I am feeling disoriented today….. it feels like sunday, not thursday. Like many others I celebrated the arrival of the new year. I was out in the countryside with a wide view of the sky. The night was still and the air clear. High above my head sat the crescent moon and the evening star…..looking very comfortable with each other in the sign of Aquarius, and creating a lovely sociable evening with lots of animated conversations and some dancing!
A few days later I have started some major restructuring of my garden. Intent on planting more veggies and some fruit trees in a tiny space, the process has been a bit like solving a rubix cube…..involving lots of lateral thinking and creativity. It’s been hard physical work too…..but even that has its own reward and I have slept like a baby. There’s no point in planting fruits and veggies that you don’t enjoy eating, and with a small space it’s good to work out the things you do like to make the most of the space.
You can interplant herbs, lettuce and chinese greens with climbers like beans, snow peas, cucumbers and climbing spinach, as long as the soil is enriched with compost and is teeming with life. Another benefit of inter planting in a small area is that there is less work to do with keeping weeds at bay and it will look lush and inviting most of the time. If you want to feed yourself from the garden you will need to feed the garden as well. Compost is great, so is seaweed. A light mulch can help feed the ground and make it more difficult for weeds to take root. Best of all, when the soil is rich and moist you will see plants grow quickly and will be harvesting within a very short time. It’s not just our stomachs that we need to consider however since many of us derive a lot of pleasure from the sight and smell of flowering shrubs and trees. You can have it all with some thoughtful planting.
A tree can provide fruit and also screen off an unpleasant view or create a buffer from the neighbouring property. A citrus trees can be grafted to grow lemons and mandarins on the same tree. Trees can be planted close together and kept trimmed to provide a fruiting hedge. You can under plant trees with strawberries and other herbs and grow sunflowers in the most unlikely spot.
Bamboo can be a screen as well as provide stakes for the garden, mulch and kindling for the winter fire. Set up a compost bin in your garden to make more space in your garbage bin and encourage worms into your garden. It’s exciting watching the worm population increase as they turn your green waste into compost with minimal effort on your part. I would love to see every home with a veggie garden and fruit trees. For the small effort involved the rewards are incredible!
A wild garden on the verge with marigold and cosmos.
Let’s make 2009 the year we all plant something and if you don’t know where to start, please give me a call.
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Chinese Gardens in the ‘Year of the Rat’
7th February, 2008
Today is Chinese New Year. Welcome to the Year of the Rat! I have just returned home after a week in Sydney helping out on a Fundraiser for a dear friend. I donated one of my Lamps for the Auction, and was delighted that it had such a wide appeal. Bidding was brisk and the Lamp went home with the highest bidder. She telephoned a couple of days later to tell me how much she loves it!
I found time to visit the Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour and was delighted to find a space of calm beauty in the midst of the city. It’s quite special to be able to climb a rocky hill and get pine sap on your hands and then sit quietly beside the lotus pond with its’ abundance of Carp, only minutes from the city.
Back in Byron it seems the week of rain has nurtured a new crop of weeds, and so I have an hour or so of “meditative weeding” to keep me busy. Thank goodness I have a low maintenance garden!
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Year of the Rat and a trip west of the divide
26th February, 2008
The Year of the Rat has had me traveling again. I drove west, across the mountains and onto the slopes of plains of New South Wales to visit my parents near Inverell. The countryside was surprisingly green, with full dams and lush crops in the paddocks. The colours were delightful and I couldn’t resist the pale yellow, orange and green of the sorghum fields. Thunderbolts Lookout is a large outcrop of granite boulders and is a local landmark. The bush ranger Thunderbolt camped there according to my grandfather.
Away from the coast the colours seem softer. The exquisite pattern of this Canna Leaf caught my eye in a friends garden. They grown well in a range of climatic zones and are certainly a treat for the eye.
I came home laden with beautiful organic veggies, including beans, rock melon, figs, potatoes, garlic, zucchini and carrots.
It’s great to be back near the ocean once again….and eating such
wonderful fresh and delicious food! We have had even more rain on the coast and it has seen me weeding and trimming the shrubs that grow so quickly when rainfall is abundant.
It’s certainly been a wetter than usual start to the year, and it’s great to hear that the big river systems are getting some water into them and that the birds are breeding along the flood plains.
Time seems to be slipping away also with almost two months of the year gone.
I wonder what adventures March will bring?
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Camellias
April and May were relatively dry months for us on the north coast and many people took advantage of the dry weather to renovate their outdoor spaces. Some lucky ones were able to get work completed before the winter rains and others are still waiting for the rain to stop so that projects can be finished.
Today I had the good fortune to visit a garden that had a number of well established Camellia trees. Delicate whites flushed with pink, shades of magenta and the softest pale pink. They are wonderful flowers to pop into a vase and bring a delicate beauty into the home. I feel inspired to plant them, even though I have limited space. They respond well to pruning and can remain quite compact if cut back regularly. It is certainly a treat to be able to pick flowers from your own garden.
Camellias are fairly easy to care for and respond with an abundance of stunning blooms.
A single flower is a visual treat that can take ones breath away.
I have spent more time in other peoples gardens than I have in my own in recent times and I love the way every garden is different. Renovating a wild overgrown garden has its own rewards and can be full of surprises once you start eliminating weeds and rampant runaway plants. Winter is a great time for tackling any hard work in the garden as days are often sunny and you can accomplish a great deal without overheating. It’s also good for planting herbs, lettuce and chinese greens in that empty pot near the kitchen door. Many of us spend more time at home during the Winter than the warmer months, so take a fresh look at your space and plant something edible. If you plant seedlings they don’t require a lot of work and you will be eating greens within a few weeks. Once you’ve picked parsley, rocket or lettuce from your own garden (or pot) and tasted the difference, you will want to grow greens all year round. Who knows, with peak oil on the horizon, our very survival may depend on growing some food in our backyard.
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Springtime is time for a ‘Feng Shui’ spring clean
Having a birthday in Spring is very exciting because of the variety of beautiful flowers emerging with the warmer weather. I am lucky to have a pot of orchids which never fail to deliver flowers on my special day, and which continuing flowering for many weeks.
Beautiful flowers are all around, and if you take a walk through your local neighbourhood you may be pleasantly surprised by the visual treats you discover.
I have a friend who collects a handful of flowers during her morning walk and decorates her office with them to delight her throughout the day. What a lovely idea this is to stay in touch with the beauty and transience of the natural world.
Recently I was engaged to design a new path and front entrance (utilising feng shui principles) for friends. It was so lovely to see the positive impact that the changes made on a physical level, as well as their increased enjoyment and appreciation of their home that occurred as a result.
Our homes are often designed with very little attention to basic feng shui principles which serve to uplift us and increase our enjoyment of home.
The front entrance makes such an impact on us and our visitors, mentally and emotionally.
Spring is also the time for spring cleaning and is a great time to do a big cleanup and energy cleanse. Cleansing energy makes a tangible difference that your family and visitors will notice and it can help to revitalize a business premises as well. Give it a try…..it’s FUN!
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Massive Cork Tree at Tenterfield
This image is of a massive Cork tree at Tenterfield in N.S.W. If you are ever passing through, keep your eyes open for the signpost to this ancient Cork Tree.
It was so huge I couldn’t get far enough back to take the picture and get the whole tree in. The figure on the right hand side gives some idea of the size of this monster tree. Well over 100 years old and still going strong. Just might be a little large for the average back yard.
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Orchids
Next Spring see if you can get along to an Orchid Show. A few years ago I attended an orchid show at Tweed Heads. Orchids have incredible flowers when they bloom. Some have exquisite perfume and others look as if they came from an alien world. I’ts hard to walk away without buying something….all with the hope of course that they will flower as beautifully for us next year. They are so easy to care for and reward you with the most gorgeous blooms that last for many weeks.
I don’t know the names or species of these, but I was captivated by the great variety of flower forms, colour and textures. Orchids are also very easy to care for. Place them outside under a tree when they finish flowering and give them some water occassionally and some liquid fertilizer. Late Spring they will surprise you with some incredible blooms and you can take them inside….where they will last for weeks.
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Jacarandas – a blast of purple
If you love purple, live on the north coast of NSW and have a large yard or acreage you might consider planting a Jacaranda.
November on the north coast of NSW is time for the Jacarandas to bloom.
These were snapped last November in Grafton, a few days before the Jacaranda Festival.
What a magnificent tree!
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Green School in Bali
Whilst in Bali I also visited the Green School.
This unique school was created through the joint efforts of parents and a very talented designer, and is made completely out of bamboo. The remarkable series of structures house all the schools activities, including a sports area, classrooms, parent meeting rooms, staff rooms, cafe and all the usual school amenities.
Part of school life is “green studies” where the kids learn to plant, weed and harvest all sorts of crops. Classes even have their own rice paddy.
Not surprisingly, kids love going to school. This is a picture of some grade 3′s learning how to harvest beans and capsicums without breaking the plant in the process. Later they would prepare some lunch with the vegetables they harvested. Now, this is my kind of classroom!
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Trip to Bali
I recently returned from a short trip to Bali where I spent a couple of weeks exploring gardens and courtyards.
It was great to see most of the plants in general use over there are the very same ones we enjoy here in the sub tropics. Granted, they do grow a bit differently due to climatic and soil differences, however we are lucky to have a climate where it is possible to create a Balinese style garden.
Whilst there I made a study of the “compound”….which is roughly about the same size as a suburban block. I returned full of enthusiasm and inspiration for recreating some of the more wonderful aspects of these compounds into our suburban landscape. House and garden as inseperable over there. A garden creates ambiance, a restful oasis amidst the noise, traffic of the outside world. Once you enter a balinese compound you are transported to a magical place that is restful, beautiful and very pleasurable to spend time in. I don’t have an empty block of land to recreate this however, so am doing what I can within the parameters of my small already built on block.
Here are some pics of beautiful, inspiring courtyards. Yes, they use water a lot. It not only creates great ambience but also masks noises from the world outside the compound walls.
With the current trend in housing to build larger and larger houses on smaller and smaller blocks of land….I would love to turn things upside down. I think it is time to rethink the way we live in suburbia. There is a way we can have privacy, quietness and lessen our impact on our neighbours. The Balinese compound is an awesome example of just how simple it is. So, if you are thinking of building a home or revamping your space to make it more enjoyable to live in, please give me a call. I would love the opportunity to assist in creating something very beautiful.
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Star Jasmine
Star Jasmine on the front fence…
Star Jasmine on the front fence
Spring arrived right on time and the star jasmine (I have been training to cover the front fence) is covered in sweet smelling blossoms. It is such a delight to see and smell every time I come home when it is blooming. It’s a bit of work training the vine to cover the fence but well worth the effort.
May 8, 2014
Comments Off on Balinese Gardens
Balinese gardens vary enormously from the sophistication of an Art Gallery to the casualness of the Balinese Compound. They usually feature a frangapani tree and mostly incorporate a fish pond. Balinese Compounds tend towards a series of courtyards entwined with buildings rather than a big backyard.
Pond in Bali Compound