Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Garden Inspiration: Inverewe Garden, Scotland

Inverewe Garden is a 50 acre garden and 2000 acre wood in north west Scotland created in 1862 by Osgood Mackenzie. It is located on Lock Ewe which is a part of Scotland that sits on the gulf stream, carrying warm currents from the Caribbean to the roacy exposed coast of Scotland. This micro climate enabled the development of this garden in the 1870's using many exciting exotic plants from all over Asia, the Amreicas and Austalia. The house and garden was built in the Scottish Baronial Style which reflects the style of the times. Its a sprawling site with summer borders, productive terraces, lawns, forests and gullies.
It is currently owned and maintained by the National Trust of Scotland, where they are doing a fabulous job looking after this magnificent site.

The house was rebuilt in 1935 after a fire destroyed it. The summer border was in full swing when I was there and I loved the pretty wildness of it.

The view over the Lock, through the Eucalypts was lovely. Small growing Eucalypts sure are a lovely tool to frame a view!

More old Eucalypts in the dry borders with lots of plants from Australia and New Zealand.

Down from the summer borders was the productive and flower gardens. I loved the view of the mud flats from the flower terrace!

Lovely lush hedging defines the paths and contains the flowers and fruit trees.

More of the lovely flower garden on the lower terrace. There was plenty of local stone in the small buildings and garden walls. They set the lush green of the plants off beautifully!

The veggie garden was fantastic! I loved the lawn paths, the beautiful old fruit trees and how orderly all the planting was.

Hows this for orderly?! If only my veggie garden looked this good!

The colour palate in this area was lovely with the yellow, blue and white. I particularly love the view in the distance of the planted woodland. Those trees were HUGE!

I hope you liked the little snapshot of Inverewe Gardens. It was a lovely example of mixed plantings from similar climates from all over the world and had a stellar veggie garden! I'd love to go back again one day and spend some more time exploring the woodland trails... One day!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bees & Broad Beans

The sun is shining, 
A warm breeze,
The bees are out,
Frolicking in the beans.

Poetry is not my forte as you can tell, but oh the sunshine and 
the promise of broad beans make me a happy girl!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ballynoe Cottage's 1st Birthday!

The blog that is!

A year ago today I wrote my first post!

 Not long after Joel and I moved in we set about building the veggie garden and I can't believe how far we have come in a year in our own little bit of paradise!

The closest things in the garden to birthday candles!
Grape Hyacynths and Freesias planted by a previous owner.

We've built garden beds, fences, chicken coups, paths, planted, planted and weeded!
I started the blog as a way to record our progress in the garden and it has become so much more with the help of the blogging friends that I have made who keep me inspired to keep going and recording. I can't believe that a year ago I had grass and a house and THAT'S IT!

I haven't quite gotten close to growing 100% of our green veg but I'm still aiming for it! Maybe next year?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

And It Was Done.

I feel very guilty, but it had to go. 

Its not a hard or particularly attractive wood but a friend of ours who is a sculptor will make us something from it to remember it by. That will be nice, albeit cheeesy.
Then again, I think the wood and mulch pile is going to be around for quite a while anyway! The wood almost goes up a third of our block along the fence!!!

Twas indeed for the best. All in the name of progress.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Early Spring in the Patch

Whilst I'm preparing for the coming summer in the patch, sowing seeds and the like, there is still plenty growing that I planted during the winter...

Many of you have been harvesting Broccoli for a couple of months, but I still haven't harvested ANY! I'm just starting to get heads forming now. Mind you, these babies were planted late in seedling form due to the possum carnage I had. Grr Possum!

I have also got some Celery growing. I've never grown celery before. Has anyone got any tips or tricks?

The rhubarb that I transplanted is shooting and looking happy. I have under sown some rocket and oregano seeds. I don't even know if they are compatible with each other, let alone with rhubarb, but hey, life is an experiment isnt it?!

The Broad beans are just starting to set beans. I can't wait for my harvest this year. It looks like its going to be a bumper crop!

The Sweet Peas are starting to flower too. I'm a bit disappointed with these ones, they don't have a very strong fragrance and are pink. I don't like pink. I guess they are still pretty. But why did I buy pink seeds?!

I'm loving the Rainbow Chard! Nuff said. It looks good with the White Alyssum that I planted to attract pollinators. 

Last but not least THE BEST new addition to the veggie garden that money can't buy:

A mattress sans the soft stuff, under planted with my Melting Mammoth Sweet Peas. I can't tell you how lucky I am to have a man who loves hard garbage just as much as me! He spotted this baby on his way back from uni one day and knew I'd love it. I've seen them used as pea supports in 'trendy' permaculture gardens and thought I'd get in on the action. They look so good especially en mass used to divide spaces. It might be tricky to harvest the peas in the middle, but I'm a sucker for punishment!

There are still a couple of leeks growing, along with lettuces and my friend Mizuna, but these will soon make way for the corn, melons, zucchini, beans, sunflowers, tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums, Asian greens and all the other stuff that I haven't decided yet!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Meet Blinky

The lovely Suzanne from Enchanted Moments has a thing for tea cosys. I don't blame her! They are fabulous woolly creatures especially for that time when you need more comforting than one cup can provide. (I'm talking tea and tea pots for those that haven't clued on to my tea related abstractions).

I needed some cosy-ing after I came home to see the tree gone. I think feeling guilty is an understatement!
But anyway, I digress. I'll post about it later.
Meet Blinky:

He's a bona-fide CWA (thats Country Womens Association (the champions of all things knitting and scones) for you non Australians out there). He was gifted to me by a close friend as a house warming present and is my first EVER cosy!  He's a Koala by the way.

Blinky Bill was one of my favourite shows as a kid and I will always have a soft spot for him. Thanks Kate for reuniting us!

Above is him in his natural habitat (hiding in the leaves of mums beautiful orchid), waiting for me to come over to him and and pour out his hot contents. Earl Grey that is ladies.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Australian Plants Expo

Some of you may have noticed that I have an Australian Plants Society logo on my side bar. I am a member of the Yarra Yarra district group and we meet once a month for talks and discussions about native Australian plants and how to grow them.

Every year the Yarra Yarra group holds an expo with HUGE plant displays, plant and book sales, talks and raffles. We want to spread the word about how diverse, interesting and fabulous Australian plants are!

If you are in the area or want to come for a drive this weekend (10th-11th September), come to the Eltham Community and Reception Centre 801 Main Rd Eltham. 

I always find it amazing how spectacular native plants are. If you are an expert or a novice, its well worth a look!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The time is up!

Remember when I wrote about getting the evil White Poplar cut down here? Well finally the arborist is coming to cut it down!

Here is a picture of the house and tree to give you a bit of an idea of the scale of the monstrosity and how much it loves living by the creek. See those giant limbs reaching to the heavens? Yeah, that's it - The Poplar! 

We had a small branch fall in the high winds on Saturday night very close to the house whilst we were sleeping. I'm glad its going! We sleep in the roof and there isn't much between us and death by giant tree! Although I know it is a very old tree and is probably a similar age to the house, it is reaching its age limit and the structure has been compromised by dead limbs over the years... 

Goodbye Populus alba, ye old White Poplar. You have shaded the cottage well, however your water hungry roots are pulling up my floor!

Oh and I don't think I have ever posted a picture of the front of the house before. It really does live up to the term cottage! She's a beautiful little thing. I love coming home to her and walking through her little timber door and into her safe, solid, cosy arms... 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The fluffy additions

Three weeks ago, Melly went broody. Again. The second time in a season with only 2 weeks separation between sittings. This time, instead of having to constantly turf her out of the nest and make her uncomfortable so that she'd stop sitting, we put her in the empty woodshed and filled an old tea chest with straw and let her sit there. We kinda respected her determination to be a mother knowing full well that unless she met with divine intervention there would be no fluffy little chicks peeping out from under her. So I had a chat with the commander of all (Joel) and we decided to help her to immaculately conceive.

Yesterday, I went for a drive and came home with these little cuties.

The people were very helpful and said we'd have no trouble putting day olds underneath Melly as they were hatched that day and she'd been on the nest and isolated for almost three weeks. We crossed our fingers and after the tips and information from the farmers, we brought them home.

Before dusk I put the little chicks, enclosed in their box on top of Melly's tea chest nesting box, so that she could hear the chicks peeping but not see them (apparently simulating the chicks preparing to hatch from their eggs). Then not long after dusk, I snuck into the wood shed and one by one slipped the little chicks hidden in my hand under Melly. Their little cheeping stopped as soon as they were amongst Melly's warm feathers and they instinctively knew to burrow their way in.

I felt that it went well and that nature would take it's course, but then came the nerve wracking wait till the morning to see if she had accepted them and has switched over her hormones into mother protection mode.

I didn't sleep! I was more excited than I ever was on Christmas Eve as a child!

At 5:30am I couldn't handle it any more and went to let the other girls out (who start being noisy around 5). I poked my head into Melly's shed and saw this:

She was in a rather strange position and highly alert and made strange purring growl noises at me. Hmm, I thought, could she have already accepted them? What is this high tail business about? I couldn't hear any cheeping but she did look a bit funny like something was not quite right...

I thought that surely the chicks would be hungry and need a feed but I didn't want to interfere with Melly and potentially upset proceedings.

I went to the La Trobe market to get my weekly veggies, spending the whole time thinking about Melly. What if she crushes them to death with her weird tail position? Did I put them in the right spot under her? Is she healthy enough to look after them? What if I killed them when I put them under her and that's why they were silent!?!?!?!? Way too much for a girl to handle on a Sunday morning after enjoying some NZ's finest Savinguan Blanc the night before (a little too much that is).

I came home to check. Nothing. I put the food away. Nothing. And then I went back out (AGAIN) 20 minutes later and talked to her. She was slightly distracted. A few feathers here and there were moving. She was blinking, moving her beak and quietly clucking, moving her head side to side, as though she was listening, talking... I was holding my breath.




I fell over in excitement. 

I ran to get the camera and the chick mash.


They were happily eating and pecking at their new Mummy as she was ravenously eating after so long of not even a sip of water! She seems to know what to do and fluffs up around her little babies like an expert.

So far so good and fingers crossed! 

Hopefully my little Lavender Araucana and Silver Laced Wyandotte's will grow into strong happy girls under the guidance of their first time, determined mother who doesn't seem to have minded the fluffy and cute intervention! 


Now I can relax and catch up on some sleep!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Friend Mizuna

This is the first year that I have grown Mizuna. A Japanese 'Water Green' Brassica that can be eaten cooked in a stir fry, pickled or eaten raw as a salad green.

Its kinda peppery and crunchy and has grown well all winter and apparently grows well in summer too. Has anyone grown it in summer?

I bought it in a punnet during my winter vegetable garden depression (when nothing seemed to be growing) and it has been keeping me happy and smiling when I make my way through the gate to pick its snappy, feathery leaves.

With the warmer weather it has been sending up flowers but I have just picked them off and given them to the chickens (much to their delight). I haven't noticed an increased bitter taste so I'll keep picking it for as long as it wants to keep being tasty!

And how pretty is it!?

I love you Mizuna!
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