xmlns:fb='http://ogp.me/ns/fb#' Karen Wagner garden & design: September 2011

Friday, 30 September 2011

great pots and ideas

How does one make a collection of pots work and look good.  All too often they start to look messy and there are just simply too many of them.
These two pictures gave me some really great ideas

mix and match pots with similiar types of plants...succulents which of course are popular at the moment and rightly so.....they give a great look when done nicely and are so very easy to look after.

garden illustrated magazine aug 2010

how to make a collections of bits and pieces in pots look ok.  organise it onto a plant stand.....great idea and looks geat in the right corner.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

inspire me.....

There are lots of things spinning around in my head at the moment.  I gave up yesterday and went and gardened in the sun for a few hours to try and calm the madness.
I have lots of design work on my desk and in my head that I am trying to sort and extract onto paper with a sense of order and interest - a courtyard, large town garden, moderate sized country garden and a conservatory and interior area that adjoins it.  
Its not all bad....(its lots of fun actually) .... so I have been focussing my ideas and looking at books, magazines and extracting pictures from my head for ideas and inspiration.  I have been collecting some great ideas for a thought board for a couple of jobs and thought I would share.  These are mostly modernistic and inspring for the right places and I'm trying to capture the feeling and add new, classic and fabulous twists and turns.

Hope everyone has had a great weekend in all this fabulous weather.  Sunshine and blossom are a wonderful and absolutley 'feel good' combination.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

a few fab new bits and pieces

I've spent lots of lovely time with my family over these school holidays especially my teenagers which has been really fun and interesting - they make me laugh and cry!.  
There are so many great things to do in Tassie - I've discovered things all over again.  I have also dedicated  a few mild sunny mornings to finally getting on top of my garden after neglecting it for a while through my busy year - a little weeding now will mean I might be organised and set up for the summer. 
Now all those things from my recent buying trips have started to dribble in and its time to get head down and back to work I think- unpacking, cleaning, sorting.  Like these lovely French baskets...they are from Les Halles markets and you see them used for fruit and vegetables throughout all of the markets in france.

 these vegetable and fruit storage racks are wonderful, stackable and versitile.

 fabulous marrons glace boxes.  These lovely morsels of chestnut in sugary syrup are a delicacy and it takes a whole 4 days tomake them properly.  These boxes don't have the lovely sugary chestnuts in them but are great for kitchens and presents. (about 30cmx 15cmx10cm)

  some lovely new things from the Miss Jones range....always very popular.

these mesh tea light lamps are great for indoors or outdoors.

 lots of lovely pots for smaller plants, table tops, bathroom, dining, and indoor plants.

some lovely versatile glassware.  We have been having lots of fun putting plants into our glassware with great success.  Try succulents, babies tears or indoor plants for easy care or potted colour or cyclamens for a spring lift through the house.

some lovely indoor plants to inspire and this gorgeous zinc bucket with a tap!.

I hope everyone has had a lovely weekend enjoying the weather and for those of us who are finishing the school holidays....hope it was fun.  Enjoy.

Friday, 16 September 2011

its decision time in the vegetable plot

I only have a small vegetable plot despite having dreamy thoughts of rows upon rows of vegetables and flowers.  I certainly dwell on the concept of those wonderful plots at Chateau de Chenonceau (hectares and hectares)  and West Dean's neat rows of vegetables in English countryside......awe-inspiring that they are and definitely the stuff of day-dreams....Of course these are serviced by lots of gardeners which I have no access to.....but they look great and give feel good abundance that is hard to emulate in a small vege plot.

Rows and rows at Chateau de Chenonceau in Loire France for both flowers and vegetables of every description.

oh for hectares of space and a team of at least 10 full time gardeners! (Chenonceau)

Rows of varieties in the walled garden at West Dean.  At least 3-4 varieties of each vegetable is planted to show the difference and the variation.  It covers over a hectare and is inspiring.

25 varieties of basil, sourced from all over the world,  planted out early in the immaculate glasshouses.

So having put some of my dreams aside, I have to make some tough decisions this year.  I have only 4 1.2x1.2m plots to grow my greens at the moment...the flowers and herbs have moved into the main gardens and can make a mess there for a while. There is only limited space so how do I decide out of all those wonderful vegetables in the seed catalogue of just the few that I am going to grow. 

Of course I need lots of salad leafs of every description - rocket, spinach, tat soi and mini cos.  I am hampered for some of the space by the crop of broccoli coming on that was slow taking off this year so will have to wait for that to finish, and i do love to grow a big crop of broad beans.  There is nothing like fresh radish for fresh vegetables and spicy olive oil platters through summer.  

I want to grow stripey beetroot again this year and i have to have at least two varieties of carrots because they are such fun to grow and you can use them for garnish when little to thin them out.
And summer wouldn't be complete without snap peas, snow peas, fresh peas and two varieties of beans.  I think we will have green and purple ones this year.  I had thoughts of borlotti beans this year - but I think there just isn't going to be space......I need a much bigger plot obviously.....
But I'm going to just fit as much in as possible in what I have and remember this year to plant salad crops every three weeks to make it all work.  

Or come up with some new ideas of where to grow things.....up the walls maybe...I have  a few sunny walls.....
or maybe some large willow planters at the sunniest spot near the back door for the overflow...

Saturday, 10 September 2011

big red ....composter

If you enjoy gardening, then that usually means you like to get your fingers a little dirty,  feel really good about recycling and especially about creating compost.  Particularly when you get to use it yourself all around your vegie garden or on the newly planted seedlings. 

There is something very satisfying about creating compost :- turning smelly peelings and fruit bits into thick black unctuous soil like compound - and then actually using it.....its a little like the magic of alchemy.  It's also deceptively easy to do.
But like a lot of gardening things it can take up a bit too much space in the essential part of the garden and really composters can be an eyesore.  So a creative solution is often needed...

Well I have a solution....   I saw these wonderful composters that are reminisant of bee hives and work just as cleverly when I was in the UK a number of years ago.  Now we are having them made right here by a lovely local firm in Tasmania.  And we have a lovely red one that looks great in the garden. (We do have some plain ones too or you can paint it any colour you like really).    They come apart bit by bit at each level when all is ready, so you can easily access and remove your compost onto the garden and then start the process  all over again in exactly the same spot if you need to.

Perfect for large or small gardens or just for gardens that don't have space for having things hidden away.

Our big red composter in store......looks great in the garden

This is a very practical application with the small vegetable and herb garden, the pizza oven and the composters all up one end of the garden away from what could be at the other end.......the next picture shows what could be up the other end.....

Or put this great looking composter in amongst the flowers and grow whatever you like in your compost.  It could be good for for an enormous pumpkin plant this summer.

A few tips to make composting easy.....  add all your veg and fruit and organic kitchen scraps.  Go lightly on things like oranges, lemons and other citrus,egg shells and particularly meat scraps.  You can include tea leaves and coffee grounds.  Every now and again add some mown grass or pea straw or similiar to the compost bin especially if your compost tends to be a bit too wet.  You don't want it too wet or too dry.  Natural decomposition needs a little moisture to operate effectively. 
The best way to compost is in a pile in a container that creates the right conditions for breakdown....don't be tempted to throw your vege scraps straight onto your garden beds...its not effective and just attracts rats and mice really.

Have some fun....

Friday, 9 September 2011

the tallest of trees

I snuck off again today for a little excursion....off to the derwent valley.  It was crisp and clear and fabulous at first until the rain caught us and it was wet but not really grey.  Still colourful and interesting.
We took the Russell Falls walk in Mt Field National Park and I was completed delighted by the dripping green lushness of the forest as we walked through it.  It was inspiring and almost like being in another world.  An enchanted one at that.  Its only a short walk and we had the place all to ourselves and as we came out the other end towards people and cars and normality it was a bit off putting.  It was so enjoyable looking at the plants and the trees.....not everyones cup of tea but I don't say this as a horticulturist.....just as someone who really enjoyed the experience.  If you haven't done it, then definitely do.  Its unique and wonderful.

lush green moss over every surface....this may not be moss...I may have it wrong.  Its on the ground, on the trees, everywhere.  its soft and lush and you could almost lie down in it.

a slightly enchanted wonderland...use your imagination here.... it was romantic and enchanted at the time!

  this is how Dicksonia antartica (our well loved tree fern)  should really look.  We see it often plonked into front yards but this is in its glory.  If we are going to use them in gardens they should be in this shady slightly wet environment forming a wonderful canopy of fronds with dappled light.

 fat bottomed trees make the rocking world go round!!  And they were so tall we could barely see the tops

We also ventured to the salmon ponds as the light and the last of the sun finished for the afternoon and watched and fed the marvellous fish.  It just makes you laugh to go and feed massive mad fish.  The salmon ponds gardens are beautiful especially with their late winter branches and green lawns.  Its a parkland setting and I am so looking forward to my picnic in the park that I am going to embark on in summer.  I am already planning the menu.

this was up the driveway with its skeletal populars.  Wonderful.  I am going back to take pictures of contrasting green in summer.

A trip to New Norfold/Derwent valley wouldn't be complete without dropping into the Drill Hall Emporium.  As usual beautiful things, superbly presented.  We picked out two things each that we would love to buy.  I think I may have to go back and get something.

The only thing missing is somewhere fabulous to go for lunch.....!  Is there anywhere good in the valley??

What a great day out....

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

a day out to MONA...!

With school holidays happenning and spring skies encouraging a little outdoor activity, I snuck a day off to go and play.  We went to MONA (Museum of Old & New Art) at Morilla,  as despite lots of promises, I hadn't made the effort to get there until now, and its long overdue.
It was fantastic....of course......doesn't everyone keep saying that. 
There were some amazingly clever contemporary installations as well as great collections of antiquities.  Things that really do make you go Aaahhhh! 
David Walsh has put together an amazing and interesting collection that is unique and awe inspiring and is presented to the ultimate degree.

The weather being truly Tasmanian meant we got all four seasons in one day - fairly normal for this time of year.  We caught the ferry up the river Derwent to the MONA dock which was great fun despite a few drops of rain on the way home and climbed the 99 steps to the top. 

The outside roof garden is doing fabulously well - it needs a little weeding but overall is impressive.  In fact the whole thing is impressive. 

 ships ahoy....on the ferry up the river.....  beautiful view down the river. 

the roof top garden with a fabulous view.  doing really well.

amazing artworks and installations everywhere.....

And then on the way home I had time to go and have a look at a few things I have been meaning to do.  I dropped into  Bottega Rotolo, a newish Italian inspired cafe, food shop, and cheese room.  They also do cooking classes.

I couldn't resist these little floral icing titbits.....

which then inspired one of my daughters to make little cupcakes to pop them on.  They got gobbled up very quickly but I just had time to snap a lovely picture. 

What a great day out....
Note to self.....do it more often.......