I have the amazing opportunity to create a garden from scratch. Before we bought this house, I have always had to work with the garden I’ve been given… on more than one occasion I’ve lived in a rental house and my main aim has been to keep the garden alive for the next owner inspection. When I last owned my own home I knew next to nothing about which plants to choose, how to keep them alive or even what I really liked.
Over the years of tending these gardens and killing more plants than I care to admit, I have learned a few things, I’m glad to say. During those years, I experimented with plants in pots in lieu of my own garden so I planted bulbs and watched what would grow where; I planted a lot of succulents and absolutely fell in love with them. Who can’t love a plant that replicates itself?! Echeverias and Sempervivums and other succulents create little clones of themselves and so you can create whole gardens from just a few plants and a bit of patience. After a bit of investigation, I learnt that in some countries Sempervivums are called ‘Hens and Chickens’ because of this habit of replicating their own little baby plants. In other countries they are called ‘house leaks’ as they are used in some countries to grow on the roofs of houses to little plug leaks. I love that!.
Australian natives plants offer an amazing range of subtle, hardy and in many cases, very beautiful plants that can be chosen to suit your local environment. There are many varieties like the gorgeous Grevilleas. So while many of us still choose to plant up our gardens with roses and other ‘exotics’, Australian native plants are becoming increasingly popular not least because of their tolerance of our extreme weather and low rainfall.
If you’ve read earlier posts, you’ll know i love Australian birdlife and a native garden is a great way to attract native birds. They need all the help they can get as their natural habitats are disappearing. Many Australian birds are very small and need protection from large predators like our very large aggressive ravens, butcherbirds and magpies. Suburban cats are an absolute menace. So planting ground cover for little birds is essential if they are to find hiding places away from predators.
So in beginning to plan my own garden, I can start with a few of these lessons:
- I love Australian native plants
- I love succulents
- These two broad plant types for the most part go very well together as they require little attention and not a lot of water – both useful things for an amateur (read uneducated) gardener in a state where rainfall is intermittent.
- I love Australian birdlife and want to attract them so that I can enjoy them and photograph them and give then a little haven in an inner city suburb
This all means I want to create an Australian native garden in my very own backyard.
Over the next few months (and years as gardens are a lifetime commitment), I will be changing my 60sqm of dirt into a native Australian garden.
The garden I have to work with was, until a few weeks ago, covered by a huge aircraft-hanger construction that was supposed to be a pergola. Made of thick pine planks, many struts, brackets, screws and nails, this construction was not only incredibly ugly in my opinion, it took up 3/4 of the garden leaving me just room for a patch of scrawny grass with a few paving stones leading to a small and inefficient shed.
This is all gone… including half of the cedar deck which covered most of the garden. The decking was repurposed to create a new deck to host our spa.
Now that the pergola has gone, the spa has been repositioned, the shed has been dismantled and redistributed and the essential water tank has been rotated so it’s in a more practical location, we are ready to start to build the garden.
Actually.we are ready to start planning to build the garden. I really couldn’t envisage what I had to work with until the space was cleared. What I’m left with is a rather big hole… ! When I reduced the deck I realised the ground beneath it was more than 30cms below the deck. We’re going to need a serious amount of topsoil before we can even think about putting in a plant.
I am entering that wonderful design stage… I can see what I have to work with and I know roughly what I want to create. Next step is to get some professional advice (we used professionals to dismantle the aircraft hanger and move the deck and water tank around – couldn’t have done it without help). Possibly I wont plant much until next winter/spring as in Melbourne we are entering the end of spring and beginning of summer and many young plants wont enjoy the 42 degree days we’ll get in the summer. But I will wait to see what my gardener advises. Until then. Stay tuned.
A fire today in Footscray at Little Saigon Market has destroyed the offices of the Les Twentyman Foundation destroying hundreds of Christmas gifts, including 6,000 donated school books, intended for children of poor families.
The Foundation has been a part of the Western suburbs of Melbourne for over 30 years and Les Twentyman has been the major driver.
Great to see the exciting things the women of the world are doing. What do you have planned for 2017?
It’s that time of year when you reflect on your accomplishments, celebrate your successes, and plan a path for the future. One thing we all need as we delve into 2017 with our global dream is a healthy dose of inspiration. Hopefully, we are giving you a little of that here at WEGG but in case you need more, read the article below for stories about how women overcame challenges and grew their businesses beyond borders.
Screenshot: Nadia Chauhan, Parle Agro, one of the women business owners featured in the article above. That’s also a quote from her site.
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It’s refreshing to see some solid benchmarking on the trends in the NFP sector.
In this 10th edition M+R Benchmarks has created some highly useful data on trends in online fundraising. It involved 105 participants in eight sectors.
Interestingly, it shows a decline in response rates to emails; revenue growth increased by growth in email lists.
The report shows an increased trend in monthly giving which is very positive as this is a great way to provide sustainable revenue for organisations.
You can read the whole report here and I’ve quoted some highlights below. By the way, the report includes some useful and illuminating graphs particularly about which sectors are growing and which are declining.
“13% of online gifts came from mobile devices
For every 1,000 email subscribers, nonprofits have 355 Facebook fans, 132; Twitter followers, and 19 Instagram followers. In 2006, those numbers were basically zero, zero, and zero: Facebook was limited to .edu email addresses, Twitter was just about to launch, and Instagram’s founders were still in college.
Nonprofits invested $0.04 in digital advertising for every $1 of online revenue. This might not seem like much, but considering that overall online revenue grew by 19% in the last year, digital advertising is an increasingly important market for acquisition, conversion, and retention.
The volume has been turned way up: the average nonprofit in our study sent the average subscriber on its list 49 email messages in 2015.
Monthly giving accounts for 17% of all online revenue – monthly giving is growing quite a bit faster than one-time revenue. In the first Benchmarks Study, only about half of the participants had a recurring giving program at all.”
I’m out and about in London. And I’m not the only one. I find myself here on a historic day when the question everyone asks you on first meeting is: are you In or Out. There can only be one subject under discussion on a day when everything changed but it all seems much the same. U.K.is leaving the EU.
On arrival in London I headed for High St Kensington towards the Gardens to an annual antiques and art fair. Couldn’t afford so much as a photo of most of the glorious items on sale but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
I discovered the fabric designs of Edinburgh weavers and of Henry Moore and was reminded how much I love textiles. I was moved by the slightly eerie sculptures of Phillip Jackson.
Everyone I met was remarkably friendly, sharing knowledge freely and without a hint of disappointment that I wasn’t likely to be handing over my Amex any time soon. Even for the very small, framed piece of fabric by one of those little known Edinburgh Weavers. No really I couldn’t afford even that. Thank you so much.
I stopped for a sandwich on the temporary balcony created for the purpose at the show which overlooked the gates to the Kensington Gardens. As I munched my salmon bagel, I chatted with a couple of the dealers. One lovely lady saw no irony in bemoaning the fate of her family gardener’s need for 2 jobs to make ends meet and citing this type of situation as the reason for the Out vote. Perhaps we should all hire a gardener.
Now I’m sitting in the internal courtyard cafe at the V&A museum sipping my annual Diet Coke on ice. I’ve found a quiet haven. In fact everywhere I’ve been today has had an unexpected air of tranquility. (Even Euston Station!)
The V&A gift shop is my last stop and what do I find but a piece of fabric the design of which is by none other than one of those Edinburgh Weavers, Keith Vaughan! This one I can afford!
I’m so delighted with my find as I feel I’ve discovered an unrecognised artifact after my lustful musings on similar exhibits at the art fair. So I buy two pieces just to reinforce the fact to myself!It’s been a big day. Time to go back in; everyone will be out again tomorrow.
It’s been raining up here in Castlemaine. Full on flooding plains type of rain. First time I’ve been up this way when it wasn’t hot enough to crisp your eyelashes. It seems to be raining quite a bit when I go travelling at the moment – I’m sure it’s not true that I bring rain wherever I go. It’s just a coincidence.
I’m here for the Fryerstown Antiques Fair (22-24 Jan) located in a now muddy field surrounded by giant gums raising money for the Fryerstown historic hall. There’s often a fundraising angle to much of the things I’m doing. I’m in search of good 1930’s Australian pottery and whatever treasures I can find (I’ve developed a bit of a button fetish but let’s not go there yet).
If you’re wondering about the writer in transit tag it’s an idea I can up with when I was listening to someone on the ABC talk about their time as a writer in residence at the V&A in London. I was feeling a bit green-eyed that they’d probably get unprecedented access to all the lovely things held there. I got to wondering what really was a Writer in Residence and thought perhaps I could be one and how you apply and so on. It then occurred to me (I was doing the washing up at the time and looking out the window admiring the rainbow lorikeets which just goes to prove that, seriously, women really can multi-task but that’s another post) that one could just turn up at the V&A (or the NGV or Castlemaine) and start writing what occurred to you there as you passed through it without needing anyone’s permission. So. possibly I would be a writer in transit?
As I transit, I am actually staying up here in a wonderful bed and breakfast ‘Clevedon Manor‘ which is on the main road in Castlemaine. It’s a Victorian mansion filled with period- appropriate furniture, lots of horse pictures and a cuckoo clock. They’ve given me a lovely room with a bay window overlooking the hedge-enclosed garden. The bedroom has a great big silver-grey coloured metal bed with crisp white cotton sheets facing the tiled fireplace over which a gilded mirror hangs. There is a massive 2 meter tall wardrobe with a full length oval mirror in the door. My very clean private bathroom is just down the hall.
Last night as I sat up in bed reading, I felt it would be appropriate to be wearing a pink silk, feather-trimmed bed jacket with my matching slippers at the side of my bed on the small rug, having just been served warm tea in a china cup by my personal maid. Beautiful rooms have this kind of Vivien Leigh effect on me. It is so reassuring to visit a new place and feel, well, at home. Just at the right moment, 1st Dibs released this collection of beautiful images of gorgeous bedrooms. Lust on these as I continue my journey through the gold-mining towns around Castlemaine.