Ornamental and edible, the vintage cottage star flower called "Borage" is eye pleasing, culinary, medicinal and essential food for the bees that enter the garden. Here in Australia, Borage grows throughout the year, even tolerating light frosts. While it's an annual plant, it regularly sets seed and new blooms appear during all seasons.
Easily one of my absolute favourite plants, Borage is so adaptable that it can be grown in your vegetable patch, with other ornamentals to attract butterflies, in the herb garden, and in the winter flower garden to feed the bees.
Borago officinalis grows into a tall bush, producing sprays of a brilliant blue star shaped flower, it drops a large black seed from its middle once the flower fades to a purple pink colour. These large seeds ensure its easy to plant and re-seed. It is not fussy about where it is planted, as long as the soil is free draining, it doesn't like wet feet. There is also a lesser known white borage flower called "Alba", if you can find seeds give them a try.
The unusual garden "Victors Way" is located just outside of the village of Roundwood in Co. Wicklow and while the 22 acre property features small lakes, stunning views and forested areas, it's a scenic purposeful walk with a focus on meditation.
As the long Summer evenings shortened into Autumn, finally tapering into dark winter nights, there was an opportunity to spend ten night's in one of Melbourne's richly historic and specialised gardens, learning about horticulture from stand out experts in their field.
As soon as one hears all about this course, its hard to "unhear" it. A fascination for three years filled with "maybe's" finally led to the opportunity to spend ten glorious golden evenings at Burnley, and I savoured every minute.
I tripped over right outside the chicken coop, and I swear, all of the chickens looked up and cackled at me. In unison.
I'm glad I entertain them as well as everything else. You think there would be some compassion between us as we are all on that feminine wavelength, but no, let's laugh at her, jump the coop every now and then, let her chase us around, and let's turn our noses up at her gluten-free bread. We don't need any of that stuff.
Having chickens in the garden for me is a welcome balance. I live in a masculine household where the only female energy besides myself is the ageing Pomeranian "Poppy" and the five little chicken ladies.
I've traditionally not had much success at growing cucumbers in my garden. You could put it down to inexperience, the heavy clay soil, or just to the fact that I get preoccupied with my tomatoes!
However, after spending a couple of years growing the "straight from the nursery" long, green "run of the mill" varieties that would go bitter rather quickly, I decided to go and see what the locals were planting.
It turns out Apple Cucumbers are the norm to grow up here in the Strezlecki Ranges. So I decided to get onto one of the heirloom seed websites and found a brightly lemon coloured round variety that suited my bright and cheery personality down to the ground!
'Vigorous', 'perennial' and 'oddity' are just some of the words that jumped out at me from the seed packet of the "reisetomate" traveller tomato, a Peruvian heirloom vegetable that made the cut for the new vegetables to plant in my Summer garden this year.
I had heard the previous Summer that this tomato was ideal for taking out to picnics, bushwalking, and day trips as it grows in tiny tomato segments (think of a mandarin) which grows in clusters to make beautiful and unique shapes. After seeing some pictures online, I was sold. They were going in the garden for sure!
This has been such a popular article, we have re-publlished it again today as an excellent resource for planting your first sunflowers:
From one Sunflower two years ago, to now having a dedicated "Sunflower Patch", we completely understand the love affair one can have with the big bright yellow flower.
How can one not be happy when taking in the bright yellow leaves, all the different varieties and heights. Children of all ages adore them, chickens love the sunflower seeds, and even the dog likes to sit underneath them for shade.
Sunflowers are ideal for beginner gardeners, for a strong and tall flower, it needs little fuss. As its name suggest, a sunny spot is the main factor for its success with growth, and you can even grow them in pots inside if you live in a cool climate.
With the hot summer about to break on us here in the southern hemisphere, it's nice to know that, especially if you're a city dweller, there's a cool and soothing oasis in the middle of the city that you can escape to.
This year we are having a late season on all counts, with all our summer vegetables in the garden. I love to have a pantry full of bottles and jars for the winter, so I can literally open a jar of "sunshine" on a Winter's day and taste the garden.
This year I looked at my usual pickles recipe and decided to add to it and change it up a bit and added a few of my favourite flavours. For example instead of plain old vinegar, why not a full flavoured apple cider vinegar?
What is a Piccililli? It is a pickle of chopped vegetables, mustard, and hot spices, which is essentially what is in this recipe.
I can tell you the end result was so delicious and the kitchen was filled with these great smells of warm vinegar and spices.
Friday March 29th, 2015
The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is on in March every year at the gorgeous Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens in the middle of the city. This years highlights included the much anticipated "Food Forest" and beekeeping gardens, showing a shift away from the "high end" designed gardens and drought loving plants of past years and focusing on sustainability, food production, and achieveable gardening, bringing inspiration to melbourne home gardeners and designers alike.
"Food Forest" by Phillip Withers
Layers of edible ground covers and herbs, vegetables and fruit trees was a sensory delight and to a vegetable gardener like me, it was heaven! In fact the idea behind the display for the show was to invite visitors in "feeling like Adam and Eve," tempting the senses with smells of rich lavender, basil, mints, thyme and even fragrant citrus fruit! I visited nearing the end of the show and it astounded me that all the vegetables that had been set up a week ago still looked and smelled amazing, as if they had always been there. The use of space was amazing, every spot made very usable and productive. The centrepiece was a lovely green outdoor kitchen and vertical gardens, a picnic table to the right were the garden could be enjoyed and a chicken run to the left that included a childs slide, bringing lots of fun to the garden. This garden would definitely keep people of all ages entertained!!
"The Bee Keepers Garden" by Jenny Smith Gardens
As soon as the show kicked off this garden was creating so much interest. Its message is clear. The bee is the most important creature in the garden, without bees there would be no colour in our world. This garden used three striking colours to the max, purple, yellow and black. Yellow coneflowers and lavender, which are both fantastic bee attracting plants highlighted against the black backing and features in the garden. Yellow to the left and Purple to the right only. Honey pot features, sculpted bees and hexagon shaped tiles and seated areas were delightul. And there were lots of bees of course.
"Diggers Garden Display"
I have been a member of the diggers club for a few years, their heritage seed saving efforts are amazing and this year they went all out for the garden show. They created a pumpkin hill with 1100 heritage pumpkins! Truly stunnng. Their other veggies were also on display as well as a little greenhouse and a Gypsy Cabin from Blackdown Shepard Huts.
"Achieveable Gardens Walk"
A highly inspring walkway with gardens created by local university students in a small space using affordable materials and planrtings. These competition gardeners show us what can be done with so little, and the results are amazing. "Crossroads" was a favourite of mine and also "The Pollinator Partnership", another bee keeping garden, ideal for suburban and urban spaces.
Diggers Club: www.diggers.com.au
Blackdown Shepard Huts: www.blackdownshepardhuts.com.au
Phillip Withers: www.phillipwithers.com
What was your favourite thing about the flower and garden show this year? Let us know in the comments: