Friday, December 12, 2014

Growing Giant Poppies

Is this legal? I caught myself asking. Can I really grow giant poppies in my garden without a drugs squad raiding my yard? All these things raced through my head when a friend of mine gave me my first ever giant poppy seeds late last year. I got my chance to sow them in Spring this year.

To say I was surprised was a little bit understated, as I was actually expecting giant DOUBLE poppies, but got the equally spectacular singles.

Yes, it is perfectly legal. In fact my neighbour up the road decided to plant the very same thing, but that lucky-duck had the doubles that I was so hoping for. Don't worry, I have my desired seeds on their way, I have been assured.

How easy are they to grow?
You may have seen poppy fields of the middle east on the news and documentaries. Rain much over there? There's your answer. They are the easiest and most drought tolerant plant I have ever grown. Perfect for South Australian dry conditions. Minimal watering, thrives on neglect for an amazing bloom. I still watered them via the weeper hose.

How should giant poppies be sown?
Directly onto the worked soil where you want the crop to be is best.
No need to cover with soil although a light dusting of sand to hold them down from being blown away can help. Water in and that is all.

Don't sow them too thickly, but that can easily get out of control due to the size of the tiny seeds.

How big do they grow?
These hardy annuals grow to a height of 2-4 feet (up to 120cm)
My whole crop was at least 4ft.

Do they have a fragrance?
No discernible fragrance but bees are highly attracted to these poppy flowers.

How long do the blooms last for?
A very short period of time. Rapid flowering of only a couples of days.
When the heads are about to open, the green heads go from a limp to an upright position and then flower the next day.

What happens after they lose their petals?
The seed capsule then ripens. With the petals gone, you will see a gorgeous flat pattern on top of the seed capsule.

When will the seeds be ready to harvest?
Little vents appear just underneath the flat pattern on top. When that separation occurs the seeds are ready to be harvested VERY CAREFULLY. If roughly handled or tipped upside-down at this stage, the seeds will empty back onto the ground ready to reseed themselves. The foliage will also start to dry off around the time of harvesting. So cutting down the stalks at the same time as harvesting the seeds is ideal.

Why grow Giant Poppies?
They are a spectacular addition to the garden, a real statement piece for Spring. They add height to the garden as well as needed colour and texture interest. They also encourage bees to the yard for cross-pollination which every garden needs to survive.

If you love flower arranging, the petal-less seed capsules can look beautiful in an arrangement. Even once the seeds have been shaken out, the pods are still usable for dried arrangements.

I can't wait to try the double giant poppies next year!
Right now, I'm swimming in giant poppy seeds to give away for Christmas.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Paper Craft Gardening

I have crafty kids who always ask me for paper craft ideas. Since plants brighten up any room, here's some inspiration to bring out your inner artist. I love these tutorials and shops, so I just had to share them with you.

DIY Craft


HoneyNFizz Cardboard Cactus Tutorial

Craft Berry Bush - Paper Succulent Tutorial

Honestly WTF - DIY Flower Crown Tutorial (crepe paper)

Sonia Poli on - Vegetal Gradiant

InspirationAve - Paper Flower Tutorial

SHOP (and inspiration)

TreasuresOfTerranora on Etsy

TaylorStonePrints on Etsy

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Netting the Garden

image via
Cabbage moths and caterpillars of all descriptions, snails and chickens are my top garden pests. Keeping them off of my leafy greens is a constant chore. So I began to use a vegetable netting that enables airflow, but is thick enough to keep out cabbage moths (if applied to the garden bed properly).

But then comes the summer fruit season, and another group of pests ravage my trees. The rainbow parrots, galahs and cockatoos do the worst damage, striping the fruit even before its had a chance to ripen.

So last year, I started to net my fruit trees with anti-bird netting. I make a specific point of mentioning this because not all netting is good (safe) for birds as they can become entangled in the wrong type of netting. And I could not use the same type of garden bed netting as it would prevent the bees and other beneficial insects from visiting those trees. Always make sure you ask for anti-bird netting at your local hardware store or nursery that is wildlife friendly.

Keeping it closed

When erecting any netting its really important that it is fully covered and the base is enclosed as much as possible to prevent any sneak attacks.

Using twisty ties or t-shirt material 'string' is the best way to attach netting at the base of the canopy of a tree, around the trunk. If you find it difficult to close up all the gathers effectively, attach Christmas bells that ring as soon as bird brushes against it acting as a bird scarer.

If birds attempt to peck at the fruit through the netting, use silver reflective objects such as disposable pie tins or old CDs attached to the tree or netting to scare the birds.

Some trees, such as apricots can be netted slightly differently.
Rather than covering the whole tree, use organza jewellery gift pouches that have draw strings or fleece fruit bags which are available from selected stores. Individual fruit is then covered until they ripen. They will still be small enough to take out of the bags when fully ripened.

Remember to remove the netting before fruit tree pruning season and only re-net once the fruit has begun to set. Leaving the netting on means that branches will grow through and new fruit will not be covered.

For netting vegetables, some gardeners like to use pvc piping or bamboo sticks as the frame work so as not to crush the plants. Sealing the netting is a little more tricky. Rocks and bricks are commonly used to hold down the edge of the netting, but also wire U-stakes or inserting a pvc pipe into a sewn pocket in the netting can also work.

But if rabbits and other wild life are more the problem, then tighter chicken/aviary wire might be the solution rather than just netting.


There are so many products available now to make netting your plants even easier from these Australian stores.

Individual Netting Bags

Comnet 25 x 43cm Netting Bags from Bunnings ($3.49)

Organza Jewellery/Gift Bags with draw strings on eBay

Vegetable Garden Netting

Veggie Saver Garden Net from ($63)

Easy Net Tunnel from ($40-60)

Fruit Tree Netting

Pro Choice 4 x 4m 5mm Aperture Anti Bird Netting from Bunnings ($12.68)

Mini Fruit Saver Net from ($46)

Fruit Saver Nets from

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Giant Double Poppies JigSaw

Click on the image below to start today's jigsaw.
You can exit and return anytime - it will save where you are up to.

preview108 pieceGiant Double Poppies

Friday, October 24, 2014

October Blooms

I am eagerly awaiting my first double poppies to open. Judging by their setting heads, they should be enormous when they finally open. What colour they will be is also a mystery to me, but I am expecting pink or a delicate purple shade.

Giant Double Poppy
Meanwhile, my garden seems to be a week behind everyone else's when it comes to roses blooming. I have specifically chosen aromatic roses as I can't think of anything worse than an unscented flower. Spicy and romantic really get my senses tingling.

David Austin Heritage rose

Knight's GeeWiz rose

The Black English Mulberry has finally sprung to life with a flurry of leaves, a few of which I have had to rub off of the main trunk to aim the tree's energy upward to develop the top canopy. This tree is my new pride and joy.

And while my mulberry has not yet set fruit, my many dwarf peach trees have. YAY!

Super Dwarf Peach Valley Red setting fruit in October
If feels like everything has finally set flower. Loving my Volcano bush colours!

And I have recently added my first Euphorbia (Tiny Tim). I chose a miniature Euphorbia because the larger version are well known for going slightly feral and weed-like in the garden, so choosing a mini version it will help keep it more contained. Planted near my mulberry, it will enjoy the nitrogen run-off.

Loving my October front garden♥

Friday, October 17, 2014

Espalier Care

My plum has finally reached the top of the espalier frame after much care and training, but as beautiful as it looks there were no flowers on it this year, but one fleeting one for a couple of days. Meanwhile, my other plum tree flowered first before developing leaves.

My espalier garden is kept well fenced off from my free range chickens. Such is the trade off. So to keep my garden bed to minimum fuss to keep the chooky girls out, I place perennials and self-seeding plants around the fruit trees. It works perfectly with an amazing flourish of colour and height. Yes, very tempting for chickens to dive into.

What surprised me most was the way that my Satsuma Plum developed its leaves, starting at the base and eventually sending up enough energy to the top to start its leafy growth a little while later.

Espalier Care Checklist

  • Fertilise when the first signs of waking up from its winter dormant sleep with a quality pellet fertiliser. Ensure that it has a good drink of water for absorption.
  • Choose the best lateral branches to train and remove all other competing growth.
  • Every layer is tied gently with tee-shirt ties that allow the growth and expansion of the branches. Adjust these as the branches grow further laterally.
  • Remove stem growth and long off shoots from the branches. Rub the stem to remove new growth and snip the longer branch shoots. This will stop any new branches from developing and channels energy into the established branches.
  • Check for excessive ant activity (ants like to farm on fruit trees, so check your citrus trees too in Spring for scale). Reduce pests that may be harming the tree.
  • Spraying for curl and other pests and diseases needs to be done early in Winter or early Spring as soon as the leaves start to appear. For more information click here.
  • Keep an eye on the soil moisture as the days warm up. Deep slow watering is ideal.
  • And if you haven't done so already, ensure that you have a cross pollinator tree nearby that is compatible with your fruit tree.

It has come a long way very quickly and it looks great!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Amgrow Wettasoil Liquid - How to add moisture to drying out soil

The sudden on set of warmer days in Spring not only bring out the blossoms, flies and mozzies, but soil and potting mix dries out quicker, to the point of either cracking or becoming water repellent. There is a solution.

If your soil is left dry for long periods of time it can become "hydrophobic." So no matter how much water you pour onto it, it just won't sink down deeply to the roots.

These days, everyone knows about the benefits of adding a Wettasoil product to the soil, which comes in a dry form that needs to be hydrated and plumped up for a hour before being hand mixed through.

But what happens when you can't disturb the soil around the established plants who desperately need more moisture to be held around their roots?

This is my new favourite product which I have been using for just over 12 months, so I can confidently say that this one works!

Amgrow Wettasoil Professional liquid concentrate (RRP $15.95)

I use this in my raised vegetable garden planters, pot plants and lawn as soon as cracks start to show or the water just won't sink in.

Wettasoil liquid is so easy to use:

Only 15ml to 9 Litres of water in a watering can for every 4 square meters.
It comes with an easy measuring lid, so there is no need to guess.

It can be used oat every watering to make watering quicker and more effective, especially for pot plants with excessively compact, dry soil

Amgrow Wettasoil is completely safe to use around plant roots.

Depending on your climate and soil type, this product should last for up to 12 months in the soil before a reapplication. A reapplication every 6 months actually improves its overall performance.

This is an amazing product to help your plants become more drought tolerant. Which doesn't mean that your plants can go totally without water, but when you do water, the moisture is retained in the soil more effectively and for longer, benefiting the plants.

It doesn't just add more moisture to the soil, but adds plant extracts, amino acids and growth stimulants that improve the plants ability to take up moisture and recover from short periods of dryness.

It stops new dry spots from happening and saves money on watering. With water bills always on the rise, a great product like this is essential.

Cracks in the Lawn


AFTER (1 day after application)

Amgrow Wettasoil Professional Soil Wetter Concentrate liquid is available at all good hardware and plant nurseries, Australia wide.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Longleaf Pine

I grew up with pine trees in country South Australia. Pinus Radiata and Australian Cypress Pines were everywhere. But when I went to high school I saw the most lovely pine tree that had a long clean trunk with long weeping needles. It was magnificent! I spent many art classes trying to draw that tree. Then when I moved to the Adelaide southern suburbs, in a park behind my house...there was that same pine tree{sigh}. Who would have thought I would like a pine tree so much? Admittedly it is a little quirky.

So researching this tree a little more, all I could find was its Longleaf Pine category, but no official name. So if you know what Pine this is, please let me know.

Pine cones are beginning to grow right now, and most notably they only grow on the end of each branch.

Growing from this:

To this:

To become this:

Big beautiful pine tree. I always think of the needles as being pom-poms.

If you can identify this pine species, leave me a note in the comments. I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Can Fennel and Dill Cross Pollinate?

Gardening forums have been divided on whether the herbs fennel and dill can cross pollinate. This year my garden decided to prove that the warnings are true after all.

I planted my dill in a container right next to the fennel last year. This year, after the dill had died back, new plants began to emerge. I let them grow to see what would develop, and sure enough they weren't dill...and they weren't quite fennel. In fact the foliage colour seemed to indicate that it was a little bit different.

The bottom of each plant has a more fennel bulb look.
The taste is a confusion of both fennel and dill. A bit more fennel but less aniseed.
The texture, however, is far tougher than both fennel and dill which are much more softer.

Having learnt my lesson, I am now growing my dill far away from my fennel plants.

How to prevent cross pollination

  • Plant fennel and dill as far away from each other as practically possible.
  • Since both herbs grow well in pots, moving pots makes controlling their proximity easier.
  • Only plants from the same family can pollinate each other, so the same applies to any other vegetable or flower in the garden.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Magnolia season at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

September is the best month to visit Mount Lofty Botanic Garden to see the Magnolias in full flower. We celebrated Father's Day this year with a picnic beneath the gorgeous Magnolia trees.

Access via the bottom car park off of Lampert Rd from the Piccadilly Rd from Crafers.

A beautiful visit! Every month and every season it is different and a great workout. It is steep.