Thursday, December 24, 2015

A hot Australian Christmas #Christmas #garden time

Modest attempt at Christmas decoration, not to mention modest presents.

Now our child is all grown up (mostly), I find it hard getting into all the decoration thing at Christmas.   It feels a bit wasted.  Or maybe I feel a bit wasted.  It is 38 degrees (100F) and I've just finished playing 18 holes of golf and made a dash for a plunge in the pool before finishing off this post.

I will make up the table with bon bons tomorrow but that's about it. The Christmas grinch?

It seems a bit odd seeing reindeer decorations and Father Christmas rugged up when we are baking in the high 30s and early 40s heat.  I also find it exceedingly odd to walk into a store that is playing carols referencing a "white christmas".  While somewhat cheesey, I think Bucko and Champs have the idea for an Australian Christmas tune, referencing the pool, rusty holden utes and kangaroos. You must listen to it.  Bucko and Champs nail it. So Aussie.

The drooping red-bow tied around the plane trees in the high street just don't seem to cut it.

Poinsettias herald Christmas in Australia

Given we aren't knee deep in snow, for me Christmas means sprucing up the garden. Not that I have much room to garden nor am I very competent at keeping plants alive.  However, always optimistic, a couple of days ago I was off to my favourite nursery, The Conservatory.

Let's hope the mint does better in this hanging basket, despite the 39 degrees.  If anything I tend to overwater and kill plants with kindness.  I've already killed a fuschia and impatients in this basket through overwatering.  When it's stinking hot and plants visibly wilt I just have to water!  How can I not?

I bought this beautiful gardenia recently and already the leaves have started turning yellow. I've given the plant some gardenia fertiliser and tried not to over water, so fingers crossed.  I've been told you just need to lift the pot to check how heavy it is to determine whether or not to water.  Try lifting that baby.  I don't think so. Instead, I  use a combination of my finger and a moisture metre probe (other than my finger), although I've been told by experts that you can't trust the metal probes.

I've got a tricky area down one side of the house that only gets about 2 hours of sunshine a day.  I've tried mandevilla plants but they got too wet and died, even without watering!  I planted clematis a few weeks ago but already they are yellowing. I've sprayed them with a recommended fungicide spray  but it's not looking good.

This lemon tree on the terrace lost about half its leaves in the first two weeks in my care. I've tried to not over-water but perhaps I'm under watering? I re-potted it and the soil around the edge tends to stay damp while the root ball dries out.  It is a juggle.  It also gets very windy up on the terrace, so perhaps that is a factor?

I've tried planting some herbs and flowers around the edge to soak up some moisture. I'll let you know how it goes.

One plant that is positively thriving is the olive tree.  Nothing I do or don't do to it interferes with its rampant growth.  Perhaps I should just plant out olives everywhere?

For a bit of colour, I have planted some vinca or my preferred name for them, Madagascar periwinkles, below the olive tree... so we will see if it still thrives!

As for my bay tree, oh dear.  The heat of the sun is scorching the leaves.  Maybe I should put it in the shade?

However, the kaffir lime tree that I am espaliering is doing well.  And more of those great sounding Madagascar periwinkles. I've just planted them so I can tell people what they are.

I digress to tell you of these great outdoor cushions I had made-up by Living Vogue Furniture. They are made from marine-grade material and are completely water-proof. They have zippers so that you can remove the covers and throw them in the washing machine. Love them.

Something I am proud of is the magnolia tree.  When we returned from living in Brisbane earlier this year, there were exactly 23 leaves left on this tree. I have fertilised, watered and used wetting agents. I have brought it back to health!  Amazing. It hasn't flowered this year but that is understandable given the stress it must have been under.  There's always next year for those big creamy flowers.

Now I'm back to the pool to cool off.

Merry Christmas and a happy and safe new year where-ever you may be.  I hope 2016 brings you peace, contentment and happiness.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Endless Pleasure Exhibition - The Art of Gardens and Gardening #CarrickHill

Artist Dee Jones captures a northern aspect of the Carrick Hill garden

Following on from the post on Carrick Hill, the house; here is a glimpse of the "Endless Pleasures Exhibition - The art of gardens and gardening."

The exhibition attempts to trace various aspects of Australian gardening through-out the past two hundred years or so. 

A garden party at Government House around 1889

The exhibition uses garden guides, gardening tools, implements, arts and crafts, furniture and ornaments to  display Australian gardening styles and methods over time.

Cubby house features a miniature display.

The exhibition runs through to 31st January 2016.

The Carrick Hill Gardens showcase interesting garden design as well as various sculptures and artistic flourishes.

Noted South Australian gardener Trevor Nottle's book accompanies the exhibition and is available for purchase at the gift shop.

You might also like to stay for lunch or afternoon tea at the Carrick Hill Cafe. 

And for the kids there is a themed Children's Storybook Trail covering a half kilometre of the gardens.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Christmas at Carrick Hill #Christmas #CarrickHill #Adelaide

Carrick Hill in Springfield is a time capsule.  Bequeathed to the Government of South Australia by the owners, Sir Edward and Lady Ursula Hayward, most of the furniture, art, crockery and even clothing on display belonged to the Haywards.  It passed to the state government in 1983 after Sir Edward's death. In 1986 it was officially opened to visitors as a house museum.

The home was built from 1937 to 1939, following the marriage in 1935 of Edward Hayward and Ursula Barr Smith. During their honeymoon in England the couple bought a large number of pieces (including staircases and panelling) from a Tudor mansion in Staffordshire called Beaudesert that was being demolished at the time. They wanted to re-create a 17th Century manor house in the antipodes. (facts taken from the Carrick Hill brochure)

I visited Carrick Hill on Friday and fittingly, the home was decorated for Christmas.

The central room in the house, boasts the staircase from an English Tudor Mansion.
The house was designed around this staircase.

Sir Edward Hayward was born into the family who owned the largest department store in the city, John Martin's.  Hayward started the Christmas Pageant during the great depression in 1933. The pageant began with just 8 floats.  In 2015 the pageant boasted 64 floats and 173 sets. The Adelaide Christmas Pageant has become the largest event of its kind in the world, attracting crowds of over 400,000 and televised to millions around the world. (figures via wikipedia)

The central room at ground level, with dining room, library, sitting room, flower room and phone booth running from it.

The dining room decked out for Christmas

The table set for Christmas lunch.

A Frank Brangwyn oil.
 The Haywards extensive art collection is on show. The collection includes Russell Drysdale, William Dobbell, Nora Heysen, John Dowie and many more local and international artists.  Carrick Hill hosts many art exhibitions through-out the year in the upstairs gallery.

Carrick Hill is home to one of the largest collections of William Morris material in Australia.

I adore this kitchen, particularly the aga stove. 

Original crockery of the Haywards.

"Modern" vinyl flooring.

The view from the kitchen window

Breakfast tray

In the days when you just had to have a separate room for taking a phone call. This "phone booth" leads to the cellar.

Bounty in the cellar.


Sitting room

Sitting room with grand piano.. entertainment in the days before television, computers, smart phones and tablets!

The master bedroom

 Fancy some breakfast in bed?

Just one of Ursula's stylish dresses

This bathroom would have been state-of-the-art in the late 1930s. It even had a heated towel rail.

Not a bad view from the bathroom window.

"His" dressing room... and more William Morris.

Polo anyone?

In the next post I'll show you more of Carrick Hill's gardens and the wonderful "The Art of Gardens and Gardening" exhibition running until 31st January 2016.