The summer garden


Daylesford has had splendid weather so far this summer. Cool nights, warm afternoons, occasional rain. The garden has certainly loved it. Gooseberries are plentiful at the moment, other things bud with promise still… It has just had a major haircut and is looking neater than what is perhaps the wilder norm. Actually, looking at these pictures I think it looks pretty rampant still but that is what happens, look away for a second and the wily tendrils are running the show again.
















Think of something pretty

and it won’t be this.


Nor will it be this tree, embedded in the wall. As you can see, I have ringbarked it so it at least won’t get any bigger until I can get around to it.


Before I start fixing up the building I will have to remove this mess. Digging, digging…

Here is something pretty instead. The grapes are nearly ripe! They may be small, but so sweet and delicious.


Hello Possums! The boat is done.

Because I have the benefit of being 12 inside yet with the decision making capacities of someone WAY older, if I feel the urge to have a boat in the garden then I can! Hooray! See the older Boat post if you like, here’s a recap picture: Actual boat and the general plan.

It was in worse nick than I had hoped for. Here is the floor once I ripped it out. When I tried to scrape the old paint I was actually scraping away the boat itself. There’s no denying it, this will always be a fragile friend.

monets boat 8

Once the floor was gone I could see the sleepers I had rested the boat on. I covered the whole lot with weedmat, byebye ivy! Water will still be able to run through the weedmat. Then I used three lengths of sturdy treated pine and nailed them down. The well itself is 1,8 metres long, it is a deceptively large boat really.

monets boat 9

monets boat 10

From here it was a simple thing to screw down some decking. Just a little fiddly as each board has to be slightly longer than the next (and angled) as the well is shaped from narrow to wide. The thing in the middle is to take the centre support for the seat which will come soon.

monets boat 7On On the outside I attached braces to the sleepers to keep the boat steady. New seat, some new ply on top of the old, some fibreglass work  which is a delight, like papier mache for outdoors but HARD to get right, I am settling for strong and not pretty. The whole job is a bit rough really, but I feel there are limits to how much money and effort I am prepared to put on something essentially quite derelict.

monets boat 11

Monet’s boat would not be that if it didn’t have a hut at one end.

monets boat 13

I also made an awning in very thin plywood to keep most of the leaves out. As for durability, the whole boat is made from that stuff so I guess it will last for as long as the boat will.

monets boat 19

The possums play pirates in the boat at night. Or something. It became an obvious name! It is no longer Monet’s boat, but Dame Edna Everage’s.

monets boat 20

Baron von Mueller’s further adventures

I had a very original competition entry today. I have asked for photos, but I got a drawing instead. I am so happy, such effort! Here it is, the Further Adventures of Baron von Mueller.

competition3The detail is great so I have split the drawing in fours to make it easier to fully appreciate. The Baron has a delightful squint in his eye as he explores the night sky.

competition6competition5Note the steam rising from the shower. Everything is really accurate, not bad for a grown man who hasn’t drawn since school!

He even drew the goldfish, and the stone path.

competition7competition2Finally, here is the Baron in the green fur coat, checking out the brown one. Extra effort for the headings in Swedish. I think this is brilliant. Thank you so much!

Someone gave me a boat!

I have a neighbour of the best kind who knows everyone. When he saw me drawing a plan which called for an old boat he said he knew someone who might have a spare broken boat. They did! And not only that, they actually gave it to me. My neighbour now found himself facing my need to get said boat home, and he has a truck… This is what happens when you have a truck, people want you to put things on it.

In the front garden is a spot just behind the willow tree, tucked in behind hedges and ivy. No one goes there, as there is nothing to see or do. This is about to change! Presenting… My boat. A real beauty! It even has a mast, albeit not attached. The plan is to make something in the style of Monet’s boat, his floating studio which had a striped awning and a little hut at the back. Mine is smaller but I think I can achieve the general idea.

douard-manet-claude-monet-and-his-wife-in-his-floating-studio-1874Mine is remarkably similar… Graceful, I’d say. It’s had a good run of being on the water and now it is time for a new purpose.

monets boatmonets boat 4It even has a mast, but how to attach it puzzles me. This is the hole which clearly is meant for the mast, but how? It has to  get down deeper than a centimetre, surely.

monets boat 3  It is in rather poor condition. I pushed on the bow (that’s the pointy front of a boat) and it crumbled against my weight. Also, the bottom is totally gone. This is really not a problem for me, as I plan to lay a new wooden floor. But what will I attach it too? Is it all as bad as the floor and the sides and and and? The only good wood you can see here is the sleeper it is resting on.

monets boat 2For now it can sit and wait, could be a good spring time project. I drew some rough guidelines just in case I feel the need to go to the hardware sometime soon. I will do a new post when I have something to show, but it will take some time. Just too excited for now not to show the boat as it is!monets boat 5

Bath salt recipe

Making your own wonderful bath salts is the easiest thing ever. Done in minutes and truly economical. I have just added a couple to the bathroom at the Pip. They are Mandarin & Frankincense and Rosewood & Cinnamon.

We have a lovely shop here called Daylesford Aromatherapy. I get their shampoo and bodywash as well. I have my own blend for the Pip shower, Bergamot, Frankincense & Cedarwood. If you like it, you can go there and ask for the Sandra Broman blend, they keep a logbook of individual mixes. Or make up your own!

I thought it would be interesting to mention at this point what is so good about Epsom Salt, as opposed to other salt, but the lack of scientific evidence is such that I cannot make any startling claims here. I can say this however: Apparently, according to Internet sources, Victoria Beckham uses Epsom baths to help streamline her figure. Yup. Let’s just go with that. Whatever benefits Epsom may have (or not) it does give a slicker feel to the water. Salt in general is good to bathe in, even nurses recommend it. I once had a tricky wound and the nurses said ”Just throw a handful of plain salt in the bath every day.” Brilliant.

Being a bathroom, I am using plastic containers for safety. Not so attractive, but they live in a cupboard so I will just suffer through the hideousness of it. Glass breaks.


Epsom Salt – some

Other salt – lots

Bicarb – some

Essential Oil (get quality ones, it really matters. It is going on your skin!) – a few drops only

No need to measure anything, it actually doesn’t matter. It is not like a cake which has to rise.

Here’s how:

Pour some Epsom Salts in a container, I mix straight into the container where they will be kept.

Add a few drops of essential oil, stir well.

Add salt of whatever kind you like. Stir more.

Add bicarb. Stir again. I don’t add any colouring or herbs, but you can. Looks pretty, but makes a mess.

That’s it. If you want ideas for combining oils, go to Daylesford Aromatherapy. Around the corner from Coles, two doors down from Pizzeria La Luna.

Quilting – still…

quilt2These two singles were not quite done in a week. I was sidetracked by a few other things, but still, they are pretty fast. The room they are destined for is very green and grey so I felt a rich colour would be the best thing. I bought some shot cotton again, all the same colour with some black leaves. Like autumn in reverse. I saw an early American quilt in similar colours, only it had lines of black elephants with white tusks in regimented lines sewn on. I loved it but I believe some guests will think it is a ”children’s quilt” if I was to sew that, so am going for leaves instead. Leaves are for everyone, right? Elephants is only for other elephants.

Before I started, I washed all the fabric. You want it to shrink now, not when you are done.

I went for the same sashiko stitch as in the queen sized quilt for a large centre panel.quilt12See my blogpost about the queen sized quilt about how to do this, if you want. It is great to do.

Then I added my elephants with black stitching, with white stitching for the detail. The stem is a little piece of black yarn stitched on with black thread and tucked in under the leaf.

quilt8The pieces around the centre are all the same, simple speedy linework. You only need to rule out two lines, to get you going in the direction you want. After that, just follow and try to stay on the course. Hard, but doesn’t matter. I went veering a bit but that’s ok. If you have sewn before you will know how to do this, but I am sewing these in my open studio and I get questions from the public like ”are you ruling up all the lines?” Well, ermmm, nooo. I am just accepting unevenness in a slightly slap-dash fashion.

quilt11quilt9I made a couple of mistakes on these quilts, the worst one was that I didn’t buy quite enough cotton for the back. I joined scraps for the last corner, which actually worked just fine with closely cropped seams but would have preferred a whole piece. At least I didn’t have any waste.

quilt5When the outside panels are done, cut the back to size and tear strips for the trim.

quilt3Put the back on, trim with a red strip. For easy neat corners, do it like this when you get to a corner. If this doesn’t make sense, it will when you are doing it.

quilt6Then fold it back on itself, there’s a corner. Hooray.

quilt7I like to leave extra fabric at the base, to fold in after you insert the quilt. Add ties if you like on the open base panel – you are all done!quilt1

Garden of St Erth

Just left to the entrance of Garden of St Erth, a Digger’s Club garden and cafe/restaurant, is a fantastic looped bushwalk. It will take you a couple of hours and will be rewarded by something delicious at the cafe maybe. I walked it recently and learnt a New Thing. Part of the paths are actually old water races, created to lead water to wherever it was needed in the goldmining boom. They were back in the day extended to cross gullies with timber extensions, but today only the carved paths remain.

A Frenchwoman, Madame Pauline Bonfond, was chiefly responsible for these. A marvellous thought, in the mining days when women were scarce up here. A woman, making a living from water races! I would like to know more about her. All I can find out is that she was known to be quick with hitting miners with her shovel so that no one got the better of her. Something must have done though, as she only lived to 47. She is buried in nearby Blackwood.  Around Blackwood are over 80 miles of these races. If I didn’t know better, I would just think of them as nicely levelled paths. Here is one, see what I mean?
st erth3You can tell when you are walking on a water race or just a path. A path moves up and down a bit, but a water race would lose water if it did. Hence, it just gently inclines. Nice bit of engineering, Madame Bonfond!
st erthThe walk around St Erth is great because it changes so much. Part of it winds around permanent wet areas which means a rare sighting for this area of giant tree ferns.
st erth2There is also plenty of Victoria’s State flower, Pink Heath.
st erth5If Pink Heath is not suffuciently exciting to lure you out on a bushwalk, there is plenty of thrilling exploration possible in mining remains. You see this kind of thing frequently here. There is also a good creek following the walk, in my amateur opinion very likely still able to yield gold.
lerderdergPack your walking boots and get out there!

A flower arrangement

I am not very interested in flower arrangements. Mostly guests get something I just randomly pruned from the garden, but I do try sometimes. Here is what I consider one of my more successful attempts. I call it Baby Tears with Zebras. The zebras are not eating anywhere near fast enough and are now threatened to be totally engulfed by the Baby Tears. For those of you not in the know, Baby Tears is a plant.

More tiled Ortelius

The bathroom will now be a place where you can lie and journey to places which indeed exist but not in our time. A time when Papua New Guinea was massively out of proportion, when ships were firing cannons at each other (oh, wait, they still do), when the Suez Canal had not yet been dug, and strange sea creatures surrounded Iceland. Magellan had just failed to return on his journey on the Victoria, pictured below. Or rather, the Victoria returned with all the information, but Magellan himself didn’t. You can’t have everything. The imagined coastline of Terra Australis in yellow underneath the Victoria, which connected with Tierra del Fuego in South America. Of course.

maptiles5iceland iceland2 iceland3There are explanaitons covering Iceland and it is needed. Such a complex place, with danger in volcanoes, poral bears on icefloes, animals which will kill you if you eat them, glaciers, seacows. Rudimentary knowledge of latin helps here. Pour more hot water in the bath, the perpetual nives is making me cold!

And no, I haven’t made any of it up. It is all a gridded copy of Abraham Ortelius maps, with maybe just a little rearranging of ships to fit, and cropping. The little fat thing with horns below, for instance. I take no responsibility, blame Ortelius. It is possible that I am repeating myself, I have written about the maps before and it will probably not be the last time either.

maptiles3 maptiles2 maptiles