Book Review: ‘A Fig at the Gate’

‘A Fig at the Gate’ by Kate Llewellyn
‏Allen and Unwin 2014, RRP $29.99AUD, ‏ISBN 9781760110888
‏’The joys of friendship, gardening and the gaining of wisdom

‏This is a lovely book. It can shock at times too, with a brutal reality or painful memory that surfaces because of the author’s current circumstances. It reads like a diary but one that’s been reworked to give more depth and texture. Either that, or Kate Llewellyn is a lot more articulate, poetic and downright eloquent than I ever am in my private thoughts. Continue reading

William Dampier – pirate botanist

Piracy and botany are two words that do not usually occur together in a sentence. But in the golden days of exploration, seafaring men were not always vicious rogues intent on thievery. Well, all right, a lot of them probably were. But one man among them combined piracy with a love of plants and that man was Captain William Dampier (1651-1715). Continue reading

Bloody possums!

Dame Edna Everage often greeted her audience with “Hello possums” and I wonder if her irreverence towards her devoted subjects may have had its roots in a possum problem in her Moonee Ponds garden. Having a possum in your backyard, of course, is a two-edged sword that is all about the joys of seeing wildlife up close and personal in your backyard but, on the flipside, experiencing the pain that the little devils inflict on your prize plants. I must confess to being very happy to sit on the fence with the little marsupials when it comes to the possum problem. Continue reading

Surviving dogs in the garden

When I was growing up we had a red chow dog called Tanya. Chows have a thick furry coat so keeping cool in summer is a priority. Tanya made a shallow dug out area in the cool soil under the crabapple where she could stretch out on hot days. Some months after she died we noticed a mass of flowers under the tree right where she used to lie. Looking at them my mother remembered she had planted bulbs there many years before, but assumed they’d died.

Continue reading

Plan D

When I was a kid growing up in California, I was always reminded of my grandfathers Swedish heritage. He came from a family of immigrants who had come through Ellis Island and made a life out of nothing. But my baseball loving, cocktail drinking, poker playing grandmother was English and German, a fact that was rarely mentioned. In her sewing room sat an old blue Carr’s biscuit tin covered with drawings of English royalty. Queen Elizabeth the First stared off into the distance while fat King Henry and prissy Sir Walter Raleigh glared from the sides. Continue reading

Designing fresh and pretty gardens

I rather like a ‘girly’ garden. Fresh. Pretty. Flowers. Stuff. (Even pink). I rarely admit to it as, design-wise, such a garden always seems to be deeply unfashionable, even condescendingly referred to as ‘twee’. Which is a pity as more potential gardeners might engage with the whole notion of growing things if they felt comfortable giving them a decorative and pretty home. Continue reading

Review – Mr Fothergill’s Microgreens

DAY 1: I open up the microgreens growing tray and seed packets. The instructions on the seed packet seem pretty straightforward, except that you need two things beyond what’s provided: a tissue and a water spray bottle. A tissue isn’t hard to come by but a spray bottle is – eventually I liberate one from among my housemate’s belongings and am ready to start. Continue reading