The community garden

The community garden

Up until the last decade or so the ‘community garden’ was a concept that was a little unheard of.  Sure the premise was easy enough to understand but communal garden beds seemed to be the stuff of hippy towns on the coast or progressive towns in far flung places.  Now they’re everywhere and to be honest it’s really, really nice.

The other weekend I had the pleasure of spending a few hours in Wagga Wagga’s community garden – a place I’d driven past dozen of times but never found the time to visit…

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The sleepy garden

The sleepy garden

Summer seems like a bit of a distant memory now. The days are cooler, shorter and darker and leaves are falling from the sky like giant, colourful raindrops.

I was amazed by our little Malvern garden during the warmer weather. Every week it felt like a new flower or plant was blooming and the air was thick with the sound of bees buzzing about.

Our little patch of green has been slowly falling asleep over the last few weeks, but it’s still proving to be a source of inspiration…

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The first harvest

The first harvest

After weeks of diligent watering, weeding and a bit of help from mother nature, Adam and have undertaken the first ‘harvest’ in our terrace vegetable garden!

The salad leaves have been the quickest to grow and we’d been watching the little plants get bigger by the day, just waiting for the right time to snip off some buttery soft goodness.

Colander of baby salad leaves on wooden chopping board.

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The six month mark

The six month mark

I was chatting to a stranger the other day about moving to Malvern from Australia and it dawned on me that Adam and I have been in England for six months now. The time has truly flown ever so fast.

Malvern really feels like home now. Old buildings that I caught myself staring at in awe are now just part of scenery and picking a posey full of flowers from our rambling cottage garden seems second nature.

Posey of flowers from English cottage garden.

I know short cuts around town, can recommend pubs and cafes and am starting to sound a little bit English… well in a way!

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Vegetables on the terrace

Vegetables on the terrace

The weather is warmer, the days are longer and all of sudden Adam and I have the urge to garden.  I’ve been picking flowers from our little patch of green for a good few weeks now.  I enjoy wandering around spotting what’s coming to life and picking out what species I recognise.  It feels like every time I go for a look something new has started to flower, or a plant I didn’t notice during the winter is suddenly bursting with new leaves.

While Adam appreciates having fresh flowers in the house, it’s the practical plants that get his heart racing.  We picked up some pots of fresh herbs, specifically rosemary, mint and thyme, when we did the grocery shopping last week and they’re now sitting proudly at the window that’s in front of our kitchen sink.

Rosemary, mint and thyme in pots beside a kitchen window.

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The first signs of spring

The first signs of spring

The northern hemisphere has now officially entered spring.  I’m welcoming it with eager anticipation after virtually doing two winters back to back. While Malvern hasn’t had a terribly brutal winter, our one in Wagga Wagga was wet and grey, so it feels like there hasn’t been much variation in the weather in the last six months. Doing two cold seasons consecutively though does makes you appreciate the hints nature gives, which shows the chill is almost over.

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How does your garden grow?

How does your garden grow?

I will always love fresh flowers in the house. There’s an element of simplicity and sophistication that blooms seem to capture.  Like when someone compliments your outfit and you reply ‘Oh, this old thing?!’.  Flowers are grown-up and pretty, without really trying.  They just are.

White chrysanthemum flowers and green dahlia flowers sitting in a vase on a the sill of a sash window.

House plants though, I’ve never really had an affinity for. To me, they remind me of Australian suburbia circa 1994.  Palms and Calla lilies in sturdy rectangular cane planter boxes, on beige linoleum floors quietly wilting in the summer heat. Meant to look all tropical and fresh, but instead looking droopy, brown and dry.  Or even better, the fabric, plastic variety of house plant that sort of look reals from afar but when you get close up is covered in dust and spiderwebs.  Yuck!

After a couple of mega Pinteresting sessions though, I’m slowly starting to reconsider the humble house plant.  I’ve been quietly lusting over images of kitchens and sitting rooms, neutrally decorated in whites, greys and navy with hints of greenery. Tendrils of leaves, tumbling oh-so-perfectly from cute pots sat on open shelving surrounded by pretty mugs and copper saucepans.

I bought by accident a house plant the other week.  Adam was making a lamb dish that needed mint leaves.  There were no small packets of fresh mint leaves available, so I picked up a mint plant instead. We’d had a relatively successful herb garden when we lived in Wagga Wagga and had talked about doing something similar in England but due to the season hadn’t bothered with it yet.  I found a little bowl and sat it in front of the window near our kitchen sink.

Extreme close up of a mint leaf attached to a mint plant.

Over the weekend while visiting Adam’s grandparents, I clumsily knocked over a house plant making a lovely mess of soil on the cream carpet. While cleaning it all up, I noticed the plant had a few ‘extra bits’ of greenery in its pot.  I learnt it was a spider plant and Granny told me every house should have one.  She sent me home with one of the ‘extra bits’, which I’ve since learnt are called spiderettes (!), and told me to put it in some water until its roots grow.

The spider plant is now living beside the mint. They look ever so nice, sitting in our yellow kitchen. Instead of being outdated and naff, they almost feel like company when you’re standing at the sink washing dishes. Also, on cold drizzly days when the fog doesn’t lift I like the little reminder of the outdoors, indoors.

Spider plant and mint plant sit side by side in front of sash window in Georgian style house in England.

I won’t say I’m a convert when it comes to house plants… but for now the two in our home are staying! Do you have house plants?  What can you recommend? – Suggestions on what does well in grey English weather would be appreciated!

The Allotment

The Allotment

Allotments are all over England – small parcels of land, often council owned, that are used by keen gardeners to grow fruit and vegetables. They’re a wonderful idea and when Adam and I have been driving around cities and towns, I look out for them.  They’re a great green beacon that stand out from the grey sky and muted coloured houses.

My grandfather, who was born in England, often tells stories about the lovely big gardens his family had when he was a child. Tilling the land is a passion he continues to have today, so seeing allotments for myself is something I’ve been looking forward to for some time.

In Adam’s family, the allotment is at his Aunty Lisa’s house and is mainly maintained by her and Grandad Len.

An allotment garden
The family allotment in Malvern.

Although it’s starting to get too cold to grow most things now, I had a good poke around over the weekend.

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