Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Colours of Summer

I love it when my little garden explodes in Summer.
Lilium 'Scheherazade'

Queen Anne's Lace made me fall in love with the word 'umbel' because that is the name of this type of flower. 
This umbel looks humble. See what I did there? Ok, sorry. Won't do it again. (my fingers are crossed behind my back).
A funky orange trug of mignonette lettuces.
This Echeveria pops out the most gorgeous, beachy orange flowers.

I didn't get to do much during my whistlestop trip to the coast, but I did pop into a local hardware store which had a stand of these. It's Fuschia paniculata x arborescens 'Blutini' and after flowering produces edible berries. Apparently they look like blueberries but taste a little bit like kiwi fruit. After doing some research i discovered that most fuschias produce edible berries after flowering, but some taste yuck, and a few taste nice!
Fuschia paniculata x arborescens 'Blutini'
This massive beauty is Clematis 'Edomurasaki'. I ordered it online during lockdown. It arrived as a live plant. It's in a ceramic pot in the garden. Because the pot is in shade and cool, the plant shot up fast reaching for the sunny spots.

Beebalm aka Bergamot
My Mariposa plums are starting to ripen.


This planter box made out of pallets is filled with cosmos, zinnias, a dahlia, and the front row alternates with parsley and strawberries. If you look carefully, you might see some red strawberries through the parsley in the picture below.
I did plant marigolds in here too but they just disappeared under all those pink zinnias.
We're getting the most delicious strawberries.
In fact there are now loads of strawberry plants through lots of other pots and in the garden beds giving us a bumper harvest.

Many months ago I was wandering through one of our big craft shops. We had just come out of our first lockdown in May and were finally able to go out to some shops. I went in to look at macrame cord. Just one thing. I didn't buy any macrame cord. But on a whim grabbed one of these so called 'fun packs' of yarn. It was on sale at the time, otherwise I wouldn't have bought it. I was totally pulled in by the glossy, rainbow colours. 

I then shoved it under the couch and forgot about it.
Just before we went on our ridiculously short trip up to the NSW South Coast I was looking for a project which was compact and easy to crochet in the car. I grabbed this 'fun pack' (it sounds like a bag of lollies), a 3.5mm hook and scissors. I thought I would just make a continuous granny square blanket. Creating lots of little squares in the car is too fiddley, I wouldn't have brain power to work on a garment, and I wanted to play around with the bright colours.
I decided I was going to use every single skein in the pack. All the pinks, purples and blues, the citrusy oranges and yellows, the hot reds and the 70s browns. 



There was one of each colour, then 2 blacks and 2 whites.
I sometimes used a black or white stripe to transition to a new colour way.
I sort of worked in lots of 3 colours to help me decide which one to choose next. If one colour sort of looked good with the previous 2 colours I'd choose that one next.
If I ran out of a colour part of the way round, I would choose a completely different colour to pop in. I wanted it to look like a very deliberate, crazy choice. 
Like below when I ran out of dark wine red and switched to baby poo caramel. Because let's face it, most of us have found that in a nappy, am I right?
And then 70s carpet orange to white....
The yarn is a very glossy acrylic which is sold in larger skeins at that store which I had purchased in the past. I had accumulated a rather impressive stash of leftovers which I have dug out and added to the small remnants of the 'fun pack' (dear lord can they think of another name? It sounds like a lolly bag from the cinema). 

So I'm going to keep going with this stash busting blanket until all these little bits are gone!


Stay safe everyone !

Louise
Red Haired Amazona





Monday, 11 January 2021

The Quickest Summer Holiday

This Christmas ornament pretty much sums up 2020.
It was a gift from my sister. 
Our Christmas was low key but as the state of Victoria had been free of COVID cases (until Xmas) for nearly 2 months, we were able to able to spend it with my sister and her family.
On Christmas Eve I made my usual boozy trifle with fresh macerated nectarines, peaches, raspberries and strawberries.
My sisters partner made a delicious pavlova as well.
Instead of the usual trinkets, our Xmas crackers had animal balloons inside. The box contained a little balloon pump and instructions to make different animals. 
A few days after Christmas we packed the car and headed up into NSW. We were to visit my parents in Mollymook on the NSW South Coast for the first time since Easter 2019. We did see the Mothership and Fatherdom in Feb last year and at Christmas 2019, however due to the massive bushfires of 2019/20, they had to hurry back and we were unable to make our usual trips up throughout the year because of the border closures between Victoria and NSW.

Needless to say we were absolutely busting to get up to see them, my nana and aunts and the beautiful beaches of Mollymook and Narrawallee.

After a 9 1/2 hour drive we were so happy to finally see this.

At this time there was a small outbreak in Sydney which is 220km north on Mollymook. After going through the outbreaks in Melbourne and the strict lockdown conditions there, we decided to go, maintain social distancing, wear masks indoors and crowded places and scan QR codes for any businesses we went into, just as we do in Melbourne.
The next day we got to visit with my aunt and nana. My aunt has these gorgeous rainbow lorikeets that fly into her garden.
The following morning was New Years Eve and we watched a news broadcast which announced a few more cases in Sydney.
The Victorian acting Premier advised all Victorians who were visiting the 'red zone' areas of the Sydney Northern Beaches, the central coast north of Sydney and Wollongong had to return to Victoria by midnight New Years Eve and isolate at home for 14 days as well as take a COVID test.
We were hundreds of kilometres away in a 'green zone'.
So we went to the beach.
We love this beach. Sonofagun No.2 was happily playing in the surf for a full hour.
The Mothership called at 4pm. She said there was another news update that afternoon. The Victorian acting Premier came back on and decided ALL Victorians had to return to the state IMMEDIATELY.

All of us who were in a 'green zone' had to cross the border by midnight that very night. 

If we did we would be required to get a covid test within 24 hours of returning home and isolate at home until we received a negative result.

If we crossed the border after midnight and before 11.59pm New Years Day, we would have to get a COVID test then stay in home isolation for 2 weeks. After midnight there would be a hard border closure and we wouldn't be able to get home. Those last 2 were not an option. So we raced back to mum's and within 1 hour we had thrown everything into the car and were on the road again.

We had 7 hours until midnight but it was a 5 hour & 44 minute drive.

At the border there was a long line of cars, trucks, motorbikes and vans.

We passed through the checkpoint at the border towns of Albury and Wodonga. Police were checking border permits which we had to apply for before leaving. They were actually really lovely and understanding. They would have been dealing with thousands of vehicles full of disrupted holiday makers. For most of us Victorians, it would have been our first chance to go on holiday after the strict lockdown over winter.
After passing the border checkpoint, we drove 10km down the road to a truck stop to rest. We bought a couple of boxes of hot chips, cracked some beers and this is how we said goodbye to 2020!
I'm not gonna lie. It totally sucked balls. The chips were hot & the beer was cold, but we were exhausted and had a completely shit sleep in the car. There's nothing more uncomf' than a seatbelt digging in your back and the drone of an invisible mosquito.
And it was heartbreaking to leave the parental units after just a day and a half. Within an hour of arriving home and unpacking the car, we went to get our brains scraped for COVID. It took a few days but we were all negative. Hooray!
Since then we have spent the rest of our time off doing little things around the house.
I started this basic crocheted granny square blanket in the car.
The Gloriosa Lilies were in full bloom at home.
In Spring I planted pots of violas and sat the pots in the garden.
I have also been finishing off a basic hexagon blanket.
Our COVID cases are wonderfully low here in Australia. As soon as a few cases pop up in each state, the premiers bring back whatever strict measures are required to squash the outbreaks as soon as possible. There are only a small minority of people who object to it but basically us Aussies have a very strong sense of community. We do the right thing because we want to protect each other but most importantly we know that if there is a threat to the other members of the community, it is equally a potential threat to ourselves and our loved ones. 

Thinking of you all out there with all the bizarre happenings in the world right now, especially to my readers in the USA. 
Louise
Red Haired Amazona

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Pink Flowers & Glow

November hasn't been all about Peony Watch 2020. Well yes, it's mostly been about Peony Watch 2020. 
I mentioned a couple of posts ago that my oldest peony (this one in the middle blue pot) had popped out some buds for the first time. This plant has been in this pot for 3 years. Apparently there's an old saying about Peonies: 1st year they sleep, 2nd year they creep, 3rd year they leap. My 3 pots below demonstrate this marvelously. Guess which one is the 1 year old, the 2 year old and the 3 year old?
I have been ridiculously obsessed. And it's been so long since I bought the plant that I had long since lost the label and couldn't remember what cultivar this one was. 

Every morning I would go out to check on my peonies. Particularly Mr Anonymous Bud Guy here.  

Every day I would make sure they weren't getting too much wind, I'd check whether they needed water with my little moisture meter, and every couple of weeks I'd give them a weak solution of Seasol.
The buds grew larger and started to do this.
From their size, I figured they wouldn't be big, fat extravagant double blooms. Maybe a single or semi double variety. I carefully staked their stems as they started to droop from the weight of the buds.
And then the first bud opened!

The perfume was delightful. Not strong and heady, but light and distinctly peony-like!

On this day it was predicted to be a hot day. I actually picked up that heavy ceramic pot and brought it into the house. I knew the hot weather would make these soft petals wilt and crumple.

They were so bright and beautiful. Do you know what variety this is? I haven't quite been able to figure it out.
And they shone in Peony Gorgeousness.
For about 3 days. 
November has notoriously fickle weather here.
After the hot day cooled and the wind dropped, the next day I took the plant back outside but still in the cooler pergola area next to a large potted Daphne that is protected from the elements.

But weather reared it's ugly head. We had another hot, windy blast which kicked in while I was out shopping a couple of days later.  

And despite being under the pergola, I came home to this...
I'm ok. Maybe I just kept my dignity, sighed and got over it. Maybe I had a wailing, ugly faced cry. No one will ever know except me and the tissue box.
I was definitely disappointed but I now know I can look forward to their blooms again next year. And hopefully the next younger sibling will leap as well!

I decided that 2020 has been such an asshat that I should give us a nice extended Chrismassy feeling.
So our tree went up on November 1st.
I know! SCANDALOUS!!!!

Elf on a shelf even made an early appearance by being extra friendly with our John McLane Christmas Tree angel...
Out came the Xmas lights. All the outside lights are solar powered.
You can tell that I kind of didn't realise one set was 'golden light' and the other set is 'white light'. But it still looks magical!

My latest addition is this ridiculously divine 'Uni-Llama'! I love her SOOOO MUCH!!

If you have any ideas on what variety my peony is, please let me know! I'd love to stick a name on it! 

Thanks for visiting!
Louise
Red Haired Amazona