Garden Inspiration

Last year I went to the inaugural Australian Garden Show in Centennial Park, Sydney and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to going again this year. It was all planned; Mr Rambles kindly agreed to work from home on Friday so I could go. This also meant I could head off early and not have to rush home in time for school pick up.

Annoyingly, on Thursday, I came down with a cold. I was still determined to go, so dosed myself up and headed off, in the rain, (we’ve had a lot of rain recently), wearing my new full length rain coat.

After arriving at the show I had a quick look at the feature gardens. There were plenty of umbrellas around, the rain hadn’t scared everyone away, but it was far from being crowded, which meant I could get a close up look at the plants. Then I wandered around the Inspiration Gardens, which showcased a selection of horticultural and landscape designers.

A sign caught my eye (Costa ‘Rambles’ too!)  For those of you who don’t know him, Costa Georgiadis is a landscape architect and tv presenter on the ABC’s ‘Gardening Australia‘. He is passionate about sustainable living, and has his own chickens and veggie patch. I couldn’t resist a chance to meet him, so waited near the sign in the rain. There were only a few of us; I thought we were about to get a really personalised tour, but then the rain stopped and hoards of people appeared out of nowhere. By the time Costa arrived quite a crowd had formed.  
His 25 minute tour of the Inspirational Gardens lasted for nearly an hour and the sun stayed out the whole time. He was very entertaining and full of energy and enthusiasm and pointed out things about the gardens which helped us to view them from different perspectives. At the end of the tour Costa was answering questions and posing for photos, but I was fading fast, so slipped off and found somewhere to eat my lunch and drink a coffee.

Feeling fortified I went to have another look at the Inspirational Gardens. I spent some time looking at, and photographing, details to help get ideas for my own garden.

A couple of years ago, we had an extension put onto the house and the main garden still hasn’t recovered from the builders who treated it like a rubbish tip. I am slowly turning it back into a garden, and trying to establish new plants, but still find lumps of dumped concrete and old drink cans as I dig. It really needs some more landscaping and redesigning.

The gardens at the show were all very different from each other. Some were concerned with their environmental impact, others with affordability in mind, some fun and playful, and some stunning architecture. There were a few pavilions and some with quiet ‘hide away’ places. I would love to try and make a space like that in the Rambles’ garden. I would like to incorporate some fun places in the garden for the children and for the chickens!

As I walked around I found myself chatting to some of the gardens’ creators who were all very friendly and happy, despite the fact they had to prepare their gardens during a week of heavy rain.

Another section of the show featured city and balcony gardens, with creative ideas for gardening in small spaces, and inspiring ideas for edible gardens. 
There weren’t as many reusing/upcycling ideas as last year’s show. It would have been great to see a veggie patch incorporated in one of the Feature or Inspirational Gardens; maybe next year!

There were many plants for sale at the show, including the edible variety but, as I was travelling by bus, it wasn’t practical to buy any. Instead, I stocked up on a few packets of organic seeds and some elephant garlic which I am looking forward to planting!

Up-Cycling on Op-Shop Week

Last week was National Op-Shop week, founded by the charity Do Something. The aim of the week was to help stock up charity shops with quality donations from those of us who enjoy a great op-shop bargain. We were asked to spring clean our wardrobes and donate those items that we haven’t worn or used for a year or two but to make sure those items were good condition. I know I have been guilty of donating some dodgy stuff in the past, especially with some of the children’s ‘worn out’ clothes. I am now determined to mend my ways (and perhaps some of the clothes!). From now on I will make sure my clothes’ donations are clean, and good enough to wear ‘off the peg’. That’s the standard I expect when buying something at a charity shop, so that’s how I should donate.

With Op-Shop Week in mind, I felt inspired to have a Spring Clean and get rid of some more ‘stuff’. Unfortunately, with the amount of rain that fell in Sydney last week (I don’t know how much, but it was ‘a lot’) it wasn’t the best week for the task. I did wash some of the clothes that I had found for donating (including a couple of rain coats) but the gap between rain showers was short and not much dried on the washing line. I have, however, made a start and will continue to sort and get some clothes ready for donation this week.

But then comes the question of what to do with the stuff that I shouldn’t donate. I don’t think anyone will want Junior Rambles’ old underpants and Mr Rambles’ worn-out black jeans can’t be donated because they have a big rip in them.

I don’t want to chuck them in the bin, adding to landfill, so my mission is to ‘reuse’ them. The underpants have gone into a rag-bag and will be used for cleaning/polishing. The jeans material, where there are no rips, is really good quality. Last year I covered an old office chair, whose seat was worn out, with an old pair of Mr Rambles’ jeans and it looks great. So I decided on a similar project.

Our piano stool has had a rip and cut in it for many years now. After its journey from England the removal men unpacked it with a sharp knife which went through the packaging and the seat cover. I have been meaning to repair it for years, and this weekend I found the inspiration and the material to do it.

A quick unpick, some sharp scissors and a staple gun was all it took. It’s not perfect, but it looks a lot better than it was. I am not sure of the correct terms, but I feel I have ‘reused’ the jeans and ‘up-cycled’ the stool. Junior Rambles has given the new seat cover his seal of approval!


Vanilla Biscuits

These biscuits are a firm family favourite, good for the school ‘morning tea’ box or a snack at the beach. They are quick and easy to make and always popular when shared with friends!

  • Beat 125g of butter with 80g of brown sugar until creamy and add 1tsp of vanilla essence
  • Mix in 50g of self-raising and 50g of plain flour (wholemeal).
  • Add 2 tbsp of milk and, when mixed, a further 65g of self-raising flour and 50g of plain flour
  • Mix into a dough.
  • Make balls of the dough (about 24) and place on a non-stick baking tray.
  • Press the back of a fork onto the balls to squash them into biscuit shapes.
  • Cook at 160C for about 20 mins (longer makes them crispier).

Cool on a rack and enjoy with a cup of tea.