Plant Now: Japanese anemones

Round about this time of year (early autumn) you can always rely on Japanese anemones to make an appearance. Even if nothing else is in bloom – or looking tatty and tired after the summer heat – these pretty flowers pop up like clockwork. I love them. Some folks don’t, as they have a tendency to wander, but mine are extremely well behaved. They stay put in the spot allocated to them.

Mine are in bloom now (white, pale pink, single hot pink, and double-flowered hot pink), so you can bet they will be in the shops too. Buy a couple of different varieties if you want regular blooms each autumn. They are ideal for a shaded spot, though they will bloom in sun too.

These plants die down over winter, so don’t think you’ve killed them off. They are super hardy plants. They’re just going into winter dormancy. Leaves will reappear in spring.

Plant Now: Cornflowers

Cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) are old faithfuls in the cut flower garden, producing blue, white or pink flowers in spring and summer. They’re hardy annuals, so seeds can be sown now (autumn) to grow on through winter, or early spring. Plants sown now will have time to establish before the cold weather sets in and be bigger and taller when it comes to flowering. They will also flower weeks earlier than if you sow seeds in spring, though don’t dismiss spring sowing; I do both.

You can either sow your seeds directly into the ground in a sunny spot or sow them in trays for transplanting later. Keep them watered while growing. You may like to insert stakes as well. A heavy downpour will flatten the tall stems.

When it comes to flowering, pick regularly to ensure the blooms keep coming.

The image second from bottom comes from Chocolate Bowls blog. The bottom image comes from here.

Plant Now: Zinnias

zinnia bouquet
Everyone loves zinnias – at least, everyone whom I come across does. They are such vibrant flowers and superb cut flowers, and they flower for weeks on end. The only hiccough is the leaves can get powdery mildew in humid areas. Other than that, they’re easy-care.

Head to your garden centre and you’ll find zinnias in the potted colour section, or in multiple seedling packs. Plant in a sunny spot in the garden and feed and deadhead regularly for a continuous supply of blooms. If you do that, your zinnias will flower right throughout summer and autumn.

If you want to grow your zinnias as cut flowers, snip off the centre flowers when plants are about 40cm high (do this on regular zinnias, not bedding, or dwarf, zinnias). This encourages the plants to branch low and produce taller stems.

Top image via Wedding Chicks

Stunning winter blooms

winter-3winter-1This stunning winter shoot focuses on colour – rich red ranunculi and tulips, bronze cymbidium orchids, the fuzzy bronze leaves of evergreen magnolia, and dried seed heads. I love it! And I’m pretty sure I could replicate this bouquet with flowers and magnolia leaves from my own garden. All I need to do is plant some red tulips and I’ll have it. Though I’d have to buy in the roses for winter, of course.

This stunning photo shoot can be seen over at 100 Layer Cake.

Win a box of seedlings


Want to win a box of seedlings? Head over to my other website, Sweet Living, for your chance to win.

Awapuni Nurseries are giving 2 lucky readers (in New Zealand) the chance to win six seedling bundles (a mix of herbs, vegetables and flowers  – more than 40 seedlings). It’s such a great prize.

I really like Awapuni Nurseries’ concept. All their seedlings are packaged in either recycled newspaper or biodegradable pots. You’ll find them in supermarkets and Bunnings nationwide, or you can easily order online (see their website here).

In the meantime, enter the draw to win. Click through to Sweet Living for your chance to win.

Summer posy



A quick summer posy. Virtually anything looks good in a vase with daisies or roses – and a posy of both looks divine. So country chic.

Plant Now: Pansies

I love pansies. Not so much the bright colours, but the soft pinks, mauves, reds and maroons. There are some some yellow bicoloured ones that do look spectacular though in the winter garden.

It’s a good time to sow pansy seeds for late autumn/winter colour. Sow seeds in trays and transplant when big enough. Plant in a partly shaded position in areas with warm winters and full sun in cold spots, in moist soil that has both compost and blood and bone dug in.

Before blooming, give plants a top dressing of four parts blood and bone and one part sulphate of potash.

Plant Now: Balloon flower


There are lots of these balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus) in stores now, so grab a couple for all-summer colour. These perennial plants are neat; their balloon-like buds open to star-shaped flowers of purple, pink or white. They flower from early summer and continue to open right throughout the season. You can pick them for the vase, too. Pick when the first bud on the stem opens. They’ll last about a week in the vase.

Get them at your local garden centre and plant in full sun in moist but free-draining soil.

Sweet Living Issue 9


Take a squiz at the latest issue of my FREE online magazine – Sweet Living. As usual, it’s full of crafty DIYs, delicious baking, home decorating and hints on backyard sustainability. Let me know what you think.

Click here to read it for free.

Build a strawberry tower + giveaway


My dad and I built this nifty strawberry tower, which is brilliant, if I say so myself. It’s so good for small gardens, and accommodates quite a few strawberry plants.

To find out how to make it, plus to go in the draw to win a bag of Daltons Easy Lift Potting Mix (it’s truly remarkable stuff), click through to my other website, Sweet Living, here.

Good luck!