Plant now: Cosmos


The annual cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) is the perfect summer plant. It’s easy to grow and its showy flowers can be picked by the armload for the vase. Keep deadheading your plants and they’ll happily flower right through until the first frosts.

Cosmo likes full sun and free-draining but adequately moist soil (not overly so). If it’s hot and humid, give them a little more or they’ll slow down. They might slow down anyway when the days are long (when day lengths are greater than 14 hours flower development is delayed), but they will pick up again.

You can still sow seeds, or buy seedlings or potted colour from your local garden retailer.

Image credits: Top flowers are by Chihiro Kubota; second image down is by Flower Society; the third bouquet is by Jade McIntosh Flowers and photographed by Curly Leaf Photography.

Free Sleep Well Workshop


You may not know this about me, but I’m a certified sleep science coach (among other things).

So…. can’t sleep? If you live in Auckland, join me at my next workshop (7th February, 7.15pm – 9pm) to find out just why you can’t sleep – and what to do about it. It’s FREE! Spaces are limited, though, so you will need to contact me to make sure there’s a seat for you.

Here’s the official blurb:

CAN’T SLEEP? Find out why and what to do about it, from a Certified Sleep Science Coach.

* The science of sleep
* How your morning routine sets you up for a good night’s sleep
* The most important nutrients and foods to achieve deep sleep
* Why hormones wreak havoc with women’s sleep and what to do about it
* How to stop a racing mind and night-time anxiety
* Strategies to achieve uninterrupted, deep sleep

FREE workshop – but BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL as SEATING is LIMITED. Email me here to reserve your seat.

Where? Highbury House, 110 Hinemoa St, Birkenhead, Auckland
When?  7th February, 2018
Time?   7.15pm – 9pm

Favourite bloom

Dahlia favourite

What’s your favourite flower in the garden right now? Mine is this beauty – a rather seductive dahlia. I know you are going to ask me the name of it, but sadly I don’t know. But it’s gorgeous, right?

Beautiful summer roses

red david austin roses carolyn parkerPink rose bouquet and archgertrude jekyll rose carlyn parkerbeautiful peach wedding bouquetBride with wedding bouquet. Pink roses and astrantias.
Ooh, I love rose time. My Souvenir de mme Leonie Viennot literally smothers my picket fence at the front of my house at this time of the year. In fact, I’ll have to cut it back quite a bit this season because it’s actually pushing the fence over! The rose has been there for years (I planted it when I first got here) and it flowers freely each year for most of the year, with its peak in November (late spring) and early December, depending on the weather. But there is always a good smattering of roses after a good dollop of rain at any time of the year.

Another favourite is Gertrude Jekyll (third image from top, by Carolyn Parker), though the David Austin reds are also divine (top image, also by Carolyn Parker). Pictured are Tradescant, in the centre, Falstaff above that, and The Prince below.

I enjoy mixing rose colours too, as in these wedding bouquets.

Make sure you keep your roses well watered this summer. A parched rose will attract bugs and make it more susceptible, in its weakened state, to disease.

GARDENA giveaway!

GARDENA Gardening Tool KitGARDENA Terrace Hose Box 10mUnleash your passion for gardening with this fantastic prize, brought to you by GARDENA.

We have one prize pack, which includes a GARDENA Terrace Hose Box and a Gardening Tool Kit, valued at $198.99, to give away.

Small, lightweight and easy to transport, the GARDENA Terrace Hose Box can be neatly stored, making it perfect for irrigation in small gardens and terraces, as well as camping or other leisure activities.

The GARDENA Gardening Tool Kit is the perfect set for all Kiwi gardeners. The kit includes a trowel, a grubber, secateurs and a hand brush, all in a spacious box, perfect for any additional utensils. The clever European design even includes a lid that doubles as a dust pan!

For more gardening inspiration, visit

To go in the draw to win, simply CLICK HERE to email our Flaming Petal competition inbox and tell us why you’d love to win.


The competition winner was Jocelyn Gee. Congratulations Jocelyn!

Guess the flower


Let’s play a game. Can you guess the name of the pink, bell-shaped, pendent flowers? Post a comment below if you can.

Bring on the spring flowers


Tulips and roses are looking good right now.

What’s blooming in your patch?

A show of ranunculus


Did you plant ranunculus this year? They may well be flowering now, depending on when you planted them; if not, they will be soon.

For inspiration, look at this gorgeous bouquet with deep burgundy-wine ranunculus (top) created by Sarah Winward and photographed by Kate Osborne, two very talented ladies.

No flowers? No problem. Use foliage

It’s winter downunder, which may mean there’s a lack of flowers in your garden. No problem. Pick foliage instead. You can make surprisingly good-looking displays using foliage alone.

For the biggest impact, select a range of leaves with contrasting shapes, colours and textures.

Plant Now: Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

Missing your fresh, summer annual herbs? No problem. Plant some winter-hardy perennial stalwarts instead. Thyme, sage and rosemary are all tough herbs that will survive the winter gloom. And they’re not only delicious sprinkled onto winter roast meats or as the star ingredient in recipes such as sage gnocchi (make your favourite parmesan gnocchi recipe and add copious amounts of chopped sage – yum!), they look fab in a vase too. And they’re medicinal!

The gorgeous bouquet immediately above (fourth from the top) features thyme, rosemary, lavender and Geraldton wax flower, among other flowers, but it’s the herbs that give it its delicious perfume. The second image from the top features sage and lavender, and the third photo has sprigs of rosemary. Pick herbs and mingle them with flowers for an aromatic display indoors.

Medicinally, thyme and sage are excellent herbs to have on hand for combating colds. Both have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help soothe sore throats. A simple herb tea can be drunk throughout the day or gargled with at the first sign of a sore throat. Infuse a handful of fresh sage and/or thyme leaves in boiling water for 8-10 minutes. (Note: sage should not be taken if pregnant or breast-feeding.)

Or make a thyme syrup.

  • Steep ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves in 300ml boiled water, covered, for 15 minutes. Strain out the leaves and add ¼ cup honey and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Store in the fridge and keep no longer than a week.
  • For children 1 year or older, give 1-2 teaspoons every 2-3 hours. Teens and adults can take 1-2 tablespoons at a time.

Growing thyme
Thyme likes a sunny spot in free-draining soil. It doesn’t like wet feet, so add pumice or horticultural grit to improve drainage if required. If planting in pots, use a potting mix that’s low in nutrients. Rich soil encourages softer growth and diminishes flavour. Plants in the garden also have low fertiliser requirements. Drought and cold hardy.

Growing sage
Sage likes full sun and a limey soil (add some lime to your soil if necessary) that’s on the dry side. Soil does not need to be highly fertile. This plant is drought and frost resistant.

Photo credit: Second photo from top is from Real Maine Weddings.