Plant Now: Obedient Plant

Physostegia virginiana, aka obedient plant, is grown for its tubular white or pink to lavender flowers. The flowers grow on tall stems and are long-lasting, making them ideal for the vase. In bloom from summer to autumn, physostegias prefer average, moist soil, though they are tolerant of some drought.

I can’t say I see these plants at garden centres that often, but if you google you’ll find several online nurseries that have them.

Photo credits: The top image is via  Growing Colors, the middle image is via Prairie Nursery.

Sweet Living Weddings

Yippee! I’ve finally finished my online weddings magazine, Sweet Living Weddings. It’s massive  - 180 pages worth of crafts, DIYs and tutorials for a glamorous handmade wedding. It features lots of beautiful flowers, with instructions on how to make your own floral head wreath, boutonnieres and bouquets. Plus there are cake decorating tutorials, reception styling tips, jewellery and accessory DIY projects, hair and beauty tips, and lots of real weddings inspiration.  Take a sneak peak of the magazine here.

Plant Now: Dahlias

Dahlias, with their vibrant  blooms and tall stems, are ideal for picking. And if you don’t like red ones, there’s a white or pink one, yellow or orange one, or salmon, cream or greenish one that will suit you. Their flowers come in all colours and different forms, including Cactus (with double blooms and narrow petals that are rolled or straight, incurved or recurved, giving them a spiky appearance – like the middle photo above), Decorative (double blooms showing no central disc), Pompom and Ball (an obvious pompom shape with no central disc, like the bottom photo), Anemone (with small petals in the centre with larger petals surrounding those), Waterlily, Peony, and a few others. There are literally thousands of hybrids to choose, and all are easy to grow.

Plant your dahlias in a sunny spot in free-draining soil. Dahlias don’t dig too deep, so plant them in a spot that’s sheltered from wind. Staking is generally advised, but if you grow a lot, like I do, stakes just look hideous. Best to plant them in a wind-free garden if you grow several. Dig in plenty of compost before planting and add a balanced fertiliser. Avoid using fresh manure or compost that hasn’t quite broken down as these can cause excessive soft growth which is susceptible to mildews and stem rot.

Read more about growing dahlias here

The beautiful top image comes from Tec Petaja

Plant now: Gypsophila or baby’s breath


It’s time to plant another round of gypsophila. These days I couldn’t do without this plant – it’s so on trend. One large vase full of these dainty looking blooms is simply gorgeous. You may find Gypsophila elegans seedlings in garden centres if you’re lucky, otherwise you can get seeds from Trade Me or Gstuff. Egmont Seeds has a pink version, Gypsophila muralis ‘Gypsy Pink’, and GardenPost has the pink Gypsophila elegans ‘Deep Carmine’. I’m currently growing the latter, which is lovely. These are all annuals. If you want a perennial type, look for Gypsophila paniculata varieties, such as ‘Virgo’ from King Seeds.

In the garden, apply a tomato fertiliser when the flower stalks emerge and keep plants well watered.

Pale blue hydrangea

I LOVE this bouquet with its pale blue hydrangeas against soft whites, creams and pale greys. It looks to me like the double hydrangea ‘Forever’ from the You-Me series. These hydrangeas are intriguing. When the flowers first open the plant looks a lot like the lace cap-type hydrangea. But as the flowers continue to open, the large double flowers completely cover the stem, creating a full mop-top of colour.

The other flowers in this bouquet include roses, cosmos, ranunculus and the button-like silver flowers of brunia.

Created by and images via Jardine Botanic Floral Styling.

Plant Now: Sunflowers




Get your sunny blooms off to a good start now by sowing seeds either directly in the garden or in trays for transplanting later.

Sunflowers come in all sizes (dwarf to gigantic) and varying colours, from vibrant yellows and oranges to deeper shades of brown and red. Plant them in a sunny spot in fertile soil and provide them with good moisture. Lack of soil fertility and moisture will reduce the vigour of your plants.

Sunflowers actually grow according to the space you give them. Cramped plants will produce smaller heads and thinner stalks, so if you want reasonable sized flowers, provide reasonable space between each plant. If you want to grow the tallest sunflowers in your neighbourhood, sow the seeds directly into the soil. They will grow taller when sown directly as opposed to transplanting.

DIY: Build your own potting bench


Diy potting bench

Need somewhere to pot up plants, sow seeds or simply potter about? Build your own sturdy workbench with these step-by-step instructions. Here’s one of my DIY projects that recently featured in New Zealand Gardener magazine. Click on the link below to download a PDF of photos and step-by-step instructions. And if you do build one for yourself, why not send us your photos for others to see? You could also add something like a corner sink so that your bench would be extra usable. No more running around to grab the hose when you’re transplanting new plants!

Download PDF instructions for potting bench

Boxed flowers

I have a thing for old wooden boxes at the moment. They make excellent vases – at least, they do if you put a waterproof container inside the box to hold the flowers. In this case, you need a rectangle-shaped container. Add some floral foam, or scrunched up chicken wire, and insert your flower stems. Easy.

Win tickets!

Are you going to the Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular this year?

The annual festival showcases some of New Zealand’s most spectacular private and public gardens. This year it runs from October 31 to November 9 and features beautiful gardens (7 new ones this year), guest speakers, art and fashion displays and specialty tours. See more at Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular’s website. The top image above will be part of a photo exhibition of flower macro-photography by Tara Jahn-Werner  (to be held at Hollard Gardens). The second image is the Armstrong garden.

Would you like to win tickets?

I have 2 sets of 5 tickets to give away. So that’s two winners, receiving 5 tickets each. Each ticket has a value of $4, which will admit you to one garden.

To enter the draw to win a set… [Read more...]

Plant now: Cornflowers

Cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) are beautiful annuals with tall stems (up to 1m high) and long-lasting flowers that are great for picking. They’ll grow pretty much anywhere in sun, in poor or fertile soil. A true blue beauty (or purple, pink or lilac), plants are quick growing and prolific flowering. They often grow as wildflowers in Europe – in fact, it was here that they got their common name, found growing wild in corn and grain fields.

Sow seeds in trays, or sow them directly in spring when the soil is warm. Seedlings can also be obtained from garden centres.