Plant Now: Hellebores

Hellebores are in flower now so it’s a great time to pick out a variety you like. These are hardy perennials, able to subsist through cool, frost-laden winters and harsh environments. The flowers appear between July and October in the southern hemisphere, and if you choose your plants carefully, you can have a whole carnival of colours. I like the deep purples, though the white ones are just as gorgeous. Just look at the close-up image, above.

Some hellebores have plain green leaves, some have blue-tinged ones, some have speckled or blotchy leaves. These make for a handsome planting in the garden too. The deeply divided leaves of Helleborus foetidus look spectacular mass-planted.

Plant your hellebores in partial shade in deep, fertile soil that has had plenty of organic matter dug in. Soil must be free-draining. Do not overwater them. Overly dry hellebores are likely to survive, overwatered ones will not.

Plants are available from garden centres.

Top photo (bouquet) is from Once Wed.



Getting married, or know someone who is? In the wedding business? Then follow me on Facebook.

I’ve started a new Facebook page: Sweet Living Magazine Weddings. I’m putting together a new online weddings magazine (in flipbook magazine style), which will be out late August. Please click through and ‘like’ me. :)

I’ll be adding lots of images regularly, plus offering giveaways. Plus, of course, there’s the magazine, out soon.

Plant Now: Hollyhocks

Hollyhock (Althaea) seedlings can be planted now for a late spring to summer showing. At least, that’s for annuals. Perennial hollyhocks may not flower until the following year. Head to your local garden centre and pick out some potted seedlings. If you wait until summer, when they are fully grown, you’ll be paying a fortune. I guess someone’s got to make a living.

Position your seedlings 45cm apart in full sun in well-drained soil. They need a decent amount of space for air circulation as rust is a common disease among hollyhocks.

Top image via BHG

Bottom image by Connie

Come hear me talk about herbs


Do you want to learn how to make your own herbal face creams and lotions, or perfumes? Do you want to make your own simple herbal remedies for health problems? Do you want recipes for using stevia, the sugar herb (use it in place of sugar)? Want to make your own natural cleaners?

Come listen to me speak! 

Learn how to grow herbs year round for culinarymedicinal and cosmetic purposes. Whether you have a large garden or a tiny potted one, find out how simple it is to grow herbs year round.

All attendants receive a FREE handout with food recipes, recipes for cleaning solutions, DIY perfumes, and herbal creams and lotions.

Click here for more information and to book your space

Herbs in bouquets

Don’t you love herbs in bouquets? Aside from the pretty flowers and textured foliage, the scent they emit is scrumdiddlyumptious (now there’s a grand word). The wedding bouquet above features rosemary and sage leaves (yummy fragrance), hypericum berries (from the St John’s wort plant) and a white lily of sorts. I can imagine prancing down the aisle with this, leaving a delicious scent in my wake.

Then there’s lavender. What can you say about lavender? It’s divine. Plant it in the garden, pick it for the vase and use it in cooking. Try lavender scones. Then serve a fresh pot of mint tea to go with them.

More on how to grow lavender


Plant Now: Sweet mignonette

Sweet or common mignonette (Reseda odorata) is an old-fashioned annual that’s ideal for fresh or dried flower arrangements. It has an intensely spicy scent – just delicious – with greenish-white flowers throughout summer and autumn.

Plants like a moist, rich soil and some afternoon shade in hot spots. Sow seeds in trays for transplanting later. In cooler areas, wait until late winter for sowing. Seeds are available from GardenPost.

The mignonette and carnations print is from the Boston Public Library.


I spied some gardenias in my local garden centre this weekend, with their beautifully pristine flower heads and gorgeous scent. If the fragrance of flowers could be measured by a scentometer, gardenias would career off the charts. The perfume is intoxicating, a sultry mix of jasmine and bubblegum with a soft fruity note.

Gardenias are a much-loved garden plant but they have a reputation for being difficult to grow. That might be because they’re prone to yellowing leaves, or chlorosis as it’s called, which is caused by lack of chlorophyll. Why that happens could be any number of reasons, including poor drainage, damaged roots, high alkaline soils (gardenias like an acidic soil), wet or cold conditions, or nutrient deficiencies. Iron and magnesium deficiencies are the most common, but you need to look closely at the leaves to determine which deficiency your plant has. [Read more...]

Plant Now: Delphiniums

Delphiniums are hardy perennials that tolerate cold weather and frosts. In fact, they will stand and even benefit from winter freezing. The plants themselves last much longer in cooler areas. They might last in Auckland, NZ, for an average of 3 years for example. In Queensland, Australia, you may only get a year out of them. But if we’re talking somewhere like Alaska, where the ground is frozen for 5-6 months of the year, they could last 25-30 years.

In the southern hemisphere, delphiniums can be sown in trays now for transplanting later. Typically the end of June is when sowing stops in NZ, though you could squeeze out another week. If you are buying plants, they can be planted from late July through to Labour Weekend. Plant in free-draining soil in full sun.

Depending on where you are in the country, delphiniums flower from mid-October through to June, providing two or three flushes per season. For a new plant that has its peak flowering in December, you could expect to get another flush of regrowth in February or March. In warmer parts of the country, you’ll also get another flush in mid-June.

The beautiful image in the middle comes from here.

The image directly below it shows alliums and delphiniums.

Berry bouquet

At my floral design workshops at HANDMADE over Queen’s Birthday Weekend a participant brought along some gorgeous red berries. Berries are the perfect pick-me-up for winter colour, and can be used on their own or with a mix of flowers and foliage.

This winter bouquet, which features over at Style Me Pretty, contains just berries and foliage and it looks absolutely striking. I love the burlap and fur wrap too.

Look in your own garden for berries to use, such as those from the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), pyracantha, and Chinese beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma).

Plant Now: Pansies


Head down to your local garden centre and pick up some potted colour for the winter months. Pansies are my favourite, though you’ll find polyanthus, primulas and calendulas too.

Pansies are a cheerful addition to the winter garden and make pretty posies for indoors. You’ll find them in all colours – from soft pastels to vibrant hues, such as reds, oranges and yellows. Plant seedlings or potted colour in moist, fertile soil in full sun or partial shade.

Pansies, polyanthus and primulas all like humus-rich soil, so dig in plenty of compost or leaf mould at planting time.