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.

Orchids in bouquets

cymbidium bouquet
Are your cymbidium orchids in flower yet? Mine are nearly so – just a few more days before they open. They are late this year, though I did move them into a different spot than previous years.

I’ve been working on a weddings magazine these past few weeks, with incredibly gorgeous blooms everywhere. Here’s one of the bouquets and buttonholes, both of which feature cymbidiums.

Cymbidiums are so long lasting they are ideal for bouquets or the vase. Though you can also bring your potted plant indoors once it’s in bloom and use it as a table centrepiece. Once it’s finished flowering, shove it back outdoors.

Read more about growing and caring for cymbidiums


Plant Now: Astrantias


Astrantia major is a clump-forming perennial with pincushion-type flowers in summer. The flowers may be pink, white, or greeny-white, with stems reaching 60cm high. They make excellent cut flowers, lasting for some time in the vase.

Astrantias prefer areas where the nights are cool, so they may not grow so well in warmer spots. You don’t usually find seeds either, because they are difficult to start. Buy plants from your local garden centre or online nurseries and plant in a partially shaded spot. Soil should be reasonably moist (not wet) with plenty of humus. Dig in a good helping of compost before planting.

Flowering will be better in its second year.

Top image from Lucy Says I Do

Plant Now: Dianthus

Dianthus bouquetDianthus-romancedianthus_brighteyes
If you like your dianthus, now’s a good time to plant one. Head to your local garden centre, because there are a couple of new kids on the block.

Pictured above (middle image) is Dianthus ‘Romance’, with its pretty salmon-coloured blooms that are slightly darker in the centre. The double flowers have a gorgeous spicy scent, something akin to the perfume Opium – one of my favourites!

Or you could try Dianthus ‘Bright Eyes’ (bottom image), which has white blooms and a burgundy centre – and an equally delicious scent.

The top image, from Peony White, shows just how gorgeous dianthus are in bouquets.

Read more about growing dianthus here.