We haven’t had too many days this winter that have been cheerless and grey, with rain and wind, the sort of day when all you want to do is stay inside and hibernate. More often the days have been calm and still, with some frosty mornings that are always followed by glorious sunshine, and it is on those days that I love to spend time in the garden, enjoying the beautiful winter colours.
Calendulas among the carrots, brightening up the veggie patch.
Orange and grapefruit trees laden with fruit.
Pots of dianthus.
The beautiful camellia in the abandoned garden next door.
The Peace Lily in our living room, illuminated by early morning sunshine.
For this page in my art journal, I collaged on some scraps of paper and teabags, applied texture with gesso, stencils, and lace, and painted the background in wintery hues. I then painted the colours of my garden: the starkness of the maple tree without its leaves, the red berries on the holly tree, the bright orange citrus, and the beautiful winter flowers. Lastly I added a few pressed flowers of the pansies and violas that flower throughout the winter.
In celebration of Earth Day I’d like to shine a light on the tiny creatures that are so vital to our very existence – wild bees, honeybees, and bumblebees. Sadly, worldwide bee populations are in decline, which is why we need to protect them and encourage them into our gardens. We can make our gardens bee friendly by planting flowers with open petals, planting colourful flowers with lots of blues and purples and yellows, providing a source of water so the bees don’t get dehydrated, planting native plants, and creating nesting habitats for them.
A few of the plants that bees love include alyssum, daisies, asters, bergamot bee balm, lavender, rosemary, cosmos, echinacea, borage, anise hyssop, and salvia.
These are a few of the beautiful bees and bumblebees that have visited our garden over the summer.
I painted this canvas of a furry bumblebee for my dear friend, Erica, who has just retired and is looking forward to having more time to spend with nature in her lovely garden.
Here are a few more pages from my floriography book.
I found this little forget-me-not poem in one of the old books of poetry I picked up for a dollar from the school book fair, and thought it was perfect for adding to my page with forget-me-nots from my garden.
This is a page that I did in my art journal a while ago.
I have collected a few books over the years on ‘The Language of Flowers’ and find it interesting that most of the flower meanings have remained consistent over time, their interpretations drawn from myth and history. However, there are a few that differ from book to book. It would be interesting to get hold of an original one from the Victorian era to compare with the modern books.
I love that Olive Dunn, in her book ‘Delights of Floral Language,’ has started her own floral language list with no sinister meanings, as she found some of the meanings repellent in the old books.
I believe that flowers speak to us with their colour, beauty, uniqueness, and their life force, touching each of us in different ways. I think that all flowers are beautiful, but I know that, for me, certain flowers evoke a particular emotion or bring to mind certain words. I am drawn to them by their colour, associations, or folklore, and the joy that they add to my life. I’m sure that if each of us were to compile our own personal ‘language of flowers’ list, they might make for some interesting reading and comparisons!
As we head towards the end of summer, here in New Zealand, the days are still hot, but we are expecting a cool change this weekend with some much needed rain, which the garden will be grateful for. The air is loud with the sound of cicadas during the day and long into the night, a regular hallmark of summer. There is something comforting about going to bed in the summertime and listening to the chorus of cicadas through the open window. Pretty monarch butterflies continue to visit the garden. They can often be seen fluttering around the echinaceas, and the oleander tree outside our living room window.
In the garden, many of the summer annuals are past their best, but the hardy echinaceas are still making an impressive display of colour in the back garden, while, out the front, the dahlias and marigolds continue to bloom.
Our vegetable garden has produced a bountiful crop of tomatoes this year. It is the best season we have had for growing tomatoes in quite a few years. Our one zucchini plant has provided us with a constant supply throughout the summer and we have enjoyed using them in muffins, fritters, pasta sauce, salads, and zucchini slice. We have a few beetroot left in the garden, as well as some carrots, cut and come again lettuce, kale, chard, and spring onions. We are even still picking a few strawberries.
With some of the beds now empty, I have been planning the autumn and winter garden. We are lucky to be able to grow lettuce, carrots, kale, chard and spring onions year round in our climate. I have seeded a new bed of carrots and am growing some red onion seeds to be planted out in the autumn. I haven’t tried growing onions before, so it will be interesting to see how they do. We have dug up the last of our Agria potatoes. Unfortunately we don’t have space to grow enough for storing, but we have enjoyed eating freshly dug potatoes over the past month.
The artwork in my garden journal is by Hannah Dale. It is an English book and includes wildlife that we don’t have in New Zealand, but I think her paintings are just beautiful.
Other tasks in the garden this month have included saving seed and drying herbs.
Below is a recipe for zucchini muffins that I have made often over the summer. They are nice to take to work for lunches or to pack for picnics.
Savoury Zucchini Muffins
1 cup milk
¼ cup olive oil
250g unpeeled zucchini, grated (1 average sized zucchini)
1 large or 2 small spring onions, chopped
½ red capsicum, chopped
1 cup grated goat’s cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cups plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
salt & black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush a 12 hole muffin tin with a little oil.
Whisk together the eggs and milk. Stir in the olive oil. Squeeze the moisture from the grated zucchini and add to the mixture, along with the spring onions, capsicum, cheese, and parsley. Stir to combine. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Add salt and pepper and mix to combine.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow the muffins to cool slightly before removing them from the tin. Eat warm, or cool on a wire rack and enjoy cold.
Happy gardening and harvesting wherever you are in the world!
I have always been fascinated by floriography or language of flowers, in which a list of meanings was given to flowers to convey sentimental thoughts or secret messages to the recipient of the bouquet. This was especially popular in Victorian England and was used a lot on greeting cards during that era and for some time afterwards.
I have begun to make my own little book of floriography using pressed flowers from my garden, but have decided to use only the flowers that have nice sentiments attributed to them rather than those whose meanings detract from the beauty of the flower, such as begonia – dark thoughts, foxglove – insincerity, or lavender – distrust. I want my book to be a little garden of happiness and serenity.
I am using a spiral-bound mixed-media book to allow plenty of room between the pages for bulky embellishments.
These are the first of my pages…
A little arrangement on my work table of leftovers.