Thursday, July 29, 2010

Holiday Gardentimes - Part 2 The Inside Goodness of Kew Gardens

In my last holiday post I wrote about the beauty of the outside parts of Kew Gardens, along with my encounters with its feathery animal kind. I visited each of the conservatories hoping to find an example of a vanilla pod vine. Alas I didn't manage to find this illusive greenery but I found so many other wonders.

There were floral wonders (and of course the obligatory shot of a fuschia)

Pond inhabiting and surrounding beauties

Cacti and Succulents which would never otherwise survive the UK climate

And edibles - ok this was inside the Orangery, but it was just as great as any of the conservatory items above (it was a smoked salmon sandwich with a 'side' of artichoke, tomato and greens salad, totally yum)

What a lovely day!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Snow Pea Pleas

I'm not sure if my neighbour caught me, but I spent a great part of the early morning pleading with the snowpeas. The are an impressive height, growing on a much better trellis than last year (see this post for how not to trellis snow peas) and they are green with tendrils grasping in every direction. What they lack though, is kind of fundamental, they have not flowered and thus have not produced any edibles. While the dwarf snow peas are going great guns and have kept me in green stir fry bliss, these mammoth melting peas from last year are next to useless. While the snails have munched away at them they remain yet to produce human food (unless you count sprouts, which I don't unless I'm in the mood for making salad and being a hypocrite.)

What is the go here mr snow pea? Too much nitrogen? (your smaller bushier brothers seem to cope just fine) Dodgy seed? (but you germinated) Soil depth too low? (you survived harsher conditions last year) Is the balcony garden just playing silly tricks on me? Well it better start producing soon, or it's getting ripped out to make way for, well, not sure what I can plant at this time of the year, probably more snow peas!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Harvest Monday

If you want to see lush Summer harvests, with bowls upon bowls of glistening tomatoes, yards of drying chillis and plenty of zucchini, then this isn't the harvest post for you (for plenty of posts in that manner head on over to Daphne's Dandelions for the rest of harvest Monday.) This is a Winter harvest post, though it is not as barren as one might think. The balcony garden is brimming with the greener side of the vegetable patch and some very well timed citrus. We have lettuce in hanging baskets (with a primrose stuck in the middle)

Baby coriander amongst the garlic (needing to be culled to help give the garlic a chance)

Lemons, four infact, two of which are still on the tree and one which went into this lovey slow cooked roast lamb dish (5 hours in the over, with lemon, garlic and some water in the pan, delicious)

The other lemon went to the fruit bowl, to be with his kind. Note the wonders of apartment living mean the fruit bowl and the powercords are very close friends.

Lunar white carrots, which generally grow more slowly, are the only ones reaching a decent size at the moment. I harvest one or two a day for salads. Wonder what happened to the purple haze and purple dragon carrots which are miniature in comparison.

Silverbeet that isn't silver gets added to stirfries and soups and more each day.

Not bad for a cold, wet, Wintery Melbourne. :) Veggie dinner anyone???

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Meet Mr Fig Twig

Here is the newest addition to the balcony garden tree family. Ok it is a bit hard to call him a tree, or a sapling, or even, well, anything other than a twig, but he is Mr Fig Twig and he joined the garden shortly before I went overseas. Lovely friend Miss M and her man gave the fig twig to me for my 30th birthday. This was because I kept going on and on and on about how I wanted to buy a fig, oh how wonderful it would be to have a fig, a fig a fig my kingdom for a fig, and so forth, but never really got around to purchasing one. Ironically the day I recieved this lovely gift I had vowed to drive to the nursery to buy a fig, but was stopped by cold weather and an overwhelming desire to sleep in. Fortuitous methinks.

At the time I didn't have a pot for him, or potting mix, so in his dormant state I popped him in with the last of the yellow carrots. He seems to have survived. In a couple of weekend's time he will go into his new home, a larger pot all to himself. This of course wont be his final resting place, figs grow quickly so in a couple of years time I will have to invest in a decently sized pot. But until then he can just chat with the carrots.

Anyone else grow figs in pots? If so any tips?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Holiday Gardentimes - part 1 Kew Garden Wanderings

While my weekend was smilingly wonderful, including a sweet farewell to an old home, Monday proved to be woefully dismal and today was no better. From missing a funeral due to getting absolutely lost, to policy decisions enacted from on high that will grossly affect the quality of my education, these were a couple of days I might wish to erase from memory. However, to put a positive spin on the latter stages of today I thought it a good time to start my holiday garden posts. This first one will highlight my adventures in Kew Gardens. So many lovely photos taken here, and so little time to include them all. But I will do my best ...

Kew Gardens, where do I start? Despite living 20 minutes walk from here in 2004 I never managed to visit it. This was pre-garden obsession I guess and Richmond park or the pub was closer. Upon returning to London in 2010 it was the first and virtually only thing on my itinerary (apart from the conference.) I spent an entire day here soaking up the sights, getting mildly sunburned and taking many photos. The old camera wouldn't have coped,but to the new camera a hundred or so photos was merely a blip on the radar of the memorycard.

This post will focus on the outside highlights of the day (and as usual I have vitually no idea what half of them were, they were just visually spectacular at the time.) The next post will delve inside the conservatories (where I took most of my shots) and will detail my illusive search for the vanilla plant. But for now, here's the outside floral gems:

Apart from the floral life there is also the wild life. I sat down to have a drink of water on a seat near the lake, and chatted with a few of the ducks

and this fellow with big feet

and the swans

and then I turned to my right, only to be confronted by an up close and almost personal encounter with this peacock.

There is also the statuesque wild life

Next holiday post I will show the photos from inside the conservatories, environments so diverse and wonderful. Plus each time I went inside it was so hot that venturing outside into the 30 degree heat was a welcome relief.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Harvest Monday

I do wonder where my old camera went, and with it the pictures of my long lost harvest. Still it is another week and another harvest and even in my jetlagged-then-food-poisoned state I have managed to pull a thing or two out of the balcony garden. Snow peas are blooming and setting (though it seems too cold for some) but overall broccoli is the main contender. I'll be harvesting more in an hour or two for tonight's slow roast lamb dinner (which was slated to be last night but I was struck down by bad things in my breakfast and not sure where the rest of yesterday went.)

Carrots are also getting added to each meal. They are smaller in size than last time, though still delicious.

Lettuce and silverbeet are plentiful too.

So a Winter balcony garden in Melbourne is definitely a green balcony garden but check out who will be featuring in next week's harvest Monday (probably because I harvested one this morning but forgot to take a photo of it.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Back at it with Garden Bloggers Blooms Day

Back to Australia, back to the Balcony Garden and back to blogging about it - all with the aid of my lovely new digital camera. No more really blurry photos. I am quite jetlagged, and have only just been reunited with my luggage (thanks Emirates, losing my luggage was the icing on the cake of your bad service) but it meant I could finally upload my photos and begin blogging again.

I have plenty of posts planned. Turns out most of my photographs overseas were of gardens with a few monuments and other bits thrown in. I will post about my adventures in Kew Gardens, Hampton Court Palace, the streets of Brighton, Hanging Baskets in Vienna, floralness in Budapest, Bratislava and beyond and more. But what better way to begin blogging with Garden Bloggers Blooms Day. It may be Mid-Winter back here in Australia but the balcony garden still has some flowery goodness to offer.

The Cornflowers are of course going very strong. Though notice some are changing colour. The first photo is of the black cornflower with two different coloured flowers on the same plant. This is not due to tricks of the light, this plant really is beginning to send out flowers in various shades of dark purple.

Alas much of the broccoli went to flower while I was away. I salvaged plenty and will show it in Monday's harvest post, but I just feel bad that housesitter E did not get to taste this magical stuff.

I did find a use for some of them - I added them to a rogue sunflower and they're currently in a vase inside. Lovely yellows and reds and oranges to brighten up my Winter house.

Hardy Geraniums penetrate the crisp air with their beautiful red petals.

The succulent is flowering, with reddish flowers that the aphids seem to love (how are they surviving Winter???)

Sunflowers still hanging in there. The whole plants look pretty wrecked but the flowers are wonderful.

Violas are winding their way up the snowpeas and broccoli. Some are a bit frost bitten but still there.

Snapdragons again looking radiant, and I am still not sure how they are still surviving.

What better way to begin blogging again. Sorry about the hiatus but I will be back and writing and exploring everyone elses blog from now on.