Dahlia’s Ain’t Dowdy – how to grow beautiful dahlias

Dahlia’s certainly ain’t dowdy! In fact this old-fashioned beauty is making one serious comeback – this diverse group of plants comes in a stunning mix of shades from white and yellows to reds, oranges, pinks and purples and almost black! Even specky bicolour varieties and an array of flower shapes from single varieties that attract the bees, too fancy doubles in every design. You’ll find tall varieties and dwarf types that reach your knees.

You can grow dahlias from tubers which are planted sometime between late winter and spring or through the warmer months you can get them potted like this. Now dahlias like to bask in the sun and they do best in a moist well-drained soil, they also like protection from strong winds particularly the taller varieties.

Dahlias are one of those invaluable plants that burst into bloom in the summer and continue flowing right through until autumn, when a lot of that colour has dropped off. In fact if conditions are right you can get flowers on dahlias right up to a Mother’s Day! So they combined beautifully with other late flowering stars in the perennial border.

When the flowers start to fade just deadhead them to encourage more blooms – simply cut the faded stem back to a pair of leaves to keep the plant looking good. Or better yet harvest the flowers when they’re at their peak and bring them indoors for vases of spectacular colour!

Natural Dyed Easter Eggs with a botanical twist

How to create your own natural vegetable dyes….

HINT – these dyes work best on white or very pale coloured eggs. Hard boil the eggs (and allow them to cool) BEFORE colouring them.

Natural Beetroot Dye for Easter Eggs 
(will make eggs a purple colour)

– 2 cups of grated beetroot
– 2 cups of water
– tablespoon of vinegar

Simmer the grated beetroot in the water for 15-20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool and strain off the beetroot. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to the cooled, strained dye and set aside until needed.

 

Natural Purple Cabbage Dye for Easter Eggs
(will make eggs a blue colour)

– half a purple cabbage, finely chopped
– enough water to barely cover it in a small pot
– 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of liquid after simering

Simmer the chopped cabbage in enough water to barely cover it for 15-30 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool and strain off the cabbage. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar for each cup of dyed liquid left.

Natural Brown Onion Skin Dye for Easter Eggs
(will make eggs a golden/bronze colour)

– brown onion skins from 6-10 onions
– enough water to barely cover them in a small pot.
– 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of liquid after simmering

Simmer the onion skins in water for 15-30 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, before straining off the onion skins. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar for each cup of dyed liquid left.

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Now to add the botanical twist! Before placing the eggs in the natural vegetable dyes, use a stocking or pantyhose to hold a leaf or flower against each egg.

Then pop the eggs into your choosen dye and leave them to soak up the dye overnight.

Remove from the dye, take off the stocking or pantyhose and the leaf or flower and allow them to air dry on a rack. Once they are dry – add a nice shine to each egg by gently rubbing over some olive oil.

And tah dah you’re done! Use these beauties to decorate your Easter table.

Fig, Goats Curd & Macadamia Salad

Introducing EJ Butler – our gorgeous new Guest Gardenette!

In this video EJ whips up her beautiful Fig, Goats Curd & Macadamia Nut Salad. This fig salad is a great way to celebrate figs and the dressing using WHOLE FIGS to make it rich and creamy is genius! This dressing would be just as amazing on many salads too.

For a downloadable copy of EJ’s full recipe click here 

Fig, Goats Curd and Macadamia Salad

Serves 4-6 as part of a shared meal.

For this recipe you’ll need 6 large or 9 small ripe figs in total. This dish is best made when figs are in season, they can be char grilled or caramelized for an extra depth of flavour. This gorgeous salad looks most impressive on a large wooden board or retro serving platter using a layering technique.

INGREDIENTS

For the Dressing:

  • 2 small or 1 large fresh whole fig
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt + ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed from stem

For the Croutons

  • 150g stale sourdough bread (inside part only, no crusts) torn into rough 3cm chunks
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt

For the Salad

  • 5 large or 7 small ripe figs, quartered
  • 150g goats curd (we used Woodside brand, but Meredith would be fine also)
  • 80g roasted macadamias, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 60g bitter leaves, we used watercress

METHOD

To make your croutons, preheat an oven to 180 degrees. Place your torn sourdough bread in a roasting tin and massage through the olive oil and salt.  Bake for 10-15 min (or until thoroughly dry), tossing after 7 minutes. Remove and set aside.

For the dressing, simply place all your dressing ingredients in a mini food processor and blend together until nice and smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl and set aside.

To make your salad, start by spreading 2/3 of the goats curd on the base of your platter, reserving the rest for garnishing at the end. Sprinkle ¾ of your bitter leaves on the goats curd, and pour over 2 tablespoons of dressing. Liberally scatter the croutons and macadamias and add another 2 tablespoons of dressing. Add the remaining bitter leaves and quartered figs on top and drizzle 1 last tablespoon of that beautiful dressing.  Finally, finish by dolloping the goats curd with a teaspoon for contrasting colour.

Create a Zen Inspired Tea Garden

Life can get a little bit crazy sometimes and we love the idea that you can escape into the garden for a bit of me time. So here’s how to bring a touch of Zen to your little corner of the world.

Running water has to be one of the most relaxing sounds and nothing brings a calming sense of tranquility into the garden quite like water feature.

We’ve used a Harmony Fountain from Northcote Pottery to bring a touch of the orient to our design and it’s the perfect statement piece to bring out mini Zen makeover to life.

And also some statement pots. We’re using Modstone pots in a polished concrete look – so nice neutral tones – to create a calm vibe and complement the fountain. And because the fountain is big you want big pots too really create impact. With these pots you get a concrete look without the weight so you can easily move them around.

This design is needed a Weeping Japanese Maple – they’re the perfect plant for a this look and this variety is an absolute stunner. Introducing – ‘Dissectum Crimson Wave’. It has a more upright layered form than some of the weeping maples and the foliage is just divine – delicate, fine and a gorgeous burgundy colour.

Having a cup of calming herbal tea is such a simple pleasure, so why not create a mini tea pot garden filled with herbal delights that you can grow and brew.

Our favourite tea herbs (all available from the Oasis Horticulture range):

1. Lemon verbena – smells divine in the garden and in the cup with zesty lemon scented foliage that can help to reduce inflammation, boost the immune system and calm the stomach.

2. Common mint – a mint tea can be used to relieve a nagging headache or treat the common cold

3. Spearmint – use a spearmint to reduce nausea and make your tummy feel good

4. Lemon Balm – brew a cup of lemon balm tea to help reduce anxiety.

So when life gets to you here’s the perfect place to escape to. Cheers!

What’s wrong with my roses?

What’s wrong with my roses? Whether you’ve got lots of plants or just one rose bush, this is a really common question!

So here are some simple solutions, to solve your rose riddles.

1. Not getting many blooms? Time to dead head your roses AND feed them up! Dead-heading your rose is…dead easy. Simply prune off the spent flower head but don’t just cut off the head, cut the stem as if you were cutting a long stemmed rose for the vase. You can also encourage a bigger flush of repeat blooms, by cutting the plant back a third and feeding it up with organic fertilisers (Chloe’s favourites are eco-aminogro and eco-seaweed).

2. Watch out for Black Spot, a fungal disease that gets into the leaf, causing distinctive black spots. The best way to stop it weakening your rose is to prevent it getting into the leaf in the first place. Pick off any infected leaves and pop them straight into the rubbish bin. Then give the plant a drenching spray all over with eco-fungicide. Repeat every 1 to 2 weeks to keep your roses protected.

3. Make sure you water down the base of your roses because damp leaves encourage fungal spores to multiply!

4. Spotted something sucking the life out of your plant? These little critters are aphids. And they can be black, grey or green but typically they hang out in bunches on the growing tips and cause deformed, shrivelled growth. Under planting your roses with things like garlic and chives may help to deter aphids. And of course make sure you include lots of sweet smelling, brightly coloured flowers – these will help draw in the lady beetles that just love gobbling up aphids!

5. Aphids can also be controlled with a hit of eco-oil. BUT you can actually mix your eco-oil in with eco-fungicide and that way you end up with a super organic to target your rose pest and diseases without harming bees and beneficial insects.

The full range of eco-organic garden products can be found in your local garden centre, nursery or online at: eco organic garden

FUNKY new capsicum varieties

Check out the new capsicum varieties on the menu this season, with real wow factor both in the patch and on the plate.

Capsicum Wings is in the spot light this season, with masses of decorative disc shaped fruit, with wing-like lobes that look a bit like
a UFO.

You can eat the fruit when it’s green or red and it has a delicious mild capsicum flavour.

Capsicum Candy Stripe is as pretty to look at as it is to eat.

With it’s candy striped fruit it’s a real statement in salads.

Capsicums are a rich source of vitamin C and they’re decorative both in the garden and on the plate, so get some in the ground now for a bumper summer and autumn harvest!