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.

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!

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!

An indoor plant makeover

If a dull corner of your house is screaming out for a green, lush jungle look then keep watching. Chloe’s got some hot tips on how to give your indoors a plant makeover, with a bit of art-deco elegance.

Using some established plants and some mail-order plants from ‘Plants in a Box’ – Chloe creates a layered look. Select indoor plants in a whole range of different varieties, colours and shapes for added interest.

Did you know that adding just ONE indoor plant to a room can improve your air quality by up to 25%! Because plants work hard removing airborne toxins like paint fumes and air pollutants.

If you can pop your plants onto stands or into hangers to really amp up the layers of greenery.

The pots we’ve used are from Northcote Pottery including their;
Clio Cover Pots
Cement Lite Range Pots

Here’s a nifty little tip for
you to keep your plants leaves free of dust and shiny once a month all you need to do is give them a shower!

And once you’re finished your indoor plant makeover – just sit back, relax and enjoy your new green oasis. Isn’t it amazing what a touch of greenery and a splash of colour can really do to lift a
space!

How to create a water garden in a pot

Melissa shows you how simple and quick it is to pop together an easy care water garden in a pot.

Just grab a pot with no drainage holes, some loamy sand mix, some small pebbles and a mix of aquatic plants.

Pop in a small pond pump to move the water around to create some soothing water sounds in your garden. This will also keep mosquito larvae at bay. Or if you’ve got a deep enough pot, you can pop in a few cold water fish to gobble up any larvae too.