Life in Oz

Rose Gardening on Mornington Peninsula

The environment on Mornington Peninsula is perfect from growing roses. There is even a rose, the Mornington Rose bred specifically for the area. Beautiful. To see exactly how beautiful these roses are in their natural habitat we recommend you visit Mornington Botanical Rose Gardens. They have over 4000 roses planted in nearly 90 different beds for you to enjoy.

Roses can look great in the garden, but what if you don’t have much of a garden to put roses in? Fear not, you can place roses in garden pots for the patio, or you could have roses in garden ornaments, entwining with the feature, helping to make the feature more attractive, and in touch with its environment.

Rose Planting Options

You may not have a garden at all, but if you have a balcony big enough for a medium sized pot, then you can have the beauty of roses in your home. Miniature roses won’t grow to the full size of normal rose shrubs, and can be grown in portable patio pots. The roses should be placed outside on the balcony until they flower, and then they can be brought into the apartment for up to a month, bringing a beautiful floral and fragrant touch to your home. You might try ‘Top Marks’ as your indoor/outdoor rose.

Popular Roses

Rambling and climbing roses in garden trellising and framework can look great. Climbing roses will flower more frequently, where as rambling roses will only flower once. Rambling roses also prefer to climb around trees or roll across the ground, rather than climbing up. Climbing roses in gardens can grow quite tall on the other hand, with the ‘Graham Thomas’ climbing anywhere up to 8 feet. Ideal if you’d like to decorate a fence with something more than your average rambling or climber plant.

Hybrid tea roses are the featured roses in garden centers everywhere. The hybrids have been bred to have greater benefits than the older varieties; as these were susceptible to problematic growing. The hybrids offer modern day green fingered folk a hardier plant, one that is more suited to our climate and conditions. This breeding has not compromised the delicate design or fragrance of the original tea rose varieties. ‘Julia’s Rose’ is a popular choice of tea rose, although there are a great deal of types.

Other popular roses in gardens include:

  • Anne Boleyn’ – A free flowering rose plant suitable for pots; offering a blossom pink flower.
  • Golden Celebration’ – The name hints at the color; and the celebration really is one of smell than sight. This rose has a strong scent of tea mixed with light citrus notes. This fragrant English Rose is very popular.
  • Darcey Bussell’ – If you love your roses to be deep crimson red, this could be the rose for you; although you need to be aware this particular rose enjoys a warm spot. Ideal if you want an eye catching small shrub.
  • Mornington Rose‘ – As noted above a lovely pink full petalled rose bred right here on the Mornington Peninsula.

Growing Roses

Roses look great in gardens, without a doubt, and there is plenty of advice available online to help you develop a beautiful rose bush in time. Remember, growing roses in gardens takes patience and diligence. Gardening in general is a mixed bag of short term efforts and long term rewards. You can have roses to be proud of; it just takes a little practice. Keep a note of what works, and what doesn’t.

The garden rose has featured in many films, stories and poems. It is a sign of love, affection and romance; however, for the gardener, the garden rose can be the symbol of a difficult and finicky plant that struggles to grow, even with the greatest of care.

Hybrid Roses

Hybrid rose plants have been developed in recent years and decades to provide the gardener with a hardier versions and varieties of favorite classical roses. Hybrids generally produce more blooms, are more resilient to diseases, and respond better to treatments.

The production of the garden rose as a hybrid has seen the development of hundreds, if not thousands of new varieties, each with their own color, shape and fragrance. Newer varieties include climber or rambling roses, as well as miniature roses that can be used in patio pots.

If the garden rose is one of your favorite flowers, then you need to get online and start shopping. There are a number of online rose retailers and growers, and the internet can provide a far better selection of plants at far better prices than you’d find in your local store. There are also many detailed advice provided on the web such as the RHS and for equipment GardenEaze.

The garden rose is still a plant out of sorts; even with the introduction of hardier hybrids, they can survive and succeed excellently in one area, while struggling in another. Before you purchase your rose, you should consult with the site or garden centre, and ensure that the rose that your climate and conditions suit the rose.

Despite the need for a unique care plan for your garden rose, you can use some simple techniques and advice to ensure your roses always look beautiful.

Caring for Garden Roses

The garden rose loves a good feed, and a good drink. Most garden roses require an inch of water per week. Use a container to establish how much rainfall each week contributes to this inch of water. If not enough rain falls during one week, be sure to water your rose plant to quench it’s first. Refrain from watering your plant during the middle of the day; the water will simply evaporate before hitting the roots. Instead, water your plants on an evening.

Tools are important as the thorns cause problems. Secateurs are essential and for difficult to reach roses tree loppers are a good alternative.

When feeding the garden rose, you should use a liquid feed, mixed in with water. You should feed your rose plants once a month. Use the internet to find out which feeds are recommended. To help keep your rose plant looking perky, you should lay mulch on the ground around the plant’s base. Material such as lawn cuttings or wood chippings makes excellent mulch material.

Pruning and Deadheading

Regular deadheading and proper pruning will help your plant make the most of the resources that you provide it. Deadheading and pruning can baffle a lot of gardeners, but you’ll find plenty of advice online to help you improve these techniques.

Ensure that the garden rose has plenty of protection during the winter months. Roses particularly dislike frost, and you will need to introduce burlap gradually to your rose plant, to prevent frost from spoiling next year’s blooms.

Looking after roses isn’t that tough, and most gardeners get the hang of their garden rose after a season or two. Be patient, and you will grow the garden rose that makes your neighbors green with envy!

Plants That Do Well In Pots In The Aussie Garden

If you are looking to decorate your home or office with pot plants the first thing to consider is the obvious. Which ones are going to be able to handle it? In Australia, our hot climate means that a lot of our plants are deep rooting, so that can absorb more moisture than plants from other parts of the world. This means that some of our natives, even if they are dainty, may not be suitable for potting.

Conversely, our plants are generally hardier, so they are often able to be battered and bruised and still look amazing. So let’s check out some of the more popular and interesting Aussie plants that do well in pots.

Plants For The Sun

If you are looking to decorate a courtyard or a room that receives plenty of sun and are going for a less flowery and more organic garden look then herbs are great. Not only do they look great but they also add a rich, earthy smell to the area. Coriander, in particular, grows like wildfire in Australia and is extremely durable.

For people who live in townhouses and don’t have expansive yard space, taking a few terracotta pots and potting Coriander and other herbs in them will give your courtyard a European look that will inspire you to spend more time out in your courtyard and less in front of your television.

Other herbs that do well in pots in the Aussie sun are basil, chives, and parsley and a combination of the four is a classic Australian herb garden look.A surprising and fascinating addition to a full sun courtyard is a citrus tree. In a particularly large terracotta pot, you can grow a medium sized lemon or orange tree that will fruit and give you a lot of happiness.

You don’t see it often, but in a nicely decorated courtyard a citrus tree really sets off the whole look. For a more interesting conversation piece try a tangelo or lemonade tree. Their fruits have unique flavors and they are just as hardy as your orange or lemon tree.

If you are a flower fan, petunias for summer and pansies for winter. In their non-flowering seasons they are green and lush and when they flower they provide scent and pop. If you have both of them going at once then you have an all year round flowering garden, with one providing greenery and one providing flowers.

The big popular plant for Aussie potters at the moment are succulents. If you want to be resourceful you could grow some aloe vera, which makes a sensational treatment when you’re sunburnt. I swear it will literally cure it if you rip a leaf off and apply the sap directly to the affected area. Agave is another popular and interesting plant and for those of us who enjoy a drink, you might recognize it as a plant that Mexicans use to brew tequila.

Plants For The Shade

For indoor pot planters, the options are a bit different but no less fantastic. While herbs and fruits won’t really thrive without sunlight there are a number of dazzling flowers and shrubs that will grow just fine inside and provide some nice decoration for your office, study, kitchen or wherever you want to give a little bit of a green look.

It might come as a surprise to you but certain palms actually do rather well in shade. A nice little Rhapis palm or kentia palm will provide a beachy look for a droll office and might give the people who work in it a bit more reason to come in every day. Or that could be wishful thinking.

Begonias, azaleas, and camellias provide big, bright flowers and grow just fine without sunlight. If you have a dank study with no windows these flowers can really pick up the vibe of the room. It may come as a shock to find that such pretty flowers can grow inside but I assure you they will do just fine as long as you take good care of them and prune them up well.

Clivias are an Australian native with green strap-like leaves and vibrant orange flowers. They will thrive indoors as they are one of the hardiest plants in the country but they are exceptionally pretty. Use them to soften any hard-featured rooms and you will find yourself coming into that room a lot more often.

Build A Garden Pergola And Let The Fun Times Begin

Enjoying the weather in Australia, and most especially on the Mornington Peninsula is essential. What better way to do this than to make your back garden more usable. Depending on your budget, you could either put in a veranda, patio arbor, or you could purchase gazebo kits.

We actually think the pergola is a perfect option, providing structure, shade and the opportunity for some really imaginative planting.

What is a Pergola?

A pergola is designed to give style and aesthetic value to your yard. It is usually open on top, and its structure allows vines and climbing plants to provide color, beauty, and sweet-smelling blossoms in the area. Pergolas are the choice of landscape designers in giving definition to backyards, and given its relative ease in installation, a lot of homeowners choose to build it themselves.

Before deciding to build a pergola, though, familiarize yourself first with what types there are and which one would suit your home best.

Pergola Shapes and Designs

Pergolas can come in any shape and design. Some are circular, while others are rectangular, square, triangular, and even hexagonal in shape.

Circular ones may look very nice, but the rectangular and square shapes are the most popular, as those are the easiest to build and thus, the least expensive. For people who want the look of a circular pergola but the ease of building rectangular ones, the hexagonal shape is usually their first choice.

You can also choose whether to attach it to your house, or set it up somewhere else in the yard (freestanding). Both have its advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to you which to choose. The freestanding pergolas are more flexible and can cover any area in your yard. However, by fixing it to your house it can make your accommodation appear bigger, potentially adding to its value.

Suitable Materials – Wood, Vinyl, or Metal

You also have a choice in the materials you can use. It can be built either with wood, vinyl, or metal.

In choosing the best material, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each. Wood, of course, looks natural. A garden wooden arch, in particular, lends a rustic and natural beauty to your yard. It will usually match a wider variety of outdoor decorations and can be painted, stained, or designed to meet your needs. It is also cheaper than the other materials.

However, wood will not last as long as vinyl or metal. It will rot at some point, and may splinter and cause a risk for injury to children. It will also need a lot of maintenance, to avoid it being infested with pests.

Using vinyl pergolas takes your mind off having to maintain it or protect it from rot. It lasts longer than wood, but is a bit more expensive and may also discolor through the years.

Metal pergolas are the most expensive, but it is also the most durable. Aluminum is the best choice, since it will not rust unlike iron or steel, and it is lightweight but strong, to boot.

Save A Lot of Money – Build Your Own Pergola

A lot of people want a pergola but think that they cannot afford one. If they hire a contractor, they may indeed end up paying thousands of dollars. However, you do not need to spend that much to build a pergola in your own backyard. The answer to saving money is to build the pergola yourself.

There are a lot of DIY pergola plans in the market today, given that it is relatively easy to put up. It is important, though, to choose which one to purchase. You should be able to source some low cost plans quite easily and this should provide all the information needed for you to build your own structure hopefully giving you step-by-step instructions to ensure that you will produce that perfect pergola, even if you are not a carpenter yourself. If you are intending to do it yourself make sure you get some quality tools.

The money you save by being a DIYer will justify it and the payback is significant.

Whatever type of plan you choose to order, make sure to decide based on its compatibility with your home décor, and most importantly, on your availability to finish building it. Planning well in advance ensures your success in building something which will certainly add value and character to your home.

Five Places You Must See in Western Australia

The holidays are winding down and real winter…unrelenting winter…freezing, ice-scraping, too many clothing layers winter…is making itself entirely too much at home.  You are thinking of escaping. To anywhere that has sunshine.

Welcome to Western Australia, the sunniest state in Australia. Its land mass constitutes nearly a third of the whole country and its topography runs the full gamut from lush green to desert.  Whether you are escaping now or planning for next year, here are some of WA’s ‘hottest’ spots to visit.

  1. Karijini National Park.   Amidst the red earth of the Pilbara area’s mineral mining mecca is this jewel.   Almost nothing but sun as you dip into any (all!) of the park’s incredible rock pools, walk along the trails leading to waterfalls, abseil a few gorges and marvel in this desert oasis.  Make a point to visit Oxers lookout, where four separate creeks merge to form an incredible waterfall.
  2. Shark Bay World Heritage Area.  Swim with whale sharks at this area that attracts thousands of domestic and foreign travelers each year.  Don’t miss Shell Beach.  The ‘sand’ is made up of millions of tiny cockle shells and stretches for 70 miles. There are only two like it in the world. Drop  into Pearlers restaurant in Denham which is made entirely of shell blocks carved out of the beach.
  3. Kalgoorlie.  The wild west of OZ- just stroll the town’s historic main street and you’ll see it is so.  Visit Australia’s largest open-cut mine, The Super Pit.  It is said to be visible from outer space.  This is Gold Country so plan on striking it rich while panning for gold and learn about WA’s rich mining heritage.
  4. The Great Southern region.  Head south for a bit of green and cooler temperatures.  WA’s diversity is evident with a trip through the majestic Karri forests near Pemberton.  The Karri tree is the third tallest in the world.  Further south in Denmark (the city, not the country) to walk along the famous Tree Top Walk through Tingle trees.  It’s also a great area to do some apple picking- Pink Lady being a regional favorite.
  5. Margaret River.   A southern wine region spreading inwards from the Indian Ocean that is developing an international reputation and certainly gives the eastern states’ wine regions a run for their money. Nearby are some ancient caves waiting to be explored.

This is a huge state with much to offer but is often overlooked by tourists to the eastern cities of Sydney and Melbourne because of the distance away. Don’t be lulled by an opera house away from this greatest of Australia’s jewels.  Plan on renting a car and learning to drive on the left side of the road for an experience like no other.

One Thing Found in Every Aussie Home

There is one thing sure to be found in every Aussie home.  I’ll give you a hint:  it is a book.

If your first guess was the Bible, a natural choice,  it is an incorrect one.

It is, in fact, a cookbook.  The Country Women’s Association, guardian angels of women and children all over this sunburnt land, publishes a cookbook.  Actually, each state’s organization publishes their own. Western Australians have been clutching  a dark blue book with white lettering  now for 75 years.  This was a lifeline for rural and remote families who needed resources and reassurance which could not be found close at hand.

And while there still are families in remote areas – indeed, much of Western Australia is “remote”-  modern technology has closed the distance.  Still, the familiar blue book remains in memory and in practice an integral part of Australian living. People can quote you the page number of their family favorite [“page 109, Chocolate Sauce Pudding”] , they’ll want to make sure the Yorkshire Pudding recipe [page 56] is right or the real name of Lemon Fizz [Lemon Swiss, page 140]. Microwave instructions have brought it up to date.

It’s not all recipes.  Starting on page 379 are special hints on banishing cockroaches (boric acid), washing sparkly glassware (lemon juice in rinse water), cleaning wine stains (tomato juice) or curing warts (lime powder).   For the still self-sufficient remote resident, there are instructions on how to make soap and weave doormats from “motor tubes”.   Want the instructions for Dry Tanning sheepskins?  Look it up on page 385.

You’ll be pleased to hear that it has an international section. I find it rather …interesting…that recipes such  as Chop Suey, American Hamburger and a two ingredient (?!) Waldorf Salad are included in the American section.   A rather interesting window on how Australians view our cuisine.

And a rather interesting book.

Melbourne Cup

November   – the height of the Spring season.  Nothing gets in the way of its traditions, including work.  Well, almost.  On the first Tuesday of every November, the seventh race at Flemington in Melbourne is known as the Melbourne Cup.   If you are staying in the Mornington Peninsula then it is a great opportunity to participate in an exciting day and experience a little bit of history. It has been running since 1861 and over the years a certain tradition has developed on this fine day.  Ladies wear their new hats and frocks for an all-day strolling fashion show.  Some guys wear outfits they wouldn’t be caught dead in at any other time or place, be it outrageous or impossibly British formal.  The champagne flows, bands play, celebrities mug for cameras and money passes the tote.

A grand diversion with a grand consequence.  So focused on frivolity  (instead of working) were the residents of that city that it became an official day-off work holiday.  Woo hoo, no more need to think of a bogus reason to skip work to watch the ponies!  But why celebrate this two mile race in just one day? The party at Flemington lasts for a few days, giving ample opportunity for corporate sponsorship and desperate to be seen glitterati to milk it for all it is worth.

“That’s Melbourne,”  you might say.  Why would other states care? Well, everyone wants a shrimp on this barbie.  And as no one else gets the day off from work, they take the party to work.  Every workplace has some sort of race sweep going. Walking through the Central Business District of any city are many ladies wearing fascinators (a mini-hat of frothy feather and ribbon)  fluttering like butterflies on the side of their heads.  Party pies, cake slices and the occasional bottle of bubbly appear in work lunchrooms—proper accoutrement to the race doubtless playing on every available television screen.

It is often referred to as the “race that stops a nation.”  Indeed, for a short while, it is.  While you make think it is odd that a people would take a day off work for a horse race, Melbournians think it odd that  on this very same day Americans do not get the day off to vote on Election Day. Go figure.

Introducing Tasmania

First things first:  Tasmania is NOT a foreign country floating somewhere in the Andaman Sea.   It is the island state of Australia at the country’s most southern point it is further south than Mornington Peninsula.   Actually, it’s a collection of islands much like Hawaii but that’s where the similarity ends.  There is nothing tropical about the weather at this last stop before the Antarctica, rather entirely more like Wisconsin or Michigan in weather . The western 37% of Tasmania is reserve land,  mountainous and snowbound in the winter.

Most of its half million people reside in the eastern and northern part of the state.   An interesting bunch, this lot.  Almost everyone is related  to a crook.  Tasmania was settled by the British as a penal colony,  and where this was once a fact to be hidden, most people today embrace their … colorful… ancestry.  There is a lot free spirit found here in the form of ageing hippies and their organic produce and earth friendly products.  Despite the rumors you’ll hear on the mainland, no one in Tasmania has two heads (a not-so-veiled hint at small island inbreeding.)   The state seems to be losing heads to the mainland anyway.   Unemployment in Tassie is the highest in the country.  The apple, beer (Cascade and Boag) , cheese (King Island cheese & beef is second to none!) and tourism industry cannot make this beautiful state more attractive to young workers and industries that would employ them.  Retirees, however, find this a most suitable place.

Another misconception to correct is the Tasmanian Devil.  Warner Brothers got the strong jaw and irritable temper correct but the rest is a bit fanciful.  The Tassie devil, found in the wild only in Tassie,  is small and black with a white collar. It is also suffering from a facial tumor that has been spreading like wildfire for 15 years now.  Conservation and breeding programs are a high priority for the residents of the state.  Unfortunately, this has also brought out bogus organizations looking to capitalize on people’s concern and generosity.      Also capturing the natives’ fancy is the Tasmanian Tiger—more of a canine with stripes and huge mouth than a big cat.  The last Tassie Tiger is said to have died in 1936 but tragics still hold out hope that their sightings and scat collections will resurrect the state emblem.   And for all you wombat fans ,  wombat poop perfectly square bricks so identifying their scat is easy enough.

Some famous Tasmanians:  actor Errol Flynn,  actor Simon Baker (from  “The Mentalist”) and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark  who met her handsome prince during the Sydney Olympics.