Different Gardens at Night Owl Cottage (Part 3)

Today is a good day for blogging. As with many other days here on the Northern Rivers and other parts of NSW and of course Australia, it’s a very hot day, nothing unusual for summer in Australia really, but unusual in that we have had so many heat waves, more than I can remember in the 26 years of living here. I have battened down the hatches by mulching as much as I can in the cooler parts of the day, but when the humidity hits, and the humidity has been very high, and then I’m back inside. I have also been watering deeply as much as I can and I’m happy to say most of my garden has survived. If the humidity could only hit a couple of percentage points higher and we would have a deluge, and as the rain has been a bit light on lately, apart from a ferocious hail storm and another huge storm, I would welcome it. The plants I have featured in the photos are doing very well, especially this plumbago. It is situated in a garden that is in full sun, never gets any extra water from me and still it gives a great display with its lovely flowers.  I love the individual little flowers that make up the whole group.

When I cannot get outside in the heat, I either sew or in the morning I get out on my veranda as the sun is over the other side of the house and I do a little mosaicking. My latest addition is a piece I have named “Russell” and he now resides in my garden just outside the front of the house. He was a little tricky to grout so I don’t think I will be providing a mate for him as suggested by friends.  I think he looks right at home and he’s there looking to welcome visitors.

russell-3   russell-5

Another flower that just keeps on flowering and is so very hardy in my sub-tropical garden is the day lily. I don’t fertilise my garden much at all, I concentrate on mulching and using any other organic matter to add to this as it builds and feeds the soil. I do however, occasionally muck out the chook pen and throw this around the beds but the veggies get it first and my cottage garden is second and then it doesn’t cover the entire garden. But, after 20 years of this gardens life, it still continues to evolve, grow and look fantastic against all odds. This day lily is called Marakech and I love the dark broody colour especially with those raindrops on the petals, it looks so lovely and reminds me that it can indeed, RAIN.


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Sleep – sometimes it evades me

I’ve never slept all that well, even as a kid it used to take me hours to get to sleep. My parents would be closing their novels and trotting off to bed in the wee small hours and I would still be wide awake. 

These days, I can usually drop off but wake constantly through the night. My body must be used to that pattern, it is after all a definite pattern, because I am not too tired during the day. 

Occasionally I just cannot get to sleep and I know the feeling that alerts me to the fact that it’s one of those nights. So tonight it’s 1.20 in the wee hours and I’m wide awake. I usually get up and make a cup of herbal tea, but tonight I’m trying a small hot chocolate. 

I’ve heard that this can help bring on drowsiness, so far nothing has changed. 

Doesn’t it also feel like you are the only person awake among a sea of sleeping people? It can be quite a lonely feeling. 

I know that outside my front door in my beautiful Jacaranda tree is a plant snaking up that tree called a night flowering Cereus. Why not share a photo of it. 

Or maybe two.

I’ve tried different herbal remedies, working like a Trojan in my garden, different bed time routines but none work so I just accept my sleep pattern as normal, normal to me. The last time that I slept through the night was about seven years ago, just once, I think I threw a party!! 

My husband Mike can go to bed, place his head upon the pillow and not wake up till morning. Amazing. I wake between four and 12 times a night. 

I am a night owl and go to bed late most nights, so I try an early night here and there but it has no effect on my sleep patterns. 

But for now I will say Good Night and trust I will get some sleep tonight. 

Different Gardens at Night Owl Cottage (Part 2)

Well here we are in the middle of spring and the weather is doing the usual unpredictable thing, that is to me anyway. Plenty of rain in winter and hardly any so far this Spring and it has taken its toll on my garden, along with many others and farmlands as well I would say. When I am SO attuned to growing plants of all kinds and nurturing them and trying to build the soil, I kind of take it personally that the rains haven’t fallen! But Mother nature always amazes me, when plants, trees and shrubs look like they are their last legs and down comes a brief shower of rain and they are alive again and manage to get through some very, very dry periods here on the Northern Rivers (NSW).

It’s almost time for Jacarandas to bloom, but it seems, like others before them they are choosing to boom early this year, so parts of my garden have that absolutely amazing lilac/blue blossom carpeting around each tree. I love it and I don’t care if it is considered messy, bring on the mess I say, I can consider it quite magical.

I have just one small white Jacaranda tree that is amazing to view on a moonlit night as it seems luminescent when gazed upon. I can’t wait for it to be a big, big tree.

Who wouldn’t want to come home and be greeted by this sight? Glorious colour and it seems alive, but wait, I think it is alive. This shade of purple is just my favourite colour and I love seeing this every day, it nurtures my soul. I can understand why Grafton celebrates its Jacaranda trees in a festival this time every year, they are magnificent down there and a sight to behold. We all need something that nurtures our soul and for me it definitely is gardens and trees in particular, I am obsessed by trees. I must admit to not planting this tree, the original owner of the house planted it and probably a little too close to the house, but here it is and it shall remain.

When my husband Mike and I started our gardens on this very bare property over 20 years ago, I wanted to plant trees EVERYWHERE. But Mike wasn’t of the same opinion so we compromised and put in gardens and incorporated open spaces for Michael. I think it works really well, but I still hanker to plants more trees in those open spaces, maybe some smaller growing trees.

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My Garden Attire

I have difficulty in choosing what to wear in my garden. It has to be flexible as of course, I do a lot of bending, digging, kneeling, crouching and other manoeuvres that require garden wear to be something that I am not aware of whilst gardening. So I haunt op shops and the like to see what might suit out in the garden. I don’t want to look like something the cat’s dragged in as my mother would say, but then I don’t want to look like I’m out on the town for the night. So I looked at buying a pair of jeans that were made in the USA, workwear for female farmers, but the cost was a bit too much now I’m retired, but oh I did fall in love with them. Made by women for women who work hard, and designed to fit women’s bodies, not men’s bodies. Bigger pockets, a mini belt at the back of the jean, reinforced knees. Sounds and looks great to me.


Blimey, sounds just exactly what I need for those heavy jobs in my garden, such as pruning of my 45 to 50 hibiscus shrubs every September. I go at it gung ho and my legs come off second best with scratches, cuts and pokes and it’s not a pretty look. Of course I wear my own jeans or long pants, but I get frustrated with them as they aren’t geared for garden work at all. I know I can sew but haven’t the time to make a pair for myself, and I could retrofit a pair of jeans I already have, but again, time constraints … but well, if I’m honest, it’s more about being bothered for me. I can revamp clothes, but sometimes, I just want to buy something that just does the job.

As for footwear, I’ve got that sorted. My lovely husband Mike, bought me a pair of Bogs boots  for my birthday 18 months ago. They aren’t cheap but oh boy, they are worth every cent he paid and more. I’ve had them on my feet nearly every time I go out in the garden. As you can see by the photos they are like the long good old wellington boot, but are made of neoprene so don’t make your foot or leg hot and “ahem” sweaty. I also like the fact that they are patterned and fun to look at.

I was so happy with these that for summer and those days I didn’t need to wear my long Bogs I saved up madly and bought these short clog type Bogs. I love, love the patterning on these and would collect them all if I could. Lol.

They protect my feet from the wet soil, the chicken pen floor and sticks and stones so well and they look pretty good I reckon.

At other times for the really heavy duty jobs like digging holes that I will be swinging that mattock I will wear my T-Boots t-boots (rather like Blundstone) to protect my feet as yes, I have swung the mattock into my foot many years ago whilst wearing the good old flip flops or thongs. Not a good idea.


Some of the damage done to my leg whilst out there in the wilds of my garden. It is healing now, but as I said, it’s not a pretty look. I tend to just get on with the job and don’t notice the damage I am doing as I get in “the zone” and only notice when I have finished for the day. I also just don shorts and forget about past encounters on warmer days.

So, tell me, what does everyone else wear whilst out in the garden?


Friends and Friendship

Musings from Night Owl Cottage

Friends and friendship. Where to begin? Just this morning whilst browsing Facebook, my friend Carol, of 54 years posted a video that featured the London I knew way back when I was only 17, in 1966. Carol and I met at school and even though at times we lost touch, we always managed to find each other again. Especially when I immigrated to Australia with my late husband at the age of 21, after a few years of letter writing, we lost touch, I can’t remember if I moved or Carol moved, but no matter, we always found each other.

We could finish each others sentences whilst at school and after the longest time we had lost touch and my husband Mike and I went back on our last visit to England in 1998 we arranged to meet at her local train station, and we spotted each other from the…

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Friends and Friendship

Friends and friendship. Where to begin? Just this morning whilst browsing Facebook, my friend Carol, of 54 years posted a video that featured the London I knew way back when I was only 17, in 1966. Carol and I met at school and even though at times we lost touch, we always managed to find each other again. Especially when I immigrated to Australia with my late husband at the age of 21, after a few years of letter writing, we lost touch, I can’t remember if I moved or Carol moved, but no matter, we always found each other.

We could finish each others sentences whilst at school and after the longest time we had lost touch and my husband Mike and I went back on our last visit to England in 1998 we arranged to meet at her local train station, and we spotted each other from the opposite sides of the entrance, quite a distance really. We both threw our arms up into the air and started running toward each other, and as Mike said, it was just like in the movies with the lovers, only we weren’t lovers just great friends. I have never forgotten that meeting and we found out that we STILL finished each others sentences. Of course, we’ve got much more in common than that; we seem to have a bond that can’t be broken.

The same could be said of another friend, Pam who I met at age 16 when the pair of us started work on the same day together at Westminster Bank, in Threadneedle Street (I love that name) in London. We became very good friends again and up until her death two years ago we were in touch with each other and the last time she came here to Australia, she knew she was dying and wanted her ashes to be scattered on our property. Pam is pictured on the right of the photo with me at age about 18 years old.

Pam suffered from four bouts of ovarian cancer and went through so much suffering trying out experimental treatments to give herself a chance to stay on this planet. She was one of the most courageous people I know. It broke my heart when she left, and I’m glad I am typing this on the computer and not writing on paper or the paper would be suffering from a bad case of dampness!

Even when she was so very sick, she would Skype me and talk until she just had to rest. I think of her often especially when I see the little trinkets she bought me that I have in my house and the  photo I have of the two of us when we were aged about 18 that is sitting in my office.

Another case of a friendship conducted from halfway around the world, it can and does work when the connection is so very strong.


Pam and myself, Pam on the right

I have lost two friends this year, well lost is not quite what happened, they both died. It amuses me in a funny kind of way that we say that when someone dies, we’ve “lost” them. My quirky sense of humour would wonder where have I lost them and will I find them soon?

Earlier this year my friend of over 20 years Evol died. She just didn’t wake up one morning. She had just moved house and was looking forward to starting a new chapter in her life with her husband. For someone so vibrant and alive I half expected her to live forever.  Evol loved coming out to my house on my property as she loved the gardens and found them so peaceful and healing. She would get out of her car stand and drink in the scenery and let out a big sigh and say “It’s SO good to be here”.

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Different Gardens at Night Owl Cottage (Part 1)

It’s been a while since I posted a blog as we have had some sad happenings with two of my friends dying within months of each other. I guess at age 67 one must expect this to happen, but it doesn’t lessen the sadness does it? I will write about friends and friendship one day, but would like to add a couple of photos of those departed friends and must seek permission from family first.

Meanwhile, I do take solace in my garden, especially as it’s now Spring and life is just bursting forth from Mother Earth. I never tire of gardening, well mentally that is, but physically I do need to take a break now and then, but don’t we all?


With the already existing garden, I had plenty to keep me occupied, with paving in the pathways using second-hand bricks, mulching, planting, pruning, picking and so on. I was also trying out my hand at building a small fence to keep creatures out that would insist on eating my produce such as a pair of wild rabbits, a possum or two, wallabies and the main culprit, a night prowling bandicoot. The bandicoot was doing a lot of damage in my no-dig garden. It was choosing to do all the digging it wanted, such as digging up my freshly planted asparagus, potatoes and seeds. But Mike, my husband, took pity on me and offered his help to me which I gladly accepted as the partly woven experiment of a fence was NOT coming together at all. He used a waist high fencing material with smaller star pickets and using an old screen door donated by my brother-in-law for the two gateways, he cut it in half and welded a piece of steel across the bottom of each and there we had it. A beautiful little fence and no bandicoot. Now I could plant seeds galore and seedlings in abundance. Thanks Michael.


In this photo, which is a panoramic shot taken with my iPhone; you can see the two chook pens with the coops inside. At present the three chooks are in the right hand pen but will soon be relocated to the original pen now it has been rested and grown with all sorts of goodies for my feathered friends.

It’s working a treat and I’m a happy gardener. I have the paving to finish in the established bed, but that can wait for a while. The first path is completed but I have a little bit to do in the second pathway which is slightly wider than the first. The chooks also wait expectantly when I am in the garden as I may find a treat or two for them such as curl grubs!


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Creativity and Craft

I hate to throw clothing out, even if it is to the op shop and passing it around to my two sisters to have their pick from as they do with me, before the bag of goodies gets passed onto other family members.

Orange jumper

I like this sweater, or jumper as I call it, I have two others the same style by the same person, “Caroline Morgan”, not that I deliberately buy anything by any particular person, as I like to op shop quite a bit, but this brand seems to pop up for me.

This lovely orange jumper has got a wee bit tight for me so what to do? Make it into a cardigan that’s what. I have seen various ways of completing this task on sites like Pinterest so I thought why not give it go? I’ve already completed one that was successful, so here we go with this one.

I marked the centre line at the front of the jumper and then slashed it with my trusty scissors, takes a bit of courage, just a tiny bit. Then in my stash of fabric I found the perfect piece of cotton, which was given to me by a friend, not quite half a metre but would do the job nicely.

I cut two long rectangles that overlapped by about 2.5cm and was wide enough for the fabric to act as bias binding on the edges of the now cardigan. I pressed each piece in half lengthwise and then placed the long raw edges into the middle meeting the centre crease. Then I stitched each long piece with right sides facing onto the sides of the cardigan and tucked in the upper and lower raw edges of the floral fabric before slip stitching the other side to the wrong side of the cardigan. I quite like a little bit of hand sewing, so it’s good to sit in the evening and sew away, it’s quite soothing.

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My Woodland Garden

I’ve been in and out of the garden today, like a fiddler’s elbow. Intermittent showers have kept me inside the previous couple of days, plus cold and windy weather.

I started this blog a week or so ago, and then the sun came out, plus other activities and normal life made demands on my time and the blog just didn’t get finished, well it really didn’t get started did it? I must admit I do like to sit occasionally, have a good cup of plunger coffee and chat to my husband whilst we relax, we can do that much more now that we are retired. Bliss!

So I’ve been repotting 30 odd Clivias, potting up many little native ginger seedlings and using up two bags of potting mix, two LARGE bags of potting mix. The picture is of a Belgian Hybrid Clivia that had doubled in size and had a couple of pups in the same pot and was in desperate need of repotting. So now I have three plants from one.

BH b

Belgian Hybrid Clivia

One of the reasons I did not finish my blog, was the 5 and half hours straight that I worked on our Woodland Garden. It started with me going out to garden in the veggie garden but how I found myself in a completely different spot on our approximately three acres of gardens I shall never know. That happens to me, and other gardeners that I know, fairly regularly. Even if you don’t plan on gardening that day, just wandering outside with a cup of tea in hand before you have to take that trip into town to carry out that perennial chore (note the gardening term) known as grocery shopping (ugh) and then end up coming inside one or two hours later, with dirt all over one’s pajamas and under one’s fingernails. It’s like we are being led by an unknown force, which of course, we are.

But this day I found myself in the Woodland garden where Mike had cut out a walk which is now known as Woodland Walk. It’s not a huge garden, but it consists of about three or four Bauhinia trees. We have the pink, white and port wine coloured ones. We also have three or more callistemon, a Brunfelsia commonly known as Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow as the flowers when they first open they are a violet colour, fading to lavender blue and then white, with the three colours present on the bush at the same time.




This is all underplanted with red ginger, birds nest ferns, bromeliads, crucifix orchids, snowflake euphorbias, white plumbago, Clivias, and not my favourite but my husband’s, a rather large frilly fish-bone fern which can become a bit rampant for my liking. So I got in there and started pulling some out to use as mulch in other parts of the garden and also began pruning the bauhinia trees and removing dead wood etc.

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