Ringwood North garden

The Open Garden Scheme provided the opportunity to view a garden that I have been curious about for a long time. I knew that a lot of effort had gone into its redevelopment  but as it is at the top of a cutting in the road, it was impossible to see what was happening.

Banool is a 1.6 acre property; a much larger estate was developed over 100 years ago and the current house built in 1936. It has many large trees and the recent landscaping was done under the direction of Paul Bangay, engaged by the current owners after they purchased in 2004.

The driveway curves up hill toward the house, passing beneath a very shady Port Jackson Fig.

The ancient front hedge and tree studded lawns  give way to deep beds closer to the house. These are filled with gorgeous plants including roses, iris, sweet pea, foxgloves and a stunning rhododendron. The form and planting is perfectly in keeping with the era of the stone built house.

The garden structures are mainly new, but the stone pillars are part of the 1930s garden. Beside the old driveway is an old grafted ash and the remains of the Hills Hoist that was the original support.

Round the back is the fruit and vegetable garden and more lawns and trees.

It is pleasantly surprising to find a garden of this type in Ringwood North, usually associated with Australian native gardens and 1980s subdivisions.



One and a half years on

The bathtub garden I created following my bathroom renovations is hard to recognise. Nearly all the succulents have done really well, only the flap-jacks succumbed to snail attack. The white Mesembryanthemum is trailing everywhere with its pretty white flowers popping up between the other plants. Pig face is such an unattractive name, it doesn’t deserve it at all.

I gave the mini fountain a clean out, not too much muck had accumulated in the bottom of the sump and with the sun out it bubbles away beautifully. All this low maintenance bed needed was a top up of soil where it had compacted and a quick wash of the pebbles.

Just as expected, after the drastic lopping of all the trunks of the bay tree in February, it is putting out lots of new growth. I plan to keep it clipped from now on to give the quince tree some room.

Another tree doing exceptionally well this spring is the mulberry. It is Hick’s Fancy and has a bumper crop. I picked 200g yesterday just for starters, so I have been searching for mulberry recipes. I’m also picking lots of parsley, all these flat leaf parsley plants have grown from seed I saved last summer and scattered after ridding the bed of oxalis.


Ballaarat Quilters

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the 2017 Exhibition put on by the very talented and industrious Ballaarat Quilters.

The Hall at St Patricks is a great venue, even the ceiling has plenty to inspire a quilter. Included in the exhibition were the responses to a few challenges and quilts following a red and white theme. There was even a table setting in red and white made entirely in fabric. It was lovely to see Vireya’s circle quilt in its entirety, I have had a few sneak peeks during the making. Worth clicking for a closer view, the quilting is beautiful.

Three large quilts all by Robyn Cooper are a Grey Series started when she says she noticed the stack of grey fabrics was far too large. She describes her process as a “cut and sew and go wherever inspiration takes me”. All fabulous quilts and all made this year.

Another two quilts I really liked turned out to be made by the same person. Sue Scrabl’s response to the circle challenge has lovely textured fabric circles inserted into a stripe and simply embroidered. She has reimagined the Kaffe Fassett pattern African Collage from the book Shots and Stripes to make a busy landscape for diggers and trucks. Her grandson will have lots of fun making up stories of hills and holes and roads.

A beautifully proportioned small quilt by Jenny Bacon is all made by hand. The design was inspired by her Crabapple tree through the seasons. The border’s symmetrical structure is made more interesting by the extra branches twining upwards on each side. The hand quilting really enhances the appliqué and I loved the final border treatment. While not a large quilt, it contains a huge amount of skilful work.

A great show, congratulations to the group. If you missed out you will have to wait two years for the next one, it will be worth it. I didn’t leave empty handed as members had some lovely items for sale, including this covered journal.IMG_6992

It is hard to resist a rabbit.

The train to Ballarat

The Victorian Government generously gives two rail passes a year to Seniors Card holders. I have been very remiss in taking up this benefit until today when I journeyed to Ballarat to visit the Ballaarat Quilters Exhibition which I will cover in another post. Readers with a keen eye will have noticed the variation in spelling. It goes back to a change in local government structures in 1994 when the spelling was changed, dropping the double ‘a’ to signify a new council.

Enough of history. I arrived in Ballarat at mid-morning and headed off to Alfred Deakin Square behind the Ballarat Art Gallery where MexVic was holding a Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration.

It was crazily delightful and a wonderful way to remember the dead. Fortunately there were enough informative signs to explain the event. Mexican people believe that a person is only truly dead once he or she is forgotten by their loved ones and Dia de Muertos celebrations are a way of keeping the memory and therefore the spirit of the person alive.

Ofrendas are set up in houses and public spaces dedicated to deceased loved ones, and objects are placed on them which were associated with the dead person. The scent of the flowers and incense is intended to guide the spirit of the dead person back to visit their loved ones. This beautiful ofreada was built by Ballarat’s Hispanic community and is dedicated tot he victims of the recent earthquakes in Mexico.

The Alfrombrista tapestry was made by Mexican artist Alejandro with a lot of help from celebration participants. It took a long time to fill in with coloured mulch and sands so I had to come back later in the day to see how it had progressed.

The Pan de Puerto is delicious, it is flavoured with orange to give it a strong aroma and bring the dead to the altar.

The day was very much for children, with special dances, crafting activities and of course piñata, which had them diving for sweets when it finally broke.

I discovered a tiny project/gallery space off the square, the current exhibition is Skipticism.

Beautiful Machines were some of the 322 photographs of sewing machines found at landfill sights and outside Skip in Cast was a skip bin cast embedded with found objects.

Before heading up the hill to the quilts I saw a bit of central Ballarat, with the Eureka flag flying of course. And visited the farmers market in Bridge Mall where there were some tempting plants, but not for a train traveller.

I also saw some beautifully bound journals which I thought would interest my friend Jenni.

I have to say the VLine train trip was most pleasant, and I will be sure to use my remaining voucher this year. When I finally got back to Southern Cross Station in the early evening it was full of interesting characters. The slightly tipsy ones dressed in black and white, many sans shoes, were on their way home from the races. I assume those dressed as fantasy characters had been to the Anime Festival at Jeff’s Shed. There was a most charming Kiki complete with a broomstick and cat Jiji peeping out of her bag on my platform as I waited for my Metro train.




This is not a bird

Playing around with the cut out pieces from my humming bird.

I fused them on to pink and during the night dreamed they should be covered in lace.


Pink and grey are a good combination, who knows what will happen next.

A new quilt shop

After months of rumours and false leads, Clair’s Fabrics has opened at Warran Glen Garden Centre, Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, Warrandyte.

Once inside the doors there is plenty of fabric in the bright modern style and Clair ready to provide friendly advice. After so many shops closing it is good news that one has opened close to home.

Another horse chestnut tree in full flower spotted over the fence at the nursery. This one has flowers that are much darker than the ones I saw at Banksia Park.

Reverse appliqué

On Friday two weeks ago I spent the whole day in a workshop with Grace Errea. She specialises in appliqué quilts and has developed some new techniques. I quite like reverse appliqué by hand and was curious on how it could be done by machine.

The example used in the class was more like a lead light window effect and involved many steps to achieve an interesting result. To adhere the fabrics before stitching we used dilute Liquid Thread on the back of black fabric. The pattern was transferred using freezer paper on the front and cutting was done with a craft knife.

I really like having a small practice piece first to learn the basics of the technique.

Things got rather sticky when we moved on to a larger project and much more adhesive was used. By the end of the day I had the finished outline of a humming bird pressed onto my background.

Since then I have zigzag stitched it down and added a flower outline  of my own design. It is lightly quilted with leaves, buds and a flower and today I finished the binding. I had read about binding with a faux flange earlier this year and as Grace likes wide binding with a flange thought I would give it a go. I downloaded these instructions and used the suggested measurements. It is pretty easy, all done by machine. But I would used different proportions next time and take care about the measurement on the back as well as the front for a result that is as good as my usual binding.

Just for fun I coloured in-between the zigzagging on the back with fabric pen to make a reversed image.