Vegetable garden
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Veggie Patch

All good Easter Bunnies need a vegetable patch, so I thought it was a good time to tackle the topic of growing vegetables.  Well, I bit off more than I could chew,  so consider this Part One.

Let’s start with the easy bit.  Some inspiration.

Wood planters.  Source:  Remodelista.

Wood planters. Source: Remodelista.

Photo by Anna Fasth at  Tradgards Design.

Photo by Anna Fasth at Tradgards Design.

Concrete kitchen garden.  Photo source:  Skarp Agent (unverified).

Concrete kitchen garden. Photo source: Skarp Agent (unverified).

Source:  Style Room

Source: Style Room

(Header photo source:  Victoria Skoglund.)

Good looking, hey?  Looks are important because our vegetable garden is going in our front yard.  I like the simplicity of several black boxes in a row, but I’d also like to soften the look of the front yard so gardens with varying heights and angles appeal to me too.  There are plenty more swish vegetable gardens to see in my Pinterest file.

I’ve grown herbs and a few veggies before but on a very small scale.  The more I read, the more I go round in circles considering aspect, soil, garden bed material, climate, pests and even who’s friends with who in the vegetable world.  So I’ve narrowed my plan of attack down to these three options:

  1. Continue to study up and plan a technically correct vegetable garden.
  2. Bribe my Dad with an airfare, give him a budget and let him loose in my front yard.
  3. Wing it.

I’m currently favouring the last option.  In the mean time, here are a few resources that I’ve found interesting:

  1. Yates – my hard copy of Yates Garden Guide is in storage, so I had to resort to the web.  This site has a lot of Australian based information.  I signed up to trial their virtual garden, but it lacks the detail to be useful.
  2. Garden Angels – How to Grow Your Own Vegetables video series.  These cheerful and short videos start right from the basics of building your own garden bed.
  3. Online Garden Planner.  The trial version is free.  You can map out your garden space, getting an idea of scale.
My veggie plan as drawn on  the Online Planner:  work in progress.

My veggie plan as drawn on the Online Garden Planner: work in progress.

And because I’ve failed dismally so far to put together a “This is how I’m going do it” plan, I am referring you to the talented Steph from Saltbush Avenue.  Not only did Steph do her research and develop a great vegetable garden plan that included the most adorable illustrations, but she’s harvested her first crop and is now teasing me with photos of home grown veggies.

Have a great Easter everyone and don’t forget to leave a carrot out for the rabbit.

 

 

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Can’t see the wood for the trees.

In order to limit our landscaping costs and because we like gardening, we are planning and planting the trees and plants ourselves.  The garden is a long way off but already we’ve been keeping an eye out for suitable trees.  I’ve been scouring Houzz for good looking gardens by West Australian landscape companies.  Houzz is very useful because the landscape companies often give details about the products and plants that they use.

Fully labelled photo - scroll over tags in "Houzz" to see the name of each plant or product.  Landscape design by Secret Gardens, photo via Houzz.

Fully labelled photo – scroll over tags in “Houzz” to see the name of each plant or product. Landscape design by Secret Gardens, photo via Houzz.

Surprisingly, recent real-life inspiration came from Parliament House in Canberra.    The landscaping there is beautiful.  Orderly without being stark. There is a distinct colour scheme of grey and green.  The outstanding feature is a grove of birch trees.

A courtyard at Parliament House, Canberra.  Photo courtesy of Swah from Swah Love.

A courtyard at Parliament House, Canberra. Photo courtesy of Swah from Love Swah.

There are 5 or 6 areas of our landscape that require trees.  I’ve created a shortlist for each area after researching the following local resources:

Let’s start at the back (canal-side).

Trees for the canal side.

Trees for the canal side of our block.  Landscape design by Tim Davies Landscaping.

We need one feature tree, a row of 3 narrow trees and a poolside row of pleached trees.

1.  The feature tree needs to:

  • shade the outdoor lounge area from the Western sun.
  • tolerate coastal conditions including wind (and sandy soil?).
  • be beautiful.
  • have roots that are containable to a small area (pool and pavers are nearby).

    This picture is fairly close to our landscaping plans.  Upright fencing, pool.  Not much shade going on here.

    This picture is fairly close to our landscaping plans. Upright fencing, decking and pool. But, we need more shade.  Source:  William Dangar and Associates, via Flickr.

Here’s my shortlist:

  • Frangipani (Plumeria).  Shortfalls might include inadequate shade and wind intolerance.
  • Magnolia Kay Parris.  Might need wind protection.
  • Chinese Tallow.  Due to invasive roots, I think it would need to remain potted.  The leaf drop in the pool may be yuck.
  • Olive.   Not quite in the beautiful category when planted in isolation.

(Picture sources:  1 & 4.  Arbor West Tree Farm.  2.  Ellenby Tree Farm.  3. Cultivart Landscape Design, via Houzz.)

I don’t think I’ve found the perfect feature tree, so let me know if you have a suggestion.  (No palms.)

2.  Row of 3 trees needs to be:

  • Light on foliage, to keep the view.
  • Narrow.
  • Tolerant to coastal conditions.

Shortlist:

  • Ornamental pear. (Might need wind protection)
  • Silver birch. (May grow too large.)
  • Evergreen ash.  (Could block the view.)
  • Chinese tallow. (Their roots make me nervous….)
  • Olive.
  • Banksia Integrifolia (pictured at the top of the post in the Houzz photo).

Picture sources: 1. C.O.S. Design via Houzz.  2.  Swan Architecture via Houzz.  3. Abor West Tree Farm.  4.  Tim Davies Landscaping.

3.  Pleached row of trees along poolside wall needs to be:

  • trainable.
  • not too messy (evergreen).

How about?:

  • Evergreen ash.
  • Designer ash” (Fraxinus excelsior “Nana”).
  • Weeping Lilly Pilly.

Picture sources: 1.  Tim Davies Landscaping  2.  Flemings  3. Swell Homes

Now to the front – here it is simpler.  North facing, more protected from wind and with more room to grow.

1.  Feature tree near front entry.  I think we’ll match the feature tree from the back, whatever that might be.

2.  Orchard around front yard perimeter:  This one is easy – olives and citrus trees, maybe a bay tree to complete the cook’s garden.  We’ve had olives and lemons in Mandurah before and they grew like wildfire.

Picture sources:  Olives – Charlotte Rowe, Bay tree – Penny Woodward,  Lemon and limes – Abor West Tree Farm.

Midway through my list making, my husband asked whether I could really mix native trees with non-natives and still keep to a single landscape style.  Despite the fact that he was only voicing what I had been wondering, I was annoyed that he was adding to my tree dilemmas!  Further web trawling has given me the confidence that mixing trees and plants  can be done well.  (The top picture is a good example.)  So my answer is now, yes!

The subject of trees certainly opened up a can of worms.  I’m not sure that I’ve concluded anything yet, but hopefully this post will encourage some advice from green-thumbed readers, particularly those in the same climate as House By The Water.  At the very least, I now have some short lists to take to the tree farms or local nurseries to seek further advice.