On becoming a shop snob and DIY as therapy.

Girls room.

With the benefit of Instagram filters.

Having just survived a sleepover party for six almost-10-years-old girls, the only thing I can do this afternoon is laze on the sofa.    The second Little Pig and I glammed up her room a bit with some matching doona covers.  I ordered them online since I’ve had no time to shop.  That was a mistake.  While the doonas themselves are quite lovely, they are not the colour that they appear online (nor in the hard copy advertising of the product sent along with my order).  So the various pinks in the room clash.

Doona cover.

New doona cover, modelled by Evita.

The Nice Wolf says I should have learned by now.  Helpful.  I’ll probably do it again.  I’m afraid I’ve developed shop snobbery, an unpleasant side effect of several years of online interiors “research”.  There’s only one local shop that satisfies my snobbery, so if I can’t find it at Frisky Deer, I look online. There is the argument that buying better quality products than the average Kmart product may pay off in the long term, but when it comes to bed linen I’m not sure that it’s true.  I pick on Kmart because I recently got all excited over Kmart’s new industrial style lockers.  Just what I was searching for to put in my son’s room.  The excitement ended as soon as I saw the product, so small and looking as though it would barely make the trip home let alone stand up to the hardship of housing a 6 year old boy’s daily clothes.

Shop snobbery is an expensive addiction that I’m trying to control.  To curb my habit, I’ve taken up some DIY.  Inspired and instructed by Maya from House Nerd, I dared to drill a hole in a brand new wall.  At first, I thought I was no good at it, but then Nice Wolf replaced my inferior drill piece included in a kit, with a decent drill piece and away I went.

 

Bathroom hooks.

Bathroom hooks.

I was on a roll with 3 wall hooks mounted, only to be halted by some electric wires.  According to my wire detector, my whole wall around my bed head is filled with electric wires!  Exactly where I want to put a bracket for my much-loved pendant light.   Back to the drawing board.

Not to be defeated, I took up rendering.  With a couple of YouTube lessons and some advice from the Nice Wolf under my belt, I set about to hide the neighbour’s brick fence.   The Nice Wolf made me a concrete mix in the mixer.  He was laying cobblestones (forever….) while I rendered the wall.  I donned some gloves, put the grouting gizmos (technical term) in my hands and hoped for the best.

 

I am not a perfectionist.  Some may shiver at my amateur efforts, but I am rather pleased with this wall so far.  I plan to paint the wall once the rainy days disappear, then plant a row of pleached pears or lilly pillies in front.

The professional landscapers installed our outdoor lights.  They look WOW!  They bloody well should, too.  (Dad, cover your eyes…)  They cost $7000, or about $500 a pop, on average.  My night time photography is blah, but trust me that my 3 coastal banksias, lit up at night, look fantastic and as for the copper step lights?   See for yourself.

We are, as always, progressing slowly.  I really, really, really hope that next time I blog, our landscapers, Tim Davis Landscaping, will be finished their scope of work.  They still have the pool to finish, a couple of fences to install, a bench seat to deck and a few bits of tidying up to go.  Honestly, they’ve been incredibly slow.  I can’t blame them in this rainy weather, but they did start last December.

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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.