Nothing more appealing than a hammock on a beautiful day. Oh great, but what about actually having to “HOW TO”?Read More
For those who have no idea of feng shui – the energy of a room could be affected by rearrangement the furniture. A lot of people who are exposed to the practice of feng shui think that a desk must be put facing a door so that anyone sitting there does not share their energy away to people who just enter that door. Read this reviews for some useful tips on some home improvement tasks with feng shui.Read More
What To Do In The Garden This Month; Beautiful, functional and easy to grow, a lush green wall will allow your garden, courtyard or balcony to take on another dimension
WANT MORE GREENERY in your garden? Whether you have a large backyard that’s a bit lacklustre or a postage-stampsized plot in need of a compact solution, a “vertical garden” or “green wall” could be the answer. This used to mean a few climbers over the fence or a wall, but now covering the side of a house or the length of a garden wall with pockets of greenery is all the rage. Fancy creating one at your place? Here are your options
Dutch-born artist Joost Bakker provides inspiration for a striking wall garden in his pottedstrawberry- covered installation (Greenhousebyjoost.com) that was recently at Sydney’s Circular Quay. To copy this look, simply organise pot plants on outdoor shelves in a grid pattern. Flip back to page 42 for inspiration.
The Yates Vertical Garden Bag ($5.95) is a great option for a tiny space. It’s easy to use and can hold flowers such as petunias and pansies or edible plants such as baby spinach and strawberries.
The espalier technique is a method of growing plants “flat packed” against a wall, usually on a trellis. Merrywood Nursery in Vic (Merrywoodplants. com.au) sells over 30 varieties of espaliered plants on frames, starting from $250.
Another idea that works well in small areas is to use a hanging shoe organiser with pockets. Get one that’s made from plastic mesh rather than fabric (try Howards Storage World) and hang it on your fence or wall.
Fill the pockets with lightweight potting mix, then add either potted colour or “rockery” plants like succulents, depending on the look you’re after. Alternatively, invest in a modular living wall system (see right and above) from Woolly Pocket (Woollypocket.com). Made from recycled plastic water bottles, these planter pockets come in three sizes and four colours.
Our Cool Garden
WHAT CLINCHED THE DEAL for David Netto to buy this suburban home was the reaction of his eldest daughter, Kate. It was December 2003 and she was about two years old at the time. “Kate was so delighted by that garden, particularly the water features, that it tipped me to buy the house within minutes of first walking in,” says the designer and writer. “Otherwise I probably would have dithered and lost it.”
And lost it, he would have. The home is a 1960s property designed by Modernist architect Richard Neutra. The previous owner had restored the house and garden to “pristine condition”, in keeping with the architect’s original vision. “But I did decide to decorate the inside in a specifically un-Neutra way,” David says. “I wanted it to resemble Modernist houses of the 1930s, before all the rules set in – something rich and more eclectic than what we now know as mid-century design.”
“I LIKE THAT THE GARDEN IS PLANNED AS AN EXTENSION OF THE ROOMS INSIDE THE HOUSE”
But David did not dare to change the garden, which was also part of the original design. “You can’t, actually,” he adds. “It’s sort of an inevitable design, at one with the architecture of the house.”
And that’s the beauty of this garden. “I like that it’s really planned as an extension of the rooms inside,” David says. The design masks the small square meterage of the interior – which is only 140 sq m – with the use of terraces and material choices, creating the illusion that the outside and inside are one,” he adds. “This sort of house convinces you that you are living out of doors when you’re inside.”
The garden is put to good use by the family, which has extended to include another daughter, Madelyn. “It looks great year round,” David says. “I love it when all the Agapanthus ‘Peter Pan’ bloom in the back courtyard. We are conscious of using mostly plants that can tolerate heat, sun and don’t require lots of water.”
The front garden is often admired by guests when they arrive for dinner. The path at night is lit with candles, which adds a glow to the surrounding plants and trees. And while David doesn’t consider himself a gardener, he’s a keen admirer of them, especially this one.
What To Do In The Garden This Month; Juicy mangoes. Creamy avocados. Sweet peaches. Summer heralds a banquet of luscious fruits, many of them easy to grow
SUMMER IS ONE of the best times for fruit, with display tables in fruit and veg shops often groaning under the weight of trays of stonefruits (mangoes, peaches, nectarines, anyone?) and mountains of passionfruit, pawpaws and tamarillos, to name a few.
Have you ever wished you could grow your own? Well, you most likely can. Growing tropical fruit at home is simple, when you know what varieties to choose
Although a tropical fruit, avocados are eaten as a salad vegetable. The tree can grow pretty much anywhere – even in containers although it will need protection from frost and require good drainage. Generally, avocado trees grow to about 8m and take years to bear fruit. However, the dwarf variety Wurtz grows to 2.5m and fruits much sooner.
Mangoes do especially well in the tropical north of Australia and on the subtropical east coast. Although the average mango tree may fill the backyard, there are dwarf varieties now available that only grow up to 4m. Early Gold is one of the fastest to bear its reddish-gold fruits, followed by Irwin then Palmer, which has late developing, more elongated fruit, which is less fibrous.
This divine fruit, borne on a vine, can grow almost anywhere. It is one of the simplest fruits to grow, providing there is a fence, trellis or balcony rail that the vine can be trained along. Passionfruit vines need full sun to thrive, so a northerly aspect is usually best. A variety of passionfruits are available, from the large Panama Red and Panama Gold to the more traditional small black passionfruit and elongated yellow banana passionfruit, which can become a weedy menace (planting is prohibited by some councils). Grafted passionfruit are normally your safest bet, as these are more resilient to disease.
Tamarillos thrive across southern Australia to the subtropics. Also known as tree tomatoes, they are less commonly grown than other fruits, but are so delicious, they should be planted more! The fruit looks similar to a passionfruit, only more egg-shaped and with red skin. The flesh is juicy and sweet, with a touch of sharpness.
Pawpaws are easy to grow, particularly in tropical and warmtemperate climates. They are classified into three sex types: male, female and hermaphrodite (aka bisexual). The last are self-pollinating so you will harvest the most fruit per plant. Pawpaws like a sunny position while keeping their roots cool – next to the house is often a perfect spot. They usually bear fruit twice a year. For a refreshing coleslaw, pluck them from the tree while they’re green and grate them, then mix with grated carrot and a squeeze of lime juice. Or pick them when they’re ripe for a quick and easy dessert.
These are found from Tasmania to the tropics. There are two different types of guava plants the strawberry, cherry or apple guavas (Psidium) and the pineapple guava (Feijoa). Both plants are hardy, have delicious fruits and cope with almost any soil type. Also, the pineapple guava not only produces delicious fruit, it looks beautiful, boasting striking red flowers, glorious silvery leaves and attractive mottled bark.
Traditional stonefruits grow in cooler areas, but there are subtropical varieties available for those of us who live in warmer climes. Look for peach varieties such as Floraprince and Floragold and the nectarine Sundowner.
With just a handful of outdoor furniture pieces and a few accessories you can easily turn a basic garden courtyard into a cool, themed outdoor room. Interior designer Jacinta Preston shows us how
THE BACKYARD is the perfect area to create a themed “room”, an additional living space where you can relax, entertain, or watch a movie (yes, it’s possible!). Turning your garden into this extra living space isn’t as expensive or time consuming as you may think. In fact, it can be done in just a day and with a few key items.
Create a holiday at home feel that’s perfect for parties
HANGING RATTAN CHAIRS
add a lovely glamorous or recliner resort style feel to an otherwise classic garden. Place in pairs so you can sway and chat to a friend at the same time. For extra colour and comfort, add a couple of bright, summery cushions.
(or any canopy umbrellas) will instantly amp up the garden-party vibe. They will create a shady spot to escape the sun and the raffia will give the garden a tropical touch.
A few colourful stools will add a fun, bright burst to the space. Tolix stools come in a range of summery shades (think yellow, pink, green, blue). Position by the lounge area they’ll come in handy for resting a magazine or cocktail. Jacinta’s tip Limit the number of furniture elements in the garden so that the “space” becomes the luxury.
2. Art park
Turn your garden into a galler y
A high rendered wall is the obvious area to transform into your garden gallery as it’s the perfect plain backdrop for interesting and eye-catching works.
A simple candleholder can become a feature artwork when used in an interesting way. In this layout, nine pieces of the Geo Wall Art candleholder (see below) have been used to create a dramatic sculptural lighting element. It looks stunning when the sun sets. Perfect for evening soirees.
Boris Bally “Pentatrays” and Alan James “Verbal Art” signs could also create a dynamic urban art installation. Jacinta’s tip Position seating in areas that can appreciate the gallery wall. We created a casual “corner” on the deck with two Adirondack folding chairs, and then used bench seating and two tables to form a generous outdoor dining area facing the wall.
3. Fantasy fairytale
Create a secret-garden inspired space the kids will love
A dining area can be created in the garden zone with a couple of bench table sets. Add a few colourful Tolix stools for the kids. Two Adirondack chairs on the deck will instantly make a lovely lounge area to relax.
When the sun sets add a pretty twinkling glow to the garden with solar-powered butterfly lights (Butterfly lights, $16.88, Big W) strewn en-masse through the vertical garden wall. Paper lanterns hanging randomly from the branches will also add to that whimsical, fairytale feel.
The Kartell Gnome stool/table (red dot in courtyard plan) with its colourful design adds a playful touch. Jacinta’s tip Do just one “good thing” to make it beautiful. That might mean having 10 of that one gorgeous light, candle or pot plant. One item repeated en masse is a simple way to decorate.
4. moonlight cinema
Kick back and enjoy a movie in your own backyard
– no kidding! – make it possible to create a permanent outdoor home theatre. Great for family movie nights or big sporting events.
COSY & COMFY Soft
seating is essential. Throw down a few beanbags, scatter some cushions and stretch out on a modular lounge chair with a comfy footstool. A few director’s chairs will really create that authentic movie-night atmosphere.
around the fire and toast marshmallows while watching your favourite film perfect! The glow of the fire will add a warm, cosy ambience to the proceedings, too.
Illuminate the garden walkway cinema-style with solar-powered path lights leading cinemagoers to their seats. Try Patio By Jamie Durie Solar Bollard tall path lights, $29.97 for 6.
It might be hard to disassociate cacti from the ’70s – or their association with Mexican eateries – but the time has come. They are graphic, sculptural, and let’s not forget easy to look after!
Cacti are part of the succulent family, and comprise up to 90 per cent water – and some varieties need watering only once every six months. Talk about easy!
Tip Don’t use regular potting mix or soil – cacti require a mixture of grit, sand and small stones. Also, if you water them in spring you can get flowers.
Homes often have a “dead” zone – a space that’s too small for large pieces of furniture (sofas, recliners,…), but which left alone looks bare and neglected. Consider creating a potted corner to liven up the area. All you need is a stand or crate. Alternatively, a preloved chair might suffice. To create visual interest, mix and match plants and vessels. Play around with heights and widths to celebrate the varying shapes and heights of the plants – you don’t want the collection to look “blocky”. Vessels made from a variety of colours and materials are a good idea.
Even if you are a brown thumb, you can still introduce plants into your interior. Of course, cacti or succulent varieties are a good idea. But you could go one step further – or easier – and simply add plant cuttings. Cuttings last longer than flowers (up to three weeks), add a sculptural form to a space and they don’t need water changing. Plus, cuttings are a great idea if you have plants such as monstera growing in your garden.
Beside furniture (reclining chairs, sofas, TV,…), you can use plants to decorate your living room. Plants, such as staghorn ferns (pictured here), can be hung on your wall instead of artworks. We bought these varieties ready mounted on wooden plaques from the garden centre. The effect is as if they are framed, too. And just like with any art or photo display, consider the composition of your hanging. Here, we’ve gone for a symmetrical look. You could just as easily add the plants in amongst a selection of actual framed photos or art.
Furniture by its very nature is often boxy. So to break up the lines it’s a good idea to add something that’s sculptural. That’s where a plant can come in handy. It’s like a living piece of art. The same theory goes for plants on tabletops. You can create vignettes or mini installations. Smaller varieties don’t block the view or impede conversation either.