There's been quite a bit of progress on the back garden and pool in the past couple of weeks. For a few weeks after the concrete shell of the swimming pool was poured, it frustratingly all sat idle. So to see a large team buzzing around outside the windows every day has been pleasing indeed. The upside of it taking over 3.5 months for our local council to approve the swimming pool (why did it need to go to the Heritage planners for approval??), is that we decided we could now afford a large proportion of the plants. They are still small, but will grow.

Now, regarding the garden - I did not design it. I wrote about it a year and a half ago here, but I decided that it would be better to hand over to a professional. While I love gardening, I have not studied it, and did not want to make expensive mistakes that I'd be forever correcting and fiddling with, rather than watching plants grow into maturity. Naturally I always advocate having an Architect involved in a house Renovation or build, and I thought I should take my own advice and use a professional, rather than thinking that I should save the money on that fee. I'd also suggest it's really valuable to have the come in early in the design process so that you can adjust parts of the Architecture to work better with the garden. Our stairs down to the garden from the verandah were rejigged, and work much better than they would have if we'd just built them as they were originally planned and then had a garden designed around them.


My landscape Designer has more than paid for herself! I'm already so pleased with her design and plant choices. She really understood all that I loved in gardens, and the vision I had for the back, and her layout and planting schemes have been spot on. This photo above is of the Outdoor Living space, and as it's close to the swimming pool and the new formal side garden, it has transitional planting of sculptural spheres that are looser than the side garden planting. There's a white Crepe Myrtle tree, and Cycads, Japanese Box and softer plantings in between.

All the plants are selected to be water wise - we have very hot, very dry summers, and while we have a watering system (the brown drip hose you can see in all the photos due to lack of mulch at this stage), we need to try to minimise our water use as much as possible.


Up against the house, we've done some planting to screen the less desirable "borrowed view" of our neighbour's house. They have a large, reasonably unattractive rain water tank adjacent to our fence, and our fence is at the maximum height allowable. So there are 5 pencil pines planted there, which will grow to 6 meters in height. A fig has also been planted to replace the one we had to remove for the swimming pool.


The ornamental Manchurian Pear trees and underplanting of Murraya (mock orange) hedging were planted 3 years ago along our boundary fence, so are already maturing nicely. Eventually the hedge will cover the fence completely. In front of each pear tree is a Viburnum topiary ball, which mimics the formal garden at the front. Planted in amongst all of this are to be masses of blue toned salvias, a few different varieties which I'll grow from cuttings. This will give a looser, more relaxed feel to the garden, but the balls will give structure when the salvias are cut back in Winter.



The lawn is roughly divided into thirds, with the second third being larger than the other two. This protruding garden bed has a Maple in it, and more Japanese Box balls. They will grow eventually and be huge. Ignore the irrigation system being laid in the turf, plus the chair/box/ramp thing the kids had constructed (I believe it was a spaceship).


In the last protruding section of the garden bed on the South side, we have 5 pencil pines planted which will give height to this part of the garden. In front is a Forest Pansy (tree) and behind the pines are another row of Murraya (mock orange) hedging. This is the Boules Court, which is going to be a separate space. It will be used as a hard play area for a basketball hoop, and will have a small seating area in this little secret garden room. 



There are some stakes in the photo above showing the position of the new Manchurian Pears. They actually arrived today, and were planted, but I didn't have a chance to photograph anything. The surface of the boules court is also changing to be a darker colour - this is just the base that you can see.


On either side to the boules court there are a pair of Crabapples. The garden will be full of blossom in Spring, which will be beautiful.



The old roller you can see in the photos came with the house, it's from the old lawn tennis court that was originally in this area, and which we have reclaimed as garden.




The swimming pool is looking very unexciting. It is going to be tiled in a greenish ceramic mosaic. I couldn't face the thought of the extra cost for glass mosaics (3 x's the price). There's a wall being built this week behind the pool which will screen the ugly shed at the back of our garden, and the utility area of pool pump/ heating etc.


The side garden is complete, having been redug up for the solar pipes for the swimming pool heating being dug in to go up to their position on the roof. The gravel is out under the Viburnum balls and pears, and the tiny Japanese box hedges have already doubled in size (not hard, they were microscopic when planted). I have been pouring fertiliser on them all.





Inside, it's been busy. I've been quite unwell for the past month or so with Shingles, of all things. It's the remnant of the Chicken Pox virus, which I had when I was nine. It apparently can reappear when you are immune suppressed and run down. It's been a bad few months with sick children in the house, and not a lot of undisturbed nights sleeps for me as a result, hence why I became ill myself. You don't get the actual Pox, but an ugly rash instead and a viral flu like thing. I've been very tired as a result.

So it was nice, after a month or so of boring inactivity and a lot of time in bed sleeping to go out to dinner with Mr AV on a Saturday night. We went to Giallo in Kent Town, where it's cosy and the food is always good. I wore a lot of pink in a nod to Spring, with a lot of black as well as it was still cold.

Pink silk floral skirt, pink patent clutch and pale pink Clic Clac. Black knee heigh suede boots 

I managed to rally enough to have the Dad's over for Father's Day. My younger sister and her boyfriend came too, so there were 10 of us for lunch.


I had no flowers in the garden so cut off some of the blossoming pears for the flowers. I made a leg of lamb roast with mushroom and onion gravy, just as my Mum used to for all our family lunches. There were roast potatoes and a salad of slow roasted veggies with avocado and rocket.


For desert I cheated a bit. I'd made Lemon Curd a few weeks before, and had a jar of it in the fridge, so I made these little tartlet cases out of Careme sweet vanilla bean shortcrust pastry that I blind baked the day before, and filled them with a dollop of lemon curd and topped them with a strawberry and blueberries. Easy and delicious.


This week I'm clearing out the "Library"(that would be the junk room without books at present) as we've given the go ahead to the new bookcases I designed a few weeks ago. I have a lot of paperwork to get rid of and a big shredding bin that was delivered this morning to fill.

 gratuitous shot of Lillies in the kitchen.

Hope all is well in your world.

52 comments:

  1. What a beautiful space for your kids to grow! X

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    1. It was the biggest draw card for us when we were living in Melbourne with a courtyard. Gives me great joy to see them running around and playing in the garden.

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  2. The garden is looking amazing and it's such a lovely large property, perfect for kids to run around and get their beans out!
    We had our landscaping quote come in last week and though it is higher than we would have liked (isn't that always the case) we gave the go-ahead. We're building a box bay window with copper roof to replace a set of doors in the living room and restoring our kitchen door... which requires a porch (which will be built out of limestone, hence the expense). It will be quite a change to the back of the house and I am very happy that I will have a door in the kitchen to the garden, it has been driving me nuts for years not having one.
    The kitchen door will also have a wee roof made of copper which will be a delightful detail, all designed by our landscape architect aka my good friend Christopher.
    Thanks for sharing Heidi, I love these posts!
    I am very sorry to hear about your shingles, that is very painful according to MrBP who had it in his late thirties, stress and overwork did it to him. I hope you are still resting as much as possible!

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    1. Oh Copper roofs! How lovely! You'll so enjoy having that direct connection with the garden Dani, especially so that you can let Scout out. You do know how they used to get the copper to go green on the roofs in the old days though….? They'd wee on it! It's one little fact that has always stayed in my mind.
      Can't wait to see your house plans progress. Thanks for the sympathy on the Shingles - naturally the world did not stop while I was ill, but I did spend a lot of time napping and lying around, thankfully think I'm back to normal now.

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  3. Beautiful! How wonderful to do it all at once! We did our garden over a 10 year period and it tried my patience, though I am now a gardener!

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    1. Gardens require patience in general, so you were an absolute star to do it over a 10 year period Wendy. Your garden is so beautiful, I'm hopeful with a lot of fertiliser mine will grow rapidly and fill out like a more established garden does.

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  4. Hello Heidi,

    It is most interesting to see your garden taking shape. We are very much in the formal camp, believing that a good structure will hold the garden up through every season whilst softening can occur with the addition of flowering plants at any time.

    it is good, we feel, that the strict geometry of the house has been echoed in the garden borders. The use of evergreens has been cleverly positioned and will, we are sure give a pleasing look to the garden all through the year. There has been careful consideration given to all your family members' needs, so it should be well loved and used by everyone. Plant small has always been our motto......the growth is always amazing!

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    1. I think you're quite right Jane and Lance, you need to get the underlying structure right - plantings won't cover up some basic mistakes on that front. I so loved the photos you posted recently of your English garden - so pretty and definitely inspiring for me to look at. Hopefully with a lot of TLC our garden will flourish and look as verdant as yours!

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  5. Get well soon! Here in the US the shingles vaccine is often only covered for those 60+... but there have been more and more cases of it among people I know under 60... Very nasty, I'm so happy that you have garden planning to distract you.

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    1. It's amazing how many people have had it Liene! I've certainly had plenty of distractions around here though, that's for sure!

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  6. This is such an exciting and interesting project! Do you know if Adelaide has a Northern hemisphere city that is similar in climate...often ocean currents have greater impact than latitude I have belatedly come to realize.

    While I could never manage to execute 'tartlet cases' in the kitchen I do have designs of working it into a quip at an upcoming cocktail party.

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    1. We have a Mediterranean climate, so I guess the most similar would be parts of California like Ojay maybe, or actual Mediterraean cities - places in Spain and the South of Italy. Even Rome seems similar. But we do suffer from water shortages, as we don't have anywhere near to us that has significant waterfall and a large river coming our way to compensate.
      I can just see you working that tartlet case into your schtick...!

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  7. the garden looks stunning! And so organised and Paul Bangay at Stonefields-esque. LOVE IT!! Jealous of all that space and sun x

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    1. Not a patch on Paul's garden, probably around 1/10th the size for starters! But it is nice to have so much space and to now be able to USE it!

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  8. The pencil pines remind me of my grandmother's garden, she had them along the driveway. V red soil you have, ours is blackish and so sandy. The garden is going to be really gorgeous , 3.5 months for a swimming pool approval? I reckon my council would probably take that and more

    Sorry to hear about the shingles I've heard how debilitating it is, Im more amazed at your achievements hearing this.

    I thought of you yesterday when I passed Parterre in Woollahra, when I was a child it was a v. dark small corner shop ,we would go there to buy musk sticks, frogs, freckles etc

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    1. My grandmother had them too! I think they're very hardy, so that's probably why they used to be popular, as they'd survive without watering systems. The council approval was ridiculous!! Weirdly the whole extension took less time??
      So funny about Parterre being the milk bar - don't think you'd find a shop like that in Woollarah now, given what the local butcher looks like!!

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  9. Oh I just swallowed this whole post up! I LOVED IT. I love the formal garden you are creating! The pears are so pretty. I want to look up that forest pansy tree.
    I was at the nursery on Sunday evening and I wanted to take a capital pear tree home with me. So pretty. The blossom looked great on your table. No wonder you are run down will all that planting. I have 3 magnolias that need to go in the ground and I just recently dug out 2 shrubs I didn't want and they will go roughly were they were but haven't mustered up the energy since I used it all up on removing the shrubs!!
    You did a fab job with the father's day lunch. The salad looks great.
    I love the look of topiary balls clustered around on the ground with gravel in between! Definitely a favourite look of mine. All the buxus I own I have clipped into balls. They are still in their pots but are hoping they will make it into the ground one day.

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    1. Just fertilise them like crazy and they'll grow and fill out the pots. My original two that died last year I'd grown for 20 years. They were huge, and I remember how small they were when I first bought them and potted them up.
      I can't wait to see how you develop your patch of garden Laura, if it's anything like the interior of your house, it will be beautiful!

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  10. The blossom on your table looks really good, I really love blossom , so sculptural. I tried to smell one the other day and almost took my eye out.

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    1. thanks smr! The pear blossom actually smells quite awful. It was fine for lunch but about two days later we were all wondering what the sickly smell was. Can't even describe it, but it's quite weird!

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  11. Dear Heidi,
    Oh my your garden just look so wonderful. You have really nailed a modern Mediterranean climate garden mixed with some aspects of formal garden. It will really be a such a lovely environment for your family to grow up with and enjoy.
    Spookily I have just recovered from shingles!! Have been stressed as well but it really knocked me for a few days, Mr KB has been banging on for months that over 50's should have the chicken pox vaccine as it has been shown to prevent shingles but as usual I never got around to it. What really helped was this amazing device which I got in the UK last year.
    It is prescribed by the NHS for treatment of cold sores and I bought one at Boots. It has not been trialled on Shingles but i thought what the hell I'll give it a go and it really knocked iton head quickly.
    Here is the link and they now ship to Australia.
    http://www.virulite.eu/about-virulite/
    Its an evidenced based treatment so Dr KB says its OK to recommend it Lol.
    Kate Bx

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    1. I can't believe you've had Shingles too Kate B!!! A friend mentioned that a lot of people at her work have had it - seems really odd, but it's obviously popping up at the tail end of Winter. It seems to have been a very bad year for illnesses as well. Well, if I get it again I'll definitely try the cream you've recommended. I found that Nappy Rash cream (of all things) that I had left over from babies worked really well to heal it up and stop the itching!! Always worked so well on them (the Burt's Bees brand) that I thought I'd give it a go on me. Worked a treat!

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    2. Heid its actually a light that emits UV I think thats been proven to stop the virus from multiplying. I have used it on normal cold sores and the first sign and it literally makes them disappear! It is prescribed on the NHS in the UK as a valid treatment but you can buy it from the web site as they now ship to OZ. Good job on the Burt's Bees. who would have thought!

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  12. Your garden looks great now, so it will be amazing when everything matures. So much space! Look forward to seeing more updates :)

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    1. Thanks N! The space was what brought us home to Adelaide, I have to say… would never have been able to have something this size in Melbourne (without being quite a long way out). We're really enjoying the garden already, will be even better once it's finished and we've farewelled the builders.

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  13. Hi AV, thanks for your blog I enjoy your entries and have been looking wayyyyy back to your earlier entries and have enjoyed them all, one certainly opens up a Pandora's Box of comments. The uglies come out, mostly jealousy.
    My husband and I have downsized in the past year bought a house that needed some love and have enjoyed the process but not without stress, it's a challenge taking on others neglect but all is going well, considering large house to smaller house and goodbye to the pool yeah, our family are grown, married and moved on so we don't need all the space and a pool that was idle.
    I love what you have done with your home, a huge transformation, and thank you for the fashion updates either yours or others. Enjoy all you have achieved in life, we need to be happy all of us with where we are at, sieze the day!
    Lyn, Brisbane

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    1. Hi Lyn, thanks for your kind comments. It sounds like you're entering a new phase in your life, and the move to a smaller place with less maintenance on a pool will free you up - good luck with the new project, although it sounds like you're almost out the other end? Ah - fashion has been a good distraction in the past few years. Otherwise I get bogged down by pure house things, which can send one a little crazy after a while!! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

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  14. Well Heidi, when I read your blog today i cant believe how much you have all achieved despite your shingles-painful indeed and sick kids. Your garden is looking fantastic and i can see that it will give you immense pleasure as it grows and matures. You have made the right decision in hiring a professional- I never did and as I so often do-change my mind because I have come up with something i think is better!!!!-or as my husband quotes ad nauseum -a plant is not happy in my garden unless i have moved it three times!!!- you realise you have spent a lot of wasted time and money. Perhaps thats part of the process too. Regardless of how you get there- a garden is an extension of your home and your design proves that. I look forward to it in each season. Good luck with the pool and stay well. Marilyn

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    1. Hi Marilyn, you're very kind to say I've achieved a lot - things ground to a halt for a few weeks as I wasn't pushing things along. But now I've got back to full strength I've definitely cracked the whip and things have moved at a pace! You've made me laugh about your plant - I have an aunt who does the same thing. She will move the most enormous plants around in her garden until it is just right. I'm hopeful I've avoided the same fate by hiring in the professional!

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  15. There's nothing quite like a well laid out garden. Your designer has done a great job. Money well spent for sure!
    Do you have some scented plants near the seating area? Really like the dark blue fence. Works so well with the lush green.

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    1. We don't have scented plants near the seating area… the problem with blossom is that it attracts the bees, and we have a lot of them in the garden (definitely no decline in bee populations around here). I like a dark fence as it recedes into the background. Hopefully the green of the hedge will cover it all in a few years time. Gardening is definitely all about patience!

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  16. Hi Heidi, I'm very behind in commenting, but so, so sorry to hear about your Shingles! that must be awful!
    I hope you're fully recovered?
    The garden is looking amazing! it's so inspiring to see your house and now your garden transformed!
    As you know, we're just at the beginning of our renovation marathon, so it is very good to see life after renovations!

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    1. Hi Ruth, I'm fully recovered I think - thanks for your kind words. This will be you next year! Honestly I find it difficult to remember how we used to live in the house - it's amazing how quickly it all becomes 'normal' and the discomfort of the past (both physical and financial) recedes with speed!

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  17. Hi, I really like the way your garden is coming together, we are currently in the demo stage of a back renovation and I am thinking of engaging a landscape designer to make sure the undercover entertaining area connects properly with the garden, can you recommend the designer you used?
    Thanks

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    1. Hi anon, we used Virginia Kennett to do the design. We've been so pleased with her design work. Good luck with your project

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    2. We used Virginia Kennett, too! The design is spot on - in fact, when we told her the brief and she came back with the design, we didn't alter a thing (which is highly unusual for me!) Nearly 2 years on - the plant selection and design is even more perfect. She was worth every cent.

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    3. Thanks So much for your help, I will get in contact with her :)

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    4. Hello! I'm really enjoying reading your blog and watching your garden take shape over time. We would love to get in contact with Virginia Kennett to help design our garden (much smaller than yours but the style is perfect) but I'm having trouble finding her details - can you possibly help me please? From Rebecca (Unley Park)

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    5. Hi Rebecca, she's not big on the technology/ advertising side and I think tends to go by word of mouth. Her email is kennettv@tpg.com.au she is fabulous, and I'm sure will do a great garden for you. Good luck with your plans!

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    6. Thanks Heidi, that's wonderful! I've just emailed her, and shall now cross my fingers :) Kind regards, Rebecca

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  18. Amei conhecer o seu blog, já fiquei por aqui!!!Achei maravilhoso!!!Visite-me:http://algodaotaodoce.blogspot.com.br/
    Siga-me e pegue o meu selinho!!!

    Obrigada.

    Beijos Marie.

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    1. Obrigado Marie, feliz que você tenha gostado de ler, vou visitar o seu blog

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  19. A belated thanks for the bedroom post as you motivated me to tidy up our bedroom as it has good bones, great bed linen and beautiful lamps but emergency surgery caused untidiness to take over. You deserve a medal for all your achievements with shingles and sick kids etc. I just hope that your kids don't run rampant with soccer and other balls in the back yard. Our son killed not only our plantings but also the lawn and after trying to stop him, we have just surrendered. We figured eventually we'll get the backyard back - probably when it's time to downsize! Your garden designer is great and we agree they're worth their weight in gold. Den x

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    1. Always good to do a tidy up Den, I swear that a lot of homes could be improved just by removing the clutter. I know that if I leave something that shouldn't be there in my bedroom a pile starts to grow up around it very quickly. Oh dear to your son and his football! Our designer suggested some very hardy plants in the line of the ball kicking. Hopefully they'll fare ok, but it's hard when you have a sports mad child to deny them the running around - better a ruined garden than a child indoors on a screen!

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  20. Sorry to hear that you have been ill. I hope that you are feeling better and have managed to get some rest. The garden looks wonderful - how lovely to have it all coming in to shape for your summer. Love the table setting also. My sister and law and I packed up all my Limoges and crystal for the big move and took it out to the house yesterday: nothing broke. I imagine it will be month and months before we have anyone over for lunch or supper! x

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    1. Rest?? What is that!? Thanks Charlotte, I'm feeling better, although still so tired. It's taking a while to fully kick it. At least I'm able to operate on a few more batteries than I was a few weeks ago.
      How exciting to have packed up for the move!! I suspect if you have a few projects on the go a the new house that you won't be unpacking it for a while, fingers crossed it's not over 3 years like us! I so wish you'd do a blog though….!

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  21. Your garden is certainly taking shape and how wonderful to have a Boules court. We bought a very good set of boules a few years ago when we were in France. A sensible idea to have a designer and having different areas makes the garden so much more interesting and will be well used. You did well to do lunch for ten considering you have had shingles. So nasty! I remember a friend of mine having shingles a couple of years ago. Your little tarts look delicious too.

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    1. Shingles seems more common than I thought miss b, but I'm very glad I didn't get one of the bad cases. Lunch was tiring, but I coped ok, and actually all the recipes were very simple. My sister brought some nibbles, so that helped too.

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  22. Your garden looks amazing Heidi - really starting to take shape. So sorry to hear you have been ill with Shingles - one of my work colleagues fell prey to them too - she was not well for over a month. Your Father's Day lunch looks lovely - do you have a lemon curd recipe you recommend? Hope you enjoyed Giallo - I had an excellent cauliflower/scallop thingy last time I was there and it was divine. Do Salvias grow well in full sun? We are about to finish the last part of our front garden and I was thinking something like that may work well in the bottom terrace - our block faces north/south but this garden bed will get east/west sun. Have a great week. Jo xx

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    1. Thanks Jo, the Doctor told me I could be flat out in bed for 6 weeks, so I was very thankful to get such a mild case, not sure how we would have coped if I'd been unwell for that length of time. I used the Stephanie Alexander recipe for lemon curd in the Cooks Companion, worked a treat. I've had that scallop/ cauliflower thing too! I think it's one of their specialties as it seems to stay permanently on the menu.
      Salvia's love the sun! Plant them wherever they get the brunt of it and they'll survive.

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  23. Heidi - am loving this garden, how she marries the Australian with the classic clipped English-European garden look. And doesn't all that green grass just make everything else come alive. Wow!
    Gosh I'm so sorry to hear about the shingles. my Dad was just crippled with them for two years as they were not diagnosed early enough! My brother went ahead and had the immunisation after that and I suppose I should too.
    Your pink outfit looks so pretty and fresh and chic. Now I was going to ask you. In Spain I saw some suede over the knee boots. What do you think of those - mutton dressed as lamb? My husband did not like them, but he just likes very classic stuff.
    Heidi thank you so much for your lovely comments while I was away, really kind and funny and wonderful

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    1. Can't tell you what a mental difference it makes to have a garden again, rather than a building lot! The kids are outside every day after school playing, it's wonderful!
      Your poor Dad!! That was what the medication is supposed to prevent - the long term pain from it. The back ache I had for 2 weeks was pretty awful, I can only imagine if he had it worse and for all that time too how debilitating it would have been.
      I like over the knee suede boots, and with your pins you can get away with them and not look like Mutton I think, but just don't wear them with jeans!! I think that looks awful no matter how young you are, makes the jeans look like weird tucked in hot pants or something!! If the rest of your clothes are classic with it, I think it would work well. I so enjoyed reading along with your trip, it really was wonderful to be an armchair traveller and leave all the walking to you!

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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