the side garden

Blowing off the cobwebs on the blog - that was an unexpectedly long hiatus. The Great Storm that swept through South Australia nearly a month ago, and that dramatically knocked out the entire state's power for 12 hours (for my overseas readers, the state of South Australia is roughly the same geographical size as Germany, although only has 2 Million inhabitants), also knocked out the AV internet for almost 2 weeks. Of course it took me about 6 separate incredibly tedious phone calls to the Telstra call centre in India to try to work out what was going on.... and eventually they conceded there was a problem in our area and not with us personally, and it was finally fixed. But then, it turned into School holidays, and all other plans to write the odd blog post went out the window.

sandwiches by scented candle light

I will add that I have determined on the back of that storm that I will become a Prepper. It takes 12 hours without power to realise that burning multiple differently scented candles at once is quite sick inducing, and that rifling through the drawers to find in desperation the ones gifted to you that you had previously determined smelled too offensive to actually use, makes you realise that a large supply of unscented plain candles are a good thing to have on hand. So too is more than 4 slices of bread to feed 3 children and one adult when all your appliances work on electricity, and that due to the cyclonic conditions outside it's not exactly BBQ weather.

soggy and grey

We have certainly had our fair share of rain here. It has been a very usually cold and wet Spring, and the first full flush of roses, which generally marks the first week of October, has not really eventuated yet. This week a few bushes spluttered into life, but most are still some way off. Most of the blossom in my garden blew away in the high winds from the rolling successive storms we've had over the past 6 weeks - on Tuesday it hailed yet again. I've been busy preparing for the promised warm weather, wrapped up in my puffer and layers of wool, eschewing the more usual lighter layers and colours at this time of year. I have a bad feeling we're going to suddenly have days of 40C and no real Spring in between.


front garden

The cold wet weather did mean that during the school holidays I got stuck into a big clear out of two of my children's bedrooms. A large quantity of outgrown toys and books were delivered to my younger sister, who had her first baby two weeks ago, others were donated to charity or binned. Clothes were sorted/ thrown out/ donated and everything was organised anew. We no longer have any baby or toddler toys in the house! This is sad in a way, and a relief in others to finally clear out a bit of the toy pile. I have been wanting to do this for a long time, so the cancelled camping trip due to the flooded roads North meant that I had a productive alternative weekend.


In the garden I mulched all the garden beds, my hedging man trimmed things that needed shaping, and I had the verandas and paved areas high pressured cleaned removing the build up of dust that had accumulated over the past year. Next up the windows will be cleaned, and I will have ticked off a lot of my Spring cleaning list, most of it outsourced I have to admit!


The new outdoor sun lounges to go beside the pool from Restoration Hardware in the US finally arrived last week, and look perfect. Now we just need some sun to arrive as well....

roses and irises by the Bocce court
One upside of the wet weather is that not only did I receive a record low water bill this quarter (usually the watering system is turned on by the end of September, but it still isn't remotely needed), but the fertiliser that I threw around everywhere in early September was well watered in, and the flag and bearded Irises have been spectacular as a result.





I planted some new bearded iris varieties earlier in the year which have just flowered. They were heritage ones from the Diggers Club which are highly frilled in lilac, lilac and white and pink, and this one below, which is supposedly black.


Looks dark purple to me though....

My ecchium, which I grew from seed, is now almost 3 metres tall and full of white flowers. The bees and honeyeaters (birds) love it.

 bees galore

 one lonely Sharifa Asma rose in the powder room

With the lack of change in season, what I'm cooking and wearing has been tediously similar to what I was cooking and wearing in the depths of Winter. So I decided to try a couple of new recipes, and this Karen Martini one is a winner. Easy to do for one, or for 4 (just cut down the quantity as needed), and a simple and quick mid week dinner dish.

Baked Chicken with tomato, fennel and white wine

4 Chicken Marylands
1 Tablespoon Fennel seeds
3 Red Onions thickly sliced
5 garlic cloves thinly sliced
3 ripe tomatoes, cut into chunky dice
150ml white wine
250ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves
20 large green or black olives, pitted
salt and pepper

Method:
Preheat oven to 180C/ 355F
1. Brown chicken in olive oil in fry pan, set aside in casserole dish
2. Sautee onions and garlic in a few table spoons of olive oil with some salt and pepper until soft
3. Add fennel seeds and cook for a minute until aromatic
4. Add tomatoes, continue to cook for 3 minutes until soft
5. Add white wine, simmer for a minute
6. Add stock, bay leaves and pitted olives and bring to simmer
7. Pour over chicken in the casserole dish
8. Put into oven and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

I like to serve it on couscous mixed through with a little chopped preserved lemon, chopped roasted almonds, chopped flat leaf parsley and some steamed green beans. The children like this one, although they pick out the olives.


I had a win at the local antiques auction a month ago - this club fender for the library/ sitting room. The base is in copper, and the seat in brown leather and fortuitously the dimensions fitted my fireplace perfectly. Best of all it was a tiny fraction of the cost of importing one from the UK (shipping alone had been quoted at 700 pounds!). I can't show the rest of the room as it's currently a horrible mess...

We are soon to be starting the demolition of the old shed, and construction of the new 3 car garage with my studio space above, which is where all the samples/ work things currently cluttering up the library/ sitting room will be moving to. To this end we've spent the weekend clearing out the old shed, which I had in all seriousness worried would blow away during the various storms that have rolled through in the past month with their high winds. It's been a thoroughly disgusting and depressing job, as it barely provided weather coverage, so everything in it has been wet/ damaged/ covered in possum poo, plus we've had to finally sort through the stuff the builders left from the previous renovations (50 paint cans, most empty etc). We are hoping the first week of November the build will start... especially as the delivery of the sun lounges also brought the delivery of some furniture for my future studio above the garage.


This sideboard will be perfect with large baskets on the shelves for my samples. Unfortunately though we have no where to put it for a few months... so it's inside against the French doors in the casual living area. Mr AV has been a bit grumpy with me about it, especially as he had to carry it in with a friend, and I gather it's sort of extremely heavy. Plus I then mentioned it would have to be carried up a flight of stairs in the garage in a few months time...

So, hopefully the next couple of weeks the weather will improve, and the demolition will start on our last major project for this house, at long last.  Hope you are enjoying more pleasant weather than us here in soggy Adelaide!

38 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your sister's new arrival! The garden looks incredible, the upside to all that rain I guess!
    Love the new sideboard and your garage/studio plans sound very exciting. Xxx

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    1. Thank you Charlotte! He is a gorgeous little boy and she is doing very well. Yes, the garden is very green, but not as much growth as usual due to the lack of heat and sun. It's very unlike our usual Spring weather, probably more like an English one! Hope you're well and have recovered from the birthday festivities xx

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  2. Oh Heidi, you do write well, and you made me laugh several times through this post " due to the cyclonic conditions outside it's not exactly BBQ weather" Too funny!!!!!
    Your garden is looking blooming marvellous to say the least, and I adore that pink bearded iris. So very lovely. Glad to hear clean-outs have been conducted. It is always a good feeling to move things on, especially to people you care about. Congratulations to your sister! Lovely news.
    K x

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    1. It is lovely news, and it was a good impetus to do a big toy clear out. The garden is really coming along now, and I just want a little bit more heat (but not of the 40C kind) to really make it rocket along! Fingers crossed the lovely day we're enjoying today will stay around. xx

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  3. Congratulations on the arrival of your new Nephew Heidi ... how exciting. How bad has the weather been in Adelaide? We have an all electric house too - the night of the major power failure we had bacon and eggs and toast on the BBQ - I sent my husband outside to cook it so I didn't have to brave the weather!! I was doing a site visit at West Lakes on that day and had to drive home to the eastern suburbs with no traffic lights in the pouring rain- took almost an hour and just about turned me grey. I have never been so glad to get home from work than that day! Your garden is looking very pretty and I must try that chicken recipe. Beats the scrambled eggs I had for dinner tonight (my husband is interstate and I couldn't be bothered cooking much for just one). I should be working on the tax, but after a couple of G&T's I don't think that is a good idea!! In my defence I have been working on it all day, so I think a bit on mindless television is in order. Good luck with the garage preparations. Have a great week. Jo xx

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    1. I was so glad that the blackout happened about 5 minutes after we got home... the traffic was bad enough due to the rain, let alone the traffic lights all going off as well. You poor thing, it must've been terrible driving through it all. I remember thinking how eerie it was at about 8pm when everything was silent outside - no traffic at all as everyone just had to go home and stay there. And of course the darkness. Hope you enjoyed the tv watching. Tax can always wait for another day - I dread sorting all of that out!! xx

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  4. I feel a slight nostalgic twinge when friends or family have a new baby but I also enjoy not changing nappies and listening to nursery rhymes anymore! I'm sure you're a great Aunt with some quality hand-me-downs. The garden looks immaculate. The front yard looks gorgeous with the gravel and the spilled planting. I keep a couple of LED camp lanterns for blackouts since finding myself once caught short with nothing but IKEA tea lights. We were always well rested after a blackout because we just end up going to bed.

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    1. Oh I am most definitely past the baby stage!! I do like having a cuddle of someone else's though :)
      Do you know I was rifling the cupboards absolutely certain I had a 100 pack of those IKEA tea lights somewhere, but came up empty handed! And yes to the early night - I read by torch light for a little while, then gave up and was asleep at 9. Not such a bad thing I suppose! x

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  5. These storms sound terrible, is that typical spring weather for you? We often go from cold wet spring right into very hot summer temperatures, we don't get much of a spring anymore. I miss it!
    Very happy to see your blog post up with such a good update though, the garden is beautiful and those loungers are really perfect. My cousin works for Restoration Hardware in Toronto and loves it, says they are a great company to work for. I have some lamps our designer sourced for us from RH and they are gorgeous.
    It sounds like you'll be better prepared for the next storm, you're reminding me to get my emergency cupboard updated too.
    When my children were small I had two emergency cupboards, one for a lengthy power outage and the other for a bad flu virus, my son called them the zombie apocalypse cupboards!
    Very excited about your future studio, that will be so lovely to have your own space. xo

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    1. Not usual at all Dani! We have a fairly stable environment here - no cyclones, earthquakes, major weather events. The heat in summer, but that's about it. Hence why I was so ill prepared for the blackout. If we do get blackouts they're usually in Summer when everyone wants their air conditioning on, and will last about 2 hours on a rolling blackout thing. But this being the entire state was catastrophic - back up generators at major hospitals failed!! So it wasn't just our house ill prepared.
      I'd absolutely love RH to open here. We do have Pottery Barn etc here now, although they're not quite the full range, so you never know. They just have some great pieces, and I've bought a bit for client work from there too - the cupboard handles and lights are really fantastic for the pricing (compared to local offerings).
      You sound so well prepared! I'm going to definitely get organised, they're saying as we're so reliant on wind farms now for our energy (they shut down the coal) that we'll have more situations like this in the future... xx

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  6. You're always on the opposite season as us here in the US, but this post you've covered the weather too - I would love for some of your rain (even if it came with no power!) as we've had less than 1/2 inch in the last three months... the autumn leaves are pretty spectacular, but since summer was sticking around I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop as it goes straight to winter. Good luck with the garage!

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    1. Liene, we're usually the driest city in the driest State on the driest continent in the world. So the amount of rain we've had is incredibly unusual. I think we're all pretty happy about that (well, aside from the major flooding events that a lot of people endured), but the grey skies and lack of sun shine has been fairly depressing, and quite unusual at this time of the year. I hope you get some rain soon. We had a long drought here in Australia that lasted about 8 years, and were all on water restrictions, it was a terrible time. xx

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  7. Congrats to your sister! Those irises are outstanding. I will grow some this year as Millie dug out the iris pot last year. I am reminded to get some candles. 2 weeks seems crazy and what did they offer as compensation? An auction find feels so darn good and it looks custom made for it xx

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    1. I can't believe the irises this year! I've had a lot of them for ages, and they never produced anything. Clearly I hadn't been fertilising them enough. Some of the flag irises reach up to my shoulders in height, they're huge.
      As for the compensation, they gave us some free data on our phones, and we had to tether everything to our phones... I can ring them again to get credit back on the account, but the thought of dealing with the call centre in India again and having to explain everything... well the half hour to hour of doing that isn't worth it!! xx

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  8. Glad you are OK. We were hit with a three day power out when I was pregnant with my daughter. I've become a prepper as a result!

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    1. 3 days!! Oh my goodness. What a nightmare. I think though due to weather you do get power outages with the snow, right? We're so unused to the entire city being out. Usually it'll just be a small area, and they'll rotate around so it'll come back on again after a few hours. It's really shocked me at how badly everything went downhill so quickly without power! x

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  9. hmmmm ... flag iris v's beared iris. I always thought that they were the same thing. But I Googled it and sure enough they are different. In that case I need to buy some flag types. Thanks for the tip. My bulb-centred garden can always accept a few new arrivals. Judith

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    1. The bearded are very frilly, and the flag are a much simpler flower. A bulb centred garden sounds lovely Judith - you must love seeing what comes up next. xx

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  10. Absolutely love irises! I grow these beautiful light blue irises that I actually stole from my childhood neighbor! They moved and before the new owners moved in I dug them up! Still have them. You know I like a little prepping too. Plus it's fun to buy a mass quantity of things like candles and wine! The garden is looking so beautiful!

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    1. Haha - love the plant stealing! I love the light blue irises. Some of mine came from my Dad's garden, he had a bunch he didn't need as they do tend to reproduce quickly. I'm planning to divide mine up and plant them through the bare patches too.
      I was thinking of you when the power went out, as I do remember you writing about that Prepper show. I was wishing you were my next door neighbour, and I would have been around begging some unscented candles from you:) xx

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  11. I wondered how you fared and your father up in the Mt Lofty Ranges, did he loose any of those lovely trees? My husband was a Gawler boy and we watched with dismay the flooding around his boyhood haunts. Up here in Brisbane it is also colder than normal,not at all pleasant.

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    1. He had a couple go over - when it's been raining so hard, and then you get the winds he tends to lose a couple. No major ones thank goodness, but even so, it's a big clean up! Yes, Gawler was terribly hit by it all. The scenes from the Barossa were quite shocking with all the vines under water. We seem to be having strange weather all over Australia at the moment. Today is a beautiful day here in SA, and I'm really hoping it's the end of the cold - yesterday was 16C again though! I still have heating on at night, and the winter doonas on the bed - so unlike normal. x

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  12. Melbs is suffering too, so cold and wet this spring. I am nervous for my roses which are just about to bloom by the hundred and the never-ending wind and rain will ruin them. Small problems, I know, but fellow gardeners will understand the angst... plus we had multiple big gums fall over, the ground is just saturated and they gave up!

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    1. Isn't it awful - I've really felt the cold this year during Spring, and it really isn't normal at all for the end of October. I hope you get some respite too and the petals on the roses don't blow away!! The tress though are another matter - the wet ground has caused so many big trees to go over, it's been terrible. xx

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  13. Your garden is looking quite wonderful, the flowers are divine. You have come a long way, I remember the early days. With best wishes to you and your family. xx

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    1. Thank you Lillian, it's really coming into itself now - things are looking reasonably mature, and not so many bare patches. Can't tell you how much pleasure I get from looking at it out the living room and kitchen widows. Hope you're well xx

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  14. Isn't this Spring a strong contrast to last year. I cannot believe how much rain we have all had and South Australians have had more than their fair share. The positive is that the spring flowers are prolific if not a bit late and when the sun does finally show itself the roses will be amazing.
    Your garden is developing beautifully- you must be thrilled with the progress.
    You have inspired me to get out and do some spring cleaning- can barely see out of the windows again.
    We are certainly used to power outages but not usually that long. The longest was for three weeks after black saturday. I now have candles and torches and my ever growing supply of batteries, ever at the ready. Also a gas stove that you can light with a match- cant tell you how many times that has come in handy.
    I look forward to seeing your studio when finished
    All the best
    Marilyn

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    1. I am so happy with the garden Marilyn - it's hard to believe it's 2.5 years old, it's really maturing well. I just can't even imagine 3 weeks without power!! Although I do remember Black Saturday well, as we were living in Melbourne at the time. It was absolutely awful, and the devestation, well I guess it was no wonder it took so long to restore power to you. And yes to a gas stove with match scenario - it was the lack of pilot light on the hot water etc that was the problem!!

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  15. We San Franciscans are all too familiar with the "prepping" mentality. The annual Earthquake Preparedness Month drive does not let us forget where we live. As such, we stock up on water, torches (flashlights) and batteries, canned food, and first aid kit. I hope to never use any of it.

    Your garden has obviously benefited from the loving care you've bestowed upon it. The Irises are marvelous and real show stoppers. I've given up with our lawn and it is now a brown mess (what's left of it) in the front due to the drought. You see many signs around here stating "brown is the new green". Yours looks lush, beautiful, and healthy.

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    1. I can't believe they actually have an annual preparedness month, but I guess that is a good thing, given you're all still waiting for The Big One. Which lets hope you never have to experience. The earthquakes in New Zealand have been horrible over the last 5 years...
      The garden is definitely rewarding us for all the hard work in the preparation phase. We had a long drought here (8 years) when you weren't allowed to water your lawn. It was awful, and a lot of people put in synthetic grass at that stage. Fingers crossed we don't experience that again, and that you get some rain soon.

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  16. Yes to candles, yes to matches, yes to "bomb shelter food" - the electric company at our beach house is notoriously unreliable. You can tell who grew up there and who just arrived by the subtle presence of candles in every room.

    I do live irises, thank you for those glorious pics.

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    1. That's very funny re the beach house community!! I think given we're in a very stable environment both geographically and weather wise, it's taken us all by surprise in a big way. You do become complacent in a city...

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  17. I am going to source some plain candles after reading this!!

    We have lots of torches but I need to gather them and put them in the one place.

    Your garden looks beautiful, esp around the fountain. How happy it must make you.

    Well done re the Declutter. So exciting. xxx

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    1. The scented candle melange was revolting. I've just restocked with new scented candles and hope to burn them only one at a time.
      Garden is making me so very happy xx

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  18. I know what you mean about sick-inducing scented candles! There was a major blackout in the northeastern part of U.S. & Canada in 2003 and the power was out in Toronto for about 24 hours. I only had scented candles to burn and couldn't cook food because I had an electric stove! Now we have a torch with hand crank dynamo so no need to worry about batteries.

    Your garden is absolutely stunning!! And what luck with the club fender - it looks like it was custom made for your fireplace. Really looking forward to seeing how your garage/studio develops!

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    1. I couldn't believe that fender fitted so well! Obviously we all have the same sized fireplaces in Adelaide! I can't wait for my studio too. Desperately waiting for it actually! Unfortunately we have been delayed until January to start - everything shuts down here over Christmas, so we've run into that. Worst luck!

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  19. The storms and terrible weather sounded dreadful as we heard on weather reports - glad you all survived it ok. I bet the children thought it was a novelty! When we turn off electricity for "earth day" the kids get out our candles and we play board games by candlelight! We do have a gas cooktop though, so that helps. We have also had an unusually long winter here in the Southern Highlands, NSW.
    Heidi, you mentioned that you had a shipment delivered from Restoration Hardware - do they now deliver to Australia or did you go through a 3rd party shipping company? If so, which one can you recommend?
    Wendy

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    1. I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to reply - I used shipporter.com who will reship by sea freight. I ordered directly from RH's site, and then they did the rest once it arrived. If you want a quote you just contact them before hand with the product number and they'll contact RH and work it out for 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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