Winter Garden Hightlights
Since finishing the garden landscaping in Autumn, I've been busily planting some Glauca pencil pines and other plants I've been given. But not all the plants could go in. Low rainfall made the clay soil beds very hard. But now that the winter rain is softening the ground I'm looking forward to improving the soil and getting the rest of the pots planted and putting in flowering annuals this spring. Until then I have been planting up pots to make sure I have flowers when everything else is still making buds.
Pansies, a very dear little bloom that bobs it's velvety head in the breeze, are mixed with hard working white Alyssum. The pots are set into wooden crates. They're tiny seedlings now but they'll be overflowing the crates in the spring. My other love, Roses have been planted and I can't wait to see what they do this Summer now that they can get their roots down into the clay soil.
Begonias were loved by Mum. She had pots of them on her back patio. They've come to live with me and I've planted most in the front yard. Every time I come in my front door, I'll see them there. She used to say that they were easy care plants. Even if they dry out they hang on until you can get some water to them. I adore the tiny little rose like flowers and the array of pinks they come in. I also love the large rose begonias but I don't have any at home. I go to the begonia shows in March. Keep an eye out for that post next year.
Some of the plants I love most in the garden were already here. A gorgeous Apricot rose that I can't bring myself to prune yet, She still has blooms and buds, as if it were the start of spring. The fig tree and the Liquid Amber tree, an old gnarled and twisted trunk-ed rosemary and a couple of lovely Camellias. Oh, of course I can't forget the huge Fuchsia that flowers for nine months of the year. She has finally packed up and taken a rest for winter but still provides a green backdrop for front of the border plants.
Still waiting to be planted are a Gardenia and Daylias. They are doing it tough in the pots but I think they'll be better off if planted when the soil is more workable and I can introduce some organic matter.
My daughter gave me a Camelia which is going to be gorgeous when it flowers and a pink foliage Coleus which creates a much needed bright spot in the Winter garden.
It's hard to wait until everything grows. The larger shrubs will need a couple of years before the make much of an impact, and there are some quite small Hydrangea, Snow Ball tree and Geranium cuttings that won't look anything much for a long time, but they will. Eventually. I hope. But that's part of the joy of a new garden, seeing what works and what doesn't. Transplanting and replacing those that don't thrive. Thankfully, most are hardy plants that can cope with a lot and reward me with lots of lovely flowers which are a passion of mine.
Thanks for stopping by on my blog this week. Feel free to share this post with anyone you know who likes gardening and leave your questions in the comments and I'll answer them as best I can.
Romantic Country Drive
There's nothing like getting out of the house and the city for that matter and taking a country drive with your partner. Last week Sam and I drove along the back country roads to Wallan, a town North of Melbourne, Australia. Every so often we like to do this, as Sam say's, 'So we can have some time together'. We are each busy with our work and hobby interests so we don't often have a whole afternoon together. But when we go for a drive, it's our time to connect as we enjoy the views.
The peaceful rolling paddocks and rows of trees, take me back to childhood Sunday afternoons spent in the back seat of my parent's car, while they enjoyed a country drive. But as a child I was bored for most of it. Never would I have imaged back then that I'd love it so much as I do now.
Each time we pass a farm with cows I imagine how lovely it must be to live there. I say to Sam, 'Maybe we will retire to the country one day.' He's heard it before, but is happy to play my game and say's, 'Maybe, you never know.'
It's so funny how things in life can be such a coincidence. This morning I was reading a book from my massive to-be-read-pile that had a scene in it where the newly married heroine desperately wanted time to connect with her partner and so was thrilled when he said he wanted to take the day off and go for a drive in the country to look for a new home. How romantic is that? No wonder I love it when Sam suggests a country dive.
By the way, the book I'm reading is by a favorite author of mine, Annie West. It's called "The Sinner's Marriage Redemption"
In my sexy romance, "The Scottish Billionaire's Secret Lover", some of my favorite scenes are set in the country side. Hero, Angus lives in a Scottish borderlands castle. He and Natalie like to take drives in the country and they take a picnic basket too.
But Sam and I didn't get out the plastic knives and forks, we went to Hogan's Hotel in Wallan. A character filled double brick building with timber beams and open fires. Sam had a hamburger and chips and I had a humongous serve of lambs fry and bacon with mashed potatoes. A coffee for desert and then we were back on the road home.
As we were leaving the town, I turned my head and saw this outbuilding at the last minute. This picture is a bit blurry but I wanted to include it because it instantly inspired me. I imagined it decked out for a wedding. Can you picture fairy lights draped from the ceiling and floral arrangements set in the middle of white table clothed trestle tables?
It was getting late in the afternoon when the Melbourne skyline appeared on the horizon. But it had been a lovely day of chatting to Sam. We'd both fallen quiet, fully talked out and happy to just be with each other as we took in the last scenes of our rural sojourn. When we turned into our driveway, we started to think about what we need to do to get ready for the next day. But it's okay. We were peaceful and happy and smiling at each other and occasionally saying, 'That was a lovely drive we'll have to do that again soon'.
Stories I'm Drawn To
Stefanie London, a writer friend, posed a question on her Facebook feed this morning about whether or not people re-read their books and if so which ones do they come back to the most.
I could put my finger on two. I re-read Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe many times, enjoying the escape from the mundane world to fantasy land with talking animals. Each time I rejoined, Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Tom on their adventures I experienced the excitement and camaraderie. I relived their testing times and determination to keep going when all seemed lost.
The second book is Persuasion. This Jane Austen classic not only fired up my romantic nature but also combined a reunion love story with a tale of having to leave home. Anne goes on adventures unimagined when her father has to rent out the family estate and move to Bath. Although she imagines spending the rest of her days in a place she dislikes, that isn’t her destiny. The move sparks a chain of events that provides her with choices of new home and romance that had previously been unimagined.
I noticed the link between these two stories was each had a heroine who had to leave her home. Her safe world had been upended, and she has to use all her skills to navigate through what transpires because of it.
It makes sense to me that these types of stories would resonate with me because of the experience I had at the age of nine. I had to leave my home when I became sick and spend a long time in the hospital. My mum would come and visit me every day. While she was there, I felt safe, but when it was time for her to go, the hospital was a scary place. I had to make new friends with the staff and other patients and endure often painful or uncomfortable tests and treatments to make me better. I was on my own most of the time and had to deal with stuff that didn’t happen in ordinary everyday life.
Like the heroines of the stories I read, I came home again one day but was changed by my experiences. I used to wake my sister at six in the morning with my singing which I learned to do to pass the early hours in the hospital. What was worst was that home felt foreign. It seemed as though I didn’t belong in my own bed anymore. It took quite a while for that feeling to go away. I definitely became more independent from this experience, and I learned some fun crafts from the occupational therapists at the hospital that I was able to do at home. I learned that I can manage away from Mum and Dad and that although the journey can be tough, it helps to make you stronger.
In 2013 I had to spend six weeks in the hospital. I learned some precious things about myself during a time of forced retreat. Not long after romance came into my life and a new home followed. I love my life, even though there have been times it felt like it was kicking my butt. The ordinary days have become treasures to me because I’ve experienced the challenging times of being alone and struggling.
I like to read and write romance or books because they are always the story of people who have to face tough situations and grow from them. Finding love is the metaphor for having discovered the way to survive and thrive with challenging changes and embrace a happy life.
You can read the first chapter of my books on Amazon, or if you have a subscription to KU, you can read the whole book.
Do you have a book that calls you back again and again?
Last Thursday, I was on Romancing the Genres with a blog about my fantasy holiday in Thailand. I'd wanted to go since I was a little girl. It's just one of those things I guess. At about age six, I saw the dancers and the decorative traditional architecture on TV and decided that it would be wonderful to actually go there. I never dreamed it would ever really happen in my lifetime.
Actually having the chance to go as an adult came as a surprise. Even though I'd put it on a vision board I'd created for myself. The experience was similar to stepping into a fantasy land. Follow the link at the end of this post if you'd like to read about my solo journey to a foreign land and experiencing a culture very different from my own.
I've been fortunate enough to travel to places I'd dreamed of visiting for years. While my children were growing up I couldn't afford to travel but later I managed to save enough to have a lovely trip to England and Scotland. The highlight was when I visited Jane Austen's house in Chawton. A few years later I also went to Italy and saw many places including historic Rome and fashion capital, Milan. The highlight was an evening tour of Venice.
I have no fantasy holidays left to take. My bucket list travel plans have been ticked off but I think they were so special because I'd looked forward to them for so long.
It's highly likely that I will still be traveling though. My partner, Sam has yet to see where his parents grew up on a small island above Sicily. And he has a friend with a house on Cyprus. So I'll be with him when he gets to go on his fantasy holidays. I encourage him to make it happen because I know that the holiday stays with you long after it's over. The excitement of discovery and being in a place that is magical to you creates a wonderful uplifting energy. Every time I think back on my memories I relive these gorgeous emotions .
What isn't a surprise is that I found these experiences inspiring and that led me to set my two published books in places I've visited. The Scottish Billionaire's Secret Lover and the Italian Billionaire's Secret Baby were written with the energy and excitement I felt at visiting these countries.
Have you ever traveled alone? Did you have a fantasy holiday that came true or do you have one yet to be realized? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.
If you'd like to read about my Thai Fantassy holiday, here's the link to
last Thursday's blog post.
Styling a Romantic Home.
I've created a feeling of romance in the corner of my kitchen with soft contrasts, flowers, fruit and layering. This charming vintage watering can, is past being useful life because it leaks but re purposed as a decor item to display a silk flower arrangement it creates perfect contrast of old and new. The grey metal contrasts nicely with the marble tray and white tiles and bench top. Fruit and flowers will always be romantic. The lemons at the base also provide a fresh element. I have layered the whole lot on a marble chopping or serving platter. Layers add a sense of cozy and intimate which, to me, equals romantic.
This blog isn't sponsored but I'm including where I sourced some of my things in case you'd like to know. The marble tray came from Kmart Au. but it's not available on line. The watering can is a vintage family piece but new ones can be aged to look old using toilet cleaner. The flowers came from a home decor shop and the green eucalyptus stems came from Kmart Au.
Textures and patterns give an overall sense of the exotic and create a romantic feeling in my TV corner. A chandelier will always add a touch of romance. Wedding venues have them for a reason. I purchased mine on line from Temple and Webster and. The wreath speaks romance to me, something about the circle always makes me think of the wheel of life. This gorgeous one is from Joanna Gaines', Magnolia, also purchased on line. I wanted a coffee table that would let me see the pretty rug underneath so this one is serviceable and doesn't close in the space. I've layered a faux orchid on top of an anthology of romance book and also layered the candle on a tray. I've stayed with the blue theme using varying shades to create harmony with interest. I aimed for a style called transitional. It has modern and classic elements combined to keep it fresh and interesting. The little cutouts on the white platter give it a lacy feeling without using a doily which can feel a bit like granny's house. The pretty sea foam blue container was a gift from Sam's niece, a sweet young woman who has excellent taste. I love not only the color but the interest the texture of it brings to the coffee table area.
As I was posting this picture I noticed a blooper I created when dusting. I wonder if you spotted it too.
In the bedroom, I've also used contrast, texture, layering and faux greenery to create a romantic mood. The bedhead is the star of the room. It really invites me into its softness. The texture of the buttoning contrasts against the grey feature wall. I've then piled on cushions in layers of complementing blues. The doona cover and pillowcase set were from Kmart, but I don't think they're in stock anymore. The point is that the color ties in with the bedhead. The front butterfly cushion was purchased at a Laura Ashley clearance store. The mohair blanket and blue and white rectangle pillow came from Provincial Home Living as did the place mats on the bedside tables. They were meant for the dining room when I bought them but looked so good here that I changed my mind. The bedside table lamps were a find at the Salvation Army store. I added black lamp shades to create a touch of drama. I think white would look very nice too. What do you think, white or black?
So that's my approach to styling a romantic home. It gives me joy every day and I think that's the whole idea. It's not about having the prettiest house, but having a home you love to be in.
In my soon to be released novel 'The Australian Billionaire's Secret Proposal' about a fashion designer, and a fashion house billionaire, the decorated style of each others homes plays a role in how comfortable or 'at home' each of them feels.
For me to feel 'at home' that's a romantic place to write and live. I hope you've enjoyed seeing how I create my romantic spaces and that it may have inspired you for styling the romantic decor in your home.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, including rescuing a couple of old rose bushes and planting new ones.