My New Garden - Spring Update
I've been waiting so long for spring to arrive. I began preparing the garden for it months ago in Autumn. New garden beds were created and planted. Being on a tight budget meant I couldn't afford advanced plants and that I needed to wait for my seedlings and baby cuttings to grow into plants. Not all the seedlings survived the winter. Only a few alyssum remain, but the pansies in wooden crates are doing really well.
The cuttings I stuck from from a pretty hydrangea have grown beautifully. No flowers yet, but the three bushes are expanding before my eyes.
My mother was a keen gardener so I had the privilege of playing in a gorgeous garden as a child. Mum's idea was to make little pictures in the garden when deciding where to plant things. I've followed her lead as best I can making the Fuchsia, that I rescued from a strangling vine, a center piece. Despite getting nipped by a late frost it's bushier than ever before.
I've planted a standard dwarf lilly pilly and glauca pencil pine either side of it. In front I recently planted white and yellow flag iris.
I lifted those just last week when thinning out a large clump in Mum's garden (which I maintain for Dad). They are already settling in. There are new green shoots sticking up past where I cut the old leaves. I must get a stronger stake on the lilly pillies, they're getting quite top heave with lush new growth.
My sister gave me some lambs ears from a substation clump in her garden. I grouped lots of bits and pieces and popped them in a couple of months ago. They looked pretty straggly to start but look at them now. The weeds are growing really well too, next job is to clear them out so they don't compete for water and nutrients.
This side of the back garden is coming along nicely. It's the view from my family room, kitchen and dining room. On warm mornings I take my mug of tea out to the back veranda and just look at everything.
This view of the whole back garden shows the gap where a Liquid Amber was. We had to take it out because the roots were blocking up our storm water pipe. I was so worried that I'd be sad but I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. The way the sun travels across the sky to the right of this garden angle means that I can put a vegetable garden there.
I can imagine tepees of climbing beans and potatoes in the foreground. Perhaps I'll plant some zucchini and pumpkins too. Sounds like work but I think it will be fun. I'll do a summer update once it's all underway.
Hope your enjoyed my spring garden tour. Thanks for stopping by.
How I Got My House Ready For Sale
When I sold my house at auction, I was thrilled when the hammer fell on a price at the top end of my hoped for range.
In the first year after buying the house, I did some updates.
I painted throughout and put down new carpet. I had a kitchen face-lift and laid laminate wood look floor boards over the pink and white kitchen tiles. I also cleaned out the garden beds of dead and overgrown shrubs but kept some things that might come back with a good prune.
I had a massive tree in the front yard that was undermining the footings, so that had to go also. Two years later and it was time for me to move on. Sam and I were buying a house together so my dear little house went on the market. But first, I needed to make sure it would appeal to buyers. As much as I loved how it worked for me, I needed to look at it through other peoples eyes.
The first thing I did was get moving on making the garden look nice. A cottage needs a cottage garden and that doesn't happen in two weeks. I started planning the sale in autumn so that when spring arrived the garden would be looking it's best. I planted standard roses and a Silverbirch tree in the front lawn to give a timeless appeal. A garden arch leading to the side way is planted with a yellow climbing rose. Not in full flower yet but some blooms had opened. I planted lavender when I moved in so they'd had a couple of years to get established. in the four weeks leading up to auction, I only needed to add a few plants to fill bare spots.
I put an iron bench on the front porch, flanked with identical standard Lillypillys in black urns, to give a welcoming but traditional, formal feeling.
You walk directly into the lounge room from the front door, so I needed it to act as a reception room. The furniture is placed away from the walkway but again creates an inviting space. I took down the framed family photos and kept styling on the crystal cabinet and piano similar. Note the lamps are of similar style. I removed one side of the sectional sofa and borrowed a wing back chair to give the room some character. I'd decided on using the French Provincial Style as inspiration for the theme of my home, a combination of old and new.
The coffee table is also simple, following the rule of three. A candle adds ambiance and being scented it created a lovely smell when people walked in the door. You'll notice I had every light turned on. I carried this out in all the rooms. It makes a huge difference. Most importantly, I followed advice from the real estate agent, to make sure there was enough open floor space for a small crowd of potential buyers to walk around during the scheduled open for inspections.
Kitchens sell homes, is what I've heard, so a face lift for my tired pink melamine kitchen was something I'd done knowing if I ever sold the investment would be worth it. While it was done at the time for me and not resale, I think it's worth sharing what I did because it did help me realize a good profit on the house.
The cupboards were in great shape and didn't need replacing, also I loved the splash back and wanted to keep those tiles. All I replaced was the bench tops and cabinet doors. I had new appliances installed and had laminated wood flooring laid straight over the old cracked pink and white tiles. I added a couple of black stools for a hint of farmhouse.
When sale time came, the agent suggested fresh lilies on the bench top. It was a little expensive to replace them each week but they added a touch of elegance and made the house smell beautiful. In the month leading up to auction, I enjoyed those flowers so much .
The clock on the wall in the dining area came from good ol' Kmart. It could have been bigger but I had a focal point on the table.
I kept the colors neutral and restful, in the master bedroom, creating interest with texture instead. The tufted bed head, embroidered pillows, fluffy rug and center pillow contrasted with a basket in the corner.
The shades on the ceiling light fixtures were broken in all the bedrooms, so I replaced them cheaply with batten fix light shades from Bunnings, hardware. I just threw away the fittings and kept the shade, at $9 each it was by far the cheapest option.
The second and third bedrooms were decorated simply with a picture of Paris above the bed in the double room and a birdcage filled with flowers and a battery powered candle sit's on the desk in the single room/study. The real estate agent suggested white doona covers and I think he got it right.
The bathroom needed a little spruce up. I replaced the taps and put in a clear shower screen door. The wire unit on the wall holds decor to add interest to a plain wall. An orchid next to the vanity gives a touch of class and a fluffy white towel hanging behind the door invites.
The last area to get a makeover for sale was the courtyard. It also was the most effort. I had to paint the fences, it was quite a job but, I got there by painting a section or two each day.
The garden beds were a bit bare but I had potted up ferns that had grown under the fence from my neighbors, so I sat those in the garden beds. I planted the birds nest fern on the right and put up some hanging baskets. I also added the succulent tower to the bed which gave it some architectural interest. The tree ferns were existing as was the Mondo grass. The back corner was empty and I planted several shrubs to fill it in. The statue was there also.
I put two outdoor chairs and small table in the back corner to invite people out into the space.
Some time ago my girlfriend gave me some fairy lights which we strung up under the eaves. I left them in place for sale so that they'd provide a nice ambiance to this area during the evening viewings. They made this space looked magical with the lights on. So nice that I couldn't bear to take them down and disappoint the new owner , so I left them behind as a gift.
Aside from opening up spaces and clearing out clutter, I made the most of what was existing. I did any maintenance jobs that were required, cleaned and updated worn out things. I created space for the buyers to imagine where they might put their furniture and personal items while keeping the charm of the cottage.
I saved money where ever I could which meant I had funds to spend where I knew I'd get a good return on my investment, like making over the kitchen. I didn't go for stone bench tops because I felt it wouldn't be money I got back. I chose instead a stone look laminate which worked really well.
Keeping the color scheme neutral helps buyers to visualize the colors they like layered in. I tried to keep similar color and style in each room of the house so that it felt cohesive and made the home feel more spacious. I also added interest with pretty decor items that didn't take over the room, more like earrings rather than a crown. Understated decorating again enabled buyers to visualize their own things.
It sold at auction after a couple of keen buyers drove the price up. Most of all I feel really happy that I've passed on a home to someone that is ready for them to just move in and enjoy. In getting it ready for the next owners, I feel I was also able to begin the process of letting it go.
Since selling my house, Sam and I have bought a house together and renovated it. It's a little more modern than the cottage but I have decorated it in a similar style. My furniture looks very nice in our new home. I've already posted pictures on my blog (in the decorating category) and on Instagram and or Facebook if you're interested to look at those.
As a romance author, I love all things romantic in my home and lifestyle. You can also discover more about my love of romance through my writing. Find my contemporary romance novels and short stories on my amazon author page or visit my Books page on this website.
Thanks for stopping by, until next week,
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.
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.