Linky Blog Party…Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays

Wed 6th, Apr, 2011

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How the devil are you?

Well I am good and right now absolutely loving the garden and walking by the sea and trying new stuff with my camera.  So that’s what Good Life Wednesday’s is about for me this week.

warning : issuing a Beach Cottage ramble & picture heavy post alert ;-)

So this week I have been outside, loving the cooler autumn temps and fresh air and taking my camera out and about with me…in the garden, walking by the sea and just after it rained…


It was this week that I found my very first homegrown augergine, or if you are from not where I am from, which I know a whole lot of you are not, that would be eggplant…



…to find this nestled in among my teeny little patch with the salads and the herbs was delightful…


I have to say my garden is one of the few things about England that I have missed and to be quite frank I have found gardening here to be a tough learning curve…there are a lot of things that you don’t realise that you have somehow along the way picked up, until you move to a country on the other side of the world, with very different earth and very different climatic conditions and the addition too of being near the coast and all that brings to gardening.



So my garden hasn’t been and isn’t yet how I would like it to be…and it will not ever be the old-fashioned English garden with beds and roses and absolutely dripping in soft summer colour that I love…no here it’s a bit trickier for me...I have experimented and failed with quite a few plantings so far…though the one thing I seem to be able to keep alive is the humble, or not so humble cordyline who stands magnificent all around us now…my old neighbour says it’s all to do with the coastal air…




…and the things that I thought would be easy to grow here…not so….things that would more probably be in a zoo in England here grow like wildfire…things I have taken cuttings off all enthusiastic have withered and died….but frangipani cuttings and hydrangeas too have been stupidly easy to grow…


One of the biggest mistakes we made when we first moved into this cottage was that we didn’t get going on the garden in the first few weeks…errrm yes we were rather busy and errrm yes I was doing rather a lot of blubbing…but if we had dug some beds to the sides of the lawns and added some plants then, by now it would be a whole lot more established…


We did do that with a whole lot of cordylines, so the bones are there and looking very luscious and kinda tropical now…but there is much room for improvement….the trouble was that shortly after moving into this place we started our own business and therefore budget for plants was absolutely zilch…that just wasn’t priority then…though in hindsight, which my friends is always such a beautiful thing, is it not, being limited with one’s spending power actually did me a few favours, it made me look out for what was growing well in other people’s gardens….it made me snoop out there in the dead of the night and steal cuttings from them….and it made me research the ground around here a bit more to see what would suit….



I’ve always loved to grow things whether or not a few tomatoes in a grow bag or back in England beautiful overfilled hanging baskets dripping with summer blooms…


The year before last our first in the house, I earmarked a patch for veggies, and proceeded to plant like crazy…oh I would have beetroot and carrotts and onions…I would be wandering around in a garden absolutely bursting with herbs and tomatoes would abound at every turn…suffice to say my pie-in-the-sky plans quickly soured…the first thing I learnt about Australian gardening is these veggies, in the summer, need a whole* lot of looking after…they need to be treated like a baby….and used to England where if it does not rain for a week you run around with hardly any clothes on, the newspapers spend days talking about ‘heatwaves’ and your garden actually blooms with the warmth, I didn’t really think I would need to be up there watering twice, or thrice in this sandy soil a day.

Result : bitter or dead veggies and one disheartened Beach Cottager.



Now spin forward eighteen months ago to the Summer Holidays that just passed in January and the BC Crew one lovely summer’s arvo went out on a bike ride and after stopping for ice blocks we discovered a community garden.  Boy oh boy.  To say it was wonderful an understatement.  Absolutely rammed, spilling over with people’s plots just full of all kinds of veggies, herbs, fruit and cutting flowers…all beautifully designed around a bbq area in the middle…we walked around and ooohed and ahhhed…it was so amazing, for me, to be amongst all this food growing happily…we talked about what we would like to grow and in the back of my mind I thought about those dead and bitter veggies from the first year.



On the way out we got on our bikes and I was even more surprised to see than I had been the community garden that in between the pavement and the road on the grass verge (belonging too to the council) were more beds…filled with veggies and herbs all growing profusely…and a sign

‘veggies for the community…please feel free to take what is ready’ …or something along those lines


OMG I said to the kiddos…..look at this!

What a fabulous idea…


And it got me thinking, here I am with this rather large garden with it’s sandy soil and hot sun and I can’t even take the time to get a lettuce leaf to grow



…and here are all these people around here in units lavishing there love on this community garden and paying for a spot, and they are the lucky ones – the waiting list is huge, and I, at my disposal have many many of these spots in my garden to grow-my-own…




So on the rest of that bike ride as we flew along by the sea, I mulled it over…the ground, the heat, the water and why it went wrong…and as is often with me, I started it with too much mucho gusto…with all the enthusiasm in the world…with high expectations….and it didn’t last….




And so with my head full of basil and herbs and sweetcorn and strawberries I decided that I would pick a very small little patch, I would keep my expectations low and I would just start with a few lettuce, some easy to sow herbs and a few other veggies that I would buy already established as small plants…



And I used this funny little concreted bit here…there are a couple of these areas in this garden…I have no idea why someone would throw down so much concrete but in actual fact someone here at sometime obviously planned this out quite well, because all the little spots of concrete…the one with the bench, the one outside the summer house and the one where the washing line goes are all strategically placed to get the winter sun too…



And as I got down there on my knees, hands in the earth, BBC Radio 4 on the radio (one cannot garden without Radio4) I got the feeling that this may have been someone’s veggie garden in another life…as I dug it over and added compost and all that good stuff I felt like this little cordoned off bit was done, with grey concrete ;-),  for just this reason….


I decided to leave in the few plants that were already in there and just planted all my bits and pieces in and around what was already there which really was not much, including a hydrangea who I think felt it a little hot in this spot…



so it’s over and out from me and my veggies



If you have any tips for my green thumb or indeed recipes for my aubergine, though really I don’t know if I will ever be strong enough to actually eat this baby, I’d lurve to hear ‘em – please leave them for me in the comments…


…and if you have never grown-your-own before, take action and get yourself rocking some veggies…my tips for anyone starting out…keep it small and simple, spend a little bit more and buy the plants rather than seeds, do some in pots and treat them as your babies…


We have got loads from this little spot…and without wishing to sound all purrfect-I-will-make-you-vomit-with-my condescending-manner-organic-mummy there is something pretty wonderful, when cooking the dinner to call out to one of your kiddos to go get picking…and too, it’s rather a nice feeling to go out in the dark, scrabbling around in the earth with a torch looking for something to add to supper…



I’ll be seeing ya around…I’ve got some Easter bits and bobs to show you soon oh and the next Beach Cottage Saturday Mission is cooking up right now ;-)

and last but not least, yes life is better in wellies



thank you to my ever-lovely resident Teenager & my ever-trusty Canon for the photos
you both continue to teach me & show me more about life everyday


OK, so let’s have us some Beach Cottage fun!  Love to see what you’ve all been up to this week!  Just pop your link below & remember to link back to abeachcottage…if you need more info about joining in and the pesky rules etc just click right here….

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48 Responses to “Linky Blog Party…Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays”

  1. hi, just stopped by. Trying to link up to your party, but I can’t find it??

  2. I can’t wait to get in to my house just so that I can get my garden started.

    Among other things, I plan to have a “Green Smoothie Garden”, full of kale and parsley and watercress. Can’t wait!!

  3. Hello Sarah,
    Love that baby Eggplant, aren’t they the cutest little things! I am visting your beautiful blog for the first time and won’t be shy to come back soon:-) Thanks for being our hostess:-)

  4. ok, it just came up for me. I linked up a project. Loving all the green grass and the plants. We still have SNOW on the ground here, and everything is dirty and muddy…yuck!! Come on, spring!

  5. Marnie says:

    I so enjoyed this post today Sarah. have been feeling crappy all week and needed a good BC injection…thanks.
    Have you tried using a worm farm or chooks yet? Great for the garden and the eggs are great too….I’m hoping to get a “married pair” of ducks soon, I hear the eggs are great for baking.
    My fave recipe for rocket is just a simple salad, dressed with good olive oil, balsamic vinegar and shaved Parmesan. Moussaka for the eggplants…might link my recipe to GLW next week.
    See ya
    x Marnie

  6. Hi Sarah,
    You’ve inspired me to join Good Life Wednesdays. I’m a newbie and tried to follow your instructions for adding the A Beach Cottage link button to my post but couldn’t get it to work. So I had to just write it out, the old school way. Not sure what I did incorrectly?

  7. Love your spider shot Sarah.. fabulous.. Have a great week.. ciao xxx Julie

  8. Jacqueline says:

    Bravo on the jardin! I have no recipe for you, but when we proudly harvested our two small eggplants we ceremoniously prepared eggplant parmesan sandwiches, open faced, with a spicy red sauce and melted cheese on top. YUM! And oh so gratifying!

  9. Excellent job on the garden!! have you tried Baba Ganoush for the eggplant? yum

  10. Lovely post as usual. Your garden is gorgeous. Hope to see you at My Dream Canvas :-)

  11. Robyn says:

    We also started a veggie garden as soon as we moved in, and while the tomatoes have gone balistic and the beans are taller than the Empire State building, the possums seem to think our veg garden is their own personal feast table. Needless to say we haven’t been able to have anything we’ve planted :-(

    After being at the Melbourne Flower Show this weekend we are just so anxious to buy our own place so we can start a proper garden.

  12. tania says:

    Love those ruffled curtains and I know where to find them……….

  13. Danielle says:

    Hi Sarah,

    It sounds like you have some lovely gardening days ahead of you!!

    I’d recommend perhaps getting hold of a native plant list for your area and chosing some gems off that to get things start, also having a sandy soil there are lots of Aussie native gems that would be perfectly suited to the conditions, not neccesarily local to you area but natives that should suit the coastal conditions – Westringia (Native or Coastal Rosemary) varieties (have a lovely mediterranean look), Brachycome daisys (very cute), Kangarroo paws and the ever versatile Lomandra (strappy grass) which you may have spotted around council nature or median strips :-)

    Good luck and happy gardening days ;-)


  14. Katherine says:

    Hi Sarah

    I love this post, what gorgeous photos! Am inspired to work harder in my garden. I grew up in New Zealand and like you, miss the beautiful flowers Mum had growing in her garden esp camellias and hydrangeas.

    Can I be cheeky and ask where you found the cute stripy top you’re wearing? Have been searching high and low for something similar…


    • sarah says:

      hi Katherine…I found it in a very cheapy teenager shop while shopping with my daughter…and have worn it to death & may I say it has lasted and washed about a trillion times better than a similar one I paid 8 times more for in Country Road…Country Road one = 80, this one was 10…label reads avocado


  15. Alyson says:

    Maybe this is where I can pay you back for all the inspiration you’ve given me – because while you are a natural with the stylin’ and whatnot, I was born with a green thumb. If you find that your vegie garden still doesn’t take off – go and buy (or get the Lovely Mr to make) a raised bed…those corrugated ones from Bunnings are good value and make sure you use a good compost mix and sprinkle some water crystals through it.

    As to the garden, as Danielle said Westringia is great and silvery and hardy…in fact most silvery plants are your friends on the coast, including Lavender. Pelargoniums (Geraniums) will get away from you in the garden probably, but they look too cute in terracotta or whitewashed pots. Ordinary Rosemary will do well – try and get a cutting from a garden nearby to ensure one that grows happily in your area. Convulvulous (or is it Convolvulus?) is a sweet ground cover with violety colored flowers. Erigeron Daisies are also called seaside daisies and once they settle in – they will self seed into any garden gaps – they are lovely and can pretty much be mown and still come back! Roses should be fine – ask the Nursery for types that are black spot resistant but Iceberg Roses are pretty (no scent though – Boo) and tough and as long as the Rose is planted where it can get lots of sun and lots of air, it should be happy. Finally Daylilies are great strappy green fun with beautiful flowers and they are tough too! I reckon along with the Hydangeas – you could totally have an English Garden type Garden.

    • sarah says:

      thanks so much!

      I have tried rosemary all over the garden…it just dies…I have also had the same with lavender..things before I grew with my eyes shut!

      the roses I have planted too have not had too much luck with…the soil is really sandy…

      I will look out for Westringia, thanks

      I have lots of geraniums now and my cuttings are doing really well…basically I just shoved them in the side of pots & all have taken off, same to hydrangea..

      will keep a lookout for iceberg roses…though I am not diggin a rose without a scent

      I have had daylilies in pots…I never thought of putting them straight in the ground

      appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment xx

  16. nicole beltane says:

    what a delight it was to look through the photos.

    Dear Hubby has a garden out the back with his many veggies and fruits, me i like the pretty stuff and brought the most beautiful Angel Face rose today {DD’s name is Angel so it works for me}.

    Speaking of raised beds as mentioned in the previous comment, hubby knocked together a large one a few days ago out of a pallet. i will show him this post and see what he says. :)

    • sarah says:

      thanks Nicole…i’d like a bed from a pallet…wondering if mr bc could manage that?

      • nicole beltane says:

        we where lucky enough to get 7 free ones, he has so far made an adorondaick chair, a passionfruit planter, the garden beds, and i made an eat sign. and we still have more left. so its been a bargain.

  17. Pearl Maple says:

    Congrats on the garden success
    Here’s a little tidbit that works on both the north and south end of the globe, usually St Pat’s day is the target day for planting peas.

  18. Susan says:

    ah my friend….. as I moved north away from Sydney to the sub-tropical climate I now call home….. I also had to leave behind my love of an “Old English Garden”. I guess after 10 years of fighting it, I have come to embrace the “STRAIGHT sand and no soil” soil we have in our garden……. a positive is that we can just dig a hole and voila… a sandpit for every small child we have introduced into our home :)

    {{and after all what a ‘tragic’ price to pay for life so close to our beaches *sigh :)}}

    I left behind a love of agapanthus, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, roses…. my list is endless. I had a lovely garden….. here I love my frangipanis, my birds of paradise, my foliage plants…… and my beloved palms…… :)

    but I will always hold near & dear to my heart the completely beautiful garden I was able to enjoy during my life in Somerset….. *sigh……. *sigh

    {AND….. have you looked at Redbubble yet? it’s a website for all types of artists but photography features heavily. it taught me a great deal and gives you different works to gaze enviously at……. all amazing. when you are having a bored to death of the usual suspects on the net… give it a look.. I guarantee you’ll love what you see } xx

    • sarah says:

      yes I have looked at REbubble, just haven’t got me act together thanks

      and I know i have traded my garden for this amazing place I now call home !

  19. Heather says:

    No green thumb but green with envy! We just got dumped on with 5 more inches of snow.. trying to keep my chin up :) There are so many cool smaller things you can do to have a big impact.. even with the brown thumb like mine. Last year I planted a picnic basket and some chair planters! Love your lil garden and the pictures are divine!

  20. My gardens and house are spring cleaned!!! First time ever by April…Why? the house is for sale and finally listed!! I’m celebrating with a giveaway on my blog…please come enter and celebrate with me ;)

  21. I so wish I had a garden. My Mimi always had such beautiful gardens and landscaping. I’ve always been too busy, but now I’m a stay at home mom, so I’m really loving the idea of this. Unfortunately we just moved and are living in a rental. I’ll have to be creative with some flower boxes and pots:)

  22. You garden is lovely. Hubby, for some reason, has taken to gardening this year and decided to plant some veggies. I’m not sure how they will do here as we have sandy soil as well. Try planting the rosemary in a pot, you might have more success. But really, they like to be ignored. But my lavender did not do well either.

    For the eggplant, being Italian I make eggplant parmesan. But here’s a tip: Slice them up, salt them well and layer between paper towels. Let them rest for 20-30 mins. It will draw out the moisture and the bitterness they might have. Rinse well before cooking. I egg and bread crumb them and bake in the oven then layer with sauce and cheese and fresh basil. Back in the oven to bake. Yummo!

  23. Hi Sarah, Gardening, the sea, new camera….life is good! I’ve never had good luck with vegetable gardens but I have had some pretty flower gardens around our pool in the backyard. I’m finding as I get older I don’t want to spend as much time digging in the ground as I used to. This year I will probably focus on container gardening if it ever gets warm here. Burrr, it’s spring and it’s still freezing here. Thank you for being such an inspiration!

  24. Marie says:

    Hi Sarah – Happy Beach Cottage Wednesday to you! I just want to say, WOW…your photography skills are just amazing! You take photographs like a pro, you really should be giving us the tips (ha!ha!) I love every single shot you shared with us this Wednesday, and really, it’s like being there with you in your lovely corner of the world.

    Today, I’m excited to share with you and your readers that my home has been featured in Romantic Country mag here in the US. I’m thrilled to pieces about it!

  25. Kim says:

    G’day Miss Sarah~I love a luscious garden and get so excited when I get to make a meal out of it as well.We are still having cold weather and I haven’t started our garden yet.I don’t think it will do to well this year.I like the other gals idea of a smoothie garden how healthy is that.~Cheers Kim

  26. Heather says:

    Hi Sarah! I really enjoyed your post. As someone who has troubles in the garden, I completely understand. I always conjure images of a big luscious garden in my head, and then it just doesn’t seem to happen!

    As always, I just love your photography. I must say, you are looking so stylish in the garden! Your boots are great, and the striped top is wonderful too! Your daughter must have inherited some of those excellent photography skills from you. Please let her know what a great job that she did! :)

  27. indiansummer says:

    Enjoy your garden, Sarah! I envy you; I live in a condo with no room to garden. But even if there was, I know not the first thing about gardening. *sigh*

    Your aubergine shots are perfection.

  28. Sarah, such a gorgeous and inspiring post! We have lived in our house for two years and have done very little in our yard. You post really motivates me to start getting serious with it. Thanks for your advice to start small, I will take that to heart. Your eggplant is so cute! I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t have the heart to eat it, but would love to hear what you end up doing with it if you do.

  29. Suzanne says:

    Hi Sarah, I have been thinking about starting a veggie patch, you have inspired me to get started!! With Hydrangers, do you cut off the spent brown flowers?? I have been told not to cut into the wood area as it will not get leaves grow back there do you have any advice?? Fab photos and a really lovely post!! Thank you!!

    • sarah says:

      i cut all the brown flowers off and also cuttings are really easy…just cut off and shove in up to the side of the pot…and water and they grow ;-)

  30. Deanne says:

    The best time to grow veggies in Australia is autumn, winter and spring – it is too hot to try and grow stuff in the heat of summer- they take too much water. Where we live we have very sandy soil and we have made lots of raised garden beds for our veggies out of corrugated roofing tin.

  31. Susan says:

    Awesome party, but BTW, could you please tell us where all of the ruffles came from, the tablecloth, and the drape?? Okay, and did you say that you caved and got that bedding from Anthro?? Okay, now that is out of the way, I can go back and enjoy the party….hugs from Fl…Susan

  32. Chrisartist says:

    Great website Sarah
    I’m renovating a beachouse here in Tasmania.
    I’m going to enjoybyour blog

  33. Fuchsia says:

    Hello, Sarah

    We really appreciate you hosting a party!… There is so much fun stuff to discover and this certainly is a great way to see it. We really enjoy your blog!

    G’day to you and yours!

  34. Kirsty says:

    You’re rocking those wellies Sarah!

  35. Chookie says:

    Great to see another vegie/herb garden developing! My advice to you is to add all the organic matter you can get your hands on, because sand won’t hold moisture but compost will. WRT herbs, it’s the right time of year to plant. I’d suggest dry-climate herbs like thyme and sage at first.

  36. Katherine says:

    Succulents Sarah – you can’t go wrong with succulents!! And the more you have, the more you will love them. I really love plants that start you off with one or two, but reward you with many. Geraniums are good like that too! And anything that self seeds – Nigella’s, Alyssum, Calandula’s.

    Another good tip is to join a garden club. I am in my local one, & I love nothing better than our monthly garden visits/tours – we get to look at other peoples gardens (& peak at their houses too!!). It’s a great way to get inspired. I am always amazed by what can be hidden behind a garden fence!

    Loved your garden pictures – and I really love the first photo of the coastal scene – just love those “ceylon sapphire” blues. So spectacular.

    Happy gardening – it’s the best!

  37. Dianne says:

    Have just found your lovely blog and pleased to know you love gardening and photography both hobbies of mine!
    Oh! and love your fab green boots – I’m sure if I had a pair like that my gardening chores would be a breeze.
    have a wonderful week-end.