Sunday inspiration

This Sunday it feels very much like Christmas. We have had our first snow fall here in Zurich, but unfortunately since then there has only been rain so its all melted.

Good thing is that i know it will be back, and lots of it!

I have hung my wreath on the front door,and i am quite impressed at how it looks .-)

My christmas tree arrives on Wednesday, so i am super excited to start decorating and wrapping my presents!!

All images are below are from Pinterest.






















Climbing Plants

Climbers are a fantastic addition to a garden. They can beautify an empty wall or shade a pergola.

There are more than two dozen ways that vines climb, but most are basically variations on four themes: twiners, and vines that climb by tendrils, aerial rootlets, or some type of hook.

Twining vines such as these that need only a sturdy support (for wisteria, very sturdy). Little coaxing is required. Honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.), are twiners. Each encircles its support in the direction predetermined by its genes. In some cases, a vine’s tendency is to climb haphazardly. But first, the tip of a twiner’s new shoot casts about in a wide arc until it finds an object to latch onto. Such efficient climbing allows you to spend energy elsewhere, since it’s often easy to tell whether or not the shoots are heading where they’re supposed to.

That’s not always the case with vines that climb by means of tendrils—angelhair-like antennae that whip about until they find a support, then wind around it. Depending on the plant’s heredity, the tendrils of these “clinging” vines can arise from either stems, leaves, or leafstalks. Members of the grape family ­(Vitis spp.), passionflowers (Passifloraspp.), and perennial sweet peas (Lathyrus latifolius) climb this way.

A little attention to the type and location of supports is important with tendril climbers, especially at first. Tendrils are short and profuse. Tendrils that failed to find a support may simply latch onto a neighbouring stem or each other. Chicken-wire fencing or mesh for are great for controlling these vines.

Other plants—such as English ivy (Hedera helix) climb by aerial roots and therefore need no help, except in the beginning. You’ll want to prevent them from smothering other plants, and if they’ve latched onto the side of a house, prune them away from windows and gutters and fish them out of cracks. Many of these true clingers hang on for dear life, so much so that removing the stems later leaves the roots—or their fibrous footprints—behind.

Some plants resemble mountain climbers,using hooks to grab toeholds on a support and climb skyward. The thorns of a climbing rose help gain purchase in a tree trunk or latticework, but the canes still need a little training. You’ll want to weave them through a trellis occasionally or tie them to a support.

Some of my recommended climbers are:

Trachelsopermum jasminoides- Star Jasmine

This would have to be my favourite climber. Extremely hardy with scented white flowers. Can be grown in a pot or in the ground. Slow growing in the first few years.

An evergreen climber with thick glossy leaves. Will tolerate full sun to semi shade in all but very cool areas. This is also a great climber that can be used as a groundcover. Can look spectacular around a fence or under standard roses.

Star Jasmine

Star Jasmine

Pyrostegia venusta- 

A vigorous, mostly evergreen climber which flowers throughout Winter and Spring. Grows in full sun in well drained soil. Make sure you have plenty of space for this climber as it can get large.

Pyrostegia in full flower

Pyrostegia in full flower

Stephanotis floribunda- Madagascar Vine

A small highly scented climber. This plant thrives in the tropics and will not tolerate a cold winter. It prefers a sheltered position in full sun in well drained soils.

Gorgeous blooms of Stephanotis

Gorgeous blooms of Stephanotis

Wisteria sinensis- Wisteria 

A deciduous climber that is perfect for pergolas. It offers winter sun and summer shade. Just be prepared to clean up after it when it starts shedding its leaves! Likes a sheltered position in full sun.

Only plant this climber if you have the space. It can get large and has quite a large root system.

Wisteria blooms

Wisteria blooms

Hardenbergia violacea- Sarsparilla

A long flowering native climber. It is a vigorous climber that can also be grown as a groundcover. Full sun and well drained soil.



Clematis species- Clematis 

A deciduous climber that is best suited to cooler climates. Prefers a sheltered spot in full sun, but make sure you keep the roots cool with a good layer of mulch.



Sunday was porridge day

A lovely rice porridge recipe that i tried on a very chilly Sunday morning.

This is a great twist on the traditional oat porridge. Its really delicious!!

Vanilla rice porridge with caramelised bananas

Serves 4

1 litre milk

3 tablespoons superfine caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

180g arborio rice

2 bananas, sliced on the diagonal

1 tablespoon soft brown sugar

Pour the milk, sugar and vanilla bean paste in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the rice and stir occasionally to prevent it sticking to the pan. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and leave for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high. Put the bananas in a heatproof dish, sprinkle with brown sugar. Grill for 2-3 minutes or until golden and caramelised.

To serve, spoon the rice pudding into bowls, top with banana and sprinkle with a little brown sugar.


Sunday inspiration

Its that time again…i have decided to do a Sunday inspiration blog. Just because, its a good way to end the week, but also a great way to start the week.

I hope it inspires you to do some lovely things in your garden!







Lavenders come in a surprising array of colours, forms and fragrances. Their hardiness varies according to their type, from full hardy angustifolias and frost hardy stoechas. All Lavenders originate from warm, dry, Meditteranean type climates. They demand full sun and moderately fertile, well drained soil. Well accustomed to drought, they can serve the gardener well in times of water shortage.

Lavenders can be grown as low flowering hedges or planted in beds and borders.

Angustifolias known as English Lavenders are famous for their heavy, sweet fragrance. Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’sports elegant, lance shaped flower spikes with whorls of flowers encircling the stem. It flowers throughout Summer in shades of deep purple. Like most angustifolias, ‘Hidcote’ is fully hardy with a compact round habit up to 50cm high.

Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’

For a brighter, bolder flower, try distinctive ‘Beechwood Blue’ or ‘Munstead’.

Another classic is Lavandula stoechas or Spanish Lavender. Lower growing than all other species of Lavender. It has fine greyish, green leaves. ‘Kew Red’ is a stunning variety with dark pink and white flowers, which grows very well in pots.

Lastly, there is Lavandula dentata or French Lavender. I dont find this species as attractive as the angustifolias, as it tends to splay along the ground rather than keeping a nice compact shape. This species is rarely without flowers though. If you do like this particular species then ‘Monet’ is a nice compact dwarf variety.

‘Ploughmans Blue’ is a smaller growing plant of bushy to spreading habit with semi-open, grey green foliage. Leaves are darker green and broader than many other cultivars.


1. All Lavenders demand a sunny site- Plant in well drained, neutral to alkaline soil. Intermedia and stoechas types can stand a slightly acid soil.

2. Space according to size  and    planting style but, generally, group informal planting in threes, 45-90cm apart and space lavenders for hedging at 60cm using all one variety for greatest impact.

3. Give them one hard prune- immediately after flowering. Don’t prune back to the old wood, but enough to keep a nice shape.

Lavandula stoechas

Lavandula stoechas

Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead'

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’

My banana bread

Yes, you guessed it. I had some bananas that turned brown this week… i decided to make banana bread. I don’t make it often, but thought it would be a quick and relatively healthy breakfast for my week at work!

I tried a gluten free recipe this time, and it turned out really well.

Banana bread

Makes 1 loaf
300 g (10  1/2  oz)  smashed ripe banana
3 free range / organic eggs
60 g ( 2 oz / 2 tablespoons) raw honey or organic maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
60 g (2 oz/  1/4 cup)  macadamia nut oil
half teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2  tsp baking soda ( bicarb soda) + 1 tbsp lemon juice
200 g ( 2 cups/ 7  oz) ) almond meal
25 g (1/4 cup / 3/4  oz)  ground flaxseed (linseed) or chia seed

Preheat your oven to 160 C.

Combine smashed banana, honey, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, bicarb and lemon. You can do this by hand in a large bowl or with a good blender.
Add the almond meal and flaxseed and mix well.
Lightly oil one loaf tin and then cover with baking paper to help prevent sticking. The size I used was: 10 1/2 cm wide and 26 cm long.
Spoon batter into the tin and bake for  45  minutes to 1 hour ( a skewer inserted into the centre should come out dry).
Cover the top with foil if over-browning.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out the loaf.
Makes 1 loaf serves 12.
keeps in the fridge covered for up to 1 week.

My serving suggestions are: plain, honey and ricotta or peanut butter!




It’s getting cold!

It is getting really cold here, and the snow will be arriving soon. November is really an in between month….the weather is horrible. Wet and cloudy constantly. Its making the transition from autumn to winter, but somehow i think i would be happier if it just snowed!! So many places close in November and its tough to even find a hotel open to head away for the weekend.

So being kind of appropriate for the cold weather, here is a super delicious chilli recipe.

My boyfriend made it one weekend for Sunday lunch and now im thinking its going to be on our regular list of dishes…although its definitely something for the colder months.

It is from Thomasina Miers ‘Mexican food made simple cookbook’. She is an English cook who won MasterChef in 2005.

Before you begin, i should let you know that this can be time consuming. Not in a way that you need to stand and stir like a risotto, but it does take a few hours in the oven…which i think is fine because you can be busy doing other things at the same time!

Chilli Con Carne

Serves 6-8

1kg beef, cut into 4 pieces (use stewing steak, silver side or another cheap cut)

3 onions

4 garlic cloves

olive oil

300g spicy chorizo, cut into chunks

2 tspns each of ground cumin and allspice

1 teaspoon cloves

1 large cinnamon stick

3 bay leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried

2 chillis, deseeded

2 ancho chillis

2 teaspoons sea salt

black pepper

3 tablespoons cider or balsamic vinegar

2 x 400g tinned tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

2 tablespoons muscavado or dark brown sugar

2 x 400g tins borlotti beans, drained

Preheat the oven to 120 degrees celcius. Take the meat out of the fridge to de chill. Pulse the onions and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large casserole dish and sear the meat on all sides until golden. Set to one side and add another small slug of olive oil to brown the chorizo. Remove and add the onion and add garlic, spices, herbs and chillies then cook until soft in the chorizo oil. Season with salt and pepper and add the vinegar, tomatoes, ketchup and sugar.

Put all the meat back into the pot with 400ml of water, bring it to the simmer and cook covered in the oven. After 2 hours, check the meat and add the beans. Cook for a further hour and just before serving, pull the meat apart with a pair of forks.


What to do in the garden this month- November

Even though i live in Switzerland, i still write my monthly ‘what to do in the garden’ for the Southern Hemisphere. I studied there, grew up there…so it kind of makes sense!

I know some of my readers are based in the Northern Hemisphere, so i am now changing my ‘what to do in the garden’ each month to both!!

Southern Hemisphere

– Fertilise roses

– Lightly prune natives

– Sow seeds- Celosia, Zinnia, Cosmos, Zucchini and Pumpkins

– Spray Azaleas for Azalea Lace Bug. Use Confidor.

– Prepare your garden beds for the hot summer ahead. Use water storage crystals. They actually have a liquid form that is much better and absorbs better into your soil. I recommend this one, and then a good dose of mulch.

– Fruit fly can be a problem in some areas. Now is the time to treat them.

Beautiful image from Pinterest

Beautiful image from Pinterest

Northern Hemisphere

– Plant bulbs now. Especially tulips.

– Deadhead Hydranges.

– Mulch your garden well in preparation for the cold months and the snow.

– Lift Dahlias, Begonias and Gladiolus if your garden is prone to freezing.

– Brighten your balcony or front door with annuals. Such as violas, pansies, polyanthus and primulas.

– Plant Hyacinths (but remember to bring them inside during the very cold months of Dec and Jan)

– Start to plant bare rooted roses now.

– Start raking!!

– Prune pear and apple trees between now and February.

– Remember to set your mower on a higher cut height for Winter.

– Aerate your lawn.

– Plant deciduous trees now.

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

Autumn in Zurich

My favourite florist in the Old Town

My favourite florist in the Old Town

The cutest little park across the road from my apartment

The cutest little park across the road from my apartment

Yesterday was just the most beautiful day in Zurich. It reminds me of why i enjoy living here!

Autumn has been pretty spectacular this year, much more than last and the colour around the city has just been beautiful.

Its been 15 months since i arrived in Zurich and as each season arrives i think that particular season is my favourite…but how can i say that for all of them!? Seasons are very dramatic in Switzerland and its a really lovely thing to see.

Looking up

Looking up

Autumn colour

Autumn colour

Me and the autumn leaves

Me and the autumn leaves

The Old Town

The Old Town