Autumn photos

To end September, i am going to share some photos from all my hiking this month. I have been doing a lot of hiking and trying to get fit before winter sets in!!

It has been beautiful, but you certainly have to make the most of the sunshine while its here because its not here often!

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All about turf

Choosing the right grass for your garden can be really difficult! There are a lot of varieties out there which makes it very confusing! So i am going to share with you a list of great varieties for your garden….i will have varieties for sun, shade, high traffic areas and more.

Obviously i am writing this about turf varieties that i know in Australia. That is where i studied and worked so therefore my knowledge of turf comes from Australia. If you have any questions about particular turf varieties in your area though, please let me know!

I won’t be posting any photos with this particular blog, because its very difficult to get an idea of what each turf looks like from a picture!

Sapphire Soft leaf Buffalo

  • Great shade and full sun tolerance
  • Soft under foot
  • Low maintenance
  • Excellent year round colour
  • Fast to recover from wear and tear
  • The perfect all round lawn variety
 Well suited to residential lawns, commercial parks and buildings.

Sapphire Soft Leaf Buffalo Grass has performance as good as any other buffalo turf, with the added benefit of fine texture.A Sapphire Soft Leaf Buffalo Lawn grows quickly across the ground, providing quick recovery from wear, has excellent winter colour, and has a deep root system.A Sapphire Soft Leaf Buffalo Lawn has a colour that is truly amazing, its deep green colour will make your home lawn “the envy of the street”. Sapphire Soft Leaf Buffalo Grass has a super fine texture. So if you want a buffalo lawn, but dont like a coarse looking leaf, then a Sapphire Soft Leaf Buffalo Lawn is for you. Other great performing buffalo lawns have a much coarser looking texture compared to Sapphire Soft leaf Buffalo Grass.

Palmetto Soft leaf Buffalo 

  • Low mowing maintenance
  • Great shade and full sun tolerance
  • Maintains good colour in winter
  • Soft under foot
  • The World’s # 1 selling proprietary buffalo grass
   Well suited to residential lawns, commercial parks and buildings.

Palmetto Buffalo Grass is a tough, soft leaf Buffalo.  This turf provides a lawn grass that has excellent winter colour, and can generally out compete weeds when established. Palmetto Buffalo Grass generally requires less watering and less mowing than most other turf varieties available.

Empire Zoysia turf 

  • Low maintenance
  • Hard wearing
  • Reasonable shade tolerance
  • Fine to medium textured grass
  • Soft to touch and play on

Well suited to household lawns, golf courses, playing fields and commercial areas.

This turf provides a lawn grass that has excellent winter colour, and can out compete weeds when established. Nara generally requires less watering and less mowing than most other turf varieties available in Instant turf rolls or slabs.

Nara native turf is a great all purpose turf that can handle many conditions. It is the only general native turf. The only other native turf is Dryarna, but it is only grown for drainage channels because it only survives in or next to shallow water. Unlike Nara, Dryarna is not suitable for general turf areas. Nara is the perfect compliment for any native garden or landscape.

Kenda Kikuyu Turf

  • Fast establishing
  • Hard wearing
  • Drought tolerant
  • Excellent winter colour
  • Soft to touch and play on

Well suited to household lawns, golf courses, playing fields and commercial areas.

Kenda Kikuyu is a fast establishing form of Kikuyu turf with great drought and wear tolerance. If you have a large dog or kids, or a footy team to keep happy, Kenda is a good high wear tolerance option. Kenda Kikuyu is excellent value, especially when you consider how much better it’s winter colour is compared to any other warm season turf, including Buffalo, Couch, or other Kikuyu types.

For Commercial use. Sporting fields, parks, golf courses, race courses, and other amenity areas. Kenda Kikuyu has greatly improved wear tolerance because it has four times as many rhizomes, and more vigorous stolons. It’s far more winter active, which is important as that’s when sporting lawns are prone to most damage.

Queensland Blue Couch

  • Produces a nice blue-green leaf
  • Can tolerate acid soils – ph equal and lower than 5.5
  • Excellent heat tolerance
  • Moderate to good wear tolerance
  • Moderate tolerance to cool environments
  • Cost effective

QLD Blue Couch is a common turf variety used for domestic and commercial lawns.

Like other blue couches QLD Blue has an attractive blue green colour. It produces minimal seed heads compared to standard couch varieties meaning an easier to mow lawn for the home owner or commercial maintenance person.

QLD Blue is known for its low growing lush coverage, which not only gives the end user a strong, weed resistant lawn but also provides a nice soft feel. Compared to standard couch varieties (like Wintergreen) QLD Blue Couch doesn’t have the wear capabilities but it will recover quickly if damaged. It has good drought tolerance once its roots have grown deeply, however it can turn slightly purple during the Queensland winter.

 

Plant of the month – Dahlia

After my visit to Mainau Island, i was so impressed with the Dahlia display that i decided to make it my plant of the month.

Dahlias have actually always been one of my favourite flowers. During my childhood my parents had Italian neighbours for many years who grew Dahlias. They would have so many and would bring them into my Mum all the time. From there i think they kind of stuck with me.

Dahlias are invaluable for the summer border, in patio containers or as cut flowers, often flowering until the first frosts. With many excellent recent introductions, they offer a wide range of flower types, often with very showy, double forms in warm vibrant colours. Dahlias are enjoying a much deserved return to popularity.

Dahlias are easy to grow but do need winter protection in most parts of Europe. They are tolerant of a wide range of soil types and situations but best planted in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun when danger of frost is over.

  • Incorporate plenty of organic matter (one or two buckets per sq m/sq yd) such as well-rotted manure into the soil prior to planting and use a general purpose fertilizer, according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Plant tubers in their flowering position. Tubers should be planted 10-15cm (4-6in) deep
  • Stake as required and pinch out shoots to promote bushiness (see pruning and training below)
  • Keep well watered and once flowers appear feed with a high potash liquid feed every two weeks from July to early September

Lifting and storage 

– Cut down foliage and use a fork to carefully prise plants out of the soil.

– Dry off naturally and then clean away any soil clinging to the tubers. Trim stems to 15-20cm. If the tubers have been washed, position them upside down in a cool place for a few weeks to dry off.

– Trim off any fine roots.

– Place tubers in shallow wooden boxes or open trays and pack with a peat-free compost or dry sand, just covering the tubers but leaving the crown exposed.

– Store in a dry, cool, frost-free place. If stored in a garden shed cover with newspaper if a hard frost is predicted.

– Inspect tubers regularly during winter for rotting and discard any that are unhealthy.

Pruning and training Dahlias

– Insert canes on planting and tie in as growth develops.

– Pinch out growing tips once plants reach a height of about 40cm (16in) to encourage branching.

– For giant blooms restrict the number of flowering stems to three to five per plant; for smaller blooms allow seven to 10 flowering stems per plant.

– To produce a long-flowering display and strong stems, remove the two pairs of flower buds developing in the leaf axils below the terminal bud.

– Deadhead as flowers fade.

– Bedding dahlias need no staking or disbudding; just pinch out the growing tip to encourage bushiness and deadhead regularly.

For more Dahlia images you can refer to my blog on Mainau Island here: 

https://grndoordesign.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/mainau-island-germany/

https://grndoordesign.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/mainau-island-germany-part-2/

Dahlias i picked up at the market last week

Dahlias i picked up at the market last week

Stuffed portobello mushrooms

I have been attempting to cook more seasonally recently. You really notice the change in food just as much as you notice it in the weather.

Mushrooms are not difficult to get here, but the range is small. We usually have swiss brown, oyster and button varieties. But in the last few weeks, there has been an abundance of mushrooms in the stores….portobello, chanterelles, shitake and many more.

I am a huge lover of mushrooms. Everytime i see them i think of my Dad and how much he hates mushrooms…..he thinks its weird to eat a fungus! But I’m quite excited by the thought of some new varieties around and of course trying some new recipes.

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This dish is simply delicious, its so easy and even if you’re not a vegetarian then these would match well with a piece of steak!

I would love to know how your stuffed portobello mushrooms turn out!

Serves 1

Ingredients

50g baby spinach (more if you can fit it in the mushroom)

1/2 tspn dried chilli

1 tsp garlic, finely chopped

2 large portobello mushrooms

50g low fat mozzarella, torn

2 tspns parmesan

fresh thyme leaves

salad leaves to serve

Method 

Preheat grill to 200 degrees celcius. (Unfortunately i don’t have a temperature control on my grill, so i heated mine to medium)

Mix spinach, chilli and garlic in a bowl and fill the cap of the mushroom.

Place mushrooms on the grill and top with mozzarella, scatter with parmesan and thyme leaves, season with salt and pepper and grill for 7-10 minutes, or until cheese has melted and mushrooms are cooked but still firm.

Serve with a handful of salad leaves.

(Mine had a little excess liquid in the caps when i took them out, which i just drained and then served)

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The range of mushrooms at the supermarket

 

Mainau Island – Germany. Part 2

Continuing from my post from Sunday, i thought i would fill you in a little more about Mainau Island.

Mainau lies just off the shores of Lake Constance in the far south-west of Germany. It has 45 hectares of an extraordinary range of flowers, trees and shrubs.

Favourites with the public include the palm house, with its collection of 1,200 orchids, and the largest butterfly house in Germany, which contains 1,000 examples of exotic species. Other attractions on Mainau island include the palace church of St. Mary, a gem of the south-German baroque, and the Italian rose garden, laid out in 1871 for Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden. From June to August around 9,000 roses of nearly 400 varieties blossom into flower here.

In 1930, Prince Wilhelm (then the island’s owner) turned the administration of Mainau over to his son, the Swedish Prince Lennart Bernadotte II. The prince, who had renounced his Swedish royal lineage after marrying a commoner, devoted the rest of his life to turning the island into a privately-operated park. Mainau is now maintained in perpetuity by a foundation that the prince and his second wife established, and the island’s manager is their daughter, Countess Bettina Bernadotte. Their son, Count Björn Bernadotte, manages the foundation.

Mainau was a truly beautiful island, and who doesn’t love an island filled with plants!! The displays were well thought and out and well designed. I loved the combinations of planting they used for every display.

I am thinking that it would be a great idea to head back in the Spring time!

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Mainau Island – Germany

I finally got to Mainau Island in Germany after talking about it for 2 years! Of course winter time is not a good time to go, and because the winter time can be quite long here it only gives you a short window in which to visit.

I timed it perfectly because i knew the Dahlia display would be on.

My day started quite early with a train from Zurich to Konstanz, which is just over the border of Switzerland in Germany. From there it is a short 15 minute bus ride to Mainau. There is the alternative of taking a ferry but it takes over an hour. If you are not pushed for time or the weather is nice, then this might be a nice option.

We arrived around 10am and as we paid we took a map of the island. Its not a huge island, so we were able to see everything in a few hours. The weather was beautiful and we wandered and admired all the flower displays.

The gardens are perfectly manicured, yet i didnt see one gardener….im wondering if they work during the night .-)

I am going to be posting a second part to Mainau Island later next week. I have so many more photos to share!

Let me know if you have ever been to Mainau and what you thought!?

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What to do in the garden this month – September

Southern Hemisphere

I know the weather is warming up in Australia so hopefully it will be a beautiful Spring!

Spring is my favourite time of year. Not only because everything is starting to wake up after months of cold weather, but because its actually the best time to get out into your garden and prepare it before the Summer arrives. As we all know, Summer is not a good time to garden. Especially in Australia!

Plant now

1. Capsicum – Along with zucchini and eggplant, you’ll be able to harvest these all summer long. Its best to grow the seedlings in pun nets and then transplant them into the garden bed.

2. Rockmelon – Perfect to plant now the frost is gone. Make sure the soil is prepared with organic fertiliser before sewing. Harvest when stem pulls away easily, then let ripen for a couple of days.

3. Watermelon – Plant seeds in well fertilised soil. Allow plenty of light and space as possible. Harvest when the underside turns yellow and sounds hollow when tapped.

 

What to do 

1. Attack weeds – Unfortunately the warmer weather brings lots of problems too. Weeds and bugs can spread quickly unless you deal with them promptly. Annual weeds should not have gone to seed yet, so you break their lifestyle by removing them now. Bulbous weeds, such as onion weed, oxtails and onion grass take up poisons best when they are actively growing. Round up is most effective when applied in Spring.

 2. Patrol aphids – Watch out for aphids on the new growth of plants (particularly roses and maples) Organic sprays are available, but i prefer to use Pest Oil or even soapy water works fantastically!

3. Fertilise citrus – If you have potted citrus, give them some extra TLC now that they are coming into flower by dosing them up with a liquid fertiliser. Mulch around the base with chopped sugar cane (be careful not to contact the trunk with the lunch)

4. Prune climbers – Spring also means some of our best loved climbers are in full swing. Jasmine, Wisteria and Clematis to name a few are bursting with flowers and bees.

 

What to plant 

As soon as frosts are finished, think about planting petunia, phlox and salvia seedlings. Likewise, many frost tender vegetables and trailing ground cover fruits can be planted now as seeds. Plant eggplant, capsicum, zucchini.

Fill in the lawn. Now is a great time to either sow seed or lay turf s it takes root ready for backyard summer cricket! Look for varieties that suit your climate. You can ask your local garden centre for advise.

I will also be posting about turf and available varieties later this month.

 

Petunia-integrifolia

Northern Hemisphere 

September is generally a cooler month than August and the days are noticeably shorter. While there’s not as much to do in the ornamental garden at this time of the year, if you have a fruit or vegetable patch, you’ll be busy reaping the rewards of harvest. It’s also time to get out and start planting spring-flowering bulbs for next year and you can collect seeds for next summer’s colour too. Make the most of the remaining warmth while you can!

What to do 

1. It is important to remove perennial weeds from your lawn, as these will be difficult to control until the lawn is established. Unfortunately i think the best way to remove weeds is to pull them out by hand. Unless you have a huge lawn, then spraying with something like Glyphosate is necessary.

2. Deadheading of roses should be done regularly, and flowers trimmed just above the top of the stem.

3. The runners of new strawberry plants should be secured of compost or soil allowing them to root.

4. Plant spring flowering bulbs now.

5. Sow sweet peas in the greenhouse.

6. Sow other hardy annuals (e.g. CalendulaCentaurea and poppies)

7. Mow less frequently, and raise the height of cut as the growth rate of the grass slows down.

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