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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What to do in the garden this month- July

I am back from my Summer holidays and feeling quite exhausted! Doesn’t it always happen that way? I will be posting photos from Spain and Germany next week once i have been through my thousands of photos.

For now, here are some tips on what to do in the garden this month.

Southern Hemisphere 

1. As bulb shoots develop, feed with one of the new Thrive Liquids such as Thrive Roses & Flowers. It’s high in potassium so will strengthen the stems of floppy bulbs, as well as enhancing their flowering. Do the same for spring flowering annuals to help them develop a strong framework before they start to bloom.

2. July is rose pruning month, except in cold climates where it’s better to wait until just before the last frost is expected.

3. Check camellias for signs of leaf-spoiling sap suckers such as thrips and tea mite. Prune camellias (if required) after flowering, feed with Dynamic Lifter Plus Flower Food.

4. Dianthus is a carnation relative that develops a succession of cheery, fragrant blooms.



Northern Hemisphere 

1. Prune back the tangled new growth of wisteria, by shortening the current season’s stems to five or six leaves from their base. This allows light and air into the climber and enhances flowering.

2. Clip box hedging and topiary at the end of this month, which should keep them neat and tidy over the winter.

3. Birds love ripened soft fruit as much as we do and are up earlier to enjoy the crop first. To ensure fruit is reserved for you, cover the plants with netting before ripening is complete.

4. Give container plants a liquid feed throughout July to keep them looking good.

5. In what is known as the “June drop”, fruit trees undergo a natural thinning process when fruit they are unable to support falls from the tree. Additional thinning is often required for the remaining fruit to attain optimum size and quality. This should be carried out by mid-July. Thinning has other benefits:

Sunlight and air can circulate more easily, which helps fruit to ripen evenly and reduces the risk of fungal diseases.

6. Camellias set their buds around this time of year, and one reason for plants not flowering is dryness at the roots when the buds are being set. This is a particular problem for container plants, so ensure that potted camellias are watered regularly, especially during hot dry spells

Newly planted trees also benefit from regular watering during dry spells.

Branches can break if trees over-crop – a particular hazard for plums. An overly large crop can exhaust the tree’s resources, so thinning helps it to develop a manageable quantity of fruit.

When young trees crop too heavily, energy is diverted from developing a strong framework of branches and roots. This makes them less able to produce large crops in subsequent years.

Apples: To ensure the largest fruit, thin cooking apples hard; dessert apples more lightly. For both types leave just one fruit per cluster; choosing the strongest and best-shaped.

Apricots: Thin only if the crop is excessively heavy.

Plums are particularly prone to over-cropping, so thinning is vital.

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Weekend in Zurich

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I had a really lovely weekend…the weather was beautiful and the days just seem to be getting longer! I spent all day at Art Basel on Saturday and Sunday i spent the morning walking around the city. Its actually one of my favourite things to do in Zurich.

I always seem to find something i have never seen before, wether its a cute little restaurant or a park…its exciting finding new things in a city i don’t know so well.

Hope you like the photos from my weekend!

Belvoir Park, Zurich


My 2 year anniversary of living in Switzerland is near approaching and this is only my second time visiting this park. Shame on me!! The last time i went was during my first Summer in Zurich and i rode through on my bike one day.

The reason i actually ventured here was because a friend of mine had been and highly recommended i go to see the Iris in bloom.

It was a really hot day…actually only 27 degrees……but for me that is hot. 5 years ago i would have thought that was cold (after living in Australia and then Singapore) but i have now definitely acclimatised to the Swiss weather, which is much much cooler, even in Summer. You may get the odd 30-35 degree day but its rare.

I spent about an hour there just photographing the flowers. It was so beautiful!! I wish i could have stayed longer but unfortunately all the seats in the shade were taken.

I’m planning on going back next week with a blanket, book, wine and cheese and showing my friend this park. She is new to Zurich and we met though German class…so I am showing her my favourite parts of Zurich.

I have many favourite spring flowers…but my top 3 would be Iris, Peony and Wisteria.

What is your favourite spring flower?


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Designing a balcony garden

Sometimes designing a small space can be more difficult than having a large backyard with a blank canvas!

Follow my rules for putting together the perfect small space:

Space- what do you want your space to look like? Do you want it to be uncluttered, have a seating area, perhaps a green wall or water feature?

Planting- do you have a theme in mind? You could have formal, native, cottage? or maybe you have a favourite colour you would like to use throughout. Or create a vegetable or herb garden? Try and choose things that reflect your interior style as well.

Site- what is your area like? Is it exposed to harsh sun, wind or is it in a shady position? This will effect what type of plants you choose.

Bring the outdoors in- A balcony has the greatest impact as an extension of indoor space, and it’s important to ask yourself how you will want to use your balcony in relation to your indoor space. For small balconies, the goal is to bring the outdoors in.

Keep it interesting with colour- Use annuals, bulbs etc to give ‘pops’ of colour. They have a short life, but will give you the brightest colours.

Keep evergreen plants as a base- These will give you colour all round.

Use a colour palette- If your space is small then choose a small colour palette. Two or three colours is enough.


Beautiful images found on Pinterest

An update on my balcony garden

Today its cold, grey and raining…it actually reflects my mood. I am sick with a cold, from too much travelling i think!

I should be at German school…but I’m not. My plan for the day is not a lot……sit on the couch, and enjoy the book i am reading, and since i am not at school, then i must do some German study!

Have a lovely day everyone.



This photo was obviously not taken today….i took this a few days ago when the sun was shining!


What to do in the garden – May

Things are really busy for me at the moment, so i never seem to be at my computer on the weekend! Ive decided not to do a Sunday post anymore, but will definitely have something up every Monday for you.

Thursday was a holiday here in Switzerland, so my boyfriend and i had booked flights to Brussels. We spent 2 days in Brussels and 2 days in Brugge. I have soooo many photos, so it will take me a few days to go through them and then i shall post them later in the week.

But for now, here is some info on what to do in the garden this month!


Southern Hemisphere

1. Watch out for snails on young seedlings. If you have a pet, you can always buy pet friendly snail repellent

2. Reshape your hibiscus plants before winter

3. Plant snow peas, english spinach and garlic

4. Prepare garden beds for bare rooted roses and fruit trees. Add compost and well rotted manure

5. Add gypsum to heavy clay soils to improve drainage

6. Choose any large trees for your garden now

7. Trim any hedges before the onset of winter

8. If you have orchids, they should now be placed in a sunny position to encourage good flower spikes


Northern Hemisphere

1. Protect frost tender plants from any late frosts

2. Mow lawns weekly

3. Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs

4. Regularly check for weeds and remove them

5. Start to feed citrus plants

6. Feed hungry shrubs and roses

7. Divide bamboo



Travel diaries – Easter long weekend in England

The Easter weekend is already over, and i am back in Zurich. As much as i enjoy Zurich, i do feel sad every time i leave the UK.

We had such a great time visiting Bath and driving through The Cotswolds. The weather was typical UK weather. A little sun and a little rain, but overall i cant complain!

My boyfriend was born and grew up in Bath until he was 5 years old. He doesnt remember alot, but we spent some time driving around looking at the house he lived in and also several other houses that his parents lived in (before he was born).

There was alot going on in the town……rugby games, hot air balloon flights, markets etc. I tried to spend as much time exploring the beautiful gardens, and it was the perfect time with so many of the cherry blossoms in bloom!


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Travel diaries – Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

During my Christmas break home to Australia (which seems like a lifetime ago) i had a brief stopover in Singapore on my way back to Zurich.

Singapore is a great stop, as its a good way for me to catch up with old friends, enjoy the amazing food and also break the 24 hour flight!!

When i left Singapore 18 months ago, the ‘Gardens by the Bay’ was practically brand new, and with the chaos of relocating to a new country i didnt get a chance to visit.

So during my two days, i made an effort to visit for the afternoon.

The main attraction is by far the ‘super trees’ which are as tall as sky scrapers. They are 50m high and stretch into the sky. Fitted with solar panels, hanging gardens and rainwater catches, the trees are used to display plants from across the globe.

There is a walkway which links each of the super trees. It is suspended 22m above the ground (about 7 storeys high)

You can check out my photos below!








Sunday inspiration

Water features can be a wonderful addition to any garden.

Sometimes a water feature looks amazing simply as a feature in itself, but to my eye a water feature needs plants: and plants that associate naturally around water are best, think leafy and lush:

Hosta, ligularia, gunnera, Iris pseudacorus and Zantedeschia aethiopica all look fabulous near a water feature of any style (that’s if you can keep marauding slugs and snails at bay).

Other grassy plants include: Cyperus papyrus, Acorus, Canna and Typha.