Category Archives: Creative gardening

First observations and impressions of a traveler in Europe

After only 2 weeks in the UK I have made some interesting observations. Although I was in London, rather the out skirts, I have not been once into the center of London. I did not feel like it and wanted to spend the time to catch up with family and some friends. The ones who live in the East of London ๐Ÿ™‚

Observations of English gardens

I am no stranger to London after all I lived there twice for a couple of years. So no, I have not headed to the many attractions that London offers. Instead I have had my first experience to garden in this climatic zone. The job waiting me was to trim and clear a rather overgrown part of a well established cottage garden.

observations, English garden, lush garden, flowers

A typical English garden during the summer. Lush, green and colourful and I was allowed to make my mark!

In Australia I have come across some nasty vegetation. The kind that can tear your clothes or cut through your garden gloves. A bougainvillea thorn can cause infection as I have found out several times. Some garden companies refuse to handle Bougainvillea for that reason.

As I found out the English garden can compete! Roses, Pyracanta and Berberis to name a few. All with thorns that can mutilate you!

This would not be so bad if the local council would provide adequate means to get rid of the garden waste. They think they have come up with a ‘fantastic’ solution. They charge 50 pounds for 50 bags that you can fill up and they pick them up on a regular base. Sounds like it could work.

Well just have a look at the picture below and judge for yourself! The only good thing about these bags is that the plastic used is environmentally friendly. It apparently breaks down easily….!

observations, garden waste, garden bags

Flimsy garden bags not suited for normal garden waste, let alone those with thorns!

More people obviously are not impressed – hence the article in the local paper ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

Anyway, apart from flimsy bags my time in London was pleasant. Before I change the subject however I have noticed something else that I like to mention.

Observations of London street scenes

A while back I was discussing prices with my friend Greg in Brisbane. He said that he was very happy to pay a bit more in Australia. He pointed out that Australia was a very clean country and public services work well. I had never considered it in that way but after being in London for a couple of days I noticed how right he was.

London is rather dirty. The streets are dirty, the street signs are often so polluted that you can barely read them. Many public bins are full to the brim and people leave house hold and garden waste on the street for days.

observations, garden waste, council services

Garden waste that is left out for days for the council to pick up is a common sight

It is probably an accepted sight for Londoners but for me coming from a cleaner country, it was very noticeable. So dear friend in Brisbane, you have a fair point!

A family reunion in The Netherlands

My next stop will be Amsterdam or actually the smaller city of Haarlem very close to the capital. I assume you all know that Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. Quite often people assume wrongly that the capital is The Hague as that is where the government resides already since 1588. Amsterdam is the place where the inauguration of kings and queens take place – it is the royal city.

The reason I am going to Haarlem is a family reunion. Family in the way of cousins and cousines. We had a spontaneous reunion a ย couple of years ago and we decided then that the next one would be after my return to Europe. Last time my sister hosted it and this time one of my cousins will open his house for the invasion.

It was special to catch up with all these cousins. There are no more aunties and uncles so apart from memories and old pictures we have no means to find out about our past. One of my cousins created a file with pictures dating back to the late 1800’s. Quite special.

One of my Brisbane friends lent me once a book about a Dutch watch maker family who helped Jewish people during WW2 the nazi holocaust. Their house is in Haarlem and is now a museum. My friend has asked me the favour to check it out for her and take some pictures for her to see. I will gladly do this and I am even taking along some of my family who lives in Haarlem but never have been to the house themselves.

A bit of nostalgia

It seems that my tour around Europe so far is full with nostalgia. It feels like that and it will be nice to pass some of this on to my kids who grew up without strong links to the Netherlands. Although one of them has decided that The Netherlands is the place where she wants to study! She is a Dutch citizen, but does not speak Dutch – so far. She has assured me that this will be different by the end of the year ย ๐Ÿ˜†

I’m looking forward to arriving in Haarlem and go a bit down memory lane with cousins and second cousins. Goodbye to London for now until later this year when we have a wedding of a London cousin. The first wedding we can go to since we emigrated to Australia 25 years ago. So quite special!

Keep healthy! And pop in your name and email in the boxes below to ensure you get the latest updates! That is – if you are interested ๐Ÿ™„


observations, relaxation, feeling at ease




The ultimate tropical paradise exists!

Three months ago I was invited for a garden consultation for what I would call “the ultimate tropical paradise”.

tropical, subtropical, rainforest, shady plants

Lush tropical paradise with lots of hot pinks to create a spiel of colour

I love gardening and I have a small and successful garden business. It began years ago as a hobby for a couple of hours per week. Over time word got around and now I have a waiting list.

I have roughly 25 clients and they all use my services on a regular base, some weekly, some fortnightly and others monthly. My oldest client dates back at least 5 years.

I have been thinking for a while how to blog about my gardening and I have decided to discuss and showcase one of my gardens every month. I will start with one of my favourites – the tropical paradise garden where I initially was afraid to do more damage than good!

The ultimate tropical paradise

The lay-out of this garden is simple yet problematic as it is at the bottom of a sloping site. From street level and the front of the house to the garden at the back is roughly the equivalent of 3-4 floors. Therefore it is definitely a garden that keeps me fit.

palm tree, pony tail, shade, tropical paradise

Palms and Pony tails trees provide shade for the other plants and help to create the tropical rain forest look

The site has a large number of big palm trees that gives the garden a lot of shade and only dappled sun. As a result it was possible to create a ‘rainforest’ look with a wide range of tropical plants that prefer mostly shady conditions.

Walking into this garden makes you feel like you are entering a tropical fairy tale land. It is an abundance of greens and red foliage with clusters of gorgeous Bromeliads and many orchids in bloom. If this garden would enter a competition, it would surely win!

orchid, tiger orchid, yellow flower

Yellow tiger orchid, a common orchid in Australia

My role as the gardener

You may like to ask, what it is that I actually have to do there? And to be honest that is exactly what I asked myself when I came for my initial consultation. The garden felt perfectly finished as it was.

It shows however how much work you need to do to keep such a garden up to the level it is. When I started I filled up bag after bag with rubbish such as dead leaves, broken branches and weeds. All pretty much invisible at first glance.

bromeliad, red bromeliad

Bromeliad with the red centres give a splash of colour to many gardens

One thing I did and still do is dividing the Bromeliads and give them a bigger pot and new soil. Many of the Bromeliad pots sit in metal rings that are attached to the palms. A brilliant way to create balance in shape and colour on all levels.

I also like to go on the deck above and assess whether the view on the garden has the right balance in shape, colour and height. To be honest there is enough work for me to spend a couple of hours per fortnight in this garden.

view, tropical paradise

A view on the garden from the deck above

One of my favourite things to do is to take cuttings from existing plants. After they have grown roots I plant them in those areas that need a bit more height, shape or colour

tropical paradise, pink Draecaena

Dracaena Marginata, a great example for taking cutting and replanting

I love working in a garden like this and to me it is a ‘gardener’s dream‘ come true.

Not for every climate

A little warning for those who live in moderate climates. All these plants need warm temperatures and will die in frost. Funny is that many of them were on my mum’s window sill in the house in The Netherlands where I grew up. My love for tropical plants dates back to a very young age!

Have a look for yourself!

easydone gardening, garden business, creative gardening


Succulents presented in a ‘funky’ way

Succulents seem to be the latest craze and I have accumulated a fair amount of cuttings lately. I like to show you how to create something attractive with terra cotta pots and mini succulents.

Unfortunately due to our emigration plans (July 2017) I have slightly neglected my ‘52 week up-cycle‘ challenge. Maybe I should change the name to ’52 project up-cycle’ challenge. It is essentially a series about turning’ Trash into Treasure’ for your home and garden and I suppose timing is not that crucial.

Succulents are trendy at the moment

I did come up with a cute little up-cycle project during December. I noticed that little succulents have become a real trend lately. Not only in Australia but also in other countries as I see daily in countless Instagram feeds.

succulent, cactus, trend, planttrend

Colourful and striking little succulents are suddenly for sale everywhere

Our local supermarkets suddenly sell them and they are available at market stalls in many shapes and forms. Therefore I have added my own little ‘up-cycle’ accent to complement the scene. And I like to share that with you.

terra cotta pots, succulents, chalk paint, make-over

Small terra cotta pots painted in Swedish style colours chalk paint and waxed

Another thing I have noticed is a new trend in colours. I recently bought the first edition of a garden magazine in Australia. Its niche is showing people how to create ‘green areas’ despite having very little outdoor space.

The colours that seem to be ‘in’ are based on the Swedish colour scheme. They are the whites and the pastels in aqua, blues, yellow and greys. Quite stunning!

Painted terra cotta pots with succulents

So here is what I did:

  • Re-use or buy small terra cotta pots and dishes.
  • Paint them in the colours you like.
  • Get cuttings of succulents or buy them and put them in the freshly painted pots.
  • The result is a fresh, modern and trendy look on your window sill, balcony or outdoor area.
succulents, terra cotta pots, Swedish design, pastel colours

Small terra cotta pots painted in soft ‘Swedish’ style colours. The perfect home for a cute succulent

My intention is to create a dozen or so in different sizes for my upcoming ‘up-cycle’ market on Sunday 8th January. They are great as presents or to bring when someone invites you for drinks or dinner.

Re-using when gardening

I am a keen gardener and I actually run a small business where I offer ‘creative gardening‘. My kind of gardening does not include mowing, blowing, cutting and hedge trimming. I make gardens more attractive, reshuffle plants and create balance in colour and shape in the gardens I work in.

gardenbed, tropical, balance

A garden in balance

One of my goals when gardening is to re-use plants. I rarely ask my clients to buy more plants because most of the time they have what I need already in their gardens. It just needs some attention.

With ‘re-using’ in mind I have created my little pots with cuttings or plants that were rejects by my clients. It is amazing how many times you can re-use things rather than running to a shop and buy it.

‘Revamping’ old terra cotta pots

The same goes for old terra cotta pots that have lost their appeal. Give them a fresh lick of paint and they are good for years to come. I am working on a number of old pots at the moment and will show them off in another article soon.

terra cotta pot, make over, chalk paint, new look

An old painted terra cotta pot in need of a new look. I painted it wine red almost 10 years ago.

So to get started find some pots and succulents. You may have a pile of old terra cotta pots tucked away in your garage or cellar. Scour your friends’ gardens for cuttings of succulents, set some time free and get creative!

A little note. It is not necessary to invest in expensive chalk paint – test pots in different colours will do just fine. The red pot in the above picture was painted with test pot paint that lasted for almost 10 years and was standing mostly outside. Furthermore if you want to make the paint last longer, apply a coat of satin varnish over the paint.

Have fun!easydone, blog, limoux, happy upcycling