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It’s time…

28 Nov

Hello blog world, I’m sorry I’ve been neglectful, REALLY neglectful.  It’s been well over a year since my last post, and while I have missed you, I was getting a little obsessive and needed a little break, which turned into a big break, and then I had a serious thought about whether I really wanted to come back or not, and well, here I am, tail between my legs, hat off, ready to reacquaint myself and get back into it. Surprise!

So much has happened in the time I’ve been away, and it would be boring to re-hash it all, so I won’t, regardless to say little people have grown, gardens haven’t and, well, life does move on, sometimes slowly, sometimes fast.  Memories wane – I had to re-set my password, but then some things you just never forget, like the cathartic feeling of typing out a post and pressing the publish button.

Yes, they have grown, the Drama Queen and Daredevil sharing a "love drink" because they are way too cute sometimes!

Yes, they have grown, the Drama Queen and Daredevil sharing a “love drink” because they are way too cute sometimes!

I would love to say more, but will save it for later.  For now it’s just “Hi”.  I’ve been putting this off for way too long.  Drawn Outdoors is back online.

Sam

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Climbing a mountain

15 May

I’m having a love / hate relationship with my post a day May idea.  I love writing my blog, I always have, but hate (well, probably not hate, but mild dislike) that I’ve tied myself to posting each day and thinking about what to post.  I’m sure that I’m going to be extremely proud when I’ve achieved the goal, but for now I’m starting to struggle a little.  It’s starting to feel a little bit like an uphill hike.  You start out fresh, excited, ready conquer the peak, but as the trek wears on your breath shortens, you need more  breaks and it feels like you’ll never make it.  The good news is I’m half way, so to mark the half way point I thought I’d show you my favourite mountains. Theoretically, the rest is downhill!

The weather in Sydney has been pretty chilly this week, apparently they’re starting to get their first snow down in the Mountains.  OK, so we’re in Australia and we don’t have really impressive mountains.  On a global scale they’re more like hills, and the fact that we get excited about skiing these tiny mountains with the smear of snow that we get is a bit comical to those of you who are more enhanced in the alpine stakes, but we love them.  The Snowy Mountains National Park which contains Australia’s highest peak – Mt Kosciuszko, is a fragile Australian Alpine ecosystem.  The Australian high country is characterised by the Snowy Gum which helps to give it it’s unique character.  It’s an area that I find extremely calm and peaceful whether it is covered in snow or spring wild flowers.

Hope you enjoy my downhill slide!  Hopefully we will get to take the Drama Queen and Daredevil to see their first snow this year.

Sam

Photos from Drawn Outdoors, http://www.godadgo.com.au and http://www.boardworld.com.au

Garden Party for a Little Daredevil

8 May

The Daredevil is turning two.  A massive milestone for a little boy who likes to test the limits on life.  How high, far, fast can he go?  What is the acceptable dress code?  How loud can he be?  How much can you hug?  As he is our second child, he kind of gets a little bit forgotten in the celebration stakes.  It’s not intentional, but his second birthday is in less than two weeks and we still haven’t settled on what sort of party to hold for him and where!

I think we will have a garden party and hope that the weather produces a spectacular day with blue skies and bright sunshine, perfect autumn weather.  However, I am struggling to come up with ideas for how the party should look and feel.  The garden party image goes hand in hand with little girls, fairies and all things pretty and flowery.  How do I turn this around to suit my little Daredevil?  Mind you, he is not adverse to a spot of fancy fairy and princess dressing up, and can rock a pair of play high heels with the best of them, but he does also seem to get a thrill out of the more boyish pursuits of kicking balls and swinging bats.

I’ve posted before about the basics of a garden party – if you missed it, you can travel back through time here.  It’s not the basics I need for this one, I’m looking for a bit of inspiration for the details!

I’ve found some fantastic theme and styling ideas on the internet.

There were Safari themes – photo from http://www.tipjunkie.com

…and camp out themes photo from http://www.tipjunkie.com

But my favourite theme was this fantastic “That’s what little boys are made of” party styled by Lovely Like You located in Aukland NZ- perfect for a garden with it’s frogs and snails!

So much for the inspiration searching, I just need to get down to the business of doing…

Sam

Am I Mad May???

1 May

Thanks to the wonderful Bizness Babes for this little piece of motivation to kick off May

A post a day in May.  Am I crazy? Have I bitten off more than I can chew? The answer is probably yes to both, but who doesn’t love a challenge.

This month is the first birthday of the Drawn Outdoors blog.  There’s a lot to celebrate.  I wasn’t sure how long I would last, how much I would enjoy it or even if anyone else would enjoy my inspired ramblings.  I have survived, have loved my blog and grown with it over the last 12 months.  The best news is that it appears there are a few people out there who enjoy it too, and my page views are gradually increasing as each month passes.  For this I am grateful as it provides me with a small sense of purpose and motivation to keep on going.

To celebrate the last twelve months and to kick off the next twelve I’m challenging myself to a post a day for the month of May.  I have some great ideas for posts.  Some may be very short, just a photo or an idea, others might provide a bit of inspiration, information or just some light reading.  I’m not sure that it will be the easiest way to celebrate, but it will be fun.

I’m also linking up with Seven Cherubs Happy Days in May project. It is such a perfect way to recognise the great things I have going on around me.  I don’t think I’ll post my sentences daily, but save them up for a weekly happiness update.  If you’re game, you can come along on the happiness ride.  No need for a blog, a pen and paper will do.  Check out the project here.

31 posts will be a lot, I might  need a little inspiration, so I’m throwing it out to the universe, what do you want me to write about?  Is there a burning thought or question you would like addressed?  Is there something you’re interested in or think that I should be interested in?  Leave me a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

One down, 30 to go, wish me luck!

Sam

Friday Finds – Bombing it!

27 Apr

I love a good bit of guerrilla crafting, a crafty incursion into the everyday.  It reminds me that creativity can be found anywhere and anytime if you have the heart and the will.  I particularly like a good yarn bomb, partly because it is such a simple idea, and partly because I’m so in awe of the creation because, as hard as I try, I can not knit.

Magda Sayeg is the queen of the yarn bomb.  I’ve been surprised by her ‘bombs’ around the Sydney Opera House, though missed her other Sydney installations.  I love how such a simple material can completely change a space, magically transform design and, in my mind, enhance a landscape.  Yarn bombing is a completely ephemeral installation, by the nature of the material it can not be permanent, and it is its element of surprise that really makes my creative heart smile.  Enjoy the bombs!

All photos from Magdasayeg.com

You can even bomb your iPhone – check out the Knitta shop if you want to have your own little fragment of a bomb.

Sam

Spring cleaning… the outdoors edition

21 Sep

Yes, it is Spring finally.  What do you need to do to make sure your garden is gorgeous? You will want to spend hours in it, but those hours shouldn’t be spent working and sweating, they should be spent enjoying and having fun.  It’s not much fun when all you can see are the things that need to be done, so here are five tips for spring “cleaning” your garden.

Don't let your garden get the better of you this spring! Image from http://www.24x7photography.com/2011/01/06/zombie-garden-sculpture/

1. Does your design do it for you? – Does your garden design work for you? Is everything in the right place and do you have the right structure for your garden.  Do you have a design or  plan, or is it all a bit ad-hoc?  A well designed space will provide you with hours of outdoor pleasure!  Do you have too much garden space?  Do you need so much lawn? Is the paving in the right place, do you need an extra path, could you tweek the levels a bit?  So many questions, but it pays to ask them.  You can do this yourself or pay a professional like me!  Check out Drawn Outdoors at your place for details.  Once you have a design that suits you, the time and resources you have available, and the activities you need, your garden might seem to almost take care of itself!  Here’s a Drawn Outdoors original I sketched up for my Mum a few years ago!

Mum's garden designed for her birthday a few years back.

2. Clean the floor – your hard surfaces need a little TLC too.  Whether you have a great deck, paving, gravel or just a concrete path, each of these does need a different treatment to keep them looking good and safe to use.  Winter tends to create a bit of moss and algae growth, so a bit of a clean and scrub will bring your hard surfaces back to a springtime state (we’re about to give our poor pathways a bit of love).  Don’t forget that decks love a little lick of oil, stain or varnish (depending on how you’ve finished them).  Gravel needs to be raked and topped up every now and again, and if your concrete really is looking a little worse for wear you can always give it a splash of textured paving paint – just check the slip factor first before you apply.  With your hard surfaces looking clean you’re halfway there.  And if you’re not so inclined to be a bit DIY, there are plenty of handymen out there who can take care of this for you!

3. Rip it out, cut it up – You don’t need to keep all of your plants forever, and they are OK if they lose a couple of limbs now and again.  One mistake people make is not being able to let go of plants that have reached their used by date or have just gotten a little too big for their space.  Have a good look, take stock and heave a huge breath then get out your secateurs or pruning saws.  Let rip – clean it out, keep what you love, get rid of stuff that’s taking over, or you just aren’t too keen on.  It’s OK, your garden will thank you for it.  Make room for the plants that you’re keeping to grow or the new plants to thrive.

4. Spread a little love – This comes in two forms – food and clothes (what the?).  Give your garden some food.  Spread a bit of fertilizer, dish out the compost.  You know you love it when someone gives you a box of chocolates, give your garden the same love.  The other thing your garden will love is a nice new layer of mulch.  This is the equivalent of a brand new spring wardrobe.  You’ll be surprised at how much difference a layer of mulch can make to your garden.  A basic leaf mulch will do the trick, though the more decorative eucalyptus and pine bark mulches look fantastic.

5. Style it up –   Add the right furniture, a bit of bling, some pots and a touch of colour and you might just transform your garden into an irresistible and inviting outdoor room.  Everyone has their own taste and style.  You can make it rustic and build your own furniture out of recycled materials or go for something in a sleek stainless steel finish.  Whatever you do make sure it can withstand the elements.  There’s no joy in hauling furniture in and out of storage each time you want to use it.  Here’s some inspiration…

Colour can be so much fun in the garden, give it a try. Image from http://rhsblog.co.uk/category/anewgarden/

Maybe you just need one key piece of furniture. Image from http://www.cankulagi.com/2011/04/08/beautiful-outdoor-furniture-design-2/

Whatever it is you need to change, add or just spring clean, make it fun and enjoy!

Sam

R-E-S-P-E-C-T This is what it means to me.

16 Sep

I read a blog post the other week that rang a little true…  (You can check it out here if you’re interested) How do you show a bit of professional respect?  I’m not talking about the lay person in the street, I’m talking about those in realted or similar fields.  People who should want to, need to and love to work with you to make their and your job easier and better.

I’ve recently spent time haunting some local nurseries, time I really enjoy, until I get talking to one of the nursery workers.  I generally don’t give away my profession, play a bit dumb and get chatting about the plants and what people are buying and doing.  Inevitably I ask them about design, and without fail I’m told not to waste my money on a landscape architect or designer, that I could do it myself (little do they know…) and that designers generally don’t know anything about plants anyway.  Needless to say, I generally leave a little less happy than when I get there which is obviously not the aim of the exercise.

Part of the purpose of visiting the Nursery is to do a little bit of mystery shopping.  Work out what people are doing, wanting, buying and liking.  See what’s new in the horticultural market and what’s trending.  I’ve had a couple of years away from the profession and I want to get my groove back, so I want to talk to people and get a good feeling for what’s happening in the industry.  When I get feedback from people who I consider to be in my industry about how ineffectual they think the job I do is it makes me a little sad.  Then I start to think about all the things they might be missing out on through their narrow view of their industry, and I get a little sadder.  Then my mind wanders to all those people who might have been thinking about getting help to design their garden because they thought it was a bit beyond them, only to be told not to waste their time or money and it makes me angry.  Not because of the possible work being lost to my profession, but because there are people out there who want to love their gardens but are being left feeling frustrated and a bit overwhelmed while they plant the same plants the nurseryman has told the last 10 people to buy as well.

Now, to set the ledger straight, to those of you who think you might know better, and that the designers out there serve no purpose, have a look at the house  you live in, the seat you are sitting on, the park you’re enjoying while you watch your kids run through the playground they love.  How many things in your world would be a little less wonderful without that special someone who, in the beginning stages had a little vision, a little dream, a tiny creative spark, that turned into a gush of designing talent that created the things that you love.

Yes, designers can be a little precious, and I know I can be guilty of that at times, but we serve a purpose.  We often think outside the square and make the little changes that others are a little too scared to make.  Sometimes those little changes can be huge leaps of faith, and it takes courage to put it out there, and believe in your own talent and ability.  But, designers are far from useless, and rarely can someone just do it themselves and achieve the same magical outcome.

Besides, a landscape is more than just plants! Therefore you need to know about a lot more than just plants to design one… but I’ll get into that a bit more another time…

Yes, I have some hard men and I'm not afraid to use them!

OK, rant over, back to normal programming, but if you’re feeling a little under valued and there’s not a lot of respect coming your way, I don’t think we’re alone!

Sam

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