10 October 2016

Have you ever looked at a seed pod?

I found this seed pod while I was walking around a local botanic garden and found myself immediately picking it up from the ground. The shape intrigued me.

Look at the gentle curves and the twisted shape. No flat outer shell here!

I flipped it over and looked at the other side. Its outside is tough and covered with freckles.

A closer look revealed a surface that is rock-like in its appearance, with ruddy earth-like colouring. What a clever way to protect the seeds, the life within.

03 October 2016

My book of the month: October

"I don't know. I was wrong. I'm sorry. I need help."

These four sentences are the principal guiding philosophies that Inspector Armand Gamache says inform his actions. I'd add another one that I see as evident in all his choices: "Be kind".

Gamache is the creation of Louise Penny, who has recently released the twelfth novel in this mystery series, A Great Reckoning. Each time I read the author's latest offering, I fall under the spell of the world she has created; a place inhabited by idiosyncratic characters, attempting to live as best they can in a society that is swirling with currents of cruelty and self interest.

Each time she releases a new novel, I devour it and then declare it the best she has written. A Great Reckoning shows that Louise Penny has taken her storytelling to a new level. With several plot lines intertwining and twisting through the story, this is a powerful novel that examines authority, grief, corruption, and the enduring sanctuary of Three Pines, a village that does not exist on official maps.

If you haven't read any in the Gamache series, start with the first one, Still Life. As you progress through the series, you will appreciate the masterful character development and complex story lines that sometimes take a few books to be significant. 

That is the sign of a writer at her peak. 

Visit Goodreads to read more about A Great Reckoning.   

26 September 2016

Spring citrus

I have a mandarin, a blood orange and a lemon tree, all in large pots. The lemon, a Eureka, provides fruit reliably for months on end. It's handy to have a lemon whenever I need one, without having to plan to buy one from the shop.

The mandarin and blood orange trees, though, only like to crop every second year. This year wasn't one of those years so I was a frequent purchaser at the fruit store.

Citrus are hungry trees. They respond well to regular feeding and watering so, each season, I load them with the nutrients they like best. Not only does it result in new, healthy leaves and copious flowers, as you can see on here my mandarin tree, but it also helps keep the tree healthy and able to repel insects.

That perfume! I love the gentle citrus scent from the flowers wafting across my garden.

Gyganic is my choice of food, watered in well with liquid seaweed extract. Then I add a layer of rotted cow manure and stand back to watch the growth! (Note to self: must cut off that dead twig.)

How are your citrus? Do they love food as much as mine do?

19 September 2016

Studio peeks

My writing for Quilters Companion magazine during the past year has allowed me to take peeks into the creative habits and workspaces of some fabulous Australian textile artists and quilt makers. It's such a privilege!

Just like peering through a window, I catch glimpses of how these artists arrange their spaces and go about their creative work. Even better, I get to share these glimpses with you in the magazine.

In the current issue, number 81, Sue Reid shares her passion for the colour orange.

In the last issue, number 80, Mary McArdle explains how her well-ordered workroom facilitates the creation of her textile works.

It's an honour to share these stories with readers. 

What do you like about seeing artists' studios? Do you pick up tips from their organisation or methods of working? Let us know!

Perhaps you've missed these issues of Quilters Companion? You can subscribe to the print version here or here or here. Or maybe you'd prefer a digital edition? Try here or here.

12 September 2016

My book of the month: September

This is Kelly Doust's first novel (she has written several non-fiction books) and gosh it's a great read. It honours the author's love of textiles as the story follows the journey of a glittering, hand-beaded collar through the decades since it was created in 1891.

It's such an absorbing story, focusing on desire, relationships, family and love, while also recognising that the sparkling things for which we strive aren't really that important after all. 

To read more about Precious Things, visit Goodreads.

22 August 2016


It's still August, so we have more cold weather to experience before we can safely say that winter is over. The past few sunny days we've had in Sydney have been replaced today by cold winds and rain. 

But the plants in my garden are starting to wake up. I'm always excited by the sight of buds because that means flowers will follow and, in some cases, fruit! The miracle of plant life continually amazes and impresses me.


I planted this nemesia last summer, to fill a gap in a garden bed. I was hoping for deep green foliage and a few pretty flowers but it suprised me with masses of blooms. I love the way it has spread and made its home among the other plants - it is so pretty.

Finger lime

You may remember when I planted my finger lime last year after a quest to find one in a local nursery. Well, look at it now! It's covered with tiny buds, some of which have opened this week to display the prettiest flowers. I know a lot will drop without fully developing into fruit but wow - what an impressive result! I feed it regularly with pellets of Gyganic for Fruit and Citrus, a fertiliser it obviously loves. Such a satisfying response.


My first poppy flower opened in the sunshine last week and I was there to photograph it after I had given the plant a drink. I adore poppies and a single punnet always gives me weeks and weeks of pleasure as I watch the buds break through their protective covering and unfurl to flaunt their petals and sexual parts. I always marvel that something so gorgeous can be such a complex organism.

So that's today in my garden. I eagerly await tomorrow, to discover what's developed overnight. What's happening in your garden right now?

15 August 2016

My book of the month: August

I do enjoy a story that has a happy ending and one that involves a bookshop is even better!

How to find love in a bookshop by Veronica Henry is about Emilia, whose father left her his bookshop when he died. It's in a valuable location for developers so she has to fight to keep her struggling business alive and out of their hands.

The power of stories in people's lives cannot be underestimated. In this book, several plot strands intertwine to show how books can change lives and help romances develop. A very satisfying novel.

Read more about How to find love in a bookshop on Goodreads.