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The annual bout of spring fever: Terra Viva


It happens every year without fail! Looking out at the dismal garden on a grey July day I often wonder if we’ll summon the enthusiasm to ‘attack’ the garden once again. But sure enough, by mid-August we’re suddenly buzzing around like worker bees, dreaming of summer vegetables and flowering colour everywhere

 

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So how do we harness this ‘infectious enthusiasm’ to transform the dormant winter garden into a thing of beauty – and a source of nutritious deliciousness? Take a stroll round the garden, make a list of what needs doing, stick it on the fridge and tick the completed jobs – very satisfying! The Constant Gardener at home is always the first to catch ‘Spring Fever’, even before the weather warms. Already she’s created two new raised strawberry beds; strawberries love moist but well-drained soil however, the traditional ‘mounded’ rows can result in uneven watering.

 

Luckily, we love brussel sprouts – we’ve certainly eaten truckloads lately. “We have to finish them,” said The Constant Gardener, “I need the space for the blueberries”.
The key is eating them small, cut into quarters, cooked with olive oil, bacon and hazel nuts, and with a fried egg on top – the combo makes for a winning brunch dish. “The answer lies in the soil,” was the catchline in an old radio programme, and it still holds true. Preparation is everything, particularly for vegetables, so dig the soil over to a spade depth and mix in sheep pellets, compost, and Real Blood & Bone (double the strength of the regular product). During the season, use a side dressing of a general plant food like Nitrophoska Blue.

“Grow what you eat!” is a good guide for planting – no point in growing varieties you don’t like. Potatoes can be sprouted now; broccoli is easy and quick; lettuces handle cooler conditions; beetroot is happy from September on; spinach and silverbeet are reliable standbys; peas thrive in spring, and pak choi prefers the moderate temperatures of spring and autumn. All herbs can be planted now but keep basil and tomatoes in a warm sheltered spot like a glasshouse or the kitchen windowsill. Dividing the vege garden into a few smaller beds (raised is great) rather than one big area makes access much easier and less challenging to maintain.

 

Roses are often the most popular plant in the flower garden and rightly so with their six months of colour, their scent, and their long vase life. The key to success with roses is water, plus regular feeding, plus a good spray regime. Summer annuals are the best way to reinforce garden colour schemes and the choice is huge with petunias, lobelia, impatiens and antirrhinums in a huge range of colours.

Summer’s coming, so grow your own sanctuary!

 



 

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Make winter a big old softie: Terra Viva Director Peter Worsp on how to soften the winter chill

Driving through heavy new snow in early April, I got the impression that winter could be early, long, and none too clement. Which is all fine if you’re a hibernating bear, but for those who have to carry on as per normal, despite sub-zero temperatures and limited daylight, home becomes a refuge against the outside world.

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Once inside, everything can change into a warm haven and the trends this year are certainly towards a cosy feeling of luxury with an emphasis on enhancing winter white with silvers and greys, using mossy greens, foam/French blue, lavender, plum and blush pink to add colour and warmth.
By adding a few key softening elements and moving furniture around for a ‘winter’ look, you can breathe a whole new feel into living areas.
Texture features strongly again this winter with linen making a real comeback in cushions, and quilted velvet adding a touch of sumptuous luxury in throws and ‘comfort blankets’. Wrap yourself up in a tasselled woollen throw on the sofa and you’ll find it very hard not to feel enclosed and cossetted. Add in plenty of cushions and the scene is complete.
Texture is definitely what it’s all about in cushions this season with cotton, linen, fur, Indian cotton, and velvet with a linen backing featuring.
Lighting is a key element in creating that warm haven to come home to at the end of a cold day and we have plenty of lamps at the moment, including both side lamps and floor lamps, with lots more to come yet.
Separate lampshades are also available if the home lighting scene needs a bit of a revamp. And, of course, candles never go out of favour – what beats a hot bath surrounded by candles to soothe and re-invigorate after a trying day? The range of scented candles is huge and some of the favourites are Sweet Grapefruit, Gardenia, and eucalyptus and lavender.
The houseplant trend is as strong as ever as an essential part of home décor and provides the finishing touch to the cosy winter scene. There’s something about houseplants that adds life to any interior décor, and of course they’re brilliant air cleaners and filters.
If you’re emphasising the luxurious look then Phalaenopsis orchids definitely add the right touch with the bonus of months-long flowering.
There are plenty of easy-care varieties like Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Peace Lilies (one of the most effective air cleaners), Dracaenas, Monsteras, and Fiddle-Leaf Figs available.
And if you want years-long flowering the artificial option will give you just that. Our faux collection this winter is strong on both flowers and foliage with lines like grey gum nuts and amber coloured eucalyptus to add to the feeling of warmth. The peonies, iris, and artificial Phalaenopsis are so lifelike that most of our customers are fooled by them and for those who are confined to indoors for the winter the artificials are an easy way of bringing colour indoors. For smaller posies check out the bunches of heath or the soft lavender for smaller spaces.