O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer’s here,
But also when ’tis cold and drear.
Christmas Trees are the best and worst tradition. I don’t know about you but for years I spent hours agonizing over where every single bauble should go, what colour scheme to do, tinsel or no tinsel. Then after I’d finished I’d stand back, take stock and cry because after so many painful hours it still didn’t look like a department store tree. Now days I just let the kids go wild with it. If it doesn’t look perfect I can just think ‘oh well, the kids had a ball doing it’.
While watching the kids decorate the tree I began to wonder why we even have Christmas trees and why they are always depicted as Evergreens or Conifers. The answer is in the song.
Evergreens or as we know them conifers are green all the time – thy leaves are so unchanging. Christmas in the northern hemisphere occurs during the bleakest days of the year so evergreens present a vibrant contrast to the natural world outside – Not only green when summer’s here, But also when ’tis cold and drear.
Because of this, people throughout history have regarded them as special symbols of eternal life or rebirth.
I found many theories of why we decorate our trees at Christmas time. My favourite was that the tree was decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption).
So I may not be able to decorate the tree perfectly but how do I choose the perfect Christmas tree?
Christmas trees are different for everyone.
Conifers are everyone’s first choice when it comes live Christmas trees and there are so many different types and sizes to choose from there is sure to be one to suit everyone. If you want a different type of live Christmas tree here’s a few hints.
My ultimate live Christmas tree would be Magnolia ‘Little Gem’. This beautiful magnolia is evergreen; looks brilliant in a pot, can be bought inside for a short period of time but will thrive on a patio or in the ground in sun or shade. Has lush dark green foliage with a bronzed underside of the leaf. Its branches are strong enough to hold a bauble and its flowers are a beautiful cream colour and enormous.
There are so many great native Christmas trees.
Syzyigums would be my first go to as a great native Christmas tree. Trevallan’s large Syzyigums (around 8m high) are in full bloom at the moment and it looks like they are covered in little fairy lights and the ground under them is covered in snow (the fallen flowers).
Syzyigum ‘Cascade’ would be a nice smaller growing Christmas tree. This beautiful native grows to about 4 meters high and has a lovely weeping habit. Its dark lush green foliage is offset by its brilliant pink new growth and pink pom pom flowers, which the honey eaters love, followed by pink edible berries, for the berry eating birds. It can easily be grown in a pot or the ground.
If a smaller tree is required Acmena smithii ‘Allyns Magic’ is a fantastic native. Perfect for pots and loves full sun or part shade. It is always a dark lush green with bright red new growth. You can even trim it to a conical shape to better represent a Christmas tree!
If you are after something a little different than I have two native trees that are going to make even the die hard plastic tree lovers wanting to change over!
First up is the Casuarina glauca ‘Greenwave’. This hardy evergreen shrub forms a natural ball shape with long thin branches that would make you think it’s a conifer. It holds it shape without the need to trim and looks amazing in pots or the garden. It only grows to about 2m high and loves the full sun.
Adenanthos have taken the southern market by storm and we are finally catching up. These beautiful soft silvery foliage plants love the full sun and dry conditions. They do get a small redish flower on them in spring. Silver Silk only gets to about 1.2m high so its perfect for a large pot.
With all real Christmas trees water well. The most common cause of death is under watering because we don’t want to wet our floors or the presents! Maybe buy an extra-large saucer or a planter to sit your tree in (a pot that doesn’t have a hole and is meant to retain water). Don’t keep your tree inside for months and when you finally do take it back outside move it into the sun slowly. Put it in a shady spot for a week or two, then to a part shady spot then out to full sun. Once it’s back outside give it a good fertilise with organic link slow release organic fertiliser and a liquid fertilise fortnightly with Plant care until it is acclimatised to the outside conditions. Don’t forget a good long soak would be appreciated by your tree, just to say thank you!
This year why not buy a REAL Christmas tree. Just remember chose a plant that will bring you and your family years of joy and let the kids do the decorating while you sit back and enjoy a candy cane …. In your Christmas cocktail!
It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
The Mountain Man is a third generation qualified horticulturist with over twenty years experience. He has a background in wholesale and retail nursery, plant tissue culture, soft landscaping. He was also the Head Gardener for the Kitchen Gardens at Brookfield Garden Centre where he maintained the gardens and gave workshops on how to maintain a working kitchen garden.
The Mountain Man is currently specialising in Australian Natives with a semi-formal garden element. His Mission is to work alongside people in the development of their outdoor areas enhancing both look and feel while raising awareness of environmental factors. Using the most sophisticated combination of native, exotic, modern, classical and organic methods and materials.
While the mornings have been getting colder the days are still very warm. So it’s still all systems go in my yard.
I read a great little article the other day on 5 ways to maintain your garden during spring. I thought I’d add to it with a few more tips.
I always mow and then spray about three days later. I use Searles ‘Lawn Perfect’ as it kills most of the weeds coming up at the moment. I don’t worry too much about winter weed as I find out it dies out quickly as soon as the weather warms up.
About two months ago I soil wetted and fertilised my lawn with organically certified soil soaker and lawn fertiliser so it’s really thick and hopefully will survive the winter.
Spray my fruit trees and change my fruit fly trap wick
I wasn’t paying much attention to my citrus this year. I trimmed them early and now all the new growth has been attacked by aphids and mites. I am going to spray them with Eco-oil (BFA certified organic spray) and I am going to give them a fertilise with Organic Link (BFA certified organic fertiliser). I should also start a fortnightly fertilise with Plant Care to give them an immediate boost.
If you have any sick plants in your garden at the moment, this would work a treat for almost any plant.
Any fruit I did get was hit by fruit fly so I also need to refresh my Fruit Fly trap wick and start using Eco-naturalure. I’ve just started to get tomatoes and I don’t want them hit by fruit fly.
Feed my winter flowering plants
My camellia sasanquas are all looking good (I remembered to fertilise them in Autumn) Now its time to feed with Organic Link my rondeletias, zygo cacti, azaleas, camellia japonicas and my poinsettias to keep them looking good and help promote flowers. I will also start Liquid fertilising with Silica and Potash.
Fertilise and use soil wetter
I have been a bit slack in some areas of my garden and its starting to show in the health of my plants.
My gardens need a soil wetter treatment and a fertilise.
I am trialling the new natural Soil Soaker by Plant of Health. Soil Soaker enables hydrophobic soils to become water penetrable and retain water. It also houses beneficial microbes, nutrients, silica and diatomaceous earth these make soil healthy which in turn improves root and shoot development and also reduces plant stress. I will use Soil Soaker first then in a week or so give them all a good fertilise with Organic Link. Late winter they will all get a good haircut.
Enjoy my Vegetable Patch
I’ve reduced my vegetable patch this year and I’m focusing more on herbs, leafy greens and snow peas. I could eat snow peas until I turn green! I am enjoying having a smaller area to take care of as its easier to manage. All vegetables are planted and I have been giving them a fortnightly liquid fertilise with Triple Boost and Neem (to help reduce bugs). One month in and I’m already enjoying bok Choy, spinach, cherry tomatoes and silverbeet.
Jobs done … I can kick back relax read my Winter About the Garden Magazine and enjoy the sunshine!
Beautify the Inside
Over the years there has been so much research into not only how being outdoors improves your life but how being surrounded by green living plants inside improves your life, health, brain functioning and even your bank balance. (check out Plant Life Balance website for more details)
Plants aren’t a luxury they are a necessity outside and in.
Sometimes though it’s a little hard to keep indoor plants thriving especially in our offices.
We are usually faced with problems such as – no natural light, air conditioning and inability to keep regular water to plants as too much water leads to water overflowing all over desks.
At Trevallan we are trying to come up with ways to make indoor plants easy but still really pretty!
Planters, terrariums, kokedamas, plants in bowls … anything that works!
There are plants better suited to indoors and sometimes it’s about giving up on our perfect plant to have an amazing plant that looks good all the time. So what if it’s common or not in the magazines … if it grows, looks fantastic and you love it, go with it!
Sometimes a really boring plant can be made to look amazing in the right container!
Some of The Ways Trevallan is bringing a a plant life balance to your workplace!
I have found that using planters (pots without holes) has been my saving grace.
I used to under water and ultimately kill my indoor plants as I was worried about water going all over my furniture.
Planters have no hole in the bottom. I just place my plant in the planter (I do not pot). I then can give my plant a really good drink without the hassle of worrying about water going everywhere as its contained in the planter.
If by chance I decide I don’t like that plant or want to swap my plants around I just remove the plant from the planter and swap them around. This way I am always keeping my décor the same (by keeping the same planter) but I can switch my plants.
It can take a while to get used to watering with a planter but once you get used to it you will wonder how you ever survived without them.
I love the meaning of Terrarium – a sealed transparent globe or similar container in which plants are grown! You cant get any more exact than that.
What a lovely idea to have a mini landscape sitting on our desks that only requires a small drink once every few months, in a closed terrarium or every few weeks, in an open terrarium.
I love staring at terrariums and seeing the mosses grow and the plants changing. The maintenance is minimal but therapeutic as its a delicate process.
This is like an open lid style of Terrarium. The plants are planted in glass jars or decorative bowls. Instead of the plant being inside the container as they would in a terrarium they actually come up out of the container. There is no need to worry about water running everywhere as the containers are sealed. Water them as you would a terrarium (at least once a week).
Kokedama is a style of Japanese bonsai. It is made by binding the plants root ball with a unique soil mixture, moss and string.
Kokedamas are usually seen hanging from ceilings or specially made stands. I find for the office I like to put them in a bowl. This way I can just fill the bowl with some water and the plant can slowly soak up the moisture as it needs it. I have tried numerous indoor plants with Kokedamas and they all work really well. These plants can be a real talking point in your office.
The beauty and power of crystals has been long recognised with healers, shamans and priests using crystals for their unique and special properties. It is widely believed crystals vibrate at the same pitch as humans – such that the resonance between the stone and the human either combats the vibration of the illness or amplifies that of health!
There are thousands of different crystals on the planet.
Many crystals would be useful in the office especially ones that amplify harmony or resolve conflict or even attract sales!
Some people may think you are a little kooky if you start having crystal grids on your desk! So Trevallan has come up with an idea to have these crystals in your workspace without others even realising.
We have planted plants into some crystals that we think would be beneficial to have in your office.
All you need to do is keep the moss wet and you should start to notice the difference straight away!
You could also place some of your crystals on top of your plants soil. This keeps them earthed and cleansed… it also looks really pretty!
For some ideas on what crystals are best for your office click here.
Want to improve your plant life balance or maybe someone else’s? The Trevallan Girls can help.
We can help you decide on the right plant and now we are offering local deliveries on a Friday so we can get it straight to your office.
Last year we had great success growing our own potatoes. It was really easy and loads of fun! I can’t wait to start again this year.
Apart from doing something a bit different in my garden, why would I grow potatoes?
Did you know that potatoes rank among the most contaminated with pesticides and fungicides. Twenty-nine pesticides are commonly used, and 79% of potatoes tested exceed safe levels of multiple pesticides (according to research done by FDA and USDA).
Now I don’t know about you but I used to use potatoes all the time in cooking. So this little piece of information didn’t sit terribly well with me. If I started buying organic potatoes it would cost me around $4kg. So I thought I’d give growing them a go.
Now I didn’t just get an old potato and put it in the ground, read here to find out why. I got some certified seed potatoes and planted them in the ground.
Usually the best time to plant potatoes is 2-3 weeks before the last frost but we don’t get a frost so we planted ours in July. This year we are going to plant one lot in June and another lot at end of July.
The seed had shoots of about 1cm long (we didn’t’ cut any of our seed potatoes either). We planted our potatoes in a few different areas around our yard using a few different methods. We found the best ones grew in a sunny well drained position. The soil was quite rich and had not had potatoes grown in it (for at least 3 years, to be safe).
We dug a trench and placed the seed in it and covered it with some soil. As they grew and the potatoes foliage started to show (about 10cm) through the soil we would pile more soil up around them. We found that the soil had to be very loose so we mixed some sugar cane mulch and compost together. Potatoes form on the surface, when you pile soil up onto of them continually it helps stops the potatoes from being exposed to light and going green. (Green potatoes can upset the stomach) This process also helps produce more potatoes.
We continued to pile up our soil mix until we noticed the lower leaves turning yellow. We then started to harvest. We did find that the potatoes only really grew down at one level (see picture).
So this year we are digging about a 15cm deep trench and then only piling the soil back up until a 15cm, mound has formed.
We harvested from some bushes continuously and other plants we left and harvested all together.
From 2kgs of seed potatoes we got around 15-20kg of amazingly delicious potatoes. I have never tasted anything so good.
I am really looking forward to this year crop. Trevallan has five different varieties available this year and I’m thing I might give one of each a go …
A long to oval shaped all-rounder with white flesh and skin that’s common in supermarkets and green grocers around Australia. This potato is great for boiling, mash, roasting, baking, chips and mash.
A very reliable all-rounder with pink skin and white flesh. Great to boil, bake, roast, microwave and mash but not so suitable for frying.
A very popular all-rounder with pink skin and pale yellow, firm flesh that holds its shape well so is excellent boiled, baked, mashed and in salads but not recommended for frying.
The queen of potatoes! They’re a large waxy oval potato with yellow flesh, thin skin and a rich, buttery taste. They make gorgeous mash or are equally delicious boiled, roasted, baked and pureed.
Which one will you try this year?