Cool solutions for shady gardens: Why not plant a rainbow?

IMG_20180918_141720697.jpgWalls, fences, dense trees, high-rise neighbours, eaves, and patios… With the rise in urban living, we’re finding more and more shade encroaching on our gardens. And those gardens are becoming increasingly precious, as pockets of green in an urban landscape.

So what do you do with those dark corners of your block?

Do not despair, there are many native plants that can grow and thrive in shady areas. To prove this, we’ve compiled a rainbow of plants to brighten up the dark. All you need to add is a hammock, and your shady spot will be the ideal summer haven.

 Planting in shade – the basics

  • The deeper and darker your shady spot, the fewer flowers you’ll get. The plants we list in this article are happiest and most colourful in dappled shade, but will tolerate deeper shade.
  • Shaded plants often become ‘leggy’. Regular light pruning will help them to remain compact.
  • If your shade comes from a deciduous tree, the pileup of leaves in autumn can smother plants underneath, as well as provide too much nutrient to a native garden. Regularly rake up the leaves in autumn – you can make leafmould from them for your vegetables!

 

Our shady rainbow plants

Red- Holly Flame Pea Chorizema ilicifolium

This cheerful pea has yellow/orange and red flowers from July to October. It is low-growing, rarely reaching 0.5 m, and grows well in sand and over limestone. Continue reading

Full of colours and strength – ‘Catching Teller Crow’

CatchingTellerCrow.jpgHope against despair. Courage fighting fear. Joy beating sadness.

‘Catching Teller Crow’ by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina is profoundly moving, at times painful, addictively suspenseful, and all woven together with strength and love.

This is a powerful novel. Filled with powerful female characters and a dad who could be a role model for dads everywhere.

The way it’s told pulls the reader in, and then makes them question everything.

I love the clever use of POV. Beth Teller is dead, and narrates in first person prose, past tense. Yet second narrator, Isobel Catching, narrates in 1st person verse, present tense, even though she’s mainly telling the “what has been”. Her narrative tricks you at first, until you realise the truth and your mind flips and the story suddenly gets a heck load deeper into your gut.

‘Catching Teller Crow’ is a jewel of a murder mystery with paranormal side serves and some intriguing gusts of wind. Continue reading

As gorgeous as a child’s painting of their mum – ‘Roses Are Blue’

rosesareblueOMG. I have just finished reading one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, full of heart and feeling, strength and healing.

The gorgeous ‘Roses Are Blue’ is by the fabulous Sally Murphy, and illustrated by Gabriel Evans, so it’s West Aussie through and through.

It’s written in verse, adding to the poignancy of everything that MC Amber relates. Amber is filled with so many emotions kids (anyone) (me included) can relate to – wanting to fit in, fearing being different, wishing for the impossible and not liking herself much sometimes for wishing that. Amber is a lovely narrator, the story is beautiful. Continue reading

AWW2018 roundup and 2019 launch!

AWW2019.jpg2018 is so last year! It’s time to rise to a new challenge! #AWW2019 is on, people!

I’ve taken up the same challenge – to read ten books by Australian women writers and review six – and I’m likely to blitz it (again). How can I not, when we have such amazing female writing talent in Oz?!

Here are the links to my #AWW2018 review blogs, covering 16 fab books by Aussie women writers:

It was a super year with huge talent. Bring on 2019, and more great reads by Aussie women!

xx

As exciting as a stint in an InvisiLounge -‘Skyfire’ (The Seven Signs #1)

SkyfireSeven teens from seven continents, trying to crack seven signs a day for seven days as the world progressively swirls down the proverbial toilet.

Gold. Total gold.

I was reeled in by Skyfire, the first in The Seven Signs series by Michael Adams, hauled deeper into the mystery the more I read. I’ll be honest, the first few pages I was totally thinking yeah, I know what this is all about. But then the characters came alive and the action began ticking. And awesome things began happening. And happening. And happening.

And then, hooly toolooly, the first signs arrived.

There was no turning back for me. I had to buy the rest of the series. I had to read them all, stat. I had to know what was happening and where were they going next and who was the Signmaker and for goodness’ sake, can someone let these kids sleep sometime!? Continue reading

Motivation: what makes writing fun and writers proud of themselves

Let’s talk about rejection and motivation and why we’re doing this writing gig. What motivates us?

And what maybe should be motivating us instead?

pablo (4).png

Because I’ve been writing a while now. Writing and querying and hoping. And getting a whole heap of (encouraging) rejections.

But… nonetheless… they’re still rejections.

I signed up to NaNoWriMo again this year. NaNoWriMo rocks. But – I’ll just come out and say it – my NaNoWriMo 2018 sucked. Badly. It sucked even before I got knocked down by the flu and had to completely stop to recover.

So… why did writing – one of my favourite things – suddenly suck?

Real talk here, people… it sucked because I was forcing the story

Whoever says that writing isn’t fun and you’ve got to push through the hard bits is talking a language I don’t understand. Kudos to them, but I’ve had an epiphany about how I write. And it ain’t about dragging a story out kicking and screaming, while simultaneously bashing my head against the keyboard.

Why was I doing it? Continue reading

As sweet as a Gub and as nerve-wracking as being tracked through the vents of a Freighter Class C – ‘In the Dark Spaces’

ITDS.jpgIf you want world-building of awesome and relatable characters and a super voice, then ‘In the Dark Spaces’ by Cally Black is for you.

It’s SciFi with added ethical conundrums and a dash of Stockholm syndrome. Prepare to cry. And grin. And be absorbed.

My library wants my copy back, stat, and I’m that working-my-shift-button-stuck kind of busy ATM. Plus I just spilt tea on my keyboard…

So I’ll keep this quick.

Fabulously Awesome Book.

Read it.

It won the Ampersand Prize and it’s so obvious why. Be prepared to get 3/4 of the way through and have one of those existential crises where you question why you ever bother to write because Black does it so well…

… Of course, we write because we can’t imagine life without writing, and we read because sometimes they’re as perfect as this book! 🙂

Take care everyone. Don’t spill your tea.

3 Awesome Series for Kids Who Thrive on Learning

If you, like me, have a voracious young reader who loves learning, then you probably also love it when you find a series you can trust to entertain your child and feed their love of knowledge. Educational books don’t need to be non-fiction, sometimes when the facts are hidden by the fun children learn even more!

Here are three of my favourite Junior Fiction series for making those synapses spark…

  • The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta
  • Juliet Nearly a Vet
  • Sage Cookson Continue reading

Encouraging life into your garden: planting for black cockatoos

I just had one of those awesome moments, as I watched a black cockatoo drink from my new birdbath for the first time. And I thought I’d share some big tips for getting these wonderful and rare birds into your garden…

First pageHelp save an entire species, and get free help in the garden in exchange? That’s a deal that’s hard to refuse!

We’re talking about the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris). Of the three black cockatoo species in the South-West of Western Australia, Carnaby’s is the most threatened, listed as ‘Endangered’ under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. These cheeky birds, punctuating Perth skies with their raucous ‘wee-lar’ calls during the first half of each year, are up against tough odds. They breed in the wheatbelt, using hollows in mature trees as nests to raise their chicks. In some areas more than 90% of the native vegetation has been cleared. After breeding they return to the coastal plain, where widespread clearing for urban areas and agriculture has caused a dramatic loss of feed habitat.

Numbers of this iconic species have halved since the 1960s, they have vanished from one-third of their former range, and it is thought that most of the birds we see today are too old to breed. Will our children or grandchildren farewell the last of these beautiful birds? Continue reading

Refreshing like a home-grown yellow watermelon – ‘White Night’

WhiteNightAnd my award for the most awesome male character in YA goes to… Bo Mitchell!!

Seriously. From the very first sentence of ‘White Night’ by Ellie Marney, Bo’s voice captured me. He drives this book. If you’re looking for positive, realistic male role models, look no further.

I loved ‘White Night’. I read a sneak-peak online and then had to wait – yes – WAIT – until it became available from my library. Excruciating.

There are a lot of things to like in ‘White Night’, but if I had to pick three, this’d be them:

  • Character arcs of awesome
  • Level-headed enviro representation
  • General air of stereotype-smashing.

Continue reading