Jun 7, 2017

New Cladding for the house

We have lived with ugly vinyl cladding for the last seven years and I knew a bit of a face lift could really transform our home. There is only so much paint can do so it was time to put our hand in our pocket and spend big biccies on a whole new outer for the house.

Our house in 2010 when we moved in

Mr L'Orange never seemed as keen to part with the cash or more likely, spend many months of his free time completing this DIY nightmare. Luckily I found a handyman with experience removing asbestos who was needing some work and everything fell into place. So after many years of discussing, we have finally got around to re-cladding our home and adding insulation to the walls. Hoorah!

Re-cladding is a pretty horrible task as it involves stripping the current hideous vinyl cladding (the easy bit), getting the asbestos sheets removed (slightly dangerous part). These have to be wrapped and then taken to the tip for special attention and you pay extra fees. Still very reasonable compared with having a company come in and remove the asbestos for you.

Next comes putting insulation into the walls and covering with sarking before cladding the entire thing in Weathertex and then painting the lot. This sort of project is not for the faint hearted.

The new cladding we are using is called Weathertex and is the same as the cabin. It looks exactly like weatherboard but is made of sustainable materials and easy to paint and maintain.

Because this is a bit of a mammoth project, we are completing the new cladding in small sections with one wall at a time.

Once the project was underway, we realised it made sense to replace the gutters and eaves on the house as well. A bit more money and time but definitely worth it for the finished result.

New eaves & gutters in place
There were a few issues when it came to painting as our handyman decided to complete this task on a very windy day with a spray gun. Not only did the house get a few coats of paint but also all my plants, gates, front door, verandah, outdoor lights, guttering, plant pots and baby buggy!

Lovely new weathertex on left, old vinyl cladding on the right
Why bother, I hear you cry? Well, this big investment of time and money will mean that our home will at last have some semi decent insulation inside of its walls keeping it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

We should also no longer hear our lovely neighbours next door as there will be more than a skinny bit of cladding separating us. Sadly insulation isn't taken very seriously in Australia and the standard wall insulation here is still pretty woeful when compared to cutting edge environmentally sustainable options in Europe or Canada.

Flashings added to keep everything water tight
We are very hopeful that the end result will have the house looking and feeling a million dollars plus stay warm in the winter and add a serious chunk to the value of our home to make it all worthwhile.

Front of the house with new cladding & gutters

Apr 12, 2017

Fresh Start with the Garden

I hope it is not too bold of me to say, but our garden is looking rather fantastic these days and I'm very proud of the massive improvements made over the last few years.

Ornamental pears have gone in along the driveway
The major new and exciting change has been that I have employed a gardener to help me as Mr L'Orange has retired.

Now we have a bit more of an idea of what we are doing and expert advice, we've been getting Jeanette to help us move plants to better locations where they have more room and the right conditions. We have spent weeks and weeks this autumn improving the soil and putting in new plants and shrubs to fill up gaps and add a dash of colour.

Hedges have been pruned back, noxious weeds removed, edging and mulch added all over the garden and finally a couple of new beds have also gone in.

I'm thrilled to announce the demise of the hebees which we inherited with the house and I have never really liked to be completely honest.

The mop top tree is going gang busters this year
Instead we have planted a beautiful white gardenia close to the dining room window so as it grows we should get all the fragrance coming into the house as we walk in the front door.

Goodbye hebes - Hello gardenia
Some of the other plants that have gone in over the last few months include a couple of snowball trees, a white crepe myrtle, a magnolia little gem, some cerise coloured salvias, more white hibiscus as it seems to grow so well here and flower for months on end, buddleia, daphne, azelias and some more carnations.

The photinia hedge has grown the most ever witnessed in the last 12 months - now above the wall!

Just writing this list makes me realise we have completed a heck of a lot of work and to Mr L'Orange's great pleasure he hasn't had to do much at all.

Whilst it may sound very bourgiese to have a gardener, the reality is that it is extremely practical. Especially if you are a novice gardener and need some help or want to have a life outside of doing gardening every weekend.

Cheery laurel hedge at the back is coming along nicely
When I think of all the money I have spent on plants in the last few years which have inevitably died because I had no idea how to look after them properly then it really becomes more of a financial solution to have a gardener come every now and again and help to look after everything.

Nov 13, 2015

Garden Update - Spring

Sorry for the huge gap between posts, let's just say life has been turned upside down since June and things are only now slightly more back on track (in a very loose way!).
My loyal garden companion
Thought you would like a bit of an update on our garden which seems to be on a bit of a winning streak at the moment as our plantings really grow into their surroundings.

At long last we have some lovely white flowers on our wisteria, which I am particularly proud of as these are the first flowers since we planted it four years ago.

All the trees are looking a little harsh just now as we gave them a major winter prune, however they will grow lots this year and fill out in no time.

The prune was well worth it as we have got rid of all the high branches and thinned out so we can grow better fruit and actually be able to pick it.

We have planted a new tree to replace the dead walnut that we cut down. It is a golden elm and we are very pleased that it is growing well and know it will look amazing in another 5 to 10 years!

The front beds slowly filling up with plants
The front garden is full of roses and we have also yanked out some more agapanthas to increase the size of the beds. Now that I have found some hardy plants that can survive the rubbish soil in the front beds I am having a lot more success.

The idea is that the main front bed will be agapantha free by next winter and we will have lots of lovely shrubs and flowers in there instead. I'd say we are now 80% well on the way.

Our new garden bed plantings
The mower broke, so I have been paying someone to do the lawns instead and have discovered they do a much better job than Mr L'Orange. 

Weed free, freshly cut lawns - beautiful
Now he gets to enjoy three hours of not cutting the grass at the weekends and I get to enjoy a beautiful lawn all through the week - it is a win win situation.

The lavender hedge is looking lovely at the moment
Hope you like the garden at the moment as much as I do. Until next time.

Our main bee attraction in the garden

May 29, 2015

Agrestic Grocer in Orange

This is one of our favourite spots to go during the weekend, especially in winter has they have a log fire blazing and live music on Saturdays and Sundays between 12 - 3pm.

The Agrestic Grocer has formed a restaurant in the former packing shed, offering great locally sourced produce with an interesting and ever changing menu. 

We always try to book a table as breakfast is very popular, my most favourite dish is the Croque Monsieur with Trunkey Creek ham, caramelised onions and gruyere cheese - it tastes as naughty as it sounds! The fresh pressed apple juice is also delicious with fruit coming from the owner's orchards.

Things also get busy most lunchtimes so it is worth being organised and booking a table to avoid disappointment. The ploughman's platter continues to be a hit and is excellent for sharing with friends.

The restaurant is licensed so you can indulge in a nice glass of wine or try some of the Badlands Beer which is brewed on site. They even do tasting paddles which are good fun and mean you get a little sip of all the beers produced on site. There is both inside and outside dining so dependent on the weather you can take your pick.

After dining, we usually head into the farm shop where you can pick up all kinds of amazing fruit from the owners' orchard and lovely fresh veggies grown locally. 

As if this wasn't enough, the Agrestic Grocer also do fruit and veg boxes which you can order weekly for your family.

The Agrestic Grocer, is not afraid to try new things and are currently running music nights on Tuesday evenings which are selling out. I'm off to a Paul Simon tribute night in June - so will let you know all about it first hand in a few weeks.

Hope you all have a great weekend.

May 25, 2015

Garden Screening

2015 is going to be our year of screening. We are keen to completely enclose our garden with green to screen out all of the neighbours so we have total privacy and something nice to look at. 

We have realised that a lot of the appeal of Darling Cottage is that the garden is so private and secluded so we are now attempting to do the same for our little place. 

We are starting with this side of the house and already have a new cherry laurel hedge planted at the front & now we are working on the back.

We have planted 3 new olive trees down the side of the house, as I noticed they had some particularly large ones in Bunnings (for the same price of the tiny ones I bought last time of course!).

Our existing olive trees are growing really well and even have actual olives growing on them which is pretty exciting. Again they don't really need any attention so are excellent for time poor gardeners like myself who regularly forget to water and feed everything.

A camelia has been planted alongside the fence in the back garden in the hope that when it grows we will gain some screening and it will look beautiful from the deck. Next project is to screen off around the veggie patch with something that climbs well but doesn't take up much room. I'm thinking either virginia creeper or chinese jasmine.

Hope you all have a great week!

May 22, 2015

Roof for the Deck

Ever since we got our deck built a few years ago we have been debating what to do about the roof. 
Deck Without Roof
Whilst lovely to enjoy al fresco dining and look up at the clear blue sky, it is also a bit annoying when you have dinner planned outside and just as you sit down there are a few drops of rain and the whole evening goes into abort mode.

We saw a lovely covered outdoor area with a vine running over the beams a couple of months ago and we decided we would like something similar. The carpenter who built our deck assured us that putting on a roof would be quick, cheap and simple - I was completely mislead on all fronts!

Deck with roof

We picked a clear plastic roof so we could let as much sun into the house during winter as possible, this meant more wooden beams needed to go up to ensure the plastic wouldn't bend and crack. 

We also made sure that special screws were used so we didn't get that annoying creaking sound that you sometimes find on covered areas. After a bit of staining action, everything came up really well.

We are hoping to get a little outdoor lounge or some comfy reading chairs to add to the deck along with some solar powered hanging lights and a nice green climbing plant.

May 20, 2015

Garden Update - May 2015

Alas we are now moving into winter which is always a bit depressing to say the least. We are expecting a high of 7 degrees today! Mr L'Orange walked the dog in sub zero temperatures this morning, luckily Dog A L'Orange had his cosy yet fashionable winter coat on.

Veggie Patch Update - I've planted beetroot and asian greens into the veggie patch after a 3 hour weeding operation, things had got pretty wild in there. 

We also have growing self seeded onions, carrots, spinach and coriander. I've added a couple of bags of chicken manure and I'm ready to finish this off with a nice mulch of fallen leaves which will have the added benefit of tidying up the garden.

Our garden bed alongside the driveway has recently been ripped out and replanted elsewhere to make room for our new cherry laurel hedge.

We have high hopes that this fast growing dark green beauty will screen out our neighbour in no time at all and look fantastic all year round. I've now got a rather top garden expert on board to help me source plants more cheaply and give me some horticultural advice. Things can only get better!

At last, I have found a fruit that I enjoy in abundance - raspberries!

The few little bushes we planted last year have spread and become a rather large clump full of berries which we have been picking daily as a tasty morning snack followed by a juicy sun kissed afternoon treat. They seemed to last from December right through until now.

Compared to everything else that grows in our garden the raspberry bushes require zero attention and appear to actually thrive on neglect - everyone needs to grow them, they are so easy!

At the moment lemons are in abundance on the tree and they are looking fantastic this year, they really are bursting with flavour. Our lemon has to be the smallest tree in the garden and yet it produces a bumper crop every year.

If anyone fancies a bag of lemons, please let me know as there are hundreds that need a home!