Autumn Country Wedding – Fiona and Colin

It started as a dream when Fiona casually mentioned how lovely it would be to get married at her Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Pemberton. It is a place that is special in her heart and after having seen it for myself, I can understand why.

While we had some rather wet weather the morning of the wedding and contingency’s had to be put in place to relocate the ceremony into the barn where the reception was planned, the day could not have been more perfect. Following the ceremony guests were treated to afternoon tea of cheese, fruits, nuts and crackers to sustain them on a photo hunt around the extensive property or to just settle in for the afternoon with a glass of champagne before the wedding feast later that evening.

With an explosion of autumn colour at every turn, it was such a privilege to be able to photograph their day for them. Every element of their wedding was carefully thought out and showcased the best of the region at this time of year. From Fiona’s bouquet plucked from the very same gardens earlier that day to the pecans handpicked by Fiona and her family as gifts for their guests, it was an amazing day.

Wedding Gown : Bride’s Desire from Bridal by Aubrey Rose, Bride’s hairpiece : Fiona Dixon, Bridesmaids Gowns : Dessy, Florist : Joy Head, Hair Stylist : Empire House of Hair, Makeup Artist : Kerry Newton, Officiant : Renata’s Celebrations, Rentals & Hire : Bridgetown Party Hire, Ceremony & Reception Venue : Private Farm

My kitchen garden – Autumn update

If you follow my Pinterest board you might have noticed a slight fetish with kitchen gardens lately. When we moved into our new home I thought I wouldn’t be vegetable gardening again but after we returned from France I decided I would give it another chance.

I really love gardening but in the past I was prioritising time in the garden only when it was necessary such as at the end of each season with a light pruning in autumn, fertilising in spring and the occasional weeding. This year I am trying to be more intentional with each thing I do and a vegetable garden seemed like a great chance to be intentional rather than just wing it and hope the stars align. I now spend about 10 minutes each morning before I start my day wandering the garden and tending to it in small doses.

The first step in having a vegetable garden was choosing a location. There was one garden bed that never really took off in our backyard and is hidden from sight from our main entertaining area. It is reticulated, west facing but still receives enough sunlight and has a huge limestone wall we could attach a trellis to for support for those plants that needed it. Last summer I planted a couple heirloom tomatoes, a couple of zucchinis and a large strawberry patch but I wasn’t really intentional in what I was trying to do. The only hard and fast rule I did make was that the vegetable or fruit needed to be one that was uncommon such as an heirloom variety or expensive to buy. For example, zucchinis are super cheap in the peak of the season so I planted gold zucchinis instead of green which are always available. It wasn’t a great success as I think I planted too late into the season but it was a start and made me see how much time I needed to give to the garden in order to really have a harvest.

Before I was able to get to the planning and planting though, I did a few things to really help the seeds for my spring garden get off to a good start. In mid-March I started by pulling out all the old plants that were spent (and getting a lovely surprise of beets I forgot I planted). I lightly turned over the soil a little with some compost and my very handy husband installed a trellis across the back wall of the garden bed so no matter where I planted climbing plants (beans, tomatoes, etc), they had some support.

Then I sat down and planned out what I wanted our spring vegetable garden to look like. I decided I was going to follow the concept of intensive or square foot gardening which allows you to plant more in a smaller space, yielding more produce. Fortunately the garden bed is approximately 4m long x 1m wide and would work perfectly with the square foot gardening concept (one foot is approximately 30cm so I was able to have two squares x 13 along the garden bed). This was my plan for planting out the garden bed (click on image for a larger version).

The few vegetables I really knew I wanted were radishes, heirloom beets, heirloom carrots, peas and beans, some lettuces and a few dwarf varieties of cauliflower and broccoli. After discovering that there were some hefty quarantine fees put in place last year for WA when buying seeds into WA from the east coast, I just headed down to Bunnings and bought a selection of seeds to plant.

Already one month later, everything is moving along wonderfully and I’m excited for how it will look next month. I am already harvesting the lettuce, although it is quite young, and the next to be harvested will be the radishes and this is what it all looks like at the moment. It’s not so pretty and I need to paint that ugly rendered wall but its productive. The garden bed is about 50cm high x 4m long x 1m deep and that limestone wall is about 3m high in total while the lattice is about 2m high. My husband is a clever cookie! To the left of the vegetable garden is a 1.8m high wall that divides the pool from this area and to the right is a small garden shed.

So what did I plant exactly?

Radish - Two variety’s of radishes went in to help me choose which one I prefer best for future plantings – French Breakfast and Saxa 2. Radishes are perhaps the quickest seed to germinate (only 3 days) and they will be harvested in the next few weeks. I’ve heard they are great for digestion, eliminating toxins and with a high vitamin C content (25% of the daily recommended value), they can help prevent viral infections. I plan on using them in salads and sandwiches probably on a daily basis considering how many I planted.

Cos Lettuce - The lettuce was not from seed but in a punnet as I wanted a quick harvest of one of my favourites, cos lettuce. They really are so easily to grow and you just need to make sure they are regularly protected from snails. I always have a tendency of buying greens and never using them before they begin to go off so with them in my garden I can pick them exactly when I want to use them now. I think I will end up planting more lettuce variety’s once the cauliflower and broccoli’s are finished and I have that space back.

Beetroot - I planted 3 variety’s of beets – Chioggia, Detroit 2 and Burpees Golden. Beets take about 3 months before harvesting so they should be perfectly timed for beet salads in winter or roasted and served alongside roast/grilled meats. I do have a couple of spaces in the garden ready for planting again this month so we have a continuous supply. Grant loves them traditionally pickled so I may give that a go too. Beets are something I’ve wanted to cook with more regularly as they are real superfoods that lower blood pressure and cholesterol, stabilise blood sugar and even has claims of reducing fatigue and osteoporosis. Of course the leaves are also great for eating too so nothing is wasted.

Peas and Beans - If you want bang for your buck, peas and beans will do it. For one tiny seed you can harvest hundreds of produce continuously over a season. I planted a dwarf pea called Blue Bantam and a climbing bean called Purple King. It is a big plant growing up to 2.4m but the pods are purple until they are cooked when they turn green which sounds like too much fun to pass up.  The great thing about peas and beans is they can be frozen after a quick blanching so can be enjoyed well beyond their harvest.

Cauliflower and Broccoli - These were from seedlings and are dwarf variety’s and I planted 3 of each and gave the remaining seedlings to my father in law for his vegie garden. If I had put in regular cauliflowers then one plant would have taken up 4 squares which I decided was too much space to give up in my small garden. They should be ready in a couple of months and I will happily live on cauliflower soup for an indefinite amount of time.

So there it is! My kitchen garden is well on its way to overflowing with produce this winter and I can’t wait to share more with you as the season progresses. If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you or even what you are planning to do in your own vegetable garden this autumn.

Sittella Winery Wedding – Renae and Darryl

I don’t think there has been a time that I have felt more blessed or fortunate in my career. This March was choc-a-block full of lovely weddings, each one more beautiful than the next and Renae and Darryl’s Sittella Winery wedding was a quiet little jewel right in the middle of March.

On a beautiful early autumn day, the sky was the most amazing blue and could not have been clearer as they said their vows in front of their family and friends. Not even a gust of wind that launched an umbrella in the air as Renae made her way down the aisle could break her stride.

Thank you so much for letting me witness your day, Renae and Darryl. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you both as you begin your next chapter as husband and wife.

Wedding Gown & Veil : Hobnob Bridal, Bridesmaids Gowns : Tuscany Bridal, Florist : Blossom & Bloom, Hair Stylist : Hair by Ivy, Makeup Artist : Lisa De, Officiant : KM Celebrations, Ceremony & Reception Venue : Sittella Winery

Three years

“Marriage is glorious but hard. It’s a burning joy and strength and yet it is also blood, sweat and tears, humbling defeats and exhausting victories.” ~ Timothy Keller

I came across this quote just yesterday. It always surprises me how I can find words by chance that express what I cannot at a particular moment. That I stumble on them by accident but they feel as if they were written just for me. Its almost as if providence knew I needed to read them.

There is always the dream of the fairytale wedding followed by the fairytale marriage. As little girls we see the princess marry her prince and all her troubles disappear as they ride off into the sunset together. No quarrels, no dramas, just lots of love and laughter. After the first year of marriage I had to reconcile with the fact that this was not what marriage was about. Marriage has its ups and downs and can be truly wonderful but also extremely hard and I’ve come to realise that for our marriage to work, then there is a certain amount of selflessness that needs to be given and ego’s have no place in a marriage.

Even now as we enter our 3rd year of marriage, we are still learning from each other and striving to find a grace in our relationship. We laugh together, we cry together (or I cry and he holds me tight), we plan for the future together. We are in this marriage for the long term and I know that I will grow old with my best friend by my side. With Grant’s children now young adults, our priorities are shifting as we follow the path in front of us. We have changed so much over the past year as we find new a greater importance in our lives together and individually. Those things that we put above all others to strengthen our marriage and our relationship with each other and with others.  I am so excited and perhaps even more nervous for what the future holds for us as we enter a new phase in our lives.

Happy anniversary my love.

Photos by Leo Patrone

What I’m loving – Movie edition

There are so many elements that make up the being of a good photographer. For me I find inspiration in my home (and in others homes), I’m inspired by movies, music and television and ultimately by trying to live a better life.  While its important to feed your soul artistically and create, I also believe that there is also the need to have down time and replenish the tanks. To be still and be open to other inspirations that will only further your own creativity. There have been a few movies lately that I’ve been loving and have been helping me re-energise and I thought I’d share them with you in a What I’m Loving round up.

Renoir- With a rare free weekend in the middle of March, I decided to catch up on a few movies and Renoir was at the top of the list.  Set on the French Riviera, at Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s country home, it tells the story of Andree Heuschling, Renoir’s last model who also fell in love with his son, Jean Renoir who later became an acclaimed film director. The cinematography alone is enough to make you want to watch this movie over and over again and while I think there could have been more of a story developed, I just loved the natural look of the whole film.

Annie Leibovitz – Life Through the Lens - While I had seen this movie before when it was first released, for some reason I didn’t buy it so I recently added it to my movie library. When I think of a photographer that has influenced pop culture like few others, Annie Leibovitz is the first one that comes to mine. I always find it fascinating how certain artists see the world and one of the reasons I love Annie Leibovitz is that she took chances to create photographs that were different, honest and often with a sense of humour.

Adoration – I admit I often bypass many Australian films for a number of reasons but this one peaked my interest for its beautiful landscape setting, Naomi Watts and Robin Wright in the lead roles and its rather provocative plot. The scenery is just breathtaking and at the end of the film, I just sat in the quiet and watched the entire credits role, wishing there was more for me to see and I still thought about it days later.

Love, Marilyn – Last year I read Fragments and this documentary is based off those “lost” note, letters and poems written in Marilyn’s own hand and offering a unique insight into her mind. Love, Marilyn is a fascinating documentary that I just love watching over and over again as a number of actors interpret her writings.