Thursday, February 26, 2009

For Toni....

Photos, as requested, Madame!

It's still a work in progress - 30 plants sounds like a lot, but when you have no lawn, that's quite a lot of space to fill up. So I'll be adding some extra plants, but not for a few weeks yet. I'm waiting for the hot weather to pass before I go spending my hard-earned on something that might cark it.

We got two trees included - they're a bit on the small side, but they look healthy enough, so I'm sure they'll grow. We chose a Magnolia Little Gem....

And a Waterhousia Floribunda (weeping Lilly-Pilly)....

I had to have some of these Leucophyta Brownii (a.k.a. Cushion Bush). The grey foliage is so pretty...

And the yellow-striped Libertias that I spotted in the nature strip plantings near the park last winter. Those are a couple of Cordyline Australis behind them.

I chose three Bird of Paradise as feature plants too - LOVE these!

There's a wide pebble strip smack-bang in the centre of the garden that I want to do something with, but I'm still considering. I'm thinking maybe a feature - urn, potted plant, something? I'm not sure whether to stick said feature in the centre of the main section, or place it at the back, against the house.

We also plan to build a screen, with slats made from left-over decking timber, to hide the bins. And I need to plant something in front of that. Maybe another Bird of Paradise?

Finally, the pebble strip along the side boundary needs some plants too - but we're waiting till construction of the house next door is finished. Those tradies aren't fussy where they put their feet. Or their tools. Or their rubbish. OR their leftover mortar, for that matter!

Now I'm off to give the thirsty plants a drink and a dose of Seasol.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We have plants!

I was getting ready for work this morning, when I glanced out the window to see a couple of blokes unloading plants onto the footpath. Hooray! Something green in my front yard at last. :o)

I had to rush off to work, and got home late-ish, so no time for photos. But I'll post some up in the next day or two because I want some ideas.... We have a few gaps to fill in and I have some vague ideas, but I'm open to suggestions.

I've bucketed some water onto the new arrivals tonight - let's hope the poor little plants survive the hot weather tomorrow.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Clear or not?

We're very happy with our blinds. But there is one tiny little detail that slipped past us. The French doors in the ensuite.

We have clear glass in all our windows, including bathrooms and toilet. I was happy with that, and never considered an upgrade to anything else. I love the look, and privacy shouldn't be an issue with venetians. Except for this....

Good light control, and the blinds match the timber doors pretty closely.

Closed. We have total privacy....or do we?

Um. The toilet is to one side of the doors, the shower to the other. And because the blinds can't be even partially recessed, there's a gap.

A pretty BIG gap....I could wave to the brickies working next door, while sitting on the loo.

We decided that we'd replace the blinds at some point with plantation shutters, custom-made to fit, but that in the meantime we'd get a privacy film applied to the glass, so we can live with what we have. We did some research and discovered that to get a company to come out and apply privacy film to the existing glass was about $250. Whaaat? It would only cost $200 to have the clear glass replaced with translucent.

I really didn't want a permanent change - I still like to be able to see out when I want to.

Then I came across this website. A translucent film that you can buy on a roll and apply yourself. For around $16. I emailed the company (they're in Thomastown) and they told me that Bunnings stock the product, or I can buy it direct from them. Today I found it in the flywire aisle at Bunnings. Problem solved!

We can't apply it just yet, as one of the doors is being replaced due to warping. But I'll post up some photos when we do.

Thought it might be a useful product for others to know about. :o)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I'm glad THAT week's over

A few images from the past week:

Looking towards the Plenty River. This is a small part of the 130 hectares of burnt-out grasslands and bush waaaay too close to us, taken last Sunday evening. You can just make out a CFA tanker in the background, far right.

Also Sunday - lookng down our street, north towards the Kinglake ranges and a huge cloud of smoke rising.

And looking south, more or less towards the city. I think most of this smoke had drifted from the Yarra Ranges in the east.

7:30am today, from the front porch. I think that's the sun there, glowing behind the thick layer of dirty brown smoke. *cough* Then again, it could be a torch with worn-out batteries.

And getting back to around the house.... two coats of Ultra Deck later, and it's all finished. How good does this look? You can't really see it here, but what I thought at first was dust turned out to be a fine layer of ash over the timber...

I love how the colour matches our timber door frame and windows so closely. Even the venetians blend well. :o)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Time flies

I was going to post more photos over the past few days, but I've been a little distracted by the bushfires, which came a bit too close to home..... Scary.

Anyway, we had our three-month maintenance inspection this morning (even though three months isn't up till the 28th), and it seemed to go well. We have a list of 27 items to be fixed, which sounds worse than it is.

Many of them are doors that stick or handles that don't latch due to "settling". Then there are a few sections of mortar that I'm not happy with, where it's crumbly or has been blasted out by over-enthusiastic brick cleaning. Plus some small sections of render on our feature column that need patching. We have a few nails showing through in the plasterboard in various places (again, probably due to "settling"), and one crack that's opened in a cornice join and is beginning to spread across the ceiling in the family room. Most of that was expected - we've been through the new-house sticking-door stage before.

But we still had some PCI items that haven't been fixed - or at least not to our satisfaction - so those have been added to the list as well. Some fascia sections to be replaced, the still non-functioning pump on our rainwater tank, a cracked tile in the bathroom, some shoddy plaster in the ensuite and a couple of other things. There were no arguments about any of it, so that's a good thing.

One thing that's being followed up is our ceiling insulation. As part of the 5-star energy rating requirements, we have batts all through the ceiling, except over the garage. BUT... there's a small section of flat steel decking at the front of the house, over the retreat window, and we don't believe that there's any kind of insulation under it. Our east-facing bedroom is unbearably hot, even in the afternoons, while the rest of the house is noticeably cooler. I'll be interested to see what the proposed solution is.

We're supposed to get a call by the end of the week to arrange times to fix everything. I'll be glad when this is over - I'm a bit sick of having to be home for tradesmen to do their thing. At least we should get a break before the twelve-month maintenance inspection rolls around.

OK, a few photos....

These were my bargain buys that I picked up from the nursery last week. I spotted a trolley full of plants marked down to $50 for the lot... That included this dracaena draco ($95 worth):

Two yuccas...this size were going for $35 each:

A fairly large alpinia - the pot has $50 marked on it:

A Bird of Paradise, with just a few droopy leaves. This one's worth around $35:

This palm (slightly crisped on the ends of a few fronds):

And there were a couple of small cacti too. All up, around $300 worth. Not bad.

Bike Boy got busy making the side of the house accessible, so we can get to the clothesline without trekking through dirt and mud. A load of sunset toppings did the trick, and he had the brilliant idea of adding the feature sections outside the lounge room windows. I'm hunting for the perfect pots to plant something in and put amongst the pebbles against the fence. Beats looking at a blank section of colorbond fencing.

We might add a screen of some kind in between too.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Photo update

Things are still happening, just a bit slower now. Everything takes so much time - and the heatwave made it impossible to do any outdoor stuff. This week has seen a few changes though.

We finally ditched the Redi-shades and got our real blinds installed on Monday. We have timber venetians throughout most of the house, like this one:

The kids' rooms have roller blinds and there's a Roman blind for the sliding door in the rumpus room. No photos of those though...sorry. It's nice to be able to block out the light, and to be able to easily open and close blinds feels like luxury.

Then the landscaping guys turned up Tuesday morning, and this is the result:

We spread the sunset toppings and added a few pavers, but all the rest was done for us. :o)

We're happy with the design - it's very linear, but so is the house facade, so I think it suits. It looks a bit desert-like at the moment, but once they come back to do the planting, it'll be a different story. That should be within the next couple of weeks.

The painter also arrived early on Monday morning to finally do the touch-ups we've been waiting for. And he did the feature walls in the kids' rooms for us. This is The Middle Child's room (it was the only one neat enough for public viewing). The colour is Wattyl Blue Earth, which I picked in about a minute flat from a brochure....and it turned out great! Thank goodness.