Petit Paradis in Collage


The Eighth instalment of our annual bit of artwork tracking the Two Little Fellas.

This year, on a whim, our youngest Little Fella takes the stage given that he’s played smaller roles in previous pictures and I loved how he embraced his nature playground in the garden – quite literally.

Over the years friends and family have wanted to know a bit of the story behind the artwork so this is a little about this years . . .

In the New Year we will move to Tillellan, the long-term project that is finally nearing completion. The landscaping and backyard will be a project within its own right. In anticipation of the move this years art features some of the elements of the original petit paradis abode.  A kind of thank you and goodbye for our first family home.

This place has seen several families of guinea pigs and chickens pass through it. It was pivotal in my adventures in seed saving and building up varieties, quantities and experience in locally adapted edible species. As a result, much of the growing space was for seed production and really only supplemented our kitchen from time to time with food. Moving to Tillellan we plan to accommodate both requirements.

There was a whole lot I could have put into this picture, but some of the highlights are the Pitaya flowers that made a showy display the last couple of autumns. Our eldest Little Fella is feeding Pinky, Brownie and Missy Miss – some of our current guinea pigs. Our original g-pigs Maiki & Jazz can be found in the picture as well along with various pet chooks that have been on the adventure also.

One of the favourite things about the house that I will miss is seeing the flocks of ibis and pelicans flying past the house on their way out to feed or returning home in the afternoon. Quite regularly we’ve had a half dozen or more pelicans glide low and slow over the houses and past our living area window in the early morning. It is a magical site, especially when they are low enough to hear their wing beats, and I missed it when we rented briefly so I know I will when we move.


There are various flowers and the quail, some of our container gardens and goldfish and koi. Fruit trees and crops that we’ve had. The garden itself was different with every passing year as it adapted to the needs and requirements of the family and whatever we were doing in preparation for the eventual move. Whether it was sorting out salvaged resources or propagating varieties of plants.

It will be a little sad I imagine to part ways, but we’ve also out-grown it rapidly and its very much a natural transition for us. It would have been just right with the Two Little Fellas, but with the addition of Gran and her various requirements we’ve definitely overstayed.

Summer Sunflowers

petitparadis sunflower

The new garden is struggling at the moment. Bouts of hot weather and wind interspersed with showers of miniscule rain. In between other duties I have chopped and dropped some of the fat hen and other ‘weeds’ to mulch around the edibles that are fruiting.

The sunflowers are opening and in the morning sun are magnets to bees and brilliant in their colour. A simple joy. An inspiration to grow a whole heap of them next summer!


petitparadis hollyhock

The unfamiliar weed in our garden had a different presence about it. So it was left to develop.

From experience, I’m a true believer in resources and teachers appearing when required. Another real-life example of this is the gradual growth of a plant in our backyard that was a little different to the mallow plants that often pop up. I let it continue to grow as there was not much else growing whilst transitioning over to the new garden site.

Eventually it started to bud up with flowers and I suspected it was a Hollyhock (Alcea rosea). I did have some seeds given to me a year or two ago but none grew successfully. It may well have been a seed that found its way into the garden from a failed pot and managed to grow. Eventually it flowered and dazzled us with its incredibly bright pink flowers.

We began to utilise the flowers for using in our kombucha mixes and as a tea for the Little Fellas to assist with persistent coughs. It’s incredible versatility has assured it a place in the garden at Tillellan. Once it has set its seeds I will propagate plants for further planting. The Hollyhock has proven itself to be hardy in our summer garden as the chickens have scratched away mulch and removed soil from the base of the plant. It has endured and thrived. Not surprising given it is a relation of the Marshmallow plant which is growing quite abundantly at the Tillellan garden.

We have made use of the flowers as mentioned though we have not tried the leaves yet given it is a single plant and I am wishing to save its seeds.

I recall seeing similar plants in my first garden, petty french. I enjoyed those flowers back then too, but little did I realise that Hollyhocks have some very versatile uses.

So, I have found a new plant to carry over to the new garden at Tillellen.

Further Reading:

Five Uses for Hollyhocks

Health Benefits of Hollyhock

Further Health Benefits of Hollyhock



petitparadisbuddleiaJust when I thought the garden was  smelling good with the abundant blossoms of the Honeysuckle, out comes the Buddleia for the beginning of Summer.

Buddleia davidii is to me, the perfume of English summers – along with Petunias and Sweet Peas. I recall seeing on my travels large ‘trees’ of buddleia in and around London. Sometimes even on building sites tucked in a neglected corner. Sometimes well up to a couple of metres in height.

In our garden, with the now limited water despite recent rainfall, the buddleia never gets too out of hand. It is considered a pest in some parts of Australia. Regular pruning keeps it bushy as it delivers its wonderful perfume across the pathway. Previous years it has lived up to its name of The Butterfly Bush and attracted Monarchs and native butterflies into our garden. I have managed to strike a couple of smaller plants from this parent plant just by pruning off new growth with a little old wood and sticking it in the ground. Spring and Autumn seem to be the best months to get some decent success.

I like Buddleia because of its perfume, appearance, it attractiveness to butterflies and the fact that it will grow in relatively poor soils. It also creates lots of woody mulch which is beneficial for the garden and will happily return, sometimes more eager than before, from a harsh pruning back.