xmlns:fb='http://ogp.me/ns/fb#' Karen Wagner garden & design

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


It's well documented that having plants in the house helps to lift your spirits, clean the air you breath and adds to overall health and wellbeing.  But keeping  indoor plants is I know sometimes challenging.  Something that is much easier to keep looking good is a terrarium.  
They have of course become increasingly popular over the last year or so and if you feel you are reliving the 70's a little, its ok.  Its still the same concept but they are looking a little bit better than the ones I remember from the 70's.   
There are lots of styles to choose from....cutesy to sophisticated to over the top impact.  To their advantage, they are quite low maintenance, easy to keep, last for ages and look great almost anywhere.  As well as at home, they work brilliantly in offices, waiting rooms,surgeries, shops, restaurants and cafes.  Try just  singles or pop together a cluster. Could help to cut down on the cost of weekly flowers!  And its good for you!
Here's some inspiration...or pop into the garden store and we will make one up for you.  

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

tools & gadgets....could be interesting

I know as well as the next person that as soon as you mention tools - and I am talking mainly gardening tools now-  there can be a slight amount of eye glazing and drifting off that happens. Being a girl who loves going to the hardware, I sometimes find the tool thing quite interesting so I am going to preserver. 

This idea of including the tools topic in a blog came about as  I recently had a conversation with a great long-time client who despite avidly gardening put up with a lack of tools simply because she didn't really know what she wanted to buy and where to buy it.

I didn't realise that there was just so much of a blind spot about getting the right tools.  So let's clarify.  I am speaking about tools for the garden generally here (but happy to be a little sidetracked! - and I noticed gardenista the other day had  a few interesting gadgets on their blog).  

A few basics:  whats really necessary - maybe I can call it my top 5 - if I can stop at just 5.

burgon & ball small trowel
 A hand held trowel of some description.  I use a small trowel nearly everyday in the garden - not only for gardening but the harvesting, moving, potting plants, weeding etc etc.

A fork for turning, lifting, generally looking busy.

burgon & ball boarder fork - great size and weight 

A pair of good secateurs that aren't too cumbersome or heavy and you can keep in good condition for cutting cleanly, picking flowering, snipping, harvesting, cutting back, light pruning and generally looking the part.  

A hoe or larger mattock.  These really perform two different functions.  I love my hoe for turning the top of the soil in the veg bed and weeding - a bit of gentle gardening.  But there is nothing better than a mattock for moving plants, really getting stuck in and digging something out and attacking out of control tap root weeds.
So maybe this should count as two rather than one, but that would blow the top 5 and make it 6.

sneerboer special fork and hoe

A small spade.  Just a must really.  In our heavy clay soils we don't do anything like double dig or break our back trying to lift the hardened summer clods.  But it's still indispensible for a million other jobs around the garden - not least the cleaning up of the dog poo on the lawn. Yes, rather unmentionable but for anyone with a well loved pooch, children or regular summer lawn entertaining, they will know exactly what I am talking about.

burgon & ball boarder spade - a smaller more manageable spade

sneerboer famous perrenial great dixter transplanter spade
I haven't really got into the extra hard heavier tool jobs in the garden requiring larger spades and shovels (moving gravel, soil, compost etc), loppers and choppers of all sizes (for pruning low and high branches, hedges big and small), wheelbarrows - who could do without one of those!, garden rakes (extremely usefull) and of course a pair of good gardening shoes. As well as  watering cans of various sizes and descriptions that are indespensible.

There are also a few jobs that require tools you love to make it easier.  The favourite weeder - quite a few gaugy edged tools around for this, the lovely bonsai or herb scissors for harvesting herbs, salads, small veg and cutting string, oh and string of course......

favourite weeder??

range of sopie conran tools by burgon & ball. 
At KWGD, the store stocks a range of Burgon & Ball tools as well as Sneerboer and a few other incidentals that look great and perform well.  
The criteria is really about quality & performance and I love Burgon & Ball tools for their 5 or 10 year guarantee as much as for their easy to hold and visually apealling approach.
The Sneerboer range, which I discovered when I went to Great Dixter and really wanted to slip the Great Dixter trowel in my suitcase, also fits this criteria and is forged and strong.   I found them when I returned to Australia and we have had  them into the store ever since.   The Sneerboer range is tough and slightly industrial and sometimes shaped a bit differently but performs fabulously in the garden.
Both the Burgon & Ball and the Sneerboer have a really extensive range which gives you lots of choice and a ongoing lust for the next tool to buy.

A few criteria are necessary though when considering and buying....
*  great performance,
*  longevity - you need to be able to pass your tools onto the next generation if you have looked after them,
*  looking good or great design,
*  mulit-tasking - its great when one tool can be used for many different things in the garden.
the great dixter trowel

There are other tools brands around and there is one Australian made one -the Diggadoo range -  that I have had some success in the garden with also.  We may stock this one in the store soon also.

If you need any extra tools as you already have all the basics...here are two that are irresistable.
The asparagus cutting knife.
And the potato digger. 

They both perform brilliantly and are well used in our household.

As for gadgets....well that may have to be a whole other blog it seems.  I hope this helps.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

ah well...you can hardly believe it

Well I know it has been a ridiculously long time since I was blogging...almost a year.  I wouldn't blame you for thinking I just didn't care, but the reality is I somehow became ridiculously busy and just didn't have the hours in the day to sit and write.  I did think often that certain things I saw and was involved in would make wonderful posts on the blog and I must let people know about all the wonderful things happening in the garden world........but there just wasn't the hours in the day.

So....for an update.  
We have been so ridiculously busy because I have started a new business.  It's an extension and  continuation of what we were already doing with the garden design business, but it branches into interiors and the world of design & living.  There is just so much happening out there and wonderful things all over the world being done by dedicated and talented people.  I saw a bit of an opening, I got lucky enough to stumble across a fabulous little shop and voila, before I knew it the ink was dry on a lease, I needed to get in and fix and paint and set up and get open & operating.   It has taken quite a bit of mind and body power...but here we are up and organised and drawing a big calm breath again.

The new venture is called Verde (green in Spanish, Italian etc)@ Karen Wagner Design and is in Lansdowne Crescent in West Hobart.  Its all about design, interiors, lifestyle, having a bit of fun & finding fabulous things. It's also about finding things that come from thoughtful, sustainable & creative minds, hand or locally made, fair trade, objects of beauty, are of quality, useful  & lasting.  Its an eclectic collection drawn from all over the world, but there is a strong emphasis on Tasmanian & Australian made and created.   
We  also feel we are connecting the garden and the inside and continuing to pursue our underlying design theme.  

We still have the little garden design studio and garden store that we do all our garden work out of.  (But I am thinking I would like more space to do a few things now I must admit....maybe that will be the next leap....we shall see).    If you are in Hobart or if you are visiting Hobart, please come and say hi.  We are open Mon - Fri 10-5ish and Saturday 10-2 at this time of the year.

We are having lots of fun and have been delightfully embraced by the community and Hobart generally (thanks Hobart!).  

Jump over onto facebook page and have a browse - don't forget to like us.  We will post all our daily happenings, new stock and ideas on our facebook page.

So blogging now might just take on a bit more of a broader perspective.  There will be some interior things to think about and discuss as well as all those fab garden things.

We do need to make mention of something big happening in the garden world at this time of year.....
That, of course, is the Chelsea Flower Show.  It's a garden cultural icon and is followed avidly across the world but is quintessentially English and proudly so!.  I have been trawling the sites to find out who won what, what interesting things garden designers have done this year and what interesting trends and titbits are about.
Overall it does seem to be a bit of traditional, classic and calm show this year with many of the gardens using lots of green, hedging, calm paving and water.

Until next time....which I promise won't be as long this time.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

sabaticals and a little monastic garden

Hello.....I am back from holidays.....

I wrote a couple of blogs when I started my oversease trip, but suddenly I went into holiday mode and just didn't really get the chance to write any more.  I was enjoying myself , the whole day was taken up with getting from A to B, and I think I just needed a mind holiday from everything at home and from the business.  I do apologise to those people who waited patiently for the next installment only to find it didn't come!  We are back though and there is lots happening this year that I will outline as I get back into my blogging again.

I did want to do a little bit of catch up with some of the other wonderful things I saw but didn't write about while I was away.

While in SiberniK in Croatia on a sweltering hot day, we climbed up stone stairs and a cobbled lane to come out and stubble across the most wonderful monastic church garden.  This garden had been renovated, had the ubiquitus cafe added, was very well cared for and created an wonderful cool oasis on a day that made you sweat in the shade standing still.
We commented on how wonderful it was to find something so beautiful and we wished we had a few spots like this in Australia, where we took what was old and made it useable, relevant and perfect for how we live today.  All over our travels through Croatia we were struck by how wonderful it was than ancient houses, churches, buildings were used and lived in and made to work for todays living, rather than becoming shrines, or museums or ancient crumbles.

 I hope it illustrates just how wonderful it was.