Reading and Reviewing

My Review Policy

Thank you for your interest in my blog. This is where I indulge and share my passion for books, authors and, of course, my own books.

Few things beat a good book, the astringent ink-smell, and that unique paper crackle the first time a brand-new novel is opened, bursting with promise. At night or on holiday, I usually reach for my iPad.

Although I review books I, too, appreciate the time and effort a reader takes to review my own books on Amazon, Goodreads or other sites. I have learned from experience how hard authors work and how difficult it is to be noticed. That’s the reason I decided to give something back to them by reviewing.

I accept books from publishers. I also accept review requests from self-published authors, provided we follow each other on social media or the author is recommended to me by a fellow blogger.

I feel uncomfortable about promoting anything that I haven’t actually read. When I have I review honestly, and when I don’t enjoy a book I would rather stop reading and let the sender know. Please don’t let this discourage you. Thankfully, tastes differ and just because I didn’t enjoy your book doesn’t mean others won’t, and vice versa. I may even enjoy your next book. It’s not a blot on your name – just one step on the pathway towards discovery.

Where I review

I post reviews on Amazon under the name Between the Leaves and on Goodreads. I am not paid or affiliated to any organization. If I really enjoyed something I read, I’ll tweet it.

What I read

Most fiction.

Non-fiction, especially biographies and books related to garden design.

Pre-publication books.

I particularly enjoy supporting new and unknown authors.

What I don’t read

Science fiction, fantasy, erotica, paranormal, zombies, vampires and werewolves.

I avoid books containing excessive profanity, blasphemy or gratuitous sex.

 Acknowledgements

I am happy for anyone to reproduce my reviews, or in part, as long as I am acknowledged.

 Get the Ball Rolling

 Tell me about the book you’d like me to read and review by sending me a link. I try to answer all requests and respond as soon as my time allows.

 How to find me

You will find H.C. Maree on http://facebook.com/hcmaree

Twitter @HC Maree.

My contact email is hcmaree1@gmail.com

 

Happy writing!

 

 

Jazzing up the winter browns

We’re past the winter’s longest day, but we still have at least two months of cold and brown gardens. I long for a bit of colour.

The best way to get it is to head for our local nursery. I’ve been writing all morning and I think I’ve earned a break. I have an empty pot ready to be planted with a cheerful annual or two, and I position it where I can see it through the kitchen window.

I choose violas in a lovely periwinkle blue, white alyssums and a shocking pink geranium. Now that’s colour. I also grab a bag each of potting soil and compost and some bonemeal. I still have some fertilizer in the garage – one that encourages flowering.

Once home I place a pebble or two over the pot’s drainage holes, mix the soil and fertilizer to give the plants a good start, plant them and stand back to look. Right there in front of me, that’s therapy for banishing winter browns.

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A colourful combination of alyssum, geranium and violas

Already the first bees have come to visit the sweetly fragranced alyssum.  I feel better already! I love plants! Let me know if you agree by adding a comment.

My Bromeliads – finding a new home

 

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When we moved into our home several years ago we had a patch of Bromeliads which had been planted in a warm, rocky area where they were receiving far too much sun. As a result their leaves were pale, green-to-yellow, with unattractive scorched edges. I realised just how hardy these plants were, having survived and even multiplied in conditions to which they were obviously unsuited. Another clump of these plants looked far happier in shaded parts of the garden.

On virtually the opposite side of the garden was a scraggly patch of lawn under a small Sickle-bush tree, backed by a rocky outcrop covered with aloes. Mowing there and around the aloes had always been a tricky business.

South Africa’s current drought conditions have forced us to clamp down on our water usage, and as Kikuyu lawns are water-guzzlers it makes sense to me to eradicate more of our lawn and plant substitute plants that require less of the precious resource. The penny dropped and I decided to uproot the lawn under the sickle-bush tree, replacing it with the stressed Bromeliads.

Step 1

First the lawn was removed, the soil was loosened and we dug in a generous dose of general fertilizer (2:3:2), bonemeal and compost, then raked it level.

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Step 2

I laid down some stepping stones to allow me to get to the other side when necessary.

 

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Step 3

I planted an evergreen creeper close to the tree (Mandevilla Splendens) to create extra shade during the wintry months when the Sickle-bush Tree has lost some of its leaves.20160412_170539

This creeper flowers in pinks, reds and varying shades, but I chose white as the prolific flowers positively glow as dusk approaches. It is also a hardy creeper that does well with little watering. I love the large white flowers with the golden throat. For whimsy, I hung a strand of Spanish moss, which I picked off another tree in the garden.

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Mandevilla Splendens

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4

Then it was time to plant the Bromeliads in their new home. I say plant, but actually it’s more a case of sticking them in some lumped-up soil, as they don’t have a large root system. All they really need is a place to be anchored. Others I’ve tied to trees, and they’ve grown with great success. They’re happy as long as they have a little water in their cup-shaped centres.

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Step 5

I added a few Echeveria (Succulent Roses) as a border in front of the
Bromeliads. As I didn’t have enough to fill and complete the edge I broke off a few leaves and placed them above the soil to form babies.

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Step 6

Next I planted a whole lot of miniature Mondo Grass. These were the only plants I bought, in trays from the nursery. Many could be split to fill up the bed.

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Step 7

Finally, I dragged over a small log I found (which I plan to plant up with some miniature, red Bromeliads and the orchid I received for Mother’s Day) and backed them with a few bushes of Sunpatiens for more colour. In the month since I planted them they have grown into fat, colourful bushes of about a half-metre in width and are filled with a mass of pink and magenta flowers, so lovely amongst the winter browns. By this time the sun’s rays were low on the horizon and painted the aloes with their golden light. Three Giant Bromeliads were planted apart to the right of the picture.

I also hung a bird bath on the low branch of the Sickle-bush, which collects water when I spray the area, and the White-eyes love it. A hanging basket filled with a creeper that drapes over the sides completes the picture.

I can’t wait for the Giant Bromeliads to grow and live up to their name, for the lovely creeper to reach up into the tree and adorn it with flowers, and for the Succulent Roses to cover the border to the edge of the paving. But some things are worth waiting for. By the time Nature has done it’s work here, I’ll post another pic on this blog.

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Getting Orchids to Flower


Orchid Splendour: Tips on how to get yours to bloom like this!For years, I’d been nursing the Cattleya orchids that I’d received as gifts on Mother’s Days and birthdays, but despite all my attempts at feeding, watering and pampering them, they just never flowered again.

I eventually put them outside on a shelf in a protected courtyard where they stood for perhaps a year. They grew increasingly unhappy and I noticed scale starting to grow on them.

Step 1

In desperation of losing my precious gifts, I took them all down one day, cleaned the leaves with a weak solution of dishwashing liquid and water, and wiped them down carefully.

Step 2

Then, I went in search of a tree log and dragged it into an area of dappled sunlight under some trees.

Step 3

I removed the orchids from their pots, spread out the roots and positioned them over the bark of the log. I then tied them to the log, using twine.

Step 4

Instead of watering them with one of those regular orchid feeds, I diluted the orchid feed with water in a spray bottle and sprayed all the orchids once a month using this fertilizer. The spray bottle works better than simply pouring water over them as I had done previously, because it simply runs off the plant.

I did not give them any more attention than usual, besides watering about twice a week. And SURPRISE! Look at these beautiful blooms. There is something so satisfying about growing plants and seeing them perform to their ultimate capacity. How beautiful.

Hope this helps you accomplish the same with your orchids. I’ve heard one can do the same with Cymbidiums, but I’m really no expert. Perhaps some orchid lovers could inform me better. I must just add that I’m fortunate to live in a subtropical area, so please bear this in mind when considering following my advice.

Simply useful tip, isn’t it?

Some things just go together

This blog is dedicated to useful garden and home projects that I also find aesthetically pleasing. When something in my house has no use, it absolutely has to be uber beautiful. That’s reason enough for it to be there – for me to admire and feel good about – and isn’t that useful enough?

For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed gardens – walking in them, planting up pots, adding plants to attract birds, absorbing their scents and colours, landscaping and enjoying their quiet new corners – revelling in the simple pleasures they provide, all thanks to nature.

Besides the important people in my life my other love is books. I’ll write about those too, because quiet garden corners, a cool drink in summer and a good cup of tea in winter go hand in hand.

These two things were the inspiration for starting this blog and the first project.