The Parrot Flower Power

April 9, 2014

I was recently asked to review this cute little device, the Parrot Flower Power. Flower Power is a wireless device which feeds information about your plant(s) via low-energy Bluetooth to your smartphone. You can move the device around and monitor a number of plants, or you can keep it in the one position and constantly monitor the one plant.

The Flower Power runs on a AAA battery (which should last 6 months) and once that has been inserted into the device, stick the Flower Power in the ground just in front of the plant to be monitored. Then you just need to download the Flower Power app to your smartphone (currently the app is only available for iPhone, with an Android app coming shortly) and get started by choosing which plant to monitor from the plant library of 7,000 plants. Select your plant and then allow the Flower Power to monitor your plant for an initial 24 hours. We had moved a lime tree from a pot to the ground and were curious to see how well it was faring, so testing the Flower Power out on that tree seemed a good choice.

Once the Flower Power has had time to collect data, it will provide you with a summary of things that need attention. As you can see, after the first initial 24 hours of monitoring our lime tree was reported as needing more fertiliser and sunlight (cloudy days will affect the sunlight reading), but the water and temperature levels were OK. Items coloured green have a status of 'OK' while those coloured orange need attention.

After adding fertiliser and a sunnier day, you can see that all the levels for the lime tree were reported as being 'OK'.  Too easy.
    The Flower Power is a great device and really makes caring for a plant so easy. At first I thought it sounded quite complicated, but I'm impressed with how simple it and the app are to use, and am keen to now move it around and get health reports on some of the other plants in the garden. Overall, I think this is an awesome little gadget to have if you like having a garden but aren't so great at actually keeping it alive.

    The Parrot Flower Power retails for $79.95 and a list of retailers can be found here.

    I received the Parrot Flower Power in exchange for a review, but all opinions expressed above are my own.

    The Lower Deck: Before The Stain

    April 4, 2014

    I found a couple of pictures on my phone of the lower deck with the new pool edging before it was stained (again). I sometimes post projects and leave out the part that people may want to see, like how the deck looked once it was re-built, in it's raw state, so I'm trying to remember to include these details from now on. I also think this may have been what you meant Katja when you commented that you wanted to see some 'before' pictures? So although they are not super close-up, I hope this gives anyone wanting to do a deck like this an idea of how it can be done.

    I should mention that we used treated pine for the edging and decking boards, which is not the norm. Merbau is by far the most popular choice of decking timber here but because we were going to be staining the deck, it made no sense to buy a beautiful timber like Merbau and cover it in stain (although you can if you want to - the upper deck has Merbau decking and we have stained that, but it is much older and will likely need replacing in a few years).

    If you are interested to know how the round edging was achieved with timber, each piece of timber which formed the edging (when I say edging I mean the piece of timber between the water and the decking boards) had a series of cuts made on one side which allowed the timber piece to bend - this is known as kerfing. These pieces where then placed around the edge of the pool to form the edging. Once this was complete, the decking boards were laid on top, and then these were cut to the shape of the pool. 

    If you're in Melbourne and looking to build (or re-build!) a deck, I'm happy to pass on the name of the carpenter we used - just send me an email.

    The Pool & Lower Deck: Making Things Right

    March 23, 2014

    When we first had the deck which surrounds the pool installed, it was done so under the expectation that the edging would be timber, just like the deck.  To cut a long story short, it wasn't and we had to use an alternative method to edge the pool.  Our solution was to use a garden edging product as it was the only thing we could find which was flexible enough to bend around with the curve of the pool, and which came in grey and was water resistant/UV treated.  You can see a close-up picture of how it looked in this post. A year later and the edging wasn't looking so great so we decided after much debate that the only thing to do was try and find someone who could do the edging in timber.

    We did finally find someone who specialises in decks to fix the deck but this meant ripping up about two thirds of the deck and re-doing it.  Not ideal, but it really was worth the extra expense as now it looks great and like it was meant to from the start. It also meant the whole deck had to be re-stained again and while it was a lot of work to make the deck look exactly like it did before, at least now we know it has been done properly.

    I'm half embarrassed and half amused when I look back at my first deck decorating attempt - so much stuff, so fussy and placed just so...So I got rid of 90% of that stuff (keeping only the black and white striped cushions, just not in use here) and have kept things more laidback and simple. Seriously, who needs to be cleaning bugs and rainwater out of tealights and candles?

    The only thing I did do was add some inexpensive solar lights to the base of some our plants on the deck and in the garden, and they really add a little extra atmosphere. I bought these solar lights from Masters but you can get them pretty much anywhere these days for next to nothing.

    We still have some planting to do around the perimeter of the lower deck as it still looks a bit boxy and bare, so the next job to completely finish off the area is to decide a design for a garden bed in that area and the plants which will go there. We also need to get some hooks so we can attach the pool vacuum and leaf scooper to the side of the fence for easy access (and to hide them), instead of leaving them laying out on the deck. So not a huge visual change out there, but so much better.

    In This Post:
    Pool - Classic Pools Majestic 5.5m Salt Water Round
    Pool Fence - ARC Fencing 'Eden' in black
    Stain colour - 'Blackburn' (Cabot's Deck & Exterior Stain)
    Sun Lounges - Ray's Outdoor (2013 range)
    Side Table - IKEA (2013 range)
    Deck Plants - Strelitzia Nicolai, Yucca
    Solar Lights - Masters