It’s a little ironic, given that I can’t actually drink wine at the moment, that I spent most of this weekend eyeing up wine barrels. Painting them, planting them, tying ribbons on the jolly things… they’re my new favourite garden accessory.

In my city garden, I had four big box balls in red painted wine barrels, with a fringe of mondo grass, parked just inside the front gate. Now those clipped buxus balls have had a green and white makeover. They’re in dark green wine barrels, underplanted with white annual petunias and white scaevolas with pale pink ‘Bubblegum Blush’ petunias around them. I plonked them along the edge of the wildflowers, where one day (but not this week) we’ll have a rock wall. (The rocks are all in a big pile in the paddock, waiting for the Hunk to get his leg out of plaster and his Achilles tendon back in action. A job for 2012, perhaps.)

I like the effect of big chunky wine barrels dotted about the garden, so I went a little silly and bought another eight whole barrels and five half barrels off Trade Me. The eight whole barrels are the perfect height to double as outdoor bar leaners with a big sun umbrella from Briscoes in each. They look pretty swanky, even if I do say so myself. Mind you, it took me about an hour to sew the strip of bunting around the base of the plain green canvas umbrella. (That was half an hour to sew most of it on, then another half an hour on the phone to Mum so she could explain how to rethread the bobbin in her sewing machine when the cotton ran out. Mental note to self: I must learn to sew. I haven’t sat at a sewing machine since high school home economics classes!)

In the half wine barrels, I’ve planted trailing annual petunias and small-flowered perennial petunias (also known as calibrachoas), ‘Polly’ daisies and impatiens. And, for the entrance to the marquee (and to stop the kids tripping over the guy ropes – small feet are somehow magnetically attracted to guy ropes), I’ve got a pair of half wine barrels with green painted metal obelisks clothed in climbing subtropical Mandevilla ‘White Fantasy’ flanked with the heavenly scented Gardenia ‘Fragrant Star’. That’s if they’re still flowering. My six potted Murraya paniculata – you ain’t smelled nothing until you’ve sniffed this shrub’s gorgeous citrusy scent – finished flowering this week. Ah well, you can’t win ’em all.