General News

What do NZ birds like to eat?

We often get asked about what to feed birds. So here is a bit of info from Nicole of Sisterhouse Tree Earrings, that might be useful. It is based around the birds that visit Wellington gardens but should cover most you commonly see. Tui and Bellbirds or Koromiko mainly feed on nectar from many native and introduced plant species so will feed on sugar water from bird feeders. They also eat fruit and they glean invertebrates like insects and spiders.

Wax Eyes in Perch Pendant

If Hihi or Stitchbird visit, they feed on fruits and nectar but also on invertebrates.

Silver eye or Wax eye are omnivorous and feed on fruit and berries, nectar and a wide range of insects. They visit bird feeders more than any other species in NZ, where they eat fruit and voraciously feed on fat or lard, especially in winter.

Chaffinch come to the feeders for seed, cereal and fat especially in winter. They eat bugs, aphids, beetles, moths, cicadas and spiders. Chicks are fed almost entirely on invertebrates.

Yellowhammers eat the seed from grasses and also eat invertebrates. They will feed on seeds from bird feeders.

Green finches are mainly seed and cereals but again eat some invertebrates.

House sparrows feed on seeds and cereals, fruit and buds. Again a portion of their diet are invertebrates especially for the nestlings.

For Wellingtonians lucky enough to see Kaka in the garden its best to leave them to their natural diet of grubs, berries, seeds and the nectar of kowhai, rata and flax. Feeding kaka things like cheese, cake, chocolate and biscuits can affect the chicks. Some have been found with metabolic bone disease which is thought to be caused by an unhealthy sweet diet.

You would be very lucky to see Kakariki in Wellington but the eastern rosella parakeet are around and feed on seeds, fruit, flowers, buds and invertebrates.

Fantails are omnivorous and mostly hawk for invertebrates on the wing. They sometimes come to feeders for fruit.

For the Kereru, foods include the buds, leaves, flowers and fruits of introduced and native species, I have never seen them in bird feeders.

Starlings mostly feed on earthworms, caterpillars, beetles etc but do eat fruit and nectar. They take food scraps in towns and I have seen them at the bird feeders, especially when fat balls are on offer.

Blackbird in Perch Nectar Ring Red

Blackbirds like Starlings, forage on the ground and in leaf litter eating worms, slugs and snails and other insects and spiders. They eat fruit and berries and are often in the bird feeders, usually after the fat balls, I think.

My rule of thumb is fruit and nectar for the native birds and include fat for the Wax eyes. Seeds and cereal for the introduced birds. I like to feed them all.


See the full range at SisterhouseTreeEarrings or in our shop

General News, Latest News, Locally made pottery

We have moved to Aro Street

Phew! That was close. The afternoon before the Covid-19 Lockdown we finished moving into our new place at 93a Aro St. Aro Valley.

We had to scrub, clean, paint and move the entire shop in just four days.

This picture is just some of the South Coast Collective and Verdant team near the end of the last day. All of us looking pretty tired!

Janette, Rosey, Rowan and Demelza.
Janette, Rosey, Rowan and Demelza.

🙏🙏🙏I would like to thank everyone who helped out. I am really grateful for the help we received. Thank you especially to the following:

• Rosey from Rosemary O’Hara Pottery. She has been an absolute trooper for four long days scrubbing the floors, filling in holes, painting and making sure the painting actually got done properly. It’s been physically demanding.

Rosey at the very end of the day with her Pots behind her

•Rowan from Global Wood Rework for volunteering and painting the outside of the building, dismantling and lifting.

Rowan posing and painting

•John of Capital Blinds for just turning up in between jobs and dismantling everything at the old shop; especially our temperamental sign, which for a moment there I thought we were going to have to leave behind.

•Anthea of 29 native bees & Anthea Grob Clay, for looking after the kids on Tuesday when daycare closed with no notice, and helping shift and clean at both shops.

•David and Ryan of Burns Upholstery for turning up to do a load at the last minute, when I thought we weren’t going to make it in time.

And thanks to staff;

• Demelza has been amazing over the last four days, doing everything that needed doing with no complaints.

Janette & Demelza at the end Day 1 cleaning, scrubbing and painting

• Alex for just getting stuck in and packing anything that needed packing.

• Damian (the hubby) for his support, car loads and ensuring we still got fed, even though he had his own work stuff to organise in the craziness of the last 48 hours we had notice of the Lockdown.

And lastly the SCC & Verdant Team would also like to thank the Aro Valley community. We have had many people stop by (keeping their 2 metre distance) to say hello and welcome to the neighbourhood. That has really kept us going and feeling positive in these very trying times!

I am truely grateful and overwhelmed by the help and support. – Janette

Here’s what we did manage to set up:

The table we managed to set up before Lockdown
Eco Interiors, Interiors, organic fabric

New Zealand designed fabrics

Did you know that we have a large selection of New Zealand and even Wellington designed fabrics?

Anthea one of our potters is also a fabric designer. We have a few of her fabrics and homewares in store.

They are all made with organic and hemp fabrics!

One of the few NZ fabric houses that we regular source from is Hemptech. They regularly engage NZ and Australian artists to design fabrics for them. The result is a lovely cohesive and timeless range that stands the test of time. One of the best things is the designs are all printed here in NZ on 100% Eco Linen – mostly grown and woven in Belgium where the worlds best quality linen comes from.

Eco Linen is ecological due to the way it is grown and processed. Linen requires very minimal pesticides and fertilisers and requires no extra irrigation. When the fibre is processed, it is dew retted. Meaning they harvest the linen and leave it on the ground for the fibre to be ‘rotted’ out of the leaf. This usually takes weeks rather than days for this process to occur. Cheaper linens on the market quicken this process by using chemicals.

What do you think? I think we certainly have some talented designers within our shores!

You can view samples of all of these fabrics in our shop. Or we are slowly adding them to the Verdant Living website.


Eco Stationery

Excuses to purchase that beautiful washi tape

Japanese washi tapes by independant designers
Shunshun washi tape used to identify a WiFi remote and school pencil-case items

What is washi tape and why is it eco?

We have washi tape from Japan by independent designers in the shop. We love to support other independent artisans and washi tape is a great excuse to have a little art by a top designer for a very small expense. We currently have some by Aiko Fukawa, Mina Perhonan, Sobyou is Drawing brands etc. Washi tape is more eco choice because  it is made from washi paper rather than being made by an non-biodegradable plastic. Japan is blessed with the ideal plants for paper making (kozo, gampi or mitsumata) these fibres make strong and flexible paper and it is this that the tape is made, along with a latex rubber backing.  I think that is some kind of internet auto translation error has people thinking it is made from  rice plants. In fact the name washi comes from wa meaning Japanese and shi meaning paper. Most of ours is MT made by the Kamoi Kakoshi company.


Washi tape uses:

Identify your things 

In my household probably the top use of washi tape is identifying our stuff. All the  our pencils and pens along with rulers, pencil sharpeners, set squares, as well the snapper cards, USB chargers, drink bottles, laptop chargers, and laptops, folders, all get a get a the washi tape treatment. Sometimes we write our names onto the washi tape because it is an easy surface to write on. Often the tape itself is enough to tell us, that yes that pen is our one, or that folder in a group of folders. Unusual washi designs can be a signature style. You could even identify intercom numbers, or dorm door with it, it is low tack so it isn’t permanent. In a house-hold one child’s library cards etc could have their pick of a washi tape design, other children’s another. Plus, it an easy way to be a bit crafty.


A slick of washi tape with a matching pattern and you’ll have less trouble identifying which remote goes with which device 

A swatch of matching washi tape on each item can tell you at a glance which charger goes with what, use this technique for phone cahrgers, camera chargers, laptops and WiFi devices.

Make things standout

The most needed key on a key ring, the key you are lending to a friend,  the key you always get confused with the other one, can each have a different washi label, or the design that links to its purpose.

Craft and re-purpose and fix things with it

Washi tape can make a recyled can look cute for all sorts of purposes, it can disguise a ding, it is of course tape so it can fix things back together. 

Decorate with it

Use it as tape and embrace your colourful side. The tape has a low tack so you can tape photos to the wall with out damaging anything. It is often used as temporary wall art. The internet has hundreds of ideas on this from personalising your sunglasses to re-jooshing old tables. I have borrowed this idea when sending items based on the enjoyment I get when receiving parcels from Japan, which often use brown manilla paper with contrasting washi designs to seal them, often two of three different pieces together for a little visual kick.

Shun SHun DesignsFrance and Rain
Handmade Green Tea Cups
Interiors, Locally made pottery, NZ Wool, Organic Adults Clothing, Organic Adults Clothing'

Fathers day, 1st September

Fathers Day 1st September.

You might assume that South Coast Collective is a woman’s shopping delight, but we have heaps at Sth Coast Collective to make it easy to find a gift for the Dad in your life.

The handmade ceramics from Anthea Grob and Rosemary O’Hara are produced with zero waste and renewable energy. All our fabrics are organic cotton, hemp and linen, screen printed, or NZ Wool.

Here’s some Fathers day gift ideas:

double sized wraps with ties 3
organic fabric

Cloth Wraps with Ties, attractive and reusable.

A shout out to Wrappers Delight for sharing her video of easy ways to use these wraps with ties.

Inspired by Wrappers Delight & the art of Bojagi, we have made some of these wraps with attached ribbon ties for you to come in to South Coast Collective and have a play with.

If you don’t have a large enough piece of your favourite remnant for the furoshiki style of wrapping,  if you are challenged by knots (some of us just are), or if you want a wrap that is more suitable for small parcels, then you’ll enjoy this style of gift wrapping.   If you would like to sew up  your own out of organic cotton linen and hemp, come and check out the wide range of  remnants that Verdant Living has in store.

General News, Latest News, organic fabric

Furoshiki and Bojagi Cloth Wrapping and Japanese Paper Balloons for Plastic-Free-July

An awful lot of wrapping paper gets immediately trashed, and a lot of it contains plastics. A furoshiki cloth can be used for elegantly presenting a wide variety of sizes and shapes of gifts for many years, or whipped out and turned into a carry bag, in seconds. Many of us have heard of this cloth  wrapping tradition, but who knew it was so easy and fun. South Coast Collective team have become real enthusiasts of this traditional and eminently sensible practice.

There are a lot of plastic balloons that end up in the landfill and the ocean which become a threat to  ocean wildlife, chock-able and tangle-able. For plastic free July we have sourced from the only remaining manufacturer of these in Japan, colourful, re-useable paper balloons, that you blow up with a straw.

On any weekend in July, South Coast Collective are inviting the public to a free demonstration, of how to practice this traditional re-useable gift wrapping and instant carry-bag making. We will have a variety of cloths on hand, one of our team will demonstrate.  There will be a table for you to practice on and an instruction sheet for you to take away to practice and try out other wrapping ideas.

We’re open 9.30 to 4 Saturday and 10 to 1 on Sundays. Come in and learn the art of bag making and gift wrapping with a simple square of cloth, and never look back! All you need to make this change is a square of non slippery cloth (preferably organic cotton of course!)  and the know how to do one or two simple knots.

Locally made pottery, Recipes

Terracotta Baking Dishes

Pottery by Rosemary O’Hara

Terracotta ‘claypot’ Cooking has a long history across cultures and time. I was inspired originally in the 1980’s by the popular ‘chicken bricks’ being made by NZ potters at the time and by the imported European ‘Rommertopf’ dishes available in dept stores.

I have a few photos of my production process-there is no rushing the making of a press molded lidded cooking dish!

The dishes are quite versatile in the style of cooking the different foods and the speed you want to cook at. Included is one of my favourite recipes : Morrocan Lemon Olive Chicken. 

 Cooking in terracotta stretches way back to the earliest times of settled human communities. In spite of the development of glazes and metal smelting, almost every culture that has available clay has continued a claypot cooking tradition of one sort or another. That’s because the food cooked in unglazed ceramic holds its moisture, and tastes better. Add to that, clay cookware doesn’t require mining, nor high tech – high energy use to manufacture it, and you don’t have to worry about metals oxidising in your food.

I have been making these baking dishes, aka ‘Chicken Bricks’, or ‘Rommertopf’s  on and off since the mid 1980’s. I came across the German ‘Rommertopf’ in Kirkaldies, early on in my potting career, and decided to have try my hand at a more attractive design. After a couple of incarnations I realised they would be best reproduced from a mold. I set about throwing a very large egg for a mold maker to take castings from.  The first mold was successful but many people thought it was too small. I threw and even bigger egg and commissioned another mold to be made.

Occasionally  I come across someone  who has been using one for 30 years or so, and agrees with me that it gets better and better over time. They can be used for cooking anything, it doesn’t have to be chicken and it doesn’t have to be meat.

Making the Chicken Bricks

My terracotta lidded baking dishes are made individually in my 2 press molds.  Each base made only fits its own lid; the 2 pieces are carefully fitted together and dried slowly over a week or two. the making process happens over 3 days.  The designs are painted on so that you can easily see which way the lid fits. The entire hands-on process takes about 3 hours per dish, from wedging and rolling the slabs of clay to the final sanding and washing after firing.

How to use the dishes

The dishes are versatile in their use.  You can use it like a conventional casserole dish and cook your mix of veges/meat in a stock. You can adapt tagine recipes- the terracotta baking dish operates a lot like a tagine in the oven.

You can soak the dish and lid in water for 15 to 30 mins and place your food in with seasonings herbs etc, but no extra liquid. There will be enough moisture retained inside the dish cavity from the steaming from moisture in the walls of the pot, to result in a rich shallow stock inside.

You can finish off cooking with the lid off if you want to reduce liquid and brown the meat more.

You can cook your food very slowly, say 100 degree C for 3 hours, or cooler than that for longer.

You use a hot oven and cook at 180 or 200 C if you’re in a hurry. Any of the ways, the food will be much more moist, more tender and much more tasty than  if it had been cooked in a regular oven pan or, heaven forbid, a roasting bag.

Whatever method you use, you will need less liquid than you are used to with conventional cookware. Allow a little longer- add on 20- 25% cooking time because the food is steaming for at least the first part of the cooking. Almost all the steam is retained in the dish, so as juices come out of the food they add to the stock (and the flavour) rather than get evaporated. 

Because the walls of the terracotta dish are porous you don’t want to clean it with soap or detergent. It will come clean easily with a soak in hot water. Give it a scrub and dry it thoroughly. Putting it back in the oven for 20 mins or so to dry it completely works well, if you don’t have an airy place  warm place in the kitchen to store it. I keep mine on top of our wood burner.


Rosemary O'Hara Chicken Bricks
Some of Rosemary’s Beautiful Chicken Bricks


Chicken, Olive and Preserved Lemon tagine.

A favourite chicken dish of mine is adapted from the’ Australian Women’s Weekly Moroccan & North Africa Recipes’ collection:

Quantities here are for 16 pieces, including drumsticks, though you could adapt this for a whole chicken. I find the spice measurements are conservative for this amount of chicken- I usually halve the chilli and double the other spices, especially if they are not so fresh., and you may need to mix a bit more of the flour coating mix. Serve it with rice or baked vegetables.

8 pieces of chicken and 8 drumsticks

1 tin of chickpeas

2Tbsp plain flour

2 tsp hot paprika

40g butter

 2 med red onions sliced thickly

3 cloves of garlic minced

1 tsp cumin seeds ½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp grd coriander

¼ tsp saffron threads

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tsp gr. ginger

Enough chicken or vegetable stock to bring liquid to ½ way up the inside of the base

2 Tbsp preserved lemon finely sliced

½ cup green olives

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander.

Turn the oven on to 140/160 degree C with the fan on.

Mix the flour and paprika in a re-useable lidded container and shake with the chicken pieces one at a time to coat them. Mix up a bit more if these is not enough to coat the whole lot.

Melt the butter in a pot on the stove top to brown the outside of  the chicken pieces. Take them out and cook the onion in the same dish till softened. Add the spices and stir till fragrant.

Place chicken, onions and spices in the dish, then add enough stock to ½ fill the base part dish. Cook in the oven for 30-40 mins.

Add the drained chickpeas and cook for further 30 mins.

Remove tagine from the oven and add lemon, olives and fresh coriander stir through and serve with rice.