‘Planty Fierce’ Saturday week, 29th April don’t miss it !

Peter Nixon’s ‘Sea-Changer’ for Paradisus at Forresters Beach – Dichorisandra’s Blue Ginger heads popping with Alocasia mafafa ‘Lime Zinger’ against pink puffs of Calliandra haematocephala

So much ‘Planty Fierce’ for you on Saturday week 29th April …

Start at any of these three fabulous Central Coast gardens only 20 mins apart, bursting with designer inspiration made by industry horticulturists. These are their own home gardens, where they have really been able to let it rip in mining the rich vein of warm temperate coastal plant selection. As SMH gardening contributor Robin Powell covered on Easter Saturday .. for Spectrum

David Fripp & Blake Jolley’s ‘Living Edge’ at Peats Ridge,  with sculptural Agave sp. with A. gypsophila & Achmea bracteata
Belle guarding the ‘Paradox’ welcome garden by sun bromeliad specialist Ray Henderson with Portmea ‘Joe’ flushing into spike

Address details & lunch suggestions from the ‘Planty Fierce’ FB Event page  Its a great garden day out of Sydney with exciting plant sales for your own garden at every destination,so bring plenty of boxes as you’ll be sorely tempted ! Peter Nixon with give a “walk & talk” at ‘Sea-Changer’ at 2pm and $5 entry at each garden, (no doggies please). Event map shown at.. Sea Changer Map – 2017

Su’s Neem Oil fixerupper .. !

Scale & mealy bug affected Citrus at Su’s

Get NEEM on your team …

Welcome to high summer and all its attendant pests and disease that can really spoil your gardening fun. I don’t often make product suggestions but Su Trathen has found Neem oil in her Balgowlah garden, to be an effective drench or foliar spray against  sap sucking insects and maybe even those pesky Stink Bugs, that can commandeer your best citrus in a few hot weeks.  Also effective against similar scaly attacks on orchids and especially patio pots like lush philodendron & spathiphyllum, susceptible to attack on dry foliage within overhanging eves or shade sails.

Clean citrus foliage within 9 days of application !

Its often the price we pay for a short summer holiday away, returning home to horrid plants looking a sticky mess.  Try Neem as a quick and easy way to restore them to good health !!  


Early Summer Fire

Quisqualis pseudomusiendifolia 'Red Riot'
Quisqualis pseudomussiendifolia ‘Red Riot’Identity crisis ..

Identity crisis ..

That’s what some plants suffer when viewed from a distance. And red, being so conspicuous always catches the eye. Just another poinsettia ….. in December ? Wait a MINUTE ! A poinsettia with a strangely lax habit and the inflo’s not terminal on branch ends  …. THAT is no poinsettia, that is a Quisqualis pseudomussiendifolia ‘Red Riot’ of course it is ..!

Now, some you will know Quisqualis from its cousin the Rangoon Creeper but this is less a climber or a shrub and really more a climber/shrub.  So useful to lean over fencing for its bower habit. If planted out as part of a mixed shrub combination in a west facing aspect like mine here at “Sea-Changer”, its open habit will probably reach 2 to 3m and the more heat the better.

As for the “flowers”, like the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) the showy “petals” are really modified leaves. You can see the tiny flower tubes opening white from the centre of each bract cluster. Beautiful seen from above viewed from decks or step out patios and makes a thrilling blaze against the dark glossy greens of viburnum odouritissimum, gardenia, michelia figo, rothmania or posoqueria the Sth American Needle Bush.              

Busy Bees & Warm Bulbs

Its always good to keep in touch with owners, because there’s always something to be learnt from a new garden and even more as it gains “weight” across successive seasons. 

Hippeastrum striatum, easy spring flowering refined version of their larger more flamboyant "stripy" cousins
Hippeastrum striatum, easy spring flowering refined version of their larger more flamboyant “stripy” cousins

Calling in at Susan & John Trathen’s Balgowlah garden last week, I was reminded how easy the Sth American hippeastrum species are for us in coastal Sydney. Its possible, as in Su’s case, how just a bulb or two of say Hippeastrum striatum can quietly increase or a few years and look so good near a water source. 

Hippeastrum calyptratum, the seductively appealing "green hippeastrum"
Hippeastrum calyptratum, the seductively appealing “green hippeastrum”

Probably because this tribe is often found in habitat near creeks or rivers, in shady micro climates, building slowly in rock crevices or even in trees as epiphytes if the conditions are right. Providing drainage is assured, most adapt very well to garden conditions grown as a terrestrial, like this interesting green, May  flowering relative H. calyptratum here at my “Sea-Changer” Forresters Beach.

Veltheimia bracteata, a beautiful late winter Sth African even in dry shade pine needles
Veltheimia bracteata, a beautiful late winter Sth African even in dry shade pine needles

Another steady performer that Su & John have succeeded with, is Veltheimia that dies down in the heat to re-emerge around easter to flower late July and August. Especially commendable in Su’s case, this clump started as very small tube sized plants; such is the perseverance of so many women gardeners with the right nurturing approach to garden making …. so proud  of you Su !!     

IMG_7521 IMG_7520

Native & solitary bee hives
Native & solitary bee hives

 I also noticed John & Su have added a Sugar Bag Native Bee Hive Box to encourage and house the much tinier, glossy black native bees into the garden. Even hoping this season to attract the native solitary bees who prefer singular accommodation in one of the tubular homes in a covered hive stack. Interesting huh …. Maybe you could think about encouraging some more nature to your garden this season too .. !           




Sub-tropical New Zealand

Heliconia bourgaeana, Russell Fransham's Matapouri Bay garden New Zealand
Heliconia bourgaeana, Russell Fransham’s Matapouri Bay garden New Zealand

Fellow Designer Russell Fransham at Matapouiri Bay, just north of Whangarei in New Zealand’s north island,

…where I found myself wandering around an impressive home garden of some 20 years or so. Interesting to see a few of the cool tollerant ginger family in heliconias like H. bourgaeana (shown beneath), H. subulata cv Thaysiana and H. tortuosa ‘Red Twist’ all flowering very well. I find the easy occurance of these in Russell’s garden very encouraging for us Australia’s east coast where minimum winter overnights would rarely descend beneath 7 or 8 degrees, against the Bay of Islands cooler 2 degrees and less.  

A nice smaller clumping palm in Dypsis baronii, (like a better version of Golden Cane Palm) combined well with bromeliads like Canistropsis billbergioides cv. Citron. and a lot of interesting tillandsia and vriesea aside from many spectacular flowering shrubs in Brugmansia hybrids & species like B. sanguinea.  






South American Bulb That Grows on Rock

IMG_2449Flowering bulbs are often associated with a cool temperate climate, did you know there are many interesting easy to grow bulbs better suited to Australian east coast growing conditions that love higher humidity and our wet summers? Hippeastrum aulicum actually grows on trees, in rock crevices or among rocks as in this Paradisus garden for John & Susan Trathen’s Balgowlah garden. Maybe there’s a sheltered spot for some of these swish Sth American flowers hippeastrum species, to add late Autumn colour to your garden too ..         


Seachanger forges on… here in my new garden

Revealing times at Seachanger

… and as you can see, quite a view now of the rotary hoist and bedroom window next door across the northern boundary fence.

On the look out for good flowering screen shrubs to around 3.5m that will remain non-transparent from ground level to conceal the fence again but soooo many I could be using.


Tibouchina sp.
Tibouchina sp.

What do you think, the freshness of this Tibouchina sp. an abundance of high summer amethyst Rotheca serrata or Holmskioldia sanguinea lutea the Golden Mexican Hat in cascades of late summer chartreuse… ? DECISIONS !!!!

Rothea serrata (left), Holmskioldia sanguinea lutea
Rothea serrata (left), Holmskioldia sanguinea lutea

Also, I saw this excellent Day Bed Canopy call the Nest designed by Steve Warner of Outhouse Design at Grand Designs…

Steve Warner's "The Nest"
Steve Warner’s “The Nest”

Perfect for the Winter Sun Trap space… should I ? should I !!!