Cool Sub-tropics gardening – see Sydney gardens at their best !!!

‘Clifton’ Hunters Hill … an 1890 mansion & garden

Garden Lovers, hoping you will join me at beautiful ‘Clifton’ in Hunters Hill for a Masterclass on cool subtropics planting to suit our coastal    Sydney gardens.

Felicity McCaffery, owner of ‘Clifton’ and Hunters Hill Open Gardens Convenor, has agreed to host my talk to shed further light across the dazzling array of planting bandwidth that fits between our cool subtropical goal posts.

‘Clifton’ balustrade serpentine of hydrangea

See a 40 minute keynote presentation with 20 minutes for questions, of a selection of my Sydney designs and the current home work garden ’Sea-Changer’ at Forresters Beach, Central Coast, on how to make a better garden in warm temperate, coastal, frost free growing conditions.

Cycads flank the facing entry to ‘Clifton’

Find out more about what cool sub-tropics gardening is and the exciting plants you could be growing that are a fit to our brief winters and long sultry, thunder storm filled summers to make your garden great again. Part Wendy Whiteley’s garden at Lavender Bay, expanded into seasonal colour blasts, year round textural contrasts, low maintenance and next to nil predation.

The Masterclass includes a cool subtropics mini tube plant to try at home, plus free admission to my         ‘Sea-Changer’ garden on Saturday 4th May 10am – 2pm, 21 Lavinia Street, Forresters Beach.

Hippeastrum hybrids at “Clifton’

Limited numbers for this exciting talk and something to look forward to after Easter Holidays!! To hold the event Felicity and I need to get an idea on numbers. To show your interest in attending, please click on the ‘leave a comment’ field at the bottom left of this post. 

WHERE: ‘Clifton’ 7 Woolwich Road, Hunters Hill

WHO: Garden Designer Peter Nixon – Paradisus

WHEN: 10am – 11.30am, Wednesday 1st May ’19

RSVP: to show you’d like to attend Friday 1st March

COST: $25 pp at the door

BENEFICIARY: L’Arche 4 Australia  

 

             

You can never have too much useful summer shade …

Make yours … Shade Hut supreme

Useful summer shade in Australian gardens is a must have … if we are going to enjoy them … right ? So if your Shade Hut faces north, you will also know low winter sun will shine under its roofing and to the back of the structure to make toasty winter seating for June/July when you need it. You might like to choose a hefty permanent climber, to ensure a nice cool high summer refuge, that’s spared burning sun for the greatest part of the year … no?

African Whytei’s Ginger Vine – Mondia whytei         photo: Nicola Dawson

Enter African Whytei’s Ginger (Mondia whytei) from sub-tropical Malawi and its luxurious glossy canopy, perfect for shade. Beneath the leaves open to easy view, hang dark cherry bunches of rather ornamental December flowers. Tends semi deciduous for the first couple of winters and fairly evergreen after that, with surging ropey leaders that would easily cover a 10 m wide structure. 

Juanaloa aurantiaca – Gold Fingers

For a smaller Shade Hut less than 5 meters across but still facing north, consider gorgeously sci-fi Gold Fingers (Juanaloa aurantiaca) from tropical Mexico. Usefully winter deciduous to allow June/July sun through, the stiffly arching habit is more climber/shrub than an entirely support dependent climber. Woody stems bare terminal bunches of curiously 5 sided hoods, concealing jaffa orange flower tubes that burst through each end. The slightest tap on the hoods release puffs of pollen and I notice there must be a symbiosis with a few ants that probably defend flowers from predators in return for nectar.

Senicio confusus – Mexican Fire Vine

And at the small evergreen twiner end is Mexican Fire Vine (Senicio confusus ) a bright, dainty light creeper that I find useful for covering one end of the laser cut panel that holds the Shade Hut’s N/W side up. Very butterfly attracting, I notice this would probably self seed a few little plants to give away to friends for its charming ultra orange summer daisies.

So if you’re finding more use would be made of the garden, if only there were somewhere comfortable to relax out of the fierce sun; I’m sure together, we could work out the perfect Shade Hut to make your dream garden even better 🙂 

Peter Nixon – Paradisus  … or call 0418 161513

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‘Sea-Changer’ treasures for your garden ..

Love your garden ….plant for your growing conditions ! Burst of metallic purple Strobilanthus dyerianus – Persian Shield across ‘Sea-Changer’s’ Entry Garden

Select plants to suit your garden’s growing conditions and let them do most of the heavy lifting for you. That’s always been my message to you Garden Lovers and really nothing’s changed. What changes all the time is the kaleidoscopic expansion of interesting planting to make gardens from across the Designer Growers Network. These are my go to Growers to kick planting winners between the cool sub-tropics goal posts we garden in.

Micro-climate gardening of minimum winter overnight temp’s not falling beneath 5 or 6 degrees, modified by close proximity to the harbour/ocean. Cool subtropics could have a brief dry winter but these days, rain could come at any time, so plant selection that will tolerate cool and wet conditions during the June/July period is a consideration. Elevated humidity levels above 70% between Xmas and April with persistent high summer temps above 35 degrees, with a dry spring is also very likely between September and December.   

Alcantarea patriae flowering scape bracts, from one of Mark Paul’s Brazilian Adventures picking up nicely against intergeneric hybrid, Ruttyruspolia ‘Phyllis Van Heerden’

And its not always flowers that bring interest. Don’t forget other parts of plants  that can catch the eye just as well. One of the most conspicuous of the Giant Landscape Bromeliads, Alcantarea patriae   has flower scape bracts of bright raspberry shades.

Euphorbia poysean Thai Hybrid has persistently colourful bracts that long out last the tiny centralised flowers

Some ‘flowers’ are really persistent bracts that surround the tiny central inflorescences. Very deserving of that unirrigated hot spot facing west, in-fact I don’t think mine have fallen out of flower since planting 4 years ago !

Cool sub-tropics support beautiful textural contrasts to bring interest also. The perfect radial of this Alcantarea extensa rosette, pops well against mini clouds of Ruellia rosae & Bellaperone guttata dwarf form
Clerodendron incisum, the Musical Note just catch the eye because they can !

Probably at the edge of the cool subtropical range, Musical Note- Clerodendron incisum, has an inflorescence so eye catching its hardly possible to miss it. Useful as a front of the border sub-shrub to less than 1m, its lacy charms are a high summer delight.

There’s just a suggestion ‘Sea-Changer’ MAY open again this year for ‘Planty Fierce’. Stay tuned for more information on this and in the meantime, consider making contact if you, your bestie since primary school, your 20 years long work colleague or brother is making changes at home. Whether a new house build, major reno or simply an upgrade to the front of rear garden space,  NOW is the time to make it known, so works can complete way before the Xmas deadline.

Peter Nixon – Paradisus www.peternixon.com.au  0418 161513 

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Mirror updated

Lush summer growth for the mirror surround

Coming into its first proper season, lush high summer growth is beginning to merge with this garden mirror. In time, viburnum foliage flanking both sides will obscure the vertical glass edges and the top edge will be wreathed in Madagascan Jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda).

Richly scented Madagascan Jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda) will conceal rear fence & wreath across the top horizontal mirror edge
To avoid reflecting the roof tiles, the mirror is declined from the top and inclined from the left side, to reflect the illusion of another light filled garden space from the house step out view
Mirrors but no smoke …
Lime green textures cool the house view to garden space
Even a small space can be leveraged with the right planting & retractible awning, into a shaded & restful space to come home to every day

Make 2019 be the year your garden transforms into the living refuge you’ve always wanted !! 

Special thanks to Tansi McInerney for generously allowing Paradisus design images of her Mosman garden to be published on Garden Lovers Blog 🙂 Tansi McInerney for Prime Minister.  

Peter Nixon for Paradisus www.peternixon.com.au & 0418 161513 info@peternixon.com.au 

    

Somewhere to be …

Somewhere to be mindless… without thoughts

Have you got somewhere you have to be ? … is probably one of the most often asked questions from others or we ask of ourselves. Usually requires a quick response, wedged between appointments, paying bills and the weekly shop. When applied to our mental heath, slower consideration can bring us to a less clear idea of whether a place exists for us … just ‘to be’.

Gardens are much more than pretty infill of the step out void surrounding dwellings. I believe parts of them can be dedicated to quiet places, that let in the light of an uncluttered peace. This time of year can bring us closer to more frequent mental health breaks in the garden, when its easier to detach in the warm haze of a summer’s evening to the pulsing drone of cicadas, before the ferocity of an impending year carries us off at much faster pace.

Texture patch as meditation

If you’re thinking of making changes in the garden, are grappling with a renovation or even a new build, don’t forget consideration of a meditation space. For you to sit and let go, without the need for planning it. A sort of drop in spot, for a minute or ten or longer … And if this is something you would like to bring into the existing garden now, (well, why not ?), I’d love to help you !  … Enjoy your summer 🙂

Peter Nixon – Paradisus www.peternixon.com.au   0418 161513

Special thanks to Tania & Paul Wilson for generously allowing content of her Paradisus design                  

Inner City lush ..

Lush textures & foliage colours meet ground floor house sight lines

Shady relief from high summer heat.. to enter a place that’s visually cool is what this inner city court garden is all about. Uses Madagascan Felt Plant (Kalanchoe beharensis) with bromeliads (Aechmea comata foreground & Vriesea fillipo-cobergi ‘L’il Phil’ background) with Iresine herbstii left side.    

Hot reflective surfaces and harsh visual ‘bounce back’ from the built environment of the inner city, can make such places hard to find. That’s why we must make our own.

Heroic giant landscape bromeliads (alcantarea) pushing into flower, with companion pentas & ruellia,  Kurrajong (Brachychiton rupestrus with bidwillii X acerifolia ‘Tangerine Bells’ grafted hybrid) right side for future summer shade

Open to the northern from the street end, it’s good to get shady relief from a tree canopy for twin step out spaces from respective Living & Kitchen.

Kurrajong (Brachychiton rupestris trunk with B. bidwillii ‘Little Ripper’ from master hybridiser Brent Verietz at Colours of Eden Nursery)

Beware though, to match vigour to available space or the welcome dappled shade you had in mind might turn into a monstrous maintenance burden that will swamp your small space ! Brachychiton or  Kurrajongs are a beautiful tribe of natives adapted to the wet or dry sub-tropics. Vibrant early summer flowers cover almost leafless branches, followed by a lush canopy just in time for summer shade. Even though a relatively small grower compared to other species, B. bidwillii is made even more compact by grafting its ‘Little Ripper’ or ‘Tangerine Bells’ hybrid onto a QLD Bottle Tree (B. rupestrus) trunk.. 😮 Being winter deciduous, bare stems then also allow weaker, low angled sun to warm your back on days when that’s that’s really appreciated with your Saturday morning cuppa.

Conceal block wall with Grow Cable supported Costa Rican Bow Tie Vine (Dalechampia aristolochiifolia)

Provide a ‘green-back’ for all to read against with a cascading cover of Grow cable supported Costa Rican Bow Tie Vine, that will soon be speckled with rosy mauve metallic flower bracts and your inner city heat refuge is complete.

Costa Rican Bow Tie Vine (Dalechampia aristolochiifolia) flower bract detail

Perhaps your sister, friend you went to primary school with or twenty years long work colleague is facing the exciting but sometimes daunting prospect of home renovation, a new build or just wants to transform a section of the garden that’s been on their ‘to do list’ for longer than they can remember .. ?

Ask them to make contact at info@peternixon.com.au or 0418 161513 or head over to www.peternixon.com.au …. just to have a chat about how all their pain could be taken away and transformed into a daily Paradisus 🙂

Cocktail Court a place to relax

Special thanks to Lindy Ryan for allowing pix of her Paradisus design to be published on Garden Lovers 

  

     

 

        

 

 

  

Xmas Beachy is soon ..

 

Seaside fresh .. Copper Spoons (kalanchoe orgyalis), Coastal Poa (Poa ‘Eskdale’) with Madagascan Felt Plant (Kalanchoe beharensis)

Late December & a beachside Xmas are things that go together for a lot of Australians. A salty marine breeze with the drowsy drone of cicadas, bring on the great exhale. A chance for most of us to turn an undivided attention to beach umbrellas and a glassy clear wave to wash away the years that’s been.

High contrast Opuntia ‘Burbanks Spineless’ in the garden bring year round interest as ‘living sculpture’

Of course, some are lucky enough to live year round, close to the seductive charms of coastal living. This doesn’t mean a sea side garden has to be located close to the ocean to make a marine theme convincing. If a coastal combination pings hard on the must have qualities for a garden you’re thinking about, its just a matter of the right planting to suggest a coastal location to come home to every day.

Carissa macrocarpa ‘Desert Star’ ‘mounds’ separate the 2 step out spaces into the rear garden
Salt textured concrete steppers with sandy coloured oxide

Heat sink winter growing conditions facing north, store warmth and can incline minimum overnight temps higher to above 10 degrees, to encourage a micro climate that can allow for planting from the warmest sub-tropics to excel.

Bauhinia tomentosa a lacy tumble of sulphur yellow summer flowers

    

 

 

  

   

Bauhinia tomentosa sulphur bells
Hamelia patens – Fire Bush is a great nectar feeder attractant
Texture patch of crassula, sedums, stapelia and euphorbia makes an intriguing alfresco dining feature against the appealing roughness of an off form concrete retainer

Make this summer the time you chose to make lasting changes in your garden, to your new build or reno. It could be a ‘sea-side’ garden with plants that will be a pleasure to come home to every day. 

Special thanks to my dear client Tania Wilson, who kindly allowed these pix of her MacMasters Beach Paradisus design to be published in Garden Lovers Blog.

Tania Wilson loves her Paradisus designed garden

Peter Nixon for Paradisus 0418 161513 info@peternixon.com.au 

www.peternixon.com.au                          Consultancy Sequence

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Pool-side Summertime … !

Pool, deck, ocean .. the more simple the better

Summer days are upon us and as increasing warmth draws us poolside, you might be thinking of the best combination for your setting. Least obstruction to this enticing Balmoral outlook uses frameless glass, with the beauty of plantation hardwood decking and large limestone pave units for the least joins and greatest cohesion across a handsome combination of finishes. 

Lush greenwall planting brings abundance to spare finishes ..

And if every deck meter is precious entertaining space for you, why not consider a greenwall in a ‘Green-band’ horizontal orientation. Can be independently supported behind and above a glass balustrade, bringing soft-cover balance to the built environment without space consuming pots or the high maintenance that comes with them. 

‘Greenband’ greenwalls, for year round screen AND a space saving way of bringing deck interest.

Leverage a foliage colour blast green-band, with deck up-lights for nocturnal glamour while your greenwall does double duty, providing visual buffer to give the deck experience more enclosure without reducing a desirable open sky aspect.

Get pool companion planting enclosure with Viburnum ‘Quick Fence’

Simple textural contrasts in poolside planting can give the greatest impact year round without having to rely on fleeting flowers. Maybe the perfect radial of a Giant Landscape Bromeliad (Alcantarea imperialis ‘Sugar Plum’), against the ultra fine of Ice Sticks (Senecio cylindricus) and backed with a ‘living of fence’ of glossy leaved Viburnum ‘Quick Fence’ (that stays non-transparent unlike the basic V. odouritissimum it come from ..).

Laser cut panels add focus as a foil for lush garden plants to read against

One end of your pools in need of focus ? Enter unframed laser cut panels, that merge and contrast with feature planting, without a harsh frame that would emphasise the panel rather that the planting.

Outdoor showers make a handy and swish convenience

Don’t forget to include an outside shower at the poolside, allows you to make the most of garden life so you can stay longer in your little piece of paradise.

Peter Nixon – Paradisus 

Garden Design – Project Management – Maintenance

Exciting gardens made from plants

0418 161513         info@peternixon.com.au  

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Mark Paul – Greenwall Company

Rourke Hartwig – Equilibrium Pools  

Mark Hartwig – Amanzi Landscapes  

Geoff Chew – Waves Constructions

Andrew Maitland – M.E. Lighting

… and don’t forget Northern Beaches Botanical Artist Julie Hickson’s new exhibition Nutshell and beautiful hand made art for Xmas gifts (or just a little something for yourself ! )

Wishing everyone and very merry Christmas and Happy New Year !!! 

 

 

    

 

    

    

 

         

 

 

 

 

How to bring interest …

Mirror at mid point across rear fence will provide ‘look-thru’ interest
 

 

Textural contrasts make year round interest without having to rely entirely on seasonal flowers … and if your only view out looks limited, its probably because the entirety is available to the eye all at once. So how to leverage textural interest you ask ..? Garden Mirrors can make interest, especially to ‘view in one’ garden space. Its just a matter of getting the mirror angle right.

I’m really taking about intrigue here and how that can transform limited looking garden space, by creating an illusion to satisfy the viewer’s eye.

Before ‘open book’ dull … how to make interest ?

 

A lot of intrigue relates directly to an effective impeller, to get Peeps to leave the floorpan of their own volition and go outside into the garden, beyond bi-fold or slides doors. A mirror carefully declined from the top and inclined from the left side, appears at first glance to belong to the rear screen planting. Viewed from the left side on approach, the corresponding planting from the right side is reflected back to the viewer.

In time the grow cable supported climber will conceal the fence

Suddenly, it’s clear the mirror’s reflection doesn’t fit with its surround planting. Rather, it now appears as another light filled, walk thru garden space featuring plants different from the rear screen. The conceit is only made convincing once all mirror edges are obscured with planting. Serving this function in the case of this wee Mosman garden, are the screen shrub (Viburnum odouritissimum ‘Quick Fence’) flanking either side of the mirror and the Grow Cable supported climbers  (Stephanotis floribunda) backing it. 

Watch out for another post on this cheeky little duckling garden and how it will further transform into a graceful swan of beguiling charm.      

Spring is just around the corner and now is the perfect time to change the course of your garden for many years to come !! (while protecting your investment at the same time).

Call Garden designer Peter Nixon 0418 161513 to discuss further.

www.peternixon.com.au 

Trace Sunlounge by Tait designed by Adam Goodrum 9310 1333 Tait, 4/9 Danks Street, Waterloo

Felt & Tails Winter Textures

Madagascan Felt Plant, Giant Landscape Bromeliads with Foxtail Asparagus for wintery textures

Foliage colours and Textural contrasts …bring year round interest, especially when cold winter air falls on plants at this time of year making their winter colours show. Alcantarea odorata brings a chalky bloom over its strap leafed rosette, connecting with the sage green living sculpture of Madagascan Felt Plant (Kalanchoe beharensis). Inter-spaces of Foxtail Asparagus (Asparagus meyerii) are filled with bristly lime green tails for sense of arrival at ‘Sea-Changer’s’ garden gate. Flowers may come and go but for  high focus spots as walk-bys in your garden, its best to rely on plants like these that give generously all year sans flowers.. !

Needing a winter fixer-upperer in your garden before spring rush ? Make a call and we’ll have a chat on how to make your garden even better for the coming summer.

LOVE your garden 😮

Peter Nixon – Paradisus 0418 161513