Mid Winter Wonders … for your garden

Cymbidium tracyanum ‘Spice’ X Cym. ‘Deathwish ‘Saratoga’

The calm time, when cool short days bring slow opening of many winter sparkles. Cymbidiums are in full flight by late July and it’s good to be aware of hybrids with C. tracyanum from Myanmar in them … These make inflorescences held at near horizontal, so flowers growing from an over garage elevated planter box, present to the lower view lines from approaching cars.

Aloe thraskii – Dune Aloe

Candelabra or Tree Aloes are also all out just now also and especially want to bring this A. thraskii to your attention….. for it’s salt & sand tolerance in frost free Cool Subtropics. Unparticular as to soil type providing it’s fast draining, A. thraskii withstands exposure and every July you’ll be presented with these gold torches covered in wattle birds and bees. Being a tree form it’s also a great statement maker for sense of arrival at the front door

Haemanthus coccineus – Blood Lily pink form

Every now and then I pop along to 2RRR’s Gladesville recording studio at 88.5FM part of the Community Broadcasting Network with Presenter of ‘Real World Gardener’ Marianne Cannon. So here’s a few minutes respite from Lockdown, for a to listen to warm bulbs and how to grow them for this summer.

Less mow more interest .. !

Soil down …now how to stop the grass surround invading your precious garden space ?

Some of you might remember from the last send, the eastern end here at ‘Sea-Changer’ and a little exercise in exchanging high maintenance turf for low care garden space.

FormBoss RedCore steel edging, at install

Alternatives used formerly like aluminium strip wouldn’t retain new medium hights and cemented bricks edging while good looking, are also labour intensive and therefore rather costly. Enter the FormBoss edging range and especially their RedCore product that was quick and relatively easy to install expertly by George Close at Living Matter Landscapes

FormBoss RedCore after a few weeks for the corten steel ‘rust’ finish to develop

… and because there is also a short screen requirement for planting to shield against a passive road view, there’s a two part combination of ..

Ficus microcarpa Green Island

…Ficus microcarpa Green Island, a native from northern Australia among many other warm sub-tropical places. Of much reduced vigour and with a friendly root system, this little fig will eventually reach a very civilised 2m sans exposed trunk, making it ideal as a short screen to ground level so the road expanse is concealed.

Olea europaea ‘Golden Harvest’

By contrast, although also dwarf, Olea ‘Golden Harvest’ will bring a sage green contrast to the gloss fig to around the same 2 m height. Then for weed suppression with year round foliage colour contrasts forward of the taller screen plantings ..

Cyanotis sp.
Neoregelia zonata
Aloe ‘Moon Glow’
Carex buchananii

Watch this space and I’ll show you how this this little Road Screen Garden came more together by Christmas !

Cattleya hybrid

And remember it’s always worth having a big knot of Cattleya’s in an easy care pot, to bring forward onto your outside table ….or even inside while the flowers last, for a few weeks during this brief and fresher time of year !

Call to action ? Well you know that close family member, 20 years long work colleague or bestie you went to high school with …. keeps asking you for my details, now they’ve sold up, moved to the ‘beach-shack’ full time and want to give it a new life ? …so need the garden fixed up too ? Just flick them this post where they can sign up for Garden Lovers or HERE for one less thing to remember .. with thanks!

Cool Sub-trops Sydney Gardens Talk tomorrow (Tues) night on Zoom..!

Aloe ‘Fairy Pink’ a frothy April player for any sunny cool subtrop’s garden

Join me tomorrow night, Tuesday 27th October from 7.30pm when I’ll be narrating the Cool Subtropics story, for garden making in frost free Sydney for Tropical Garden Society of Sydney .

Click here https://www.facebook.com/events/3356306861103388/ from 7.30pm, then click on blue field saying ‘Join Meeting’ from my FB page … soooo easy !

Looking forward to ‘seeing’ you then and don’t forget, we can use the Chat option to answer your burning questions. Put it in your planner now Peeps!!!

‘Sea-Changer’ Shade Hut refuge from a hot day ..

Give Netflix a rest tomorrow night and learn something new to make your garden even better 🙂

Winter Sparkles …

Aloe ‘Venus’ a winter happy mound
to around 80cm tall

Garden Lovers, winter may be cool but never dull, when you know some hard working star performers to bring easy charm to your garden.

Cymbidium ‘Ice Cascade’ hybrid plant also excellent for baskets

Who would have thought we’d be imagining a cool, wet winter back in the bush fires of March Garden Lovers ? Anyway, here we are savouring the delights of planting that favours wintertime in the cool sub-tropics. Lower temps are the trigger for many of these to come into flower, or simply have such late flowering periods they can extend into the winter.

Aechmea wilkleri like little orange Christmas Trees tilted over ..

Many make excellent planting for containers like the bromeliads & cymbidium orchids that you may like to bring inside to enjoy their flowers as part of the house interior ..

Hibiscus mutabilis – Rose of Sharon

Others burst into seasonal interest like Hibiscus mutabilis and Tibouchina ‘David Bowen’ for the mixed shrub border. Cut to shape after flowers to ensure a good spring flush to support flowers that can extend into the June garden …

Tibouchina ‘David Bowen’ a late white flowering hybrid into early winter

And don’t forget cool weather warm bulbs like the species hippeastrums H. aulicum & H. psittacinum for stained glass colour sparkles in the semi-shade garden.

Hippeastrum psitticinum a sparkling Brazilian jewel that grows as an epiphyte on ‘Sea-Changer’s’ mirror deck greenwalls
Hippeastrum aulicum clumping forward of the mixed shrub border – and thanks to Susan Trathen for these seedlings she raised me from her own
Balgowlah Heights garden

The element of surprise is often forgotten in cool subtrops gardens, easily remedied with summer humidity hardy South African bulbs from the Fynbos.

Sparaxis grandiflora ssp. acutiloba an easy fynbos bulb for our winter gardens

Cool Subtrops Talk for Sydney Gardens

Don’t forget I’ll be giving a talk at the re-scheduled springtime dates for Collectors Plant Fair ’20 – 1pm Saturday, 26th September, Hawkesbury Race Course expressly on my Sydney cool subtropics gardens, to help you make a better garden with planting that’s a fit to the growing conditions you have in your own home garden. Mark your planners & buy your tix online now to avoid the cue !!

Native Intense

Mid October each year finds me scrutinising the Kurrajong’s (Brachchiton bidwillii ‘Little Ripper’) near bare branches, looking for tiny signs of secrete flowers to come ..

See more at Paradisus

This one has the slightly more pink coral flowers of the B. bidwillii type, in a hybrid called ‘Little Ripper’ by Brent Vieritze at Colours of Eden. He’s actually ingeniously grafted the hybrid flowering B. bidwillii ‘Little Ripper’ onto a B. rupestrus – QLD Bottle Tree trunk. A little ripper it is !!

B. rupestrus to B. bibwillii ‘Little Ripper’ graft line

My tree is now around 4 years old here at ‘Sea-Changer’ and I’m guessing will reach around 4m tall, so it fits the small space garden well for a norther aspect. Brent doesn’t know if the trunk beneath the graft, will swell out to become the characteristically ‘bottle’ shape. Time will tell and if it does I’m imagining a hero tree with a rather interesting silhouette, like a barrel with a small domed canopy on top.

Last year’s seed pods add another ornamental feature
Flower encrusted stems attach nectar feeders also ..

I noticed northern beaches artist Julie Hickson’s very beautiful Pod &Pod display of all native, woodblock inspired freshness at The Other Art Fair by Saatchi at Barangaroo last weekend. Among so many beauties, there was also a new work featuring Brachychiton bidwillii a perfect Xmas gift for garden loving friends & fam.