Happy Belated New Year & it’s that time of year already Garden Lovers, when you’re likely to be crossing the March garden one morning and a sudden surprise reminds you, of those warm climate bulbs from last year’s Fair you casually poked into a vacant corner hoping for the best… are now blazing away!
And every Plant Fair there seems to be more and more on offer, expanding the exciting range you can grow in your Sydney Cool Subtropical Garden.
So at this years Collectors Plant Fair Clarendon ’21, 10th & 11th April don’t forget to call by the Charles Harland, Andy’s Rare Plants or Gary Reid Obscure Bulbs stalls to ask for some of these tough beauties for your own garden.
I’ll be talking about many of these as part of the Sydney Cool Subtropics Gardens Talk keynote, 1pm Saturday 10th April (just after Easter..). So arrive early before 9am to get your exciting plant goodies, then make your way from around 12.30pm to the Talk seating, for a much needed rest after all your hard work 😮
For a long time I used to wonder what to say Garden Lovers ..
… when people asked “What’s the kind of garden you’re making in Sydney ?”
Warm temperate … Pacific rim ? Coastal frost free …well it was all these but I just had no collective name for it that would capture them all.
Until one day colleague Catherine Stewart and I were chatting about this and I realised her suggestion of Cool Subtropics was by far, the best way to describe the Sydney growing condition. Especially within coastal suburbs like Northern Beaches, Harbourside, Eastern Suburbs and where all pix came from here at ‘Sea-Changer’ my home studio garden at Forresters Beach on the Central Coast.
So Garden Lovers, at 1pm on Saturday, 10th April just after Easter, at the Collectors Plant Fair ’21 Clarendon, I’m giving a talk not about some far flung ‘idealised’ climate. I’m giving a talk on how to make a better garden of exciting plants at your place … in beautiful Cool Subtropics Sydney (or anywhere that equates up & down East Coast Australia).
You’ll find out just what to ask the stall-holder Growers, to make sure that gorgeous plant you’ve been eying off, is right for your growing conditions AND will do the job it’s being bought for ie conceal the fence, weed suppression, make useful shade. Tired of being ‘garden shamed’ ? Dry Shade, thin top soil over bed rock, harsh unirrigated west, root ridden soil from next doors monstrous tree ..gloom ? These are all normal growing spaces and we need MORE INTERESTING plants that will do well in them to make our gardens THRILLING !!!
So let’s celebrate the return of Collectors Plant Fair (map how to get there .. ) AND our mostly frost free gardens, where the warm humid breath of Queensland visits us every summer. Mark your planners now, buy your tix to avoid the cue and I’ll show you what happens with gardens full of these plants and how you can borrow from them to make the best garden you’ve ever had with plants that are best fit to the conditions you already have … at YOUR Garden 🙂
Happy Winter Garden Lovers and I thought would show you just a brief to the Greenwall evolution, since they tick so many boxes for many clients in terms of space saving and maximum impact.. !
Facing north, this combination is resilient to harsh high summer scorch and reduces visual glare and ‘push-back’ from the built environment, with welcome relief that only living plants can bring. It’s courtyard setting now leverages egress to it’s adjacent kitchen by doubling entertainment space, bringing the outside in and the inside out.
Give us privacy and feature without taking up useful space, that was the brief for this split level design with a higher point of access off the rear lane. So a super sized double sided Greenwall was borne from necessity, to bring an intimate scale shielded on the house side from tall office buildings AND an impressive welcome to this drive side in approach.
‘I would go out there more often but there’s really nothing to entice.’
A very common part of the apartment living experience, especially when all views are equally experienced from inside … no ? Enter a swish end wall greenwall, a slimmer counterpoint from the B/room slides and a free standing part rail Grow Band and all is lush and inviting. All are self irrigated and combine with cac & succ combinations for the built in planters suited to the N/W aspect. Bring on the cocktails !!!!
Garden Lovers, winter may be cool but never dull, when you know some hard working star performers to bring easy charm to your garden.
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.
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 ..
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 …
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.
The element of surprise is often forgotten in cool subtrops gardens, easily remedied with summer humidity hardy South African bulbs from the Fynbos.
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 !!
Well by now, I’m sure most of you realise ALL events planned to attract more than 500 people are cancelled.. Booo… so I shan’t be able to present the super interesting talk for you on Sydney gardens of my design this Sunday 29th March.
So instead of the usual plant fair on the ground, Convenor Linda Ross has been busy transferring the CPF ’20 offering to an on line market. See here for details for details where you might be able to find some exciting fairside treasures !
In the meantime, some of you may remember a few images showing new plantings from before Xmas in the last post by Mark Paul and his visionary work at the Greenwall Company; now gracing a special harbourside garden I’ve been keeping an eye on for many years.
Self irrigated, so with the advantage of easy care, each ‘barrel’ can also use all sides as a planting surface. Once planting closes over all exposed fabric & mesh, the effect is one of lush abundance that never competes with the view.
Hoping you’re enjoying some more lovely rain this week…. the March/April garden will be lush. Last Friday week ABC’s Gardening Australia very kindly featured my home studio garden ‘Sea-Changer’ here at Forresters Beach on the Central Coast.
For those of you who asked and might have missed it Just click here and kick back for a few pleasant minutes of mid morning relaxation on your busy Friday.
Further to the feature, I’m also giving the Key Note at Collectors Plant Fair Clarendon on the Sunday 29th March (scroll down to the Mirror Deck pic showing details) part of their Speakers Program @ midday. It’ll be about Sydney’s cool subtropical climate and how to understand it’s growing conditions a little more, to make better selections from exceptional points of sale like Plant Fairs.
Aunty ABC 7.30pm tonight 21st February, after the news… Gardening Australia will bring you a feature spot of my ‘Sea-Changer’ here at Forrester Beach of the NSW Central Coast.
Nearly 2 years in the can at the onset of wintertime, I’ll be ‘to camera’ about YOUR cool subtropics garden, some of what grows well in them and a little about fit to growing conditions for year round planting that will make your garden even better !!
LOVE your garden … & hope you can tune in tonight 😮
There are many reasons to apply creative thinking to something so adaptable as a Green-strip panel … right ?
…. but it takes a creative genius like Mark Paul to come up with winning ways that are only as limited as his imagination. Much of the planting in this Green Barrel was repurposed from smaller pots on site, with a few additions to extend foliage colour & textural contrasts. This pic was taken on the day of install, I’ll show you a progress later this year, so you can see for yourself how they’ve expanded into self irrigated ‘barrels of wonder’ alternative to conventional pots.
With conventional pots, its just the sky faced planting surface that plants can grow in … With Green Barrels & Green Bales, the planting surface is not only the sky face but also the sides that can be populated with epiphytes (grow on trees) & lithophytes (grow on rock) & others that are adaptable to this growing condition.
Planting all sides AND the sky face, gives each unit an impressively ‘full’ abundant look, without the drudgery of watering cans. No need to be constantly checking moisture levels regardless of exposure, as an irrigation manifold runs through the inorganic medium, for the most efficient use of our precious water. As it’s an inorganic recycled medium, this can’t disintegrate, so what your plants grow in is permanent without having to be ‘potted-up’ to the next size container to avoid root block…sooooo EASY !
So if you have a family member, a long time bestie or twenty years long work colleague who is planning or has pulled the back off the house to do a major reno…. NOW is the time to make contact with the whole year ahead to make the garden changes they want well before Christmas ’20
Thought I would kick off the year with a rather special finishing touch installed just before Xmas, added to a design of mine for very special clients at Greenwich. To my horror I see from the file I’ve been ‘making’ this garden for 20 years. So this Checker Matrix by Master Greenwall supplier Mark Paul, really is the glace cherry that’s been a long time coming 😮
There are many types of greenwalls to be had these days and if you had a masonry recess, a framed Checker Matrix might be just the right feature to bring surprising interest to your garden.
To the left side and to bring lush mass to a void fence space, Grow Baskets of fibre mesh weave with flat backs have been mounted onto an aluminium frame with its own drip tray. In time, I’ll show you how the Elk Horn Ferns, mixed bromeliads and native hoya australis, will expand across their mesh support.
Having its own irrigation ensures efficient water use and the inorganic medium can’t disintegrate, leading to undesirable root block and nothing for them to grow in, as with potting mix. Just trim each each square to shape with hedge shears. It’s a touch of Brazil in Sydney’s cool subtropics growing conditions and a nod to Roberto Burle Marx to come home to every day.
So if a 20 years long work colleague, your family member or your besty since kindergarten needs a garden, NOW is the time refer them early in the year so we have the best chance of completing for them before Xmas ’20 !!
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 ..
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 !!
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.
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.
Sunday of the Fair is always a more relaxed day, so treat yourself to some of the best cool subtrops planting available in Australia in the one place !! Then its only a 20 minute drive from the fairground at Kariong Mountains Highschool
Garden Lovers, if you haven’t been able to make it up for one of ‘Sea-Changer’s’ opens here at Forresters Beach on the Central Coast, grab yourself a copy of Better Homes and Gardens mag August issue OUT NOW. This was a mid May shoot and shows how you can extend interest well into late Autumn for your cool subtropics garden at home.
Getting a chance to spread cool subtropics love here at ‘Sea-Changer’ .. that’s what you’ll see 7pm on THIS Friday’s 12th July episode of Channel 7’s BH&G program.
Graham and I get to show you a species hippeastrum for late Autumn, so useful for a blast of scarlet fire in the semi shade garden. Tune in to see pretty sub-shrubs like barlaria and ruellias that can bring your garden welcome long flowering interest. He’ll also show how climbing bromeliads like Neoregelia x macwilliamsii and N. compacta are covering slat panels here, to bring lush low maintenance green cover to walls and fencing for your garden and much, much more ..
THIS Friday’s episode of Channel 7’s Better Homes & Gardens you can see my ‘Sea-Changer’ garden, for ideas to make an even better garden at home….
See you ‘Sea-Changer’ – side !!!
CLICK ON ABOVE VIDEO for a ‘Sea-Changer’ taster on what you’ll see on BH&G tomorrow (Friday 12th July) night.. !!
Cool Subtropics Masterclass at ‘Clifton’ last Wednesday..was two hours of ‘planty’ goodness, showing many Sydney seaside and harbour gardens of my design over the years. So reassuring to see nearly 100 of you, all wanting to learn new plants to make a better garden.
Hoping your cool subtrops baby tube give aways are safely in the garden by now, for an even better garden this high spring come November.
High interest drove many more sign ups to receive the Garden Lovers Blog as an easy way to stay in the loop of new and interesting plants to make gardens from .. If you forgot to sign up or couldn’t make it on the day, sign up here at GARDEN LOVERS BLOG that will take you to my e-mail address.
Thanks to all who attended. Your great interest in making a better garden has raised around $2,250 for L’Arche Sydney …while learning more at the same time from the huge cool subtropics planting bandwidth, to make more Sydney gardens from plants .. !
So if it’s your sister, your 20 years long work colleague or the friend you went to school with … if they’re in the garden making loop and in need of pain relief – your referral would be MUCH appreciated and in return, you KNOW your precious referral is in safe hands 🙂
Garden Lovers its nearly time this Wednesday 1st May for our special time together at historic ‘Clifton’ for a
Masterclass I’ll give on cool subtropics gardens I’ve designed for Sydney !!!
Looking forward to showing you beautiful Sydney gardens made from EXCITING cool sub-tropics planting. Inspiration for your home garden or the dream garden you may be planning that I could help you with … 🙂
AT THE TIME OF SENDING THERE ARE JUST A FEW SEATS LEFT !!! If you haven’t responded by clicking on ‘comments’ at the end of this post yet, to say you’ll join us in ‘Leave a Reply’ YOU ONLY HAVE TILL MIDDAY THIS MONDAY 29th APRIL to get onto the door list.
A free Cool Sub-tropics tube plant for you to try at home or give to a garden friend.
Masterclass 9.30am for 10am kick off THIS WEDNESDAY,
1st MAY at the rather lovely home of our host Felicity McCaffrey, ‘Clifton’
7 Woolwich Road, Hunters Hill $25 at the door
for L’Arche 4 Sydney
Come to Wednesday’s Masterclass and don’t forget to leverage your new knowledge, by experiencing for yourself cool subtropics plants at my ‘Sea-Changer’ garden. Opening free on Saturday of the same week 4th May 10am – 2pm !! … Enjoy a nice day out of the city with a garden friend on the Central Coast, only an hour north on Pacific Motorway from Wahroonga on ramp. Lunch at Bamboo Buddha at Holgate, 21 Wattle Tree Road 43 65 5810 to book.
‘Sea-Changer’ 21 Lavinia Street, Forresters Beach Peter Nixon 0418 161513
Top of the Rock …. last October Nurse Taylor and I travelled to exciting Cape Town and ascended Table Mountain. So many good garden plants come from South Africa and getting to see them and the gardens they are made from, was a lifetime in the making .. and did NOT disappoint.
And of course, we couldn’t have travelled so far without visiting a few rather accomplished Garden Designers and their handiwork. One of the most prominent and in the beautiful wine lands at Franschhoek Valley was the super charmed home garden and labour of love by Henk Scholtz.
The attention to detail and true whimsy that Henk makes his garden from is truely unique to him and the South African sensibility. Artistic quirk only begins to cover it, like this store mannequin covered in ceramic mosaic, complete with tin lid skirt and shell belt accompanied by wire pigs.
Rear planting space topiary ‘lawn’
Will show you more of the Capetown Great Adventure in another post
RE: Designer Peter Nixon ‘Clifton’ Masterclass
on Sydney Cool Sub-tropics Gardens 7 Woolwich Road, Hunters Hill, 10am – 11.30am Wednesday 1st May, 2019 for L’Arche 4 Sydney
Dear Garden Lovers,
Thanks hugely for the kind responses and assurances for those of you who have responded already since last week’s post to attend my Masterclass $25 @ the door for L’Arche 4 Australia. Some readers have reported difficulty in making their attendance response in the Comments field.. so I’ve fixed it ! To show you would like to attend (or even with a gardening friend as well..) use the following –
1.Simply scroll to the end of this follow up post, where the number of comments are shown. 2.Click on that comments number for the view and the view will jump to a view showing all comments so far. 3.Scroll to the end and Leave a Reply appears with a comment field & hit Post Comment
Sooooooooo easy …. and look forward to seeing all of you interested in leveraging the knowledge about your own gardens from Wednesday’s Masterclass, by also joining me here at ‘Sea-Changer’ Instagram the following Saturday, 4th May 10am – 2pm Designers ‘walk & talk’ at midday.
Seats are limited for this exciting ‘Clifton’ Masterclass on Sydney Cool Sub-tropics Gardens, so to give myself and ‘Clifton’ owner / Hunters Hill Open Gardens Convenor Felicity McCaffrey an idea on numbers … PLEASE respond today 😮
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .. ?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ..).
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.
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.
Apartment living is here to stay and as many choose the lower maintenance option this lifestyle brings, interesting challenges are being met with innovative and sustainable outcomes for the ‘garden in the sky’.
So you’ve decided to leave the expense of a high maintenance family home for apartment living. Ok, well while there are going to be some adjustments to be made now you’re ‘living in the sky’, you’ve probably noticed a big change from a garden growing on terra-firma as a ground dweller. While its lovely not having to worry about gutters and rising damp, unrelieved hard surface surrounding your every moment might be a little jarring to get get used to ….
What to do to trade off some of that unyielding hard surface for lush green cover .. to bring back balance in a living surround.. ?
Combination Greenwalls with Eco Pillow runs are the new frontier in transformation of the built environment. Super water efficient with their own irrigation system and drip trays, 2m x 1m panels cover majority vertical spaces in ‘portrait’ orientation and are extended across horizontal expanses using 800 x 400mm Eco Pillows end to end in ‘landscape’ orientation.
Once reliable water is connected, the impact of high exposure aspects from the 4th floor and much higher, can be made sustainable with a fertiliser injector for easy nutrition to a vast band width of plant selection adaptable from epiphytic and lithophytic habitats. A myriad of various bromeliads from aechaea, neoregelia, vriesea, canistropsis, canistrum and even the Giant Landscape species alcantarea. These can form a majority planting space at uppermost reaches for the most sun tolerance, with native hoya australis on grow supports to extend cover to higher horizontal hard surface. Progressively self shaded, the lower reaches are best for a mix of foliage contrasts as understory in peperomia, plectranthus, begonias, streptocarpus, epiphyllum and ferns to take up lower position micro climates.
Growing media comprises a majority of inorganic component parts that won’t disintegrate, leaving plants in ‘root block’ depletion and susceptible to predation with nothing to grow in after the first year. Instead available pore space is kept above an acceptable minimum, so your Greenwall has a beautifully long life expectancy. Maintenance is built into your installation contract and can be arranged after the initial grow in period.
Why live in a hard surface environment closer to the polar bear exhibit at the zoo, when you could frame the view, back the bathroom or grow a wreath of rich contrasts just where you need it most !
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dombeya ianthotricha the climbing Dombeya, is a relative of hibiscus and now included into the extended Malvaceae, makes a useful if sprawling, small climber/shrub that lends itself as a kind of loose espalier here at ‘Sea-Changer’ or as a short run climber to less than 5 m wide. Delightful in combination with or alternative to camellias, in Sydney’s cool sub-tropics gardens. Makes an open twig work of arching stems bearing light as air, large fury round leaves like rice paper circles that move with the slightest July breeze. Bunches of persimmon coloured, pollen dusted bells dangle on thin strings, making this Madagascan super charming in the mixed shrub border as well.
A good find for your garden from specialist growers like Wes & Lorraine Vidler at Weslor Nursery from Plant Fairs like Plant Lovers Fair Kariong, 22nd to 23rd September ’18. If you’re looking forward to a lush high spring come October, now’s the time to get your garden in order with new planting, structural landscaping and other inclusions like led lighting and irrigation. If you’d like to chat about that, please make contact 0418 161513 and together we can make your garden even better !
Thought I would send 3 of the best this month, to help brighten your winter garden. Not that the cooler time of the year should be dull by a long shot and flowering interest for the June – July period abounds, if you know the plants that will bring a little sparkle. Especially of interest from the super floriferous Acanthaceae is a small sub-shrub
I first tried this plant thinking if could be rather cool sensitive. Contrary to my suspicions it excels in the cool sub-tropical winter of East Coast Australia and loses condition only in the worst summer heat. It seeds slightly but not enough to be thuggish and has proven itself a tried performer to less than a meter, beneath taller shrubs like iochroma, brugmansia and phymosia in lower light were few others would continue flowering.
Not unlike its close relatives of the justicia tribe, just mix in with other semi-shade lovers like the species Hippeastrum aulicum for lush appeal. If you’re facing challenges in the shade garden at home … even if its impacted upon by emerged bedrock this little sub-shrub is a star performer. Preparation now for the summer garden is perfect timing and if you’re planning to combine with other non-planted inclusions in paving, decks or shade devises please make contact so we can have a chat on how to make your changes sympathetic to your new garden.
See you in the next 2 posts of super interesting plants !!
Garden Lovers, did you know there’s another interesting near evergreen shrub to brighten the late garden that’s flowering now.. ? For an intriguing fresh chartreuse splash in the May garden, Holmskioldia sanguinea lutea or Gold Chinese Hat from the lower Himalaya & Myanmar is for you ! I’ve used it here in the ‘Sea-Changer’ garden in the Sun Trap plot that receives northern sun all year but it would also tolerate half day sun as a an upright to lax, 2m shrub with a cut after flowers to bring new canes for the following season.
Just nearby and for combined ‘pop’ at the same time of year, you could use Barlaria cristata ‘Lavander Lace’ as a really useful sub-shrub to around 1.5m with a cloud of pretty, striped, mini trumpets.
Soooooo pretty, just as the worst of the heat has passed and we look into the garden for some fresh seasonal change.
‘Planty Fierce ’18’ at the end of last month was a sparkling Autumn day, refreshed by an early shower and internet was high from all visitors, especially this young one having a closer look at the mirror Buddha on the long deck looking down to ‘Sea-Changer’s’ Shade Hut.
Nothing extinguishes interest and plenty of people arrived into brilliant sunshine in the Sun Trap plot where I spoke to many on questions around how to make their home gardens even better !
The 2pm ‘Walk & Talk’ brought forward many interesting questions, like how to make a ‘green-fence’ alternative to fence palings using Solandra longiflora over black pvc coated mesh. Thanks to all PF ’18 Helpers and Peter & Ruth Donnelly’s fabulous Coachwood sales tables loaded with new and interesting ‘must haves..’.
Cool sub-tropics gardens ‘Paradox’ and ‘Sea-Changer’ open for ‘Planty Fierce’ on the Central Coast (maps on links) … less than two weeks away !! Inspiration for your home garden or your client’s design and many plants from both gardens available for sale on the day. At ‘Paradox’ learn from Ray Henderson, the huge range of sun adaptable bromeliads that can be grown north facing when you plant them at the right time of year … Find out more about the kind of medium he uses, when to fertilise and how far apart your plants should be for best results.
So many beautiful sub-tropical offerings for your garden from Peter & Ruth Donnally’s Coachwood sales tables at ‘Sea-Changer’.
At ‘Sea-Changer’ Peter will give a 2pm designer’s ‘walk & talk’ on how easily new plants could grow for your exciting new home garden or for your designs. So get your gardening buddy, colleague horticulturist, landscaper or garden designer friend together by sharing the ‘Planty Fierce’ link. Be on the Motorway on ramp at Wahroonga by 9am for the hour or so jaunt up to the Central Coast for a fun day of garden visits either side of lunch in Holgate at Bamboo Buddha !!
Peter’s 2pm ‘walk & talk’ at ‘Sea-Changer’
‘Planty Fierce’ Saturday, 28th April 10am – 4pm, $10 gate each garden, children under 12 free, no dogs, easy parking.
Garden Lovers, see Facebook Event page for Planty Fierce details this year, bringing you two Central Coast gardens. Visit Ray Henderson’s iconic ‘Paradox’ at Glenning Valley in the morning and my ‘Sea-Changer’ after lunch at nearby Forresters Beach. Its a lovely day out of the city, to see a pair of exciting designer gardens as inspiration for your own, just an hour’s drive north on the Pacific Motorway from the on ramp at Wahroonga.
Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible, I’ll be giving a ‘ Q & A walk & talk’ at 2pm
Peter Nixon’s ‘Sea-Changer’ – 21 Lavinia Street, Forresters Beach plant sales by Coachwood’s Ruth & Peter Donnally
Ray Henderson’s ‘Paradox’ – 25 Curringa Close, Glenning Valley plants sales featuring sun tolerant bromeliads with designer companion plantings
NOTE: many of the plants you see at each garden will be for sale on the day !!
‘Paradox’ by Ray Henderson at 25 Curringa Close, Glenning Valley
‘Sea-Changer’ by Peter Nixon at 21 Lavinia Street, Forresters Beach
See all event details, map & lunch suggestions at Facebook’s event page ‘Planty Fierce’ Expert horticultural and design ideas for your gardens, with exciting designer plants sales at each garden – bring plenty of boxes, you’ll need them!
Peter Nixon’s 2pm designer “walk & talk” at ‘Sea-Changer’ and weather forecast is Good !!!
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
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
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.
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 !!
3 Central Coast gardens within 2o mins of each other, 1 day 10am till 4pm, $5 tiny dollars entry each garden, (children free, no dogs) PLUS fabulous plant sales at every garden. How can you resist !!!
We’ve shifted the date from early March to the cooler prospect of latest April, well after Easter, to make the ‘plantiest’ day possible for you .. all 3 gardens will be at their late summer peak.
‘Sea-Changer’ – 21 Lavinia Street, Forresters Beach – for Paradisus by Designer Peter Nixon
‘Paradox’ – 25 Curringa Close, Glenning Valley by specialist sun bromeliad grower Ray Henderson
‘Living Edge’ Garden & Nursery – 1483 Peats Ridge Rd, Peats Ridge supplied by Plantsman David Fripp designer by Blake Jolley
I (Peter Nixon) will be giving a half hour garden ‘walk & talk’ 2pm at ‘Sea-Changer’. Lunch at nearby cafe’s, see the Facebook Event ‘Planty Fierce’ for details. A pleasant hour’s drive from the Wahroonga on ramp, leave home by 8.30am for the most ‘Planty’ fun on the Central Coast you’ll have outside a Plant Fair.. !!
I recently made it out to Kim & An’s delightful Canley Vale Nurserywith Judy Taylor my partner in retail crime and essential plant sleuthing…
Around hour’s drive from Sydney CBD and far from disappointment, Kim’s in an old fashioned high street garden centre past an exception array of excellent Vietnamese & Korean cafe’s & restaurants, where you’ll find a cornucopia of “planty” treasures for your warm temperate garden.
No matter when I go, there’s always something I’ve been lusting after for years by virtue of Tran’s horticultural eye for the exceptional, interesting and or quirky. Not to mention every type of pot, hanger, stake, fertiliser your heart could desire.
This time I also saw old fashioned tall dahlias, the staking kind that I know will have huge crowns of ruby, gold and flaming orange later this month. Also heliconia the Crabs Claw Gingers both tall like H. ‘Hot Rio Night’ and the dwarf H. stricta from Jamaica. Gorgeous Poysean Hybrid Euphorbia, species hippeastrums, Fireball Lily (Scadoxus multiflorus var. katarinae), medinilla and a new lutea form Golden Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla ‘Soleil’) I even snaffled a double flowering Rangoon Creeper (Quisqualis indica flora plan) scarce as rocking horse poo peeps !