Sea-Changer’s Summer Sizzlers ..

Colour blasts against lush foils of broad matt and gloss leaves, with the constant drone of pulsing cicadas … the East Coast Cool Subtropics High Summer is here Garden Lovers … Mmmmmm

Hibiscus moscheutos hybrid, the Swamp Hibiscus

There’s no other time of year like it is there….

..when the garden turns richer shades, that only the sultry breath of Queensland can bring us, as it travels slowly down the coast. I’ll be showing you such a Sydney garden on the next send, when I join Graham Ross on Better Homes & Gardens at a Paradisus design in Willoughby. Until then, here are a few exciting suggestions from ‘Sea-Changer’ my studio garden, to inspire planting to make your home gardens even better.

Swamp Hibiscus – Hibiscus moscheutos

Perfect under an open sky aspect where past planting has struggled with a damp spot. These are semi aquatic and winter herbaceous, so if you can point the hose at them coming up to Xmas a few times, you’ll be rewarded by a rush of big red flowers in the January garden.

Take a look at the above YouTube taken here at ‘Sea-Changer’.. to see how these exciting plants could easily grow in your home garden.. !

Fireball Lilies

Scadoxus multiflorus is the Fireball Lily and like clivea and hippeastrum, are in the same Family Amaryllidaceae. In this case has been crossed with Scadoxus pole-evansii, making a slightly shorter clump of mini banana palms in Summer to around half a meter. After the January flowers that look a bit like a coral coloured agapanthus, there is a brief collapse of the clump in late September or so, that surges again by November, with new inflorescence bearing stems after Xmas.

Take a look in the above video !

Fireball Lily Hybrids (Scadoxus multiflorus x pole-evansii)

The White Summer Tulip – Crinum jagas

Another Cool Subtropics beauty, Crinum jagus also from Tropical Africa, is another star of the morning sun or bright shade garden.

Crinum jagus – Saint Christopher Lily not yet open ..

Tulip-like flowers rise slightly above a lush clump after Xmas, then burst overnight with sweet scente. A morning walk by while the summer air is still fresh, heavily infused with the perfume of Christopher Lilies is a memorable experience. Extra water up to Xmas and doesn’t wake up from its winter hiatus till November. Take a look at the YouTube beneath to see what these exciting look like open.

.. last but not least for your Summer Garden is Impatiens auricoma x bicaudata, a useful star of the dry shade garden.

impatiens auricoma x bicaudata dry shade star of the Cool Subtrops garden

Trying to get a dry shade garden going can be a challenge, especially where there’s competition for moisture from within the drip line of larger trees.

That’s why the Impatiens Tribe are so useful, being able to succeed within dry, shallow surface soil by storing moisture in their juicy thickened stems. Take a look at the YouTube beneath to see how they would grow so well for you too ..

Let me know if there are parts of the garden you still struggle with ..Or you’re emerging from the rigours of a major renovation or new home build..

.. maybe I can help you with a design brief or garden design, with planting roll-outs of the actual plants that will grow into your exciting new home garden.

And don’t forget your 20 years long work colleague, your daughter or your bestie from primary school ..

… if they are struggling too, please ask them to make contact at or call me 0418 161513

More inspiration at FB – Paradisus Garden Design and Insta paradisus_sea_changer

LIVE your garden …

Xmas Sparkles ..

Mexican Rock Orchids – Schomburgkia tibicinis an easy and tough December garden hero .. TAKE A LOOK !

Xmas Orchids .. ? Yes & so easy …

Orchids .. we love them Garden Lovers, but where are the ones that are easy to grow in the home garden, aside from Crucifix Orchids … right ?

WELL THERE ARE MORE.. enter a rather miraculous tribe of Mexican Rock Orchids, the Schomburgkia from humid summers in parts of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia to Ecuador at slight elevation; that equate to most of cool to warm subtrops East Coast Australia. Requiring direct winter sun and now known as a new genus Myrmecophila tibicinis is a species that will adjust to half day shade within drip-lines of host trees as epiphytes. Also lives on rock as lithophytes out in the full blast, where our scorch prone Dendrobium speciosum would be disappointing come December.

Tree stumps are a welcome perch for Schomburgkia superbiens another species, that flowers a little earlier in Spring and is also known synonymously merged with Laelia. Make a stabilising divot from the stump sky face for either of these species to rest in; then build up beneath with orchid compost and course bark chip to level with the stump top face. Mine has a sheltered east facing aspect but both have hard boat shaped, highly resistant leaves that would accept more exposure.

Schomburgkia superbiens long fishing rods that move in the breeze ..

Xmas Annual Stars of December ..

At this time of year leading up to entertaining with family and friends, the garden pulls a bit more focus with emphasis on outdoor dining. That’s why it’s good to keep your garden open, with sunny plots reserved for season annual colour. This prevents overcrowding of permanent planting, where some would need to be removed to avoid congestion. Think of it as a trade off of permanent plants, for short cycle annuals that bring welcome ‘burst’ to the garden when you need it most.

Calibrachoa hybrida Callie yellow
Newer compact, non-invasive hybrid Petunias
Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ magenta
Dahlia ‘Sparkler Mystic’
Solonostemon hybrid formerly coleus, for complementary foliage colour

Hydrangeas… the supreme Xmas Garden fave

Hydrangea macrophylla – ‘Ne Plus Ultra’ white, pale pink to green.. TAKE A LOOK !

Xmas, family & friends, hydrangeas, Xmas Bush and agapanthus …. they go together … right ? And this year has been exceptionally kind, sans hot westerly winds that can turn gorgeous to ghastly in an afternoon.

So far so good in this Paradisus design at Willoughby for long time dream clients. where an old French variety ‘Ne Plus Ultra’ flourishes from hydrangea queen Lesley White. A good tough macrophylla ‘mop-top’ like the others but with the added attraction of a colour merge from lustrous ivory at Xmas to rose pastel with cherry stains and lime green hues coming into the April/May garden.

So wishing everyone a safe and fun end of year break at Xmas time, New Years Eve and into the holidays. Hope these posts help you make an even better garden to enjoy. If family, friends or work colleagues are struggling with theirs, ask them to head over to paradisus_sea_changer for inspiration and maybe .. I could help them too ..!

La Niña … cool subtrops winners & winners!

Studio Garden, ‘Sea-Changer’ ..Alstroemeria hybrid, Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’with Gardenia grandiflora ‘Star’

Hi Garden Lovers,

So much rain over past weeks has powered a lush surge in our cool subtrops gardens, not seen during recent years of dry Spring conditions.

This has supplied our warmer end planting band width with softer, super humid air. Any cuttings you’ve set will have a high strike rate and planting that’s evolved to extra water in the March Garden … is splendid.

Pink Blood Lily – Haemanthus coccineus X albiflos bit like a high summer ‘tulip’..take a look!

Other lush benificiaries of current rainier conditions are the fern tribe. Especially those evolved to high light levels within tree canopy drip lines, where these plants can miss out, so tolerate months of very little rain like the Terrestrial Elk Horn Fern – Microsorum.

Terrestrial Elk Horn Fern – Microsorum punctatum ‘GreenUp’ from Brent & Denise Vieritz at Colours of Eden with a vertical, rather than lax habit, perfect for narrow spaces.. ..take a look!

And of course, there are semi-aquatic plants like the Swamp Hibiscus – Hibiscus coccineus hybrid

High Summer hero of our La Niña season, a water loving Swamp Hibiscus that can grow well past 2 m tall !

Hope you’re enjoying some of the great beauties of La Niña ’22 and don’t forget to see many more at Collectors Plant Fair Clarendon, 9-10th April and avoid the queues by getting your tix now !!

Amarygia ‘Bozandycol’ from Andy Harvey, Keith Tollis & Colin Hunt at Andy’s Rare Plants stall CPF’22 …but be early on Saturday !

Also, you know that good friend, long time work colleague or sibling who keeps asking for help designing and or project managing their garden … ? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the request (as often happens with my best referrals BTW..), please send them my website or Insta page … to help them make a beautiful garden to come home to every day, just like yours 🙂

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!