‘Tabu’ by Mark Vowles in Cairns




Delicate copper water lily leaves at ‘Tabu’Garden Lovers, May last year brought the chance to revisit Cairns

Garden Lovers, May last year brought the chance to revisit Cairns and a long time colleague and friend Mark Vowles and his partner and interior designer Fairlie Kerr.  

‘Tabu’, I would say, is the distillation of all Mark has learnt about wet tropics garden making and the  planting combinations that excel in the monsoon driven rainforest. 

Inviting descent to the cleverly designed pool ‘fence free’ pool

Aside from the  impressive garden, ‘Tabu’ is also a swish Bed & Breakfast I can highly recommend for that next visit you’re planning to FNQ… !!         

‘Planty Fierce’ Saturday week, 29th April 2017 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.