3S Landscape Design

Colour in Canberra

One of the joys of a cold climate that we don’t experience so much in Perth is the beauty of autumn leaves. There are a few trees that will grow well in our climate and provide some colour, notably the Chinese Tallow, but on the whole our deciduous trees do not develop the amazing colours seen in the ACT and Victoria.

I enjoyed a few days in Canberra in May and was spellbound by the gorgeous colours, especially on bright sunny days. the Mountain and Desert ash trees were particularly spectacular. The maples are my favourite and they can be grown in Perth if you can provide them with sufficient shelter from the sun and wind. I have seen a lovely old maple nestled into the southside of a courtyard garden in one of the Australian Open Gardens.

  • Liquidambar Liquidambar
  • Mountain Ash Mountain Ash
  • Desert Ash Desert Ash
  • Gorgeous Japanese Maple Gorgeous Japanese Maple
  • Maples against a winter sky Maples against a winter sky


I have to admit though, as much as I love the colours of cold climates its good to come home to Perth and find my cattleya orchid flowering happily outside under the flowering frangipanis.
  • Cattleya orchid Cattleya orchid

Autumn at last

Autumn has been slow to arrive in Perth this year and while I have been enjoying days at the beach in April I know the garden and even more so the bush, has had enough of the hot dry weather. We planted seedlings at Wireless Hill on the 13th April, hoping for the wet autumn promised by the weather bureau and I am so glad the rain is here!

Autumn is a great time to go through the garden and ensure the soil is wetting. WA soils so easily become hydrophobic through drying out in the summer. At the Garden Show this year I met Norm from Muddy Thumbs and bought some of his liquid wetting agent. I love it as it is so easy to apply. You dilute it in a watering can and water it on, followed by a good soak with the hose. I used it throughout my front, native garden and didn’t even need to move the bark mulch. In my perennial beds I scraped back the straw mulch first and after I knew the soil was wet I incorporated Sand to Soil which should help prevent the soil becoming so hydrophobic again. When I watered the seedlings at Wireless Hill I added a squeeze of Muddy Thumbs to the water containers to help the water penetrate rather than just run off.

There have been lots of butterflies in the garden this year. After looking up my Australian butterfly books I came to the conclusion that these beauties are the American Monarch, which has been in Australia since the 1870s. This is the first time I have had these beautiful visitors and I think it must be because I have provided milkweed for them after visiting Terri’s Garden in the Open Garden Scheme. They love the perennial Ageratum and Verbena in my purple border. I have also had lots of beautiful dragonflies, hopefully breeding in the frog ponds

 

  • Monarch on Verbena bonariensis Monarch on Verbena bonariensis
  • Monarch on perennial ageratum Monarch on perennial ageratum
  • A beautiful yellow dragonfly A beautiful yellow dragonfly

Gardens of the Mornington Peninsula

I just spent a lovely few days on the Mornington Peninsula and had the chance to visit the first Victorian garden opening for the winter season of  the Australian Open Gardens Scheme: Illyarrie at Balnarring.  This garden is extremely interesting as it consists entirely of Australian plants, mostly from Western Australia!  In the cool lush environment of the Mornington Peninsula some of them look quite different: much greener and softer.  Many of the plants flower at different times too, for example some Leschenaultias were flowering and the owner said they will flower from now until Christmas.  In Perth they flower for  few weeks in early spring.  I was especially inspired by (and envious of) the lovely pot displays and the huge clumps of native orchids.

On the second day it poured with rain, a great opportunity to visit the Peninsula Hot Springs, which are wonderfully landscaped with Australian plants but still look very Japanese in the mist.  Our last day was spent at Heronswood, the home of the Diggers Club, and always a joy to visit.  The café was warm and inviting on a cold day but the sun came out for a while between morning coffee and lunch, allowing a leisurely stroll in the gardens.  The Diggers Club promotes sustainable organic gardening and heirloom varieties.  The vegetable parterre is always picturesque as are the espaliered  fruit trees and the kitchen garden.  In the medicinal garden for the first time I saw a Mandrake plant flowering.  The root has traditionally been used in medicines and magic rituals but I didn’t realise the flower is so attractive (photo below). The nursery was brimming with rare and desirable plants, most of which can be bought on line from Western Australia. The plants and seeds are mailed but need to go through quarantine so unfortunately I was not able to buy anything from the nursery!

 

  • Inspirational pots at Illyarrie Inspirational pots at Illyarrie
  • Vegetable parterre at Heronswood Vegetable parterre at Heronswood
  • A most unusual Cestrum A most unusual Cestrum
  • Mandrake flowering Mandrake flowering

 

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