3S Landscape Design

flower events

I have had several attempts at growing a desert rose (Adenium obesium). I have killed two with kindness, which was cruelly neglect, leaving them where they received drenching winter rain, which they didn’t like at all. I keep my third attempt away from the rain and only give it a little bit of water every couple of weeks. I have been rewarded with flowers an better yet, a seed pod!
Apparently the seeds are like dandelion seeds. I think I will put a plastic bag over the seed pod so they don’t blow away while I’m not looking.
The last few years I have been away in September/October and have missed my Japanese iris flowering. This year they have gotten in very early, flowering in early May!! I don’t know if this is climate change but it is very odd. The tropical water lilies are still flowering but I have come to expect this; they are hardly dormant for any time at all and cease flowering for only a month or so!

  • early Japanese irises early Japanese irises
  • irises against the pond waterwall irises against the pond waterwall

My autumn cyclamens, Cyclamen hederifolium, and cattleya orchids have continued to thrive under the shelter of the mulberry tree, the only place in my garden providing a “woodland environment”. I wish I could have a carpet of cyclamens as in some English gardens, but I should be grateful I can grow them at all in coastal Perth! I think I have a seed pod on one plant. I was reading an article in the Mediterranean Garden Society newsletter that described the stems spiralling around seed pods and realised I have one!
  • Autumn cyclamen with a seed pod Autumn cyclamen with a seed pod
  • Blooming cattleya Blooming cattleya
  • under the mulberry and frangipani under the mulberry and frangipani

The beautiful Salvia madrensis (Forsythia sage) originating in Mexico is a new flower in my garden this autumn. It is spectacular on stems 1.5 -2 m tall, although it is a bit leggy as I have allowed the large shrub behind it to grow too large and shade it. I will cut it back to the ground after flowering and take a firm hand to the Montanoa grandiflora!
  • A wonderful highlight A wonderful highlight
  • a splash of yellow a splash of yellow

My Hakea laurina (pincushion hakea) is simply stunning this year. I took this photo from the upstairs verandah and the gorgeous site greets me every morning from the kitchen window. Such a fantastic small tree for the garden! The birds and insects love it too!


May has been a busy time in the garden, as in Perth it is both harvest time and the start of the growing season for many plants, a bit like Spring in the northern hemisphere as the rains hopefully come and the weather cools, Dieran in the Noongar calendar.

I have finally poached the quinces I harvested in late April. I use a recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s book (the Cook’s Companion) which requires about six hours in a moderate oven in an enamel baking dish. The result is the most wonderful fragrance throughout the house and the quince turn from hard yellow/green to a glorious crimson. It is quite hard work to cut the quince up and core them and I have found it is fine to leave the skin on rather than peeling them as recommended, which is very tedious!

  • Quinces and pears from the tree Quinces and pears from the tree
  • Poaching quince Poaching quince
  • Yum!!! Yum!!!
  • Granny Smiths still ripening Granny Smiths still ripening

The poached quince can be frozen for use as dessert, in a nut and quince cake or for a decadent breakfast (they are wonderful with porridge). The Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples are slow to ripen this year.

In the native garden many shrubs and trees are flowering, providing energy for birds as they select their mates.
Some of the wonderful small trees flowering in my garden include Eucalyptus kruseana, the first flowering since I planted it last year, and Hakea laurinia, the fabulous pincushion hakea, as well as Eucalyptus woodwardii and the Silver Princess. Its lovely that the trees are now tall enough to enjoy from the second floor windows and I can watch the bees and birds buzzing around the flowers.

Some of the smaller things flowering include Beaufortia squarrossa with its fabulous red, Grevillea pimeloides and Calytrix tetragona. I am particularly enjoying a purple thryptomene, Thryptomene strongylophylla. I bought it at one of the Kings Park sales because I love purple flowers but was still surprised to see how lovely it really is in flower. Unfortunately the photo doesn’t really do it justice.

  • Hakea laurinia bursting from its bud Hakea laurinia bursting from its bud
  • Almost fully open Almost fully open
  • Eucalytpus kruseana Eucalytpus kruseana
  • Grevillea pimeloides Grevillea pimeloides
  • Calytrix tetragona Calytrix tetragona
  • Thryptomene strongylophylla Thryptomene strongylophylla
  • A difficult to photograph purple.... A difficult to photograph purple....
  • Beaufortia squarrossa Beaufortia squarrossa

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

Flowering in March

It has been a very long hot summer in Perth, with our first rain since November falling last night. Autumn is only just beginning in the garden and there are still late summer perennial flowers to enjoy like Michaelmas daisies, daylilies, salvias and ageratum. The summer annuals like the orange Cosmos Diablo are also still going strong as are the frangipanis which flower all summer long.


  • Perennial Ageratum with Salvia Perennial Ageratum with Salvia
  • Michaelmas daisies Michaelmas daisies
  • Cosmos Diablo Cosmos Diablo
  • Frangipanis in full bloom Frangipanis in full bloom


In the vegetable garden the Jerusalem artichokes are in full flower meaning they will soon be ready for harvest. Unlike the globe artichoke the Jerusalem artichoke is related to the sunflower. Their cheery flowers brighten the garden. The basil is continuing to thrive and I pick it for salads and pesto most days, removing the flowers so it won’t bolt to seed. The apples are almost ready, with the trees looking very strange all summer decorated with fruit fly exclusion bags.


  • Jerusalem artichokes in flower Jerusalem artichokes in flower
  • Apples almost ready for harvest Apples almost ready for harvest
  • Apple tree with fruit fly exclusion bags Apple tree with fruit fly exclusion bags


In the bush garden there is plenty of colour and nectar for the birds provided by Banksias, some of the Grevilleas and Beaufortia squarossa, a beautiful sight throughout the summer. The red-capped gum and the Silver Princess are flowering and the grove of Euky dwarf (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) trees is in flower too, attracting a little flock of spotted pardalotes.


  • Beaufortia squarossa Beaufortia squarossa
  • Bansia ashbyii (dwarf) Bansia ashbyii (dwarf)
  • Banksia prionotes Banksia prionotes
  • Grevillea Ned Kelly Grevillea Ned Kelly


My pampered pots continue to surprise me with unexpected blessings. I thought my little pots of species cyclamen had died from overwatering as they lost their leaves very soon after I bought them last year but I put them in the shade where they would only receive handwatering once a week or so and they have repaid the neglect they need by returning to life as they should in late summer/early autumn.


  • Cyclamen graecum Cyclamen graecum
  • Cyclamen hederifolium (Autumn cyclamen) Cyclamen hederifolium (Autumn cyclamen)


Its really important to have a place to put such plants if, like me, you lack a woodland garden which would provide dry shade through the summer.

New Red Centre Garden

In January I was in Canberra to visit family and friends and had the pleasure of visiting the Australian National Botanic Gardens.  I have watched this garden develop throughout my life and I love the most recent addition: a red centre garden, magnificently landscaped to resemble the ecosystems of central Australia.  The garden has a wonderful sculpture of a  thorny devil (about 100 times life size),  gullies and streams and rocky outcrops as well as beautiful plantings of central Australian plants.



  • Gossypium sturtianum Gossypium sturtianum
  • gully gully
  • Brachyscome Brachyscome
  • pot plantings pot plantings
  • Thorny devil Thorny devil
  • Daisies Daisies


Many of the flowers, including the beautiful Gossypium sturtianum (Sturt’s Desert Rose) are purple or mauve, a lovely contrast with the red soil.

It will be great to visit the gardens from time to time to see how the red centre garden is developing.

Elsewhere in the gardens there are many Western Australian plants including the gorgeous flowering gum Corymbia ficifolia.

Corymbia ficifolia

I also love the rock gardens with their many water dragon lizards and the rainforest gully, showing the diversity of Australian plant habitats.

A display bed of everlastings was especially beautiful.


Wildflower gardens

Each year we create a spring display of everlastings and kangaroo paws on the nature strip to brighten the street.  The kangaroo paws are a variety of hybrids in various colours and heights, with smallest at the front of the verge just behind the Myoporum groundcover and the tallest nearest the footpath.  The kangaroo paws are there all year round and some of them flower almost all year, but in May we sow the everlasting seed after the first winter rains.


The seed comes from one bag bought several years ago, since then we have collected it after the flowers finish in mid summer and resown it each year with plenty to give away.  the seed which falls into the garden usually shoots too early and fails.  The garden receives no watering through the winter except for the rain.  Snails love everlastings as well as kangaroo paws so the iron based Multiguard is used occasionally.  As the everlastings die they are pulled out and the bark mulch replenished

Overall this is a very low maintenance, low effort display.

  • A display of wildflowers A display of wildflowers
  • Everlastings with kangaroo paws Everlastings with kangaroo paws
  • Myporum provides a green edge Myporum provides a green edge
  • Even more gorgeous in the sun Even more gorgeous in the sun

Spring in the Garden

So much happens all at once as Spring arrives.  Some plants flower all at once in a glorious burst, like the pink Echium, others start slowly, with more and more colour each day like my favourite rose, Rosa laevigata, which provides a once a year display of beauty.  My roses are suffering terribly from the salt winds which enter the garden over the back fence and also burn vegetables black.  We were protected by a row of Tuarts in the garden behind us but they were lost late last winter in a storm.  We have replanted Tuarts and Marris in our neighbour’s garden but it will be a few years until they can again buffer the garden from the strong winds.  There is a price to be paid for living so close to the sea!

The Jacobean lily (Sprekelia) is one of the other flowers I most anticipate at this time of year, glowing in the red garden when most of the other perennials are still reshooting.

  • Echium in full bloom Echium in full bloom
  • Rosa laevigata Rosa laevigata
  • Rosa laevigata Rosa laevigata
  • Sprekelia Sprekelia

Another pleasure comes from the flowering of special plants kept in pots.  The Dendrobium orchids and Primula auriculas have been enjoying the winter and early Spring sunshine but will soon be moved back under the shelter of the Mulberry tree for the summer.

  • Pots of Primula auricula Pots of Primula auricula
  • Native Dendrobiums Native Dendrobiums


Walk on the Zig Zag

I went for a walk with the Wildflower Society on the Zig Zag in the Darling Ranges.  There are incredible views over Perth and some beautiful bush.  Although it was still mid-winter we found many flowers, including Donkey orchids, Petrophile biloba and several species of Acacia.  The main purpose of the walk was to look for Hakea myrtoides, which has a limited distribution.  We were happy to find lots of plants, in gorgeous flower and resprouting from a burnt area.

  • View from the Zig Zag walk View from the Zig Zag walk
  • Daviesia decurrens Daviesia decurrens
  • Hakea myrtoides Hakea myrtoides
  • Donkey orchid, Diuris sp. Donkey orchid, Diuris sp.

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


Unusual flowers

I love to find new plants, in gardens, in the bush and in nurseries.

I visited Kings Park to see what was in flower (resisting the Friends of Kings Park plant sale) and spotted  a beautiful bright bush on the roadside of the Botanic Gardens.  It was Grevillea wickhamii (photos below), absolutely covered in brilliant flowers and buzzing with insects.  According to Naturebase this Grevillea is endemic to the north of Australia: WA, NT and Queensland, but it certainly thrives in Kings Park.  Now I am trying to work out where I could squeeze one into my garden!

  • Grevillea wickhamii Kings Park Grevillea wickhamii Kings Park
  • Beautiful grevillea flowers Beautiful grevillea flowers

In my garden the Mexican tree daisy Montanoa grandiflora I bought from Whistlepipe Nurseries finally flowered.  It had grown from a very small cutting to over 2 metres tall and was looking a bit tattered and unattractive but when it flowered all was forgiven!  I think I will cut it back after flowering and perhaps try to strike some cuttings.

  • Montanoa grandiflora Montanoa grandiflora
  • Reaching for the sky Reaching for the sky
  • Welcome autumn flowers Welcome autumn flowers



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