3S Landscape Design

Time running away

I can’t believe its September! I have been so busy since June I have been very slack with posting. June was spent in the Arctic and Scandinavia, seeing the amazing flowers and wildlife, including polar bears! A trip around Iceland was also amazing! I have been meaning to do a post on that but then got into my garden and the bush and it didn’t happen!

In July I ran a workshop on designing native gardens for the Murdoch Branch of the Wildflower Society, also the subject of future blogs!

I was glad the garden was in reasonable shape though when I received a call from Colin Barlow for the Home in WA show asking if they could film a segment in my garden!

Links to the segments, on the use of Seasol and Powerfeed are below with a link to the whole show for context.
Seasol application

Powerfeed segment

At Home in WA

It was a beautiful day on the 26th August when they filmed the segment, not even much wind and I think my garden looks pretty good for late winter!

The end of this week is the Landscape Design Conference in Melbourne so I will get to visit some amazing gardens in the Dandenongs and hear some wonderful speakers, hopefully to be reported in another future blog!

December

Once again I must apologise for the long wait for a post. I have been travelling quite a bit. I missed my garden and the fabulous springtime bush of Western Australia but I did get to visit some beautiful gardens in southern Italy and the south of France as well as some lovely gardens in Victoria. In the couple of weeks I was home between Europe and Melbourne I worked frantically in my coastal Perth garden. I was very happy to see some poppies and sweet peas still flowering when I returned at the end of October and in fact there are still a few of each now at the beginning of December, so it has been quite a long season. Often if sweetpeas are not picked the flowering will stop as the first seeds form. This is apparently the case for most peas as the plant only aims to reproduce. The seed heads of the oriental poppies are spectacular in the garden and in a vase. Each year I gather the seeds of both the sweet peas and poppies for planting the next autumn.

  • Sweet peas Sweet peas
  • Sweet peas with salvia Sweet peas with salvia
  • Oriental poppies Oriental poppies
  • Oriental poppy seedheads Oriental poppy seedheads

A kind friend picked my broad beans for me while I was in Europe to prevent them from giving up production, and they are also still going, though they are in the last couple of weeks now. I wanted a big crop of tomatoes this year and planted a few seedlings as well as transplanting a few of the self-sown ones into this year’s solanaceae bed. When I came home I found a bumper crop, the plants sprawling everywhere, with none of the support or training I should have provided. It is too late now as trying to tie them up will lead to breakage and there seems to be no harm coming to the tomatoes on the ground, though I have now mulched under them with straw. Picking them means spotting the red amongst the foliage and then reaching in to forage. I am making lots of passata for the winter as well as enjoying fresh organic tomatoes every day. I will also have a bumper crop of grapes this year on the Hills hoist pergola that shades the vegetable garden in the summer, I just have to make sure the birds don’t beat me to it! The birds have had a fair share of the mulberries this year but there are plenty to go around and they have not found the blackberries/loganberries or strawberries yet.

  • Beautiful broad beans Beautiful broad beans
  • Daily harvest Daily harvest
  • Future bounty Future bounty

The eggplants are growing well and the capsicum are fruiting. I have not been buying vegetables but just trying to keep up with what’s in the garden! I was really happy to see self-sown basil, which after a bumper winter crop of self-sown parsley, is very welcome and makes me feel almost as if the garden is managing itself. There is always plenty of work to do though. This week I am harvesting my fennel and parsnips to roast and for slicing raw in a citrus salad, and replacing my kale and celery. I am also planting rocket, radicchio and lettuce seeds. The most urgent jobs to prepare the garden for the summer are mulching and fruit fly control.

Harvest Time

I have begun picking my apples. I have three trees which have been in the garden for about three years now, a Granny Smith, a Gala and a Pink Lady. The other apples are still ripening. I also have a pear tree and a quince, both with fruit ready for harvest.

I picked the Gala apples first. Opening each fruit fly exclusion bag was like opening a surprise gift, not knowing how many apples would be in each bag or whether they would be in good condition. Happily the bags have done a great job and I have nearly 50 Gala apples from my little tree! Apples keep well in the refrigerator but we may dry some with the dehydrator.

 

  • A surprise package A surprise package
  • Gala apples ready for harvest Gala apples ready for harvest
  • Freshly unwrapped Freshly unwrapped
  • A bounty! A bounty!

 

The fruit fly exclusion bags, (bought from Green Harvest)are very effective, not only against fruit fly, but codling moth and birds as well! I reuse mine and as it doesn’t rain during the summer they seem to last a couple of years at least. The fruit fly was particularly bad this summer and even though I kept my fruit fly traps (Ceratraps also from Green Harvest) well maintained I have still had fruit fly strike on tomatoes, figs and pawpaw. Many fruit flies have also been drowned in the traps.

Summer!

As well as the usual business of the Christmas season I have had ten days of January in Canberra with family and friends.  This latest period of neglect for my garden comes at the time when there is a lot happening, especially in the food garden.  Luckily I have drip irrigation on timers, with a few sprays for seedlings and precious pots which helps everything survive the heat.

In our garden, two blocks from the beach, we are harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beetroot, lettuce, figs, strawberries, Chinese gooseberries and okra as well as lots of summer herbs and the last of the climbing berries and blueberries.   Plantings include more tomatoes, corn, rockmelons, and annual flowers such as cosmos,  zinnias and eastern states everlastings. Okra is a wonderful plant with a beautiful flower as well as delicious fruit.  The seed pods must be picked a few days after the flower finishes otherwise they become tough and fibrous.

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Many plants in the perennial gardens are flowering too, including asters and society garlic, the Californian poppy (Romneya coulteri) and tansy.

  • Romneya Romneya
  • Tansy Tansy
  • Asters and garlic Asters and garlic
  • Unknown flower Unknown flower
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No flowers are more beautiful though than the waterlilies, which had a slow start due to the amount of algae in the pond.  I didn’t want to clear the pond because we have hundreds of tadpoles resulting from a very long and successful mating season for the resident motorbike frogs.  They started in September and are still calling at night and laying more eggs in our three ponds.  Many of the new little frogs have already left the ponds and give me a surprise every time I lift a pot!  The algae is valuable food for the tadpoles.

  • Lilies with frog Lilies with frog
  • Yellow lilies Yellow lilies
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One of the flowers bringing the most pleasure is a little Cape Primrose (Streptocarpus).  I saw this plant in the UK used in the old stately homes we visited.  I have nurtured it in a pot in the shade and it has been flowering since November.  Now I feel confident, I can buy some more with different colours!

Cape primrose

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

 

Quince harvest

Today I picked all (well almost all!) of my quinces.  I wanted to wait a little longer but the beautiful Ring-necked parrots or 28s were feasting on them so it was now or never.  The crop was also very heavy for my little tree which has been in just over two years.  I have 60 and the birds have five! Last year I had about 8 quinces and thought I was in heaven.  I had planned to make quince paste when I picked the quinces in May but then my daughter gave me some of the ones she had baked and all plans for paste were abandoned.  They are baked for a long time in the oven in an enamel dish and go form yellow/green rock hard to pink, soft and with the most delicious smell imaginable.  At the Barossa Farmer’s Market in March I was told to pick quinces early for quince paste as they have more pectin, so perhaps I will use some of my bountiful crop for paste this year.  I have also been planning to make some fig and fennel paste from our plentiful fig crop.

quinces

Apple time

apples

Autumn is definitely the time for abundant fruit.  The Gala apples are ready all of a sudden, even dropping from the tree!  They look so beautiful hanging on the branches I feel its a pity to pick them but now I have no choice.  I am still perfecting the organic pest control so there are a few bits to cut out but the flesh is crisp and juicy and white.  I’ll be much more vigilant with next year’s crop.  the Granny Smith and Pink Lady trees also have decent crops (not yet ripe) which is encouraging given the very hot summer we have had.

Welcome

Welcome to our new website and blog.  I will try to provide inspiration for sustainable gardens and landscape design by discussing what is happening in Perth gardens each season and the best organic methods.  I will also give updates about what I am doing in my garden and clients’ gardens.

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