3S Landscape Design


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

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

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.


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