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


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.


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

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

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

Lotus ponds

My garden has two ponds: one is a lily and iris pond with a waterwall of tiles brought back from Turkey, the other is an Australian billabong with a rock waterfall and only Australian plants including nardoo and fringe lilies.  Both ponds have a contented population of native pygmy perch (which don’t eat frog’s eggs or tadpoles), frogs and snails, all of which are breeding.  Various insects such as dragonflies also use the ponds.

Recently I visited Siem Reap in Cambodia and stayed at the lovely Le Meridien Hotel.  The grounds of the hotel are home to many frogs, toads and lizards and at least a couple of snakes!  I love the design of the swimming pool and so do the frogs!  Around the pool there are watergardens with waterlilies and lotus in pots, which revived my desire for a lotus.  The frogs sit on the lilypads in the shade of the lotus leaves which are held above the water.  I don’t have room for a lotus in my lily pond and want to keep the front pond Australian but I heard there are now mini lotus which have been bred for pots and small ponds. I found one at the local Claremont Farmer’s Market where the breeders of this variety sell their range of waterplants including edible water plants!  Now the search is on for the perfect bowl to make a third pond in the shade.


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