Top ten list of garden plants

  • Abutilons of all kinds
  • Buddlejas old and new
  • Epiphytic orchids and ferns
  • Gordonia species
  • Heliotrope, Lemon verbena, Fennel and herbs
  • Michelias of all sorts
  • Perennial Salvias large and small
  • Species Camellias
  • Tea and China Roses
  • Weigela of all types

Montville Rose

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A wet march after a Record dry February and new plantings.

Plants added end of March 2017
A record dry February 2017 has transformed to some wet days with over 200MM rain in the first 3 weeks of March. Days remain hot and humid and often cloudy with persisting showers.
Justicia brandegeana Front Path garden
Mussaenda phillipica .Mussaenda ‘Queen Sirikit’ (Mussaenda ‘Dona Hilaria x Dona Aurora’) is named for Queen Consort of Thailand, the longest reigning head of state in the world. It is possibly the most widely grown Mussaenda in the world. It has multiple pale pink sepals which have a distinct darker edge. Flowers are bright yellow. Following heavy rain, the weight of the flower heads has been known to break branches. Mussaenda philippica (Tropical Dogwood) is native to the Philippines, Indonesia and New Guinea. The flowers have white sepals and orangy-yellow flowers. It grows in cultivation to a a shrub 1.8 to 2.5 metres (6 to 7 feet) high by 1.2 to 1.8 metres (4 to 6 feet) wide. This species is less widely seen than its well known cultivar Mussaenda philippica ‘Dona Aurora’ (Dona Aurora, Buddha’s Lamp). This was a chance sport first collected in 1915 by Calixto Mabesa on Mt Makiling and then recollected by Hugh Curran and Mamerto Sulit at the College of Forestry grounds at the University of the Philippines Los Banos in 1930. This cultivar has multiple floral sepals (often 5 per flower) instead of just one. This was propagated and dedicated in 1930 to Mrs Aurora Quezon, wife of the Philippines President. This plant is the parent of almost all hybrids. Criss Cross garden west border
Mussaenda phillipica  “Dona Luz” Mussaenda ‘Dona Luz’ (M. ‘Dona Hilaria x Dona Aurora’) is named after Philippines First lady Luz Banzon-Magsaysay. It has multiple shrimp pink sepals which are inclined to turn under at their tips. Criss Cross garden west border
Pseuderanthemum laxiflorum  ‘Purple Riot” shooting star. This is a well-branched herbaceous perennial to small shrub with opposite leaves and purple flowers held singly or in small groups near branch tips. This plant is native to Polynesia Fiji Islands   Central Shrub garden
Ipomoea horsfalliae Cardinal Creeper. This is a winter bloomer. The ruby red to magenta-violet flowers, 4 – 7 cm in diameter. Tropical vine is named for Charles Horsfall (1776-1846), an avid botanist who was Lord Mayor of Liverpool, and whose wife, Dorothy, was a noted botanical artist. This spectacular plant is a native of South America (Brazil, Guyana, Surinam and Venezuela), and has also become naturalized in the humid forests of the Caribbean, especially in Jamaica. It is also very common, and now naturalized, in Hawaii, where it was introduced by Prince Kuhio (1871-1922). In its native range the plant is almost solely fertilized by hummingbirds, and where these are lacking or scarce, fruiting seldom occurs. Most parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested. Arch East Border garden. SE Corner Car garage.
Sparaxis (Harlequin lower) Sparaxis tricolor has bright red flowers with yellow and black centres. Many named hybrid cultivars were bred from S. bulbifera and S. tricolor. endemic to Cape Province, South Africa. NW Corner garden
Narcissus jonquila (Jonquil) “Paperwhite” Jonquil: This term actually refers to a specific type of daffodil known as Narcissus jonquilla, although the name is often used as a more general term for daffodils in certain parts of the country. They are most easily identified by their dark green, tube-shaped leaves as compared to other types of daffodils which have flat leaves. Jonquils also tend to have clusters of several flowers, instead of just one bloom, along with a strong scent. NW corner garden

 Camellia sasanqua "Hiryu" . Camellias starting to flower already here.
Freesia refracta alba Freesia alba is an herbaceous perennial growing from a corm and producing an erect, often branched stem up to 40 cm (16 in) centimeters tall with several leaves up to about 15 centimeters long. The inflorescence is a spike of several fragrant flowers with usually white tepals marked with yellow and purple. The genus Freesia is named after F.H.T. Freese (died 1876), a German physician from Kiel and a pupil of Ecklon. Freesia has a rather complicated and confusing history with lots of wrong names, misapplication of names and synonymy-for the full version see the 1982 revision by Peter Goldblatt. The first two species that were cultivated in Europe in 1766, were both placed in different genera viz. F. corymbosa was thought to be a Gladiolus and F. caryophyllacea was thought to be an Ixia. Freesia refracta arrived there in 1795 and was also thought to be a Gladiolus. Freesia sparrmannii was collected in 1770 and described in 1814, also as a Gladiolus, and the fifth species was called Gladiolus xanthospila but this one has never been related to any wild plant and is thought to be a form of F. caryophyllacea. Ecklon, Zeyher and Drege, all active in the early 1800s, sent back several species including F. sparrmannii, F. refracta, F. corymbosa, F. leichtlinii and F. andersoniae. It was only in 1866 that Freesia was described as a distinct genus. Freesia alba was first described in 1878 by G.L.Meyer, and became well known in Europe, as F. refracta var. alba. Gumbleton recognized Freesia alba as a distinct species in 1896. There is no record of how it got there, but Freesia alba first appeared in the English nursery trade in 1878 and quickly spread to Europe and North America. It appears to have caused quite a sensation, Cape province South Africa. NW corner garden

Allium sphaerocephalon “Drumsticks” Ornamental onions have small vibrant flower heads that change from green to a red-purple. Front path garden where hopefully they won't rot in present wet days.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What is a garden?

Have people forgotten what a garden is ?
I imagine that in many cases some people would have no idea of the sensory delight of a full blown garden that relies on plants, design and maturity. I was really looking forward to the latest tv show about garden design but yet again there is so much focus on start from scratch creation of a designed space. Scary amounts of money are spent and major earth moving is often the norm.
Horses for courses .
People who visit our garden so often say they would like to have a garden like ours.A garden is never finished and even at 25 years in our care The Shambles will always be changing purely because plants grow, some die and we just get design ideas that will only make it more interesting.
It is the layers of maturity which is really only achievable by staying in one place and not selling up every couple of years.
I have been burnt in the past by people who ask for plants which I am always happy to give only to find out that they are selling the property just when things are taking off. Prorogation takes time and in the case of roses it is often by the second year that they are ready to plant out.
Often I am asked to visit a garden and to make suggestions of how to make it more manageable or to redesign it. It is so essential to get a good understanding of what the owner wants and their level of commitment because most gardens take work. It is also essential to value what is already in the garden and what past gardeners have done. The remnant plants will inform me of what grows well on the site. Taking note of the hard landscaping that has already been imposed on a site is also necessary and can either help or hinder a project. Rediscovering focal points and views or simply reducing tree branches can change the whole feeling of a garden letting in sunlight even into the interiors of the house.
I think that  some garden designers have lost the plot . I think that so many suburban gardens are being treated so heavily with hard landscaping and a very small range of plants that not even bees and butterflies will want to visit. I'm not sure but if the next housing estate held back on the concrete driveways and 6ft high fences and loosened up the planting maybe there could be somewhere for the kids to play .There is a difference between garden landscapers , garden designers and gardeners and if you want a garden that is one thing but if you want an outdoor room that is something quite different.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Doctors wife

I happened to see a  sweaty lycra clad lady emerging from a gym when it occurred to me that any exercise that doesn't involve dirt and minor injury is not my thing. As for lycra or having to go and purchase the stuff -I don't think so. My gardening attire is strictly rags with pockets.My clothes actually wear out to the stage of compost when I finally discard them. There are so many benefits to using your garden as an exercise space. The over  loaded wheel barrows require speed and balance as they are pushed around the garden down to the mulch pile or fire pit. Plenty of deep bends can be achieved just picking stuff up , lugging pots along with wrestling the dog for the palm fronds or the mower. Upper body stretches and toning is all part of reaching those dead branches and  bringing shrubs down in height .Cleaning out gutters and climbing up on the shed roof is another one for balance.  It is all about the struggle and not being arsed to go and get a ladder or wait for help.
Then there are the rocks. There is so often a need to move rocks around and the trusty furniture remover is ideal for this -there will often be several attempts at making the rock stay on but that is all part of the exercise  routine. Digging is great for the arms and the therapeutic  buzz you get from an open fire is rarely done at an indoor gym. Our dog "Shadow " is so fond of palm fronds that he will attempt to drag them off the fire in full blaze - that is when your  sprint comes in.

The thing about exercise in the garden is that you don't have to drive anywhere and it can take all day so there has to be some positive out come for all that physical activity.  The worst thing is discovering that you have run out of milk or something and need to do the quick dash out in the real world where real people are . That is when I or others notice my state of attire -OMG is that the Doctors wife?

New Paths, New plantings at The Shambles February 2017

The newly paved paths around the old house and north to the Plough Inn are finished and after a record hot, dry february a little rain and some showers have encouraged some transplanting, planting from our own stock and buying new plants.

 New Paths  front path garden.
From our own stock   Aloysia triphylla (Lemon Verbena)
                                       Clerodendron ugandense (Blue Butterfly bush)
                                       Lavandula spp (Lavender from cuttings at Montville School)
                                       Chrysantheum frutescens cultivar)
Transplanted               Clivea miniata  (Orange and Yellow)
                                      Liriope cultivar
                                      Justicia brandegeana (yellow shrimp plant)
New plant from Leighanne Gerbera cultivars x 2
New paths   South Rose garden
New plants                  Coreopsis grandiflora 'Calypso' is a clump forming herbaceous perennial with cream and yellow variegated foliage and golden yellow flowers with a ring of red around large yellow centres in summer. Garden edge South Rose Garden
                                      Tulbaghia violacea 'Variegata'. Variegated society garlic garden edge
                                      South rose garden
                                      Dianthus chinenesis Pinks from throw out bin Sunray Nursery
New paths  Azalea garden South Rose garden (Northern side)
                                      Azalea, Rhododendron indica “Dr Arnold” A small single Azalea, bears cherry        pink flowers tinged with mauve flowers. Apparently hybridizd by Camellia Lodge Nursery, or possibly the Netherlands.
                                      Azalea, Rhododendron rutherfordiana indica “Firelight” Rutherford Indica. Semi-double frilly red flowers on strong bush
                     Stone Circle Garden
New plants                 Abelia gradiflora variegata "Variegated Abelia". It has a natural rounded habit and produces masses of small white flowers in Spring, Summer and Autumn. The leaves are green and broadly edged with white with new pink growth.
                                       Euphorbia hypericifolia “Diamond Frost” grows to a 50cm cushion and is spangled almost all year round with tiny, white flowers. Africa  
From our own cuttings Weigela alba
New paths  South East Corner, East border garden
                                           Strobilanthus dyerianus  (Persian shield) Soft stemmed shrub with thick, quilted purple leaves to 6 inches long splashed with iridescent pewter or silver. In autumn, it bears delicate funnel-shaped violet flowers in an eye-catching spike formation
                                           Scutellaria costaricana  (Scarlet skullcap) Tender perennial native to Costa Rica, where it grows in the mountain forests at elevations as high as 2,000 m (6,500 ft). It is grown as a house plant for its orange- red flowers which are borne in rich terminal clusters. It is a member of the mint family
Transplanted to path edges Chlorophytum comosum, (Variegated spider plant syn. airplane plant, St. Bernard's lily, spider ivy, ribbon plant, hen and chickens) is a flowering perennial herb. It is native to tropical and southern Africa, but has become naturalized in other parts of the world, including Australia
New paths east border gardens
From our own stock       Pycnostachys urticifolia evergreen shrub produces vivid blue flowers shaped like a witches hat in autumn and winter. Growing at the tips of the branches
                                           Salvia pallida Pale Sage. Tall, Oval leaves scalloped edges, pale blue flowers
                                           Justicia aurea Yellow Justicia
                                           Begonia fuchsioides Begonia with bright red Fuchsia like flower clusters
                                           Stachytarpheta mutabilis
                                           Chrysanthemum frutescens hydrid ith low growth white flowers
From Rowena Cavanagh  Tecomanthe hillii ? Tecomanthe speciosa Yellow fast growing climber which flowers profusely in spring. Dense green foliage with bunches of soft yellow tubular flowers which fade to a pale pink as they fall off the vine. Full sun to part shade. On new arch East border garden.
Added                                  Festuca glauca Blue Fescue clump-forming ornamental grass noted for its glaucous, finely-textured, blue-gray foliage
                                              Hemigraphis exotica “Polywaffle” compact, prostrate, evergreen tropical perennial with small, dark green and burgundy leaves and tiny white flowers. The oval leaves are crinkled with curled edges and look rough and rigid but feel soft to the touch
Transplanted                       Ophiopogon      Mondo grass

New paths  Fenced Rose garden
Removed then replanted   Tetradenia riparia syn. Iboza riparia
From our stock                     Neomarica caerulea
                                                Neomarica longifolia
                                                Liorope cultivar
Added                                    Cordylline Australis “Red sensation” deep red foliage all year round. It has thin, long hardy leaves that branch off the main stem
Behind pool Fence              Banksia ericifolia x collina “Giant Candles”

Gerbera hybrida  is a garden hybrid from the genus of plants Asteraceae (daisy family). It was named in honour of German botanist and medical doctor Traugott Gerber (1710-1743) who travelled extensively in Russia and was a friend of Carl Linnaeus. Gerbera is native to tropical regions of South America, Africa and Asia. The first scientific description of a Gerbera was made by J.D. Hooker in Curtis's Botanical Magazine in 1889 when he described Gerbera jamesonii, a South African species also known as Transvaal daisy or Barberton Daisy. Gerbera is also commonly known as the African Daisy. The domesticated cultivars are mostly a result of a cross between Gerbera jamesonii and another South African species Gerbera viridifolia. The cross is known as Gerbera hybrida. Thousands of cultivars exist.             Front Path garden Gift from LeighAnne Lawrence

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New Paths at The Shambles

Today we are having some heavy rain that is ideal for settling our new paths and the latest plantings.
These paths were put in by Custom Asphalt Driveways - Mark and his team of fantastic workers have done a great job.
These paths are an asset to the garden because they allow for Michael to walk more safely as well as civilising places that have become well worn tracks over the last 25 years. For us the expense of the paths is offset by the fact they we will always live here and the garden will always be such an important part in our day to day lives. People who visit the garden who have mobility limitations will get the benefit and Shadow our dog is really enjoying doing laps. Our garden is well set up with garden seating and Michael will often station himself somewhere in the garden and really take time to look at plants in detail.
Often this will inspire an "idea", and we all know what happens then.
I guess I have spent a fair bit of time putting  Michael's
ideas into action but generally the garden is a combination of both of us.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The wrong shoes

With all the dry weather certain plants have really thinned out to reveal trellises and archways that are in need of replacement.
As usual the first thing to do is to scout around for materials that can be reused. I even managed to obtain some throw out lattice strips from a friend in a fetching shade of bluey teal that we decided would be perfect for a new trellis for the quissquallis. Rangoon creeper - I just love the perfume of this vine-the smell of summer and Christmas and I love the clusters of star shaped pink and red flowers.
Unfortunately after two days of struggle buggle in the heat and dust with post mix ,zip ties, wire ,the wrong sized screws and lots of swearing the effect was more like debris that had come to roost after a major weather event. A fly away kids trampoline may have been better.
Anyway we kidded ourselves that in no time the vine would grow and cover the thing but I am a bit impatient so had another plan.Michael was probably just too scared to actually say it was shit due to the amount of blood and sweat that had been shed.
For the last 20 years plus we have had ownership of the" Wolff's Gate" a heavy piece of fencing that has been part of an outside laundry, trellising for various plants and lately ended up stored down the back in a tangle of weeds. Perfect!! 
As usual I have to wait for help and this time in the form of our son John who somehow manages to turn up with the "wrong shoes". It is an unconscious ploy to get out of working I just know it. Anyway not this time . John in thongs got to do the forward walk while we lugged the gate up to it's new position. We flipped and shoved it into it's position and set about dismantling the attractive lattice which has now been tossed aside but not too far. ( It could come in handy ) All we need now is some restorative rain so that the plant can cover the trellis asap.
I just feel a bit sorry for the neighbours. The gate had previously had other functions and has a cat hole  for when we had a cat and an assortment of white plastic hooks for something to hang on. Of course the the hooks are now facing the neighbours a perfect place for a dream catcher  or a pair of underpants don't you think ?
This photo show the area under construction with the Leonard Complex in the centre . Note newly cemented in coppers logs around tank at jaunty angles .

Record prolonged Heat and no rain

It is a testament to a gardens maturity and the plant selection within it, as much to the gardeners that "The Shambles" remain lush and full of flowers in spite of very testing conditions.
In 2016/ early 2017 there has a been a succession of heat waves and a failure of the pattern of summer storms or any monsoon. Tanks are dry and no break has been forecast as of early February.

We have taken advantage of this time to organize extension of our paved asphalt paths to connect all the way around the house, through the South Rose garden and the eastern border Gardens. Also to connect down the western edge of the lawns, along the fringe of the treed areas, through the previous fenced rose gardens to the North West Corner gardens to the Plough Inn.

Kyleigh has built a path along the side of the coral fountain.

Hopefully rain will come and restore our normal expected wet summer before it finishes.

                                               Michael Simpson        The Shambles