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

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Sustainability is a real buzz word. It is about treading lightly on the earth . Not being a great consumer of stuff . Being able to restore, recycle and reclaim. It is about all parts of life. It is the string saving state of mind where we think twice before we discard anything. It is the ability to be self sufficent and to move in the smaller circles . It is about having a contentment with who you are and where you are. Sustainabilty seems to have become serious but if you have a realistic approach it is the natural thing to do.
There are many reasons to have a sustainable garden. Naturally we like to have gardens that are as organic as possible and this can be achieved by using compost made on site. We can make choices about what we grow and in our garden we like to use tough plants that will tolerate change and that give us year round colour and interest.Sustainable gardening is more than that.It is not just about growing fruit and vegetables. It is about how a garden can sustain you physically ,emotionally and spiritually.
Some people may get sustenance from a small garden however for me I like to have a large diverse garden where I can work all day if I want to. Gardening makes me happy and I never tire of being outdoors . Spiritually my garden sustains me and it brings me back to what is important in life.The fact that human intervention into gardens might happen for a percentage of the time facinates me when I think of the greater percentage being done by God and nature.
Gardens should outlive the people who create them.

Lately we have been to Brisbane and the changes that have happened in the almost twenty years since we moved to Montville are astounding. It makes me realise how we made the right decision to raise our family in more rural surroundings. Fresh air ,open spaces, gardening and the down to earth friendships have been sustaining.
As I drove through the back streets of the bayside suburb of Brighton it is as if time has stood still. By anyones reckoning the suburb should be green with mature aged trees and gardens and yet 40 years later the yards still have the same sparse appearance that I remember as a child walking home from school. I would walk past the chain wire fences of the neat homes with rows of gerbras and roses or the yards that had a lawn up to the fence with perfectly trimmed edges along concrete paths. Then there were the occassional yards that had a couple of shrubs or perhaps a tree. I just remember that as a child walking those streets it was often stinking hot and there was very little respite along those footpaths.For some reason the benifits of gardens have not filtered into the suburbs. I can't imagine living in a suburban house without a garden. Some people are keen and their gardens are like a mirage for the weary walker on a hot ,humid day. As a children we would eagerly run through the sprinklers that were drumming away on the footpath is those un water wise times. When I look back it seems such a waste becasue 40 years later and all that water down the gutter many of the yards are as barren as ever.(40 years of compost and organically restoring the soil we would be walking in the garden of eden by now!)
For a start it is sensible to have trees to provide shade when most of our weather is hot. Mature trees create a microclimate for other plants so you can effectively have a diverse plant selection. There are many benifits to the physical work of gardening and being outdoors. It is quite easy to grow edible plants and fruits that can contribute and it is easy to establish compost piles so less organic material leaves the property. So what happened?
I drive along Brisbane streets and lament that there just hasn't been enough effort put into growing trees and plants on footpaths ,vacant land and in domestic gardens. Is it because of lack of interest, knowlede, imagination or is it the lack of direction from local government?
My view is that climate change is a real response to the way cities are so built up ,populated and polluted. Too much hard,artifical surface and too little green space.The best and easiest way to make a city more livable and sustainable is to grow richly diverse plants on every available space. A colouful, shady , usable space with edible plants is achievable desirable and sustainable.If a percentage of the money that was put into roads and tunnels went to greening a city it could be achieved. Brisbane could be the first subtropical,edible city.
My vision would to be to have fruit trees on footpaths . Imagine streets lined with mullberry,custard apples and paw paw trees . Passionfruit vines growing up old chain wire fences. Imagine having people employed to maintain the edible gardens on the streets,not just council workers who mow and trim. Imagine if people who could pick a mandarine off a tree on the way to work. Imagine if there was food growing that anyone could use. Imagine the school children walking home and able to sit in the shade of loquart or banana trees.
I think that people would come out of their houses to garden and to use the produce. The council could be employed to mainatin the trees or pick the excess produce and it could be left at locations to be sold or used for free. Generally I think that there would be a great sense of ownership and that the council workers would be on a 'don't call us ,we'll call you' basis.
It would be more beautiful to have the houses flanked with greenery and more sustainable because the shady trees would create liveable spaces outdoors and the interiors would stay cooler too. It would be healthier as the people were eating food that has less food miles and is organic. It would be healthier too because people would be outdoors doing the physical work of gardening.It would be spiritually sustainable because it would bring people together and it would redefine the social isolation that comes with living in cities. It may also bring a contentment and commitment to the people who participate.It could be a cross generational and cross cultural gardening initiative.
If even one street in one Brisbane suburb could attempt to do this I think it would be amazing to see everyone experience the physical, emotional and spiritual sustainability of gardens.
Cheers Kyleigh ( having a rave)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Autumn highlight

Autumn has come very late to our area in 2010 with the first cool weather coming in late May. Showers and light rain continue every few days. While Wisteria sinensis, Diospigros kaki (persimmon) and Weigela are changing colour and losing leaves other plants such as the red Cedar (Toona ciliata) remained fully clothed. Some usually deciduous plants such as Hibiscus mutabilis (double) and Chaenomeles (Japonica) are flowering.
It's all a bit confusing. We've even got Jonquils in flower.
In the mean time with an open garden in 2 weeks we are still feeding, dead-heading and weeding this alleged Autumnal garden as though it was spring.
Many of the Sasanqua Camellias have shot their bolt and Japonicas are just warming up at the starting gate. Hybrid grevilleas are just starting to flower and old tea and china roses never seem to stop flowering. We hope there is fine weather and plenty of flowers for our garden visitors.
A couple of treats could well be the beautiful strings of tiny pendant flowers on Pieris ryukyuensis, the ongoing display from our large Gordonia axillaris and the lovely pink and white striped flowers of our tree sized Camellia japonica 'Aspasia MacArthur'.
The perennial Salvias S.confertifolia, S.iodanthe, S. madrense, S. miniata, S.involucrata and S.coccinea (in bicolor, red and white) we hope will hang on if there is no cold snap.
Another dominating display could well arrive in time from our groups of double white Dahlia imperialis (tree Dahlia).
New plants! Well there is always something. In our newly civilized rain forest corner we have added Licuala grandis (Fan Palm) and Cyathea brownii (Norfolk Island Tree fern) to an understory area of Palms, bromeliads, Orchids, Dieffenbachia, Dracaena, Costus and stromanthe.
Blow! Blow! thou winter wind , thou art not so unkind .......but stay away until after Queen's Birthday holiday 2010 at "The Shambles" in Montville

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Arts and Gardens Festival June 2010

On the Queen's birthday long weekend our garden at 'The Shambles' will be one of half a dozen open for the Maleny garden Club 'Arts and Gardens festival', formerly known as 'Gardening on the Edge'. This weekend event falls just at the start of our real winter and has been very wet in the past.
Picture: Pseudocalymma aliaceum
With the help of family and friends our preparations are nearing completion. This is not an exhibition garden at all but a collectors garden with many different paths, interesting corners and hopefully some interesting plants to see.
The last area completely transformed with the help of Margaret and Laurie Jeays and our friends Isobel, Gary and Martin was a 'rain forest area' deeply shaded by large trees and inaccessible due to debris, mulch-piles and trip hazards.
Now with lovely gravel paths and after much clearing we have planted Bromeliads, Dieffenbachia, Cyathea brownii (Norfolk Island tree Fern) and Licuala grandis (Fan Palm) to add interest in between paths. These will increase the impact of young Livistonas, Parlour Palms and Birds Nest Ferns (asplenium australasicum). No doubt the tall trees, Castanospermum australe (Queensland Bean), Toona ciliata (red Cedar) and others including Black Apple and Schotia brachypetala will be better appreciated by getting closer underneath them.
Hopefully moisture will increase the presence of epiphytic ferns, lichens and bracket fungi in this area.
As a contrast to open sunny areas of lawn and flower beds this newly accessible, dark, cool understory area is one of our new areas of interest.
Michael Simpson

Saturday, May 8, 2010

All weather garden paths

With open garden events coming up our private garden will certainly have hundreds of visitors who we feel sure will want to investigate all the winding paths and hidden corners. With recent rain some of those tracks are downright slippery and potentially dangerous.
Close to our house there is a network of paths of level bitumen which makes a wonderful and attractive surface in a country garden. Under the trees, in 'rain forest' areas we have gravelled paths and this surface has transformed accessibility.
Finally we have this year for the first time replanted grassy paths with buffolo grass plugs and runners which are matting together to form a very reliable surface.
Shifting gravel for paths at the distant corners of the garden is heavy work. John and Tyson started the process along tracks in the west of the garden. Our friends Martin and Gary have offered to come quite a distance to help finish the job in the North and West of our garden where there is a dense tree canopy and trip hazard from tree roots.
When this work is done our visitors will now be able to explore more comfortably, even if it rains. These tracks also help us redefine areas of the garden, into the very corners and helps with our day to day maintenance.
Opening a garden to lots of visitors produces one solid benefit. It really gives us a dead line to upgrade structures, such as paths and seating for such event and we will have a more comfortable and interesting garden to enjoy into the future.
Our garden is open for the "Gardening on the Edge, Arts and Gardens Festival" on the Queens Birthday Holiday 2010 and for the Australian Open Garden Scheme 9th and 10th October 2010.
Michael Simpson

Monday, May 3, 2010

planting in the rain

With the promise of yet more rain we set out many of our cuttings grown plants to put in the ground, and invested in some hardy plants to fill spaces. The "Gardenng on the edge" event which includes our open garden is only a month away. On the Queen's Birthday holiday weekend we expect hundreds of visitors and there are a few places we still needed to improve.
On the edge of our rainforest area we added Stromanthe sanguinea, Costus amazonica variegata and yet more Asplenium australasicum (bird's nest ferns). In garden beds we planted Verbena 'Homestead Purple', Nepeta faasenii, Achillea millfolium and many other cuttings specimens.
In a neglected corner, far from the house we filled up the sides of paths with Abutilon, Pentas lanceolata, Ocimum gratissimum and Barleria cristata from our cuttings area.
In other areas we added cuttings grown Hydrangea macrophylla and Plectranthus saccatus.
Lastly near our water a tank where a tree was recently removed new light has flooded in. Into this area we transplanted and planted Canna x hybridum, Ruellia macrantha and Acanthus mollis. Then the rain came as hoped for and helped get these plants off to a happy start.
For the first time we are experimenting with potted roses including 'Julia's Rose' and 'Harry Wheatcroft' which we can keep in sunny spots.
With an open garden event one month away it is very reassuring to have rain supporting our garden, and for Autumn to be so delayed. Everything is flowering and in full leaf
Michael Simpson