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, November 29, 2014


While developing a garden together over the last 22 years at “The Shambles” we have found our interest continues indoors in the form of writing.  Like many others we love to share cuttings, small plants and bulbs with enthusiastic friends. Likewise the act of writing an illustrated gardening book, writing entries into a website or “blog”, or sharing pictures on “facebook” continues the acting of sharing through the written word and pictures.

Our latest and sixth gardening book “A Garden Forever, Dreams, Stories, Heritage , History” is our 6th. Like the others it is hard cover and fully colour illustrated so that as an entity it will stand the test of time.  The book will be launched at 2 00pm on 24/1/2015.

Our latest book to be lauched 24th January 2015, at "The Shambles" 85 Western Avenue Montville. 2.30 for 3 pm  RSVP 

Apart from being an attractive, colourful book which will apeal to any one who loves looking at gardens, this book has a couple of extra threads.

Firstly, it attempts to document a garden history, from pre-European settlement, through the time of selection, clearance, agriculture  to the present and our 22 years of making a plant collectors garden. These last years coincide with a period when farms and orchards in our area have been  replaced by rural residential gardening and the replanting of trees.  Australia and Queensland particularly are very young, but the writing of books, especially those concerning the domestic garden will become the research documents for future historians.

Secondly, it’s not enough to use pictures and written records to describe an overall garden and the people who made it. The substance of any garden is the catalogue of plants within it, how the collection evolved over time and what is to be seen as of the time of writing. Garden plant inventory making is an essential activity for day to day horticulture, for conservation, for sensible discussion with other gardeners and of course as an historical record. Inventory making is fairly complex, it require stringency but cannot be avoided if anything is to survive to describe a garden to future generations.
We genuinely hope that these points are well made in our book and it can be enjoyed, along with the garden at “The Shambles” for many years to come.

 A page from the garden inventory, about 1868, from Talgai Homestead, which an example of exactly the type of garden inventory making which is essential fro historical records. The Ledger at Talgai s of course carried on over time and extensive.

Kyleigh and Michael Simpson

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Let's Talk

I really want to have some  face to face fun conversations about gardens.
Suggested Topics 
Sex is better than gardening.
Is your first gardening experience remembered for life?
Have community gardens lost the plot?
Who has the best "legend" stories,a brain surgeon or a gardener?
Is it really healthy to eat food grown on a Sydney footpath?
Is it really a garden if there are only 3 species of plant?
Is the answer blowing in the wind?
Garden style should reflect an owners personality.
Unhinged people are attracted to gardening.
Organic vs Natural vs Real.
The real significance of statues.
Can cars be garden ornaments? Panza Tank ?
Is time on our side still?
Dame Edna killed gladioli's for all time.
Are home made gifts really better?
How many succulents does it take to be obsessed?
Are choko's the new miracle food?
Do wheelie bins have to be so ugly?
Which pest rates the highest?
What is it about pumkins?
For a fun afternoon with your friends select a couple of topics or do the whole lot. 

Who needs scented candles?

Today I have the smells of summer in my house. A box of mangoes and a vase of gardenias.
My son even when small would smell the jasmine outside his window and say that it must be nearly Christmas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Building a Brisbane garden

Our daughter,Christina and her family live in Brisbane on a suburban bock with fairly tragic soil.  A previous owner in their ignorance filled the yard with rubble and covered it with black plasticated weed mat . It is a bugger to get out and has caused plants to remain stunted as they die from lack of moisture and retarded roots. Muscular beaver arms required to do this job!
After some renovations (a large front verandah) to the house it is time to concentrate on the gardens and Michael and I are doing this as a Christmas gift for them. Having grown up in Montville our daughter is not afraid of working in the garden but she is a bit tied down with three children aged from 4 years to 6 months.
Christina wants her garden to have blues ,purples,pinks and white and for it to be quite soft in appearance.She wants plenty of variety and to create places in the garden that are inviting.
With that to go on( no pressure)  we started by planting Royal Cape Plumbago on the front fence soon after they bought the property. These will remain as will other plants that have been holding on during the drought. One  new path will be paved and the shapes of the gardens changed. There will be no hard landscaped edges as I will do a spade edge for the time being to see if I like the shapes. Out in our plant nursery I have been potting up plants from the garden and will probably only need to buy a few larger shrubs but none of this planting will be done until the beds are built up with animal manures, compost etc. These can sit until we start getting some more regular rain.
It might seem like a slow progress but I think that by following the over planting method we will be able to see some results in just a few months. Some people might think that starting a garden is an extra expense and can be done much later after the house is built or renovated. My feeling is that trees need to be planted as soon as possible as shade is essential in Brisbane gardens. In this garden the trees are already shading the back of the house from the western sun and giving a leafy view to upper storey windows. There is no need to embark on a costly plan of path  paving and building  gardens as it is preferable to do soft landscaping with spade edges or easily moved rocks so you can have some flexibility with your design. In my opinion the building of hard landscaping around a home is akin to treating plants as colouring in between the lines. I never wanted to colour inside the lines and would not want to be locked in to a restricted garden design.As a first step with creating shapes just use the garden hose or string or even experiment with a string line to create a circle . Do lots of drawings and pace around the space at various times of the day to know where your sun and shade will fall. You never know with all this mulling over ideas you may wake up in the middle of the night with the best ever garden plan. Happy Gardening, Kyleigh

Monday, November 24, 2014

ABC Gardening Australia, filming at "The Shambles" for 2015

ABC Gardening Australia, Jerry Coleby-Williams, Chris and Kyleigh 
At quite short notice we were pleasantly surprised to welcome Jerry Coleby-Williams and the filming crew for this ABC TV gardening programme on 21st and 22 nd of November.
Of course we had had prolonged very dry weather, two 40 degree days then a storm which stripped many of the lovely spring flowers. But our mature garden still had plenty of green and shade to offer and many interesting corners, unusual plants and points of interest or the team to use.

Thankyou to ABC Gardening Australia and thankyou to our friends who came up on Friday afternoon to create a little party, make some music and perhaps appear on television in 2015
Michael Simpson
Smokin Melaleucas entertaining on riday Afternoon

Monday, November 17, 2014

"The Shmables" November 2014, Record Heat, prolonged dry

"Cousin Essie" like our other old fashioned roses , getting through unseasonal heat and dry.
In spite of a rather prolonged dry spell, and last weekend 40' celcius heat, the garden has done very well.  The reward for years of appropriate plant species selection, judicious watering, adequate mulching and garden maturity reflects in our garden weathering excessive dry or wet without damage.
The only thing is , plant collectors keep collecting plants and we have often been caught out trying to nurse and protect newly acquired, precious specimens with hand watering and daily supervision.
I'm quite worried about the fate of about 50 tube stock lavandula stoechus, Lavandula dentata, Rosmarinus and Westringea in the harsh environment of our front embankment where we can't do anything but trust in the Lord when it comes to initial settling in.
We have acquired two Spiraea "Anthony Waterer" and the only fatality in recent tough times has been a juvenile Rondoletia amoena.  This latter specimen will be replaced with bloody minded determination because Rondoletia leucophylla "Russian Star" and Rondoletia splendens have done so well.
Looking forward to more comfortable times with the weather as the many different Agapanthus, Lilium lancifoliums, Lilium longflorums etc. "hit their straps".
Michael Simpson

Monday, November 10, 2014


Tanderra House , Flaxton

Don't stay in Brisbane during the G20 lockdown, under surveillance from the G20 control centre


 15-16th NOVEMBER weekend,  the garden of Ann and Geoff Hocking, "Tanderra House" Flaxton will open as part of Open gardens Australia
Address: 11 Flaxton Mill Rd, Flaxton.
Opening time is 10am-4.30pm.  and admissionis $8.00 (under 18 free) funds raisd for charity.

The historic 1908 House is complemented by a beautifully maintained, well balanced and spacious garden where mature flowering trees and shrubs contrast effectively with sweeping lawns. Splendid Magnolia grandiflora, hardy camellias, gardenias, agapanthus, heliconias, bromeliads and palms. Vegetable garden and fruit trees. Refreshments are being served and a plant stall will be in place for those inspired to take some gardening home.
President Obama enjoying "Tanderra House" , stopping off from the G20