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

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Over the fence at the Shambles

A lovely welcome at our front gate is the Delbard rose ,Maurice Utrillo. Some love these painterly roses and some people just hate them. I don't hate any plant and these just amaze me for the  mish mash colour and consistent flowering throughout the year.They are super thorny but that's life with roses. I like these roses with the feathery maiden hair fern in a vase and even when they start dropping petals they still look lovely .
Have you ever wondered if you can have too many agapanthus in a garden. At this time of the year they are just everywhere and usually make their way into tall jugs as decoration for the Christmas table. The thing about agapanthus is that they are really hardy plants barely touched by drought and can be dug up and replanted without missing a beat. I have been known to do this while they are in full flower so talk about instant gardening! Around Montville you can see white and blue/mauve agapanthus up and down the main street as well as along the streets in domestic gardens. Once you have them they will multiply which is never a bad thing.
Another favourite flower is the Shasta Daisy which with a bit of dead heading of spent flowers is putting on a great show. The white flowers with yellow centres remind me of the drawings that I would do as a child. Bold shaped flowers crisp and clean.
Our garden is rangy and colourful today and a short shower of rain has given everything a welcome wash even if it wasn't enough to drain into the soil. A cool breeze has come up and it's time to head out and enjoy it. Kyleigh

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Snakes on the move

This week we had a visit from the Ferny Hills Garden Club and it was lovely to share the garden with other keen gardeners.Michael and I gave a short talk about the progress of the garden and no one seemed to drop off to sleep.
It is almost rose cutting time and I have lots of pots ready to go. I find November is the best time to take rose cuttings. Some of the cuttings roses from last year are already in the garden and putting on new growth. It is also the time for snakes and I have my trusty snake bandage  at hand mind you I do wonder what the reality of getting a snake bite would be and hope not to find out.Here is our gorgeous carpet python  a delightful creature who gets around popping up in the shed on the roof or out in the sun on the path.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

NEW PLANTINGS 'The Shambles' SPRING 2015

Neomarica caerulia is a tall spring flowering jem 
In the East Border garden a reasonably large area of overgrown Jasmine (Jasminium officinale) was cleared with quite an effort adjacent to a drift of Azaleas, Vireyas and Fuchsia.
New plantings in the East Border gardens are
Azalea (Rhododendron indica) 'Alphonse Anderson'
                                                  Alba Magnifica
                                                  Ann Kehr
Rhododendron vireya                Toff
                                                  Archangel (white)
                                                  Coral Seas
Buddleja davidii                       'Velvet'
Camellia vernalis                     'Star above Star'

New plantings, in an area cleared of weed, Poinsettia in the north end of the central shrub garden. Hibiscus mutabilis and Hibiscus syriacus were liberated
Cuttings grown Roses  'Comtesse de Labarthe'
                                     'Beauty of Glenhurst'
                                    'Ally's Rose'  multiflora hybrid
and cuttings grown  Fuchsia and Rosemary were added.
Also  Dipladenia sanderi  x 2 cultivars (white and pink)

Rosa 'Kardinal"  kordes 1989 added to North rose garden      

                                      Shadow the puppy helping with garden clear up

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Justifying your garden.

Is there anyone out there who just likes to garden without the over lay of justification?
It just isn't enough that you have a garden these days and like the rough and tumble of gardening you must  have a manifesto  to support your style, plant selection , eco credentials and sociological perspectives.
I am sure that I don't do anything "right" in my garden and yet it rewards me daily . I don't use my garden to make a living and I don't want to study for a cert 3 in horticulture. I remember my great Aunt having a real love of plants and loving to visit her garden  and sit in those damp shady areas lush with ferns. It was the days of honest gardening- a simple past time that could rejuvenate you. It was a time of cuttings over the fence  and sharing produce with neighbours long before the term community garden was talked of. It was just the way it was.

I must say I would hate to bore people with some deeply thought over diatribe on my garden when it is far more fun to tell it like it is. We obviously do have a garden philosophy and some special interests and that is what all that writing of books is for. As for the day to day reality it is more about the flat tyre on the wheelbarrow  and another right hand glove wearing out . It is about near misses with the chain saw and trying to get the mower to actually stop when you want it to and remembering which tree you last saw the loppers.

 ps several near new left hand gloves available. Kyleigh

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Another park bites the dust.

I know only too well about the need for access for all people to public spaces but sometimes it just goes too far.
I came across yet another once beautiful park that has had the landscaper make over . You know the stuff -concrete paths, removal of nasty old trees, built in gardens, ramps and stairs , new fangled toilet blocks. I just miss the soft edges of actual grass and untidy trees and plants. Once the natural landscape is tampered with it never really goes back. The natural landscape has that lovely untouched feeling and a wildness that makes it explorable. The park I am referring to is in the Mapleton Forest. It was beautiful and we had many lovely picnics down there around a real fire . The damper in the coals and our kids racing about collecting sticks and generally playing in the dirt,finding seed pods or precious stones.  Contrary to what the councils impose on our public landscapes I think people who live on the Range and the tourists as well want to have some things  un -landscaped.Surely the city folk have enough of curbing and footpaths and can cope with a little uneven surface or  a scatter of leaves on a path way. Rather than seeing the risks everywhere we look lets just have some common sense and enjoy a natural setting for what it is.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bunya Mountains Weekend

 Honeysuckle outside our cottage at Taabinga
After a lovely couple of days resting at Taabinga Homestead , via Kingaroy we wnt on to the Bunya Mountains nd stayed at Dandabah
 Taabinga , established 1846.
Taabinga is a fascinating place to visit with a very interesting garden history , wonderful outbuildings and the original Homestead.
Blackall range Horseless Carriage Club members at the Bunya Mountains. Great weekend and dinner at Lyrics Restaurant , Saturday Night. Home via Ringfield House Nanango
Old School House in the grounds of Ringfield House, Nanango

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Wild Dogs , Bastards!

Last night I was awoken to the sound of howling , no not from Michael but the dreaded wild dogs. I quickly sprang out of bed to check on pampered pet 'Bear' to find him safe and sound in his locked up verandah room ,just listening.Thankfully we don't have chooks to worry about right now but it seemed timely to read this story by Chris Donlen.
"Chooks of the Obi Obi" - A cautionary tale by Chris

I live on a "farm". Fortunately for me living ON something is very fashionable these days. Like ON Buderim. I use quotation marks because that is also very in, whether written or denoted with fingers and also because I am beginning to question what exactly I am farming since everything seems to be deceasing from dry, wet, predators or pests and the fact that my mother has more stuff productively growing in her tiny retirement village garden than I do on my farm.

Anyway, because I live on a farm it is anticipated, indeed expected that I should therefore have poultry, particularly chooks. This applies to anyone on a 1/4 acre block or more. If you do not then you have somewhat failed in many people's eyes.
Farms must have an abundant supply of fresh eggs. Home grown eggs are obviously cheaply produced, almost free in fact. They are healthier because the grass is greenier & the air is cleanier. (Who owns that jingle? Is it copyrighted?)

The following is a personal record of chook keeping basics.
Week 1-Build a chook pen. Hunt around for any cast off timbers, wire, roofing iron etc. Build rudimentary pen and house. Buy 4-6 point of lay chooks. Excellent the whole show for under $80.Let the kiddies name the chooks.Oh ,the excitement. What to name them? Welcome Penny, Henny, Fluffy and Speckles.
Week2-F#*@%ing crows have discovered your chooks and are now taking all the fresh eggs. Crows are legally protected .You may not harm them.
Week3-Battle with but do no harm ,mongrel bastard ,legally protected hawks, falcons, eagles that have discovered your chookies thanks to crows. Bury any remnant chook pieces left lying about so as not to upset the children. Note: You can identify a predatory bird kill by the generally headless carcasses.
Week 4-Chin up. Buy a roll of good quality small gauge chicken wire and over head bearer timbers and completely cover chook pen. Bye Bye aerial attacks. Howzat eagles? Buy new chooks and let kiddles name them. Welcome, Sparkles, Cuddles & Dotty.
Roosters: Should we /shouldn't we? Are you freaking insane? Oh yeah, but think of the cute little chickies. And we could sell them to cover costs. Sure idiot go for it! Welcome, Ronaldo, big mongrel crowing, attacking, nasty bastard. Note: All your hens will be regularly decimated ,nothing will touch Ronaldo. You can chain Ronaldo out in the middle of the paddock and NOTHING will touch him. You can hide your chickens under your pillow and they WILL be decimated.
Roosters alone means that you need a certificate 3 in Zen Buddhism. These bastards crow on  moonlit nights(all night).They crow when they are happy, sad, randy, bragging, bored or just trying to piss you off.
Week 5 -Small wild birds will always seem to access the pen and they bring with them bird lice. By now you will probably also have mites creeping around the hen house.These critters are particularly attracted to warm fuzzy areas. When you realise that the whole family is in fact scratching and covered in small bites you feel a temporary sense of relief. You must now look very closely at your skin ( a magnifying glass may be necessary) where upon you will notice an entire frantic little world has taken up residence upon you. Don't Panic!

Lice Infestation Procedure 101
Firstly put all bedding, towels, clothes, hats etc in a hot wash. Spray mattresses, chairs, carpet. Soak &scrub all hair items in hot soapy water. Vacuum and mop floor. Spray all shoes/boots that have been near chook pen. All family members must shower and shampoo diligently and finish with a dousing of preferably toxic insect.
repellent. Purchase large bottle of Pestene powder and a respirator for the pen. Week7-Awake to find foxes have dug into your pen. Note: You can identify fox kill by the lack of chooks in your pen and the neat bundles of feathers nearby outside the pen. There may be a remnant beak or two.
Buy more small gauge chicken wire .Attach to sides of pen. base of pen walls so this Buy more chooks. Pestene and name them yourself. Itchy, Scratchy, Shitty & Poo.
Week 9 -You have now discovered that roaming dogs can tear through chicken wire. Note: You can identify a dog kill by the fact that when you put all the strewn pieces back together there is nothing actually missing. It was just for sport.
Buy large roll of dog proof wire and erect securely on top of all other wire. Buy more chicks and name them if you must.
Week 12-Fereal cats eat chooks while they are free ranging. Note: You can identify a feral cat kill by the fact they eat into the body cavity but generally leave the exterior intact. Buy new chooks, name them Uh huh.

Never ever add up the cost of building materials, new chooks, pest treatments, food, grit, fencing, rodenticides and housing. Calculating costs will only ruin the romance of the hen house.
It is imperative that you let your chookies cluster woefully on your steps, verandah, roof shitting, stinking, preening and clucking for miserable hours in wet weather.
Week 16- Carpet snake has broached the pen and snacked. You may feel that this is karma for chookies. Have Chai tea and meditate on this. Remember that just up the road people  are relocating their carpet snakes down near you at dusk too. Fairs Fair.
Week 18  -Rodents. Tidal waves of rodents will have discovered your chooks. They are attracted to the eggs, the feed& young chicks . Rodent proof the hen house and rat proof the feeders.
Week 20- Now is the time to truly embrace the road to self sufficiency and all that earthy stuff. Killing your own poultry.
All our forefathers and foremothers and even your frail old Aunty Enid used to lop chooks heads off for a Sunday lunch. Everyone did. Too easy!
Grab Wormy and ignore her pleading screams and panic stricken eyes. Holding her feet, let her little head dangle down to the solid chopping block. Firmly wield the cane knife and behead her in one fell blow. Wham! Wait until headless body stops running and spurting blood and your head stops spinning and you can stand up again. Next, hot water, plucking, removing of gizzards etc. By now you will be coated in feathers, blood and the stench is palpable. The kids have all run crying inside to be vegetarian.

Mean Mummy, Chook Killer! Enjoy Roast Chicken and bottle of wine.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Shambles Winter 2015

Open Gardens and Touring visitors have come and gone. The weather is lovely and the garden remain full of colour . Our winter being so mild the deciduous trees and shrubs are only just colouring with little in the way of leaf fall
New addition from Rowena Cavanagh
Spiraea prunifolia 'Plena' Bridal wreath spirea, bears tiny double white flowers on bare branches early in spring, before the glossy green leaves appear. Some red fall color

Roses from cutting and other plants with underheating from our front path paving.

Kniphofia aloides and Bauhinea corymbosa flowering for visitors.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

garden fun

Yesterday I found myself back in Brisbane not for baby sitting but to help our daughter to do something with her garden. Thankfully when she first moved in to her Northern suburbs house we insisted on planting trees as a starting point to creating a more inviting place to go outside.
The main issue was the harsh western sun that would beat across the back of the house but now thanks to the trees there is a leafy view from the upper story windows as well as protection from the heat.
Often most of the stuff you need to do some garden renovation is actually just lying around the house, at least it was yesterday. A pile of shabby bricks , assorted pavers  and some pretty good mulch from a previous cutting back day.  All that was needed was a plan .
What we ended up doing was just making a series of stepping paves out of the assortment including some pretty weird zig zag ones.We moved plants that were struggling into new positions and also have the start of "Zen corner" purely because we decided to place a small tree( that came up by itself) in the centre of a meditative circle, though how much actual meditation could actually happen there is yet to be discovered. ( three children under 5) It is more likely to become a round about for push toys and that is fine too.
All of our paving has just been set into the ground and the garden beds have been created around them using the mulch and some plants that I brought down from home. The idea is just to see how it goes and to see if the kids like the idea of playing using the new paths as well as the swing set . The beauty of making a changeable garden is that it is not locked in and further down the track we will probably change the paths or do something completely different. I like the idea of children using their imaginations in play and having natural elements to utilise . A slide may be just a slide but rocks and dirt and stepping stones can lead you to a castle or a Zen round about if you want them to.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Trinny and Susannah of gardening?

What your garden says about you.

Michael and I have decided that this Friday we will be the Trinny and Susannah of gardening as we have been invited to Brisbane to consult on the" Collies Garden" at Brighton.
We are keen advocates of the domestic garden and what that garden says about you from the street.Almost everything that Trinny and Susannah say can be related to your garden.
I don't feel comfortable showing my garden .
There's nobody in my life to dress up my garden for.
This shapeless garden protects me from the world.
Is my gardening underwear really that unkempt?
Nobody really sees my garden anyway.
I don't really want people visiting my garden anyway.
Gardening is a real burden to me.
Someone might see my garden and make a nasty comment.
Now back to the garden. We have asked that the Collies prepare a white board and lots of coloured pens for us to brain storm with. (I have always wanted to be the person in a cop show who sets up that map of clues. Lots of photos, string lines and lists. )
We will go on a deep and meaningful journey of discovery as we throw around some new gardening directions and some totally unattainable goals over a cup of tea.
A domestic garden is an awesome place that reveals your peculiar personality to the street and the world at the front and has those special private places that only you know about so lets keep it that way.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Gatehouse at "The Shambles
Perfect weather and a wonderful selection of trees, shrubs and perennials in full flower helped make our ANZAC weekend Open garden a very enjoyable success. Lots of delighted visitors came and supported the event which proceeds go to Legacy Australia. Legacy catered tea nd scones and had a stall of ANZAC badges and momentos and books.

Legacy Australia, catering and fundraising at "The Shambles"
 Our Border Collie 'Bear' proved to be a very popular part of the event, as did the treasure hunt for children. On Saturday afternoon music was provided by 'Smokin Melaleucas, which lead into a relaxing dinner for all of us after the gates had closed.
Everything seems to flower on time. Megakapasma at "The Shambles"
The Gordonia axillaris, the perennial Salvias, Plectranthus, the Holmskiodias, Brugmansias, Camellia sasanquas and just about every other genus in the garden was showing off, helping to make the event a wonderful show for visitors. 
Thankyou to all our visitors, to Legacy Australia and to the 'Smokin Melaleucas' for making this a memorable weekend                  Michael Simpson  

Monday, April 20, 2015

A bit of light entertainment

After you have paid your respects at the Anzac Day dawn service and walked in the parade it will be time to head up to Montville and do your bit supporting that great organisation"Legacy" by coming to our open garden at " The Shambles". Purchase a cup of tea and scones and take a wander in the garden after all I  have done nothing but chores in the garden for several weeks now and I think it's looking pretty good.
There are plenty of flowers and a few new bits to discover but wait there's more.
At around 2.00 pm the back verandah will be alive with the sultry sounds of the
 "Smokin' Melaleucas". Feel free to sing along or tap your feet as you pass by .
Just a quick reminder to visitors that it is a good idea to bring a  cardigan as it gets a bit nippy this time of year.
The cost of entry to the garden is $8.00 . As far as I know the music is free.
So forget the music festivals at Byron and Gympie have a stroll and enjoy the ambience and be home in time for Gardening Australia! See you in the garden, Kyleigh
Here's Michael labouring over a hot key board in preparation for this weekend. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hot Bottoms

As you may have noticed we have a very shady garden and this makes it quite hard to do very much propagating of new plants especially when the time comes to harden them off in a sunny spot.What ends up happening is the huge task of moving new plants around to sunnier spots.A favourite spot is the paved area near our front verandah . There really is something about the pots having hot bottoms that gives them a boost.

Family Garden

Michael and Leo having a plastic cup cake on the verandah.

As we have always said our garden at "The Shambles" is not a show garden but a family place. It is a delight to be able to watch our grand children explore and discover places and plants in the garden every time they visit.We are opening our garden this week end with the Open Gardens Australia and what is essentially a very private place for family and friends can be seen by others in our community on the Blackall Range or further afield.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Changes at The Shambles

I don't see our garden as ever being finished. You know like a  Television garden make over where everything is honky dory at the end of the show. Our garden is always changing and growing and surprising us even though we see it every day.
Lately there have been some changes to the house itself with the addition of a new verandah necessitating the removal of stairs ,paver's and bricks.As usual it didn't take long for all this valuable
landscaping stuff to find a new home. Many would say" why didn't you just chuck the lot out and get a man in to pave it properly?" Are you kidding me?  To not  have the struggle of moving pavers and rocks with inadequate equipment is unheard of at The Shambles.
The problem with getting a paving man in is that it probably would still be a work in progress with all those special tools and levels. Throw in a couple of days of rain and it would all grind to a halt.Not to mention the mess.Shock Horror!
I'm sure they end up with a fancy schmancy  finished job eventually but it just  wouldn't be the same!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Open garden Approaches but we are still adding new plants.

Our next Open garden and the last with the soon to be defunct Open Gardens Australia Programme is on 25th and 26th April, the ANZAC weekend. from 10am til 4 30pm, both days.
A new verandah on the eastern side of the house is all but finished along with necessary house repairs.
New planting positions have been opened up and some of our choices are "brave " to say the least.

Bauhinia tomentosa

Luculia “White Frill”   Leaves similar to L. gratissima. Flowers large and pure white, pink in bud, heavily scented, in early June. Very dainty, pretty new form. Yamina rare plants introduction. Luculia dont like us, but we live in hope . It will be planted in a sheltered position below the new verandah.

Kalmia latifolia is an unusual shrub which is native to eastern North America. It is a beautiful shrub with interesting flowers that is suitable in the cooler regions of Australia. Must be kept moist, acid soils partial shade, which are all available below our new verandah. This is probably a fool hardy attempt and like Daphne, Kalmias are probably too ambitious for our climate. 

Wrightia religiosa, Echites religiosa  Shrub to 3 meters, small pendant and fragrant white flowers. The genus was named for William Wright (1735-1819), Scottish physician and botanist, by Robert Brown and  first described as a genus in 1810       Thailand, Vietnam.  This is establishing well on our Eastern border garden.

Bauhinia tomentosa Medium to large shrub to a small tree, up to 4m in height. Leaves are divided into two lobes, light green in colour, with a leathery texture, carried on branches that are often drooping. It produces large bell-shaped, bright yellow flowers with a black to deep maroon coloured centre from December to March. The fruit are pea like, slender and velvety. They are light green, turning a pale brown with age and are produced from January to June or even later. Bark is grey or brown. Yellow Bauhinia is native to tropical Africa and can be found as far as India and Sri Lanka. This is far more likely to be rewarding as we saw a very healthy specimen at "Trafalgar House" Buderim.

We replaced Rondoletia amoena  our 4th attempt to grow this old fashioned and usually tolerant shrub. Wish us luck.

Pray for rain, but not during the open garden
Michael Simpson

Friday, March 20, 2015

Caryopteris clandonensis South Rose garden "The Shambles"

New developments at "The Shambles" : fixing the North West Corner,  Increasing the Epiphytic Orchid varieties 

Brassia “Rex Okika"  x 5 Orchid Walk

Degarmoara Flying High “Hawii”  x 5 Orchid walk

Miltassia Charles M Fitch “Izumi” This is a hybrid between Brassia verrucosa and Miltonia spectabilis registered back in 1961 by C. M. Fitch. x 5 Orchid Walk

Oncidium “Shary Baby Sweet Fragrance" x5 Orchid Walk

Brassia “Sadie Loo” x Miltassia “Christmas Eve”  x 5 Orchid walk

Dendrobium nobile cultivars x 10 cuttings , all from Mt.Nebo, all in Rainforest area now.

Dendrobium speciosisimum  x 1  from Mt Nebo

Salvia Mexicana “Limelight” x 2 This salvia is a cultivar of Salvia mexicana and is native to the Queretaro Province of Mexico. It was introduced to the horticultural world in 1978 by Robert Ornduff, from the Univesity,  Unversity of California Botanical Gardens in Berkeley. 

Salvia corrugata native habitat of the Columbia, Peru and Ecuador, where it thrives in the Andes Mountains at 8000 to 8900 feet. The plant was introduced into the horticultural world in 2000 after being collected from South America in 1988. All the plants in cultivation are descended from the 6 seeds that germinated from all that were collected. The name ‘corrugata’ refers to the corrugations in leaves.

Salvia "Superior Purple x 2 replacing losses. East margin of Orchid Walk.

Heliotrope arborense "Golden Heliotrope"  x 2 , One in front path garden so far.

Asplenium nidus x 8 from local Orchid grower and 1 from Mt Nebo garden. All in rainforest walk

Clivia nobilis x 10  from Mt Nebo , All in rainforest walk

Large ferms unspecified + Myosorum fern and Dieffenbachia all planted into rainforest area

Monday, March 16, 2015

A heritage garden for a heritage house.

Coochin Coochin Homestead 1920
Coochin Coochin Homestead 2005
I often look at suburban housing around Brisbane  as I love domestic spaces and way homes and gardens are used. The over all picture could generally be enhanced by gardens , footpath planting and maintenance of public spaces. What seems to be missing in our overly landscaped environment are the soft edges which is where gardens come in to play.
A garden that echo's the period of a house will give the house a context and it doesn't matter if the house is a 1875 mansion , workers cottage or a dwelling built in the 50's , 60's or 70's .
An inappropriate garden that does not work with the building is missing a great opportunity to make a valuable statement and preserve garden history.  I think every house has an ideal garden style that will suit it as well as the needs of a contemporary owner.A great deal of effort,time and consideration goes into home restoration however once the re-stumping, roofing,timber work, wiring ,plumbing, verandahs ,interiors, and painting are done the garden can often be an after thought especially if significant trees have been removed or there has been great disruption to the site.
 It would probably be best for the renovation of the house and garden to be planned even before the work begins. This is the time when an inventory of plants can be made and remnant trees, shrubs identified. Remnant landscaping such as paths, outdoor garden edgings can also give clues to inform your garden design.It is worth getting an opinion form a plants person who can identify plants that are worth keeping as even the most forlorn specimen might just need water, pruning or fertilising to bring it back to health and vigour.Some plants are just weeds and can grow to be extraordinary pests and will need to be removed. A  worthy garden plant that has survived drought and neglect is just the plant you want to keep .When I see the swift , careless destruction of a garden, the removal of a tree it always makes me think of the loss of decades of growth ,  maturity and the natural ecosystem that supported numerous plants and insects . Nine times out of ten a landscaper will come in and plant a lilly pilly or two and the gormless won't even notice it anyway. ( But it's native so it must be good)
The message is not to be too hasty with the destruction of any garden.
In our book 'A Garden Forever ', we give examples of how to keep records through photographs, drawings, stories and plant lists. We acknowledge the gardeners who gardened before us and the land before settlement. It is very interesting to research our ancestry and to discover the former owners of the houses we live in and learning about gardens is just an extension of this.
Keeping records today is the history of the future.
A garden is an artificial space and to create a garden that accents the period of the home is a way of learning more fully about the way people lived in the past. Most domestic Queensland gardens had fruit trees like mango ,banana and mulberries and many had shade trees like Jacarandas. Many people kept chooks and had productive vegetable gardens , ornamental gardens ,a rotary clothes hoist an incinerator and an outhouse.The domestic garden today is not that different . We might need car ports , entertainment areas and swimming pools but I refuse to believe that it needs to lose the softness and the atmosphere that gardens should have.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bunya Nut Corner

It seems as though the garden has been a bit out of control over summer but finally growth looks to be slowing down or maybe I'm just on top of it at last.
As I am forever changing things in my garden and seeking out new areas to fill up with plants I am now trying to improve all the corners of the property. The area under the Bunya Pine and Hoop Pine is now clear and it is safe to walk as the bunya crop has finished??
We clearly feel that we need more land for our garden but with a lack of funds or available land I think we will just have to be content with what we have.
There is plenty of bud forming on the Gordonia's and the many camellias in the garden which will bloom around Easter . Hopefully some flowers will wait for the Open Garden on Anzac Weekend.
Today we have tied numerous orchids onto trees in the "Orchid Walk" and I even made the special effort of getting out the ladder and popping the plants a bit higher that our usual eye level for everything. They will look lovely trailing down and tall people will be impressed after all those years of looking down on our orchids.
Other jobs today included planting in the rainforest and trimming back overhanging branches of the Bolly Gum aka ( the Bollywood!) to let some more light in on the orchids.
The ute has been a God send and trips to the dump have been rewarded with loads of  free mulch which has topped up many of the beds. It all sounds a bit dull when you write it down but for me I just never get tired of working in my garden and discovering plants ,seeing butterflies and birds, sharing the place with others and passing on the Bunya nuts.   Kyleigh

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gardening into lost Corners at "The Shambles"

The "Araucaria Walk" before replanting and regeneration.

The neglected North East Corner of “The Shambles” shaded by the “Araucaria walk” seemed a wasted space. Bordering Abelia grandiflora and Murraya panniculata shrubs were liberated and the few subshrubs cleared to allow walking with ease under the trees.
These plants were among those added to the area
Philodendron calloum compactum
Ctenanthe spp
Calathea makoyana
Draecaena godseffiana “Florida Beauty”
Dieffenbachia spp
Justicia nodosum x 2 transplanted from elsewhere in the garden.
The planting of the unfinished north west corner of the garden under the “Rainforest Walk” continued. Many plants raised from cutting or new plants had already been added along the north facing edge looking into the light. The following were planted into the corner. There is much to do to continue the cleanup of this area.
Chamaedora elegans (Parlour palm) x 5
Codiaeum variegatum “Picassos Paintbrush”

Cordylline fruticosa x 5 including “Wilis Gold” and red varieties.

Thankfully rain and intermittent showers have supported our new plantings, as there is no irrigation in the garden and especially into these distant corners.
Michael Simpson

Monday, February 2, 2015

Plant Collection, Risky Business and Helpful Rain.

Rose "Mrs Dudley Cross" at our Book Launch 24/1/15

After our Successful book launch of "A Garden Forever" we followed up on contacts with gardening friends. In exchange for plant material from "The Shambles" some generous new acquisitions have been made. 

Buddleia 'Spring Promise' is a smaller noninvasive hybrid. It has masses of long slender stems of white delicately scented flowers from the middle of winter through to spring. This species can be grown in full-sun or part-shade. It grows quickly and will tolerate relatively dry conditions when established. North Facing into light , our North East Corner garden. From John Birbeck

Hibiscus radiatus is native to southern and southeast Asia. It has 15 cm yellow flowers that have a purple center. Leaves are dentate, with upper leaves lobed into three or five parts. It is frequently grown as a vegetable or medicinal herb, Facing North into the Light , our North East Corner Garden. From John Birbeck.

Pavonia hastata is the only member of the genus to occur in Australia and it is also native to parts of South America. It occurs in woodland and open forest in both damp and dry situations. Pavonia differs from Hibiscus in having a 10-lobed style (5-lobed in Hibiscus). The name          Pavonia....after José Antonio Pavón, a spanish botanist. The species usually forms a spreading shrub to about 1 metre in height. Leaves are slightly or deeply lobed and about 150 mm. Yet to decide the best location for these. From John Birbeck.

Begonias, Rhizomatous, Rex and Cane type from John Birbeck and Rowena Cavanagh. All safely tucked into successful collection spots for Begonias, to enhance our growing collection.

Cuttings and borrowings: GOD WE HOPE THAT THESE WILL SURVIVE. 
Stachyurus is the only genus in the flowering plant family Stachyuraceae, native to the Himalayas and eastern Asia. They are deciduous shrubs or small trees with pendent racemes of 4-petalled flowers which appear on the bare branches before the leaves.[1] The plants have leaves with serrate margins. Pendunculagin, casuarictin, strictinin, casuarinin and casuariin are ellagitannins found in the species within the genus.[2]  Stachyurus praecox, from Japan, is a spreading shrub growing to 4 m (13 ft) tall by 3 m (10 ft) wide. Pendent, bell-shaped, primrose yellow flowers are borne in winter and spring. The Latin specific epithet praecox means "early", referring to the exceptionally early flowering season. This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[3] S. chinensis, from China, is also found in cultivation. (cuttings from Rowena)

Watsonia,  apricot small flowering  Bulb , of Sword lily.

Thunbergia erecta (White)    Cuttings

Selaginella uncinata, (Blue or Peacock Spikemoss), is a very attractive form of Selaginella native to China. It is semi-evergreen in nature and has straw colored rambling stems with dimorphic metallic blue leaves. Plants will reach about 6 inches (15 cm) in height and will spread to 2 feet (60 cm) wide. They produce root-like rhizophores along the weak stems and are easily fragmented.  Like other members of the genus Selaginella, common names with the word 'moss' and 'fern' are misleading; they are part of a quite distant ancestral line belonging to Phylum Lycophyta also called Fern allies.

Impatiens niamniamensis ( Congo cockatoo) grows about 60–90 centimetres (24–35 in) long. This evergreen, perennial species has an erect, succulent, brown stem resembling wood. Leaves are simple, ovate-oblong or elliptical, spirally arranged, about 10 cm long. This plant produces bright and colourful bird-shaped flowers with a long, curled nectar spur. These unusual flowers are usually scarlet red and yellow and can reach a length of about 3.5 centimetres (1.4 in). Fruits are explosive capsules of about 14–16 mm. Tropical Africa Cuttings

Quisqualis falcata var. mussaendaflora. Cuttings from Red Leaf Quisqualis (Rowena)

As well as all these there were other cuttings from Rowenas Garden, of Solanum rantonettii, Coleus etc.
Lets hope for success

Friday, January 30, 2015

Art in the garden

This week the children start their art lessons in the garden at "the Shambles" after the holidays. For this term we are going to be using clay and making sculptures ,drawing to show volume and learning about relief sculpture and creating texture. What I love most about watching children create art is their concentration and delight . When I was a child I went to a little art class at a house at Shorncliffe. I like being able to have art here at home because it is a very relaxed and stimulating environment at the same time.At the end of the lesson when everything is tidy the children are able to run around the garden and play hide and seek or have a treasure hunt.
Last year the children did some paintings and drawings that are hanging at the Doctor's surgery in Montville. I have a pet hate of Surgery waiting rooms and the pictures that they hang in them. Some how we will find some time this year to do some more pictures for the waiting room so all the patients have something different to look at.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Book Launch "A Garden Forever" at "The Shambles"

"Narrow Water" a beautiful old fashioned rose at "The Shambles"

Readers are very welcome to join us on 24th January 2014, at 2 30pm for afternoon tea and the launch of our book "A Garden Forever" by Kyleigh and Michael Simpson.
With so much recent rain and showers there much new growth to tame. Fortunately there will also be a lot of flowers and a lush garden to share on the day.
Our latest book explores the origins of a domestic garden and how to write its history from pre-European times, through days of farming and early settlement up to the present day of ornamental gardening. The history of a garden has as much to do with people as it does the physical garden so we have included stories and impressions, recorded timelines and the many events which have attracted thousands of garden visitors. This is a picture book filled with colourful photographs, maps and drawings embedding the sense of permanence which comes from realising that our garden will outlive us through its written history as well as its physical survival.

This self-published book has been printed in Brisbane when most books are being printed in China.  The book will retail for $55.00 and a complimentary copy of “Over the Fence and Over Looked” a colourful hardcover book (2009) & Dvd “A garden in the Rain” will be included in your order while stocks last. Available from the author’s
A shrub fuchsia at "The Shambles"