Planting for Bright Shade in Garden Design

May 20th, 2022

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Bright Shade Planting

This design series is about plants that are categorised as non-general lines, in other words, plants that are not production grown that then become available in several different sized pots. This series is also about year round interest in the garden even when plants are not in flower. Imagine opening the back door to look at a sea of just green with no distinguishing features! A tad boring don't you think?

Instead, think of plants with different sized and shaped leaves, that might also have contrasting colours.

Plants we mention in this series, you won’t necessarily find in your big box store or possibly even in your nursery so you may have to search for them.

These plants are so worthwhile that because they provide year round interest with their foliage colour, texture and contrast, not just their flowers.

 

So you’ve got some shady areas that’s under trees. This spot is usually thick with the roots of the trees so will be difficult to plant anything there that will survive the root competition, or will it?
This is where you have to think outside the square and look at plants that don't need to grow in too much soil.

 

Cryptostephanos%20vansonii.jpg
Cryptostephanos vansonii

What are you going to grow in these root ridden shady areas?

Peter mentioned

 

  • Calanthe sylvatica-a ground orchid-good for moist shade
  • Philodendron marshalliana-has storage stems and not a climber.

 

  • Syningia bullata and S. Canescens and S. cardinalis other syningia sp-small cordex that can regrow from.
  • Cryptostephanos vansoni

 

 

I say every week that Peter Nixon, RWG’s contributor for this series, focuses largely on what he calls cool sub-tropical garden or ‘cool sub-trops’ which he refers to often.

Don’t be put off if you live in a different climate because often plants adapt to a variety of climatic conditions and are worth a try.
I'm talking with Peter Nixon of Paradisus garden design. www.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au

Have a listen to the podcast.

Mixed Shrub Borders are in again on Real World Gardener

May 20th, 2022

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

This is a series about foliage colour and contrast and textural contrast  for year round interest. The focus is also on non-general lines instead of production grown planting. In other words, plants that may not necessarily be easy to find but so worth the effort. We kick off the series with mixed shrub borders.

  1. MIXED SHRUB BORDER

 Are they a thing of the past or a living process that still has relevance for the modern smaller garden?

Hibiscus%20capitolia%20apricot.jpg
Hibiscus capitolia 'Apricot Sport'

This kind of design style has been used for hundreds of years because it has great garden appeal.  There is no reason for it be considered irrelevant or 'old hat,' simply because it is so adaptable. It can be either formal or informal, full of colour and contrast or not, annuals, perennials and shrubs.

Today though, it's all about the shrubs and is a start of the design series that covers everything from mixed shrub borders, sub-shrubs, climbers, hero trees to best garden bromeliads.

I have to say, Peter Nixon  and Real World Gardener's contributor for this series, focuses largely on what he calls cool sub-tropical garden or ‘cool sub-trops’ which he refers to often.

Don’t be put off if you live in a different climate because often plants adapt to a variety of climatic conditions and are worth a try.

Peter mentions the following shrubs as his 'best.'

Posoqueria%20longiflora%201.jpg
Posoqueria longiflora
  • Tibouchina multifida-not more than 1.5m in height.
  • Hibiscus capitolio  'apricot sport'-double flowering hibiscus, slightly pendulous. 2.5m in height.
  • Posoqueria longiflora-commonly called Japanese Needle flower. Has perfumed flowers with a long white tube, height to 3m in semi-shade.
  • Brunsfelsia macrantha, 
  • Acokanthera oblongifolia - Bushmans Poison, 
  • Gardenia grandiflora ’Star’, 
  •  Rosa sanguineus, 
  • R. chinensis ’Ten Thousand Lights'
 

Let’s find out more, I'm talking with  Peter Nixon of Paradisus garden design. www.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au,

Therapeutic Horticulture part 1 on Real World Gardener

October 5th, 2021

 GARDEN AS THERAPY

Therapeutic Horticulture

  • What makes a garden therapeutic? What is therapeutic gardening?
  • Are these two things connected or are they separate?

You would think that yes gardening is therapy, so doing a bit of gardening would amount to therapeutic horticulture but you would be wrong.

  • To understand therapeutic horticulture, you have to be across two areas:-health and well-being and horticulture. You can start from the health sector and then gain some qualifications in horticulture or vice versa..
  • Therapeutic horticulture then means using gardening as an activity to improve people's health and well being through the use of plants . 
  •  There are lots of courses that can assist you with training to be a therapeutic horticulturist.
  • The next step is to gain some hours through volunteering with an organisation, eg aged care, through NDIS, and disability sector.
  • It's also a good idea to join THA or Therapeutic Horticulture Australia https://tha.org.au.
IMG20181102095451%2B-%2BCopy.jpg
photo M Cannon
Let’s find out more
I'm talking with Cath Manuel, therapeutic horticulture specialist 
Cath Manuel is the founder of Soil to Supper website and a specialist in therapeutic horticulture and kitchen gardens. https://soiltosupper.com
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Dealing with a Tough Garden Bed part 3 in Design Elements

September 27th, 2021

Part 3: The final Countdown

 

In the last 5 years Glenice and husband Phil, have made so many improvements to the soil .

A very difficult spot that experiences 40 degrees C  temperatures in summer and winter temparatures below 0  and even minus 5 degrees C at times.
A hard clay soil that had been compacted by heavy vehicles driving over part of it for many years.
The planting also included these very tough and hardy plants.
  • Teucrium fruiticans- also known as Germander, is a very hardy small evergreen bush in the mint family with grey stems and undersides of the leaves. 1.2m
  • Phillyrea angustifolia . Drought, heat, frost and salt tolerant. Phillyrea are olive related which explains their toughness-dark green glossy leaf with serrated edge, making a contrast to the other silvers in the bed. Height to 2.5m, slow growing. Alternative to English box. can be kept to under 1m in height
  • Aloes
  • Other succulents
  • Beschoneria yuccoides-Mexican lily, is a perennial succulent with a rosette of slender strap-like leaves that can grow to 1m in length. 
  • Rhagodia spinescens Salt bush-Small, native shrub with silvery, grey triangular foliage growing to approximately 1.5m. Tolerates all soil types and coastal conditions
  • Atriplex nummularia, commonly called Old Man Saltbush, a large grey shrub to 2 m tall and to 4-5 m wide, with brittle woody branches
 
Glenice said in her post that
She said of the garden that;
We used a rotary hoe to break up the soil before planting.
Spread/dug through gypsum and watered in liquid gypsum
Dug through premium garden soil and compost.
Mulched the area with fine grade pine bark, sugar cane mulch, straw and tea tree mulch.
Continued fertilising any new plants with composted animal manure pellets and liquid fertilisers every 2 to 3 months.Continued to give any plants in the area a deep slow water by hand to ensure they receive a good amount of water closest their roots.

tough%2Bgarden%2Bbed_garden%2Bat%2Bthe%2Bberkshires.jpg
Garden at the Berkshires-photo Glenice Buck


  • Selected plants that will cope with the tough conditions that area hot and dry conditions.
  • Over planted the slope- I planted out all the plants with closer spacing than recommended as they will help protect and buffer each other in this tough location. They will grow, settle in and get established more quickly together.
  • When you're dealing with tough locations like this you also need to have patience and give the garden soil time to take in all these improvements. Soil preparation is very important and you should try to hold off planting before the soil is ready - haha! try telling a gardener to do that when there is open soil / spare space in the garden. I didn't wait!

I'm talking with Glenice Buck Landscape designer and Arboriculture consultant.

www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au 

Tackling a Tough Garden Bed part 2 in Design Elements

September 27th, 2021

Part2 Tough Garden Bed
In the last 5 years Glenice and husband Phil, have made so many improvements to the soil .
  • We used a rotary hoe to break up the soil before planting.
  • Spread/dug through gypsum and watered in liquid gypsum
  • Dug through premium garden soil and compost.
  • Mulched the area with fine grade pine bark, sugar cane mulch, straw and tea tree mulch.
  • Continued fertilising any new plants with composted animal manure pellets and liquid fertilisers every 2 to 3 months.

She said of the garden that they did this process listed above ,every year for 5 years but it wasn't until the 3 year mark that there was a turn around in plants being able to survive.

Without those years of soil preparation, the plants would not have been able to thrive.

Miscanthus%2Btransmorrisonensis.jpg
Miscanthus transmorrisonensis

Planting Palette Glenice used for this area - lots of silvers!

  • Miscanthus transmorrisonensis-Evergreen Feather grass, evergreen leaves to 80cm tall by 100cm wide fountain-like mounds
  • Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ or Blue Switch grass is special for its dramatic, metallic blue foliage and for its strong upright habit to around 140cm.
  • Senecio viravira- a beautiful rounded evergreen shrub with silver-white dissected leaves topped by soft lemon flowers. One of the best silvers. Sun loving and drought tolerant. 80cm x 100cm.
  • Artemisia Powis Castle- a hardy, bushy, low growing shrub that has very attractive, soft, silvery grey, deeply divided foliage
  • Olea europaea 'Piccolo' suits really tough conditions - drought, frost, poor soil, no irrigation. Grows to 2m
  • Teucrium fruiticans- also known as Germander, is a very hardy small evergreen bush in the mint family with grey stems and undersides of the leaves. 1.2m
  • Philorea
  • Aloes
  • Other succulents
  • Beschoneria yuccoides-Mexican lily, is a perennial succulent with a rosette of slender strap-like leaves that can grow to 1m in length. 
  • Salt bush
  • Atriplex nummularia, commonly called Old Man Saltbush, a large grey shrub to 2 m tall and to 4-5 m wide, with brittle woody branches
I'm talking with Glenice Buck Landscape design and Arboriculture consultant.

Tackling a tough garden bed part 1 in Design Elements

September 27th, 2021

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

When the going gets tough

Many gardeners have a section of their garden that might often see plant failures year after year.
They’ve tried all sorts of plants that claim to be tough as old boots, but still they fail.

Glenice Buck has dealt with one such problem garden bed where she lives and this week starts a series of 3, on how she went about solving the problem.

 
Glenice explains that the bed is on a slope (see photo below) so the water would just hit the soil and run down the hill.
This garden bed also gets all day sun on heavy clay soil.
Access to water is limited to hand watering. Not ideal considering the busy schedule that Glenice's parents have.
On top of the lack of shade and being baked by hot afternoon summer sun, the soil had been previously used as bit of a driveway and had been compacted by heavy machinery when the house was being build.
Glenice said in her post that 

 

"This section of garden bed in the rear garden at #thegardenattheberkshires has been the toughest bed I have ever dealt with. Five years on with a lot of work and improvements it is finally starting to fill in and look good. It has been hard to get anything to grow in this area. The reasons for it being a difficult spot to deal with is
 

tough%2Bgarden%2Bbed_garden%2Bat%2Bthe%2Bberkshires%2B2.jpg
Tough garden bed at the Berkshires photo Glenice Buck

Have a listen to the podcast
I'm talking with Glenice Buck Landscape design and Arboriculture consultant.

Edna Walling, Garden Designer and Bickleigh Vale Village part 1

August 24th, 2021

 EDNA WALLING & BICKLEIGH VALE

Part 1 

Edna Walling was one of Australia’s most influential garden designers of the 20th century but I daresay, not too many people have heard of her.

Edna was Walling was born in 1896, in Yorkshire and grew up in the village of Bickleigh  Devon, England but came to Australia at 17 years of age.
 
Edna was influenced by her father and studied landscape design at Burnley Horticultural College in Melbourne. 
Walling was awarded her government certificate in horticulture in December 1917, and after some years jobbing as a gardener she commenced her own landscape design practice in the 1920s.
Her plans from the 1920s and 1930s show a strong architectural framework with 'low stone walls, wide pergolas and paths – always softened with a mantle of greenery'.
 
While doing some garden research I happened on one of her most famous creations called Bickleigh Vale in the Melbourne suburb of Mooroolbark in the foothills of the Dandenongs.
  • She just happened on some land while out bushwalking and convinced a bank manager to lend her money to buy the land and build her first house 'Sonning.'
Trisha%2BDixon%2Bin%2Bgarden.jpgWho better to talk about them is someone who has researched Edna Walling for the last 40 years.
I'll be talking with Trisha Dixon, garden author and photographer and sometime tour leader of gardens.
 
Trisha mentions that she found that actual village that this was modelled on, the real 'Bickleigh Vale ; in Devon, in England.
Listen to parts 1 & 2 of the podcast below. 
 
A quote from https://www.bickleighvalevillage.com.au/properties.html

 is this quote
 In the early 1920s Edna Walling acquired land at Mooroolbark where she built a house for herself - 'Sonning'. Here she lived and worked, establishing her nursery and gathering around her a group of like-minded people for whom she designed picturesque 'English' cottages and gardens. She named the area Bickleigh Vale village.
The houses and outbuildings that were designed or approved by Edna Walling in what she termed 'the English style' include her own home 'Sonning' which was rebuilt in 1936 following the destruction of 'Sonning I' in a fire,

Bickleigh%2BVale%2BVillage.jpg
Bickleigh Vale Village
 

Have a listen to part 1, a bit of Edna’s history and a bit about Bickley Vale.
We’ll continue next with more about the actual village and also more about Edna’s vision in creating beautiful gardens.
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

What’s The Difference: Garden Snips vs Hand Pruners or Secateurs

August 19th, 2021

Garden Snips vs Secateurs

You would think that gardening tools would have all the same name pretty much all around the world.
What else would you call a spade ?
Perhaps a trowel may have a few different names, but what about secateurs and garden snips?
Are they the same thing?

  • Secateurs are sometimes called  pruning shears or hand pruners .

    1-DSC_1477.JPG
    My Toolkit: Felco No8 secateurs 
  • Secateurs can be bypass style, where the cutting blade passes a curved non-cutting 'anvil.'
  • Secateurs can also be anvil style where the cutting blade cuts into a 'anvil.'
  • Good quality secateurs will cut easily, feel comfortable to hold and spare parts are able to be purchased.
  • Secateurs are used for the  'green' wood on plants cutting easily up to the diameter of a person's fingers.
Calibrachoa_Cabaret_Good_Night_Kiss_Basket_25420.jpg

Garden snips ( bottom of picture) are closer in appearance to scissors, with two cutting blades. Unlike scissors, they have a spring to make repeated cutting of plant material easier.

  • Garden snips are best used for trimming off spent flowers on plants such as calibroachoa, petunias, and other annuals and perennials. Light trimming of soft 'green' plant material is OK as long as the stems or branches are not too thick. Garden snips don't have the cutting power of secateurs.

Let’s find out more

I'm talking with Tony Mattson, general manager of www.cutabovetools.com.au

PLAY: snips vs secateurs_18th August 2021

Like me, a lot of gardeners would have both types of secateurs-anvil and bypass as well as a pair of snips.
After all, not everything can be pruned with the one tool.

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Bulbs for Dry and Moist shade in Design Elements

July 24th, 2021

  DESIGN ELEMENTS

Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.

  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
  • The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.

Warm Bulbs part 4-Dry Shade and Moist shade

What kind of shade? NOT GLOOM!
  • We are talking Cliveas, and not just Clivea miniata. 
Try the following Cliveas

clivea%2Bnobilis.jpg
Clivea nobilis


 Clivea nobilis -umbel with many florets, starting in late winter; variable colours from pale orange to deep orange red with green tips.
Clivea gardenii-tubular and pendulous flowers; orange to red, however yellow and pink clones are also sometimes available to the plant collector.
Clivea caulescens-flowers pendulous and tubular; orange-red with green tips
Clivea robusta-pendulous flowers with green tips
Clivea%2Bgroup%2B2%2Byellow_green%2B%25282%2529.jpg


Bright shade will keep them happy. Full sun will fade the dark green to a pale washed out green and at worst, will burn the leaves
  • Keep one thing in mind. Where the leaf union comes together, it has to be well above the soil otherwise the clivea will rot.
  • As the roots push the upwards, DON'T be tempted to cover up the root system with more soil. 
  • Leaf litter or a leaf mulch is fine, but these grow in high rainfall areas and require their root system to be not sitting in water.

Moist Shade: 

Eucaris amazonica, flowers in high summer, usually around February, with pure white flowers with a green cup centre, almost daffodil-like.

Eucahris%2Bamazonica.jpg

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden design. www.dgnblog.peternixon.com.auwww.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au     

 

Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com or info@peternixon.com.au

Warm Bulbs for a Sheltered Northern Aspect in Design Elements

July 24th, 2021

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.

  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
  • The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.
Thunia%2Bmarshalliana%2B%25282%2529.jpg
Thunia marshalliana photo P Nixon

Warm Bulbs part 3-Northern Aspect with Shelter

So what do you plant in your shady area perhaps under trees where there’s usually dry shade?
As long as it’s not gloomy, such as really dense shade.

These bulbs are not for the harsh western aspect of exposed to harsh winds.
Thunia marshalliana from northern Thailand. 
Expect to see a cycle where it dies down before fresh new leaves come through in spring, with flowers appearing in summer. 
The leaves remind me somewhat of a crucifix orchid in the shape and configuration. 
The flowers are a standout white with a slight fragrance and grow atop long arching canes.
You could grow these in a large hanging basket so you could see the flowers from below.
  • When in growth, apply plenty of orchid fertiliser.
  • Propagation is super easy; just like for the keikis (baby plantlets) at the ends of canes, and cut of and pot up.
Worsleya procera commonly known as the Red fox orchid  or  lavender hippeastrum.

Worsleya%2Bprocera%2Bblue%2Bhippeastrum.jpg
Worsleya procera

One of the world's rarest bulbs originating from Rio de Janeiro.

Flowering can take  up to 7 years !
Leaves are deep green that have an unusual curvature giving them a sculptural look.
Listen to the podcast, it's rather long but very interesting.

Species Hippeastrum: Not your ordinary hippies!

Don't go past species Hippeastrum that originate for the most part, in south America.

  • All of course are in Amaryllidaceae family.
Hippeastrum%2Bpapilio%2Bbutterfly%2Bhippie.jpg
Hippeastrum papilio
You won't find much information about these hippeastrums in general so take note.
Some of these can grow as epiphytes in their natural environment!
  • In the ground, they need superb drainage but not under trees unless the canopy is quite high, say 2-3 metres above the bulb.
Start your collection with the Hippeastrum papilio 
or  green Hippeastrum calyptratumHippeastrum%2Bcalyptratum-green%2Bhippi.jpg
 
Peter outlines quite a few of the species hippeastrums so have a listen to the podcast.

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden design. www.dgnblog.peternixon.com.auwww.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au     

 

Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com or info@peternixon.com.au

Warm Bulbs pt. 4-

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