Giving Back to Nature

IMG_3686

At this time of the year, I really feel like I am giving back to nature, more than any other time of the year. I pull my car into the carport and am greeted by the noisy Willy Wag tails, these cheeky little black and white birds, that dart in and out of my garden shrubs collecting flying insects and aphids on the roses.
IMG_3683

There’s a very loud humming coming from the three Dombeya burgessiae, that I planted about 4 years ago. In a few short years, they have grown, to create a wonderful dense screen to hide the less than attractive house next door.

A really great informal dense hedge

Can you see the house next door?

This is a South African plant, which was named after the French botanist Joseph Dombey, who collected plants in South America and that blooms in abundance in Perth at this time of the year. Apparently, the leaves and stems are a favourite food of the Black Rhino which as you can imagine we do not see frequently in suburban Perth.

It is just outside our bedroom window and right now is in full bloom and there are so many bees it is moving and there’s no breeze! IMG_3685IMG_3683

The large matt dark green, “grape leaf shaped” leaves provide a lush backdrop to the clusters of heavily scented white flowers.

In Summer, it shelters the front of our house from the hot rising sun coming up from the east and in Autumn thanks us for the extra water it received during the hot months and rewards us with the stunning white blooms and food for an entire hive of bees.

At the end of the flowering season, the white flowers turn to a rust shade of brown and are attractive in their own right.

It is very easy to prune and keep tidy, grows fast, requires little or no care and provides a wonderful habitat for small birds and bees-I really don’t know why we don’t see more of these in Perth gardens.

Summertime…and the livin’ is easy

 

It’s mid-Summer here in Perth and while we have had a few crazy hot blasts of heat, it really has been quite a mild season so far.

IMG_2159
IMG_2169IMG_2167

During Spring, I bulked up the garden with lots of mature compost and then wood chip mulch, even on herbs and vegies and the rewards have been great. We are only watering the garden through our reticulation system twice a week and topping up with a little hand watering here and there. The lawn is only watered twice a week for 15 minutes each time.

I have grouped plants that have the same water requirements together.

Urns filled with all sorts of goodies and some potted impatiens all require a daily hand water

Urns filled with all sorts of goodies and some potted impatiens all require a daily hand water.

Here's thick mulch around the base of Radermachera Summerscent and Ateranthera dentata 'Little Ruby

Here’s thick mulch around the base of Radermachera ‘Summerscent’ and Alternanthera dentata ‘Little Ruby’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tree dahlia is growing like a triffid again and is better protected from the Fremantle Doctor (the wind that blows from the west most Summer afternoons in Perth) now that the Cotinus coggygria ‘Purpureus’ is three years old.

Dahlia imperialis or Bell tree dahlia is an 8-10 metre tall member of the Dahlia genus native to Mexico, Central America and Colombia. The birds love hiding in it to escape the heat. I think it's fascinating that each year I cut it down to ground level and then up she comes again and again

Dahlia imperialis or Bell tree dahlia is an 8-10 metre tall member of the Dahlia genus native to Mexico, Central America and Colombia. The birds love hiding in it to escape the heat. I think it’s fascinating that each year I cut it down to ground level and then up she comes again and again

Cotinus...hard to believe it was a tiny sapling only 3 years ago

Cotinus coggygria so hard to believe it was a tiny 30cm sapling from a friends’ garden only 3 years ago

The agapanthus on the front verge under the Queensland box tree, which has finally stopped dropping those darn brown leaves, are putting on the most magnificent show, some stems are more than 1 metre tall

The agapanthus have done so well this year thanks to lots of mature compost and bark mulch

The agapanthus have done so well this year thanks to lots of mature compost and bark mulch

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cut back the Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’ quite hard during spring and have created a lovely informal display of deep pink under our Marri and Jarrah trees, that just keeps on flowering

New little bird solar lights shine brightly at night amongst the salvia 'Wendy's Wish'

New little bird solar lights shine brightly at night amongst the Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’

We’ve installed some lovely new hand blown glass birds which are actually solar lights and look so sweet at night-time…as close as I will ever get to owning a Chihuly, I think.

This is potted Copper Spoons or Kalanchoe orgyalis and my cute garden gnome pool ready in her bikini and sunnies IMG_2171

This is Copper Spoons or Kalanchoe orgyalis and ‘Flossie’ my cute garden gnome, she’s pool ready in her bikini and sunnies

 

Everyone needs a new project, right?

Just before Christmas, we dug up some pavers in the centre of a small enclosed courtyard that gets blasted by the rising sun and has a very ugly view of the house next door. I planted a Zelkova ‘Golden Flame’ in the centre and now that the red Plumeria which I have named Plumeria Annaplainsii, because it was taken as a cutting from Anna Plains cattle station in The Kimberley, is in full bloom and the little red vincas are in filling the space under the Zelkova, it’s looking really pretty out there and further the temperature and reflected heat into the house has reduced dramatically.

I took this on 28th November before we cut out the pavers-what a difference 6 weeks makes in the garden

I took this on 28th November before we cut out the pavers-what a difference 6 weeks makes in the garden

One month after planting...Here's the new Zelkova 'Golden Flame'

One month after planting…Here’s the new Zelkova ‘Golden Flame’ eventually it will reach up and provide glorious summer shade for this courtyard and in winter allow light

This is the Plumeria I have named Plumeria annaplainsii. The frangrance is rose like-check out the colours!

This is the Plumeria I have named Plumeria annaplainsii. The fragrance is rose like check out the colours…I wish you could smell it

My roses are all budding up ready for their third flush (yes 3) for the year they have been just glorious and I think it’s been because I pruned them late, deadhead often and fed them with nothing but mature compost and never spray them except with Lime Sulphur immediately after pruning.

This is David Austin 'Jubilee Celebration' and this is the third flush and is now much more peach in colour than the first flush after pruning

This is David Austin ‘Jubilee Celebration’ and this is the third flush and is now much more peach in colour than the first flush after pruning

 

Andrea’s Top 7 tips for keeping your garden looking fabulous through summer

  • Add Mature Compost and Mulch with Marri wood chips in Spring but if you haven’t done it yet, do it now there’s still a lot of hot weather ahead
  • Group plants that have similar water requirements together
  • Deadhead your roses often to encourage more blooms
  • Hand water in the mornings
  • Trim spent blooms from succulents to keep them looking neat and tidy
  • If hedges and shrubs experience sunburn resist the temptation to trim the burnt leaves, leave them to protect the new growth as it emerges
  • Let your Palmetto buffalo lawn grow a little longer, it’s much kinder on the lawn and gives a lovely lush green effect which cools the house down

The joy of garden maintenance

One of the elements of my business is garden maintenance. I like to offer this additional service to clients as part of a complete body of work. I don’t maintain a lot of gardens, just a few. I do this for a number of reasons.

  • It keeps me in touch with what’s happening in other people’s gardens, not just my own.
  • I can keep an eye on what pests and diseases are out and about at any given time of the year
  • I like to follow through on gardens that I have renovated or installed from the design stage, it’s important to identify what has worked and what has not-not everything is a success!
  • The garden is an ever evolving expression for me and it needs tweaking and changing from time to time, to be able to do this in other peoples’ gardens is sheer delight
  • I have elderly clients who love their gardens, their garden is what they do each day, it’s part of their daily routine, with a cup of tea in hand, chatting to the birds who stop by for a visit and can’t bear the thought of leaving their home and garden (most importantly) as they age, to “downsize”. Assisting these wonderful people in their gardens allows them to stay in their homes longer.
  • The relationship between the homeowner and their garden is a very personal one, it’s their private space, I feel so thankful and privileged to be allowed into people’s homes to do my work and look after something which gives them such joy….and just like Johnny Appleseed I get to spread my seeds all over the place!

Here’s one of the gardens I look after in Subiaco, Western Australia. I have been taking care of this garden for nearly two years and it’s looking just lovely this spring. The roses are the best they have ever been. I also look after the one next door!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Roses for all the neighbours to admire

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Who wouldn’t love to share a meal with friends here?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA