Our neighbour has a new Head Gardener

We have lived in the same place for generations and it’s unusual but we are very grateful that we have had the same wonderful neighbours for what feels like forever really, they are just like us and speak a bit like us. They enjoy the same TV shows as we do, similar tastes in music, they enjoy art, sport and generally have the same core values as us. They believe in a peaceful life. We have loved living harmoniously with them, they collect our mail when we go on holidays, water our plants and generally they keep an eye out for our kids and we do the same for them.

Recently, though our dear neighbours employed a new Head Gardener. He’s quite different from the old Head Gardener that our neighbours had for eight wonderful years but someone in that family must have seen enough value in him to employ him. So, the neighbourly thing to do is to give him a go, right? That’s what we do on our side of the street. Generally, we are pretty easy-going kind of folk.

Here's the neighbours' new Head Gardener

Here’s the neighbours’ new Head Gardener

So far, The new Head Gardener has been doing an awful lot of deconstruction work but in his haste to weed out the “nasty” weeds that he doesn’t want, he has also pulled out many beautiful flowers and shrubs which had been nurtured by the previous Head Gardener. Apparently, most of his experience has been with golf courses and rooftop gardens in high rise buildings.

Getting down and dirty-The previous Head Gardener at work

Getting down and dirty-The previous Head Gardener at work

It’s a funny thing really, we were hoping that he would wait just a little bit, perhaps give things a light prune and have a good look at everything again, after the winter, when the spring revealed the good work done by the previous gardening team.

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Our neighbours garden in the winter

The previous Head Gardener-he was there for 8 years

The previous Head Gardener-he was there for 8 years

There are many things worthwhile keeping in our neighbours garden, that’s for sure, you see our neighbours have always had a beautiful garden and there are treasures currently buried in the snow. We have enjoyed so many BBQs and gatherings there, swam in their pool, prayed with them as they farewelled their family members who have passed away and helped them when they were sick and needed our support or just a helping hand. We are big on mateship in our neighbourhood and that’s what mates do, they are there for one another in good times and in bad.

Our neighbours garden

Our neighbours garden

The other day, however, a very strange thing happened, Our Head Gardener called and reminded the new Head Gardener across the street, that we had an agreement with the previous gardener to take care of the potted plants which we had been looking after, as they had been disposed of when their previous owner from a neighbouring suburb, moved without a trace. They have no home to be returned to. The new Head Gardener said that he thought this was a really “dumb idea” as he said he has enough potted plants and is scared that the ones we have been looking after may have weeds that he doesn’t want. We offered to check thoroughly for weeds and remove them but he’s still not happy. We hope that he will see reason and honour the agreement. So that we can make a plan to house more pot plants from other neighbourhoods. Our Head Gardener, wishes that the new Head Gardener at our neighbours’ place would be a little more polite, after all, our families have been neighbours for a very long time.

Our Head Gardener

Our Head Gardener called the neighbours’ Head Gardener for a chat the other day

The new Head Gardener is advocating to build a large new walled garden so that we may not be able to wave so easily to our other neighbours across the street, who incidentally have the best Taco and Tequila parties.

We love Taco and Tequila night

We love Taco and Tequila night

While we love a beautiful walled garden especially when it is covered in abundant flowering vines and espaliered fruit trees, we are worried that we might not be able to visit so easily with our neighbours as we have always done in the past.

Walled garden-we love these

Walled garden, we love these!

The new Head Gardener does not seem to want to make friends with any of our other neighbours’ friends either and he has been quite nasty to some of the people who can help him get his new job done better. The people who look after the parks, gardens and national monuments might be able to help him if he was a bit nicer to them. I hear he tried to shut down their communication on Twitter, luckily they found another way.

He has employed two under-gardeners, who seem to do most of the talking, one of whom just can’t seem to get our Head Gardeners’ name right.

The new Head Gardeners' assistant, doesn't seem that into gardening

The new Under-Gardener doesn’t seem that into gardening

Another Under-Gardener-nice sunnies

Another Under-Gardener-nice sunnies

We will keep smiling and being polite to the new Head Gardener, he’s new to the job, after all, and it’s our way. We don’t like to make a fuss.

We are hoping that he won’t chop down any trees at our neighbours’ place, we love those giant oaks and magnolias they have growing there. We respect the history these represent in our neighbours garden.

Side view of our neighbours garden

Side view of our neighbours garden

Apparently, the new Head Gardener has a four-year contract, hopefully if we stay friendly with our neighbours (they have a big family) that the Head Gardener will learn to listen to his employer a bit more and not be so hasty with decisions to throw everything out before checking to see the good things that were planted in the garden by the previous Head Gardener and his sweet wife.

The previous Head Gardener had a very sweet wife who loved to help him out

The previous Head Gardener had a very sweet wife who loved to help him out

We hope that we can still spend time with our neighbours and enjoy their beautiful garden, despite their new Head Gardener. If we show him how friendly we are, he may just come around. You never know, there’s a lot at stake we really need to make this work. It’s our neighbourhood and we want it to be harmonious for our children to play and grow up in as we did and our parents before us. We love our neighbours garden almost as much as we love our own.

Front view of our house and gardens

Front view of our house and gardens

A view of our garden

A view of our garden

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.

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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

Let’s talk about Pots

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In a rush of blood to the head, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, you hop in your car and drive to the nursery and you purchase a new plant for say $20 and you buy some potting mix and a pot-your total investment is say $60….it’s a nice pot…run with me on this.img_2011

Move forward five years and that pot is still sitting in the same spot, the plant is now pretty tired because the soil you purchased 5 years ago is devoid of any nutrients and apart from a splash of water every now and again has not really had much attention.

Imagine this if you will, your beau purchased a stunning bunch of fresh flowers for $60  for you on that same day…5 years later would you still be looking at that bunch wondering why they weren’t looking so hot?

Nothing lasts forever as they say……

Plants represent really good value when it comes to decorating your home both inside and out and there’s an opportunity for us to re-think the way we use containers around our gardens here in Perth.

Stunning succulents at the New York Botanic Garden

Stunning succulents at the New York Botanic Garden

Specimen Plants

Have you ever wanted to grow a plant that will not work in your garden because of the soil you have or the conditions would not support it? Then planting that plant into a container and being able to nurture it more than you would if it were in the ground is a great idea. You can make a stylish statement with a specimen plant. Blueberries work best in pots in Perth and if you are desperate for an Acer (Japanese maple) a pot in a shady spot is what you need to grow one in our hot part of the world.

Check out this Acer in a pot at Coach Vince Dooley's in Athens, Georgia

Check out this Acer in a pot at Coach Vince Dooley’s in Athens, Georgia

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Short on Space?

If you have a small garden then large pots into which you can plant many plants is the way to go. You don’t just have to plant one plant in a pot, try planting say three or four different things into one pot. How about a grass in the centre to give it height, something spilling over the edges,  and something filling the middle section? How about combining some edibles and flowers.

You can easily have more than one plant in a pot

You can easily have more than one plant in a pot

What a wonderful statement in the garden

What a wonderful statement in the garden

 

Seasons change why not your pots?

If you have pots or urns at your front door, they do not have to stay as they were planted in the beginning, consider changing them seasonally. Adding new annuals to an urn will really spruce up the main plant you have in that container.

Check out the colours in this container

Check out the Autumn colours in this container

Trendy Succulents

You probably remember going to visit Nanna and seeing some of the plants that you can find en trend now. Succulents are easy to look after, they require very little water and can be planted out into nearly any type of container, even an old china cup, a boot or any vessel with a hole in the bottom. The trick is not to over love these plants with too much water, water is the enemy for these treasures, treat ’em mean.

Cacti and Succulents in containers always look great

Cacti and Succulents in containers always look great these ones were spotted by me in New York

Add some Magic

One of the hottest trends in the USA right now is the Fairy Garden and I’m not talking just cheap, tacky $2 shop garden gnomes, though that’s available for sure. There are really stylish iron fairies and decorations for your pots, why not check out your local garden centre or gift shop and see what they have.  It’s going to be a hot trend  here before you know it too-be the first of your friends!img_2792

A touch of whimsy makes this container extraordinary

A touch of whimsy makes this container extraordinary

spot the fairy

Spot the fairy

Show ’em some love

If you have plants in containers they will need a little more care than something in the ground.

  • Top up the soil with some mature compost every now and again even just once a year should do it
  • Pop a tray underneath to keep the water at the root zone on hot days
  • Add some Liquid Fertiliser from time to time
  • Don’t overwater-try the finger test first-if the soil is moist-hold off on the water
  • Move them around if you need to-out of the hot sun in summer and into the sun in the winter

Container planting can be really rewarding, fun for kids too so, if you have a small space that needs a splash of colour (and yes green is a colour) get out there this weekend and pot away!

Carefully Clipped Containers

Carefully Clipped Containers

Grouping containers of the same colour together for maximum impact

Grouping containers of the same colour together for maximum impact

 

Peeking over, under and through fences in Atlanta

OK Friends, I must confess, I get very excited when I know that I’m going to see other people’s gardens. It’s no wonder really, after all I was the Co-ordinator of the Open Garden Scheme here in WA and Chairman of the Management Committee for years before that, so I guess I think of myself as a bit of an old timer when it comes to checking out other people’s spaces. I have seen the best of the best in this country that’s for sure.

I just love visiting gardens, not in a creepy sort of voyeuristic,  peeping in people’s windows sort of way…. I just love seeing how other people interpret their private outdoor rooms, how they choose to connect with their land.  I love to see which art pieces they buy or create, which plants they choose, which trees they plant. Breathe, Andrea, Breathe…..Hyperventilating…..So can you imagine how hard it was to contain myself at the prospect of seeing nine private gardens in three days during my recent trip to Atlanta to attend #GWA16 The Annual Garden Writers Association conference. I was just like a kid in a lolly shop on the inside (I’m not ashamed to admit) while maintaining my uber cool self on the outside -sure sure-who am I kidding? I could not wipe the smile off my face, my pointer figure had clicking fatigue from all the camera action taking place and my face was sore from smiling and making an “O” shape with my mouth, it’s a wonder one of those giant bumblebees didn’t fly right in….and yet this is my work?!

Garden communicators are a very happy lot-why wouldn’t we be? Let’s be real, getting to wander through stunning gardens surrounded by like-minded plant mad, garden crazy souls. I just loved getting back on the bus after each garden, listening to the chatter, even though on one of the days we were drenched by 2.5 inches of rain, we didn’t care one bit…the post viewing excitement was palpable, “did you see that?”, “how was the art?”, “what about those birdhouses” and “OMG did you see those pots?”

The gardens selected for this years’ conference were, well let’s just say a BIG WOW at every stop.

A hearty congratulations to the Selectors of this years’ private gardens they were really outstanding and this little Aussie did not mind one bit traveling 25 hours in a flying tube to spend precious time with my new found friends and reuniting with some dear older ones from my first conference last year.

Today, I am going to share just one of the incredibly lush beautifully presented gardens we saw…there’s more pics and more stories to follow…Thank you so much Candy Johnson for sharing this garden with us

OK so..now you want to have a look too, don’t you..you know you want too…well here you are…..just a peek mind you…

A stunning front door-Halloween ready

A stunning front door-Halloween ready

My personal favourite vignette

My personal favourite vignette

Stunning display, when sometimes foliage is enough

Stunning display, when sometimes just wonderful foliage is enough

What a wonderful pop of colour

What a dramatic pop of colour

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I want to sit right here

A very impressive entrance

A very impressive entrance

Loch Nessie in Atlanta

Loch Nessie in Atlanta

A Buxus Folly-why not?

A Buxus Folly-with seating, why not?

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