I’m waving a Terrible Towel and eating a Hoagie, can you guess where I am?

I really do pinch myself sometimes, thinking about how lucky I am and how many wonderful people I have met in my life, people who have extended the hand of hospitality…just because.

The bees love Pittsburgh too-Steelers Colours!

One of these people is Pittsburgh local, Garden Communicator extraordinaire and one of the nicest people I have ever met, Denise Schreiber. Those of you who follow this blog will remember Denise, who I met in 2015 in Pasadena. Denise and I drove down to Pittsburgh following our GWA conference in Buffalo, in August and I don’t think either of us drew breath the whole trip.

Pittsburgh by night

We talked and laughed and poor Denise had to answer lots and lots of questions about American-life according to her, from this ever-curious Aussie. We arrived at Denise’ home in Pleasant Hills, Pennsylvania which is a borough of Allegheny County and a suburb of Pittsburgh and after a quick tour of her treasure-filled garden, meeting the family, a quick unpack, we headed in to view the “Dahntown” from the top of Mt Washington-what a site, what a city.

They speak an interesting version of American in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is home to NFL football team, The Steelers and is located at the confluence of three rivers and so there are lots of bridges crisscrossing the city. Pittsburgh is an old city built on steel but has undergone dramatic gentrification in recent years to become a vibrant and exciting modern place where they speak an interesting version of American.

When you travel with a local, you get to experience a different side to a city, one that only someone with local knowledge can provide and so it was a joyous moment, when after our night time trip to view the city, we headed down the hill to Denise’s favourite ice cream shop for a cheeky soft serve and chocolate sauce.

Inside…like Alladins cave

As a Garden Communicator, no trip to Pittsburgh would be complete without a visit to Phipps Conservatory, in Schenley Park. Stunning glass art by Jason Gamrath, displaying botanical wonders on a massive scale accompanied by permanently acquired, huge Chihuly pieces and more delicate Hans Godo Fräbel works in the orchid house. These provided enhancement to beautiful displays of flora under glass in this giant conservatory. The Sustainability gardens provided insight into providing habitat for nature right in the middle of a busy city.

Phipps Conservatory

This blue glass is incredible

Bees on Joe Pye weed at Phipps

The orchids were stunning in the Orchid room at Phipps

Monarchs at Phipps in the Nature play area

Chihuly at Phipps

Check out this Chihuly

Glass art at Phipps Conservatory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature corridors in the CBD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The outdoor gardens offered beautiful views of the city and the Cathedral of Learning, framed by a gorgeous hydrangea display.

Cathedral of Learning

Check out these Hydrangeas

Beautiful views of Pittsburgh above the city

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Denise works as Greenhouse Manager for AlleghenyCounty Parks looks after many of the plantings at South Park, so naturally, a behind-the-scenes tour was on the cards and a fun time exploring the place where she works.

 

We visited The Strip which is home to European Delicatessens, restaurants and a fabulous Kitchenware shop and we ate a Hoagie, a delicious bread roll filled to capacity with sliced meats and cheese-a must do!!!

The Strip

Selecting cheese on The Strip

A garden centre, Trax Farms Market was also on the agenda and this was of particular interest for me as I was able to compare prices and stock available, I just loved their garden gift lines and planter boxes out the front. They were gearing up for Halloween.

Container planting at Trax Farms Market

 

You would not expect to see this in a cemetery in Australia

Jefferson Memorial Cemetery might not seem like a fun place to visit but it’s actually a stunning arboretum and it was there, at dusk, where we saw a family of deer grazing quietly amongst the trees, my first “Bambi” moment.  There’s a life-sized bronze statue of George Washington and very interesting art that one would not expect to find in a cemetery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something, I might not have mentioned is that I’m a bit of a sucker for craft stores so my visit was made complete with a trip to Pat Catan’s, a huge craft supply store.

Our home now plays host to a ‘Terrible Towel’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhrqDBEi9oo

and my son has barely taken off his Pittsburgh T-shirt and Steelers PJ’s since my return a little reminder of my travels to make me smile.

Girls Night In/Out an annual tradition was a wonderful night held at Denise’s home on the last night of my stay with great food and conviviality, celebrating with lots of women working in Horticulture as well as some of Denise’s nearest and dearest friends and family-they sure know how to party those girls.

Thanks to The Schreibers for generously sharing your home and your town with this Aussie, it was a week I will never forget.

 

Small but Mighty-The (not so) Private Gardens of Buffalo

I’ve been very fortunate to have seen many private gardens in my life especially during my time as WA Chairman and later West Australian Co-ordinator of Australia’s Open Garden Scheme.

I just returned back home from the USA feeling very grateful indeed after 3 whole weeks of garden visiting-let’s call it, my American garden immersion-more on that later.

There is something very special about the people who open their private garden spaces so that others may share first hand the very personal interpretations and manipulation of nature particularly in an urban setting. There are so many reasons to lock ourselves away these days after hours spent behind desks in stressful jobs so many people travel back home after enduring a long commute, drive in the garage, pull down the roller door and flop into the sanctuary of home, locking the outside world out. Gardeners who share their gardens are the complete opposite, they throw open that garage door and say to the world “come on in and see what I have done”

As part of the recent Garden Writers conference, in Buffalo NY, my garden bestie AZ Plantlady and 350 or so other wonderful garden communicators, many of whom I feel so honoured to now call my friends, spent days exploring about 20 gardens which had opened the previous weekend for Buffalo Garden Walk at which more than 400 (!!) gardens were open in the Buffalo area.

The gardens we visited were mostly within walking distance of each other and ranged from tiny cottages in which the driveways had been converted to container garden spaces to larger homes with areas of lawn and garden borders.

Gardening in this part of the world is a short seasonal thing-while we garden all year round in Perth, these guys go hard at it for only about 4 months of the year due to the frosts and heavy layers of snow-white stuff that falls from the sky and covers the ground-you know what I mean, like the movie Frozen, yes that’s the stuff.

Jim Charlier is one of the members of GWA who also opens his Buffalo garden and I asked him about the gardening season in Buffalo and he has provided some insight into gardening in that part of the world, here’s what Jim had to say “We start in earnest about the second week of May. Our average last frost date is mid-May. Though we’re admiring our tulips and flowering shrubs in April. Adventurous gardeners start earlier. Crazy ones start from seed in the winter months. We garden pretty much through September and some of October – with seasonal mums, tulip bulb planting, and last call for planting trees and shrubs. Depends on weather, obviously. We don’t get a significant snowfall until December usually. Seems like that isn’t happening as much anymore and we don’t get significant snow until January. The plants need the snow cover, and it doesn’t seem as though the past few years that that has even been consistent. November through March is spent thinking about April through October.”

Here’s Jim’s garden… which I must confess is one of my all time favourite small gardens, such wonderful attention to detail and a vignette worth photographing at every turn

So, sit back and take a short walk through some of the other beautiful gardens in the cottage district of Buffalo. Do these inspire you to make some changes in your garden?

even the dog has a cute garden house

check out this bottle tree

when in Buffalo…you need a garden buffalo

 

Love this

Don’t you just want to cozy up in here with a cup of tea and a book?

Breathing new life into Buffalo, one petunia at a time!

Buffalo? you say-why would you want to go to Buffalo? Isn’t it covered in snow and not much else? Wrong….There’s something in the water in Buffalo and I suspect it may be the gardening bug.

 

Stunning Cone flowers

This once mighty and by all accounts wealthy city has in recent years fallen upon difficult times but is currently undergoing major urban renewal and it’s being lead by many in the community who are just crazy about gardens and gardening and all things green and that got my attention. So, I packed my suitcase again, labelled it  ‘USA or Bust’ and headed 11,333 miles or 18238 km which included three plane changes and an 8-hour train ride!

Lovely buildings on every corner

Buffalo Theatre district

Even the office building are into plants

Great spot for a meal-we ate here twice!

I attended the 2017 Garden Writers Association annual symposium which was held at The Buffalo Convention Centre at the beginning of August and the news is all good.

My friend from Arizona, Horticulturist, Arborist, and Blogger, AZ plant lady and I spent a couple of wonderful days exploring (walking, lots of walking) the city together before the conference. We ate twice at the same place-it was so good and we also snuck in some doughnut holes at Tim Hortons.

Like many cities, Buffalo has great bones, clean wide streets and really beautiful architecture, an interesting and diverse food culture, lovely lake views, theatres, good soil (important for us gardeners) and another magical, essential ingredient passionate people- willing to beautify their city and showcase it to the world in order to re-build it and give it a new identity.

A Farmers Market in the main street was in full swing during one of our morning walks. The blueberries were the biggest I have ever seen and they tasted so juicy and sweet.

Don’t these look delicious?

Farmers market baskets

Eat your greens

Juiciest blueberries I have ever tasted

I can’t un-smell these beauties

We stumbled across a small but very worthwhile community education garden at Canalside and under a freeway overpass where edibles and perennials for beneficial insects were thriving in raised beds. Each bed contained decorative garden ephemera as well as practical information to show adults and children, how easy it can be to grow veggies in their homes in small spaces.


Canalside is also home to test gardens and magical views of the eastern end of Lake Erie.

Lake Erie and the test gardens

Rebuilding Buffalo one petunia at a time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our conference took place the week after Garden Walk Buffalo, which is an annual event with more than 400 (!!!!) gardens open to the public on one weekend. More than 350 garden communicators gathered to visit the best of these gardens and more.

Buffalo is on the precipice of something great, I’m looking forward to seeing how this hidden gem of a city emerges from its cocoon like the butterflies that are being encouraged by its gardeners.

If you are visiting Niagara Falls then why not jump over the US border and check out Buffalo in August-the gardens are just lovely.

 

Special Thanks to the local GWA organising committee and for all the gardeners who shared their gardens with us for #GWA17

https://gardensbuffaloniagara.com/events/garden-walk-buffalo/

 

 

Noble trees and an afternoon with Mike

A plantsman’s garden

Picture this, it’s hot, darn hot and we’re in Athens, Georgia, it’s late in the afternoon, embarrassingly humid, they say that ladies glow and men sweat, well, this is pure and simple sweaty as you like kind of weather, it’s hard to be lady-like in this heat. As we approach the gate, 80 garden communicators, mostly middle-aged literally clambering over each other to get off the bus and into a very special garden, this after a long day of garden visiting and yet every single one is bursting with child-like energy, acting a bit like crazed paparazzi snappers at the Oscars rushing forward and ready to be hanging onto every word and appreciating the very great privilege of a private tour of (just call me) Mike’s garden plus some insight into what makes the great man tick….and suddenly quiet falls over the group and he begins to speak…..and so, just exactly who is Mike?

Dr Michael A. Dirr is one of those delightful and quite rare plantsmen who makes an instant impression on you. He is super charismatic and as soon as he starts to speak you just know that you are in the presence of someone very special, a guru, a mentor, a shining star of your industry. Dr Dirr was a keynote speaker at GWA16, the annual symposium for Garden Writers Association in Atlanta, Georgia USA. 

Listening to the great man

Following the symposium, Dr Dirr offered a tour of his private garden.

So, just who is Michael Dirr?

Dr Michael Dirr is a Professor of Horticulture at The University of Georgia and has received special honours from all of the main horticulture bodies in the US.

American Horticultural Society Liberty Hyde Bailey Medal

American Horticultural Society’s Teaching Award

American Horticultural Society’s Teaching Award

Arthur Hoyt Scott Garden and Horticultural Award

ASHS Undergraduate Educator Award

Medal of Honor from the Garden Clubs of America

Southern Nurseryman’s Association (SNA) Slater Wight Memorial Award

He is a plant breeder and has a special love for trees.

Dirr’s Encyclopaedia of Trees and Shrubs is biblical in proportion, this book is HUGE in size and content very much like the great man himself.  It’s common in the USA, according to Professor Eva Monheim, from Temple University, to see young University students schlepping this enormous document to class, this tome is THE book for horticultural reference and there’s a special joy in having met the good Dr because you can hear his words and turn of phrase in his prose. The man himself is also larger than life and literally jumped from garden bed to garden bed, tree to tree, shrub to shrub on a very hot Athens, Georgia afternoon eager to share ever single bit of information that he could possibly pack into the precious time that we had with him, such generosity, and so much information stored in that one big brain.

Vitex and Cordyline

The concept of the Noble tree in the garden is an interesting one, it’s the tree that you plant in your garden that’s going to rise up above all others and anchor the garden. Important from a design and aesthetic point of view but also from a philosophical and future proofing one. Dr Dirr talks about the noble tree with great passion.

Fellow GWA Member and Master gardener Martha Swiss interviewed Dr Dirr in 2014 and asked him about the concept of the noble tree and Dr Dirr said “It’s anything that outlives us. It’s anything that spans generations, has a long life, supports wildlife, fixes CO2, spits out oxygen, prevents erosion, increases property values, something that’s inherent in our everyday life. We need large trees.”

He went on to remark, “One of the big issues is storm water mitigation. They’re seeing pronounced benefits from large trees.  One percent of the trees left in Minneapolis-Saint Paul are elms, and they capture 30 percent of the runoff water. This is actually from a landscape architect, Peter Cavanaugh in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. And he said one reason we need the trees—they have gigantic canopies, they have many, many branches, they have large trunks, they have extensive root systems—so they can capture rainwater, runoff water, much better than small trees. So there’s certainly an economic benefit.”

Dr Dirr asks that we consider the value of trees in terms of the property markets when he said to Martha Swiss “There have been published studies done by the Forest Service largely on the West coast and Oregon and in California, on property value enhancement. They talk about a single tree as far as saleability. A tree—and we’re talking about noble trees all the way down to crabapple and plums—can have a pronounced effect on the saleability and the appeal of a house as well as the price of a house. It raises the value of a home.”

Stunning Lagerstroemia

“Trees contribute so much to everyday life, the quality of life. We’re tied to biology every day in our own lives. Trees are a big part of it. “. said, Dr Dirr

Dr Dirr’s garden

Dr Dirr believes that despite the reduction in block size every home gardener needs to address the concept of the Noble tree and creating space for such a tree in every yard, every council needs to consider this when planning parks and gardens. He speaks about selecting the right tree for the right location so that the tree has an opportunity to grow into the new landscape for future generations. Dr Dirr is passionate about developing those involved in our industry and about the need to advocate for trees as horticulture professionals  and said in the interview with Martha Swiss “I think you gotta cajole, and you gotta inspire, and you gotta educate, and you gotta talk, and you gotta keep hitting your fist on the desk. You gotta hope that they listen.”

Dr Dirr and one of his many fans, Eva Monheim from Temple University

Dr Dirr is passionate about Lagerstroemias, Viburnums and new hybrids of Vitex. His garden is filled with rambly perennials borders and lovely young trees including Quercus and Maples as well as Tupelos. A visit to Dr Dirrs’ garden is for plantaholics like me a bit like a kid winning the golden ticket and going to visit Willy Wonka in his chocolate factory, but with a fundamental difference, Dr Dirr is an academic keeping it real, an incredible, knowledgeable plantsman generous of spirit and willing to share his vast knowledge, engaging young teens as much as older folks with a passion for learning…………and on this day, I have got to say that I really felt like I walked in the presence of greatness.

even the bugs are happy in this garden

Dr Dirr’s cat-which is not really his cat

Andrea’s Top 6 trees small trees for West Australian Gardens

Agonis Flexuosa ‘Burgundy’

Lagerstroemia Natchez

Eucalyptus Erythrocorys ‘Red Cap Gum’

Brachychiton acerifolia x populneus ‘Bella-donna’

Eucalyptus Caesia

Hakea laurina

Andrea’s Top 6 Noble trees found in large Perth gardens

Liquid Amber

Jacaranda

Corymbia citriodora

Bauhinia

Callitris pressii ‘Rottnest Island Pine’

Agonis Flexuosa

Have you got a “Noble Tree” at your place?

Andrea attended #GWA16 in Atlanta, Georgia where Dr Michael Dirr was a keynote speaker. Dr Dirr has published more than 300 scientific and popular papers and articles. His book Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs is available through Timber Press and is one of their best selling titles.

No need to “over-winter” potted plants Down Under

Unlike our Northern Hemisphere garden friends we are so lucky here in Perth that we don’t need to over-winter our potted plants, we don’t need to bring all our pot plants in out of the snow and cold weather. In some places, they go to a lot of trouble for garden specimens and potted plants.

Aeonium

Aeonium

My horti friends from the USA describe this as a huge undertaking every year as they gather many of their garden treasures and bag them up or bring them undercover or wrap them in paper and straw to prevent them from freezing. Many are kept indoors to survive the cold winter. For many, It’s a part of their annual gardening programme.

Stunning foliage

Stunning foliage

 

That said, the unseasonal heavy rain we have experienced these past few weeks and the fact that the mornings are getting a little cooler and Autumn not that far away has got me thinking that every year I do change my pots around and bring my succulents under cover so that they don’t get too wet during Autumn and Winter.

Check out these beauties, they're under cover for the winter

Check out these beauties, they’re under cover for the winter

 

This morning I did just that and it was a good opportunity to check out what’s going on with my pots and tidy them up a bit.

Bring out the scissors, this ugly leaf is coming off

Bring out the scissors, this ugly leaf is coming off

 

Some of the leaves underneath were dry and needed to be removed and some were a little damp after the rain. Just a little TLC will reap big rewards.thumb_IMG_3492_1024

It’s really easy, just have a close look at your potted succulents are the leaves a little dry or maybe a little soggy? Give them a tug and they should pull away from the main stem easily.

Looks what's under there...dead leaves ready to be plucked

Looks what’s under there…dead leaves ready to be plucked

 

Stick your finger into the pot. Is it feeling wet in there?

 

Mine were way too wet and so I have brought them in under cover and rearranged my alfresco area to accommodate them. Now we can see them and enjoy the beautiful blooms as well as keep an eye on them to make sure that they are getting just the right amount of water.

This pot is a little to wet how cute is this Crassula Portulacea but it's a bit liek Shrek in the swamp and needs to dry out a bit

This pot is a little too wet. How cute is this Crassula Portulacea but it’s a bit like Shrek in the swamp and needs to dry out a bit

 

Succulents really only need water once every two weeks. I’ve also given mine a little slow-release fertiliser just to show them how much I care.

Pretty from every angle

Pretty from every angle

 

Try the finger test. If it feels cool and wet, hold off on the water.  I’ve also given mine a little slow release fertiliser. They are amazingly resilient plants which will reward you year after year…and yes you can leave them out in the winter rain but it is nice to bring them in a little closer so that you can enjoy them without getting wet!

 

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.

T

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

The power of being in the moment

 

Have you ever wondered why so many avid gardeners seem calm and smile often? Why they see beauty in a leaf or the petals on a flower, why a bug is of interest to them? Why they derive pleasure from small simple things.My Garden

I was visiting a client this week and she happened to say to me that since they had their new garden installed there was one piece of advice that I gave to her husband after I put the garden in that he really listened to. One, I thought to myself, I said so much at handover, what is the one piece of advice? Reticulation, Fertilising routine, growth habits, seasonal changes….. It took me a while for this “significant” moment to really sink in…what was it that had I said that this highly successful and very busy man had listened to?

Aha, then she said it..”hose in one hand tea or a beer in the other”

Tea Cup, Green, Tea Bag, Teabag, Outdoor

On completion of a new garden, I always say to my clients that each morning they should go out into their new garden with their morning brew in hand  and walk around the garden, sometimes I say to the guys, walk around with a beer or a wine in hand and the hose in the other when you get home from work. Ooh look!

Why do I give this advice?

The time that one takes to “water” your garden, and it need be no more than fifteen minutes is an opportunity for the new garden owner to take a moment out of their busy day and connect with nature.

It’s a twinkle in time when one can see what’s happening in the garden, see what creatures have decided to make it their home too and check out the birds that fly in and out of the garden space.

It’s an occasion to monitor what’s growing vigorously and what has come to a stop for a while. It’s an instant to make a mental note of jobs you might want to undertake on the weekend and prepare to deal with any pests and diseases.

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My view is that this time provides the homeowner a second to reflect upon their garden before they head off to work and  consider what their hard work has rewarded them and re-ignite that spark to get through the stressful day ahead.

It’s also three shakes of a lamb’s tail to just bend down and breathe in the heady fragrance of beautiful, healthy blooms.

take time to sniff a fragrant bloom

take the time to sniff a fragrant bloom

It’s a chance to see the changing seasons before they head out into the world for the day,  but most of all it’s a moment to zone out in a kind of spiritual, meditative sort of way. Yes, I know I’m placing great importance on this part of the day but I really believe in this piece of life advice I’m dishing out for free

.Tea, Tea Cup, Nature, Teapot, Outdoor

Consider the moment, watering pots and plants, perhaps pulling out a weed or two but at the same time just breathing and thinking about nothing except sipping that drink and the beauty of nature at work in the garden.

You are present, you are “in the moment” and that may not happen until tomorrow when you do it all again.

Reflecting upon leaf on a body of water

Reflecting upon a beautiful leaf on a body of water

 

It’s addictive that’s for sure…why not have a think about making this part of your daily routine too and if tea is not your thing, I can vouch for the fact that it works with coffee, wine, champagne or beer or even water if you must and far better for the soul than pounding away on a treadmill or taking a spin class with some uber fit, lycra clad, fake-tanned, protein fuelled bloke yelling at you to go harder, faster, stronger, in a smelly, sweaty gym, I say!

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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

 

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!

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Roses for all the neighbours to admire

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

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