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!

 

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

Phoenix in Bloom for an Aussie on Tour

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A warm Fall/Autumn morning spent wandering through the incredible Desert Botanical Garden located in Papago Park in Phoenix, Central Arizona revealed 140 acres of stunning desert plantings, during my recent visit to the USA, catching up with my dear friend, Phoenix local and fellow blogger AZPlantLady, was such a delightful and unexpected surprise. Superb gardens packed full of inspiring landscape design ideas and beautiful desert plants.

Cactus in flower

Cactus in flower

This place is a treasure trove filled with wonderful ideas for those of us gardening in dry climates all over the world.

While some of the plants might not be available for us to use (and here’s where my botanical envy really kicks in) the concepts and the way plants are grouped and the use of water features and careful placement of seating and art in the garden is something we can definitely learn from.

Design concepts such as water features and hard elements such as rock placements are not really new however the ways in which they can be applied in a modern way is and here’s where we can learn and share ideas. Glass elements from Chuhuly provide additional awe at the entrance to the gardens.

I would desperately love to be able to grow the stunning Palo Verde tree which loses its’ leaves and then has the ability to photosynthesize through its’ green trunk and stems. This is a wondrous medium sized shade tree that I first noticed in California last year but it’s here that this beauty calls home. It is used very effectively as a shade tree on street verges, car parks and as specimen trees in home gardens.img_1597

Gravel mulch is used extensively in Phoenix and unusually plants are planted quite sparsely in home gardens and also in public parks and gardens. This allows each plant to have its own space and grow into that space. There’s a certain joy in the spaces in between of a garden and resisting overplanting to “fill a gap” which provides the mind an opportunity to pause. The spaces in a garden are as important as the densely planted. In Phoenix, they really understand this concept.

Cacti and Succulent lovers will ooh and ahh at every turn here. I particularly loved the Saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) pronounced SWARO for us Aussies, is one of the most spectacular plants in these gardens. These are huge, ancient, tree-like cacti that develop head and arm-like branches as they mature. They are very slow growing and costly to purchase for the home garden.  The “arms”  bend upward as if to worship the hot Arizona sun. These plants interestingly are covered with spines and bare white flowers in the late spring, and red fruit in summer. They also provide habitat for birds and reptiles. The birds drill holes into the Saguaro and pop in and out to escape the heat.img_1601Saguaro with a very rare “head” and three “arms” who needs man made art?!

In the gardens, one can experience first hand the lifestyle of the Native Americans, there are round huts which are surprisingly larger on the inside than they appear on the outside but of most interest was the use of Living fences constructed out of Ocotillo Cactus (Fouquieria splendens)  these were fascinating and provided a great deterrent to any critter thinking of sneaking into the vegetable patch for a nibble. The stems can look dead at certain times of the year but as soon as the rain comes they spring into leaf again.Living Fences

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Large rocky outcrops in a particular shade of brown, one only sees in these parts is reminiscent of an old cowboy movie set but the thing is……. this is real.

img_1576img_1618The undergrowth is alive with squirrels and reptiles and at eye level butterflies, bees and colourful caterpillars were of great fascination to me. There were lots of late summer flowering perennials deliberately planted to provide habitat for butterflies.

This garden is a treat if you garden in a dry climate, if you’re seeking inspirational landscaping concepts or if you just want to go and drool at some very special plants that can’t be grown in your hometown and learn something about other parts of the world.

Swathes of grass provide colour and movement

Swathes of grass provide colour and movement

gentle water providing a sense of cool to a bench seat

Gentle water providing a sense of cool to a bench seat

The Money Shot..me and my friend the Saguaro

The Money Shot…me and a Saguaro pronounced Swaro

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Palo Verde tree-an absolute favourite of mine

Chihuly glass

Chihuly glass a dramatic statement at the entrance