Friday, 29 July 2011

Splendid succulents

Before the last summer rains which culminated in the devastating January floods, Brisbane had been languishing in an extended drought over a number of years. This led to a major reassessment of how we used water.

Like many gardeners I had a water tank installed and followed council restrictions on water use. Of course, this also impacted on plant choice and my plans for a lush, tropical looking garden were revised to include drought tolerant plants and a 'Mexican garden' theme.

This time last year I potted up a selection of succulents. They have performed brilliantly, and many are quite transformed at the moment as they are covered in clusters of flowers at the ends of whimsical antennas.

Onslow inspecting the outdoor setting I bought at Easter with 'pot plant display out of puppy reach" in mind.

These gorgeous rosettes are three different types of succulent: golden Sedum nussbaumerianum, blue graptopetalum and green echeveria.

As it looks now, in bud.
The same type of graptopetalum in its own pot.

Now cascading down the side of the pot.

Echeveria 'Doris Taylor' planted in one of the side pockets of a strawberry pot.

Other inhabitants of the strawberry pot: Sedum pachyphytum, not sure what the rosette is, and Portulacaria afra 'Variegata'.

Loved the effect of a morning shower on these three different rosettes.

Detail of the flowerhead on the echeveria in the mixed pot.

This book has been a brilliant introduction to gardening with succulents, and has been a great help with identification. Many I bought weren't labelled, or else just had a very generic (and unhelpful) 'succulent' tag. Hope I got them right!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Colourful visitors

Winter-flowering sasanqua camellias along my fenceline have just finished flowering, but a few weeks ago these colourful rainbow lorikeets dropped by for a visit.  They are the most entertaining of birds, like torpedoes on the wing, but crazy, acrobatic clowns when they are feeding.

When the eucalypts are in flower, they descend in huge numbers, and with their raucous screeching as they hang upside or fight for the best position to feed on the nectar, it's like 'party central' has arrived!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

More bromeliads

The beautiful matchstick bromeliad (Aechmea gamsepala) is easy to grow and it propagates readily. Like many of my broms, this one is planted under a huge poinciana at the front of my driveway. Even when it is not flower, the striking green and cream foliage adds interest to semi-shaded areas.

Because many broms are epiphytes, they have minimal soil requirements and happily live in and around the roots of big trees, like the red-flowered one below, 

or on the trunks themselves, like these three examples in my brother's garden in northern New South Wales about two hours south of Brisbane.

An added advantage of being up high - they are safe from puppy predations! I still get very sad thinking about the beautiful alcantarea imperialis rubra (an expensive maroon foliaged brom) I had in the back yard. Onslow and Miss B liked to scratch their claws on the stiff red leaves! Sometimes the broms can come back from such treatment, but the pups destroyed the 'vase' formed by the inner leaves so that mine couldn't retain water and I lost it.  Luckily I have another little one safely ensconsed in the front garden and have two tiny 'pups' (brom offshoots) potted well out of harm's way.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

New additions

I've been laid low this week with some kind of flu virus, so have accomplished little in the garden. But...on my way back from the doctor somehow I found myself pulling in to my local nursery. It was the perfect tonic!

I don't really have space in Bella and Onslow-free territory but will have a bit of a reshuffle in the 'Mexican Garden' in the front yard once I get a bit of energy back.

I think it's time to say goodbye to the Mexican Tarragon. It was a sunny patch of colour in autumn, but clashes with everything. I want to play up the blue grey tones, plus I am desperate for some pretty cut flowers, especially after looking at Belinda's exquisite creations at Wild Acre.

Here are the new additions in the back of my car:
Salvia 'Velour White'; Marguerite daisy 'Crazy Daisy'; Cineraria 'Silver Dust' and my favourite, Osteospermum 'Double Sensation'

Here's more of 'Double Sensation":

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Cool mornings; hot colours

The mornings may be nippy here in Bris-Vegas, but you could warm your hands beside some of the sizzling colours in the garden right now.


My neighbour's Croton

Aloe 'Diana'

Hibiscus 'Snowqueen'


Like twin flames - Strelitzia "Bird of Paradise'

Orange Trumpet Vine Pyrostegia venusta


Salvia 'Wendy's Wish'

Salvia relation - Pineapple sage

Sunday, 3 July 2011


Zephyranthes candida

There was a single flower out on my storm (or rain) lily this morning. I have planted them as an edging around a Magnolia 'Little Gem". So simple, yet so beautiful.

Friday, 1 July 2011

101 ways to use a coconut

Sure there are coconut bikini tops and pina coladas and I'm sure dozens more ideas to be gleaned from Gilligan's Island re-runs, but I loved these eco-friendly garden ideas I spotted in Sri Lanka:

coconut garden edging

or hanging pots for dendrobium orchids


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