Friday, 30 December 2011

Mostly orchids

More from my Christmas visit to my brother Tony's garden near Ballina in northern New South Wales.  There was so much to photograph, I guess it's no wonder my camera battery ran flat after a day and a half. 

The two flowers below are both Heliconias. He doesn't have any trouble growing them -- the extra rain and rich soil make all the difference -- but I am on the point of giving up here. I love their exotic good looks and have healthy plants of both these varieties, but no flowers after several years. Unfortunately, the only one of mine that has flowered was Heliconia augusta 'Red Christmas', which eventually vanished after featuring on the dogs' racing circuit for a time. 

Heliconia rostrata

Blood lily Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. Katherinae (prev Haemanthus)

Tony said this was called an Octopus palm after the unusual inflorescence. (The orchid plant in the bottom left corner has finished flowering but is one of his favourites, the Sydney Rock Orchid Dendrobium speciousum.)

This must be an Oncidium orchid. This is just a side cluster of flowers from a long spray. The flowers are like a bigger version of my yellow 'Dancing Lady'.

I am not sure of the name of this orchid beauty. It looks a little like a bulb at first, with long strappy leaves , a long stem, and the tightly bunched buds.

Most of the orchids flower in Spring, and Tony's particular, though certainly not exclusive, interest lies in Australian native orchids. Many are modest and unassuming when not in flower and often blend in with their surroundings (except for the giveaway pantyhose securing larger varieties: I had a polka dot pair around the rock orchid in my poinciana!) 

Even after the end of the main flowering season, it's always worth keeping an eye out for a dainty native orchid affixed to a sandstone monolith,

This has an almost identical flower to the Tick Orchid I shared in an earlier posting.

or an exotic relation at the base of a tree,

or high in its branches.

Regardless of scale and country of origin, the flowers are always spectacular. And I think that next Spring, I will definitely time a visit to capture more of the orchids in bloom.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Bromeliads in Tony's garden

It looks like it will take several posts to show just some of Tony and Leanne's garden. Here I have focussed on bromeliads, because I have brought pups from many of these to incorporate into my own garden.

The brom below is quite large and very prickly. It was one of the first additions to my 'loot and pillage' pile, because I like how the outside of the leaves colours rather than the more usual inner part.  I have already planted my pup in the back garden under a redneck palm.

Here are two that I already have in my collection.

This sunlover has coloured up to a beautiful pinky bronze in my garden. I love it here with Erigeron daisy.

Alcantarea imperialis rubra

I love the yellow and maroon flowers on the brom below. Tony divided it up while I was there. I have planted my pup into a pot to show off the cascading flowers, and he was going to establish another in a tree for the same reason.

Here are some of the other brom plantings showing how some have been established in the tree branches, frequently in combination with orchids or Spanish moss and other tillandsias:

The diversity of bromeliad flowers never ceases to amaze me.

More from Tony's garden next post!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas in the garden

If you look closely into the photo below, there's a little face almost dead centre.

Onslow, Miss B, and yours truly got back from 4 lovely days over Christmas with my brother and his family.  He lives near Ballina in northern New South Wales, about a 2 hour drive south from here in Brisbane, and his garden is paradise for pups and garden lovers alike. They have wonderful volcanic soil and get more rain than we do, so the area always looks lush and tropical.

Onslow exploring

Miss Bella thought a clump of Dwarf Panda Grass Pogonatherum paniceum was just perfect for nestling into.

Whenever I go down there, I think one day it will be like Sleeping Beauty's place: I'll need my machete to get to the front door! My brother is a tireless plant collector.

I took loads of photos of things that caught my eye in the garden, but I forgot to take my battery recharger, so the photography came to an abrupt end on Christmas Eve, although I still have plenty to share, starting with the boundary fence, covered in rose flowered bignonia or pink trumpet vine, bower of beauty, and jasmine.

Rose flowered Bignonia Podranea ricasoliana

Bower of Beauty Pandorea jasminoides

Jasminium (not sure of variety)
 It's not exactly a planned garden. It's one that Topsy. There are fruit trees: avocados, figs, tamarillo and banana (not photographed), and a somewhat overgrown pineapple.

 Cottage garden plants like buddleia are planted alongside tropical frangipani. 

 There are traditional favourites, like Japanese maple and magnolias, and the odd curiosity.

The tree with pale foliage behind the heliconia is a variegated jacaranda. (We  had waves of these wonderful fronts with heavy showers coming through a couple of times a day.)

But Tony's current obsession is orchids. Palms, bromeliads, and bamboos have all had their turn too, and I will focus on them next post.

Of course, his greatest treasure is his beautiful family. This is my gorgeous niece Yassie who turned 13 on the 23rd. Happy Birthday, Beautiful Girl!

Friday, 23 December 2011

I'm dreaming of a white (and frequently fragrant) Christmas

Courtesy of:

The driveway spider lilies Hymenocallis littoralis

the Murraya hedge 

the hammerhead frangipani, Plumeria pudica

the evergreen frangipani, Plumeria obtusa

and a little snapdragon.

In the meantime, even though it is cloudy and sprinkling, the pooches and I are heading for the beach.  Happy holidays!


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