Sunday, 10 February 2013

Back to Ballina

I have been thinking that my brother Tony should have his own garden blog. The posts featuring his garden are always among my most popular, but at least now that I have study and my overseas work behind me, I am able to visit more often and bring back lots of photos from his garden to share.

One of the tiniest flowers in his garden is a favourite of mine. I love the Native Violet Viola hederacea, despite it having escaped from the garden bed to run rampant through Tony's lawn.

Another plant in Tony's garden that can quickly become a weed is the ginger or kahili lily Hedychium gardnerianum.  Originally from India, it grows to about 8 foot tall and has become a serious weed in New Zealand. In my state (Queensland), the authorities are trying to prevent it getting a foothold in the wild.

Ginger lily

In contrast, the Eucaris lily Eucharis grandiflora is in my mind a rare and special presence in the sub-tropical garden. It is a perennial with sweetly scented white flowers very reminiscent of a daffodil. I have been meaning to find a spot for this in my garden for a very long time, but don't often see them for sale.

Rose flowered Bignonia Podranea ricasoliana

Crinum - love how these white blooms age to a deep pink

A heliconia 

Apart from a sole representative inside the house, for once Tony's garden had no orchids in bloom, but they are far from forgotten. He is building a second orchid house for them.

A Miltonia orchid, I think

No avocados this visit, but I grabbed some cherry tomatoes, sampled the tomatillos and blueberries, and eyed off the figs for next time!

Although the orchids are starting to be serious competition, the stars at Tony's are usually his extensive collection of bromeliads. There are always some in bloom.

An alcantarea

I'm loving this soft velvety pink one. The tips of the leaves flush red when it's flowering. Tony said he has a pup with my name on it.

This is the one he was most proud of this visit - a tillandsia. Gorgeous grey-blue foliage with a purple flower emerging from coppery pink bracts.

Achmea blanchetiana - the same sunloving bronze-foliaged bromeliad that I have in my front garden

Guzmania conifera

I thought this was the same blue-flowered brom that I admired in my Christmas post , but I am assured it is different.

Finally, I thought you might be interested in seeing a little more of Ballina itself.  Here are some scenes along the river, and in my next post, I will share the lovely beach walk we enjoyed this morning.

The wonderful stainless steel fish sculptures along the river are by Ballina Public Artist Joe Stark.


  1. Marisa, I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I kept on scrolling down excitedly to see the photos.
    I love the metal fish sculptures, do they turn in the wind?
    Tony's garden is always lovely to behold, and I loved everything.
    My Eucharis lily lives in a pot on my patio and flowers twice a year, while the Kahili lily we carefully nurse here, because they're an exotic, especially that yellow one. I can't see them ever becoming invasive though.
    Both the white and burgundy crinums grow wild here.
    As for the lovely burgundy/yellow heliconia and the Miltonia orchid, my heart has gone out to both of them. Now I'm on a plant seeking mission...thanks Marisa.

  2. Thanks, Virginia. The metal sculptures do turn in the wind. It has the name of each type of fish under the post they are mounted on. I'll be on a plant seeking mission too, to add the Eucharis lily to my garden.

  3. Marissa,
    I have the eucharis lily taking over in my garden - I am not sure how they propagate. I am afraid I rather do take them for granted. Funny isn't it, that when something grows easily we think it is no longer special. I do admire you for learning all the proper names of your plants.

    1. Funny isn't it; just a slightly different climate can make all the difference between a plant being 'precious' or 'pest'. I do my best with the proper names. I usually keep the plant tags when I buy things, so I can refer back to them if I need to. When I first started the blog, I wondered whether to stick with the common name, but because they vary so much from place to place, and sometimes the same common name can refer to quite different species, I thought it worth going 'formal' in case anyone wants to track a particular plant down.

  4. Your brother has a lovely garden! I do remember it from a couple of previous posts of yours, and like then, hardly any of the plants were familiar to me! Probably because I live in Britain and most of the plants would not be very happy in my climate, well except for the viola of course, but I think our viola is Viola odorata mostly.

    Nice to see the photos from around the area, looks like you had a lovely day.

    1. It was a lovely visit, Helene, and I always return inspired with new garden ideas.



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