Sunday, March 29, 2009

City Beach Garden

This is a garden we designed for a newly built residence in City Beach which is currently on the market. The builder had already constructed most of the walls, planter boxes and steps. We were involved with the planting and paving design.

Brazilian Jasmine : Mandevilla 'Pink Fantasy' Eventually this vine will be trained to grow along the balustrades. It can also be used as a great ground cover.
Olive Tree : Olea europa ( central tree )
Pink Butterflies : Gaura ' Ellena ' ( beneath tree )
Escallonia : Escallonia ' Pink Pixie ' ( future hedge in background along wall ) Artificial turf was used in this area as it was inaccessible to lawn mowers and too large to be all garden bed.
Cottonwood Tree : Hibiscus tiliaceus rubra was chosen for its dark foliage and the coastal growing conditions of this site.

Ornamental Pear Tree : Pyrus calleryana ' Red Spire ' ( foreground )
Dwarf Magnolia : Magnolia ' Little Gem ' ( background )

Standard Rose : Rosa ' Angel Face ' ( Lollipop shape )

Paving : Exposed Aggregate by Limescapes with Granite capping to the steps. These landscaping works were carried out by Stewart Winsor from Winsor Landscaping who has done a brilliant job.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Perth Zoo Plants

During a trip to Perth Zoo last weekend I found myself more interested in the plants than the animals! I was busy snapping pictures of the unusual plants in and around the exhibits.

Giant Variegated Bamboo: Dendrocalamus jianshuiensis

Mondo Grass : Ophiopogon japonica ( dark green grass in centre )

I thought this was a fantastic example of a riverbed effect with low grasses planted amongst the rocks evoking an impression of water ( albeit green water! )

Lions Tail : Leonotis leonurus

This aptly named shrub was in the African Savannah exhibit. The seed capsules are as exciting as the flowers.

Sausage Tree : Kigelia africana

Here is some information from some signage at the zoo:

This tree produces large, reddish-purple flowers and wooden, sausage-shaped fruits, which can weigh up to four kilograms. Many parts of the tree are eaten by different animals.
Although the fresh fruit is poisonous, it can be dried, roasted or fermented for use as a herbal medicine or to make alcohol. Shelves, boxes and canoes can also be made from the wood.
This species has been introduced to Australia and is popular with cockatoos…though not overly popular with car-owners who have unwittingly parked beneath them.

Sausage Shaped Fruits.

I had trouble identifying this one although it immediately reminded me of a leaf painted by Val on her blog Pencil and Leaf. It could well be a False Aralia although the leaves are grey. It was quite a tall shrub ( about 1.8m ) does anyone have any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sculpture by the Sea

My sister suggested we head down to Cottesloe Beach to see Sculpture by the Sea with my nephew as a treat for his second birthday.

This was his favourite without a doubt " BIG bike, up, up, up? " Try explaining to a two year old that climbing on the sculptures is not allowed.

This was one that seemed to be designed to be interactive ( for children anyway ). It was very sturdy so there wasn't much chance of any damage being done. It was a series of wire framed ' igloos ' connected by tunnels.

This was my sisters favourite : a giant wrist watch. She liked that way the straps looked like real leather.This one reminded Aiden of a doggie. He thought the strap looked like a tail. That's the beauty of sculpture, it's open to every ones own interpretation.

Some of the giant object sculptures were grouped together giving the impression that you'd stumbled upon a 'giants playground'.This one had Aiden asking to "draw?".Other giant objects included Lifesavers lollies, a Scrabble letter rack and an enormous sink plug.

One of my personal favourites. These steel cubes were linked together to form a kind of chain mail mesh entangled amongst the rocks of the pier.
Another of my favourites, a sculptural arrangement of partially buried sea shipping containers which have seemingly ' washed up ' on the beach.
I like the juxtaposition of the rusted and painted textures of these two surfaces and the precarious way that they're balanced.
This side of the container had the sheeting removed providing a view of the ocean through slatted steel ribs disappearing into the sand.

I was drawn to the colour of this obelisk and the way it compliments the sea. When you get up close you notice that its reflectiveness is its best quality.The artists who created this sculpture have been invited to participate in the same event at Bondi Beach, Sydney.

They had an SMS voting system for the public to choose their favourite sculpture.Which would you vote for? The sculptures will be there until the 24th of March if you're keen to check them out.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

This is the first time that I've participated in Carol's from May Dreams Gardens Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. It's the beginning of Autumn here and my Sedum 'Mini Joy' certainly thinks so because it has just started to show some pinkness.

Here are some Dianthus I planted around October/November last year which have flowered consistently since then. They are fairly thirsty though and I have to say that they've needed daily watering to make it through summer.

Our old faithful hibiscus that was rescued from aphids when we moved in and it's never looked back. We also have a dark pink one that isn't flowering at the moment.

Another reliable bloomer Strelitzia ( Bird of Paradise ). This one always gets a reaction and I often find that people either love it or hate it. Either way there's no denying that they're hardy and flower frequently throughout the year. As I was taking this photo a New Holland Honey eater flew in for some nectar. Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough to photograph it with the flower.

Feeling fairly dissatisfied with the lack of flowers in my garden I decided it was time to plant my bulbs. I spaced them out over the area before burying each one. Last year I was organised enough to dig up and store them in a calico bag in the shed. In the past I've just left them in position with fairly disappointing results. This time I've also planted them in dappled shade instead of full sun so fingers crossed! I planted Dutch Iris, Daffodils and Jonquills. While I was at it I treated my garden to an application of Seasol as a reward for surviving summer.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Display Home Gardens

This week I visited some display home gardens we were involved with in Hammond Park ( 24km south of Perth ). These were designed and constructed by WF Landscape Industries, a landscaping company who enlists my services to draft their landscape plans. I like to see how these gardens turn out because they are always of such high quality.

Paul Stacey hand picks the plant stock to give these gardens an instant effect. This is essential for display gardens as there is little time for plant growth before they are open to the public. The feature plants in this photo are a Dragon Tree ( foreground ) and Yucca ' Creme Ridge ' ( background )
Pictured above is the rear Alfresco Area with surrounding garden beyond. There is a slight step down from the decked area onto the lawn.

Three potted Red Cordylines form the backdrop to this outdoor dining suite. The pots have a sandblasted brick texture.

This is another garden by the same landscaper in the Hammond Park display village. We used alternating planting and paving strips to create a bold look to suit this modern home design.
A timber deck leads up to the front door under the front portico with grasses on both sides.

A rendered brick planter box with built in timber bench seats in the backyard. Feature paving strips through the lawn area create interest and draw the eye into the garden. This also reduces the overall area of lawn both physically and visually.
Each paving strip ends with a Feature Shrub - Yucca elephantipes. Stay tuned for some more display home gardens on this blog in the near future. They're great places to visit for interior and exterior design ideas. This display village is located on Macquarie Boulevard, Hammond Park.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tomato Update

I planted my tomato seeds two and a half weeks ago now so I thought I'd give an update on their progress. They're starting to grow foliage that resembles a tomato leaf. Until now the leaves were propeller shaped. Now there's no mistaking that they're not some freakish weed I managed to grow from the potting mix - they are definitely tomato plants!

I made the trellis with some bamboo canes from our garden and some thin wire. I wanted to get the trellis up before the seedlings grew too big. As it was I managed to squash a couple in the process! Have a look at my earlier post 'Small Beginnings' to see how much they've grown.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden

Yesterday I received a call from a local Primary School asking if I'd like to be involved with designing a kitchen garden project for their school. They have received a grant from the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Foundation which means they will be setting up a vegetable garden and kitchen for young children to learn about growing and cooking fresh, organic food. This fabulous concept is the creation of Australian chef and author Stephanie Alexander.

Here are the aims and philosophy of the program ( extract from their website ) :

The aim of the Kitchen Garden Program is pleasurable food education for young children.The underlying belief is that by introducing this holistic approach we have a chance to positively influence children’s food choices in ways that have not been tried before.A Kitchen Garden is created to provide edible, aromatic and beautiful resources for a kitchen.The creation and care of a Kitchen Garden teaches children about the natural world, about its beauty and how to care for it, how best to use the resources we have, and an appreciation for how easy it is to bring joy and wellbeing into one’s life through growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing fresh, seasonal produce.

I'm really excited about the prospect of being involved. I have a meeting with the school on Monday morning so I'll keep you posted on whether I get the job. Here is my little garden and kitchen helper who at the age of two is already very interested in both of these activities.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Small Beginnings

After talking and thinking about growing a veggie patch for the last few years, I've finally started one, well just! We were having dinner at a friend's place and had some delicious tomatoes from her garden with our salad. Nola suggested I take some home, squish and dry out the seeds then plant them.

So a week ago, I did just that. Here are the tomato seeds drying out in the sun. The tomatoes are an unusual orange colour. For the past week I've been watering them daily, feeling fairly sceptical and a little foolish, until....

They sprouted! I can't wait to watch these grow. They've already doubled in size since I took this photo. Small beginnings, but it's a huge deal to me. I have no idea if it's the right time of year to be growing tomatoes from seed but I figured that if they're fruiting now, the fruit would naturally be dropping to the ground and growing into seedlings. Maybe I'll have some fruit next summer?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Potted Succulents

Succulents make terrific potted plants. Apart from their obvious water saving properties, there are several reasons why this is so. Most varieties become dormant in winter and often aren't very attractive or disappear completely. This is the case for Sedum ' Autumn Joy ' and its smaller form ' Mini-Joy'.

Sedum ' Autumn Joy '

Sedum ' Mini-Joy '

The beauty of planting succulents in pots is you can hide them away when they're at their worst and bring them out in their full glory when they have regenerated with lush new foliage.

Sanseviera trifasiciata

I have had great success growing this in pots on my front porch with very little direct sunlight. They only need watering every couple of weeks or so. They've been fairly slow growing in this position which suits the small pots that they're planted in.

Sanseviera ' Moonshine '

Echeveria ' Chocolate '

Another other good thing about succulents being potted is it allows you to experiment with the position they're in for optimum growth. I found that these Echeveria were getting too much sun and preferred a less harsh position so I moved them. The colour of the foliage can also vary according to how much sun they're receiving.

Kalanchoe thrysiflora ( White Form )

This one recently required re-potting as it had outgrown it's original pot and was becoming a bit unbalanced ( both physically and visually )

Succulents also have a handy habit of reproducing themselves, regularly having babies called 'pups ' . These are easily divided from the parent plant and re-planted meaning you can plant out new pots or large areas economically. I often give Aloe vera plants away as gifts to friends.