Melbourne’s Best in Show 2015?

‘Quietude’, a design collaboration, won Best in Show at the 2015 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. But was it really the best?

It’s not common for designers to work together on a show garden and especially for it to also win a Gold Medal and Best in Show. Lisa Ellis (Lisa Elilis Gardens) and Mark Browning (Cycas Landscape Design) came together to create ‘Quietude‘, with Mark taking on the hard landscaping, and Lisa using her magic on the planting design. Where the dividing line was in the overall design, I’m not sure. Continue reading

Growing beans in the tropics & subtropics

Green beans remain one of the most popular of garden vegetables in Australia. They are certainly easy to start from seed, grow readily into large and vigorous plants and are very productive – particularly the climbing cultivars. But do you know which ones to grow in subtropical climates? Continue reading

Build up to my first Chelsea show garden

Moments of nerves, moments of panic and moments of sheer excitement is how I would describe the build up to my first Chelsea Flower Show garden. I recently got back from my last trip to Spain before Chelsea to check on my plants. I can tell you right now trying to find a plant that fits within the design aesthetically – blues, whites, lilacs, green and silver green; fits my planting scheme ethos – the plants’ origins need to come from a part of the world touched by Islam or Arab culture through trade; and can be grown in the UAE, is tough. I love a challenge and clearly never make things simple for myself. Chelsea 2015 is my biggest challenge yet; climbing Kilimanjaro was easier. Continue reading

Dogwood attracts puppies

Our yellow-flowered dogwood put on a wonderful flower show that lasted right through Christmas. The flowers have been followed by small, round red fruits – masses of them. The fruit looks like a cross between a cherry and a strawberry. About the size of a small cherry, its bumpy surface resembles a strawberry. Continue reading

Green with acid envy

If the ‘grass is greener’ on the other side for you, then in the UK that soil is undoubtedly acidic. For some reason there’s an unwritten law that states that if you garden on a chalky soil you will want to grow ericaceous plants like azaleas and rhododendrons. The truth of the matter is that making an alkaline soil acidic is nigh on impossible and quite frankly not worth the bother. I’ve known people to move house on account of it, although if you really are fussed then a raised bed is quite a practical solution. Continue reading

A Yarra Valley trip with garden history

In mid March members of the Australian Garden History Society enjoyed a lovely day out in the Yarra Valley. It was good to see countryside less drought stressed than it has been in previous years. Our trip included two gardens open to the public. The National Trust historic farm ‘Gulf Station’ is always a delight to visit and the dedicated volunteers gave us an excellent description of the pioneer history. ‘Alwyn Gardens’ was a perfect spot for lunch. Continue reading

Quest for a Moreton Bay fig

I love Moreton Bay fig trees. From the overall shape and spread, to the magnificent buttress roots that they form and the shade they provide, I think they are a stunning feature in the parks and gardens that have the room for them. About 2 years ago we decided that we would like to grow a Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla). We had the land to do it (40 acres) and hoped to see its first 40 years or so. Continue reading