Review: ‘Disobedient Gardens’ by Michael Cooke & Brigid Arnott

I first became aware of Michael Cooke in the 1990s when I was an occasional customer at his plant nursery on Sydney’s northern fringe. Belrose Nursery was, then, one of the last ‘proper’ retail plant businesses that grew and sold exciting and hard to get plants. Gardeners and landscapers would battle the intolerable Sydney traffic just to seek out his interesting range of perennials and other ornamentals. Continue reading

If you want a lively-looking garden, it’s time to see red

As a colour, red has a serious fan club. Red shoes (to die for), red cars (go faster), red lipstick (no comment) and red roses. Which brings us to red in the garden. Red is the perfect foil to green, which is probably why we often paint the front door red. Or line the path with evergreen topiary balls growing in red-glazed planters. Or tie oversized red bows into the shrubbery come Christmas time. What follows is a quick look at some brilliant plants that pack a nice red punch… Continue reading

Why have we fallen out of love with conifers?

For some years there’s been an autumn National Conifer Week in the UK, celebrating the diversity and adaptability of this handsome, but now under-appreciated group of plants. Do we need a World-Wide Conifer Week? Why have we fallen out of love with this handsome, versatile, adaptable and tough group of plants? Continue reading

Fijian fire plant – how to grow Acalypha and its many cultivars

If you travel through the Pacific Islands or northern Queensland a plant you’ll find hard to miss in the gardens, parks and streetscapes, is the brilliantly leaved Acalypha, also known as Fijian Fire Plant, Beefsteak Plant or Salt Bush. These plants have large, medium or small leaves with flashes of red, yellow, pink and bronze. The leaves may be margined or striped with colour, and they may be rounded, narrow, triangular, rectangular, heavily toothed or quite lacy in shape. Continue reading

A garden built on harmony and trust

Every garden tells a story, and this one in southern Sydney tells one of trust and collaboration that has created magic. When Joan Zande retired, her dream was to redesign her 40-year old garden. Yet finding a designer who embraced the site proved challenging. Against a rocky sandstone escarpment, a 10º slope, drainage problems and nowhere to sit, the site just seemed too hard. Continue reading

What is a botanic garden?

Welcome to the first of many articles by BGANZ members. BGANZ stands for The Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand Inc, the professional body representing the interests of botanic gardens in Australia and New Zealand. In this and future issues, we’ll showcase botanic gardens from ‘the inside looking out’ and highlight features that make botanic gardens stand apart from other public green spaces. Continue reading

Illawarra Grevillea Park: a plant lover’s paradise

The Illawarra Grevillea Park is arguably the best of its kind in Australia. It was established in the 1980s to house the Australian Plant Society’s wild grevillea collection. Since then the park has evolved and now has a broader range of Australian natives. Many of the plants are rare and endangered and have been grafted to enable them to grow in our more humid climate on the NSW east coast. Continue reading