Taking a chance on Eremophilas

Eremophilas can be marvellous plants in the garden, but their reliability in a variety of soils and climates is still being established by their many devoted growers. As so many eremophilas have been only recently collected from the wild and introduced into our gardens, they are still a work in progress as garden plants. Continue reading

Stopping to smell the stink

Flower scent is an evocative modality in gardens, often just as important as colour and texture. The smell of roses gave rise to a popular saying that reminds us to look closer and appreciate the beauty around us every minute of every day. There are so many plants loved for their scent that it’s impossible to list them all in a blog. Violets are perhaps one of my all-time favourites, followed closely by asiatic lilies. I don’t care much for roses but their scent can waft far from where their roots are in the ground. Continue reading

The Hawaiian lei that wasn’t

Every morning at around 9.30am at our beautiful Waikiki hotel, a large white box would arrive and be secreted beside the valet and entry area. I loved this box, as I knew inside were hundreds of fresh dendrobium orchid leis which would be placed around the necks of weary but smiling guests of the hotel. Continue reading

Berber home and garden, Morocco

East of Marrakech, over Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, a desert landscape riddled with spectacular gorges and valleys presides. At the time of my visit in November, snow-capped peaks rendered this ancient land of Berbers even more panoramic. In their pink and red-hued villages, built so clearly from the earth right there, dwell a truly hospitable people. I had the good fortune to visit the home and garden of one Berber family. Continue reading

Giving two rooms their view

It rains a lot in the west of Scotland. It’s often too soggy to be out in the garden, so it’s important to have something attractive to look at from inside the house. We spend most of our indoor time in our kitchen and adjoining living room/dining room, which are both west-facing. Continue reading

Choosing plants for subtropical hedges

When a friend was recently telling me all about her parterre garden in Armidale I was somewhat horrified for her, until she kindly pointed out what a very different climate Armidale is to where I am in Brisbane. I have never really enjoyed the look of those amazing parterre gardens, mazes and formal hedges of the grand European gardens. I am a professional gardener and they always bring to mind endless hours of hedge trimming resulting in aching arms and backs!!!! Continue reading

Book review: House of Plants

This charmingly idiosyncratic book seeks to enthuse its readers about the humble houseplant. Its arrival on my desk was perfect timing: as a landscape historian and fervently keen gardener, I have increasingly been wondering why my house is not full of beautiful, healthy plants. Some potted herbs in the kitchen and a dusty gloxinia upstairs are about all I can currently muster. So I was delighted to dip into this passionate, personal account of the wonders of indoor gardening. Continue reading

Crazy about cristation and fasciation

Cristation, cresting or fasciation is an accident of nature that occurs in either vegetative or flowering buds, the former bearing new stems and leaves and the latter, well, flowers. This may seem quite obvious to most of you, but I must say that I am surprised how many of my horticulture students are not aware of this small fact. To confuse matters you can get mixed buds, but inside each of these will be smaller flowering and vegetative buds. Continue reading