Black flowers and foliage are ugly. Even worse, they’re usually not a true black but what I’d call ‘cack black’ – a dark blacky-purple-brown colour that looks like an old scab. Why on earth any plant breeder chooses to make more of the things and flog them off to the faddish gardening public is beyond me. They’re just plain horrible but I suppose the novelty value sells a few plants. But what happens when you get them home? Where do you place such bug uglies? Continue reading
Coloured foliage can certainly make a statement but like anything in the garden that isn’t green it can be overdone. Too many gold leaves can be glaring in strong sun light and could even create the look of a bed full of sick underfed plants. Variegated foliage overused can create a hectic look that has the eye flitting disconcertedly all over the place. Large swathes of silver foliage may well glitter in the English light but for me it can look dry and Mallee scrubbish in our hot weather and harsh sunlight, a look I’m not usually in favour of! Continue reading
Hydrangeas are making a comeback at the moment and the sight of them may prompt you to reminisce that ‘my nanna always had hydrangeas!” I know I equate them with one of my grandmothers – there’s just something about the flower heads that remind me of her powder puffs and she did have hydrangeas growing along the side of her house. Continue reading
Aspidistras don’t seem to rate highly these days with many gardeners. Yet you will find them planted in tropical, subtropical, warm temperate and Mediterranean gardens across the globe. They may be the brunt of jokes and delegated to the back of the garden, but they have many things going for them – for they are long lived, well presented and reliable work horses. The thing these plants do best is to grow in dry shade and look lush and leafy. And there is always a place in a garden for this kind of plant. Continue reading
Tropical Darwin Botanic Gardens sits close to the centre of this vibrant city in Northern Australia. The town itself has wonderful gardens established since the devastating Cyclone Tracey in 1974.
The gardens are easily accessible and extend over many acres. There are many trees here that are not represented in collections or gardens elsewhere in Australia and it is filled with gems that survive in this rather harsh dry tropical environment, with its intense heat and high humidity.
Visiting in October we were there for some spring flowers. Continue reading
I stand in the garden and stare. I do this often, all this standing and staring. I pace silently, my eyes scanning the shady beds, irritation rising in my throat like bile. The plants lie jumbled, a dog pile of leaves and stems. Brunnera squeezes past the hellebores for a quick glimpse of the sun, stretching across desiccated hostas and pop up violets to announce itself with a slight yelp. Continue reading
I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of an Illawarra flame tree, with its brilliant red, bell flowers, and the lacy purple of the jacaranda. I had always wanted to have these two trees in my garden and when we moved to this house more than 10 years ago we realised it offered the perfect opportunity. The garden was thick with jacarandas and there was a tree-shaped space next to one of them. Continue reading
I recently visited a stunning garden entirely populated by Australian plants. The thing that struck me most was the difference that regular pruning had made to the display. Whether it was a hedge or a feature flowering specimen the results were absolutely spectacular. So how do you get to the spectacular specimens seen here? Continue reading