Arno King

About Arno King

Landscape architect, horticulturist, journalist and keen gardener, Arno is a regular contributor to Subtropical Gardening Magazine. Based in Brisbane, Arno grows a wide diversity of unusual plant species and has particular interests in growing edible plants in creative settings and biological and organic gardening. Brisbane, Queensland

Guilfoyle and his warm climate plants

A few years ago, whilst researching Polyscias (commonly called Aralia) cultivars for a magazine article, I came across mention of their discovery and introduction by William Guilfoyle during his voyage on the HMS Challenger in 1868. I was surprised to learn this was the same W R Guilfoyle (1840 – 1912) who later became the famous curator at the Melbourne Botanic Garden. Continue reading

Top 10 subtropical vegetables

Living on a property in the subtropics where I rely totally on rainwater and natural rainfall for watering, I love growing vegetables and at times have been virtually self sufficient, as well as giving excess to friends. However, I am often in full production over the summer and autumn months when it is hot, wet and humid and this is not the time to grow traditional northern European crops. Continue reading

How to prune vireya rhododendron

I was strolling around the gardens at Stringybark Cottage on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast) with owner Cheryl Boyd when I was engulfed by a powerful perfume with which I was unfamiliar. Cheryl pointed to a group of Vireya Rhododendron (‘tropical rhododendrons’) growing under some gum trees in the garden. Continue reading

Mistletoe cactus and the Rhipsalis riddle

One of my favourite show gardens in recent years was designed by Brendan Moar for the first Australian Garden Show Sydney. It won Best in Show but what really peaked my interest was how Brendan had incorporated Rhipsalis or mistletoe cacti, hanging them from the pergola to provide a weeping effect. Continue reading

Aspidistra, not just a ‘cast iron’ plant

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

Jim Thompson’s Bangkok garden

Located along a klong (canal) in Bangkok, silk tycoon Jim Thompson’s house is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. Featured in many magazines, books and blogs, it stunningly combines Asian and European aesthetics and has influenced domestic design around the world. But as many gardeners will no doubt realise, the garden is also a feature of this property and is probably as well known as the house. Continue reading

How to grow crotons & the Croton Lady of Bundaberg

As I had a site visit in Bundaberg last week, I set a day aside and visited a few gardens. I had long planned to visit Marge  – known locally as the Croton Lady – who I had met in Brisbane many years earlier. I am really glad I finally made it as I learned so much from the visit. As many people had told me, you don’t need a street number as you can spot Marge’s garden immediately – a manicured front garden – and yes crotons, as well as many other plants. Marge’s back garden will blow you away if you love foliage colour. Continue reading

Growing mussaenda

Mussaendas, often known as Bangkok Roses, are popular throughout the tropics and subtropics of the world. Over the warmer, wetter months of the year they grow strongly and provide quite a show in gardens, particularly in northern Australia. You can spot them at a distance, the shrubs being covered with showy white or pink flowers which at times obscure the leaves. Continue reading

Ctenanthe – the never never plants

Do you have some Never Never Plants in your garden? If you live in a warm climate, you just may have, and you wouldn’t even know it. These are tough plants that are often relegated to the back corners of shaded gardens or office interiors. They don’t often feature in garden books or articles so there widespread existence is testimony to their hardiness. If you have some shady spots and are looking for some lush low maintenance hardy plants, these could be the plants for you. Continue reading

Baby’s breath euphorbias

Many new plants get released to the public each year and often they are promoted as doing well ‘throughout Australia”. Of course there are few, if any, plants that will grow in the many climatic zones across the country, and few of these introductions thrive in subtropical and tropical areas which have summer dominant rainfall. A great exception of recent years has been the release of the Baby’s Breath Euphorbia, Euphorbia hypericifolia. It was first introduced to us as the cultivar ’Diamond Frost’ by Proven Winners and has proved to be a real garden winner! Continue reading

The golden gardenia

When we think of gardenias, we often think of the perfumed, waxy, white, double flowers of Gardenia jasminoides. However the genus consists of some 140 species and not all of them are white. In fact some of my favorite gardenias are the golden ones – the ones with yellow-orangy flowers. There are quite a few related species and this is where it gets a little tricky – for they can be tricky to identify. While they may not be white, they all release a strong gardenia perfume. Continue reading

How to grow storm lilies

Storm lilies, autumn crocus or rain lilies are small bulbs in the genus Zephyranthes. These under rated plants deserve to be more widely grown in subtropical and tropical gardens. They are tough and undemanding, and soon form large clumps that flower readily over summer in response to warm and moist conditions.  Continue reading