exploring the plants & spaces that beckon

Learning to love pink

What's not to love? The heavenly pink-petalled cones of Echinacea.

What’s not to love? The heavenly pink-petalled cones of Echinacea.

I have never been a big fan of pink. There, I’ve said it.

It might seem a little elementary to be thinking about a single colour and its merits in the garden, nevertheless here I find myself. I don’t think I have ever actively tried to incorporate pink in a deliberate way in my garden and I can’t recall a client asking me for a pink colour scheme. If I have the choice of a plant that flowers in a variety of colours, I will always seek out the purples, rust oranges, dusky apricots and sparkly lime greens, well before pink.

How short-sighted of me!

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A new ‘lease’ of life – part 2


Redefining garden bed edges.

Looking at my little front garden patch, there’s nothing horribly wrong with the layout. It has a wavy pathway that leads you gently to the front door and a curving semi-circle of garden beds to the south. The beds just lack substance, interest and most of all, cohesion. Remember, the garden is not technically mine, so I must go gently.

There is however one layout opportunity that I can’t ignore – a section of lawn is not surviving and in its place is bare earth. To a greedy plants-enthusiast like me, a bare patch of earth is like gold. It begs to be absorbed into the existing garden bed to give me a couple of precious extra square metres of planting space to play with. I mentioned previously my dangerous hankering for perennials, and here is the perfect, north-facing spot to let loose!

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Gardening outside our
comfort zone

Lambley's dry garden is the epitome of diversity and drought tolerance.

Lambley’s dry garden is the epitome of diversity and drought tolerance.

I have visited three large Victorian country gardens in the past month – Lambley, Frogmore and Cloudehill. They have all left me with a sense of longing. If only I could have just a tiny slice of ‘that’ in my own suburban garden.

Beyond the manicured hedges and traditional perennial borders, part of what makes them so magical is their location: the hills, the surrounding forest or the wide-open spaces. But it’s also the sheer diversity of plant species, the plant combinations, colours, textures and the inventive use of unusual and everyday plants to create beautiful, soul-filled gardens. In culinary terms, these gardens are a seven-course degustation.

Yet as I trundle back into suburbia and the tingle of being in the country disappears, I’m left wondering why our city gardens have to feel so comparatively meat and potatoes bland?

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A new ‘lease’ of life – part 1


I have a new project. It’s a front garden that hasn’t been loved for about 10 years, aside from the regular, heavy-handed hackings of some mowing men.

The client is lovely, mostly. Although just between you and me, she can be a bit of a pain. She is wildly enthusiastic and has good plant knowledge, but when it comes to plant choices, she wants one of everything. She’s keen on grasses and appreciates foliage contrast, but she is teetering on a dangerous cliff edge. She has fallen head over heels with herbaceous perennials.

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Reflections on MIFGS 2016

IMG_5068_2It’s five years since I have visited the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS), and I was determined to get back this year.

Compared to 10 to 15 years ago, there were fewer show gardens to view, but there were some beautiful examples. The ‘Achievable Gardens’ section was also a pleasant surprise and highlighted some sophisticated and quirky design talent. Overall, what a relief that plants are now ‘back’, especially compared to past shows where plants played second fiddle to hardscaped ‘outside rooms’.

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