Saturday, October 31, 2009

RJ's Jacaranda

Jacaranda in flower now

The largest and best Jacaranda in the district lives behind a discount art and craft supply store, growing in the parking lot surrounded by asphalt and squeezed between the metal bars of an old fence. Despite the inhospitable site it puts on a great floral display every year.
The Jacaranda from Brazil is a popular tree but often is planted in suburban gardens where it has to compete for light from other trees. It needs lots of space and room to develop a large rounded crown. It does not take well to pruning either as cutting into the crown to reduce the height results in a new set of vertical branches which are out of balance with the trunk.
It is an excellent avenue tree where there are no power lines and where the climate is a warm temperate one. The blue mauve flowers appear any time from mid October shortly after the leaves have fallen . Fluctuations of temperature such a warm September causes new leaves to grow at the same time as the flowers which diminishes the overall floral display somewhat.The New South Wales City of Grafton is well known for its Jacaranda trees and for the festival to celebrate the trees contribution to the landscape.
2017 update:This tree was removed to make way for a housing development.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cotinus coggyria, Smoke Bush

Cotinus coggygria 'Rubrifolius'
 Smoke Bush

I had always thought of this shrub as belonging in a cold climate until I saw it recently peeping over a picket fence in a local garden. It gets its common name from the wispy smoke like flowers which appear around now .The foliage is a dark purple and the leaves will turn red during Autumn before falling.It grows to about 3 metres in sun or shade with the leaves turning a darker purple in full sun.

Stems of Smoke Bush are great in flower arrangements especially with orange flowers

A huge Smoke Bush growing in the Bodnant Garden near Colwyn Bay, North Wales

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Rose on a wall

I drove past this house which had a Rose growing against the front wall.  It is certainly a tightly controlled specimen with not a flower or leaf out of place.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

two bob each way

Rose 'Flemington Racecourse'
At this time of year I start to read the form guide to see which horses are winning during the Spring Racing Carnival. I like to have a wee "two bob each way" bet for a bit of fun.
This rose was bred in Victoria by Bruce Chapman and named for the famous racecourse, home of the Melbourne Cup which is on in a weeks time. It is an unusual colour which could be described as metallic lavender. In the garden it is very subtle. The buds however are a bright magenta pink and really stand out when you see a bush in full bloom. I saw it in flower today at a garden in Sydney so will have to get a photo uploaded soon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Some Modern Perfumed Roses

'Mr Lincoln'
It is often mentioned that modern roses have lost their scent but this is not the case with the selection of roses shown here. These were part of a display at the Rose Championships in which you were encouraged to vote for the best perfume. I am not sure of the result but my vote went for Mr Lincoln closely followed by Firefighter. Actually what I need for this post is a 'scratch and sniff card', like the one they handed out before the screening of the John Waters movie Polyester all those years ago.

'Diana Princess of Wales'

'Papa Meiland'

'Sir Donald Bradman'

'Fragrant Plum'


'Baronne E. de Rothschild'

'Perfume Delight'

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In the Pink

A massed display of pink Roses by Sue Kingsford

"Rosey" in the main street of Kiama

Miniature Rose 'Figurine'


'Dorothy Perkins'


'Belle Portuguese'

And a wink.....

David Ruston Rosarian

David Ruston O.A.M.

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting award winning horticulturalist and floral designer David Ruston. On his 11 hectare property at Renmark in the Riverland region of South Australia, David has the largest collection of Roses in the southern hemisphere, some 50,000, which make up the National Rose Collection of Australia. At 79 years young, he is enthusiastic, flamboyant and inspiring to listen to.

Gold Roses with native Banksia flowers
Tall vases of pink Roses
David Ruston demonstrating his art

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Australian Rose Championships at Kiama today

Surf break view from Rose Show venue at Kiama with the sea a beautiful aquamarine colour at the moment

Diving off the rocks

My favourite Rose 'Mr Lincoln'
More rose photos over coming days.....

Salvia gesneriflora 'Tequila' & Agave 'Tequila'

Salvia gesneriflora 'Tequila'

Aromatic foliage of Salvia g. 'Tequila'
This Salvia was brought into garden cultivation by the Huntington Botanic Garden of California after it was collected on a field trip to Mexico in 1970. The red and black flower combination is the most striking aspect of this plant and it makes quite an impact in a landscaped setting when mass planted. It forms a small shrub to about 1.5metres and the only down side to it is the somewhat brittle nature of the stems which can break off when you brush past it or when subject to strong winds. Flowers are produced from now right through to winter.
In Mexico, the name Tequila is given to the town,the municipality, the surrounding valley and the most prominent mountain overlooking the valley. The entire blue tinged valley is pervaded by the smokey fragrance of tequila making which comes from a special cultivar of Agave angustifolia. This hardy species is one which is quite common here though the particular variety from which Tequila is made has probably not left Mexico. The Agave plant in Mexico is referred to as "Maguey" or "Mescal" and in a prominent plaza situated near the heart of Tequila, is a statue of the goddess of Agaves "Mayahuel" . This Aztec Deity is associated with having fun of both the ancient and modern kind ,that is, inebriation and dancing.

Agave angustifolia ssp. tequilana in Tequila, Mexico

Agave angustifolia in Australia adding a dramatic touch to a dry shady garden

It is too early in the morning for me to have a Margarita so I will leave the final word to Thomas Sheiridan from his book 'Where the Dove Calls' (Tucson: University of Arizona Press) for those who enjoy the odd shot of Tequila.
"El mescal es muy delicado," he says. "Muy celoso ,muy limpio,' talking as if the liquor is a person who had to be placated and pleased."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Santa Barbara Rosemary

Rosemary 'Lockwood de Forest'
One of the interesting Rosemary varieties I grow originated long ago in the garden of distinguished American landscape architect Lockwood de Forest (1896-1947). Lockwood and his wife Elizabeth (1898-1984) were keen gardeners in the Santa Barbara county of Southern California ,a region of the United States which has a climate very much like parts of our own. This Rosemary occurred as a chance seedling growing in their rock garden between the tall upright type Rosmarinus officinalis and the prostrate variety R.o prostratus. R.o 'Lockwood de Forest' is a sprawling grower with arching stems to 45cm high giving it a layered effect. It is very suitable for growing in containers and can even be trained as a bonsai. it is also a long flowering variety with flowers beginning in autumn and continuing through most of winter.
2017 update: I am currently out of stock.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An Ibis

An Ibis waiting for a meal in Japanese Garden
Mt Cootha Botanic Garden ,Brisbane, Queensland

There has been a population explosion of Ibis in the past decades and they are now very common in parks and gardens across the country.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

a piece on olives

This weekend the Festival of the Olive will be held at Elizabeth Farm (70 Alice St. Rosehill) as part of the Sydney International Food Festival. This is an Historic Houses Trust property and home to the oldest European olive tree in Australia. My own attempts at preserving olives have been less then successful. The last lot were a bit soft and way too salty but the many jars I produced have been ok to use in cooking. The olive variety I used probably was an oil producing one rather than a table variety.
My favourite kinds are the tiny intensely flavoured French Provencal type added to a
salade nicoise and the all purpose Greek Kalamata especially for making tapenade.
Olive trees are easy to grow and their brilliant silvery leaves look wonderful silhouetted against a clear blue sky. They need a mild wet winter (not too frosty) and a scorching hot summer for best fruit production but are adaptable to city gardens especially ones where there is rocky soil or lots of reflection from paved surfaces. Pruning to keep the tree low makes picking easier or they can be let go to form a tree with a nice rounded crown. Fertilize after the crop has been harvested with some compost or blood and bone. Don't expect a crop every year, the norm is about 18 months apart, and flower pollination can be affected if rain occurs at fruit set time.
Australia produces lots of good olives and olive oil so buy local where possible.
Olive flowers

Olive drawing by Koehler from 1887

The perfect bowl of Kalamata olives