Friday, January 18, 2013

- Possums from the ground and air

Possums venture down in their hordes from the surrounding nature reserves. They feast on new spring leaves and will persist with demolishing every new shoot until a tree might decide to give up and die. Our normal process is to surround the trunk with a clear plastic or tin cover which the possums cannot climb beyond. In the above case, the North American Red Oak is probably 8-10m high, and glider possums enter the foliage via a neighbouring pepper tree. Now 4 months into summer, and barely a leaf to be seen ...until 5 days ago I hung napthalene (moth balls) in the tree and suddenly life is reappearing in the leaves. Possums hate the scent. Fingers crossed that the success continues

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Irises Blooming In Memorium

Michael's favourite flower is the Iris, and they normally flower most fully around his birthday, 1 November. This year, they are flowering a little earlier due to the warm spring weather we have seen. But the display is spectacular after having been rearranged into colour-coordinated beds by Peter Marshall during late summer/early autumn.

I am very sad to say that Michael passed away on October 2, 2012 after a hard fought battle with his cancer. His passing was sooner than I had expected, and he died quickly and painlessly from a heart attack in St Vincents hospital. He was very satisfied to have left a legacy such as the gardens, architecture and library of the Drip, and hopes that many people in future will derive great pleasure from exploring the property. I believe that the Irises have flowered splendidly as a tribute to Michael who put so much effort into collecting the wide range of flowers.

I (Clive) will continue the work that we had commenced 20 years ago. And there is still plenty to do!

Above is a picture of Michael standing at the (future) house-front taken by his friend Carolyn during her visit earlier this year

Friday, July 20, 2012

Finding Inspiration for the Future

Having been now laid low by cancer I am no longer able to work physically on the gardens.  But at this stage I can still continue using the library and the internet to seek inspiration for future projects in the gardens, searching for concepts capable of adding substance and weight to that which has been achieved here at The Drip over the last twenty years.

This photograph of timber balls by the Provencal sculptor, Marc Nucera, is one such inspiration. An amount of fallen and milled timber is currently cluttering up areas of the garden. It would be beneficial to turn this rubbish into works of such grace and beauty.

Nucera's integration of landscape design, land art and sculptural works in wood have earned him high regard..  The following collection of images will show why.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The View from The Roof Top Terrace

Bruno Egger is here this week and took this shot from The Rooftop Terrace just before dawn.

This rather wonderful new area of the house is getting more and more use now that Clive and David have built the spiral staircase, which was based on designs and specifications obtained from a London company with a reputation for building the best and safest spiral staircases available.

Our plan is to develop the Rooftop Terrace as a low water-usage garden of succulents with some simple furnishings and possibly a canopy to enhance the usefulness of the area, which provides spectacular views of the entire property and of the valley.

Monday, March 26, 2012

What's Blooming This Week?

Banksia spinulosa var. collina is a shrub that grows along the east coast of Australia, in Queensland and New South Wales.

The original specimen, identified in the Hunter Valley, was published in 1810 as Banksia collina,   but was later revised to be a variety of  Banksia spinulosa.

Commonly known as the Hill Banksia, it is not however restricted to hilly terrain.  Ours is on a small rocky outcrop in The Bush Garden and has grown slowly into a magnificent specimen 4 metres tall. Whatever you wish to call it, this is a beautiful, tough shrub, popular with honey-eaters and we should plant more.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Roof Top Garden or Green Roof?

Now that the roof of the house is accessible it is beginning to be used quite a lot, even though we still have a few of our solar panels up there.  Carolyn Teo, who has been staying here this week,  took this photo and was proud to be first to sunbathe on the roof.

The question now is how best to landscape and furnish this area.   Deck chairs sound like a stylish addition. A shade sail or canopy of some sort could be good. And a rooftop bar is definitely on the cards. Using succulents as the main plantings here will be a practical landscaping solution as they require little water and will love the bright sunlight.

There are several ways of using succulents in a roof garden.  The traditional way would be to grow them in pots.  But perhaps a more interesting approach would be to create a "green roof", covering significant areas of the roof with a growing medium and planting it like a garden bed.  More on "green rooves"  soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Propagating Lavender by Cutting

Autumn is the time to take cuttings of lavender. Cuttings around 6 cm long, taken from new seasons growth which has almost, but not quite, "hardened off" are best.

Strip 90% of the leaves off the cuttings to minimize water loss from transpiration.  We place the trays of cuttings in our mini "green-houses" but if you want just a few plants then a half filled large pot with a sheet of Gladwrap across the top works well. Using a growth hormone is a good idea and increases the strike rate considerably.

This year we made around 150 cuttings of a number of varieties including French Lavender and English Lavender plus a few different varieties of Spanish/Italian lavender such as "Avondale" and "Kew Red". The trays also contain a few Santolina. These will all  eventually be planted out on the dry, sunny banks of the Eastern TerraceLavenders are relatively short-lived so every few years we replace old plants with new.