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.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What's Blooming This Week?

Magnolia "Little Gem" is having a second flush of flowers.

Little Gem is a dwarf form of Magnolia grandiflora which comes originally from the swamps of southern USA.  

Our plants are loving this wet, mild season and would clearly appreciate being given additional water in dry years.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dahlias, Roses and Antique Glass.

A nineteenth-century Venetian glass vase bought by Michael Creighton's grandmother, Gertrude Cordingly, holds roses and dahlias from the Cut Flower Garden.

Elaine Paton has been here all week and the entire house is filling with her floral arrangements.

There's more to life than growing vegetables.