Category Archive: Flowers

Garden Clubs alive and well.

By James Wall.

Garden Clubs seem to be having a resurgence. Last week I spoke at the Frankston Garden Club and there was a good turnout of at least 40 odd members. A couple of days later I was at the Mill Park Garden Club and there were even more people. It was a long time since I had spoken there  – a quick check of the visitors book showed I was the fifth ever speaker at the club back in 1995 ! A bit scary hey. It was a hive of activity with books, display table, raffles and of course excellent treats to go with a cuppa at the end.

Today I also visited the Melbourne Begonia Society Show at Moorabbin. By 10 am there were 150 people jostling to buy the beautiful specimens on sale. I was amazed at some of the leaf patterns and the sheer variety of plants on display.

After the begonia show it was off to Mount Waverly to visit the State Dahlia Show. This was a little less raucous than the begonia show which befitted the stately elegance of these pompous florals. It was also well attended and just goes to show that plant societies and garden clubs are alive and well. Why don’t you consider joining one near you?

Begonia gehrtii from Brazil

packed at the Begonia Show

Tuberous begonias on sale.

My favourite begonia.

Dahlias in red shades.

Zinnia becomes the first to flower in outer space.

Ahhh, this time of year the zinnia’s love the warm Melbourne weather. If its cold and wet, they very quickly succumb to some bacterial spots on the leaves. Warm days and enough water however and zinnias thrive.

But now, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has tweeted images of the first flower to be grown in space – and its an orange zinnia !

“First ever flower grown in space makes its debut,” he tweeted.

However, growing the plants were not without their problems. On December 28, Mr Kelly tweeted a picture of the flowers in distress.

After tending to the plants over the holiday period, two zinnia plants died, and the remaining two continued to thrive.

On January 8, Mr Kelly posted an image of the impressive turnaround and tiny buds beginning to sprout. He tweeted, Some of my space flowers are on the rebound! No longer looking sad! #YearInSpace

NASA said the zinnia flower was chosen because it can help scientists understand how plants flower and grow in microgravity, not for its beauty.

 The space agency said growing flowering crop is more challenging than vegetative crop, and the issues faced by Mr Kelly presented a good learning opportunity for scientists.

Garden Event worth waiting for – Geranium maderense

A Garden Event worth waiting for. By Kevin Mankey.

Over the last month I have been watching with anticipation the formation of a giant head of flowers on an old favourite plant in my garden, Geranium maderense. This is a very old species of geranium classified as a “true geranium” differentiating it from the many modern hybrid varieties in cultivation today.

As the name suggests, Geranium maderense hails from the island of Madiera on the north- west coast of Africa. It is a sub-tropical climate with relatively low rainfall and a rocky, craggy landscape. I first encountered this plant whilst touring in the UK back in the late 1980’s. It was growing on St. Michaels Mount, a tiny island land mass off the Cornish coast where an old monastery is now a tourist attraction only accessible at low tide. When I returned to Melbourne I was determined to find this rare beauty to try and grow it for myself but at that time it was barely known here in Australia. By good fortune I was able to get hold of a seedling from a friend who worked in a large private collectors garden in Toorak and my fascination for the plant has continued to grow ever since.

Geranium maderense is a giant among geraniums, growing to a height of 120-150cm tall by 120cm wide. It is a mound forming evergreen perennial (meaning it does not go into dormancy) with deeply divided hand sized lush green leaves. The foliage alone is textural and interesting but it is the huge flower head that is the real head turner. From early spring a giant beach ball sized head of purplish pink florets, each approximately 3cm across explodes like a firework and is a stunning sight. Each little floret has a dark purplish throat and is covered in tiny inflorescent hairs all along the stem which glisten in the sunlight. The anticipation of these huge flower heads is the sort of thing that tests a gardeners’ patience as it takes two years for a young seed grown plant to reach flowering maturity.

Another unique feature of this plant is the formation of props by the lower, older leaf stalks (petioles) which turn downwards toward the ground and serve to prop up the heavy stem whilst also returning water to the root zone around the plant. This is probably an evolutionary adaptation resulting from the poor quality soils where the plant comes from and the fact that it has a surprisingly small root system comparative to the plants’ size.

Geranium maderense makes a stunning addition to a garden and looks especially pleasing when planted in drifts under the canopy of overhanging trees. It does best when protected from afternoon sun and prefers a well drained loamy soil with moderate water requirements.

Unfortunately it is not an easy plant to find in nurseries as there are hardly any growers who produce it. This puts it in the “collectors plant” category so don’t be frustrated if you can’t find it easily. You may stumble upon it one day and I guarantee the wait will be worth it.

Australian designer awarded medal at Chelsea.

For those without pay television, you may never have heard of Charlie Albone. He is a Sydney based Landscape Designer who is also one of the hosts of a TV show called Selling Houses Australia. Basically they do up a house, and his job is to fix up the garden – on a budget.

This time in real life however, this garden was on a different kind of budget! Charlie went to the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show and created a stunning little garden called, ‘The Time In Between’. His design as a space to tell his late father about his life since his passing. It is a space to reflect, contemplate, celebrate and enjoy life. His father died when he was 17.

The garden was awarded a Silver Gilt medal which is just one down from a gold. As you can see by these photos from the Royal Horticultural Society, the standard of workmanship and quality of plants in this garden were absolutely top quality and reinforces the exceptional standards that Australians set when they enter The Chelsea Flower Show.

The first section of the garden celebrates life with beautiful and romantic planting; the water feature in the next section reflects the emotions felt at the loss of someone close, as it can empty in a matter of seconds; and the rear of the garden is an intimate space to sit, connect and communicate with loved ones. The flowers include white aquilegia, purple iris and purple balls of allium or a flowering type of onion which look magnificent.

Although Charlie is an aussie now (we’ll claim him after this for sure) he actually was born in Hong Kong, Charlie and then moved to the UK when he was 12 years old. It was here that he developed a keen interest in landscapes and gardens. On leaving school, he landed a job maintaining the grounds of an English country manor. With no formal qualifications, he learnt on the job and worked for many UK landscaping companies before coming to Australia on a working holiday 12 years ago. He fell in love with the country and decided to further his education by gaining a Diploma In Horticulture And Landscape Design.

Congratulations Charlie. See his garden at the Chelsea website, or his own website Charlie at Chelsea.

photo copyright by kuva

A new florist to welcome in Mother’s Day.

It is with absolute pleasure that we introduce our new florist Blair Edwards to Gardenworld.

Blair has a passion for flowers and has been putting together beautiful bouquets here since January. Prior to that he had a florist in Chelsea, so is well know by some of our regulars.

He studied under Dot Humphris and has also featured works in The Melbourne Flower Show and has done wedding, funeral and corporate work. You can also buy simple bunches and arrangements at good value prices. There is also a range of vases, soft toys, cards and works by featured artists on display.

So if it is a big bunch of flowers you are after, Gardenworld Designer Florist is now open at Gardenworld. Open every day between now and Mother’s Day.

Hours after Mothers Day: 9am – 5pm Thursday to Monday. Although closed Tuesday and Wednesday, bunches will still be available for purchase from the nursery.

Hanging baskets at the 2015 Melbourne Flower Show

Once again the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) held their hanging basket competition at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show. This event is not really about winning, it’s more about participation and creativity. Gardeners start with a basket which they pick up at their local nursery. Gardenworld alone had some 30 entrants. They each have about 3 months to turn theirs into their own backyard masterpiece. Getting it right for the event is all part of the challenge.

The RHS members are all volunteers and without them, this event would simply not exist. Thankyou wonderful people, for all that you do, especially all that work in netting the plants each night to keep the possums at bay !

Here are some of our favourites, in no particular order:

Pansy flowers perfect as a garnish.

If the food in The Gardenworld Cafe was not already delicious by itself, today it was beautifully garnished by our chefs. They have used freshly picked pansies – plants from the viola family. Pansy flowers are actually edible and are sometimes seen in salads,along with other edible flowers such as nasturtiums and calendula. This time they have combined them with sprigs of rosemary, to make the perfect garnish. It is a simple idea for your next dinner party.

The cafe is open 9 to 5, seven days a week and has a huge range of both sweet and savoury dishes, The sausage rolls and gourmet pies are baked in house, along with most of the main meals. The selection of cakes includes an amazingly tasty vanilla slice !

Pansies also make great pressed flowers which can be used on gift cards. Of course the big old phone books used to be perfect for this, but you ca also buy a flower press.

Pansies are in full flower right now, but you won’t find that many for sale in the nursery because the little seedlings are best planted the autumn and winter to be flowering at their best right now. You can buy them in advanced pots for some instant colour.

Update: In 2015 edible flowers are a growing industry and much of the demand is being driven by high end restaurants such as The Fat Duck while it is here in Australia. Read about a successful edible flower grower on the ABC website.

 

Local Tip: Get to the cafe before 12.15 for lunch and you are almost guaranteed a seat. For large groups, bookings are advised. Call Dani on 9769 1019.

 

Nasturtium the urban rambler.

By James Wall

Yes the nasturtium is a bit of a rambler, or a roamer. I like to think of it as a plant  that likes a bit of a wander. It is a fast growing annual plant that comes from Peru and Ecuador in South America. It has large round leaves and red to orange or shades of yellow trumpet like flowers. It doesn’t need much fertiliser and in fact too much manure and it will go all leafy and not flower much at all. It can be grown all year, but will flower mainly in Spring to Autumn.

It would make a good plant for a kinder garden, as the large seeds are easy to direct sow into the garden and will germinate in just a couple of weeks. The growth of the seedling is then quite rapid, something somewhat impatient children will appreciate.

Seedlings can also be planted, with the two main varieties available being ‘Jewel Mix’ which is more sprawly, and ‘Alaska Mix’ which is more compact and has variegated leaves. In seed packs there are more unusual varieties which include single colours and double flowers.

A big claim to fame for this plant is that it has edible flowers which are used to colour up salads. The seeds and leaves are also edible and even though I can’t say I have cooked with them yet, many chefs around the world have incorporated them into foods such as pesto, where they apparently add a peppery taste. Funny, watercress have round leaves and they’re a little peppery too.

One of the traits of this plant is that it easily self seeds, which means it can take control of parts of your garden, competing staunchly against other plants, so much so it is considered to be an environmental weed in some regions. That makes it a great city plant, but maybe it shouldn’t be grown in a country garden. It can be controlled by pulling out young seedlings, or digging deeper to remove larger ones. It still may come up a couple more times,  but persistently removing it will eventually stop it.

Fond memories for me, are balls of water that form on the leaves. Yes, it is probably the leaf of this plant that I like more than the flower. They are an interesting shape and a rather appealing mat green.

Some may find the nasturtium creepy, but for me, it is the true urban rambler.

Image by Kim Woods RabbidgeBotanical name: Tropaeolum majus

Fairy Magnolia Cream – fragrant early spring flowers.

This stunner of a plant is looking at its absolute best right now ! Fairy Magnolia Cream (Also available is Fairy Magnolia Blush). What we love about it is that the half open flowers look like a tight tulip, but then open into a gorgeous lush flower.

This Tesselaar plant release has masses of creamy fragrant flowers. It is an evergreen variety, but being more a shrub than a tree, it won’t get as big as a Little Gem magnolia. It will still get 3 to 4 metre after around 7 years, but it is not a big thick trunked plant, and it could be pruned to be much shorter than that. It can be trained to one leader, or trimmed so to branch more as a bush. It is quite an elegant grower, and at this time of year has fragrant cream flowers up to 6cm wide. It will flkower through to November and may even spot flower throughout the year.

Fabulous for hedges but can also be espaliered, or used in topiary. It would make a great specimen plant either ina pot or in the ground. The plant will tolerate a wide range of conditions once established, and benefits from moderate moisture when establishing. Can tolerate temperatures of up to 45 deg C down to -10 deg C. Plant 1 metre apart to create a hedge and up to 1.5 metres apart for a looser screen. Flowers from September to November, with spot flowering throughout the year. It will take sun and partial shade which makes it a most adaptable plant.(doltsopa x Yunnanensis x figo cross)

Beautiful Bouvardia longiflora humboldtii

First published on The Gardener’s Notebook by Bonnie-Marie Hibbs

Today I thought I would share with you one of my all-time favourite plants, Bouvardia longiflora humboldtii. 

There are many reasons why not only I but many gardeners love this plant in particular. Bouvardia.L. humboldtii is a very attractive plant; it has beautiful lush green leaves that are a great contrast against most other plants. The pure white flowers form in clusters all over the shrub, forming summer – autumn. The main attraction for most people and the main reason why these plants are so popular is the fragrance that is produced when these shrubs are in flower.  Most of the Bouvardia genus originates from North America and South America and are a part of the Rubiaceae family. However, this species of Bouvardia in particular is native to Mexico. Bouvardia .L. humboldtii is a small growing shrub that grows to a maximum height of 1.5 meters and 1 meter wide.

Bouvardia humboldtii can be planted in full sun to semi-shade but requires a sheltered position from strong winds. It can also tolerate small frosts but may get tip burn on the foliage if it’s still young. Once these plants are established they are fairly hardy and resistant against frosts. Make sure to prune your Bouvardia humboldtii at the start of spring to encourage compact healthy growth otherwise prune once they have finished flowering. Feed with a complete ‘all-purpose fertilizer’ such as ‘Uplift’ from Yates in spring when new growth will start to emerge, and feed them once more when the flower buds appear in late spring. Well drained soil is best suited for Bouvardia humboldtii. If you have clay soil, mix some organic compost into the soil as this will help with water retention and loosen up the soil, making it easier for the plant’s roots to grow.

Older posts «

Website by SWiM Communications