Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Love these little flowers. Love it that they are so bright and come in so many different colours. Mass plant in one colour for best effect, and repeat clumps along the front of the garden. Here are my bright red sparaxias in my front garden at home, with matching tulips, bringing seasonal colour amongst the topiary cones.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Queen Elizabeth Park Island, Masterton

Being involved in the creation of an exploration and discovery trail on the island in the middle of this beautiful park has/is a real highlight of my design career.  Still in the early stages of development, it has been a wonderful experience working with a passionate volunteer community group on one of Masterton's biggest attractions.

If you are ever in Masterton, put this on your map of must-do activities - especially the miniature train ride. No age limits......And take time to watch the birds and bees we have taken much care to cater for!

I have just made a new page (see column on the top right) on this fabulous project, if you want to explore it further

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bellbird Eating Apples

As well as growing the actual plants that birds eat over winter (see previous post), they also love this simple apple arrangement, that my father has made me. He also very kindly supplies me with excess apples at the end of each season. But any old apple will do.
NZ bellbird eating apples outside my window
Using a strong length of wire, attach a milk bottle lid (or similar) at the base, so the apples don't slip off. You can add one of these between each apple of you like - just punch a hole in them with a nail. Then thread the apples on. It is helpful to cut a slice off each side of the apple, which helps the birds get to the flesh. Hang it somewhere you can watch from inside over winter. I have mine on this decorative iron stand, but a tree branch would work equally well.
Watching the interplay between the birds is half the fun.
Okay the Bellbird has had enough. Get out of here Sparrow!! 
Bellbird, Waxeyes and Sparrows are the main customers at my house. Sometimes they tolerate each other - other times not so much! It is gorgeous to watch them only metres from the window. Have a go at this - is really simple, and a great way to help the birds through winter.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Nature's Bird food in Winter

There are many ways of welcoming birds into your garden over winter. Winter flowering plants, such as Sophora Dragon's Gold (mini Kowhai) and Camellias. Another is to keep some of the perennial seed heads in place for them. The Verbena bonariense I grow in my gravel courtyard is purple over summer and attracts bees, birds and butterflies. I leave some of them untrimmed for winter, and am fascinated by the amount of time the small birds spend in them, picking out the seeds. Sooner or later I will trim them back, but if you do have a space in your garden to keep the seed heads on, you be rewarded by the bird life they attract. Trim them as the new growth on surrounding perennials starts up.
Seed eating birds love the Verbena seed heads in mid winter
And butterflies, birds and bees love them in summer

Sophora Dragon's Gold in August - flowers for at least 5 months, and the birds love them. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ferns at the Waterfall

Gorgeous day at our waterfall on Sunday - doing some release spraying, and planning where to develop with planting this autumn. Under planting is the next target - don't need any more trees! Will be ferns, ferns and more ferns (I have a secret source in the pine forest), plus splitting my Rengarenga lilies, and various groundcovers such as Symphytum, Violets, Hellebores etc - anything to cover the ground layer. Now the main planting has grown up, I have been cutting lower limbs off trees, to allow views beyond. Makes a huge difference to the feeling of space if you can see beyond, rather than a wall of foliage. This creates spaces underneath that can then have the lowest tier of planting added. That is one of my projects this winter. For more detail on the waterfall, click on the heading in the column on the right.

Rengaremga Lily on the left, Kawakawa on the right
Heart shaped leaves of Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum)
Hebe flowers are still drawing in the bees
I have so many Rimu planted - one of my favourite heritage trees, and they are
visually rewarding from an early stage.
Looking down towards the boardwalk by the fernery
Limbing up the Titoki  and Kowhai allows views through to the main pond
Gorgeous shiny leaves of Titoki (Alectyron excelsa)
Hoheria populnea
Tree ferns transplanted from in the pine tree forest
Bold leaves of Rangiora (Bracyglottis repanda) next to a Ponga/Tree fern by the stream
View from up on the road looking across some of the wetlands. This was a bare paddock in 2009. 
The cabbage trees are particularly gratifying with quick growth, great survival rates, and now they
punctuate the rest of the more bushy planting. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Clerodendrum trichotomum

This gorgeous small tree flowers for several months in late summer and autumn. The flowers smell a bit like jasmine. The leaves are a deep green with purple tinge. Overall the tree gives an impression of pink when it it flowering, because even though the flowers are white, the bracts are pink. I got given a seedling a few years ago, and that young tree is now producing it's own babies. I plan to mass plant them in an area of the garden that I do not want tall trees to hide the view. This will have my new burgundy/pink perennial planting in front of it, which should set each other off nicely! The berries are also really gorgeous - see photos below.

Berries appear in late May. Really distinctive colours!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Myrtus ugni - Chilean cranberry

One of my favourite small shrubs - always looks great, readily pruned to shape, the fragrance of the fruit is amazing, plus the fruit is edible. What more can you ask for? I admit I cheat with the fruit - I squeeze the pulp into my mouth , then throw the rather thick skin away.

Looks great clipped into balls in a potager garden, with pebbles surrounding, or as shown, in my own (above) and a clients garden (below), amongst other plants, like the dahlia. Without knowing it, we have both added the same red dahlia alongside our Myrtus! Roselee's look far better than mine, though - she keeps hers tightly clipped, and check out the amount of fruit.

 I would love to use as a hedge, too. Great alternative to buxus.