Monday, December 16, 2013

Bringing birds into the Garden

I have been astounded by the variation in birds that have been attracted to the sweet nectar in the flax flowers at home this year. These photos are taken from inside the house, within a 5 minute time period, of just three of the species that came to use the flowers. The Tui is the most frequent caller, but he missed his photo opp this day!!
Showing my ignorance here - either a Starling or Thrush??? 

Our newest visitor - the Bellbird. Thrilled to have this one in our garden. 

The Bellbird even sat there while the ancient and decrepit farm dog, Buzz The Retiree,
wandered past. Admittedly, Buzz would not exactly be perceived as a threat these days!!

Bellbird, with it's head covered in yellow pollen from the flaxes.
Then this little charmer, see it right on the tip of the right flax?

Marlborough Rock Daisy

Been a hectic few weeks (make that year!) making sure all the properties we maintain are looking sparkling and fresh ready for Christmas. The Glenwood Masonic Hospital grounds had their turn last week. Fresh bark mulch (it makes SUCH  a difference to smarten any garden up - I get mine from Wairarapa Bark and Landscape Supplies, here in Masterton - great company to deal with). PLus a general trim, tidy and dead heading in all the gardens.
Marlborough Rock Daisy - Pachystegia insignis

Pachystegia, dietes, flax, hebe and rengarenga lilies at the front entrance
But the highlight for me was the amount of comments I got regarding these stunning Marlborough Rock Daisies at the main entrance doors. Pachystegia insignis. They are putting on a spectacular show at the moment, even though they are in the most harshly hot and dry environment of them all. Excellent drainage is essential, as is lots of sun. I can't believe how they are thriving. The best thing about them is that they will flower for months over summer.  Love plants like that. I actually put them in there for their grey fluffy foliage - so the flowers are a bonus. Aren't they gorgeous???  In wetter regions, plant them in pots to put in the full sun and do not overwater - seriously - hardly water them at all and they will love you for it!!
Inside Courtyard 1

Courtyard 1
Elsewhere, inside the internal courtyard gardens, the gardens are looking lush, colourful and healthy. The newly replaced lawns in each of the four courtyards has really made them all look so inviting. I am thrilled with how all the gardens are looking now, as they have filled out and the structural planting is enhanced by the perennials. Have loved being an ongoing part of this development. Has been really rewarding. Most importantly, I think the very special residents of this Elderly Care Facility appreciate the gardens, too. At the end of the day - that is all that matters, as that is who the gardens are there for in the first place.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Blue flowers in November

My newest garden (see Rejuvenated Garden from a few weeks ago), has gone from predominantly yellow, to pops of blue amongst the green, with lots of foliage plumping up.
View across the deck and sandpit to the newest garden. I have loved having the mature citrus trees in the background, after years of them being hidden behind the massive hedge I removed. 

The Siberian Irises are in full swing. They sway in the wind. 

Geranium Johnson's Blue with a Salvia just starting to flower behind it. 

Geranium mingling with the Geums
The Phlomis add a real height and structure to the planting. Seen here with seeding parsley!
The Phlomis can become quite bossy in a garden like this, so I will be pulling bits off
it if it threatens to overwhelm the more delicate neighbours. Is great in a new garden
 as it bulks up so fast, with great bold leaves. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Beautiful Dutch Iris - Surprise Flower of the Month!

Picking up the purples of the foliage in the garden - Euphorbia, Heuchera & flax

They definately look best with solid green behind them, rather than the purpley foliage
of Heuchera.

Favourite surprise flower in my garden this month has to be these Dutch Irises. Just loving them. My mother-in-law gave them to me as bulbs that said 'dark red' on the label. Being the untrusting type that I am when it comes to EXACT colour matches - I played it safe and planted them in pots. So glad I did! They are not what I would call dark red, but a purpley-red (only fussy gardeners will understand what I am talking about here!!!), with a proper purple on the top wings. They look awful with my scarlet reds (daylilies, geum etc), but stunning with the dark foliage of Euphorbia Chameleon, and Heuchera Palace Purple. But they need some green between them, to let the colours show up. I am smitten, and happily surprised! Have them at my office now, where these photos were taken, and they look amazing with their yellow eye picking up the lime green of the Euphorbia next to them. Can't wait to experiment with them. If I can find the name I will add it at a later date. but these have to be my surprise flower of the month. Isn't that the joy of bulbs??!!! Rx

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Garden Renovation at Home

Last year I finally got up the courage and energy to clean out a tired old shrub garden at home. This involved drastically reducing the size of the Abelia hedge, and taking every single plant out of the garden, to start completely fresh. Quite a job! Check out how much I took off the hedge!!
BEFORE: A shaded, shrubby, messy garden. The hedge used to go all the
way around the back. This is halfway through pruning it. I took every single
plant out, except the hedge, so I could start my layout from scratch. 

No-one but me believed the hedge could possibly
regrow after this severe chop. It has. It was a Very Big Job.
I replanted with a repeat pattern of the main structural plants - Liriope and Primula edging, groups of Buxus balls, Dietes, then a backdrop of Fothergilla and Camellias. Then the newly chopped hedge behind. The main colour theme is orange, yellow, blue and purple. The fillers are largely perennials, with my aim being something happening in there 12 months of the year.
AFTER: The newly planted garden. The Dietes and buxus have been planted
in a regular pattern, with the 'fillers' added later. The structure doesn't
show up yet, but it will in a few years. 

I have fine-tuned this garden over the last year. For example - in about July there was no colour - so I poked in some blue polyanthus. There is now a succession of action over the winter months, so it is never completely bare. In mid-winter, as the buxus etc grows, they will be the feature, but in the meantime, the interest comes from the bulbs and perennials - the 'fillers'.

Hopefully the front edge of Liriope will fill up soon!
It might find itself being replaced if it doesn't smarten
up it's act very soon. The white primulas have been great.
White primulas flowered all winter. Tulips and little orange
Geums added to the party.
The polyanthus added a splash of colour in mid-winter
October 2013 - garden 1 year old. Tulips and geum main flowers this week.
October 2013 - some of the orangey-yellows, with a touch of blue
Late summer - lots of orange - dahlias, Helenium and Leonotis. Phlomis in the foreground.
Right now - October - tulips and bearded iris are at the forefront. Soon it will be salvias, Siberican iris, oriental lilies, verbena etc. Later in summer - Helenium, echinacea, dahlias etc. I get so much pleasure from this garden. If you are interested, I will list a lot of the perennials, which gives the succession of flowering times for 12 months.

Here are a few of my favourites from this garden:

Welsh Poppy
Geranium Johnson's Blue (I think) - flowers for 9 months of the year - love it.
Phlomis russelliana - terrific foliage plant - flowers a bonus
Our dear long lost Maggie. What is a garden without birds??
Helenium and geranium making a bold contrast late summer
Leonotis leonora
Late summer  2013 - not even a year old. See the hedge in the background?? Not even as tall as the fence now!!
Echinacea White Swan - love this plant with all my heart!
Salvia giganteum?? Blue-black? 1.3m tall late summer.
Siberican Iris - amazing blue
And a front edging of this Lirope muscari.  
Amazing bearded iris 

Late October 2013 - garden one year old. 
These irises and geum have been split up so many times from the original one
plant I had of each. Have no idea of names, as they have been given to me
from friends gardens originally. 
I will post more photos as the season progresses, as the garden changes weekly from now on. Gives me so much pleasure to watch it all unfolding. This garden would be so easy to achieve in a small or large garden. Happy to answer questions - just leave me  a comment.

Monday, September 30, 2013


Tulips for the garden, tulips in pots, tulips for  picking - love these plants!! I love their height and brightness amongst the perennials that are just leafing up in late September. A lot of low foliage in the garden at the moment, makes the tulips stand out even more. We plan to go to the Wellington Botanic Gardens these school holidays to see the thousands they have planted there every year. If you can't get to Holland, then the WBG are the next best thing!!!

These ones are new this year, and I had forgotten what they were going to be - stunning
surprise!! That's the great thing about buying bulbs - by the time they come into flower -
you have completely forgotten which ones you had planted!!

Perfect match for my velvet cushions.....