The July Garden

A quiet month in the Winter garden, but still plenty of garden tasks from pruning roses to transplanting shrubs and sowing seed for the Spring. We have had quite a mild Winter, with fewer frosts, which are lighter than last year and clear sunny days, which invite you out to the garden away from the fire! It has been so mild that the little oak tree still has its leaves as I write! Here is a view from our front verandah on a typical July day this season.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-02 10.21.22BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-02 10.21.33BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-16 12.03.48 All the bulbs are also peeking their heads out, including the lost Delft Blue hyacinths and miniature Tête-a-Tête daffodils (see below) in the rockery bed with the grape hyacinth and the bluebells under the crab apple tree.BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0375BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-09 18.07.26 I have yet to find the fritillaries and the erythroniums, though I have a rough idea of where I planted them! The new tulips are growing madly- the little species tulip, Tulipa clusiana ‘Cynthia’ (foreground), is so different to its hybrid cousin, Bokassa Tulip Gold, behind it!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-16 12.10.35 The snowdrops, Galanthus, (1st photo) and snow flakes, Leucojum, (2nd photo) are flowering, though I am impatient to see them multiply and naturalize in the grass!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.33.32BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.28.45And my Dutch crocus (Crocus vernus ‘Remembrance’) are up! I was so excited to see my first splash of purple, as I had no idea where they were! They look so dramatic in front of the red camellia!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-22 14.50.17BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 17.07.59BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 17.07.54The hellebores are now starting to open their buds – in order, Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’ (1st 2 photos); single form of Oriental Rose, H. orientalis; and my double forms of oriental roses, given to me for my birthday two years ago by my Mum. BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-07 12.48.03BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-09 13.45.50BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.41.10BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0373BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0374BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0332BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-24 10.48.14BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.34.23BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.31.40 The wallflowers and forget-me-nots love the Winter, providing a splash of colour in an otherwise grey and green Soho bed!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-06-27 17.56.08 The thyme is thriving around the sundial.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-13 12.51.49 The violets are a sea of purple under the maple tree and up the path.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-19 08.54.23BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-14 13.16.52 The pink violets are blooming less vociferously up the sweeping entrance path and are matched by the first pink flowers of the begonias further up the steps.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-16 12.05.49BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.39.22BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-19 08.59.53 The camellia continues to delight with its deep pink, pale pink and white blooms.BlogCamellias20%Reszd2016-07-16 12.17.09BlogCamellias20%Reszd2016-07-10 11.53.13BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.43.25BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.42.33The Red Riding Hood camellia is also in flower and really attracts the eye in the garden.BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0331BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-19 08.56.26 The sweet scent of the opening daphne flowers and Winter honeysuckle blooms make me glad to be alive every time I go out the back door!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-07 13.33.19BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-16 12.00.04BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-19 09.24.08BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-12 16.43.35BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-10 11.39.55 The latter is a perfect home for my gift bird feeder, though we are using to hold water for the little birds instead!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-12 16.43.46 The currawongs are dominating the bird bath at the moment, holding group seminars of up to 5 birds at a time! Huge flocks roost in our tree overnight.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-08 09.15.15BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-06-29 15.04.32BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-06-29 15.05.14BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-06-29 15.06.07BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-06-29 15.06.16BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-06-29 15.06.22 The little birds don’t stand a chance, but the currawongs don’t seem to worry the larger birds: the magpies, king parrots, crimson rosellas, galahs and female bowerbirds, all of which are revelling in the vegetable patch! Even the male bower bird has made a brief appearance to supervise proceedings (last 2 photos)!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-06-29 14.55.50BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-15 09.46.37BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-15 09.47.32BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-17 17.27.46BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-17 17.28.09BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0366BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-10 17.32.28BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0371BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0363BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0359

The Broccoli Burglary!

BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-06-29 14.53.01BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0356

The Godfather

They loved all the soil disruption, as Ross weeded and dug in manure around all the shrubs, ready for the new Spring growth.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-23 17.35.25Meanwhile, a pair of White-faced Herons had a long sunny grooming session in the branches overhead. They are such beautiful birds!BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0419BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0403BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0437 Ross has also been busy in the vegetable garden, with lots of weeding, hoeing and preparation work, but he has planted rainbow chard and shallots. The growth is all a bit slow at the moment, but we are enjoying the fresh organic broccoli heads!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-14 13.24.11BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-09 17.40.10 We finally harvested our first crop of cumquats for the season to make marmalade and splashed out on our first lemonade fruit! Only 2 kg cumquats for this first picking, but there is more unripe fruit on the tree.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-14 13.26.22BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-14 13.30.27BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-16 13.03.53BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-16 13.51.51BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-17 16.58.04 The loquats are also forming fruit and it looks like it will be a bumper crop!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.41.43 Ross also dug up all the tough, tenacious roots of the old Kiwi vines, which were resprouting and threatening to take all the nutrients from the new citrus trees. We pruned the David Austin bed, rather vigorously this first season to encourage a good bush shape, though will probably be more lenient in future years. Here are before and after photos of their haircuts!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-13 12.29.54BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-13 13.57.08 We turned another rose (York and Lancaster) on the shed fence, then planted out 3 Albertine roses, struck from cuttings, along the back wall of the shed.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-08 12.12.45BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-08 12.12.53 We also planted a Camellia sinensis, the tea plant (photos 3 and 4), next to the Native Frangipani (photo 2) in the corner of the flat, shading the grave of our old dog, Scamp. He always did enjoy a long chat and a cuddle over a cup of tea!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-10 11.51.29BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-06-27 17.44.33BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.38.53BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-14 13.28.35 The Lady X grevillea behind them is positively glowing at the moment!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-10 11.51.07 The chaenomeles are all coming into bloom back in the main garden and the transplanted shrubs are coming into fresh leaf. I love our flowering quince corner of white and ‘apple blossom’ (pink & white) varieties, in front of the white-pink blooms of our Star-above-Star camellia.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.32.00BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.33.14BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-22 14.50.42BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.32.58We have a red flowering quince on the bottom fence , still in bud.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 17.09.29We even have a few daisies in bloom – some sweet little paper daisies, Rhodanthe anthemoides (photo 1 and 2), the colour of their buds mirroring the blooms of the Coconut Sundae dianthus behind- serendipity at work! ; a single white marguerite daisy (photo 3); and a spoonbill osteospermum with its metallic blue centre (photo 4). BlogJulyGarden20%ReszdIMG_0439BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-14 13.35.23BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.29.10BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-09 18.08.22 The diosma (2nd photo) is also flowering, so we may have to wait a little before moving the tank plants. They compliment the fine mauve blooms of the westringia (1st photo) behind.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-24 10.44.41BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.31.09 We also transplanted the Linum from the egg cartons and sowed fresh seed (Linum on the left and Ladybird Poppies on the right) in the cutting garden beds.BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-09 18.04.31BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-09 17.59.49 Ross  sowed the peony poppy seeds, which has already come up in their thousands! See the fine rivers of green in the 2nd photo. Lots of seedling thinning ahead!!  I cannot wait for all the colourful Spring blooms!BlogJulyGarden30%Reszd2016-07-04 15.49.15BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-20 14.37.01 Having said that, I am impressed by the number of Winter flowers we have and the fact that we can still enjoy a few vases in the house. Even the last of the rosebuds pre-pruning were beautiful!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-14 10.23.23BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-14 10.22.52BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-06 17.32.37BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-06 17.33.14BlogCamellias20%Reszd2016-07-16 12.30.16BlogCamellias20%Reszd2016-07-16 12.24.16 We also planted a succulent in this lovely shell for the kitchen window sill.BlogJulyGarden30%Reszd2016-07-09 15.17.18To finish, here are some lovely sky photos from July! Snowy blustery clouds as a cold change comes through and the sun struggling to get up for the day! Must have been a bad case of Monday-itis!!! Till next month…!BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-06-28 19.05.02BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-15 09.48.09BlogJulyGarden20%Reszd2016-07-15 09.48.16

Favourite Private Gardens: Historic Gardens: Part 1

There are some beautiful old historic gardens in Victoria, some of which we have been lucky enough to visit through the old Open Gardens scheme (Dalvui, Ard Rudah, Glenrannoch and Mawarra at the Grove),  individual open days in Spring and Autumn (Cruden Farm), plant fairs (Bolobek) and finally, my garden design course at Burnley (Bickleigh Vale Village) . These are only a small sample of the diverse array of private gardens in Australia.

All the gardens in this post are wonderful examples of past times from Australia’s early squattocracy (Dalvui) to Summer hill retreats (Ard Rudah, Glenrannoch and Mawarra) and gardens developed by influential garden designers (Bickleigh Vale, Mawarra, Bolobek and Cruden Farm).  With the exception perhaps of Bickleigh Vale, which was more a communal affair, all garden owners were incredibly wealthy, which enabled them to develop their gardens on a grand scale with lots of stonework and paths, ponds, sweeping lawns and dense plantings of exotic trees and shrubs and herbaceous borders of rare and unusual plants and bulbs. They could afford to employ gardeners to maintain their vast gardens and travelled extensively, garnering lots of new ideas and exotic plants in their travels. Their gardens were showpieces, in which they could indulge their passion for collecting, as well as entertain, and often included tennis courts and pools. All gardens have reached full maturity, while some have required extensive renovation from a declining state with new replantings, judicious tree surgery  and/or removal of dying trees and reconfiguration of boundaries and /or design. All these gardens are still incredibly expensive to maintain and are owned by wealthy private individuals, who have a passion for old gardens. Because this post is so long, I have divided it into two sections according to the age of the gardens :

Part 1 : Ard Rudah 1870, Glenrannoch 1873 and Dalvui 1898

Part 2 : Bolobek 1911, Bickleigh Vale Village 1920s, Mawarra 1932 and Cruden Farm 1928

Part 1 : Favourite Private Gardens: Historic Gardens: 1870-1900

Ard Rudah 1870

49-51  Devonshire Lane, Mt Macedon     2.4 ha (6ac)     45 minutes west of Melbourne

Classic 19th century hill station and 1 of 11 Mt Macedon gardens recognized by the National Trust for its historical significance. The National Trust considers the Macedon Ranges to be one of the most important collections of 19th Century gardens in Australia.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 178History

Originally part of an apple orchard, Ard Rudah was owned by prominent industrialist, William MacGregor, in the early 1870s. He named the property ‘Ard Rudah’, using the Gaelic words for ‘High Promontory’. The garden was developed by Professor Herbert Strong and  Ferdinand Von Mueller, who lived nearby and was the 1st Director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens (1857). George Patterson was the first permanent gardener. They also built an early irrigation system from Ferny Creek, which runs through the property.

In 1900, a lawn tennis court was built and was played on by prime ministers and distinguished guests- such a lovely location to play tennis!Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 093Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 088Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 192Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 195 I loved all the established plantings surrounding the court. There were 3 permanent gardeners and the historic glasshouse produced 2000 seedlings, which were planted out each year. The front lawn was dug out by hand by 7-8 gardeners.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 090Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 172The two-storey house was designed and built in 1934 by renowned Melbourne architect of the day Christopher Cowper (1868-1954) for his own use and to accommodate his three daughters in luxury style. It had 7 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, a separate studio and a six-car garage.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 176 Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 145He also designed a sunken walled Italianate garden with a reflection pond after a trip to Italy. The house was then bought by Walter Meyer, once a personal valet to Winston Churchill, who ran it as a guesthouse until the late 1990s.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 179Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 181Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 185Ard Rudah is on the Historic Buildings Register. It featured in Fred Schepisi’s film ‘The Devil’s Playground’ and was recently refurbished by draughtsman, Stephen Akehurst. When we visited in October 2009, it was owned by Tony Dortimer, who had hired help with the garden once a week.  It was sold in September 2015.


Entrance from Devonshire Lane is via a grand driveway lined with cherries, rhododendrons and azaleas, underplanted with masses of bluebells.Blog PHGPT125%Reszdgrampians 4 080Blog PHGPT125%Reszdgrampians 4 081Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 196Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 149Blog PHGPT125%Reszdgrampians 4 083Blog PHGPT125%Reszdgrampians 4 084Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 106Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 180 A camellia walk leads to the house. At the end of the driveway, a path leads to the sunken garden and a formal pool, punctuated by cypress and surrounded by a wall edged in box. From there, vistas stretch up to the house.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 186

In front of the house are large beds, edged in box, holding massed peonies, tulips and other bulbs and forget-me-nots, and a huge circular lawn.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 170Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 169Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 099 The lawn is studded with a huge mature trees including a copper beech, 100 feet high, lindens and European ash and a rare laburnocytisus. In Spring, masses of naturalized daffodils fill the lawn.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 103Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 089Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 091Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 164Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 158Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 156Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 157Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 182Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 087Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 188 A series of terraces down the hill hold banks of scented azaleas and dense plantings of many unusual shrubs and perennials, as well as stone steps, providing vistas of the different levels.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 159Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 183Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 132Behind the house are huge rhododendrons, massive oaks and a fernery walk with hostas, whose new leaves emerge in early November.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 133Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 160Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 134Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 144A maple walk leads to the bottom of the garden, where there is a fern-lined creek, crossed by two moss-covered stone bridges and  a tree-fern gully.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 184Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 153Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 112Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 108Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 111Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 107Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 113There is also a woodland of giant oaks and sycamore trees, underplanted with bluebells, which flower in Spring, and a sheltered lily pond.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 110Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 124Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 123Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 119Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 122Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 118 It is a lovely garden to visit in any season. Hellebores peep through the snow in Winter; bluebells, daffodils and flowers bloom in Spring and the deciduous trees put on a beautiful display in Autumn.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 142Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 173Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdgrampians 4 129Glenrannoch   1873

84 Devonshire Lane Mt Macedon                                              2.8 ha (7 ac)

Another very old beautiful hill station garden in Mt Macedon and one of my favourite gardens.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 169History

The 3rd oldest property in Mt Macedon, Glenrannoch was settled in the 1880s by Mr George Gordon, an engineer from Aberdeen, Scotland. He named the property using two Scots Gaelic words: ‘Glen’ meaning ‘between ridges’ referring to its position and ‘rannoch’ meaning ‘bracken’ or ‘fern’. The house was built in 1873. Glenrannoch was George’s country property and he developed the steeply sloping block in the style of the Indian hill gardens around Poona.

The Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 destroyed many of the old yew trees, which have since regenerated. Stephen Ryan was the Head Gardener for 2 years after the fires. In 2005, extensive wind damage demolished 7 large blackwoods. John and Penelope McBain have owned Glenrannoch since 1996 and have been slowly restoring the garden under the direction of Trish Zdrzalka of Raintree Cottage. Dead and dying trees have been removed and replaced or pruned by tree surgeons and blackberry removed to reveal the bones of the garden, the stonework and steps and ancient banks of miniature and fragrant rhododendrons, Japanese maples, dogwoods and Spring and Autumn bulbs.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 263Design

Glenrannoch is a very steep garden in 4 levels joined by 4 paths and over 500 steps. It has formal and informal elements- formal, closer to the house with mass plantings of perennials and shrubs and well-clipped box hedges, and informal, further away from the house down to the creek, fern gully and bushland. Entrance is via the lower gate along a ferny walk or up 177 stone stairs to the residence or via the main gates and driveway higher up Devonshire Lane.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 154 Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 171The turning circle in the lane has 5 Chinese birches and 2 large weeping Nootka cypress tower above the gates on either side.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 245Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 247 The driveway is lined with a variety of conifers- old Atlantic cedars, Douglas fir and cypress and new plantings of larch enhance the Scottish theme. The upper side of the driveway is covered in daffodils in Spring and native daisies in Summer and hydrangea blooms in late Summer and Autumn. The lower side of the drive is lined with yellow, cream and lemon rhododendrons and stewartia.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 258Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 255A turning circle in front of the house has 4 round-leafed berry hollies (Ilex menzeii ‘Crenate’). Around the house is a large holly ‘Golden King’. As well as a number of very large old trees, of which the first two are included on the National Trust Register of Significant Trees : Monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana, from South America; Western hemlock Tsuga heterophylla; deodar cedars; a silver poplar and huge rhododendron trees. A large hoheria behind the house is also included on the National Trust Register of Significant Trees.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 266Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 271Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 172Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 173Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 175 A pair of Acer palmatum, one green, one bronze grace either side of the front steps leading down from the house.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 177Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 180 The front wall of the house is covered with a red Chilean bellflower.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 181

Two paths, a high road and a low road, which lead from the driveway  to the left and up to the stables, are lined with primroses on the right and dark hellebores on the right and are shaded by a large beech tree.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 262 Several paths off the stable path lead to a developing collection of different types of beech trees. A stand of blackwood, Acacia melanoxylon, and manna gums lies behind the stables.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 259The Woodman’s Path leads from the stables up to the tennis court at the top of the garden.Below the path is a huge hemlock and 2 liriodendrons with an under-planting of lily-of-the-valley bulbs, while the upper slope is covered in rhododendrons.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 218

Halfway up, steep stairs lead to a large water tank for carp. It also serves as a backup supply for fire-fighting.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 229Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 230 To the right of the tank are new plantings of birch, larch and Scots pine. Steps lead to a lookout, from which you can see the You Yangs on a clear day. It is backed by towering conifers- pines, cedars and Douglas firs.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 226Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 217Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 228

The Woodsman’s Path leads to a large weeping beech and steps up to the tennis court area, surrounded by a large blackwood, a huge ponderosa pine, flowering cherries and rhododendron trees, as well as a new herbaceous border.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 184Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 216Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 233 A concrete winding staircase leads to a maple walk.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 220Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 182Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 231Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 223Below the cottage on the eastern side of the house are two herbaceous borders separated by a path, which leads to a large sweet chestnut, one of five in the garden and under-planted with masses of hellebores.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 187Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 200Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 186 The upper border contains a Crane’s Foot maple and a Japanese snowball tree, young hazelnuts and a variety of cotoneasters, while the lower border contains a large green cherry and golden elm, under-planted with hellebores and bluebells.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 199Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 235Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 203Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 202Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 208Below the lawn at the rear of the house, the Spring Walk leads to the fast- flowing Turritable Creek in a deep gully with several waterfalls.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 212

A Dutch medlar, magnolia and cherry trees and a Prunus padus, under-planted with snowdrops, lie below the path, while the upper side has a viburnum, a shad bush, an aspen and a Hookerii maple. There are also magnolias, lilacs, witch hazel and lily-of-the-valley. The path leads past eucryphias and a Nothofagus collection , including Myrtle Beech (N. cunninghamii) and New Zealand Black Beech (N. solanderi) to the creek and a temperate rainforest of forest redwoods. Oak, beech and scented rhododendrons ‘Princess Alice’ and ‘Balantray’. There are 3 smaller paths off the Spring Path, which lead to the lower garden.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 215Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 213Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 205Below the house is a croquet lawn on the southern side. Below the croquet lawn is a newly developed terrace of mollis azaleas and an oak hill, under-planted with daffodils. Two paths lead below and to the west from the azalea terrace to rhododendrons and the bottom gate.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 178Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 194Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 267Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 268From the lower gate, there are 2 routes:

The mossy Creek Path, screened by tall tree ferns and large blackwoods, which lead to the start of Turritable Creek, a small waterfall and the lower part of the Spring Path. New Nothofagus and Wollemi pines  have been planted on the slope above the path.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 164Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 236Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 241Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 238

and     177 Steps up to the house, lined with maples, magnolias, a dove tree, dogwood, Norwegian fir and enkianthus on the left on the way up and rhodendrons, mature larches, an Irish strawberry Tree, a chestnut, an oak and a parrotia.Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 166Blog PHGPT1 50%Reszdapril 167

While the Australian Open Garden Scheme has closed, the baton has been taken up by the newly formed Open Gardens Victoria and it is still possible to visit these gardens. They are running a Mt Macedon coach tour of 3 hill station gardens on 1st September 2016 and I recognized photos from both Ard Rudah and Glenrannoch. For details, see :

Dalvui     1898

431 McKinnons Bridge Rd, Noorat   Close to Terang, SW Victoria    2.45 ha (6 ac)

One of Australia’s most significant gardens and an excellent example of Guilfoyle’s private garden designs. William Guilfoyle was the second Director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens in 1873.Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1857History

1839 Niel Black, the 35 year old son of a Scottish Argylle farmer, arrived in Victoria, looking for land and he bought 50,000 acres of land at Glenormiston in partnership with 2 other men. In 1847, he built his first home, which is now Glenormiston Agricultural College. The partnership dissolved in 1868 and the land was divided into 3 lots- he lost Glenormiston and drew the southern portion on the southern foothills of Mt Noorat, an extinct volcano with rich red volcanic soil, where he built a new mansion just to the north of Dalvui.Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2044 At 53 years old, he returned to Scotland, where he married, had 3 sons and died in 1880. The property eventually passed to his youngest son, Niel Walter Black, who obtained Dalvui, formerly part of the 6000 acre Mt Noorat estate.

Niel Walter Black commissioned William Guilfoyle to design a garden around his future homestead and the garden was laid out in 1898. By the time the house was built, the garden was well-established and much of the original design is still intact today. A two-storey brick Tudoresque Queen Anne style homestead was designed by Melbourne architects, Ussher and Kemp, and built between 1904-1908. The Federation house has a polygonal candle-snuffer roof, a Tudor bay window of banked gothic lights, which looks out to the garden, a grand sweeping staircase, Jacobean plaster ceilings and many Art Nouveau features.Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1899 In 1909, Niel Walter Black set off for Scotland in the Waratah to find a bride, but unfortunately, the ship disappeared between Cape Town and Durban, the wreck only discovered off Durban in 1999!

In 1911, Dalvui was sold with 560 acres of land  to Claude B Palmer and he lived there until his death in 1941. His wife and then son, Neville B Palmer, inherited the property, then Neville sold Dalvui in 1974. It was sold again in 1985 to Ray Williams, who began refurbishment of the house and garden. Since 1998, it has been owned by Peter and Pam Habersberger. Originally a Romney sheep stud and dairy , the property now runs 150 Murray Grey and Angus cows, though there are still some stud sheep from the original bloodlines.Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1906


Originally 5 acres with another 2.5 acres added during Ray William’s tenure, the garden still conforms to Guilfoyle’s 1898 design with sweeping lawns, rockeries, ponds, mature trees (now over 100 years old) and curved herbaceous borders of shrubs, perennials and bulbs. Essentially an inward-looking garden, it provides glimpses of the surrounding countryside, from which it is separated by a rock ha-ha wall. We were lucky enough to visit Dalvui on an open day held in October 2013 and knowing this was such a famous garden, we were first cab off the rank and able to enjoy the gardens on our own at the start.Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2101Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1824Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1826Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1856Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1878The driveway , bordered by poplars initially, then silver birches in the garden, curves across the paddocks to the garden, passing the original cypress-lined driveway on the east side.Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1839Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1831Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1834 The birches are underplanted with shrubs and perennials with an emphasis on shades of green and grey foliage, blue flowers and soft colours, providing a very restful atmosphere.Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1866Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1868Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1869Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1829Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1830Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1828Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1845Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1847Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1854Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1851To the north-west of the house, the old tennis court has been converted to a series of garden rooms, created by box hedging with persimmon trees in the middle.Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1879Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1871Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1880Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1881Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1872Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1874 Beautiful sweeping lawns surround the house.Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1916Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1898Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2040Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1920 Paths lead to a massive rockery garden (created by Guilfoyle to disguise a natural volcanic rock outcrop), a chain of ponds and a spectacular lake .Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1976Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1911Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1917Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1914Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1924Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1925Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1930There are some beautiful old trees, one even supported by props (see 3rd photo below!) and interesting features like espaliered trees and topiary.Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2045Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1850Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1954Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1985Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1886Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2011Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1885I loved the herbaceous borders and garden beds.Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1964Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1965Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1953Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1942Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1982Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1895Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1943Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1945 However, my heart was captured by the hedged kitchen garden just beside the house. This delightful small section of the garden was reason alone to visit Dalvui!Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1997Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2072Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_1999Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2000Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2018Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2016Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2090Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2088Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2093


Tiny Treasures: Feature Plants for July

This month, I am featuring my tiny treasures : violets; forget-me-nots; snow drops and snowflakes; hellebores; and the tiny flowers of Winter daphne and Winter honeysuckle, all cherished for their fragile beauty and scent in a cold Winter world, when the rest of the garden has gone to sleep.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-08-27 09.55.42BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-08-27 09.56.13Violets (Viola odorata) are a mainstay in our garden from late Autumn to early Spring, lining the main staircase up to the house and the back path (photo 3), blanketing the ground under the deciduous trees along the fence and our front door camellia and filling their own bed, where their bright blue flowers contrast dramatically with the fallen red maple leaves.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-05-23 10.34.58BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-02 14.16.04BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-07 12.45.46 We have 3 different colours : blue, a deeper purple and pink. In our old Armidale garden, we only had white violets and I used to dream of our current violet banks.Blog Mid Winter20%ReszdIMG_8906Blog LateWinter20%Reszd2015-09-03 15.04.42

Deep purple violet along the back path         Photo by Caroline Stephens

Viola odorata, or Sweet Violet, belongs to the family Violaceae and genus Viola, which contains an unbelievably large number of species : 400-500 species, though some sources suggest it could be as high as 600 species. Some of the more common ones are :

  • Viola arvensis – Field Pansy
  • Viola biflora – Yellow Wood Violet or Twoflower Violet
  • Viola canina – Heath Dog Violet
  • Viola hirta – Hairy Violet
  • Viola odorata – Sweet Violet
  • Viola pedunculata – Yellow Pansy
  • Viola riviniana – Common Dog Violet – similar in looks to V.odorata, but scentless
  • Viola tricolor – Wild Pansy or Heart’s-Ease – purple, yellow and white
  • Viola adunca – Early Blue Violet
  • Viola nephrophylla – Northern Bog Violet
  • Viola pedatifida – Crowfoot Violet
  • Viola pubescens – Downy Yellow Violet
  • Viola rugulosa – Western Canada Violet
  • Viola lutea – Mountain Pansy – yellow flowers

There are also 3 Australian native species :

  • Viola hederaceae- common Native Violet – bright green, kidney-shaped leaves and purple and white flowers. Useful ground cover in moist shady areas.
  • Viola betonicifolia
  • Viola banksii

BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-21 17.18.56Viola odorata is a small perennial plant with heart-shaped leaves and highly fragrant, assymmetrical flowers (purple, blue, yellow, white, cream or blue and yellow), which bloom in Winter and early Spring. It is native to temperate areas in the Northern Hemisphere and loves moist shady conditions, though it does equally well in full sun. It thrives on moist, well-drained soil, rich in organic matter and only requires moderate watering.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-05-31 12.32.31 It is a tough little plant and transplants easily with minimal after-care. In truth, they are almost a weed at our place, as they throw out underground rhizomes with abandon, quickly invading large areas with their long runners.BlogMayGarden20%Reszd2016-05-15 17.30.20BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-09-03 15.03.56 They can be propagated by seed and  root cuttings, division best done in Autumn or just after flowering, though really they can be planted at any time from Spring (after frost)  through to Autumn with a spade of compost and mulch to keep the roots cool. Occasionally, they get red spider mite in dry weather, but otherwise they have few pests.Blog LateWinter20%Reszd2015-09-03 15.03.53 They are the food plant for some Lepidoptera larvae, including Giant Leopard Moth, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, High Brown Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Setaceous Hebrew Character. Sweet violets are grown as a ground cover in woodland gardens, in garden beds and along water edges, as accent plants around trees and even as container plants.

Blue violets in maple bed             Photograph by Caroline Stephens

Violets were cultivated in Greece before 500 BC and were used by both the Ancient Greeks and Romans in herbal remedies, love potions, wine (Vinum violatum), festivals and even to sweeten food. While our society sees the violet as a symbol of modesty, sweetness and faithfulness, to the Ancient Greeks, it was a symbol of love and fertility. For more about the mythology surrounding the violet, see: 17.30.34Ancient Roman physician, Pliny the Elder, advocated the wearing of a garland of violets on the head to ward off headaches and dizzy spells. Perhaps the intoxicating scent of the violet blooms banished the headache! Certainly, both the leaves and flowers are edible and rich in vitamins and can be used in medicines and as a laxative, though they should not be taken internally in large doses! Clinical trials have shown that a syrup of V.odorata can improve cough suppression in asthmatic children. Intranasal administration of V.odorata extract has also been shown to be effective in treating insomnia. What a blissful sleep! For more information on the use of violets as a herbal remedy, see : .BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-05-03 10.37.59Fresh flowers add a lovely flash of colour in salads, fruit punches and ice bowls. The flowers can also be candied, using egg white and crystallized sugar, to decorate cakes and are still produced commercially in France, where they are known as ‘Violettes de Toulouse’. I tried making crystallized violets and rose petals for my son’s birthday cake (1st 3 photos), and while I wouldn’t say it was a roaring success (especially because I confused salt for the castor sugar initially!), it still did provide some colour! Making candied violets is obviously an art form! The French also make a Violet Syrup from Extract of Violets. The syrup can be used to make violet scones and marshmallows. I decorated the banana cake in the photo below with fresh pink and blue violets.BlogTinyTreasures20%ReszdIMG_8953BlogBirthdayCurry20%Reszd2016-04-21 16.50.25BlogBirthdayCurry20%Reszd2016-04-21 17.16.36BlogBirthdayCurry20%Reszd2016-04-24 14.02.52 But the most obvious use of the flowers is as a source of scent in the perfume industry, as well as in nosegays and Spring bouquets. There is even a Violet Day in Australia and New Zealand, on 2 July , when fresh violets and badges depicting violets were sold for fund-raising efforts  to commemorate the lost soldiers of the First World War. Before the Flanders poppy, the violet was considered to be a ‘symbol of perpetual remembrance.’ See :  and

BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-06 17.33.14
Mixed jonquils, Westringia, stock and violets
Violets and English primroses
Bouquet of erlicheer jonquils, violets and forget-me-nots

An ideal lead-in for my next tiny treasure, the humble Forget-me-not, Myosotis!BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-09-04 15.21.22 In Newfoundland, the forget-me-not is a symbol of remembrance of the nation’s war-dead. It was used as a symbol in the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in remembrance of the 1.5 Million killed by the Ottoman Turks between 1915-1923 . In medieval times, the forget-me-not was a symbol of faithfulness and enduring love. Its name is purported to have originated from the German legend of a lover who, while gathering the flowers, fell into a river and cried ‘forget-me-not’ as he drowned.

The scientific name Myosotis comes from the Greek word:  μυοσωτίς or  “mouse’s ear” after the leaf. It belongs to the family Boraginaceae and the genus contains 74 species, 60 from Western Eurasia and 14 from New Zealand. The most common species are the biennial Woodland Forget-me-not, M. sylvatica, and the perennial Water Forget-me-not, M. scorpioides. They are now common throughout temperate latitudes, especially in moist areas.Blog LateWinter20%Reszd2015-09-04 15.21.16Forget-me-nots are small tufted plants with simple, blunt, lance-shaped, greyish, finely -haired leaves and tiny 5-petalled blue, mauve, pink, white or cream flowers, usually borne in sprays on short branching stems in Spring and early Summer, though my plants are currently flowering! They grow well in both sun and shade, but prefer cool weather and moist soil. They are propagated by seed or careful division in Winter.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-06 17.55.24 One sure fact is that once you have them, you will always have them! Some people may even go so far as to describe them as invasive, but I could never begrudge forget-me-nots nor violets for their profligacy, as I love them and despite their prevalence, they are not always that easy to locate when you are searching for them for a new garden! We found our plants growing wild on the banks of the extinct volcano, Mt Noorat (photos below).BlogTinyTreasures50%ReszdOC 024BlogTinyTreasures50%ReszdOC 025 I love watching them multiply and appear in odd spots throughout the garden. Traditionally, they are used as a ground cover in woodland gardens, in rockeries and beside ponds.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-05-09 11.58.09 I love using their fragile feathery blooms to soften floral arrangements. Like violets, they are also a food plant for various Lepidoptera species, including the Setaceous Hebrew Character.

‘Acropolis’ Double Daffodil, Sea Thrift, Italian Lavender, Wallflowers, Catmint, Society Garlic and Forget-me-not

Other woodland ground covers include the delicate white snowdrops and snowflakes, often confused with each other because of their green-tipped white drooping bells. They are however quite different plants. Snowdrops (1st photo) only have one flower per stem and each flower has 3 large exterior petals and 3 smaller central petals, tipped with green.

Blog Early Winter20%Reszd2015-07-01 11.10.16

Photo of Leucojum from

Snowflakes are a larger plant with each stem bearing several flowers, each of which has 6 petals all the same size and each tipped with green. We grew up with snowflakes, which are members of the Leucojum genus, but the true snowdrop belongs to the Galanthus genus.

Clumps of Snowflakes (Leucojum)         Photo from www.

Leucojum is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family and hails from Central and Southern Europe. The scientific name comes from the Greek words: ‘leucojum’ meaning ‘white violet.’ There are only 2 species: the Spring Snowflake L.vernum (‘vernum’ is the Greek for Spring) and L. aestivum (‘aestivum’ meaning Summer, though really it flowers in late Spring after L. vernum). It looks great in clumps under deciduous trees and shrubs and can be propagated by division immediately after flowering or when the leaves have died down. Our Leucojum are pushing their way through a border of Mondo grass on the path edge.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-07-31 07.23.01 Snowdrops however are seen far less commonly in Australia, as they only like cold to moderately cold Winters. Their scientific name comes from the Greek words : ‘gala’ meaning ‘milk’ and ‘anthos’ meaning ‘flower’. These hardy, bulbous, perennial herbaceous plants have grey-green leaves and flower in Winter before the vernal equinox, pushing their stalks through the snow. Like snowflakes, they are also from the family Amaryllidaceae and are found in the deciduous woodlands of Southern and Central Europe from the Pyrenees to Ukraine. They were introduced to Britain in the early 16th century and readily naturalized, so much so that they are often called the English Snowdrop. In England, they are also known as ‘the flower of hope’, while in France, they have a much more prosaic name ‘Perce-neige’ (‘perforating snow’). In the Language of Flowers, they are a symbol of purity and hope.BlogTinyTreasures25%Reszd2015-07-01 11.10.11 There are 20 species in the genus, the most widespread and well-known being the Common Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis (‘nivalis’ is Greek for ‘of the snow’). There are a huge number of single and double-flowered cultivars (over 500 in 2002, but now a further 1500 new cultivars), all differing in size, shape and markings, and developed from G.nivalis, as well as the Crimean Snowdrop, G. plicatus, and the Giant Snowdrop, G. elwesii. In fact, snowdrop collectors are known as ‘galanthophiles’ and  it is quite a competitive and exclusive hobby. See : There are a large number of snowdrop gardens in the United Kingdom, which are open to the public during the season. See: drop-gardens-to-visit-in-the-uk. Scotland celebrated its first Snowdrop Festival from the 1st February to 11th March, 2007. I bought my snowdrop bulbs from a specialist plant nursery. They were quite expensive, but fortunately, they multiply easily from offset bulbs and we were able to divide the clumps and plant them as a curved border to the fence shrubbery in front of the lilac and flowering quinces and around the bird bath. It is the perfect spot for them, as they like moist well-drained soil and shady areas. I look forward to seeing them naturalize and multiply in the grass. They have such exquisite flowers!BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-13 16.57.41 I certainly won’t be eating them though! Galanthus are poisonous to humans, causing nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting if consumed in large quantities. Its active ingredient is galatamine, an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which is used in the management of Alzheiners and traumatic injuries to the nervous system. It is also an effective insecticide in the management of beetles, Lepidoptera and Hemiptera. In fact, these plants are pest-free, avoided by rabbits, deer, chipmunks and mice! Current research is focused on its use in genetic engineering for pest resistance and the treatment of HIV. See :

Hellebores are another specialist collector plant, which can become quite addictive! I inherited the common single white and purple varieties in our new garden in Candelo, but my Mum also gave me 5 double forms (deep purple, deep red, pink, white, white blotched with pink) 2 years ago as a birthday present. My sister bought them for her from The Melbourne International Flower and Plant Show, where a hellebore specialist nursery, Post Office Farm (  had a stall and the following Winter, I visited their farm on one of their open days, where I bought a species hellebore, Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’ . See my post on Post Office Farm at:

BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-07-31 07.34.53BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-09 18.07.58BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-17 14.22.12I have planted them under separate deciduous trees, as they are highly promiscuous, interbreeding with abandon, and I really want their offspring to retain their original forms true to type. For example, the white double hellebore complements the white statue Phoebe and white anemones under the maple tree on the terrace (1st and 2nd photo above); my deep red hellebore is under the Protea (3rd photo above) and my species hellebore, Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’, occupies a special place under the camellia beside the front door (below).

BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-08-08 09.48.50

Hellebores are also known as Winter Rose, Snow Rose, Lenten Rose and Christmas Rose, due the fact that they flower round this time in their native environment, the deciduous woodlands of Southern and Western Europe and Western Asia. Their scientific name, Helleborus,  comes from the Greek words : ἑλλέβορος helléboros, from elein “to injure” and βορά borá “food”, referring to their toxicity. They are low growing, clump forming, evergreen, Winter-flowering perennials from the family Ranunculaceae, the same family which includes delphiniums, anemones, aquilegias, buttercups and clematis. Hellebores have attractive, leathery, evergreen, toothed, palmate leaves and open, cup-shaped flowers in Winter. Most varieties are single with 5 petals.BlogTinyTreasures25%Reszd2015-09-15 17.29.53 There are 17 different species, divided into 2 different categories.

The Caulescent types have leaves on the flowering stems and include :

Stinking hellebore, H. foetidus: Pungent smell when foliage is crushed; tall plant; large number of small lime-green bell-shaped flowers; See 2nd photo below.

Corsican Hellebore, H. argutifolius: heavily toothed leathery evergreen leaves; up to 1 m tall, so best at the back of the border; heads of lime-green flowers. One of the toughest hellebores and tolerates more sun than other species; See 1st photo below.

Majorcan Hellebore, H. lividus: Silvery leaves and smoky-pink flowers.

and the rare H. versicarius: From SW Turkey;  red-tipped lime bells; thrives in the sun.

Corsican Hellebore    Photo from
Stinking Hellebore     Photo from

In acaulescent varieties , the leaves are basal and stemless and include :

Oriental Rose, H. orientalis, the most common species in Australia. Pink, maroon and cream single flowers, ageing to green.

Green Hellebore, H. viridus: Green flowers.

Black Hellebore, H. niger: The roots are black and the flowers white, flushed with pink or purple as they mature.

Ferny Hellebore, H. multifidus: Green flowers and finely-divided leaves.

H. cyclophyllus : Yellow-green flowers and slight perfume.

H. odorus: Light green flowers.


Helleborus atrorubens : Dark green and purple flowers (photo below).BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2014-07-06 11.04.50

There are also a large number of hybrid cultivars, including:

  1. sternii : H. argutifolius x H. lividus
  2. nigercors: H. argutifolius x H. niger
  3. x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’: H. lividus x H. niger   (1st photo below)    and
  4. orientalis x H. purpurascens : Red-purple hybrid.


Oriental Hellebore

Other crosses using oriental hellebores have created a wide colour range from slate grey and metallic black to red, purple, dusky pink, lime green, yellow and cream and white, often with speckles and flashes. There are also double and semi-double forms. To fully appreciate the huge variety in hellebores, consult the following websites: and LateAutumn20%Reszd2015-08-12 15.49.09BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2014-07-06 10.56.54Hellebores grow throughout cold and temperate areas in Australia from Tasmania, Victoria and the coastal stretch up to Sydney; inland as far north as the Queensland border and in temperate areas in South Australia. They like Winter sun and Summer shade and can handle dry periods, so are ideal under deciduous trees. Dappled shade is best, as full shade results in less leaf growth.  They also like a humus-rich, slightly acidic soil and hate waterlogged soil or sand. BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2015-09-05 08.35.32They are used in mass plantings and as ground cover, especially in dry shade and under established trees. They combine well with galanthus (very similar growing conditions), hostas, anemones, aquilegias, epimediums, solomon’s seal, ferns, vinca, scilla, cyclamen, leucojum and crocus. They look lovely at the feet of camellias, magnolias, dogwoods,  flowering quinces, daphne and hydrangeas (photo below). They can even be grown in pots.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.25.49 Hellebores propagate from seed, which spreads readily. Seedlings should be transplanted when very young (only a few centimetres high), as they do not like having their roots disturbed. They can also be lifted and divided in Autumn and early Spring.BlogTinyTreasures20%ReszdIMG_0243 They should be planted with organic compost, then mulched in Summer to keep their roots cool. Old leaves and flowers should be removed in Autumn, as the new leaves appear, to allow them to flourish and display the flowers to their best advantage. The only exception is the caulescent hellebores, in which the old flower stems should be removed in mid to late Spring after flowering. The plants benefit from a well-balanced fertilizer in Autumn, as well as a handful of dolomite lime. Generally though, hellebores are tough and individual plants have been known to reach 40 years of age.BlogTinyTreasures20%ReszdIMG_8905 BlogTinyTreasures20%ReszdIMG_8955The flowers last a long time on the plant, but only up to 7 days in the vase. Their heads tend to droop and should be propped up with other flowers or the vase placed on a high shelf, where their flowers can be appreciated. Floral treatments in the past vary from splitting stems to scalding them by plunging the stem ends into boiling water (often still done by commercial growers), but most experts agree that a good long soak prior to arranging is essential, even to the extent of totally submerging the flower heads in water for up to 3 hours. Recut the stems 2-3 cm from their ends, especially if they have been seared by the grower and use preservative in the water. Misting the flowers is also beneficial. Their flowers also look good floating in a shallow bowl of water. Flowers can be wired for support, but should not be used for corporate designs, as their flowers will droop and dry out in air conditioning or heating. They also hate foam, so only use a vase. The flower centres are also suitable for drying.

Bowl of ‘bores: a beautiful photo of hellebores floating in a bowl by Jacki-Dee   Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons,  licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Do be aware though when collecting seed and handling hellebores that they are extremely toxic. They contain protoanemonin and are strongly emetic and laxative. In fact, they were used in the past to induce vomiting. They can cause diarrhoea, cardiac problems and skin irritation. They are also very poisonous for livestock.  But don’t let it put you off these otherwise delightful plants!

It is well worth visiting Post Office Farm on one of their Open Days (every Sunday between 5th June and 25th September 2016). See: or if you cannot make it, one of their plant stalls at the numerous plant fairs around the country. See: 10.56.34

And now for some slightly larger plants, whose tiny scented Winter flowers still allow for their inclusion in a post on tiny treasures:

Winter Daphne    Daphne odora

Native to China and Japan, Winter Daphne belongs to the Thymelaeceae family and the Daphne genus, which includes 50 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs throughout Asia, Europe and North Africa.

Winter Daphne is an evergreen, densely-branched, ornamental shrub, up to 1m tall, with simple, alternate, glossy-green leathery leaves. There is a variety ‘aureomarginata’, whose leaves are edged in a creamy-yellow colour. It has highly fragrant pale-pink fleshy tubular flowers, each with 4 lobes, from mid Winter to late Spring. There is a variety, ‘Alba’ with pure white flowers. The flowers are hermaphroditic and are pollinated by bees, flies and Lepidoptera.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-24 12.27.39Daphne has a reputation for being difficult, but if they are planted in the right spot, they can be quite long-lived , tough, low maintenance and drought-tolerant shrubs. My research into their ideal planting site revealed  their preferences:

  • Morning sun or easterly-facing aspect with shade from the hot afternoon sun.
  • Fertile, slightly acidic peaty soil.
  • Perfect drainage- a raised bed or drier spot under the eaves is ideal, as they are prone to root rot.

They should not be over-watered or over-fed and pruning should be minimal. After flowering, a slow-release fertilizer with iron chelates can be applied. Mulch will keep the root run cool, but should be kept away from the stem. Daphne hates any root disturbance or cultivation around its roots and transplants badly. It can be propagated by softwood cuttings in early to mid Summer and semi-ripe or evergreen cuttings in mid to late Summer. They are susceptible to a virus infection, which causes mottling of the leaves, and attack by scale insects, which can be squashed or smothered in white oil.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-06-19 14.16.45All parts are poisonous to humans and livestock. The sap can cause dermatitis, so be careful when cutting. Despite their toxicity and their finicky nature, I would not be without a Winter Daphne. Their scent is divine, both indoors and outside, so make sure it is in a prominent position. Our plant is right beside the back steps as we leave the house, very close in fact to the Winter Honeysuckle, my last feature plant for this post, so the air smells quite heavenly in Winter!Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-31 07.22.57Winter Honeysuckle    Lonicera fragrantissimaBlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-11 15.10.23Also known as ‘Chinese Honeysuckle’, ‘Sweet breath of Spring’ and the quaint name ‘Kiss-me-at-the-gate’, Winter Honeysuckle belongs to the Caprifoliaceae family and the Lonicera genus, which contains 200 species of Honeysuckle shrubs and climbers, including the well-known white-and-yellow Japanese Honeysuckle, L. japonica and  pink-and-gold Woodbine, L. periclymen (photo below).BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-28 16.55.23Winter Honeysuckle is native to China and was introduced to England by Robert Fortune in 1845, making its way to America by 1852. It is a semi-evergreen shrub 1-3 m tall and wide, though it can reach 4.6m tall and it takes 5-10 years to reach full height. Its slender spreading branches form a bushy tangle over time. It is deciduous in areas with harsh Winters.Blog Ambassadors Spr20%Reszd2015-09-05 08.29.43 White to creamy white, two-lipped flowers with protruding yellow anthers are borne in pairs in Winter and early Spring. They are highly fragrant. Branches cut for the house will perfume a room for days, so long as the vase is kept away from heat. The flowers are also a great nectar and pollen provider for insects and birds in Winter.BlogJune Garden 20%Reszd2016-06-11 15.10.29 Winter Honeysuckle loves full sun, though will tolerate partial shade. Propagation is by hardwood or semi-hardwood cuttings in late Summer. There are very few pests and diseases.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-07 13.32.53BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-06-28 13.14.52These old-fashioned ornamental plants can be grown as a specimen plant, a clipped or informal hedge or screen or at the back of a shrub border. My Winter Honeysuckle is in an ideal location right outside the back door and on the bend of the back path, as it becomes the entrance path.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-07 13.33.34 I adore that waft of fresh lemony scent every time I go out the back door at this time of year. It is so uplifting! It also flowers for a long time- at least 3 months! I feel so lucky to have inherited such a beautiful old shrub- in fact, it was one of the reasons we bought the place, as it was in full bloom we first discovered the house in  August 2014.BlogTinyTreasures20%Reszd2016-07-10 11.39.55I also like to use their flowers to decorate cakes. Here is a photo of a rustic apple cake, topped with the sweet blooms of erlicheer jonquils, Paperwhite jonquils and Winter honeysuckle.Blog Whentheking20%Reszd2015-09-04 09.57.50To finish my post, here is another delightful watercolour painting by my daughter Caroline, illustrating some of my tiny treasures. It reminds me of a wonderful description I once read in ‘Tulipomania’ by Mike Dash about the festivals of the Ottoman Empire during the Tulip Era (1718 -1730), the latter half coinciding with the reign of Sultan Ahmed III (ruled 1703 -1730), during which tortoises, with candles fixed to their backs, moved slowly through tulip beds under the April full moon on the first night of the Tulip Festival. I just love it! Thanks Caro! x

Tiny Treasures by Caroline Stephens (Artwork and photograph)

A Happy Surprise: The Liebster Award

The Liebster award is an online award given to new bloggers or those with less than 200 followers by other bloggers- it’s all about providing support and encouragement and increasing exposure. Thank you so much, Jenny Stephens from  It was so lovely of you and totally unexpected, especially as you were on a plane to Germany at the time!!! Though really quite appropriate as it turns out, as ‘Liebster’ in German means ‘sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome’ and Jenny is all those things and more!

Apart from being my wonderful daughter (and I’m not biased at all!), Jenny is a beautiful person, whose kindness, sincerity, enthusiasm and vital interest in the world around her shines through in all her posts. She writes so well with lots of interesting details, which make you want to travel with her, as well as great photos, so it is well worth following her travel blog.liebster3

The Liebster Award has been going since 2011 and the rules have evolved over time. The official rules of The Liebster Award 2016, if your blog has been nominated and you have chosen to accept it, are below

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
  • Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.  Images you can use for your 2016 Liebster Award can be found here.
  • List these rules in your post.
  • Answer your nominator’s questions
  • Give 10 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers.
  • Create 11 questions for your own nominees to answer.
  • Once you have written and published it, you then have to: Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it.


My Answers

  1. What inspired you to start writing a blog?

Initially, I decided to write my blog as I wanted to document the development of our garden from its beginnings, as well as write about our new life here in Candelo. Jenny also inspired me, as she was just about to start her travel blog as well, so we launched both on the same day at the same time! It has been wonderful having another fellow blogger in the family for all those queries and moral support and encouragement!

Soon, I discovered all the other benefits of blogging like being an ideal way to use all those digital photos and view them in context, as well as keeping family and friends in faraway places informed about all your news, your home and life in general. I discovered that I loved the writing process and it soon became an addictive habit, one which I would now not be without! For me, the best things about blogging are:

  • The researching process
  • Putting it all together to form the finished article- eminently satisfying, as well as a big relief, knowing that you have made the deadline on time!
  • Meeting new like-minded friends in the blogging community and sharing experiences, queries etc

Writing a blog has :

  • Improved my photography skills- I’m much faster at capturing birds and insects on film and I have learnt so much about my camera, though I still struggle with the zoom. I think more about framing my photos and taking specific photos to complement my text. Having said that, I now take so many more photos than I used to and I probably still have to be a little more ruthless about my selections!
  • Improved my writing and editing skills- I am much more aware about my phrasing and grammar and am getting quicker at spotting errors, though I still find that I have to reread a post several times to pick them all up! And I have produced a few books for a very low cost- I now have a recipe book, an index of my favourite gardens, a management reference for my feature plants and a guide to the local area!
  • It has vastly improved my digital skills, from word processing to reducing photo size with Irfan, managing the Word Press site and Facebook!
  • It has strengthened my self-discipline and my organization and time management skills. I like to plan ahead and try to keep ahead by 2 posts if I can so I don’t panic!
  • It has heightened my curiosity, knowledge and appreciation of this beautiful world we are lucky enough to live in from the in-depth examination of our own garden to our beautiful local beaches, farmland, mountains and National Parks to our wonderful home country Australia with its wide diversity of landscapes, environments and natural history and the wider world beyond. As a relatively new resident in this area, I have learnt so much about the local geology, plant life and birds and the special spots.
  • I have discovered more about myself- what really matters to me, what my strengths and weaknesses are, what I love and I have grown with the process.

And finally, in a world that can seem to be full of doom and gloom, it is a wonderful way to focus on the positive and uplifting things in life and the things that are truly important – beauty, creativity, love and happiness and to share your beliefs and make the world a better place.girl-829183_12802. Tell me three things people might not know about you?

After the previous long spiel, I’ll keep this answer brief :

  • I once did a course in decorating Ukrainian Easter Eggs!
  • I tried learning the bagpipes, but I didn’t have enough puff (or dedication obviously!) to keep the bag up!I am an obsessive pixel puzzler!

easter-eggs-637110_12803. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Everywhere! Our beautiful garden and all its inhabitants, other people’s amazing gardens, our stunningly beautiful local environment and our precious fragile Earth, nature and  her eco-warriors, inspiring people, current world events and issues, history, books and films, other blogs. Sometimes, if I’m momentarily stumped, I start from  the photos and the text soon flows.

4. How has your attitude to blogging changed over time?

Because we were so busy actually establishing the garden, I didn’t start the blog till September 2015, so initially I posted twice a week to describe all the developments from  the start of our new garden at the beginning of the year. I really enjoyed  writing my blog, until I started to notice that I was positively gobbling up the amount of storage space allocated for photos, even after I had exceeded my free limit and taken up the premium plan, and it all became a bit fraught! I was staring down the barrel of probably having to give up the blog, as I certainly couldn’t justify the cost of the business plan, but then a friend solved the problem. I had been uploading all my photos in their full size- a big mistake and totally unnecessary as Word Press only requires a size of 800mm x 600mm  max, so he introduced me to Irfan, a great way of reducing photo sizes in bulk at a fraction of the time and I had 2 very busy weeks, replacing my original photos with new photos one fifth of the size. A mammoth job, but well worth it, as I reduced my photo storage space to 3 percent of the free Word Press! So all you new bloggers out there, be warned! Even though I probably didn’t need the premium plan this year after all, it is great having my own domain, I do plan to keep this blog going for as long as I can and it now means I can use as many photos as I like without stress- though I promise that I will still try to be selective!!! I now post just once a week on a Tuesday afternoon and vary each week between a feature plant, a favourite (still on the gardens, but eventually will include books, films etc), a monthly garden update and a special place or recipe! And I still love the blogging- it has become part of my life.

5. What’s one of the best places you’ve ever been and why?

A difficult one, as there are so many amazing places and I have loved every one of them. If I have to choose, and excluding our own wonderful country, I would have to say France for its beautiful countryside, its romance, its stylish elegance, its language and  its love of fine food, family and children, beautiful gardens and above all, its roses!!!

6. Name three things you always put in your backpack/suitcase.

My initial response was : camera, diary and a tossup between a guide book and  my latest pixel puzzle book! The camera was a no-brainer as it always goes everywhere with me and my blog relies heavily on my photographs. I have kept a daily diary forever- very useful for later consultation about events, appointments etc for all those blog followers who thought I must have a photographic memory! As you no doubt realize by now, I am an avid researcher, so guidebooks are my bible when travel planning and pixel puzzles are great to do in short periods of time like waiting at the airport, as well as being very addictive, satisfying, brain-stimulating and a good way to get to sleep! But then I started thinking, what about my mobile phone and laptop? Despite my previous Luddite tendencies, I am now totally hooked and could not live without either! So, given that I can research travel destinations, write my blog, read and send emails, make phone calls, Skype, download photos and even play pixel puzzles online and write my diary on my computer (though I still prefer to write my diary by hand), I would have to say : camera, laptop computer and mobile phone, even though I would love to say something more original and exotic! And there you have it- I’m a modern girl in the digital world and am nothing if not practical!

7. Name a few favourite books (preferably travel-related) – I’m always looking for new recommendations!

Sorry Jen, you may already have read these. Can’t get away with much  in a family! Here are my 3 selections:

  • ‘Wayward Women : A Guide to Women Travellers’ by Jane Robinson: I have always loved this book. Lots of short extracts and  interesting history about intrepid women travellers, very inspiring and can be dipped into at random.
  • ‘Full Tilt: Ireland to India with  Bicycle’ by Dervla Murphy: my first travel book I ever read and  so inspiring! A true traveller in every sense of the word, she has written a number of fascinating books, of which this one is the first! Tim Severin and William Dalrymple are also brilliant travel writers.
  • ‘The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel’ by Rachael Anthony and Joël Henry. Delightfully quirky and zany, this book is unique and offers a number of alternative suggestions to exploring and getting to know a place from different angles, especially if you are on a tight budget! In fact, I think this is the copy I gave you, Jen!!! Keeping it safe while you are travelling!!!2016-06-28 13.05.328. What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in a new place?

Read all the local literature over a cuppa, then collect vast numbers of brochures from the local information centre!2016-06-28 13.01.26

  1. How will your blog look in 5 years time?

Now that’s a tricky one. I know I like to plan ahead, but that far?!! I may have experimented with a different layout, although I really like this one (Penscratch) and I tend to be a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to less familiar territory, especially when I have found one I like! I may have managed to curb my photographic tendencies, but am not promising anything!

  1. How would you describe your travel style?

Organized but flexible, well-researched, intensive. Even though I plan well ahead, I still like to allow extra days for spontaneity, unexpected opportunities, sickness or just the need to relax and take a breather! I like to read everything I can lay my hands on before the trip, so I don’t miss anything I might later regret, but having said that, it all makes much more sense once you have actually visited a place! No matter how long a trip is, I still like to make the most of every day and fit in as much as I can, because we may never return!

11. Any travel goals for 2016?

How I wish! We probably need an income first! Probably local camping trips, garden visits further north when the weather warms up, family visits to Qld!

10 Random Facts about Me

  1. I was an amateur oncologist as a child, swopping shells with collectors in Qld and New Zealand
  2. I grew up on 3 acres in the foothills of Mt Wellington , Hobart, Tasmania with a menagerie of peacocks, pheasants, ducks, chooks, Anglo-Nubian goats, dogs (Irish and Gordon Setters) and bees and there was even a platypus in our creek!
  3. I was an adventurous eldest child and have already used up 8 lives!
  4. I’m a dodgy poet when the mood strikes! I love puns and word play!
  5. I love camping , bushwalking and exploring.
  6. Beauty, creativity and simplicity are important to me
  7. I am fascinated by the time period 1900-1910 just before the First World War, when so many new things were happening and the world held so much promise. I also love the fashions from that era. Maybe there’s another blog post?!
  8. I love the Art Nouveau period and the Arts and Crafts movement and
  9. If I had my time again, I would be a wildlife photographer!
  10. I am a keen environmentalist and believe we need a major shift in our thinking and the way we do things to conserve our beautiful planet and make it a fairer place to live.

2016-06-28 12.49.14

My Nominations






My Questions

  1. What inspired you to write a blog?
  2. What are your favourite things about blogging?
  3. What are your tips for new bloggers?
  4. What do you think are your 3 most important qualities in a person?
  5. If you were to make yourself a mood board about yourself, what are 3 core beliefs or loves, which you would include?
  6. If you could time-travel, which time period would you like to visit and why?
  7. If you could meet 3 famous people, who would they be and why?
  8. What is your favourite book or author?
  9. What is your favourite garden and/ or plant?
  10. Name 10 things which make you happy.
  11. What are your favourite hobbies/ pastimes (apart from blogging, of course!)BlogLiebster20%ReszdIMG_9009