History Books : Part Two : Australian Prehistory

In my last post, I discussed some of my favourite general books on archaeology and the prehistory of mankind. Today, I am focusing on Australian Prehistory, beginning with three books by the celebrated paleobotanist, Mary E White. The Greening of Gondwana and After the Greening are the first two books of her trilogy on the evolution of Australia, the continent and its biota, over 400 million years, the third volume being Listen.. Our Land is Crying. They are all beautiful hardback publications with luscious glossy photographs by Jim Frazier! I am only discussing the first two, as those are the books we own.

The Greening of Gondwana by Mary E White  Third Edition 1998

This book tells the story of Australia’s floral heritage from the earliest times, when all life was aquatic; the emergence of the first land plants, 400 million years ago; and the evolution of Australia’s modern flora and the Gondwanan broad-leaf conifer forests, when Australia finally separated from Antarctica 45 million years ago and moved northward.

There are over 400 wonderful photographs of fossils and living plants, as well as palaeographic maps, artist’s drawings and diagram and tables (Geological eras; Linnaean plant classification; Evolution of the plant kingdom; Australia’s fossil pollen record; and Fossil age and locality).

Part One starts with a description of the rocks of the earth’s crust; the dawn of life; the first unicellular life forms: the Western Australian stromatolites (fossil reefs of cyanobacteria, 3 500 million years old) and unicellular algae; and the formation of plant fossils (macro-fossils and microscopic spores and pollen).

The book then goes on to discuss the theories of continental drift and plate tectonics; Australia’s Gondwanan heritage; and the evolution of an Australian flora from the ancestral Gondwanan flora, which developed in isolation for 30 million years without any significant input from migrants, despite Australia’s proximity to South-East Asia.

While Eucalypts and Acacias predominate, 80 per cent of all the plant species and 30 per cent of Australia’s genera are endemic, accounting for the distinctive Australian character of the flora: its leathery, hard, spiny or reduced leaves, an adaptation to the low nutrient status of the Australian soils and the dry arid conditions called scleromorphy, these plants being called sclerophylls.

Australian plants also have many adaptations to fire: thick insulating protective bark or the shedding of outer layers of bark, so there is no build up of inflammable matter; new buds produced along the length of the stem after fire has destroyed the crown of the tree and underground lignotubers; and hard woody fruits and seeds, which can survive intense heat and often need the stimulus of fire to burst open and start to grow.

Part Two examines Australia’s fossil record in detail:

Life in the early seas (Cambrian, Ordovician and Early to Mid Silurian times);

First land plants of the Late Silurian and Early Devonian periods;

Giant club mosses of the Late Devonian and early Carboniferous periods;

Primitive seed ferns of the mid to late Carboniferous and early Permian years;

Glossopteris flora of the Permian period, when cool temperate swamps formed the early coal deposits and early gingkos, cycad ancestors, conifers and tree ferns were abundant;

Dicroidium flora of the Triassic period;

Age of the Conifers and the cycads of the Jurassic period;

Dawn of the Angiosperms (or Flowering Plants) in the Cretaceous Era;   and

The sequence of events in the Gondwanan breakup and its effect on the flora.

Australia became an ark with a living cargo of Gondwanan plants (predominated by flowering plants) and animals (marsupials, monotremes, large monitors, penguins and emus, parrots and frogmouths, pollinating honeyeaters, Southern Frogs and Side-Necked Turtles) during the Tertiary period, moving northward and having no outside contact for 30 million years.

Specific families are discussed in the book:

Antarctic Beeches Fagaceae (genus Nothofagus);

Winteraceae, one of the most primitive angiosperm families alive today, which includes native pepper Tasmannia;

Proteaceae (Banksia, Proteas and Leucospermum, Persoonia, Telopea, and Macadamia);

Casuarinaceae (She-oaks, Desert Oaks and River-Oaks);

Myrtaceae (Eucalyptus, Leptospermums, Baeckea, Syzgium and Angophoras);

Salt bushes Chenopodiaceae;

Mistletoes Loranthaceae; and

Wattles of Mimosaceae (genus Acacia).

The final chapters discuss Australia’s modern flora from the Quarternary period on, including vegetation types and a map (alpine, rainforest, wet sclerophyll, dry sclerophyll, woodlands, mallee woodlands and scrub, mulga scrub, desert and semi-desert, salt-bush scrub, grasslands and mangroves), as well as a brief mention of the intrusion of northern plants and animals, which came with man, especially after European colonization.BlogPreHxBooksReszd20%Image (591)

After the Greening: The Browning of Australia  by Mary E White 1994

This book continues the story of Australia’s prehistory and the geological processes behind the rifting (160 to 45 million years ago), drifting (15 to 2.4 million years ago) and drying (2.4 million years ago to today) of the continent to become the driest vegetated continent on Earth.

Two thirds of the land is classed as arid and half is desert, yet it supports an amazing variety of desert-adapted fauna and flora. The last 2.4 million years are particularly significant, as they represent the Age of Man and a time when icecaps had a profound effect on the physical landscapes, climate and biota of Australia.

Aboriginal Australians arrived around 60 000 year ago, but the most dramatic changes have occurred over the past 200 years since European settlement, completely unbalancing our delicate ecological balance through grazing; clearing; and the introduction of feral rabbits, goats, horses, donkeys, pigs, buffalo, camels, cats and foxes, not to mention garden escapees and weeds.

The formation of the Great Dividing Range, Australia’s river system, the Murray Basin, the Great Artesian Basin, Nullabor Desert, Ayers Rock and the Olgas is covered, along with the adaptation of Australian flora to the changing climate; ancient weathered soils; droughts and flooding rain; fire; and salt.

The last part of the book discusses Australia’s vegetation regions in detail, as well as future challenges. Again, there is so much information, supported by beautiful colour photographs, maps, tables and diagrams.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (590)

The final book in the trilogy: Listen.. Our Land is Crying examines Australia’s environmental problems: land and water degradation, increased salinisation and desertification, decreasing biodiversity and habitat destruction, water pollution, the greenhouse effect and feral weeds and animals, suggesting possible solutions and highlighting the amazing unique wonders of our continent. While we don’t own this final book, we do have another of her glossy geological books:

Time in Our Hands : Semi-Precious Gemstones: Keys to the Geological Past by Mary E White 1991, which covers many of her previous topics, but mainly concentrates on the semi-precious gemstones of Lune River, Tasmania: the agates, onyx, carnelian and jasper, all forms of quartz gemstones made from silica dioxide, as well as petrified conifers and tree-ferns.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (592)

Now for some excellent books on aboriginal prehistory!  One of the earliest  books on Aboriginal origins and culture was the first edition of John Mulvaney’s The Prehistory of Australia in 1969, with a second edition in 1975. The following book is the third edition with substantial changes in content, while still retaining the orientation and much of the original structure of the earlier books, when Mulvaney was the sole author. John Mulvaney is one of Australia’s foremost prehistorians and John Kamminga, an expert on Aboriginal stone technology.

Prehistory of Australia by John Mulvaney and Johan Kamminga 1999

A very comprehensive guide to the Australian aborigines and their traditional way of life.

Chapters cover the following topics:

Diversity of surviving traces: Surface artefacts; shell middens; caves and rock shelters; earth mounds; ceremonial mounds and rock arrangements; stone and ochre quarries; rock art sites; stone hunting-hides and bird and fish traps; scarred trees; hatchet-head grinding localities; and human burials;

Dating the past;

Changing Australian landscapes: Topography, climate, vegetation, cleaning the land, fire-stick farming, water resources and carrying capacity of the land;

People, language and society: Population estimates, language groups, social organization, the Dreaming; and culture areas;

Subsistence and reciprocity: Mobility and seasonality; Animal and plant food: bulbs and tubers, starch extraction, seeds and the farming debate; Material culture : travelling light, hunting weapons, skin cloaks, bone and stone implements, and stone hatchets; Reciprocity and cultural diffusion; and Aboriginal trade in pituri and greenstone;

Seafarers from Sundaland (South East Asia and Indonesia) to Sahul (the super-continent of Australia and Papua New Guinea) during the fluctuating sea levels of Pleistocene;

Extinction of the Mega-Fauna;

Initial colonization, migration theories and Pleistocene settlement: Kow Swamp, Lake Mungo and Tasmania;

Conquest of the deserts: Willandra Lakes; Lake Mungo; Menindee Lakes; Lake Eyre; Nullabor caves; the Pilbara region; and Central Australia;

Pleistocene artefacts : Wood, bone, and stone tools;

Holocene stone tool innovations;

Coastal aborigines: Kakadu; Aurukun and Weipa; South-East Queensland; Sydney; South Coast of NSW; and South-Western Australia;

Regional challenges and responses: The Snowy Mountains; Murray River societies; the arid zones; trade and exchange networks; and technological developments;

Island settlement of the offshore islands and Tasmania;  and a major section on

Rock Art:

  • Panaramitee style of engraving from western NSW to Eastern South Australia and northwards to Alice Springs;
  • Simple figurative motifs of South-eastern Australia: Simple outlines or stick figures with solid or linear infills and simple geometric designs and stencilling                     eg the Southern Highlands and the Grampians;
  • Engravings and pigment art of the Sydney region;
  • Art of Tropical Australia:

1. South-East Cape York: Laura: Quinkan country and Jowalbinna: engravings and painted figurative and non-figurative art; and Koolburra Plateau;

2. Kakadu National Park: Succession of styles and X-ray painting;

3. The Pilbara: Burrup Peninsula engravings;

4. Victoria River District;

5. Kimberley region: Bradshaw figures and Wandjina paintings;

6. Asian and European Newcomers: the Trepang industry; Macassan sites; Chinese and Arab traders; and the Portuguese and Dutch explorers;

This book is an indispensable guide to aboriginal prehistory, especially if travelling around Australia, which we did in 2008!BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (614)

We found the next set of books by Josephine Flood, another prominent archaeologist, very useful in our travels as well:

The Original Australians: Story of the Aboriginal People  by Josephine Flood 2006

This book tells the story of Australian Aboriginal history and culture from their distant beginnings to the present day. She writes for the general public and uses history and culture to answer some of the major questions about the genetic origins of the First Australians; their lifestyle, culture, religion and beliefs; their impact on the megafauna and the Australian environment; and modern problems, including the stolen generation; land rights; the challenges of contemporary aboriginal communities (lower mortality, poverty, poor health, education, alcoholism and drugs etc) and future directions.

Chapters cover:

European discovery of Australia and encounters between the aborigines and Dutch explorers, Macassan traders and Captain Cook;

European colonization and its impact on the original inhabitants, including disease, kidnapping, the treatment of women, confrontation and conflict and severe depopulation between 1820 and 1920;

Indigenous life at first contact: Spirituality; totemism and animism; the Dreaming; Songlines; oral traditions; language (of which there were 250 different language groups); medicine men and women healers; shamans and sorcerers; childhood; initiation ceremonies; marriage and sex; other ceremonies, burials and fertility cults; the wisdom of the elders; law and order; and economy and exchange networks;

Aboriginal origins over the past 50 000 years: Physical characteristics; patterns of settlement; climate change; environmental impacts: the extinction of megafauna and use of the firestick; new technologies and diets; rock art; and language; and

Assimilation and modern day problems and challenges.

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Archaeology of the Dreamtime: The Story of Prehistoric Australia and Its People by Josephine Flood 1995

This book covers many of the above topics.

Part One examines stone and bone tools; the first boat people; routes to Australia; migration; life and death at Lake Mungo; the Australoids of Keilor, Kow Swamp and Willandra Lakes; genetic evidence; the peopling of Australia; early sites throughout Australia; Pleistocene rock art: petroglyphs (engravings) and rock paintings, with a discussion of all the major art sites in Australia; and the extinction of megafauna.

Part Two looks at climate changes and rising sea levels; the arrival of the dingo; food resources: Bogong moths; yams; eels and fish traps; processing toxic cycads; and aboriginal trade, religion and art over the past 1000 years.

At the back is a reference list of all the different Pleistocene artefacts, their location and dates.

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The Riches of Ancient Australia: An Indispensable Guide for Exploring Prehistoric Australia by Josephine Flood 1990

This book certainly lived up to the claim of its subtitle, especially on our 2008 travels around Australia, although we discovered that many of the sites described were no longer accessible to the public, due to cultural sensitivities, and many had a policy of ‘No Photography’. After a brief introduction to Australian prehistory over the last 60 000 years and a discussion of Australian rock art, each state is explored in detail.

We used this book at the following places:

Queensland :

1.Lark Quarry dinosaur footprints

2.Cape York:

Quinkan country at Laura:

The Gugu Yalangi Galleries;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4742BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4828BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4814 Split Rock;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5029 Giant Horse site and Mushroom Rock;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5068BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5069BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4993 and

Jowalbinna.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4567BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_45613. Riversleigh megafauna

Northern Territory

1.Kakadu National Park:

Anbangbang Gallery;

Nourlangie Rock;

Nanguluwur (Xray style); and

Ubirr;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5409BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_50872.Victoria River District

Western Australia

1.Chamberlain Gorge, El Questro

2.King George River and Mitchell Falls, Kimberley Plateau:

Gwion Gwion figures 20 000 years old;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9230 and the more recent Wandjina figures;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_91183.Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek

4.Burrup Peninsula engravings: Over 10 000 engravings of humans, animals and geometric figures up to 20 000 years old;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1417

5.Stromatolites of Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_2249BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_2240

South Australia:

Naracoorte Cave megafauna: This is a model of a Diprotodon, the largest marsupial ever!BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_8120 Victoria:

1.The Grampians;

2.Condah fish traps

We have also used this book at other times:

Carnarvon Gorge and Kenniff Cave, Mt Moffat, in Queensland; and

Mt Yarrowyck, Armidale;

The Warrumbungles;  and

Bawley Pt, NSW, with its giant shell middens;

and will definitely be consulting it before our trip to Lake Mungo, Willandra Lakes and Menindee Lakes at some stage in the future!

After our big trip around Australia, my appetite for further knowledge whetted by the large amount of rock art seen, we bought the following books:

 Lost World of the Kimberley: Extraordinary Glimpses of Australia’s Ice Age Ancestors by Ian Wilson 2006

We particularly loved the tiny exquisite and ancient Gwion Gwion Figures, also known as Bradshaw Figures, of the Mitchell Plateau in the Kimberley area! It was so exciting searching and finding these delightful artworks under rocky overhangs at the King George River area en route to Mitchell Falls. Because we had limited time, we splurged on a helicopter ride out over the stone circles on the plateau (photo below) and north to the sea, where we saw a mother and baby dugong, then followed the King Edward River back past huge salt water crocodiles lazing in the sun and the Lower Falls to the Upper Mitchell Falls, where we disembarked to explore the falls.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9373 Because we had not walked in, we easily lost the track on the way out, circumnavigationg the area and finding ourselves back at the falls, so if we ever returned to explore the Lower Falls (which we would love to do!), I would definitely use a helicopter both ways!BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9411 Apparently, there is a huge body of Gwion Gwion artwork at the Lower Falls, where the salt water meets the fresh water! Given that it is probably very unlikely that we will get back there, it is great to have this book! Ian documents the history of the discovery of this amazing artwork and describes the different artistic styles of Kimberley Rock Art:

Archaic Epoch: Cupules; Grooves; and Stencils;

Erudite Epoch:

Bradshaw Figures: Sash Figures; and Tassel Figures;

Clothes Peg Figures: Stick figures; and

Aboriginal Epoch: Clawed Hands; and Wandjina Period.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9470BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9237BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9203He examines the huge range of art sites and paintings, musing on the lifestyles, artefacts and clothing depicted, as well as their origins, not to mention the more enigmatic paintings of reindeer and high-prowed boats, which look very similar to those of the Ancient Egyptians!BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (613)

Rock Art of the Kimberley by Mike Donaldson and Kevin Kenneally 2007

A record of the proceedings of the Kimberley Society Rock Art Seminar back on 10th September 2005, this book contains chapters by different contributors on a wide variety of topics.

The editor, Mike Donaldson, writes an overview of the Kimberley area: its geology, past climate changes and sea level rises; early European discoverers; the different art forms (cupules; engravings; stencils; beeswax figures; stone arrangements and paintings); the materials used (ochres, charcoal and clays); the subject matter (Gwion Gwion and Wandjina figures; animals; and fighting scenes); and finally, the topic of repainting rock art sites, particularly pertinent to the Wandjina art work.

The latter is further discussed by Donny Woolagoodja, a Worrorra elder and artist, while Denis Callaghan discusses the natural deterioration of rock art sites and Ian Crawford describes the 1960s field work on Wandjina art.

Jim Ross examines evolution and genetics, the migration of the original aboriginal ancestors, climate change, current dispersal theories and the peopling of Australia.

Sue O’Connor describes the different rock art sites and occupation sites in the Kimberley, while David Welch focuses specifically on the Bradshaw Figures.

And finally, Philip Playford explores the aboriginal rock art in the limestone ranges of the West Kimberley: Geike Gorge, Wandjina Gorge; and Tunnel Creek, another area we visited in 2008. Again, beautiful photos and an excellent record of the rock art of the Kimberley region.BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (609)Mike Donaldson has since published a three-volume series on the prolific rock art of the Kimberley :

Kimberley Rock Art -Volume One: Mitchell Plateau Area,  released in April 2012;
Kimberley Rock Art -Volume Two: North Kimberley,  released in October 2012;
Kimberley Rock Art -Volume Three: Rivers and Ranges , released in April 2013.

See: http://www.wildrocks.com.au/ for details.

Mike Donaldson has also produced a lovely book on the rock engravings of the Burrup Peninsula:

Burrup Rock Art : Ancient Aboriginal Rock Art of  Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago by Mike Donaldson 2010

See: http://www.wildrocks.com.au/publications/burrup-rock-art-book/.

I would love to see this book one day, as we were so impressed with these ancient petroglyphs, of which there are over 10 000, up to 25 000 years old, at Deep Gorge, near Karratha, Western Australia, and so little is known about them.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1430 When we first started looking, all we could see were huge mullock heaps of red rock, but once you have spotted the first engraving, they suddenly become obvious, covering most of the rocks and depicting animals, birds, marine animals, geometric symbols and strange looking figures.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1406 Here are some more useful websites:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/burrup-peninsula-rock-art-shows-extinct-megafauna/6561788

https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/publications/archaeology-and-rock-art-in-the-dampier-archipelago/    and

http://rockart.net.au/Burrup.htm.

Rock Paintings of Aboriginal Australia by Elaine Godden and Jutta Malnic 2008

Another terrific publication on aboriginal art work throughout Australia and the stories behind the paintings. It discusses the materials and techniques used and their deterioration and conservation. It then focuses on a few specific areas: The Kimberleys, Cape York, Arnhem Land and the Central Australian Deserts, with superb photographs of the art work throughout.

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 Journey in Time: The 50 000 Year Story of the Australian Aboriginal Rock Art of Arnhem Land by George Chaloupka 1999

This book explores the 50 000 years of Australian Aboriginal rock art of Arnhem Land: its depth and complexity, aesthetic achievements and the life of its creators. This fabulous book is so comprehensive and has wonderful photos.

The introduction starts with a world perspective and a description of :

Rock art in Australia ;

Rock art dating;

Arnhem Land Galleries;

The Land Gulbok:  its physical characteristics and climate;

The People: their totemism, language groups and clan territories; and

Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories and mythology, illustrated by examples of the artwork.

There is a large section on the rock art sites; the materials and techniques used; the aboriginal view of the art; a non-aboriginal sequence of the rock art; and

The different art styles and periods:

Pre-Estuarine : 50 000 to 8000 year ago:

Object imprints;

Large Naturalistic Figures Complex: Large naturalistic human figures and large naturalistic animals, including a thylacine (photo), a long-beaked echidna and a tapir-like Palorchestes, now extinct, and a Tasmanian devil, no longer found on the mainland;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5423Early X-Ray paintings;

Dynamic Figures;

Post-Dynamic Figures: Progressively stylised artwork representing boomerangs, fighting picks, spears and spear throwers, and yam figures.

2.Estuarine : 8 000 to 1500 years ago:

Early Estuarine Paintings;

Beeswax Designs;

X-Ray Art Complex: Humans and animals: fish; crustaceans; fishing spirits.

3.Freshwater Period : 1500 years ago to present day: Paintings of the contact period between aborigines and visitors:

Makassan fisherman from Sulawesi, Indonesia;

European explorers eg Ludwig Leichhardt; the riders and horses of the McKinley Frieze; and paintings of guns and a two-masted lugger.

Chinese gold diggers;

Buffalo shooters; and

Sorcery paintings.

Finally, there is a discussion of :

Particular motifs and themes: East Alligator Figures; Powerful Women; Human Sexuality; Dismembered Bodies; Dilly Bags and String Bags; Crocodiles; Turtles; and Ceremonies;  and

Other art forms: Stencilling; Rock Engraving; Earth Art; and Stone Arrangements.

It finishes with appendices of neighbouring rock art (Kimberleys and Papua New Guinea); and a list of international rock art sites.

Given these unique and priceless art sites are outside and vulnerable to deterioration and damage, these books are so important as a record of the wonderful ancient legacy of Australia’s original inhabitants.

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For more information about Australian rock art, another book, which we don’t have in our library, but is a classic in the field is:  Visions From the Past: The Archaeology of Australian Aboriginal Art by Mike Morwood, an archaeologist, renowned for his knowledge of Aboriginal Art. See:

https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/academic-professional/archaeology/Visions-from-the-Past-MJ-Morwood-9781864487176.

Australia’s Living History: Arts of the Dreaming by Jennifer Isaacs 2002

Another fabulous book, which celebrates the diversity and richness of aboriginal culture, art work and oral traditions and covers a very broad range of artistic expression.

After a look at the regional variations in cultural expression, a wide variety of aboriginal art is discussed:

Body Adornment and Ornamentation;

Ceremony and Dance;

Fibre Crafts: Spinning and natural dyeing; Basket making; String bags and nets;

Rock Engravings and Paintings: Techniques; Styles; and Regional Examples;

Bark Painting;

Papunya Painting of the Desert;

Contemporary Works on Canvas;

Carved Weapons and Utensils;

Sculptures;  and

Future Directions for Aboriginal Art.

In the back is an appendix titled the Antiquity of Aboriginal Art.

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My final book is also edited and compiled by this knowledgeable lady:

Australia Dreaming : 40 000 years of Aboriginal History Edited by Jennifer Isaacs 2005

For aboriginal peoples, their artwork is a proud expression of their heritage and mythology, the stories of the Dreaming, the subject of this lavish book. This first aboriginal history of Australia and its people is told through the traditional myths and legends of over 40 aboriginal storytellers from a wide cross-section of communities and areas, showing regional variations in the beliefs of different aboriginal groups.

The stories are accompanied by beautiful photos of the land, people and artwork and are divided up into different themes:

The Reality of Myth: Arrival of the First Australians and their way of Life; Megafauna;  Rising Seas; and Volcanoes;

The Creation Era: Desert Ancestors and the Creation of the Desert Tors; the Origin of Lake Eyre; the Nullabor Plain; The Sky-Heroes of South Eastern Australia; The Earth Mother; the Great Serpents; the Wandjina; and the Creation Ancestors of NE Arnhem Land and North-Eastern Australia;

The Great Journeys: that of the Zebra Finch; and the Kangaroo and Euro;

Earth, Fire and Water;

Seasons: Lightning; Thunder; and Clouds;

Sun, Moon and Stars;

Cycle of Life: Men and Women; Birth of the Tribes; Early Years; Passage to Adulthood; Hunting and Food Gathering;

Death and the Spirit World;

Designs from the Dreaming;

The Visitors: Baiini; Macassans; and the Badu Islanders; and

The Invaders: First encounters with White Men; Violence; Spread of Disease; Vengeance of the Spirit Ancestors; and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

As my last book in my post, it is very fitting that aboriginal people should have the final word on their own prehistory!

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Next week is the third and final post on history books in our library, covering the time since written records.

Sumptuous Centifolias and Mosses

The final group of Old European Roses to be discussed, the heavy, globular, cupped, once-flowering fragrant blooms of the Centifolia Rose make it the quintessential Old Rose! They have been portrayed in art, textiles, wallpaper, postcards, decorative papers, furniture…the list is endless! Please note: The first four photos of this post are courtesy of Pixabay (https://pixabay.com). vintage-1077954_1280R. x centifolia, also known as the 100-petalled Rose or the Cabbage Rose, was once thought to be a species, but DNA studies have revealed that it is a complex hybrid, whose genetic background includes genes of R. gallica; R. phoenicia; R. moschata; R. canina and R. damascena. It first appeared in the late 16th century and over 200 varieties (including the mosses) were bred in the period between 1600 and 1800, only 22 varieties of Centifolias now commonly available. victorian-christmas-1834247_1280 They were much featured in Dutch and Flemish still-life paintings of the time (http://scvrs.homestead.com/roseart2.html), as well as later works by Renoir and Van Gogh, hence two more titles: the Holland Rose and Rose des Peintures. See: http://scvrs.homestead.com/RosesInArt3.html. painting-1654823_1280 It is also the rose featured in Victorian wallpapers, textiles, curtains, chintz sofas and tapestry bags. The first photo is a decorative paper, based on a textile printing pattern from the 1880s to the 1920s. BlogCentifoliasReszd20%IMG_0307fabric-1325745_1280BlogCentifoliasReszd20%IMG_0308 Its commercial production in Morocco and France to produce rose oil for the perfumery industry, especially in the area around Grasse, has given it its final name, the Provence Rose. There is even a special annual Rose Festival for Centifolia roses in Grasse. See: http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2015-04-05/french-town-has-the-worlds-best-roses-grasse and http://www.villadesparfums.com/grasse-rose-festival-8-10-may-2015/. This year’s festival is from the 12th to the 14th May 2017. See: http://www.frenchriviera-tourism.com/CALENDAR/expo-rose-grasse-N4fiche_FMAPAC0060000119-rub_103.html. It is also possible to visit a Centifolia rose farm at Domaine de Manon, Plascassier, near Grasse. See: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/france/grasse/attractions/domaine-de-manon/a/poi-sig/1025273/359254 and http://www.le-domaine-de-manon.com/index-page=the-centifolia-rose.php.html. The fragrant petals of these beautiful May roses are also used to make potpourri. BlogCentifoliasReszd2014-10-19 13.11.08Centifolias have produced a number of different variants or sports (mutations), including Moss Roses; dwarf Centifolias and striped and spotted varieties of Centifolias. In R. x centifolia muscosa, a mutation of the glands has produced a thick covering of green or reddish-brown , resinous hairs (moss) on the stems, buds and sepals. The moss covering is very sticky and balsam-scented. This unusual feature made them very popular with Victorian gardeners, who loved anything different or exotic. Victorian catalogues listed 30 to 40 varieties of Moss Roses. More later…

Description :

Centifolias are lax, open shrubs, 1.5 metres to 2 metres tall, with long, drooping, very thorny canes, which bow under the weight of the blooms. They need lots of room to spread out, though can benefit from staking or training.

Their large, rounded, drooping, coarse, grey-green pinnate leaves have 5 to 7 leaflets.

The flowers are very distinctive- huge globular deeply-cupped flowers (up to 10.2 cm wide), made up of numerous tissue-thin, overlapping, tightly-packed petals. Usually pink, with some whites, a few dark red-purples and lavender-violets (eg Tour de Malakoff) and a few spotted or striped varieties, the once-flowering blooms are highly fragrant with a distinctive Centifolia fragrance (clean and sweet with a hint of honey) and their abundance makes a wonderful display in Summer.The hips are insignificant.BlogCentifoliasReszd2014-10-19 13.11.30 Centifolias are extremely hardy and require little pruning, except the removal of very old wood after flowering. They can be shortened by 1/3 growth in late Winter. They like full sun and plenty of space and air circulation to prevent mildew and black spot. There are some dwarf hybrids, which are more dense and upright,  with smaller leaves and flowers.

R. x centifolia is a graceful, lax, open shrub, 1.8 metres tall and 1.5 metres wide with large coarse leaves and 7.6 cm wide very double, heavy, highly fragrant, deep pink globular blooms, borne singly or in small clusters on long stems. See the last two photos, as well as the photo of the shrub below.BlogCentifoliasReszd2014-10-19 13.10.59Fantin Latour: Named after the French artist and well known rose painter, Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), this rose has an unknown lineage. It is a well-formed shrub, 1.5 metres tall and 1.2 metres wide, with almost smooth, arching canes and smoother, rounder, dark green leaves. It grows well in a bed or border and has a relatively short blooming period in late Spring. On either side of the entrance arch to our harp-shaped herb garden in Armidale, we grew two specimens, from which we took cuttings for our new Candelo garden, where it is growing on the shed fence next to Bourbon rose, Mme Isaac Pereire.

BlogCentifoliasReszd50%Image (225)BlogCentifoliasReszd50%Image (226) It produces large clusters of very double, cupped, delicately-fragrant, pale blush pink blooms, 5 to 7.6 cm wide, which flatten out with a swirl of petals and a button eye. It is very hardy with moderate disease-resistance.BlogCentifoliasReszd50%Image (185)Sports of the Centifolia roses include :

R. x centifolia bullata is another sport, with fewer thorns and very large crinkly leaves, hence its name the Lettuce-leaved Rose; and

R. x centifolia variegata or Village Maid, a striped variant;

Rose de Meaux, a miniature Centifolia, 60 cm high and wide, with tiny foliage and tiny 3.8 cm multi-petalled, rosy-pink dianthus-like blooms;  There is also a white form.

And  the Moss Roses with a wide range of sizes, habits and colours from white to rose-red, due to their mixed breeding. Hybridization with crimson Chinas over the years has produced some deep crimson mosses, a colour lacking in their Centifolia parents, as well as some slight repeat-blooming. Today, there are 32 types commonly available, though Peter Beales lists 52 different types.

Nuits de Young has dark mossing; very dark maroon-purple, highly fragrant blooms and a tendency to sucker and spread.BlogCentifoliasReszd20%IMG_9722Mme Louis Lévêque is a small upright shrub 1.2 metres tall and 90 cm wide, with long, pointed, bright green leaves and bright pink mossy buds, which open to 10 cm large, soft warm pink, full cupped, silky  flowers, which fade to a lighter pink. There is some repeat flowering later in the season. Unfortunately, the buds ball (do not open) in wet weather.

Alfred de Dalmas, also known as Mousseline, 1855, is another repeat-blooming moss with a short tidy growth (90 cm tall and 60 cm wide) and was bred from the Portland Damasks. It blooms continuously from Summer to late Autumn with creamy-pink, semi-double scented flowers.

Chapeau de Napoléon, the most famous Moss of all! Found on a convent wall in Fribourg, Switzerland in 1820, R. x centifolia cristata, also known as the Crested Moss, was introduced to commerce by Vibert.BlogCentifoliasReszd2014-11-22 14.26.37 Identical to R. centifolia, except for the mossy growth on the sepals, it is a tidy medium shrub 1.5 metres tall and 1.2 metres wide, which blooms only once in Summer, but over an extended period, lasting  several weeks. The heavily mossed, feathery looking buds have extended calyces, giving them the appearance of Napoléon’s cocked tricorn hat, hence its name.BlogCentifoliasReszd50%Image (172) The buds open to fully double deep silvery pink, highly fragrant  cabbage like blooms. It is moderately vigorous and disease-resistant, but may require some support.BlogCentifoliasReszd50%Image (173)With the introduction of China Roses from the East to Europe, rose breeding started in earnest and there was literally an explosion in the number of different rose varieties available to the Victorian gardener. Next month, we will look at China Roses in detail and the reason they caused such excitement and made such an impact in the Western world.

Inspirational and Dreamy Garden Books: Part One: Inspiring Books and Garden Travel Books

As the growing season slows down and we head towards the cooler weather, it is lovely to know that we have some beautiful, dreamy and inspirational books to browse by the fire in Winter! As editor, Ferris Cook, writes on page 12 in the foreword to his book, ‘Invitation to the Garden’, the first book featured below : ‘ Like so many other gardeners separated from their gardens by darkness, miles or inclement weather, I love to read about other gardens when I can’t be in mine’. I have divided these books into four sections :

  • Inspiring books about gardening and plants in general
  • General garden travel books
  • Books about specific gardens
  • Books about specific plants

And once again, this post is too long – too many wonderful books and too much to say about them! – so I have divided it into three posts : Part One on beautiful garden publications and general garden travel books (today); Part Two on specific overseas gardens (May); and Part Three on books about Australian gardens and specific plants (June).

Inspiring books about gardening and plants in general

Invitation to the Garden: A Celebration in Literature and Photography, edited by Ferris Cook 1992

The perfect title to start a post on garden books and it certainly lives up to the claim of its subtitle, as well as its reputation! Indeed, it was the winner of the 1992 Award for Excellence in Garden Communication from the Garden Writers’ Association of America. Divided into seasons, it is a wonderful read, which can be dipped into at random, always finding an interesting snippet or pertinent quote, poem or prose and always accompanied by the most beautiful sumptuous photos by specialist garden photographers: Ping Amranand; Ken Druse; Richard Felber; Mick Hales; Harry Haralambou; Peter C. Jones; Peter Margonelli; Hugh Palmer; and Curtice Taylor.

A good example is the very first entry in Spring, ‘Down the Garden Path’ by Beverley Nichols, in which she describes that familiar daily habit of all gardeners, ‘Making the Tour’, involving a detailed examination of every square inch of the garden and noting all new discoveries and happenings! In reality, I probably do this at least three or four times a day!!!

There are poems by Homer and Shakespeare; John Donne and Robert Herrick; the three Williams (excluding Shakespeare, as he was so much earlier!) : William Cowper, William Blake and William Wordsworth; Matthew Arnold and Emily Dickinson; two Roberts :  Robert Bridges and Robert Frost; A A Milne and Virginia Woolf; Rainer Maria Rilke and William Carlos Williams (that’s two more Williams in one!!); Pablo Neruda; W H Auden; Sylvia Plath; and e e cummings; and that’s only a fraction of them!

There are also excerpts by Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Old Manse); Ivan Turgenev (The Rose); Lewis Carroll (The Garden of Live Flowers); William Morris (Collected Letters: Kelmscott); Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden); Edith Wharton (Italian Garden Magic); E A Bowles (The Passing of Summer); H G Wells (The Flowering of the Strange Orchid); Colette (The Ways of Wisteria; and Hellebores); John Steinbeck (The Chrysanthemums); and Laurie Lee (Segovia-Madrid), again only a small selection of the entries! Hopefully, the titles are enough to entice you to search out this book!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (430)

The Illustrated Virago Book of Women Gardeners, edited by Deborah Kellaway 1997

An equally delightful coffee-table book to be enjoyed at leisure! Illustrated with beautiful artwork and superb photographs throughout, this anthology of musings by women garden writers is divided (for easy reference) into chapters, titled : Weeders and Diggers; Advisers and Designers; Plantswomen; Colourists; Countrywomen; Townswomen; Visitors and Travellers; Kitchen Gardeners; Flower Arrangers and Visionaries. Its writers represent a ‘Who’s Who’ of the gardening world with names like Gertrude Jekyll;  Alicia Amherst, Elizabeth von Arnim, Norah Lindsay, Beatrix Farrand, Constance Spry, Vita Sackville-West, Margery Fish, Edna Walling, Beth Chatto, Penelope Hobhouse, Rosemary Verey, Nancy Steen, Mary Keen, Valerie Finnis, Ursula Buchan, Joy Larkcom, Jane Taylor and Mirabel Osler, but there are so many other authors!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (432)Natural Companions: The Garden Lover’s Guide to Plant Combinations by Ken Druse and Ellen Hoverkamp  2012

I loved both the first two books equally well, but I ADORED this book! This would have to be the mosr beautiful book I have ever seen ! Every page is such a visual treat and showcases all the incredible treasures our Earth holds and their infinite diversity of colour, form, texture and function! Absolutely stunning photography, both of beautiful gardens and separate plant combinations, presented dramatically against a black background in the style of a combination of 1920s and 1930s American photographer, Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) (https://www.imogencunningham.com/plants/) and English botanical collage artist, Mrs. Mary Delany, whose beautiful paper collages can be seen at: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx?searchText=Mary+Delany. While I knew the work of Mary Delany, which inspired my floral collage cards (see: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/08/ambassadors-of-spring/), I did not know of Imogen Cunningham, but have fallen in love with all her work, from plant studies and still lifes to portraits and romantic family shots; the beauty of the human body (nudes; dancers) and her street scenes and landscapes. I particularly loved her photographs of the stunning architectural blooms of the Bull Bay Magnolia (Magnolia Blossom 1925 and Magnolia Blossom, Tower of Jewels, 1925), as can be seen in the above link.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (455)

Ellen creates her floral photographs, using a flatbed scanner and produces images of unparalleled depth, colour and beauty. I found it impossible to select a favourite plate to show you, but here are some examples:

There are over 100 species botanical images of plants, which bloom simultaneously and compliment each other perfectly. They are organized by theme: seasons; plant families; form and function; colour; place (eg woods; open spaces; damp areas; rocky sites) and purpose (eg fragrance; butterflies; edible flowers; secret; literary; boxed; health and beauty; art; and nighttime). It is such a beautiful book and a lovely one to dip into whenever you get a chance! I cannot recommend it highly enough! Appendices include a list of edible flowers and flower meanings.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd60%Image (463)The Language of Flowers: a Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh  2011

A totally different book, both to the previous three coffee-table books, this one being a first-time novel, but also refreshingly original in concept and style. Based on the Victorian language of flowers, a compendium of which is included in the back of the book, this novel is written in first person, following the life of Victoria, an ex-foster child and florist and exploring complex themes like maternal love, forgiveness and redemption. Being a flower arranger, I was instantly attracted to this book and once started, I could not put it down! It is so easy to read and so hard to put down!  Plus, I have used the flower dictionary constantly, when making my floral collage cards for friends and family.

BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd40%Image (450) - CopyBlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd20%IMG_0499BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd20%IMG_0501Seasons at Home: Food, Family, Friends and Style by Holly Kerr Forsyth 2011

Another lovely offering from Holly Kerr Forsyth with her trademark style of seasonal projects and delicious recipes and preserves. I have given friends copies of some of her other books: Country Gardens, Country Hospitality and Seasons in My House and Garden: see http://www.hollyforsyth.com.au/shop/books.html  ;  https://www.bookdepository.com/Seasons-My-House-Garden-Holly-Kerr-Forsyth/9780522857825 and https://www.bookdepository.com/Country-Gardens-Country-Hospitality-Visit-Australias-Best-Holly-Kerr-Forsyth/9780522864793.

Both are beautiful books, which I would love to own one day, but in the meantime, I am enjoying this smaller book: Seasons at Home! While this book would fit equally well into my cookery book post later in the year, I have included it here because of its gardening and flower arranging content. Her photographs, styling and interiors are so beautiful and inspiring, how could I do otherwise!! Also, this book is a perfect lead-in to the next section with the first book also written by this knowledgeable lady!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd30%Image (433)

 General Garden Travel Books

Gardens of Eden: Among the World’s Most Beautiful Gardens by Holly Kerr Forsyth 2009

A Christmas present in 2012, when I was studying garden design at Burnley, this beautiful book covers fifty of the world’s most beautiful and famous gardens. Lavishly illustrated with over 500 photos, the gardens are divided into chapters titled : Lessons in Garden History; A Sense of Place; The Designer in the Garden; The Gardens of Politicians, Writers, Artists and Collectors; Clipped Perfection; Grand Passions and Private Pleasures; Water Delights; and Places to Pray or Play In. They span different historical periods, garden styles and cultures from the Paradise Gardens of Ancient Persia to the romantic rose-covered ruins of Ninfa and the Italian Renaissance gardens in Italy; the wildflower meadows of William Robinson’s Gravetye Manor to the Arts and Crafts gardening style of Gertrude Jekyll-Edwin Lutyens (Upton Grey and Hestercombe) in England and Beatrix Farrand’s Dumbarton Oaks in the United States of America; the famous gardens of Sissinghurst Castle (UK), Le Canadel (France) and the island gardens of Isola Bella, Isola Madre and La Mortella (Italy); and  the Buddhist-inspired gardens of China and Japan, not to mention Australian country gardens like Bentley (Tasmania), Jack’s Ridge (Victoria) and Nooroo, Bebeah and the Berman Gardens (NSW). A wonderful book for armchair travel and research for your next garden adventure!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (435)A Photographic Garden History by Roger Phillips and Nicky Foy 1995

For a more in-depth look at garden history, predominantly through photographs! This book is organized into three main sections. The first part covers the European Tradition, starting with Roman peristyle gardens and moving chronologically from Islamic influences to Italian Renaissance gardens; the French Formal movement and the romantic/ potager style in France; the Baroque German and Dutch gardens; and the British medieval gardens to the English Landscape movement; Victorian and Edwardian gardens and natural gardening styles. The second section focuses on Chinese gardens, while the third section explores Japanese gardens. The text is backed up with featured gardens with specific details and notes on their date and features, as well as their place and importance within the particular historical background. Throughout the book are topics of pertinent interest to the time period or garden style, covering a broad range of subjects from garden elements (potagers; parterres and carpet bedding; topiary and mazes; rockeries; water features (lakes; ponds and pools; waterfalls and fountains); the concept of garden rooms and borrowed landscapes; and specific gardens for roses, natives and Autumn foliage colour) to garden structures (garden buildings and furniture; arbours and arches; follies and grottoes; steps and staircases; gates and fences; and even ha-ha walls) and decorative techniques (trompe l’oeil; shellwork; mosaics; sculptures; and pots and urns). I initially borrowed this book from the library, but found it to be so comprehensive and interesting that I just had to order it for my horticultural library!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (436)

The Gardens of Europe, edited by Penelope Hobhouse and Patrick Taylor 1990

Edited by garden writing doyens, Penelope Hobhouse and Patrick Taylor, this book focuses on 700 European gardens, open to the public, from the Mediterranean gardens of Southern Europe (Italy, France, Spain and Portugal); the cooler, more temperate gardens of Northern Europe (Great Britain and Ireland; Belgium; Holland and Scandinavia); and the gardens of Central Europe (Austria, Switzerland and West Germany) and the Balkans, East Europe and Russia (Bulgaria; Czechoslovakia; East Germany; Greece; Hungary; Poland; Romania; European Russia; Turkey and the then, Yugoslavia). Even though this is quite an old book now and the details of opening hours and admission charges might be out-of-date, the basic information about its history, general design and prominent features is still relevant and is a starting point for further up-to-date research. There is a biographical list or principal architects, garden designers and gardeners in the back, as well as a glossary and bibliography of further books (guide books and history) to read.BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd25%Image (437)

Gardens of Persia by Penelope Hobhouse 2006

I have always loved the underlying concepts of the Islamic garden : an enclosed protected paradise with a quadripartite layout (a four-fold pattern called chahar bagh) and watercourses forming the principal and secondary axes, all meeting at a central pool or pavilion and representing the four rivers of life. They are full of colourful flowers and bulbs, shady fruit trees and birdsong; a place for contemplation and spiritual nourishment; and a little oasis in a challenging hot and dry climate, the latter, which I suspect will be increasingly valued in our Western world with the increasing temperatures and prevalence of drought with climate change. In this book, Penelope explores these notions, as well as the elements and history of Islamic garden design; the climate and environment; flowers and trees planted and of course, the spiritual dimension. Throughout the book, she provides many examples of Islamic gardens from Cyrus the Great’s garden at Pasargadae 2,500 years ago, Timur’s gardens at Samarkand (late 1300s); his son Shah Rokh’s gardens at Herat (1400s); and Bagh-e-Fin (1504) and other Safavid gardens to the 18th century gardens of Shiraz, ‘city of roses and nightingagles, cypresses and wine, and poetry and painted miniatures’: Bagh-e-Eram (Garden of Heaven); Bagh-e Golshan (1760s); and Bagh-e Shahzadeh (Prince’s Garden 1880s); the Mostoufi Garden, Tehran, 1930s; the geometric Moorish gardens of Southern Spain like the Generalife and the Mughal gardens of Northern India and Kashmir. All, of course, accompanied by beautiful Islamic architecture! In the back, notes on each garden for travellers, lists of the royal houses of Persia and Persian plants and a glossary of Persian terms. A very interesting and informative book, as well as a feast for the eyes! Readers, who want more information on Islamic Gardens may be interested in these links : http://gardendrum.com/2017/02/24/take-the-ancient-silk-road-to-a-2500-year-old-garden/ and http://gardendrum.com/2017/02/23/berber-home-and-garden-morocco/.

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The Secret Gardens of France by Mirabel Osler 1992

I have already briefly mentioned this book in my post on Favourite Rose Books (see: https://candeloblooms.com/category/rose-books/), as it described one of my favourite bucket-list French rose gardens, La Bonne Maison, as well as the roses of André Eve. However, it discusses 18 other gardens in France from productive potagers to medieval herb gardens; Nicole de Vesian’s architectural topiaried balls of lavender and rosemary in the Luberon to a coastal garden in Brittany; and another bucket-list garden, Le Jardin des Cinq Sens at Chateau d’Yvoire on the shores of Lac Leman. Mirabel has a lovely writing style- very chatty, enthusiastic and inclusive- and all the gardeners featured are very inspiring! While many of the gardens are private and not open to the public, this book is a lovely read with a wealth of ideas and information.

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Kitchen Gardens of France by Louisa Jones 1997

I would love to do a garden tour with Louisa Jones (see: http://www.louisajones.fr/) !!! While she has written many books on the gardens of Provence and the French Riviera, this particular book is about French kitchen gardens. She examines Heritage Gardens (medieval plots; renaissance gardens; potagers and heirloom vegetables ); Grassroots Gardening (from country potagers in the Ardeche to village greens and community gardens; city allotments in Paris and hortillinages (floating islands) in Amiens; and Hmong gardens at Alençon in Normandy); Dream and Utopian Paradises (the jardin de curé style; Rousseau’s orchard-garden; Pigeard’s mystic metalwork; photographer, Denis Brihat’s alchemist workshop in Provence and another bucket-list garden, the organic  garden of Terre Vivante in the Domaine de Raud in the Alps); and Vegetable Graces (gastronomic  creations and designer visions; Gilles Clement’s moving potager; and future fashions). This last chapter has an in-depth look at the Gardens For the Five Senses, mentioned in Mirabel Osler’s book. The text is supported by many showcase gardens and beautiful seductive photographs. It is such a dreamy inspirational book! Details about each garden featured can be found in the back. For more ideas about gardens to visit, it is worth consulting Louisa’s blog (http://www.louisajones.fr/blog/index) and Links pages (http://www.louisajones.fr/links).

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The French Country Garden by Louisa Jones 2000/ 2005

A very recent addition to my library and a wonderful find! Thank you, Denise! I was delighted to add this book to my library, as it discusses many French gardeners and their gardens, whose names I knew, but were not necessarily covered by my other books like Nicole Arboireau on the French Riviera; Doudou Bayol in Provence (what an amazing sense of colour!); Martine and Francois Lemonnier, who have the National Collection Label (CCVS) for Meconopsis and Hellebores, in Normandy; Mme Marie-Joseph Teillard in the foothills of the Pyrenees; Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières at Cordes-sur-Ciel; Eléonore Cruse at La Roseraie de Berty in the Ardèche; as well as old favourites like Alain Richert of the Garden of the Five Senses, Yvoire; Nicole de Vésian in Provence; Gilles Clément of the Centre Terre Vivante at the Domaine de Raud and the different biomes of Le Domaine du Rayol. These gardens and more are discussed in depth in her chapters, each featuring three gardens, and titled : Intimate Country Gardens; A Passion for Plants; Celebration of the Senses; Formal Play; Nature’s Ways; and Planetary Perspectives. The photos again are superb and complement the text perfectly. Another beautiful book to browse…!BlogDreamyGardenBooksReszd30%Image (543)Great Gardens of Britain by Helena Attlee 2011

A lovely book about 20 wonderful gardens in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. A difficult task selecting only twenty garden, but those chosen celebrate their diversity in garden styles, plants, settings and history. This is a wonderful guide with beautiful glossy photos and is essential reading for those planning a garden trip to Great Britain. Inspired and informed by this very book, I would love to visit Charles Jenck’s earthworks and waveforms at his Garden of Cosmic Speculation on the one day of the year it is open !; Ian Hamilton Finlay’s concrete poetry at Little Sparta; the famous topiary at Levens Hall; Scampton’s perennial naturalistic meadow, designed by Piet Oudolf; the rhododendrons and five terraces of Bodnant, North Wales, including its famous Laburnum Arch; the lakes and classical temples of Stourhead; Lawrence Johnston’s garden rooms at Hidcote Manor; Christopher Lloyd’s herbaceous borders of Great Dixter; the restored gardens of the East Ruston Old Vicarage and Beth Chatto’s gravel gardens; the holy grail of old rose gardens, Sissinghurst Castle, made famous by Vita Sackville-West, with its garden rooms and  white garden; the extensive plant collections, trial gardens and scientific research laboratories of Wisley, the home and flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society; the futuristic environmentally-controlled geodesic domes of the Eden Project, the brain child of Tim Smit;  and the unlikely Mediterranean-style gardens of Tresco Abbey in the warmer climes of the remote Scilly Isles in the English Channel. Addresses and websites for all the gardens are listed in the back. We have already visited Kew Gardens twice, but it is such a wonderful garden, that I would always include it whenever I visit England and I would really like to see the Marianne North Gallery, which is devoted solely to the wonderful paintings of this amazing Victorian botanical artist and explorer. See: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/explore/attractions/marianne-north-gallery and http://www.kew.org/mng/marianne-north.html, specifically: http://www.kew.org/mng/gallery/index.html.

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For those of us who may not travel overseas again, this form of armchair travel is a wonderful alternative! This book explored many gardens, not covered in the other books. Another book that I would love to find is Around the World in 80 Gardens by Monty Don, see : https://www.bookdepository.com/Around-World-80-Gardens-Monty-Don/9780297844501, as I really enjoy his films, but fortunately the film version of his book can be seen on YouTube. For Episode 1, see : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uityVe6OkCk. For a guide to the episodes, see : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008x9bh/episodes/guide.

Garden Guides and Garden Design Books

A comprehensive garden library is essential for planning and designing a garden and a wonderful way to pass a Winter evening, when the Spring seems such a long way away! Here are some of the books in my library, but please note this is by no means an exhaustive list, but just some of my favourites that I tend to read constantly!

1.Garden Reference Guides

First up, the  Garden Plant Series by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix.

I have already mentioned their book on Roses (1994) in my previous garden book post, but they have also compiled books on Bulbs (over 1000 types) 1981; Shrubs (over 1900 types) 1989; and Perennials (Over 1250 plants in two volumes) : Volume 1: Early Perennials and Volume 2: Late Perennials 1994.

While both authors are British, they do include plants from all over the world, including Australia. Their introduction includes brief notes on plant history and origins in the wild; their use in the garden; propagation, planting, cultivation and pruning notes; and pests and diseases, as well as full colour photographs of all the species of a particular plant type. Each book starts with plants which flower in Winter and then progresses through the seasonal cycle.

Martyn and Roger have also produced a set of mini-guides: The Best Scented Plants (over 200 types); Plants for Shade (over 250 plants); Traditional Old Roses; and Climbers for Walls and Arbours – all published by Pan in 1998 and all a delightful read!

Martyn Rix also wrote the Kew Subtropical and Dry Climate Guide in 2006, a book which will become increasingly important with the rising temperatures and droughts, associated with climate change. It has an excellent plant directory of trees, shrubs and climbers, perennials and annuals, bulbs and cacti and succulents from Mediterranean regions, South Africa, California and Mexico, China and India and Australia and New Zealand, all with low water requirements. Each entry lists different species in the family, their origin and use, height and spread specifications and notes about their cultivation, drought tolerance and hardiness and humidity requirements, as well as having lovely photos. I will be discussing some other excellent books on this subject in my post : Specific Types of Gardens: Part Two next month.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-346

The Essential Plant Guide: Every Plant Guide You Need For Your Garden (For Australian and New Zealand Gardens) 2013  is a real door stopper of a book with chapters on Trees; Shrubs; Annuals and Perennials, Grasses, Sedges and Bamboos; Fruit and Nut Trees; Bulbs, Corms and Tubers; Cacti and Succulents! Each chapter is alphabetically organized according to genus name with descriptions, photographs and cultivation notes and top tips and a table of favourite varieties with details of colour, fragrance, height and width, blooming season, hardiness zone and frost tolerance. It includes an illustrated  guide to fruit and leaf types to make description easier.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-337

Australian Gardening Encyclopaedia by Random House 1998 is a similar book with a hardiness zone map and notes on garden design, basic design principles, planting and maintenance techniques and pests and diseases. It covers similar categories of plants, as well as Vegetables and Herbs; Ferns, Palms and Cycads; Lawns and Ground Covers, Climbers and Creepers and even Orchids, again organized by genus name. At the back is an alphabetically – ordered Reference Table, detailing growth, form and use; hardiness zone; type of foliage (deciduous or evergreen); height and width; chief attraction; flowering time and special comments about each plant. The entries are shorter, but there are probably more plants covered.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-338

The Royal Horticultural Society Garden Plants and Flowers in Australia by Ian Spence 2009 is a slightly smaller tome, but equally valuable as a reference guide. Each section starts with notes about the plant type throughout the year, with a series of photos for each season with their page number for easy reference. Chapters include : Trees and Shrubs – the backbone to the garden; Climbing Plants – the vertical element; Flowering Plants – for colour and fragrance; and Bamboos, Grasses and Ferns –  for foliage, background colour, texture and year-round interest. There is also a chapter on Planting and Caring for Plants and very useful lists of suitable plants for particular areas like exposed sites; seaside gardens; dry sun; damp shade; dry shade; deep shade; acid soils; chalky alkaline soils; rock gardens; bog gardens and sloping sites;  or particular needs, like ornamental herbs and fragrant plants.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-339From the Ground Up: A Complete Guide For Victorian Gardeners by Jane Edmanson 2009 : I bought this book, while we were living in Victoria, but found it to be a very useful guide in Southern New South Wales as well. As a long-term Victorian presenter for ABC’s Gardening Australia, Jane really knows her subject and is a mine of information on gardening in Victoria. She discusses the Victorian climate and soils in depth, including ways of improving the soil, different types of compost and fertilizers; watering and mulching; propagation techniques and transplanting seedlings; pruning; and garden design. Then, there are the chapters on Australian natives; exotic species for sun, shade and colour; the productive garden;  potted plants; lawns; pests and diseases; weeds and a gardening calendar of garden tasks for each month.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-345Another self-professed Australian botanical bible is The Constant Gardener by Holly Kerr Forsyth 2007. Holly has written a large number of articles about gardening for The Australian, as well as many beautiful books with sumptuous photography. I love her books, some of which I will describe in a later post on dreamy inspirational gardening books, but this one definitely belongs here!

Part One covers the Australian seasons, landscapes and environmental concerns, including global warming, drought, increasing salinity and the threat of feral weeds (as well as possible management strategies and sustainable practices). In Part Two, Holly  discusses some of her favourite plants, which I also adore. She includes a description of her favourite varieties, their use in the garden, planting, requirements and care and the odd anecdote and recipe, as is typical of her style.

Part Three covers grouped garden elements: borders, edgings and ground-covers; lawns and grasses; hedges and climbers; trees, conifers and shrubs; native plants; succulents and tropical plants; and  fruit, herbs and spices; while Part Four gets down to the nitty-gritty of maintaining a healthy garden with chapters on soil and fertilizers; compost and mulch; propagation, pruning and transplanting; and pests, diseases and weeds.

Part Five covers garden design; colour and scent and plants for shady areas.  In Part Six, Holly looks at garden structures; gardening in small spaces; hardscaping: paths and paving, steps; edgings and seats; fences and walls; entrances and gates; supports and structures; lighting; pots; sculptures; water features and flower arranging. And finally, she takes us on a Cook’s Tour of all her favourite types of gardens throughout the world, including Chinese and Japanese gardens; foliage gardens; vegetable gardens; community gardens; mazes, knots and parterres; meadow gardens; rose gardens; native gardens; seaside gardens and water-wise gardens- all with lovely photos and examples. At the back of the book, she includes contact details for many of the gardens cited throughout the book. It’s a lovely book to dip into at random and I highly recommend it!bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-361

Garden Shrubs and Trees in Colour by Eigel Kiaer 1959 is a delightful little hardback gem, which I picked up in a second-hand book sale. While there are descriptive notes in the back of the book, I adore its quirky little colour plates with numbered illustrations of each species and tiny black-and-white sketches of the gardener going about his chores and the tree in relation to house height. The gardener always has a pipe in his mouth and is engaged in various activities from lawn mowing to raking, pushing a wheelbarrow, digging and watering and just admiring the view!

bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-344-copybloggardendesignbksreszd30image-376Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon 1990 A basic knowledge of botany is invaluable to the gardener for an understanding of plant requirements and correct maintenance for optimal growth. This excellent little book has very clear explanations and covers :

Plant anatomy, right down to cell structure, and that of seeds, roots, shoots, and  stems;

Adaptation mechanisms for protection and fulfilment of basic needs including: competition between plants; reaching for the sun; climbing structures; epiphytes; supportive roots; water uptake and storage, parasitic plants and insectivorous plants.

Plant functions: including growth and development; environmental control; water uptake; osmosis; photosynthesis; and gas exchange with the atmosphere.  And finally,

Reproduction: including flower pollination, the reproductive process; seed dispersal; fruit types; plant classification; genetics; and the life cycle of mosses and ferns.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-355

Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names For Gardeners by William T Stearn  1996 is a great reference guide to the origin and meaning of the plant’s scientific name, covering both genus and species names. For example, one of the only two scientific names my eldest daughter learnt: Callicoma serratifolia , a rainforest tree, which used to grow down by our creek in Northern New South Wales. ‘Calli-’ comes from the Greek word ‘kalli’, meaning ‘beautiful’; ‘-coma’ from the Greek word  ‘kome’, meaning ‘hair’, thus referring to the soft gold, tufted flowerheads of this tree. ‘Serratifolia’ refers to the serrated or saw-tooth edges of its leaves. It is such an interesting book, as it often includes extra fascinating facts, as well as a chapter on vernacular names.

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  1. Garden Design Books :

2A. Garden Design Principles

Down-to-Earth garden Design by Phil Dudman : How To Design and Build Your Dream Garden 2010. I bought this book when I was studying garden design at Burnley and it backed up my study brilliantly. It covers all the basics, as well as providing ready-made garden designs for different garden configurations, and very practical information about actually achieving your design from building retaining walls, steps, pergolas and ponds to installing drainage, laying concrete and pavers, establishing new lawns and planting, composting, mulching and irrigation. A very useful book to own!bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-351

Art and the Gardener : Fine Painting as Inspiration for Garden Design by Gordon Hayward  2008 is a relatively new addition to my library. Because my gardening library is quite extensive, with a  book on most gardening topics, as well as the marvels of the internet, I am now very choosy when it comes to actually purchasing a book, but this one was on sale and looked at garden design in quite a novel way, so how could I resist? On reading it over Christmas, I’m so glad I didn’t! It’s a beautiful book, especially if like me, you love art and gardens. It’s a natural match really, when you think about it. Both art and gardens are governed by similar design elements and principles like line and form, colour and scale, texture, contrast, balance and harmony etc. Gordon relates different art movements to garden style: romanticism, classical axial, impressionism, cubism, minimalism, abstract expressionism and contemporary. He examines the relationship between house and garden in some detail, as well as rules of composition and design principles, including curves and straight lines; focal points; light and shade; contrast in texture and colour; transition spaces; and vertical elements. He has a large chapter on colour harmony or contrast, with suggestions of plants of different colours and seasons and an appendix on colour symbolism in different cultures. Throughout the book are beautiful photographs of artworks and gardens – a real visual treat, as well as really making you think and analyze both art and gardens.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-352

Garden Enchantment: Creative Design with Annuals and Perennials by Cheryl Maddocks 1992 This is a lovely dreamy book, covering colour design (including lists of flowers for different colour themes); fragrance; planting combinations; perennial borders and annuals; different garden types (meadow; natural; flower arrangers; herbs and edible flowers; pots and situations like  shade and night-time); as well as chapters on soil preparation; maintenance and propagation. There are selection lists for annuals and perennials at the back of the book, with descriptions and cultivation notes.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-350

2B. Elements of Design

  1. Colour

The Gardener’s Book of Colour by Andrew Lawson 1996.  I bought this book after hearing a talk by Andrew Lawson in Armidale in 1998, when he was visiting Australia. After discussing colour theory, he focuses on gardening with single colours (with planting suggestions for each season); harmonies and contrasts; and mixed colour combinations. At the back of the book, he includes keyline drawings with full  planting details for the major schemes discussed. I love his beautiful photographs and his brilliant colour combinations from bold and dramatic to harmonious and peaceful. His plant directories provide cultivation details for over 850 plants. I found his section on green colours particularly useful, as the backdrop to the garden throughout all seasons.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-349Planting For Colour by Susan Chivers 1988 is also an excellent book on colour, with a double page spread devoted to each colour and notes on the association between colour and moods, including planting suggestions for each desired emotional effect eg calming; exciting; dramatic; subtle; and sophisticated. It examines the use of colour in different situations like small town gardens; country gardens; woodland gardens; water gardens; and seaside gardens with planting suggestions throughout. She  also looks at hard landscaping and containers. The final half of the book is devoted to ensuring the maximum use of colour throughout all the seasons from early Spring to late Winter, with double page plant profiles of dominant plants in each season eg magnolias and miniature daffodils in early Spring; and  early-flowering clematis, tulips and rhododendrons and azaleas in late Spring.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-347

The Startling Jungle: Colour and Scent in the Romantic Garden by Stephen Lacey 1986  An immediate best-seller on its publication, this book  leads into my next design element – scent. In this, his first book, Stephen writes about the use of colour and scent in the garden; cottage gardens; and the importance of foliage, then spends the remainder of the book describing the progress of the seasons, with delightful chapter titles like ‘the promise of a warming air’ (Spring) or ‘the brittle violin of frost’ (Winter). While only a small paperback , it makes up for its limited number of colour-plates with its prose and word pictures- a delightful read and worthy of all the acclaim it received.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-377

  1. Scent

Scent in Your Garden by Stephen Lacey. One of my favourite books, as fragrance is an incredibly important facet of the garden for me and I love the luscious photographs by Andrew Lawson, who wrote the book on colour, previously described. Beginning with a chapter on the nature of scent, the book goes on to describe scented trees and shrubs; herbaceous borders and ground-covers; walled gardens and vertical plantings; rock and water gardens; rose gardens (my favourite!); herbs and conservatory and mild climate plants. While there are a large number of books now on scented plants, I still think this is one of the best!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-363Fragrant Herbal: Enhancing Your Life with Aromatic Herbs and Essential Oils by Lesley Bremness 1998 . Published by Crabtree and Evelyn, one of my favourite shops for toiletries, soaps and fragrances, this book is sumptuous, with stunning photography and over 75 recipes for delicious meals and herbal teas and fragrant home and bath products! It has extensive chapters on herbs and aromatherapy; plans for 12 fragrant herb gardens and an illustrated ‘A to Z’ index of over more than 120 herbs, with details of their aromatic properties, use and cultivation. If ever you need a pick-me-up, this beautiful coffee-table book is essential reading!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-374Creating a Garden for the Senses by Jenny Hendy 2009 While sight and smell (and to a certain extent, taste) are so dominant and amply catered for in garden design, the other senses of sound and touch are also very important and this small book has many wonderful ideas for creating a garden for all the senses. Again, beautiful photos, which were the initial reason for buying this book!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-378

  1. Seasonal Interest

Plants For All Seasons by Andrew Lawson 1992, another lovely small book by Andrew Lawson, it features 250 plants for year-round display, a very important concept, especially in smaller gardens with limited space. Each plants described has been chosen for its versatility, its double value in the garden, through repeated blooming of flowers; long-lasting seedheads or Autumn berries, its colourful foliage and even the colour of its bark. For example, my Golden Hornet Crabapple, which is featured in the book, has beautiful white Spring blossom, golden fruits in Summer, which last well into Winter and colourful Autumn foliage. The glossy photographs are certainly very seductive!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-348

Plants For All Seasons by Ursula Buchan 1999 has an identical title and also details 85 plants with multi-season interest. She starts with a big section on foliage and texture; bark and stems; flowers and seedheads and growth habits; then focuses on each plant group with a full page devoted to each plant and again, lovely photos.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-353

This book was reprinted in paperback form in 2004 under a slightly different title: Planting For All Seasons: Beautiful and Versatile Plants That Change Through The Year , but it is otherwise identical to the 1999 book.

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2C. Garden Type

While there are numerous books on all the different garden styles from formal gardens to cottage gardens, seaside gardens, romantic gardens etc, I have only focused on a few favourites, which were very pertinent to us at the time, as we are very keen on the environment and have lived most of our years in the country, as well as raising a family. Next month, I will be discussing a few more specific garden styles as well.

  1. Natural Gardens

The Natural Gardener by Val Bourne 2004, the winner of the Garden Writers’ Guild Book of the Year Award in 2005, is another excellent read, which follows the garden through the seasonal cycle, with interesting snippets along the way about natural predators and insects like ladybirds and spiders; bumblebees and honeybees; butterflies and moths; ground beetles and vine weevils, hoverflies and lacewings; slugs; frogs and newts; and birds and hedgehogs. There are informative chapters on Winter foliage and fragrance; early Spring blooms; bulb lawns; water gardens;  transition periods between seasons; vegetable gardens; Summer flowers, Autumn blooms and fruit; and seedhead, stem and bark interest for Winter. Even though this book is written from a British perspective, its organic  and environmentally-friendly principles can still be applied to other countries, including Australia on the other side of the world!bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-366

Natural Garden Style : Gardening Inspired by Nature by Noël Kingsbury 2009 is another British book with a stunning jacket and illustrations, based on linocuts by Angie Lewin, reason enough to buy this beautiful book or at least that’s my excuse!! Its thick wood-free paper, gorgeous photos and lovely coffee-table presentation is also the reason why books will always survive despite the digital age! In the introduction, Noël discusses the importance of organic gardening methods; sustainability and biodiversity; the concept of ‘right plant, right place’; learning from nature; gardening for wildlife and contemporary natural-style planting. He elaborates on these ideas in his chapters on meadows; prairies and borders; trees and woodlands; and the wider landscape, as well as discussing sculpture and ornament; sun and stone; land and water forms; and plant selection and maintenance. He finishes with a directory of natural-style gardens to visit in the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-365

Noël has also written another lovely book titled The New Perennial Garden 1996, in which he discusses the relationship between gardening and nature and the new garden styles, which encourage and support this ethos; plantings for specific conditions like full sun, shade, damp areas and dry areas; and a myriad of garden techniques from planting flowering meadows to seed collection and storage; propagation, maintenance and pest and weed control. The plant tables at the back are particularly useful, listing plants for shade (shade, light shade and moist shade); meadows, rough grass, prairies, steppes and heathlands; moist ground, waterside, and dry environments; and finally short-lived perennials, biennials and annuals, all with great photos and details on height, growth habit, foliage, flower, season, situation, zone and extra remarks.blogsummer-gardenreszd20img_0298

  1. Country Gardens

The Country Garden: How to Create the Natural Look in Your Garden by John Brookes 1987, one of my gardening bibles in my early gardening days! John Brookes is another very prominent garden designer in Britain. His acclaimed garden, ‘Denmans’ can be visited in West Sussex (along with 20,000 other visitors a year!). See : http://www.denmans-garden.co.uk/ for details. Stephen Lacey has written an article about this doyen of British garden designers at : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/gardenprojects/11619164/John-Brookes-It-is-the-effect-that-plants-make-that-interests-me-more-than-their-individuality.html.

John Brookes was one of the pioneers of natural-style gardening back in the 1980s and in this book, he describes the new informal relaxed approach to gardening; natural gardening and planting; integrating house and garden and the concept of the borrowed landscape (though neither of these are new concepts, being fundamental tenets of the Arts and Crafts style gardens at the turn of last century, though neglected over the intervening years!) ; axes, vistas and glimpsed views; drift and flow effects; entrances and exits; walls, hedges and fences; surfaces and levels; paths and paving; garden structures; distressing techniques to age appearance; sculptures and ornaments; and the importance of a garden plan and how to draw it.  He examines the garden in each season with beautiful labelled photos (like herbarium pages) on a double page spread, featuring plants of seasonal interest eg Winter flowers; Winter stems and Winter Vegetables. Along the way, he describes different types of natural gardens: gravel gardens; woodlands; neglected corners; rugged clifftop gardens by the sea; cottage gardens; enchanted gardens; water gardens; shade gardens; working gardens, herb gardens- so many different types! At the back, he includes case histories and garden plans; natural garden planting lists, with the plants divided into their use (eg food for butterflies/ rabbit resistance/ decorative seed-heads etc) and specific environments (eg different soil types; moist shaded areas; extreme alkalinity etc). While this book can be read from start to finish, its format and presentation encourages a dip-in approach! It’s a very inspirational book!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-372

 The Country Garden by Trisha Dixon 1992 My Christmas present in 1993! An equally lovely book about country gardens, this publication has a more traditional approach and a different form of organization. It has a logical ordered approach, starting from planning the garden and understanding the site; setting the style with respect to entrances and driveways, garden buildings, water features, and cottage style and wild gardens; the concepts of symmetry and perspective, including patterns and vistas, garden walks and avenues and hedging; colour; walls and fences and finally produce, an essential element of the country garden! This was a particularly useful book for us, because it is written from an Australian perspective! Stunning photography once again!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-373

  1. Family Gardens

Family Gardens by Bunny Guinness 1996. The perfect book for us at the time, given that we were developing our country gardens, while raising 3 young children, as well as the fact that today’s children are tomorrow’s gardeners! This lovely book positively propels kids out into the garden with its chapters on design and planning for all sizes of garden; playhouses and treehouses; garden games and outdoor living; water gardens; and gardens for pets and wildlife, and finally planting schemes of suitable plants, not to mention a cautionary poisonous plants list! There are wonderful photos of (and occasionally instructions for) Wendy houses and magical tree houses with slides; crocodile willow houses; swings and climbing pergolas; allocated areas for garden games; sandpits and paddling pools; outdoor eating areas, barbecues and terraces; vegetable patches for childhood foraging; unusual garden furniture and garden buildings; ponds and wetlands; wildlife gardens and wildflower meadows; chicken runs and rabbit hutches; adventure mazes and even topiary peacocks! I loved this book for its imagination and creativity and sheer sense of FUN!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-367

2D. Books by Garden Designers

Rosemary Verey (1918-2001)

Rosemary Verey’s Making of a Garden 1995

Rosemary Verey was an internationally renowned plantswoman and garden designer with a very famous garden Barnsley House in Gloucestershire.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-364

This is a beautiful book about the development of her garden over 35 years and encompassing all her gardening principles and practical techniques. I adored the watercolour designs of each garden area, like that of her potager below.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-375

Penelope Hobhouse (1929-)

Another very British influential gardener, writer and garden designer. I own three of her books: Colour in Your Garden: A Practical Sourcebook 1985; Garden Style 1989 and Penelope Hobhouse On Gardening 1994.

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The first book could have fitted equally well into the category on Design Elements, earlier in this post, but I thought I’d keep all her books together- mind you all of them would also fit into a future post on dreamy inspirational gardens (along with Rosemary Verey and Edna Walling as well!!).

In this book, she starts by discussing design for colour and the nature of colour, before focusing intensively on each individual colour, with seasonal planting suggestions, wonderful photographs and keyline drawings of planting plans. She also has a large section on the foliage framework, both green and Autumn colours, as well as bark colour. She finishes with some information on  the science behind plant colour and notes on climate and growing conditions.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-369

In her book, Garden Style, she discusses a large number of gardens, which have inspired and educated her, including her own Tintinhull and Margery Fish’s cottage garden at East Lambrook Manor, both in Somerset;  Hidcote Manor, Gloucestershire;and Villa Noailles in South-Eastern France. She discusses the importance of framework in a garden; archways and pergolas; paths and steps; hedges and avenues and water features, using Jenkyn Place, Hampshire and Christopher Lloyd’s garden, Great Dixter, East Sussex, as examples. She discusses pattern in some depth, both in decorative plantings and hard and soft landscapes, including mazes, topiary, water patterns, kitchen gardens, parterres and knot gardens. East Lambrook Manor features again in her chapter on more natural style gardens, along with the Longstock Water Gardens, Hampshire. The flower garden and colour border, as well as Gertrude Jekyll’s influence, feature in her discussions of Monet’s Giverny; Hestercombe and her own garden, Tintinhull, both in Somerset. The final chapter describes the concepts of garden rooms, inner gardens and informal garden areas.bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-368

In the last book, Penelope reveals all her gardening secrets and ideas, using her own garden, Tintinhull, to illustrate her theories. She describes each garden area, supported by stunning photographs, as well as discussing feature plants like hellebores and euphorbias; anemones and self-seeders; silver foliage plants; flowering salvias and roses; and cyclamen and alliums. Like Rosemary Verey’s book, there are beautiful watercolour plans of all her plantings. She also discusses seed collection and sowing and propagation by cuttings in her final  chapter titled ‘Behind the Scenes’. A truly beautiful and inspiring book!!!bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-371

Edna Walling (1896-1973)

No Australian garden library would be complete without a book by our own celebrated garden writer, designer and environmentalist Edna Walling and I actually have four books:

Cottage and Garden in Australia 1947

The Edna Walling Book of Australian Garden Design 1980, edited by Margaret Barrett

A Gardener’s Log 1985

The Garden Magic of Edna Walling 1988

Here is the back cover of the second book, in which Edna expresses her garden philosophy.

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Cottage and Garden in Australia 1947 is an original copy, which we inherited from my husband’s mother. It is one of my favourites! Edna loved old English cottages, particular their scale, charm and use of local materials, and she created her own village in Bickleighvale at Mooroolbark, Victoria, now alas swallowed up by Melbourne suburbia, but nevertheless, with the cottages still intact, though the now-mature gardens are very shady and probably need rejuvenation! I love the old sepia photographs of both interiors and exteriors in this book, which really add to the sense of history and simplicity of her delightful dwellings. She includes plans, specifications and detailed drawings of her cottages and detailed notes about doorways and windows; stonework and timber; chimneys and paved floors and homemade garden pots.

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The Edna Walling Book of Garden Design, (a blend of extracts from Edna’s first three books: Cottage and Garden 1947, already discussed;  Gardens in Australia 1943; and A Gardener’s Log 1948) focuses more on the garden, with chapters titled: On Garden-Making; Trees and Shrubs; Perennials and Ground Covers; the Natural Rock Garden; Paths, Paving and Pergolas; Walls, Steps and Stairways; Cottages and Country Gardens; and Natural Swimming Pools. Edna had her own signature plants and vocabulary, which she employed time and time again in the gardens, which she designed and then planted for her cottages.eg: Birches, Crabapples, Hawthorns, Medlars and  Claret Ash; Kolwitzias, Daphne, Amelanchiers, Spireae, Kalmias and Chimonanthus; Campanulas, Verbascums, Achilleas, Lavender, Erigeron, Ajuga, Chamomile and Thyme. She also had a great love of the Australian bush and included many native flora in her repertoire, including Leptospermums, Lilly-Pilly (Acmena smithii), Grevilleas, Eriostemons, Baeckeas, Ericas and Prostantheras.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-359

A Gardener’s Log 1985 is a reprint of Edna’s original 1948 book, edited by Margaret Barrett. It is presented in the form of a diary or garden notebook, with little gems of wisdom and practical advice appropriate to each season.bloggardendesignbksreszd30image-358

The final book, The Garden Magic of Edna Walling, once more edited by Margaret Barrett, contains over 100 black-and-white photos taken by Edna during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as colour photographs of the gardens, taken by John Hay 50 years later. Neil Robertson writes an introduction about Edna’s life and career and while much of the book is written about Edna, it does include extracts from her writings about stonework; natural gardening; Australian native plants; architecture in the garden; the use of water in the garden; gardens for children; more  greenery than colour; climbing roses; places of repose and the art of leaving well alone! bloggardendesignbksreszd25image-356

A good place to finish, I think !!! Next week, I will be returning to our garden for a post on the 2017 Summer Garden!

Sunflowers: December Feature Plant

What better way to celebrate the start of Summer than with a feature post on the wonderful exuberant Sunflower, Helianthus annuus!BlogSummerDays20%ReszdIMG_3870 Sunflowers belong to the daisy family, Asteraceae, and the genus Helianthus has over 70 species, most of them native to North America, except for three species from South America. Most are ornamental, frost-hardy herbaceous perennials, like the Jerusalem Artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus, but the Common Sunflower, familiar to most people, is an annual, as indicated by its species name: ‘annuus’. The genus name Helianthus is derived from two Greek words: ‘helios’ meaning ‘sun’ and ‘anthos’ meaning ‘flower’.BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2015-12-31 15.26.43Mythology

In Greece, the sunflower is a symbol of the water nymph Clytie, who was turned into a sunflower after she lost her love Apollo, and constantly faces the sun, awaiting the return of his chariot. The visual similarity of the flower to the sun makes it a symbol of worship and faithfulness in many religions. In fact, the Incas used South American sunflowers to worship the sun in their temples, where priestesses wore necklaces of sunflowers, cast in gold, as well as sunflower crowns. The Hopi Indians of North America also used sunflowers in their tribal rituals, as well as for food and a purple dye. In China, the sunflower is an auspicious symbol, denoting long life and good luck, its bright yellow colour symbolising vitality, intelligence and happiness. Vincent Van Gogh is famous for his series of paintings, depicting sunflowers in vases, one of which sold for $39 Million in 1987. Here is my daughter’s sunflower painting- just as special and always makes me feel happy.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5641Habitat and Distribution

Native to North America, the sunflower was first domesticated in South-Western USA over 5000 years ago and soon became widespread throughout the Americas. Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizzaro, saw large crops in 16th century Peru and the sunflower was carried back to Spain, where it was cultivated and hybridized. By the 19th century, it was being cultivated on a wide scale in Russia, the Ukraine and the Caucasus regions for the manufacture of vegetable oil. The sunflower  is the State flower of Kansas and the National flower of Russia. Mostly grown in temperate areas, it is now also grown as a commercial crop in the United States, Argentina, India, China, Turkey, the European Union (mainly France and Spain) and South Africa. In Queensland, it is widely grown in the Central Highlands and on the Darling Downs, as seen in the photo below.blogsunflowers50reszdimage-158Description

Helianthus annuus is an annual forb, which grows up to 5 metres tall, with a well-developed tap root, which extends up to 3 metres into the soil. There are now a number of cultivars, varying in colour (yellow, orange, rust red) and height, from dwarf varieties less than 1 metre tall to taller cultivars over 3.5 metres tall.blogsunflowers50reszdimage-159 The tallest sunflower ever recorded was 7.76 metres tall, though there is a German record of 8.23 metres tall! There is also a discrepancy in growth rates: one source states 30 centimetres in one day, while another estimate is 2 metres in 6 months- that’s 182 days. For mathematicians, that’s 2000 centimetres in 182 days or 11 centimetres a day! Suffice to say that they are one of the fastest growing plants in the world! Our Burgundy Spray sunflower reached 2 metres last year and was harvested and ploughed in at 20 weeks- that’s 5 months- but we did use plenty of manure!BlogButterflyHeaven 20%Reszd2015-12-01 17.20.36 BlogSummerDays20%Reszd2015-12-27 12.02.02The erect stem is rough and hairy and is branched in many wild varieties, but unbranched in cultivated varieties.BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-03 10.11.21 The petiolate leaves are dentate (toothed margins) and sticky. The lower leaves are opposite and ovate or heart-shaped, while the leaves higher up the stem are arranged spirally.

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Blooming in Summer, the inflorescence is a terminal head (capitulum), 10 to 50 centimetres in diameter, with a world record of 87.63 centimetres.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-23 20.05.37 Each flower head is surrounded by three rows of bracts (phyllaries)- see photo above- and is composed of sterile outer yellow (or orange/ rust red) ray florets, which attract pollinators, and fertile inner brownish disc florets.blogsunflowers50reszdimage-160 A single flower head may have up to two thousand disc florets, each with the potential to develop into a seed. If there are multiple flower heads on the same plant, the number of disc florets per head will be much lower.BlogSummerDays20%Reszd2015-12-28 09.50.43 The disc florets open in sequence, beginning at the periphery of the disc and moving inward. The disc florets are arranged in spiral whorls from the centre of the flowerhead, according to the famous Fibonacci sequence, which allows for the uniform packing of the maximum number of seeds on a seed head without any central overcrowding or bare patches at the outside edges. The Fibonacci sequence is a number set, in which each number is the sum of the previous two numbers: ie 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610 and so on, and was described by Fibonacci (also known as Leonardo of Pisa) in his book : Liber Abaci in 1202.image-159-copy-copy

In the case of sunflowers, count the clockwise and counterclockwise spirals that reach the outer edge, and you’ll usually find a pair of numbers from the sequence: 34 and 55, or 55 and 89, or—with very large sunflowers—89 and 144. Another interesting mathematical fact is that each floret is oriented to the next by the Golden Angle, 137.5 degrees.BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-03 19.38.59 Botanists have not yet been able to determine a mechanistic model that fully explains how the sunflower seed patterns arise, as some  plants don’t always show perfect Fibonacci numbers. A study published by the Royal Society Open Science on 18 May 2016 of 657 sunflower photos revealed one in five flowers had either a non-Fibonacci spiralling pattern or more complicated patterns, including near-Fibonacci sequences and other mathematical patterns that compete and clash across the flower head. See: http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/3/5/160091 . Another interesting link is: https://plus.maths.org/content/sunflowers. Click on the first article in the search results: ‘Citizen scientists count sunflower spirals’ by Marianne Freiberger.

For more information about sunflowers and the Fibonnaci sequence, see :

http://momath.org/home/fibonacci-numbers-of-sunflower-seed-spirals/

and    https://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/nature-golden-ratio-fibonacci.html.BlogJanGarden20%Reszd2016-01-05 16.04.53Another fascinating fact about sunflowers is their heliotropism (sun tracking) when young. During growth, sunflower leaves and flowers tilt to face the sun during the day, accounting for their French and Portuguese names: Tournesol (French) and Girassol (Portuguese). As the buds open, the flexible part of the stem tissue (the pulvinus) hardens and heliotropism ceases, the sunflower blooms permanently facing east, thereby acting as a living compass!BlogSummerDays20%Reszd2015-12-27 17.41.12 Sunflowers are pollinated by bees, though some modern varieties are fully self-fertile. The following website has some interesting information about sunflower pollination, which highlights the importance of bees. See: http://www.pollinator.ca/bestpractices/sunflowers.html. Initially, each floret is male, the pollen-bearing anthers extending above the rim of the floret, then later on, the style emerges and the stigmatic lobes spread, opening the receptive surfaces for pollination – see the photo below. If there is enough pollinator activity, the pollen is removed from each floret before the stigma opens, reducing the chances for self-pollination. The resultant seeds are 15 to 25 mm long and vary in colour from white to brown and black and even striped.BlogFeb Garden20%Reszd2016-02-12 10.24.58Growing Conditions and Propagation

Heat and drought-tolerant, sunflowers are very easy to grow in most climates, so long as they have full sun all day  (6 to 8 hours) and well-dug, nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. They are propagated by seed. Dig the seed bed well with plenty of manure/ compost, as they are heavy feeders, then rake the soil level. Broadcast the seed and rake into the surface or plant seeds individually to a depth of 2 cm. In cool temperate climates, sow seed in Spring after the last frost (we sowed our Burgundy Spray sunflower seeds on 7 October last year); in warm temperate climates, from late Winter to late Spring; and in frost-free subtropical and tropical regions, seed can be sown all year round, though Autumn to Spring is best. Sunflowers prefer long, hot Summers and hot wet humid Summers increase the risk of fungal diseases like downy or powdery mildew or rust. Mulch the seedbed with chopped sugar cane or lucerne to retain moisture, keep the soil cool and deter pigeons or mice. As the seedlings develop, thin them according to the size of the plants. Giant Russian sunflowers grow to over 4m high with a flowerhead of 5o cm, so require 1.5 m between each plant.BlogJanGarden20%ReszdIMG_5166 Water or foliar feed weekly with seaweed extract in the morning, so that the foliage is dry by sunset, also reducing the risk of fungal mould and rot. For show flowers and maximum seed production, apply two handfuls of poultry manure per square metre when the seedlings are 15 cm high and a 4 cm layer of well-rotted cow manure and compost when they reach 0.5 m in height. Stake the stems when necessary- old pantihose are good. The dwarf varieties should flower within 10 to 12 weeks of sowing, while the taller varieties take 12 to 16 weeks to bloom. Our Burgundy Spray sunflower had its first bloom open at 12 weeks, just in time to celebrate the New Year! We harvested the seeds on the 23 February 2016.BlogFestiveSeason20%Reszd2015-12-25 11.10.42

If your plants are affected by fungal disease, a general fungicide can be applied. Slugs and snails love browsing on the stems and leaves of sunflowers, so spray the seedlings with an organic snail bait or a mixture of 1 part espresso coffee to 3 parts of water, then mulch, repeating after heavy rain or irrigation. Bees and butterflies love the flowers, while birds, rodents, squirrels and deer are attracted to the sunflower seed, though large amounts are fatal to the latter! There are numerous insect pests, most of which attack other plants as well. More information on these insects and their management can be found on :http://ipmguidelinesforgrains.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Sunflower_IPM-Workshops_north-March2013.pdf and https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/pests/e1457.pdf BlogFeb Garden20%ReszdIMG_0005 (2) Seed heads should be harvested when very dry ie once the back of the flower heads are turning yellow or brown. Tie paper bags over their heads, then cut the stems and hang upside-down in a dry, well-ventilated place till fully dry.BlogFeb Garden20%Reszd2016-02-12 10.21.10 The seed head can be sharply struck or rubbed across an old washboard to release the seeds. To process sunflower seed for consumption, soak them overnight in a bucket of 1 gallon (4.5 litres) water and 1 cup salt. Redry in a 250 degree Fahrenheit (120 degrees Celsius) oven for 4 to 5 hours and store in airtight containers.For replanting,  the seeds are viable for 5 years, according to: http://tcpermaculture.com/site/2013/06/14/how-long-will-seeds-last-stay-viable/, but if you want to check their viability before planting, see: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/check-sunflower-seeds-viable-68389.html.

Uses

Sunflowers are grown extensively throughout the world for human and animal food and sunflower oil production. There are two types grown. The first is oilseed, a very small black seed  with a very high  oil content , which  is processed into sunflower oil and meal and is also the seed of choice of most bird feeders. The second type is non-oilseed (confectionery sunflower), a larger black and white striped seed used in a variety of food products from snacks to bread. Sunflower seeds are rich in healthy fats, oil, vitamin E, protein, fibre and minerals and can be eaten raw or roasted for a savory snack or ground into a seed paste (Sun Butter) like peanut butter. They are excellent for promoting heart health and lowering cholesterol. The seeds can also be ground into a sunflower meal and used as a substitute for wheat flour in breads and cakes and the seed husks can be ground into a coffee-like beverage.blogsunflowers20reszdimg_0176 Sunflowers are also widely used as an animal food, mainly for birds (seeds) and cattle (forage crop or a high protein meal, which is a by-product of sunflower oil extraction and is often blended with soya bean meal). The seeds can also be pressed to make an  oil, which has been used in salads and for cooking, margarine production and in industry : as drying oils for paints and varnishes and in beauty products like soap and cosmetics. However, readers should be aware that there is some research about health risks associated with cooking with vegetable oils. See these links for further information: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11981884/Cooking-with-vegetable-oils-releases-toxic-cancer-causing-chemicals-say-experts.html and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20886885. The cooking oil is recycled as a biofuel. For more on the commercial industry overview of sunflowers in the United States, see: http://www.sunflowernsa.com  and   http://www.soyatech.com/sunflower_facts.htm. Sunflower oil can also be used in medicine: for constipation and lowering bad LDL cholesterol or applied directly to the skin for poorly healing wounds, skin injuries, psoriasis and arthritis and as a massage oil.blogsunflowers20reszdimg_0171Native Americans also grew sunflowers for food and oil, medicine, fibre and dyes , as well as to provide shelter for crops of maize, pumpkins and beans. The juice from the stems was used to treat wounds and an infusion of the plant in water was used to treat kidney and chest pain. The fibre from the stalks could be made into cloth and both the seeds and flower heads yielded a dye: purple, blue and black from the seeds and a bright yellow from the flowers.image-159-copySunflowers can also be grown as a green manure crop, the plants being dug into the ground once the seedlings reach a height of 30 cm. The plants can bioaccumulate heavy metals in contaminated soil, like lead, arsenic and uranium, and were used to remove nuclear fallout after the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters.image-160-copy-copyAnd finally, sunflowers are commonly used in floristry and are often given on the third wedding anniversary as a sign of adoration, strength and loyalty. Stems should be cut early in the morning before the flowerbuds are fully open- preferably ½ to ¾ open. If buying them, the leaves should be a strong green colour and the stems should be strong. They must be sold with a water source, as they shock easily. Remove any foliage below water level and cut the stems on a sharp diagonal (2 to 4 cm from the stem ends), under water if possible to avoid air blockages in the stems. Do NOT bash the stems. Use a preservative to maintain open flowers and change the vase water daily. The flowers have a vase life of 7 to 10 days. The leaves will wilt and die before the flowers, so only retain the upper leaves. To help prevent leaf drooping, add 10 drops of household detergent to 5 litres of water and leave in this solution for 1 to 3  hours, but no longer than overnight. If the leaves do start to droop, immediately recut the stems up to 6 cm and place in deep water with preservative for up to 3 hours. If the flowers droop completely, recut the stems and place them in boiling water to clear the blockage quickly (though the lifespan of the flower will be halved).

I really enjoyed researching my last feature post for this year. The sunflower is a fascinating plant and I hope you enjoyed the post as much as I enjoyed writing it.  If I have whetted your appetite to know more, it would be worth trying to source ‘Sunflowers: the Secret History’ by Joe Pappalardo. See: http://www.overlookpress.com/sunflowers-the-secret-history.html.

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Favourite Private Specialty Gardens : Part 1: Artists’ Gardens

Over the next two months, I am featuring specialist private gardens, which I have divided into 4 categories : Artists’ Gardens (October); Dry Climate and Mediterranean Gardens (November) ; Sustainable Gardens (November); and Small Gardens (November). It’s a very eclectic mix, but we were impressed by every one of them. Some of them cross over categories. For example, the gardens of Meanderings and Barwon Heads are both included in Dry Climate Gardens, but are also Small Gardens, while the Markos Garden, a part of Sustainable Gardens, is very much a Mediterranean Garden and a Small Garden. Hendrik’s Garden is also both sustainable and small, while Art Rocks is both a Dry Climate Garden and an Artists’ Retreat and Tickle Tank is an Artist’s Garden, which is only small- a mere 20m by 20m. I will begin with Artists’ Gardens, looking firstly at mosaics, then progressing onto painters. Again, this is only a very small selection of the wonderful gardens in Australia and the choice was often dictated by the availability of good photographs in my collection. I have covered other art-related gardens in my posts on Carrick Hill, Werribee and Heide and Sculpture Gardens: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/02/09/favourite-gardens-regularly-open-to-the-public-historic-homes-and-gardens/ and https://candeloblooms.com/2016/06/14/favourite-gardens-regularly-open-to-the-public-sculpture-gardens/.

Artist Gardens

Mosaics:

Blog NewBeginnings20%Reszd2015-01-21 10.34.49BlogCreativity120%Reszd2014-05-03 20.36.56Blog SpringsprungFav20%ReszdIMG_0580I have always loved mosaics in the garden- they add colour and interest, especially in Winter, and can compliment plants when in flower. And they are really fun to make! No doubt through my posts, you have already seen my stepping-stones, my Mothers’ Day Bird Plate and my two bird sticks, the latter two made in workshops at the Geelong Community Garden  with Helen Millar of Flock of Birds. See: http://www.flockofbirdsmosaics.org  and https://candeloblooms.com/2016/05/10/favourite-gardens-regularly-open-to-the-public-education-gardens/.  During the 40th Kyneton Daffodil Arts festival in Spring 2012, we visited:

Geraldine Phelan’s Studio and Garden

60 Dettman’s Lane, Kyneton, VIC       Ph: (03)5422 7154 and 0478605540

http://www.kynetondaffodilarts.org.au/mosaics.html

Geraldine is a mosaic artist, who moved to Central Victoria in 2010. This is her studio.BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 174BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 172BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 181 She does beautiful work and also teaches mosaic classes.BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 170BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 176BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 166BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 187BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 184 Here are some photos of her gypsy caravan (above) and the mosaic work of competition entrants during the festival (above and below).BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 191BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 195BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 151BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdsept 2012 196The Flying Teapot

111 Inglis St, Ballan, VIC, 3342

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A prominent and highly imaginative landmark in the main street of Ballan, this wonderful mosaic fence was created by Lou Callow, a local artist and teacher.BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdgrampians 4 054BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdgrampians 4 048BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdgrampians 4 056 There is so much in this wall, that I will let the photos tell their story.BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdgrampians 4 065BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdgrampians 4 061BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdgrampians 4 066BlogPrivSpec25%Reszdgrampians 4 063Tickle Tank

24 Hill Street, Mt Barker, Adelaide Hills, South Australia          450 m2

http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/home-among-the-gumtrees/around-the-house/tickle-tank/#.

An AMAZING house and garden, built by Irene Pearce, a sculptor and  professional potter for 27 years, which thoroughly merits the two videos made about it. See:

http://www.salife7.com.au/south-australia/gardening/open-gardens/tickle-tank     and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ68CwYzKt0BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7565In 1998, Irene bought a 50,000 gallon concrete water tank, which was built in 1944 and was the old town water storage.  She siphoned the water out and excavated 20 truckloads of soil, as three quarters of the tank was buried underground. The tank is 10m across and 4m tall and became her kitchen, dining and family room.BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7566

She bought three more tanks (3000 and 5000 gallons), which were lowered into position by cranes and became the bathroom, laundry and a small bedroom for her grandchildren. She hired a concrete cutting contractor to cut holes in the concrete tanks for doors and windows and used recycled jarrah from the original tank to make the doors.BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7595BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7749 Irene has a very quirky, eclectic style and the dwelling has both a Greek (blue and white colours) and nautical feel (blue and white colours again; sail sun shelter; life buoys; ropes; shells; driftwood, sea horses, portholes).BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7622BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7719BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7638BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7746

It’s a wonderful place and so inspirational. Everything has been done on a very low budget and made by hand out of recycled materials, both in the house and the garden. I loved her driftwood handles on the cupboard doors, her hidden bath under the floor, the fungi lamps and all her collections.BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7579The multilevel garden is 450 square metres and is low maintenance, organic and water-wise. It has a series of open air rooms for relaxation, meditation, eating and adventures for kids. BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7720BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7718All the materials used in the garden are recycled or were salvaged from the site.BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7735 The retaining walls became garden seats and the excess water runoff became a small creek, crossed by a recycled timber bridge. Irene sculpted a mermaid out of a stone wall and a dragon out of cement.BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7763BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7741BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7725BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7731 Broken tiles were used to make a mosaic wall in the rose arbour (covered with Lorraine Lee), as well as a white wisteria mural outside the kitchen, mosaic window edges and tables  and mosaic floors in the kitchen and shower recess. Apparently, since our visit in 2008, there is a new mosaic driveway.BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7642BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7628BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7647BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7651BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7625BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7766 There is an old pot-bellied stove outside for cooking and heat, as well as a fire pit out of rendered concrete. The rendered stone walls maintain moisture and keep the plants cool in Summer.

BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7714BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7630The garden has a wonderful, blowsy, overgrown feel and is a mixture of exotics and natives, all so densely planted that it is difficult for weeds to get going. Plants include : Hardenbergia and purple Native Mint Bush; fruit trees and crab apples; roses; hardy native grasses; herbs; self-seeding annuals; hardy cottage perennials; Spring bulbs and  lots of succulents in pots. There is so much to this garden- we actually went round twice, taking a million photos for future ideas! Here are a few of Irene’s delightful sculptures:BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7645BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7592BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7571Painters:

The Cedars

Heysen Rd, Hahndorf, Adelaide Hills, South Australia, 5245        60 acres

10am-4.30pm Tuesday-Sunday and Public Holidays; Closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday   $10 Adult; $8 Concession; $5 Garden only

http://hansheysen.com.au/    and https://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/agsa/home/Learning/docs/Online_Resources/Heysen_Trail.pdf

While we were in South Australia in October 2008, we also visited the home of two of South Australia’s most famous artists, Hans Heysen and his daughter Nora.BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_6975Hans Heysen bought the 1878 colonial villa in August 1912, where he lived with his wife Sallie and 8 children until his death in 1968, aged 90. He renovated and updated the house from 1912-1920, decorating it in a Federation Arts-and-Crafts style. It is still privately owned by the Heysen grandchildren and very little has changed since the days when Hans was still alive. The comfortable old furniture and textiles, Hans’ paintings and Nora’s portraits and all the old books and magazines give the house a very welcoming warm feel. There is a wonderful light throughout the house and a beautiful window overlooking the garden. I immediately fell in love with this beautiful old house and its equally lovely garden!BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7042BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_6970Hans loved his garden, laying out all the garden beds and building the stone paths, walls and steps out of sandstone and quartz. He planted mainly exotic species : Himalayan Cedar trees, after which the property was named; Crab Apple Malus spectabilis; Chaenomeles japonica; Bourbon roses including one of my favourite roses,  Souvenir de la Malmaison, painted by both Hans and Nora; Tea roses (Duchess de Brabant) and Hybrid Teas (Queen Elizabeth); lilacs; iris; massed zinnias; Spring bulbs and old-fashioned perennials.BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_6961BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_6967BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_6968BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7050We also walked around the property, stopping at 11 viewing boxes, where we could compare prints of Hans’ landscapes with the exact location of each work. Winner of the Wynne Prize (the landscape equivalent of the Archibald Prize) nine times, Hans was most famous for his portraits of gum trees, the 600 year old River Red Gums Eucalyptus camaldulensis and White Gums Eucalyptus rubida. He was such a keen conservationist, that he bought neighbouring properties to prevent the trees from being cut down.BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_6999BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_7018BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_6998The entrance price also includes a tour of the studios of both Hans (photos 1 and 2) and Nora (photo 3). Nora was the first woman to win the Archibald Prize in 1938, as well as being Australia’s first female war artist. It was wonderful to see all their charcoal and pencil sketches; lithographs of agricultural scenes, sheds and draughthorses; the paintings of gum trees with the play of light on their trunks; and the paintings of still life and floral arrangements.BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_6997BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_6979BlogPrivSpec25%ReszdIMG_6960When we visited ‘The Cedars’ back in 2008, because the property was still privately owned, it was impossible to get public funding for it and the money from sales and entrance fees only covered insurance. The potential cost of upkeep of the house was a barrier to future National Trust involvement, so it was with great delight that I discovered that in April 2016, the property was granted $1 Million from the Federal Government for its upkeep. It is a beautiful historic property and well worth visiting if you get a chance.

Wentworth Falls Art Gallery

161 Falls Rd, Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains, NSW 2782  PH (02) 4757 1139    Just under 1 acre

10am-5pm Wednesday-Sunday and Public Holidays

http://www.fallsgallery.com.au/

BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_5413BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_5409Established in 1990 by Anne and Ian Smith, the gallery is housed in an early 1900s weatherboard cottage in a large mountain garden, a two minute walk to the Falls Reserve Picnic area and lookouts.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_5423BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_5422 Anne paints luscious females and Ian is a ceramic artist, so they both have workspaces at the back – a studio for Anne and a pottery workshop for Ian. Both their work is on sale, as well as art work by Garry Shead, Wendy Sharpe, Bernard Ollis, Max Miller, Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman and John Olsen.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_5419BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_5421I loved their beautifully landscaped mountain garden with its Japanese Maples, conifers and native vegetation, huge tree ferns, azaleas and rhododendrons, chaenomeles, box hedging and topiary, hellebores and lots of outdoor statues.BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_5408BlogPrivSpec20%ReszdIMG_5407 It had such a peaceful relaxing feel and was so green, unlike my final artist’s garden, a complete contrast :

Art Rocks

199 Teesdale-Inverleigh Rd, Inverleigh, VIC 3321  Ph (03) 5265 1370; 0417522010

4km  from Inverleigh; 20 minutes from Geelong and 1 hour from Melbourne

http://www.artrocks.net.au

BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0361Owned by artist and teacher, Adé Loe, and environmentalist, Bronte Payne, Art Rocks is a studio gallery and Bed & Breakfast accommodation.BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0340BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0351BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0353 They run workshops and weekend retreats for sculpture, mosaics, ceramics, drawing, painting, glasswork and making glass beads.BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0366BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0364We visited this property as part of the annual Golden Plains Art Trail in March 2012 and were blown away by its dramatic use of colour and contrast; its amazing cacti and succulent garden and dry climate plants;

BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0334BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0314BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0322BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0330BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0324BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0377BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0304BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0333BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0311BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0348 its sculpture park; its use of recycled material and its panoramic views.BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0374BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0335BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0345BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0349

It is a great example of dry climate gardening and leads very neatly into the next category: Dry Climate and Mediterranean Gardens, which I will discuss next month, along with Small and Sustainable Gardens.BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0318BlogPrivSpec50%ReszdIMG_0319

Iris: October Feature Plant

My feature plant for October is the Iris and our first Dutch Iris bloom has just opened, right on time! They are such beautiful regal flowers and definite confirmation that Spring is here to stay and the long cold Winter is over!blogiris20reszd2016-09-29-11-19-29Irises, commonly known as ‘flags’, belong to the family Iridaceae and the genus Iris, which contains 260 to 300 species, many of which are natural hybrids. The number of different types be quite confusing, but  the first and major difference is whether they are rhizomatous or bulbous. Rhizomes are horizontal underground stems that strike new roots out of their nodes down into the soil, and that shoot new stems out of their nodes up to the surface. Most iris in this group are evergreen, but some go dormant, usually in late Summer/Autumn. Rhizomatous iris are either bearded or beardless. Bearded Iris have a tuft of short upright filaments down the centre of the blade, while beardless iris usually have a flash of colour, mostly yellow, at the top of the lower petals (known as falls), called a ‘signal’.BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-15 16.29.20 Beardless iris include: Pacific Coast, Louisiana Iris, Siberian Iris and Japanese Iris. Bulbous iris have a small bulb like an onion and are dormant and lose their leaves for part of the year. They include Dutch, English and Spanish Iris, as well as Iris reticulata. The photo above is a Dutch Iris.  There is an excellent diagram on the Iris Society  of Australia (http://www.irises.org.au/TypesIris.htm), which  clarifies the situation in a simple form. I will discuss some of the major groups in more detail later in this post. The photo below shows my Dutch Iris in the cutting garden last year.BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.40.55Habitat: Temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere from Europe to Asia and across North America. They are found in a variety of habitats from dry semi-desert to colder, rocky, mountainous areas, grassy slopes and meadows and even bogs, swamps and riverbanks.BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-14 13.59.47History:

Iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow, referring to its wide colour range. It is also the name of the Greek goddess of the rainbow, who was the messenger of love, thus iris are symbols of communication and messages. In the language of flowers, iris generally means ‘eloquence’, after which its meaning depends on its colour : purple iris represent wisdom and compliments; blue iris symbolize faith and love; a yellow iris means passion and a white iris represents purity. The photo below is a bed of Bearded Iris of mixed colours.BlogPoppy50%ReszdImage (152) - CopyThe iris first appeared in artwork in the frescoes at King Minos’s palace on Crete and date from 2100 BC.  It became the symbol of King Clovis of France (466-511 AD) on his conversion to Christianity, the iris being known as one of the Virgin’s flower. The fleur-de-lis, a stylized representation of the iris, was the emblem of the House of Capet, which ruled the Kingdom of France from 911-1328 AD, and was also adopted as a symbol by King Louis VII in  12th century France. A red fleur-de-lis is found on the coat of arms of Florence, Italy, where it has been their symbol since 1251, as well as that of the Medici family, while yellow irises are depicted on the Quebec flag.blogiris25reszd2016-09-15-16-47-28 The iris is also one of the state flowers of Tennessee. It is even found on Japanese banknotes! The back of the 5000 yen banknote depicts “Kakitsubata-zu”, the most renowned painting of irises in Japan. It was painted by Ogata Kouri, one of the most famous Japanese painters . See : http://jpninfo.com/17450.  Another famous artwork ‘Irises’ was painted in 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh and was sold at auction in 1987 to Alan Bond for a record $53.9 Million. It was resold in 1990 to the Getty Museum for an undisclosed amount. Iris flowers have also been painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, Durer, Renoir, Cezanne, Gauguin and Monet, as well as my daughter Caroline, especially for this post!blogiris25reszd2016-09-19-12-45-38Garden cultivars were found in Europe by the 16th century. There was a big boom in breeding from 1830 on and by 1930, the American Iris Society listed 19 000 iris species and hybrids. There are now literally thousands of cultivars of Bearded Iris – over 30,000 Tall Bearded Iris alone! Compare the following photos to see the difference between the old (1st photo) and new (2nd photo) iris blooms.BlogPoppy50%ReszdImage (151) - Copy

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Modern cultivar of Bearded Iris       Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Unfortunately, like many other plant species, hybridization to produce increasingly large, dramatic frilled blooms of a huge colour range has been at the expense of fragrance, but there are conservation groups, for example : the Historic Iris Preservation Society ( http://www.historiciris.org/ ) in America, which specializes in the preservation of  heritage iris varieties, which are over 30 years old and are tougher plants with less frills, but more fragrance. New Zealand also has a Heritage Irises blog with links to Iris gardens and growers throughout the world. See :  http://historiciris.blogspot.com.au/. The Presby Memorial Garden (http://presbyirisgardens.org/wordpress/) in New Jersey is a living iris museum with over 10 000 iris plants, while the largest garden in Europe is the Giardino dell’ Iris in Florence, Italy, (http://www.intoflorence.com/giardino-dell-iris/), which has 1500 varieties in its two acre garden and hosts an annual international iris festival in late May.

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Highly Frilled Bearded Iris  Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

In Australia, irises are best seen in October/ November at specialised iris nurseries like:

Yarrabee Water Garden and Iris Nursery, One Tree Hill, South Australia :  Tall Bearded Iris and Louisiana Iris : http://www.yarrabeegardenandiris.com

Sunshine Iris, Lockhart, west of Wagga Wagga, NSW in the Riverina : 300 varieties and specializes in older vintage Bearded Iris: http://www.sunshineiris.com.au/.

Riverina Iris Farm, Lake Albert, is another Iris nursery, just south of Wagga Wagga, which specializes in Tall Bearded Iris : http://www.riverinairisfarm.com/. It has open gardens on the weekends from the 8th of October 2016  to the 6th of November 2016 from 10 am to 5 pm. They are  also open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and other times by appointment.

Rainbow Ridge, Burnt Yards, west of Carcoar, NSW : Tall Bearded and Median Iris, Louisiana and Californian Iris: http://www.rainbowridgenursery.com.au/

Iris Splendor, Railton, Tasmania : Tall Bearded Iris: http://iris-splendor.com

Tempo Two, Pearcedale, Victoria : Specialist Iris nursery : http://www.tempotwo.com.au

Tesselaars, Monbulk, Victoria also sells Dutch , Bearded, Siberian and Japanese Iris: https://www.tesselaar.net.au/.

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Description:

Iris are handsome, herbaceous, evergreen perennial plants, which grow from creeping rhizomes (rhizomatous iris) or bulbs (bulbous iris).

They have long, erect flowering stems, which are simple or branched, solid or hollow and flattened or with a circular cross-section, depending on the species. The photo below of my gold Bearded Iris shows the basic structure of the plant.BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-15 16.26.22

Rhizomatous iris have 3-10 basal sword-shaped leaves, which form dense clumps, while bulbous iris have cylindrical basal leaves.BlogBdayblessgs20%Reszd2015-10-10 14.21.07Iris have 6 symmetrical lobed flowers, which grow on a pedicel or peduncle. The 3 sepals drooping downwards are called ‘falls’ and have a narrow base (haft), which widens into a blade, which may be covered in dots, lines or veins.BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-15 16.29.20 In Bearded Iris, the centre of the blade has a tuft of short upright filaments to guide the pollinating insects down to the ovary. The blades of the iris act as a landing stage for flying pollinators. There are also 3 upright petals called ‘standards’, which stand behind the base of the falls. All petals and sepals are united at the base into a floral tube above the inferior ovary and the style divide towards the apex into petaloid branches. The Bearded Iris in the photo below is much frillier and larger than my gold Bearded Iris, shown above.

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Gold Frilled Bearded Iris  Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Flowering occurs from late Winter through to late Summer, depending on the species. There is a good diagram on: http://gardendesignforliving.com/a-guide-to-growing-iris-blooms-all-season/  , giving a guide to flowering times for the Northern Hemisphere. Basically, Iris reticulata starts the iris flowering season in late March to mid April, followed by Iris pumila for 2 weeks in early May; then Crested Iris for 1 week in mid to late May. Tall Bearded Iris also bloom in mid to late May for 2-3 weeks, overlapping with Siberian Iris, which are slightly later and have a shorter blooming period. Japanese Iris bloom in late June to mid July, then the iris season closes with reblooming Bearded Iris in August and September. In Australia, Dutch Iris flower in early Spring (September) and Bearded Iris bloom in October/ November.BlogPoppy50%ReszdImage (156) - Copy

The fruit is a capsule, which opens into 3 parts, revealing many seeds. In the desert dwelling Aril Iris, the seed bears an aril.

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Seed case of Iris pseudocorus   Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Species Notes:

Iris are divided into 6 subgenera, which are then divided into a number of sections, but I will mainly focus on the more common garden iris, including the varieties I grow in our garden. All of the subgenera are from the Old World, except for Limniris, which has a holarctic distribution. The largest subgenera are marked with an asterisk *.  Here are the names of the 6 subgenera:

*1. Bearded Rhizomatous Iris:

Iris series

eg Table or Stool  Iris:  Iris aphylla

eg Bearded Iris : Iris germanica

Oncocyclus series:

eg Sweet Iris: Iris pallida

eg Hungarian Iris: Iris variegata

*2. Limniris: Beardless Iris:

 Californicae series

eg Pacific Coast Iris

Hexagonae series

eg Louisiana Iris

Sibericae series

eg Siberian Iris: Iris sibirica

Laevigatae series:

eg Japanese Iris: Iris ensata

eg Large Blue Flag: Iris versicolour

eg Yellow Flag: Iris pseudacorus

Spuriae series:

eg Blue Iris: Iris spuria

eg Yellow-banded iris: Iris orientalis

eg Crested Iris: Iris cristata

3.Xiphium: Smooth Bulbed Bulbous: formerly Xiphion

eg Spanish and Dutch Iris:  Iris xiphium, though Dutch iris also known as Iris x hollandica

eg English Iris: Iris latifolia

4.Nepalensis: Bulbous Iris: formerly Junopsis

5.Scorpiris: Smooth Bulbed Bulbous: formerly Juno

eg Iris persica

6.Hermodactyloides: Reticulate Bulbed Bulbous: formerly Iridodictyum:

eg Iris reticulata: white, blue and violet: see photo below from the Portland Botanic Garden.Blog late19centBG20%ReszdIMG_4174Bearded Iris

The most common iris in the garden, which is a result of a cross between an early German  hybrid, Iris  5 germanica and other naturally occurring European hybrids of Iris pallida and  Iris variegata, as well as wild species like Iris aphylla.BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-17 09.30.44 There are so many hybrid cultivars, but they are divided into groups based on size:

Tall Bearded Iris  Over 71cm: Largest iris and the last to bloom.

Border Bearded Iris  38-71 cm tall: Similar size flowers to Tall Bearded Iris, but shorter stems.

Miniature Tall Bearded Iris  38-71 cm tall; Smaller flowers to Border Bearded Iris; Also  called Table Iris, because they are very dainty and suitable for small arrangements. Similar growing conditions to other Bearded Iris.

Intermediate Bearded Iris  38-71 cm tall. Very prolific. Cross between Dwarf and Tall Bearded Iris and require a bit more cooling and a bit more watering than the latter.

Standard Dwarf Bearded  20-38 cm tall and the shortest Bearded Iris; Suitable for borders. Dwarf Bearded Iris are easy to grow, but do require full sun and frosty Winters and loose, well-drained soil. Do not allow to dry out totally over Summer.

Miniature Dwarf Bearded  Up to 20 cm. Suitable for rockeries only.

Aril Bred Iris: Arilmeds:    45-75 cm. Cross between Tall Bearded Iris and desert Aril Iris. They like very well drained soil and may die down in Summer.

A good site for more information on Bearded Iris is: https://www.claireaustin-hardyplants.co.uk/blog/types-of-bearded-irises.

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Bearded Iris   Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

For a description of the many different species, see: http://www.irises.org.au/TypesIris.htm and follow the underlined links.

Siberian Iris:  Iris sibirica

Hybrids of Iris orientalis and Iris sibirica.

Native to Asia and Europe.

Beardless flowers in blue, lavender, yellow and white in late Spring/early Summer. The flowers are smaller than those of Bearded Iris and the foliage is very decorative. They do not grow in water and are not bog plants, but are very tough and can be planted in Spring and Autumn. They need a frosty Winter to flower well. Flowering time is usually November in Australia. The best situation is a damp, sunny spot and they are dormant in Autumn to early Winter.

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Siberian Iris  Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Japanese Iris:  Iris ensata

Once called Kaempferi Iris, they have been cultivated in Japan for more than 500 years and were once grown exclusively for royalty. Flowers are purple, pink and bicolours and both the sepals and petals are flat. They do not actually live in water, but like the same moist conditions as ferns. Flowering  in November to December, they like damp, acid soil with cold Winters and will be dormant from Autumn to Winter.

Large Blue Flag:  Iris versicolour

Grows in boggy areas and swamps in North-Eastern USA and comes in blue, violet and white.

Yellow Flag: Iris pseudocorus

Native to Europe, where it grows in swamps and boggy ground, but naturalized all over the world. Very invasive and aggressive growth, so should not be planted near waterways. Much safer contained within a walled garden like this one at Dalvui, Noorat, Victoria!Blog PHGPT2 20%ReszdIMG_2090

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Iris pseudocorus ‘Berlin Tiger’

Pacific Coast Iris

From west coast of USA, they are low growing, extremely drought-hardy irises, that need a sunny spot with acid soil. They must only be moved in late Autumn to early Winter .

Louisiana Iris

From the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River area of USA. They are evergreen and one of the few irises that like tropical areas, although they will grow in most of Australia. Has flatter flowers 4 to 6 inches across and bloom in October to November in Australia.  Likes similar conditions to Japanese Iris: moist rich  acid soil and partial shade.

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Louisiana Iris   Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Spuria Iris :

Come from Central Europe. They usually go dormant for a while in Autumn. They grow in a wide range of soils (especially alkaline), but need a cool Winter and dislike extreme Summer humidity. Flowering in Australia is in October to November.

Dutch Iris: Iris x xiphium  70 to 90 cm tall

Beardless bulbous iris, with royal blue, white and gold flowers in Spring. A favourite with the florists. The blooms last 5 to 7 days.

BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_2941BlogReignroses20%Reszd2015-10-24 14.40.33Growing Conditions and Propagation:

Basically, iris like a well-drained soil, with at least 6 hours of sun a day. Full sun all day is even better, but darker-coloured varieties are probably better with protection from the  hot afternoon sun. Because of the wide geographical distribution, cultivation requirements vary greatly and there is an iris for every situation.

Most Iris like to be chilled in Winter, in fact some Dwarf Bearded iris actually require frost to bloom. Bearded Iris are grown in Zones 3-9, while Dutch Iris can be grown in Zones 5-9.

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Bearded Iris in the garden of Villa Lettisier, Morninton Peninsula, Victoria

Bearded Iris likes dry Summers and cool to cold Winters and a neutral to alkaline soil, which is moist during their active growth and flowering, but dry after that. Siberian Iris like damp boggy soil, shade and a frosty Winter. Pacific Coast Iris like a dry Summer, a cool damp Winter and an acidic soil, while Louisiana Iris also like a damp, wet, acidic soil. Rockery Iris like moist, perfectly-drained gritty soil. Iris reticulata likes a good porous soil in a sunny or shady spot with leaf mulch in Winter. None of them like too much nitrogen.

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Dutch Irises: Discovery either side of Hildegard
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Dutch Iris: Lilac Beauty
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Dutch Iris: Hildegard

Plant Dutch Iris bulbs in the Autumn for Spring flowering. Last year, we ordered and planted 5 bulbs each of Discovery (Royal Blue); Hildegard (pale blue); Lilac Beauty (violet); Casablanca (white); and Golden Beauty (gold) from Tesselaars. Plant bulbs 10-15 cm deep and 10-15cm apart, pointed end up. Lift and divide every few years to avoid overcrowding. I planted them with cornflowers to hide their dying foliage after blooming.

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Dutch Iris: Golden Beauty
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Cornflowers replacing the Dutch Iris for Summer in the cutting garden

Propagation is usually by division, more rarely seed. In the following paragraph, I will describe the cultivation of Bearded Iris:

Divide the clumps in Summer every 2to 3 years, when they become congested. Separate the rhizomes by hand or with a sharp sterile knife if necessary. Check the rhizomes for borer attack, to which they are susceptible, and discard any infested ones. A good rhizome will be the thickness of a thumb with healthy roots and 1-2 leaf blades. Plant bare-rooted in late Summer in an open sunny position. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rhizome should still be visible on the surface of the soil, where it can absorb the sun’s warmth, but in Australia, they can be covered with  1.5 cm soil to avoid scorching. My gold Bearded Iris came from our rental place and last year, we discovered some forgotten Bearded Iris clumps growing under the shade of the cumquat trees, so we divided the clumps and replanted the rhizomes singly along the edge of the Moon Bed. Already, they have multiplied profusely and I cannot wait for them to flower this Spring, so that I can discover their colours!BlogSpringpalette20%Reszd2015-10-18 09.01.28Uses:

Highly ornamental plant, which is fragrant, low maintenance and  multiplies readily. Good as a feature plant, in a border or in a rockery. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love them!

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Bearded Iris in ornamental bed at Carrick Hill, South Australia

Floristry: Buy when the colour is visible beneath the sheath, but before the petals have started to unfurl (see photo below). They do not like preservative, as iris do not like sugar, so only use a few drops of chlorine bleach in the vase water. Do not arrange with daffodils unless the latter have been conditioned, as the daffodils’ toxic sap will affect the iris stems.

BlogDaylightslavg BG20%Reszd2015-10-05 16.25.10BlogSpringfeastg20%Reszd2015-10-29 11.04.10BlogReignroses20%ReszdIMG_3012Perfume Industry and Medicine:

Grown for the production of irone, orris oil and orris root. Irone is a methylione odorant, used in perfumery, which is derived from orris oil and has a sweet floral, woody, ionone odour. Orris root is used in perfumery, potpourri and medicine and is actually the rhizome of Iris germanica and Iris pallida. The rhizomes are harvested, dried and aged for up to 5 years, during which time the fats and oils degrade and oxidize, producing fragrant violet-scented compounds, which are valuable in perfumery. Aged rhizomes are stem-distilled to produce iris butter or orris oil. This essential oil is used as a sedative in aromatherapy. The dried rhizome has also been given to teething babies to soothe their gums. Orris root and iris flowers are also used in Bombay Sapphire Gin and Magellan Gin for its flavour and colour. In the past, iris has been used to treat skin infections, syphilis, dropsy and stomach problems, as well as being used as a liver purge, however it should only be used by a qualified practitioner, as the rhizomes can be toxic. Iris contain terpenes and organic acids, including ascorbic acid, myrsistic acid, tridecylenic acid and undecylenic acid. The Large Blue Flag, Iris versicolour, and other common garden hybrids, contains elevated amounts of toxic glycoside iridin, which cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and skin irritation, though it is not normally fatal.

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The Yellow Flag Iris,  Iris pseudocorus, used to be grown in reed bed substrates for water purification, as they consumed nutrient pollutants and agricultural runoff, but they are extremely invasive and have become a noxious weed, clogging up waterways.

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Iris pseudocorus   Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Finally, a brief description of some other types of iris in the Iridaceae family:

Native Iris

Peacock Iris: Moraea aristata: Endemic to Cape Town, South Africa

Rare Winter-flowering bulb, with large white blooms (5 to 7cm across) with a deep, iridescent blue eye on each petal. Their undersides are also white, but covered in decorative blue freckles. They have no scent. Easy to grow, they are best left in the ground to naturalize. The foliage and flowers emerge Winter to Spring and they are dormant through Summer. The flower stems grow 20to 35cm tall and the narrow foliage grows to 40cm. Can easily be cultivated in sunny gardens with sandy or clay soils , but prefers well-drained, humus-rich soil. Grow in full sun to light afternoon shade. Water in and keep moist during active growth and keep relatively dry during dormancy. Critically endangered in the wild.

Dietes, also called Wild Iris, Butterfly Grass or African Iris: Dietes iridioides

A clump-forming, rhizomatous perennial, also from South Africa. Dietes have dark green, strappy foliage and white (marked with yellow) and mauve, iris-like flowers on tall stems in Spring. The flowers have six free tepals, that are not joined into a tube at their bases and only last one day. The flowers are followed by 3-celled capsules, containing numerous seeds, on stalks, which bend right down to the ground for easy propagation. Grow in full sun or part shade. Although tolerant of tough conditions, Dietes will perform best in well-drained soil, rich in organic material. Fertilize occasionally and water during dry spells. Do not remove flower stems, as they continue to flower for several years. Propagate by seed or by division of established clumps.

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Dietes   Courtesy of https://pixabay.com

Native Iris or Silky Purple Flag: Patersonia sericea

Densely-tufted, perennial herb with short rhizomes. Endemic to the east coast of Australia and first described in 1807, Patersonia grows in dry sclerophyll forests, woodland and heath, preferring sandy, well-drained soil on the coast and ranges.blogiris20reszdimg_0651 Up to 60cm tall, with stiff grass-like grey-green leaves and three-petalled, blue-violet flowers in terminal clusters, enclosed in two large papery bracts, in Spring and Summer, which last less than a day. Frost-tolerant and thrives in hot, dry situations. There are 6 other species in the Patersonia genus.blogiris20reszdimg_0673