At risk of repeating myself, here are the contact details!
Red Cow Farm (Owners: Ali Mentesh and Wayne Morrisey)
7480 Illawarra Highway Sutton Forest, 5 km south of Mossvale 2.5 hectares (6 acres)
1.5 hours drive from Canberra and Sydney
Phone: (02) 4868 1842; 0448 677647
Open 8 months of the year from late September to the end of May, 10am – 4 pm. Closed Christmas Day.
$10 Adults; $8 Seniors and $4 children (4 to 14 years old)
Red Cow Farm is such an artistic garden. I love the colour combinations used; the diversity of both colour, texture and form; and the play of light and shade. However, for this post, I am focusing on the old roses in all their full glory! Where I can identify them, I mention their names, having quizzed Ali in great depth after exploring the garden, but for many of the roses, it was merely enough to enjoy the total picture and breathe in their beautiful scents.
I am also including the garden map again, so it is easier to discuss the location of the roses! As in my previous post on Red Cow Farm, I am following a similar path from the entrance to the cottage garden, curved pergola and Apollo Walk to the Abbess’s Garden and beyond, following the numbers on the map.Front of the Cottage
The highly fragrant Kordes rose, Cinderella, greets you on the left as you enter the front gate.In front of the cottage on the left is a huge bush of Mutabilis (photo of shrub in the background below) and behind it, adorning the house, is Awakening, a sport of Hybrid Wichurana, New Dawn, itself a sport of another Hybrid Wichurana, Dr W Van Fleet. Awakening is the rose, being held in the hand, on the far right of the photo below.Cottage Garden and Camellia Walk (Areas 3 and 4):
I loved the contrast between these tidy clipped balls and the blowsy, overgrown shrub roses. The next photo is taken under the start of the curved pergola with the start of the Apollo Walk to the Abbess’s Garden.Curved Pergola and Courtyard (Areas 5 and 1):
The curved pergola is stunning from either direction, looking down to the courtyard and circular driveway: and back to the Apollo Walk. The golden roses look so good against the old weathered timber beams, stone walls and brick pillars. I love the attention to detail and the mixed plantings- soft blue campanulas and lemon Sisyringium strictum in a carpet of pinks. The courtyard behind the cottage is a delightful spot to sit.Roses were often planted in monastery gardens during the Middle Ages, so it was very appropriate to find many of the old roses in the Abbesses Garden and the Monastery Garden.
Abbess’s Garden (Area 7), leading into the Beech Walk (Area 8):
The first bed on the right as you enter the Abbess’s Garden from the Apollo Walk is full of yellows and golds with English Rose, Comte de Champagne (2nd photo below), in a sea of lemon-yellow aquilegia.I love all the colour combinations, both complimentary: and contrasting: The wide variety of plantings ensures constant colour and interest throughout the seasons. I particularly loved the Alliums.On her pillar in the third bed on the right, Hybrid Multiflora, Laure Davoust, rises from a sea of pink.As you approach the chapel, Hybrid Spinosissima, Golden Wings, is on the right: while golden David Austins, Wildflower (single, gold to white with gold stamens) and heavy, globular Charles Darwin grace the left bed.The riotous colour of the Abbess’s Garden is in dramatic contrast with the calming green living walls of the next garden room, the Beech Walk (Area 8), which leads to the Hazelnut Walk (Area 9) and the Lake (Area 11), complete with island and bridge (Area 20). I love the twisted red stems of the hazelnut trees and the intensity of the colours, backlit by sun, as you emerge from the shade they cast.Blowsy Hybrid Wichurana, Albertine, falls into the water from the banks, while Noisette climber, Lamarque, graces the island end of the bridge. I love this view of the wooden bridge from the Bog Garden (Area 10).Woodland (Area 19)
The woodland area is a study in contrast in colour, tone, form and texture.There are a few roses in the herbaceous borders of the Obelisk Walk (Area 23), including Hybrid Rugosa rose, Jens Munk, which was also in bloom last January (first photo) and this unidentified pink rose.
The richness and lushness of the garden is always such a contrast to the surrounding grazed paddocks: and I love the woodland paths.November is also Rhododendron and Azalea season. I would dearly love to find the golden Rhodendron luteum, whose scent is superb, but I also loved this deep-pink rhodo, Homebush, under the shade of the dogwood tree. and this unidentified rhododendron with masses of light pink blooms. The new shoots of this Gold Tipped Oriental Spruce, Picea orientalis aurea, were quite stunning as well.Garden Shed and Circular Driveway (Area 17)
Tea Rose, Countess Bertha, also known as Comtesse de Labarthe, Comtesse Ouwaroff, Mlle de Labarthe and Duchesse de Brabant, climbs up the back wall over the door, while the front garden facing the driveway contains Hybrid Tea, Mme Abel Chatenay, on the left, facing the shed, and English Rose, The Alnwick Rose, on the right. On the left of the junction of the path back into the Flower Walk (Area 16) is a shrub of Fantin Latour. I love the bright poppies of the central flowerbed in the driveway, which was filled with bright pink and orange zinnias in full bloom on our last visit in January. There was a stunning Oriental Poppy further down the driveway on our current visit in November.Monastery Garden (Area 13)
Like the Abbess’s Garden, the Monastery Garden is full of roses. This photo shows a view of the Monastery Garden, looking back to the entrance.A creamy cloud of Mrs Herbert Stevens (Hybrid Tea), Devoniensis (Tea) and Souvenir de la Malmaison (Bourbon) covers the entrance wall to the garden. The fallen purple petals of Portland Damask, Rose de Rescht, carpet the path on the right. St Fiacre, the patron saint of gardens, hides under Hybrid Perpetual, Reine des Violettes. I loved this little Nicotiana mutabilis, complementing the pink rose behind, and the contrast of the monastery bell with the infilled arches of variegated ivy.Vegetable Garden (Area 12) and Nursery (Area21)
I loved the hedge of Hybrid Rugosa, Roseraie de l’Hay, behind the globe artichokes: and the Icebergs (Hybrid Tea) dotting the vegetable garden. On the nursery side of the Wisteria Walk (Area 22) is the dramatic striped Delbard rose, Guy Savoy. And finally, ….
The Walled Garden (Area 2)
A riot of colour and scents! Hybrid Macrantha, Raubritter, covers the right of the seat, while Species Rose,Dupontii, stands tall against the end wall of the cottage. There is just so much colour and interest in just this section of the garden alone!I loved the sea of poppies in the front garden around the birdbath.Red Cow Farm would have to be one of my favourite gardens in all seasons and I would highly recommend a visit in November for maximum enjoyment! It is a photographer’s delight, so make sure that you take your camera or beg, borrow or steal one, as I had to do for this most important visit. I shall tell you more about my camera woes on Thursday!
Winter is finally coming to a close! The first two months (June/ July) were very cold, with heavy frosts, which were much worse than last year, damaging all the fresh new growth on the citrus trees (first photo) and almost completely destroying our beautiful native frangipanis, which had been doing so well (second photo). Hopefully, they will recover this Spring!Most of the salvias in the Moon Bed, a large area of agapanthus slope (1st photo) and the giant bamboo and the pots of succulents, daisies and aloe vera were also hit, and even the pink rock orchid (2nd photo) and the elkhorn (3rd photo), both of which should have been safe in their relatively protected positions! Luckily, they are both tough and show signs of recovery.Heavy frost certainly sorts out your plant selection! Only the tough survive!!Winter frosts also mean blue and gold sunny days and cold Winter nights and while the Winter Garden takes a holiday from blooming, we still did plenty of work in the garden, preparing for the new season, as well as exploring the local area and enjoying the Winter fires (both in the house and a friend’s bonfire night) and indoor activities.
I will start this post with an overall review of the garden in each month, followed by a recap of our garden jobs; creative pursuits and exploratory days out.June saw the end of the Autumn foliage (1st photo above of the Japanese Maple), a bounty of ivy berries for the bowerbirds (2nd photo above) and the last of the late roses. The photos below are, in order: Stanwell Perpetual; and David Austin roses, Heritage and LD Braithwaite.from which I made my birthday bouquet below: David Austin Roses: Heritage; Eglantyne; Fair Bianca; and William Morris; Feverfew; purple and white Dames’ Rocket; violets; Ziva Paperwhites and Buddleja foliage. From then on, it was vases of violets and Winter bulbs: Galanthus; Erlicheer and Ziva Paperwhites, all of which are flourishing in their new positions and naturalising well. Other June bloomers included: Primulas and Primroses; Winter Honeysuckle and Winter Jasmine; and Japanese Anemones and Wallflowers. Lots of whites; purples; lemons and yellows, with sharp sweet clean scents! The bees just adore the wallflowers!There were also the richer colours of gold and red in the Hill Banksia and the Grevillea. The first crop of our citrus was also very encouraging, though I should have harvested the limes and lemonades earlier before the frost damaged them! Seen below are photos of our lime tree; lemon crop (cumquats in background) and lemonade tree. I was very impressed with the sweetness of our first and only Navel Orange!In July, I was also very excited to see the emergence of our first Winter Aconite, which I had bought at great expense from Moidart Rare Plants last Spring, planted in the Treasure Bed and then waited for signs of life for months, resigning myself to the thought of having totally lost it! Now, it needs to multiply, then I will try naturalising it in the bird bath lawn with the Galanthus, which enjoys similar requirements.By late July, the leucojums (photo above) and hellebores had joined in. The first photo below is the corner of my neighbour’s garden by our shed. I can’t wait till our hellebores spread like that!! While I love the single form of Helleborus orientalis (above), I’m rather partial to the double forms: Purple, White and Red; as well as the rarer species hellebores: Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’.The japonicas, daphne and camellias also really picked up their game in early August, having been a bit shy to shine this year! I felt they bloomed much earlier last year with its milder Winter. The first photo below is the view from our bedroom window!I was delighted to have more flowers for the house.While June and July can sometimes feel a bit long, I love the quickening pace of August with its increasing day length, resulting in miniscule changes in the garden, which gives such a sense of hope, anticipation and excitement: The tiny leaf buds swelling on the trees (photo is the quince tree), shrubs and roses; The shooting of tulips and iris in the cutting garden, naturalised bluebells, crocus and Poets’ daffodils in the lawn and hyacinth and grape hyacinth in the treasure bed; and the celebratory blooming of miniature Tête à Tête daffodils and golden Winter Sun; Magnificent golden Wattle; Early Spring blossoms: Crab Apple; Plum and Birch; And the blooms of forget-me-knots, golden-centred white paper daisies and begonias.The birds are also revelling in the return of Spring! While the Winter trees were full of Currawongs, Crimson Rosella and Grey Butcher Birds (photos above in order), the tiny Striated Pardalotes have returned to the Pepperina tree, where their beautiful song marks the return of Spring.Eastern Spinebills and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters are also enjoying the August sun.The Bowerbirds have been feasting in great numbers on the new loquat crop, stealing a march on the Summer flying foxes!They also enjoy a swim in the bird bath, when not picking off my erlicheer blooms!
The magpies have been busy building their nest high in the Pepperina tree since late July. Can you see it up there? Despite their vicious swooping assaults on any large bird foolish enough to come anywhere near their territory, they are incredible quiet with us, often waiting patiently within a metre of us while weeding for an easy meal.I was very excited with the return of last year’s baby White-faced Herons, to check out the old family home in the cottonwood poplar. We are crossing our fingers that they will nest there again, despite the magpies’ plans to the contrary! They seem to think that they own all the trees in the garden – in fact, quite possibly our house as well, though Oliver (2nd and 3rd photo below) might have something to say about that! The nurturing aspects and bird-viewing potential of our neighbour’s giant tree makes up for its vigorous, and dishearteningly constant, propensity to shoot out roots deep into the soil under our vegetable beds! Raised vegetable beds are definitely part of our future garden plans!Winter is a great time to clean up the old garden and prepare for the new season! Weeding has been a major job: the aforementioned battle between the cottonwood poplar and our vegetable garden; the Cutting Garden ( 1st photo); the Soho Bed (2nd photo) and Moon Bed; and the new Shed Garden.We pruned all the old messy and dead growth: the feverfew and dames’ rocket in the Cutting Garden and the salvias and Paris daisy in the Moon Bed; the hydrangeas in late June and all the roses in late July; and lastly, all the old dead wood of the feral and incredibly prickly Duranta, creating a new semi-shady area to grow a white shrub bed, as well as lots of work, cleaning away all the lethal spiky offcuts! We transplanted the Viburnum mariesii plicatum, which was struggling in its old position in full shade; the white lilac, which really was out of place and would have eventually been too large for its location, and four Annabel hydrangea rooted cuttings from my sister’s garden at Glenrock. The neighbour’s cats were fascinated by this brand new garden, but I’m not sure how their feet fared! The tubs were protecting my Galanthus from being demolished by trampling feet as well!We also transplanted the pomegranate and red azalea from the bottom of the garden to the entrance of the main pergola and the red border of the native garden respectively to make room for a future garden shed, which will hopefully be built in the next few months.Winter is a great time for garden planning and reorganization, as well as for building structures! Ross has built a fantastic rose frame, using steel posts and weld mesh from old gates, against the old shed wall to support and effectively control our Albertine ramblers, which would otherwise take over the camping flat completely! I can’t wait to see the future wall of salmon pink roses!We dug up the area underneath for a mixed dahlia bed, the plants hiding the bare legs of the climbing roses and blooms taking up the baton after the Albertine has finished. This decision has also freed up the old dahlia bed for a future Brassica crop, though we have reserved the front third for Iceland poppies!We also finally put up the weld mesh on the top of the Main Pergola to support this year’s Summer growth of the climbing roses!Ross is getting very organized in the vegie garden! He has defined the edges of the vegetable and cutting garden beds with old weatherboards; Confined all the raspberry plants to their own bed near the compost heap; planted two more blueberries, all in different stages (leaf bud; flowers; and Autumn foliage!); Transplanted the rhubarb, asparagus and Russian tarragon to the new perennial vegetable garden (the northeast bed, which grew tomatoes and raspberries last year) and the snow peas to the corner of the compost heap, allowing some to stay and climb up the raspberries; pruned the old raspberry canes, transplanting the new Heritage runners to their own run and extending the old run with the Chilcotin and Chilliwack varieties; and sown Calendula seed at the front of the bed. In the remaining space of the perennial bed, he will plant pumpkins and zucchinis, letting them rambler down the bottom corner. He will then rotate between the two old main beds, which will grow potatoes (with later cucumbers) and beans, carrots, beetroot, with the current parsley and rocket in one bed; and kale, silverbeet, shallots, snow peas and lettuce and the two new ex-cutting garden beds, which will house early Spring brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts), and solanums (tomatoes, capsicum and aubergines) this year, though he has promised to allow any self-sown sunflowers or zinnias from the old beds to co-exist. Here are photos of our Winter vegie bed, with kale; ornamental chard; snow peas; broccoli; Spring onions and carrot seedlings just up!Meanwhile, I have been busy with the flower beds! I have transplanted overcrowded self-seeded rose campion and catmint to their new positions in the Moon and Soho Beds; planted gold and soft purple Bearded Iris to the back of the shed beds; and created a complete silver ring of Lambs’ Ear to define the border of the Soho Bed. Stachys lanata is so tough, it didn’t even miss a beat on division and transplantation and, once established, will certainly make it difficult for any external invasion of weeds and grass! I love the downy soft feel of its foliage! We planted our new roses from Thomas Roses in the Shed Bed (Mme Hardy; York and Lancaster; Rosa Mundi and Chapeau de Napoleon); on the flat (Maigold) and on the Main Pergola (Souvenir de St Anne). Ross also dug up an area on the terrace under the Pepperina tree and divided the old clivia clumps, so we can enjoy a swathe of orange in Summer.This month, we have started sowing seed in punnets under a plastic poly-tunnel on the warm path for plants to be later transplanted after the frosts: Heartsease (already up) and Scabiosa; Aquilegia and Honesty; Green Nicotiana and Gaillardia, which has already emerged at two weeks; Yarrow and Echinaceae; and Sea Holly and Green Wizard Coneflower, though we should have read the fine print on the latter, as we later discovered that they need a constant 20 degrees Celsius to allow them to germinate! In lieu of an incubator tray, we have been carting them in and out of the house each day!!!We have also sown seed directly in the garden: Nigella, Miss Jekyll Blue, and pink oriental poppies, Princess Victoria Louise, in the Soho and Moon Beds (photo below); Cerinthe major and burgundy-blue-and white mixed cornflowers (‘Fireworks’) in the shed garden; and Iceland poppies in the cutting garden (and third of the potato bed, as they are one if Ross’s favourite flowers!!!) You can see why I can’t wait for Spring!!!The Winter kitchen has also been a hive of activity with a first batch of lime cordial, made from our very own limes; 28 jars of cumquat marmalade from 6.6 kg fruit, with still more setting and ripening on the trees!; and making lemon cupcakes for a birthday, as well as lots of warming Winter soups!On the colder, greyer days, I have enjoyed embroidering diatoms on a felt; discovered the joys of making cords using a Kumihimo disc; learnt to crochet a flower chain; and made another embroidery roll for a friend.The majority of the days have had blue-and-gold days, as in sunny blue skies, perfect for exploring our beautiful local area:
Haycocks Point;Canoeing on the Murrah River to the Murrah Lagoon and the sea, where architect, Philip Cox, built his holiday home;Exploring Bombala and Delegate, platypus country and part of the ancient aboriginal pathway, the Bundian Way;Visiting On the Perch, Tathra, with its amazing range of birds, organized into their different environments, including this Emerald Dove and Maud, the Tawny Frogmouth; Zoe loved feeding all the birds!Hiking from Bittangabee Bay to Hegarty’s Bay, part of the Light to Light Walk from Boyds Tower to Green Cape Lighthouse in the Ben Boyd National Park;Discovering Penders, the property owned by businessman Ken Myers and architect Sir Roy Grounds, which was donated to National Parks in 1976 and is now part of Mimosa Rocks National Park, with its amazing views from the Bum Seat, photographed below, of Bithry Inley and the sea; and fascinating history and built environment, including Roy Ground’s tepee–like outdoor eating area, The Barn, and his geodesic dome structure; the magnificent Spotted Gum and Macrozamia forests and old orchard, with huge old camellia trees in full bloom; as well as the beautiful coastal walk to Middle Beach, with golden banksias against the blue blue sea and our first ‘echidna train’. Apparently, during the mating season in July and August, one female will be followed by two to ten males, until she tires and the first in line gets lucky! According to the ranger on the track, echidnas are also very active just before rain and sure enough, three days later, it did rain! This quiet Swamp Wallaby kept us company over our picnic lunch.Other Winter highlights included my birthday (What a cake!!! Thank you, Chris!); and a visit to Canberra for an interesting woodcut exhibition at the National Library of Australia, ‘Melodrama in Meiji Japan’ (see: https://www.nla.gov.au/meiji). We also popped into our favourite nursery, where we bought some tuberoses to plant in September after the frost. I just adore their scent, but will have to plant them away from the frost!We finished the Winter with a local orchid show at Merimbula with some stunning plants and an incredible range of form and colour.Next week, I am returning to one of my favourite rose types, the Noisettes. I will leave you with a Winter miracle, the humble spider’s web!
Given that we are keen gardeners, it should be no surprise that another great interest is botany and the beautiful wildflowers of our incredible continent! In Australia alone, we have over 18 000 species of flowering plants, grouped in 200 families! We are forever identifying and photographing wildflowers whenever we are bushwalking and are always learning new things.
The botanical world is endless and knowledge is always expanding. The Pea Family is a classic case, so the best one can do is to have a broad understanding of the major families and know how to work the plant identification keys, but even then, there are always anomalies! From my experience, it is useful to have a number of wildflower books, especially those pertinent to your specific locality, though having said that, there are often cross-overs between areas, so a wide variety of books is beneficial. Recent publications are also useful, as taxonomists often change scientific nomenclature, especially in the Eucalypt world! Here is a good general Australian wildflower book:
Field Guide to Australian Wildflowers by Denise Greig 1999
This book covers over 1000 Australian wildflower species, commonly encountered growing wild. They range in size from tiny annuals and terrestrial orchids to large perennials and shrubs. The book only includes a few trees, mainly colourful rainforest species or large-flowered mallees, and some common and conspicuous introduced plants, but ferns, fungi, sedges and grasses are not covered.
It is primarily a field guide rather than a definitive reference work, and early chapters are devoted to an explanation of terminology and nomenclature; how to use the guide; a small section on plant anatomy; a map of Australia showing the vegetation zones with accompanying descriptive text; and a guide to all the different Australian plant families, with a brief description and page reference numbers.
The remainder of the book is devoted to each family with species descriptions, flowering times and distribution on the left-hand page and colour photographs of each plant on the right-hand side. In the back is a useful glossary and bibliography. There are so may Australian wildflowers, but this general guide is a start!
Because we lived in South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales for many years, the next set of books were very useful.
Wildflowers of the North Coast of New South Wales by Barry Kemp 2004
Local flora guides are essential and this one is terrific! It covers the New South Wales coast from Newcastle, north to the Queensland border (500 km), and altitudes up to 800 metres elevation.
The plants are arranged into major habitat groups: Coastal Dunes, Headlands and Estuaries; Swamp Forest, Freshwater Wetlands and Riverbanks; Coastal Heath; Woodland Heath; Open Forest; Rainforest and Weeds, all sections with a description of each environment and its challenges and further division, based on size (Small Trees and Large Shrubs; Small Shrubs and Herbs) and then family (in alphabetical order); genus and species. Beautiful photographs of both habitat and each species abound.
Many of the plants described are not restricted to this area, so the book is still relevant to Sydney and South-East Queensland.
Australian Rain-Forest Trees WD Francis 1970
One of the original classics in rainforest tree identification, this third edition was produced almost 50 years ago, the first edition being published in 1929.
The introduction covers rainforest distribution in Australia; the character of Australian rainforests; the relationship of rainfall to rainforests; their atmospheric conditions and light; the soil and leaf litter; the effect of bushfires; tree size; buttresses and flanged stems; the bark, wood and leaves of Australian rainforest trees and the cultivation of these trees in Australia.
There is a brief description of the families of Australian rainforest trees, followed by identification keys and detailed descriptions of each family, including the derivation of its name, description, distribution, remarks and uses, as well as references, for both subtropical (Part One) and tropical rainforest trees (Part Two) !
I loved its black-and-white photographs of huge old rainforest trees with enormous girths, their height dwarfing the humans (often with axes in hand, the book having been produced by the Forest and Timber Bureau!) beside them, as well as close-up scaled photographs and diagrams of leaves, flowers and seed pods!
There is also a personal connection to this book, with photographs of my husband’s aunt and uncle in one of the photos, as well as a number of her moustached surveyor father, James Edgar Young, an early member of the Queensland Naturalists Club Inc, which was started in 1906 and still operates today.
Ornamental Rainforest Plants in Australia by David L Jones 1986
Another excellent guide to Australian rainforest plants, with not an axe in sight!
One thousand species are discussed in detail, especially those with ornamental interest, with a focus on their cultivation and propagation in the home garden.
There is a wealth of information on rainforest types and distribution; cultivation requirements (soil; light; planting; mulching; watering; fertiliser; and pruning); leaf terminology (divisions, shape and margins); creating a rainforest (site conditions; species selection and layout; preparation and planting; mulching and nutrient recycling; watering and misting; and maintenance); and propagation by seed, cuttings, layering, division, grafting and budding.
The plants are discussed in family groups, with general notes on family features; horticultural attributes; cultivation; and propagation, then specific entries on genus (arranged alphabetically) and their species (common and scientific names; type of rainforest habitat; flowering period; description; distribution; notes and cultivation and propagation).
There are black-and-white scaled botanical sketches of foliage, fruit and flowers throughout, as well as coloured plates of photographs, making this book an invaluable identification guide as well.
In the back of the book is a variety of lists of rainforest plants for different situations and purposes, titled: Tropical, Subtropical, Temperate, Coastal and Inland Regions; Pioneer Plants and Fast Growing Species; Indoor Plants; Shade Trees; Curtailing Stream Bank Erosion; Attractive or Decorative Bark, Foliage, New Growth, Flowers and Fruit; Fragrant Flowers; Edible Fruit; and even Species Attractive to Nectar-Feeding or Fruit-Eating Birds.
This book certainly fulfils its promise of encouraging a love of rainforest plants and incorporating them in the garden.
Gardening With Australian Rainforest Plants by Ralph Bailey and Julie Lake 2001
A very similar book, also promoting rainforest gardens, with a slightly different approach. While starting with a description of the different types of Australian rainforests, it digresses to dispel certain misconceptions and myths and then has very detailed chapters on:
Planning : Site considerations; design; climate; and soil
Plant Selection : Watercolour garden designs; buffer zones; essential steps in the creation of the garden; and lists of plants for specific needs eg windbreaks; buffer zones; variegated foliage; fragrance; and the rainforest floor.
Planting : Soil preparation; pH; planting for the different levels of the rainforest (for example : canopy, understorey and floor); climbers; planting in established gardens; watering; protection from wind and frost; staking and mulching; and more lists of plants: shrubs and understoreys; climbers and scramblers; palms; trees and shrubs with spectacular flowers; trees for the home garden; and pioneer plants.
Final Details: Vantage points; furniture; lighting; and rainforest pools, creeks and waterfalls.
Care and Cultivation: Water; fertilising; pruning; weed control; insect attack; and common pests and diseases; and
Feature Rainforest Plants and their incorporation into mixed and exotic gardens; poolside plantings; colder climates; and boggy areas and creek banks.
There are also chapters on : Small Gardens and Courtyards: Seaside Rainforest Gardens; Drier Inland Gardens; Container Growing; Wildlife in the Rainforest Garden, including bird and butterfly attractants and pond life; Rainforest Plants for Bush Tucker, including lists of edible and toxic plants; and finally, propagation by seed, cuttings and grafting.
The authors include their 100 favourite rainforest plants, with key symbols for light levels, temperature, water requirements and special features for quick reference. Primarily a gardening book, its photographs are still useful for supporting other identification guides.
Rainforest Plants I-V by Nan and Hugh Nicholson 1985-2000
A wonderful series of five books by the owners of Terania Creek Nursery in Northern New South Wales, we used these small books extensively during our Dorrigo years, as our block was perched right on the escarpment, bordering Bellinger National Park and Dorrigo National Park and was surrounded by subtropical, warm temperate and cool temperate rainforest species.
The photographs are beautiful and make identification much easier, though at times I wished that they covered all aspects – flowers, fruit and leaves on the one page!
The accompanying text is also very informative with common, scientific and family names and notes about the name derivation; distribution; identification features; habitat; fruit, seeds and dispersion; germination and use in the garden.
Other features include: a distribution map for the East coast of Australia (Volume 1); notes on growing a rainforest and weeds (both in Volume 2); rainforest types (Volume 3); disturbing rainforests (Volume 4); and rainforest seeds and their propagation (Volume 5), as well as a cumulative index for all 5 books.
There are certainly some beautiful rainforest plants and this series really engenders a great appreciation of them all.
Australian Rainforest Fruits: A Field Guide by Wendy Cooper 2013 *
While on the subject of Australian flora (and fauna), it is well worth checking out an organization, called Bush Blitz, which is based at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra and conducts biological surveys all over Australia, discovering many new species in the process. Our friend, Brian Hawkins, with whom Ross worked back at the Rainforest Centre in Dorrigo, is a Senior Project Officer with them. See: http://bushblitz.org.au/expeditions/ and http://bushblitz.org.au/team-profiles/.
Guide to Wildflowers of Western Australia by Simon Nevill and Nathan McQuoid 2008 *
Field Guide Orchids of New South Wales and Victoria by Tony Bishop 1996
The number and diversity of orchids is so vast, that it is worth having a specialised book on these beautiful little plants. We had a number of different orchids on our Dorrigo trees and rocks, like the sweetly scented Orange Blossom Orchids, Sarcochilus falcatus, and the delicate Dagger Orchids, Dendrobium pugioniforme, and Box Orchids, Dendrobium aemulum.
In Victoria, we also really enjoyed hunting for terrestrial orchids at the Grampians, as well as Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road each year, when a specific area was fenced off during the Spring Wildflower Festival and marked with identification flags to aid the search. I remember dragging my daughter and her non-botanically inclined boyfriend along one year and watching the little old ladies taking them under their wing was priceless!
We also really loved seeing the wonderful Spring display of Rock Orchids, Dendrobium speciosum, on the cliffs of the Merrica River last year. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/11/22/the-kings-of-merrica-river/. They brought back many fond memories for Ross of the King Orchids on the cliffs of his childhood home in South-East Queensland. He adores their scent, which is very similar to that of the flowers of another rainforest vine, Ripogonum scandens.
This comprehensive guide covers the lot from descriptions of Horned Orchids, Donkey Orchids and Hare Orchids; Bird Orchids, Duck Orchids and Beak Orchids; Lizard Orchids; Mosquito, Midge and Gnat Orchids; Onion and Leek Orchids; Greenhoods, Ladies’ Tresses and Helmet Orchids; Elbow Orchids and Parsons’ Bands; Fairy Orchids and Sun Orchids; and Waxlips,Tongue and Beard Orchids, to name but a few!
Each genus and its species are described with general remarks about the genus and specific details on each species, including common and scientific names, flowering season, description, distribution and habitat; identification features and similar species, all supported by excellent colour photographs and identification keys, though it still doesn’t make the task any easier, as so many of them are alike!!!!
The last two books are very pertinent to our local area now.
Native Plants of the Blue Mountains by Margaret Baker and Robin Corringham 1995
I always love visiting the Blue Mountains, especially in Spring, when all the wildflowers are in full bloom, not to mention all the wonderful gardens!
The sandstone plateau supports many vegetation communities: eucalypt woodland and open forest; tall open forest and closed forest; heath and cliff-faces; and swamps and stream communities. There are over 1500 species of flowering plants in the Blue Mountains National Park, including 20 endemic plants species and 72 rare or threatened plants.
After a brief description of the general area, the book is divided into each of these plant communities, with a general description and photo, followed by detailed entries (including a description; preferred habitat and family name) of all the plant species within those communities on the left page, with photos of each species on the right page. For more on the flora of the Blue Mountains. It is also worth consulting: http://www.waratahsoftware.com.au/wpr-flora-bluemountains.shtml.
Kosciuszko Alpine Flora by Alex Costin, Max Gray, Colin Totterdell and Dane Wimbush 2000
Back on Australia Day 2005, the family enjoyed the wonderful 22 km Main Range Walk from Charlotte’s Pass up to Hedley Tarn, Blue Lake, Club Lake, Lake Albina and Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak, then back via the old road.
There were masses of wildflowers (Lake Albina particularly stole my heart!) and still patches of snow, despite being High Summer! We bought this book to help us identify all the photographed wildflowers, little realizing that years later, we would be residents of the Far South Coast of New South Wales, within a morning’s drive of this very special alpine area!
The photographs in this book are superb, many having been taken on beautiful clear sunny days, unlike our 2005 trip, which still included a fair proportion of mist and cloud! It is a very interesting and informative book, with chapters on alpine and subalpine areas; the evolution of the Kosciuszko Alpine Area; the human history of the area and its impact on the Kosciuszko flora; the plants and plant communities, including montane and subalpine communities; the alpine communities of feldmark; heaths; herb fields; grassland; bog and fen; introduced species; and distribution and succession in alpine communities. There are also excellent maps and profiles of the area.
The rest of the book is devoted to the 212 native species, subspecies and varieties of ferns and flowering plants in the Kosciuszko Alpine Area. There is an introductory table with species and common names, as well as growth form, habitat, distribution and page number, followed by beautiful photographs of each plant species in its habitat. I look forward to doing more alpine walks next Summer!
Flowers of the South Coast and Ranges I-III by Don and Betty Wood 1998-1999 *
Even though fungi are not plants, I will include them at the end of this post, as they inhabit a similar world!
A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia by AM Young 2005
I love looking for fungi, especially on wet Autumn days, when not much else is in flower! They can look quite exotic and have such a wide diversity of form, colour and texture, as well as a fascinating life history!
I find them all endlessly fascinating from the puffballs and jelly fungi (ear shaped Auricularia; brain-like Tremella and the bright yellow pikes of Calocera) to the giant bracket fungi, delicate coral fungi, trumpet-shaped Cantharellus and stinkhorn fungi – the Aseroë and meshed Colus, the earth stars and cone-shaped, honeycombed Morchella. They vary from white and creams to browns, reds, yellows, greens and even blues and purples, as well as having amazing stripes, spots and patterns. Some are even luminescent, though I have yet to see one!
It’s difficult to choose, but I think my favourites are the white spotted bright red and extremely toxic Fly Agarics (Amanita muscaria), the fairy toadstools of childrens’ books; the quaint Earth Stars Geastrum triplex and the Red Starfish Fungus, Aseroë rubra, with yes!, its bright red starfish-like double arms, waving at the top of its body.This is a fascinating book about a fascinating subject, about which is still very little is known! This book is only concerned with macrofungi, the fungi whose finer structures can be seen without a microscope (as opposed to microfungi-like moulds) and at the time of publication, there were 20 000 to 25 000 species of macrofungi in Australia, of which 60 per cent are unknown, and yet they perform an essential role in the life cycle of all living matter, being the prime agents of decomposition and the recycling of nutrients and elements.
They also have important mycorrhizal relationships with the roots of other shrubs and trees like eucalypts, casuarinas and wattles, as well as being an important animal food resource.The introductory chapters explores the fungal organism and anatomy (we only see the fruiting bodies); fungal reproduction and spores, which also display a wide variety of shape and texture; the difference between toadstools and mushrooms; the divisions within macrofungi : Ascomycetes (yeasts; truffles and morels; ); Basidiomycetes (the majority of bushland fungi, including cultivated mushrooms); and Myxomycetes (slime moulds); and collecting, describing and preserving fungi.
It includes interesting fungal facts about fairy rings; luminescence, as in the Ghost Fungus of South-East Queensland rainforests, which are the favourite food of Giant Land Snails; mycorrhizal relationships; fungal-infected caterpillars; and their role in the diet of Australian marsupials and reptiles, as well as that of humans! The book then has a black-and-white illustrated key for all the different types of fungi, but because so many fungi have yet to be identified and the book only describes less than 200 species, the keys serve more to indicate groups of species or genera, then refers to the relevant sections of the book. Because the number of Agarics or Gilled Fungi is quite large, they have been divided on their location or food source: forest/ woodland (wood, leaf litter, soil); grassland; animal remains; and dung. There is also a toxicity key (most important for those adventurous souls out there!). The main body of the book is then devoted to species descriptions – their common names; fruiting bodies; spores; habitats; distribution and notes, backed up by black-and-white illustrations and a central section of superb colour photographs. Did you know there was a fungi called a Curry Punk, that Stinkhorn Fungi emit the odour of rotting meat to attract flies for spore dispersal or that the fruiting body is 90 per cent water and is totally for spore production and dispersal. It is such an interesting book and an essential component of the natural history library!
Note: You will notice that I have included an asterisk * next to some of the books mentioned. These are books, which are on our bucket list, which we would love to purchase over time, which leads me to my final recommendation! If you are visiting the Botanic Gardens in Canberra, an excellent bookshop for natural history and gardening books is the Botanical Bookshop at Australian National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross St., Acton ACT 2601 Phone: 02 6257 3302. Opening times are : 9:30am to 4:30pm 7 days a week (Closed Christmas Day). You can also order books online at http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au.
To see us through the Winter, over the next 5 weeks, I will be focusing on other natural history and environmental books in our library, after which I will have an update of the Winter Garden and resume the normal format of posts on different types of roses, special rose gardens to visit and more interesting books on history, art and architecture, poetry and travel !
It has been a beautiful Autumn with good rain early in March; a superb display of colour with the deciduous foliage from April to late May and long-lasting zinnias, dahlias and salvias, as well as a repeat-flush of roses; and lots of gardening activities, creative pursuits and local exploratory trips!Autumn vies with Spring in my affections. The weather is much more stable, though is tempered by the knowledge of the impending Winter, only to be assuaged by the parade of brilliant deciduous colour, as each tree prepares for its Winter dormancy. The verandah is such a vantage point, the backdrop changing daily.The zinnias and dahlias lasted well into late May, having been touched up by a few early frosts, and Ross has finally put them to bed with a good layer of protective mulch.The roses have taken centre stage again with a wonderful Autumn flush. These photos were all taken this Autumn. I have organised them into their separate beds:
Top Row: Left to Right: Just Joey; Fair Bianca; LD Braithwaite and Alnwyck.
Bottom Row: Left to Right: The Childrens’ Rose; Mr Lincoln; Eglantyne and Icegirl.
Top Row: Left to Right: Golden Celebration; Heritage; Windermere; William Morris
Bottom Row: Left to Right: Lucetta; Jude the Obscure; William Morris; and Troilus
Top Row: Left to Right: Mme Alfred Carrière and Adam
Bottom Row: Left to Right: an older Adam bloom and Souvenir de la Malmaison
Hybrid Musk Hedge : Left-hand side : White Roses
Top Row: Left to Right: Autumn Delight and Penelope
Bottom Row: Left to Right: Penelope and Tea rose Sombreuil on arch.
Right-hand Side: Pink Roses
Left to Right: Cornelia on arch; Stanwell Perpetual and Mutabilis
Left to Right: Fru Dagmar Hastrup and Mme Georges Bruant
Left to Right: Cécile Brünner first two roses and Mrs Herbert Stevens
Top Row: Left to Right: Viridiflora and Archiduc Joseph
Bottom Row: Left to Right: Archiduc Joseph and Countess Bertha
I have organised the rest of the garden blooms by colour:
Top Row: Left to Right: Wild Petunia, Ruellia humilis; Violet; Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla;
Bottom Row: Left to Right: Poor Man’s Lavender Plectranthus neochilus; Plumbago; and Hydrangea
Top Row: Left to Right: Tree Dahlia buds and Elkhorn Fern
Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia new bud and Bells of Ireland, Molucella
Orange, Gold and Yellow :
Top Row: Left to Right: Paris Daisy with Salvia, Indigo Spires; Woodbine; and Paris Daisy
Bottom Row: Left to Right: Hill Banksia, Banksia collina; slightly older bud of Rosebud Salvia; and Orange Canna Lily
Top Row: Left to Right: Fuchsia; Salvia; Christmas Pride, Ruellia macrantha;
Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia, Salvia involucrata; Christmas Pride; Pink ‘Doris’
Top Row: Left to Right: Grevilleas Lady O and Fireworks; and Salvia ‘Lipstick’
Bottom Row: Left to Right: Grevillea Lady O; Echeveria and Azalea Dogwood Red
Top Row: Left to Right: Mexican Heather, Cuphea hyssopifolia; Cigar Flower, Cuphea ignea
Bottom Row: Left to Right: Dames’ Rocket, Hesperis matronalis, and Violet
Top Row: Left to Right: Nerines; Honeysuckle; Strawberry flowers and first of the PaperWhite Ziva jonquils for the season!
Bottom Row: Left to Right: Autumn Crocus; Windflower; Tea, Camellia sinensis; and Viburnum opulus – an out-of-season bloom.
We have been very busy and productive in the garden, gradually crossing jobs off the list! Weeding is a constant in the Soho and Moon Beds, as well as around the feet of all the shrub roses and bulb patches. We have just dug up either side of the shed garden path, so the shed roses are now in garden beds and we planted out many of the potted cuttings, which we took from my sister’s garden at Glenrock. All are doing well!We also made two arches out of old gate weld mesh, one leading into the future chook yard and supporting Cornelia (photo 2) and Sombreuil (photo 3); and the other on the corner of the shed, with Reve d’Or (photo 3) and Alister Stella Grey (photo 4) either side. Ross defined the edges of the vegetable beds with old recycled fence palings and planted out young vegetable seedlings, which he then mulched. We are really enjoying their Winter crop in our salads at lunchtime.From front to back in the photos below: red and green mignonette lettuce; spring onions; broccoli; spinach; cos lettuce and kale. We harvested the pumpkins, which again engulfed the compost heap, zinnia bed and maple tree, as well as the last of the tomatoes, making 3 bottles of green tomato chutney. We also have plenty of late Autumn fruit, now that the bats have gone, though I suspect our citrus is fairly safe anyway! Unfortunately, the figs did not ripen in time, but the Golden Hornet crabapples have lasted well on the tree. All the new citrus are growing madly and bearing fruit – the lime (photo 1) has a particularly fine crop and the lemonade (photo 2) is also bearing well. The cumquats have been an absolute picture, both in full blossom and fruit.We picked 6 Kg of fruit to make into cumquat marmalade and there was still fruit left!The loquat trees were in full bloom for weeks, attracting huge noisy parties of rainbow lorikeets, which then went on to eat the Duranta berries, along with the Crimson Rosellas and huge flocks of King Parrots. Up until early May, we had even larger flocks of screeching Little Corellas in the thousands, gathering in the trees, recently vacated by the bats, then flying off en masse right on dark to their roosting trees to the north, occasionally accompanied by the odd Galah! We have enjoyed flyovers by the local Gang-Gangs (photos below) and Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos. We even had a rare flypass by a Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, en route to the local mountain forests. Other exciting glimpses included three Dollar Birds (photos 1 and 2) and a Figbird (photo 3), both Summer migrants, normally found further north. Other larger birds in our garden at the moment include very quiet Australian Magpies (photo 6), a pair of courting Australian Ravens (photo 2), a Grey Butcherbird (photo 3), Pied Currawongs (photo 5), Spotted Turtle Doves (photo 4) and our Blackbirds (photo 1), which have been on holiday and have just returned. And our littlies: the Eastern Spinebills (photos 1 and 2), Silvereyes (photo 3) and Double-barred Finches (photo 4). all of whom do a stirling job keeping the bugs in check.We found this delightful Grey Fantail nest in our old camellia tree at the front door.The slightly cooler weather has been wonderful for pursuing creative tasks from cooking to sewing, embroidery and paper crafts. I made my son a delicious carrot cake, using a recipe from https://chefkresorecipes.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/carrot-cake/ for his birthday: and hot cross buns for Easter Friday, using a recipe from https://bitesizebakehouse.com/2017/04/08/cranberry-hot-cross-buns-2/ , with a fun Easter Egg hunt in the garden with friends on the Sunday. My friend Heather, who visited us during the Candelo Arts Festival and is the Melbourne agent for Saori (http://artweaverstudio.com.au/), gave us a Saori weaving workshop and we were thrilled with our woven runners. I gave my friends Rae, Brooklin and Kirsten, a hand embroidery lesson, inspiring Rae’s wonderful exhibit. I was so impressed! I made embroidery rolls for their birthdays,