Category Archives: garden stuff

Cherry blossom time

A Sakura picnic day was held at Banksia Park, Bulleen on Sunday, but I was busy elsewhere. So today, despite the heat I went on my own cherry blossom viewing.

Banksia Park is an enormous open space with a hidden entrance next to the Heide Museum in Templestowe Road. The 23 ha parkland is in two large loops of the Yarra River. Most of this land was cleared for farming in the 1800’s and it now has lots of rolling lawns and exotic shade trees. The cherry trees are not hard to find once the correct loop is chosen, they are right beside the fenced dog off-leash area.


A grove of 100 cherry trees Prunus serrulata “Shirofugen” was presented to Victoria by the Prime Minister of Japan in 1980. After a bit of a disaster at Jells Park the remaining 65 trees were moved to this location around 1988 and while conditions were more suitable, the ten year drought and only routine park maintenance meant it was still a bit of a struggle for these imported trees. Two years ago a group of Japanese seniors formed the Cherry Friends. They tend the trees, watering in summer and feeding fortnightly in autumn and spring. The friends have have also donated several specimens of a weeping variety of this gorgeous plant.


While it is not the same as the feted trees of Osaka, this grove now puts on a glorious show, without the crowds.


Getting down under the branches is the best way to enjoy the blossoms. The ladies in the picture on the left are Cherry Friends having discovered the trees about ten years ago, they come each blossom time. They said this year was the best yet.


Beautiful Japanese Horse Chestnuts Aesculus turbinata are also in flower and provide a most suitable backdrop.

The park has interesting walks with history markers. Even the resident wombats are well accommodated with gates in the fence.






I’ll be back next year come blossom time.


Pretty in pink

This post is triggered by seeing a local garden in full spring glory mode. It is on quiet suburban street corner and is a bit of a stand out because it is always clipped within an inch of its life. IMG_6488It got me thinking about the concept of the front garden, partly because I do not have one. So today as I took one of my longer walking routes I paid attention to the face property owners present to the world.

Most of the gardens in my street are dominated by native trees and shrubs with exotics planted closer to the house. Some owners have been careful to plant species indigenous to the area. The reserve that takes up one side of the road is slowly being rehabilitated with lots of weed clearing and intensive planting between the trees and along the restored creek banks.

Some newer home owners are bucking this trend, but because of VCAT rulings, trees have been protected and there is a restricted building footprint. Not that this means a garden full of native plants hiding a sympathetic buildingIMG_6492

Infil housing is happening up the next road, with back and side yards of large properties subdivided off. What looks like a converted Masonic Lodge is actually a new build. The front garden is as uptight as the architecture. The long drive down to a new house takes advantage of the cypress trees next door and has a regimented planting squeezed in on either side of the asphalt.

Most gardens however are typical mixes of traditional plantings and are well maintained.  Like this one with the beautiful deciduous magnolia, a plant that is putting on a stunning display all over Melbourne this spring.


A bit further on one of the original farm houses has a neat front garden typical of its era. Down the side are assorted sheds and there is still a nearby dam despite most of the land being given over to housing. Next comes the high tension transmission lines which are a demarcation line between large blocks and significant acreage.


Ahh for the good old days of government owned infrastructure.

I am now well away from any form of footpath, and the air is full of the scent of Sweet Pittosporum Pittosporum undulate, an environmental weed that establishes very quickly and starves surrounding plants of nutrients, water and sunlight. It is a native plant out of its usual rainforest habitat, but is allowed to grow in yards and gardens probably because it looks quite nice and saves on lots of weeding.

There is a distinct change of style as properties are not just homes for people. At least four beautiful horses have stabling just a gate away from the front garden of one home.

A reproduction of maybe a Victorian period home has an impressive front garden and a tennis court and pool down the side. Definitely a lifestyle place and with gorgeous views. Many  Canary Island Date Palms Phoenix canariensis feature in front gardens, some indicating the age of the house, but most how much the owner was prepared to spend on landscaping. It is definitely the status plant for large gardens.

There are paddocks now between each house and the frontages are getting wider. This next one is an “Exquisite Executive Residence on 10 acres” according to the For Sale sign.

I turn up a road that runs across the crest of the hills. On the corner is a house that dates back to the time when the area was popular for guest houses and country retreats for people wanting a break away from the city. Deciduous feature trees dominate, with lots of shrubberies and borders.


I am in serious horse country now. It is no longer a house with a showy garden, more a place to enjoy all aspects of the equestrian life. The scent in the air has changed too,  freesias have naturalised all along the side of the road.

Less than a half hours walk from home I am well out into the country side. Remnant bushland and paddocks and a couple of alpaca.

Across the other side of the road it is lovely to see an older California Bungalow has been renovated and enlarged rather than bulldozed. Even the windbreak has been kept. No front garden is needed when there is some much beautiful scenery all around.



Narcissus ‘Tête á Tête’ bought last Saturday are now in full bloom. Many of them have two trumpets on one stem, hence the name. The only lemon produced by my little tree is ready to harvest.

The Acacia baileyana or Cootamundra wattle on the driveway is putting on a fine show. This species flowers far too early for Wattle Day on September 1, and it does naturalise too easily but I still really like it.

To market to market

An overnight low of -2 Celsius with frost was followed by a glorious sunny day. Perfect for a visit to the monthly Warrandyte Market. This has to be the prettiest and most dog friendly market around. It used to be a community market but I noticed it is now a commercial operation. This didn’t seem to change anything.

The good weather brought out lots of browsers and the hot food sellers were doing a roaring trade. There is a good mix of produce, craft, food and plants.

Vegan Row was very busy but the biggest queue was for Turkish Gozleme. The trees behind look a little hazy, that is because the Scouts in the carnivore area had a good fire going.

The pansies are in pots cut from redgum. Not sure how long they would last. The donut van was a bit quiet. The most popular food among the kids was a fried spiral potato on a stick.

This very cute sock monkey caught my eye, I was told it was vintage, made in the 60s!

A potato farmer from Gembrook had nothing good to say about the industry. Supermarkets have reduced the maximum potato size from 450g to 400g, making a good portion of his crop unsellable. He has downsized his farm and grows only for market selling which is enough to keeps him busy enough to stay out of the house.


My haul. A pot of  Narcissus “Tete a Tete” full of buds ready to burst open. I will keep them in the pot while they flower, then plant out next year. A rhododendron which I will keep in a pot as the one I have already is doing well like that. And a clutch of kipfler potatoes complete with Gembrook dirt.

New garden trend

I am sure this is going to take off all over the place. My garden is displaying this latest look in landscaping. A blanketing of oxalis!

A mystery: During summer a number of holes were dug in the garden overnight. I filled them in, but they were redug in the same places, usually near plant roots. The neighbours got a new dog and the mystery digging stopped.

But now the mystery animal is back. Each hole is the same shape, long and narrow. The one in the main picture is about 6 cm deep. Not at all like digging done by cats, dogs and no droppings in sight so I don’t think it would be a rabbit. I really hope rats are not habitual diggers. Would much rather it was an echidna or a bandicoot. Short of installing  very expensive infrared monitoring cameras I have no idea how to identify what is doing the digging.

The good news is that the animal only digs in open ground, so most of the garden is safe as it is covered in oxalis.

Autumn Gardening

The big achievement of the last month is cleaning out all the gutters. Quite a big task as leaves blow on to the roof all the time and in summer the tiny gum nuts rain down from the lemon scented gum. Usually I just make sure the house roof is clear as any blockage will cause a back flow of rain into the ceiling. Curse those concealed gutters!

This time it was impossible to ignore the great accumulation of mulch on the carport roof. IMG_5650

It took two afternoons of going up and down the ladder and scooping out handfuls of leaves and humus before the job was done. Both gutters were clear and a quick hosing flushed out any leaves in the pipe going to the tank.IMG_5652

The end result got the tick of approval from the gutter inspector. Although she thought the lights could do with a bit of a clean too.

A bonus tree for the garden, I think it might be a jacaranda as the one nearby had a few seed pods a year ago.IMG_5715


Ever wondered what happened to the helium balloon after you accidentally let go of it? This morning I discovered Florrie resting on a small shrub next to the steps as I came in from fetching the morning paper.IMG_5477

It had been quite windy yesterday, so she could have spent time between the weekend and now stuck in the branches of the tree just above where she now rests.

After a little research I think by they way she has torn that it was the thinning atmosphere as she rose higher and higher that caused her demise.


Balloon burst at approx 91,470 ft over San Francisco

Reminds me of the whole school balloon launches that were popular about 30 years ago. Sent off with optimism that the attached postcards would be returned after the seeds secured to them were planted. Some did come back, mainly from farmers in Gippsland happy to oblige the kids. Then there was the card that came all the way from Europe via the travelling friend of one of the teachers.

Since then we have learned of the harm all that stray latex and string brings to the environment, particularly sea creatures, so no more balloon launches.

Florrie tried a new life as a kitten toy, with limited success.


Friday Update

Thinking like Vireya that Florrie came from a significant birthday celebration, I did some searching. Instead of a centenarian I discovered that Florrie is the name of a new venture located in High St, Armadale about 50 min away by road. The business sells a fancy doll and also hosts birthday parties. They sent me a lovely reply to my email.

I am very sorry to report that one of your balloons has flown all the way to Warranwood. It did not survive the trip.


Hi Jeanette,
That balloon sounds like it certainly went on an adventure! I am sure some little girl was very upset when it slipped from her grasp and began it’s journey.
Best wishes

Melody Sole
Head of Marketing and Online