Category Archives: garden stuff

Ringwood North garden

The Open Garden Scheme provided the opportunity to view a garden that I have been curious about for a long time. I knew that a lot of effort had gone into its redevelopment  but as it is at the top of a cutting in the road, it was impossible to see what was happening.

Banool is a 1.6 acre property; a much larger estate was developed over 100 years ago and the current house built in 1936. It has many large trees and the recent landscaping was done under the direction of Paul Bangay, engaged by the current owners after they purchased in 2004.

The driveway curves up hill toward the house, passing beneath a very shady Port Jackson Fig.

The ancient front hedge and tree studded lawns  give way to deep beds closer to the house. These are filled with gorgeous plants including roses, iris, sweet pea, foxgloves and a stunning rhododendron. The form and planting is perfectly in keeping with the era of the stone built house.

The garden structures are mainly new, but the stone pillars are part of the 1930s garden. Beside the old driveway is an old grafted ash and the remains of the Hills Hoist that was the original support.

Round the back is the fruit and vegetable garden and more lawns and trees.

It is pleasantly surprising to find a garden of this type in Ringwood North, usually associated with Australian native gardens and 1980s subdivisions.



One and a half years on

The bathtub garden I created following my bathroom renovations is hard to recognise. Nearly all the succulents have done really well, only the flap-jacks succumbed to snail attack. The white Mesembryanthemum is trailing everywhere with its pretty white flowers popping up between the other plants. Pig face is such an unattractive name, it doesn’t deserve it at all.

I gave the mini fountain a clean out, not too much muck had accumulated in the bottom of the sump and with the sun out it bubbles away beautifully. All this low maintenance bed needed was a top up of soil where it had compacted and a quick wash of the pebbles.

Just as expected, after the drastic lopping of all the trunks of the bay tree in February, it is putting out lots of new growth. I plan to keep it clipped from now on to give the quince tree some room.

Another tree doing exceptionally well this spring is the mulberry. It is Hick’s Fancy and has a bumper crop. I picked 200g yesterday just for starters, so I have been searching for mulberry recipes. I’m also picking lots of parsley, all these flat leaf parsley plants have grown from seed I saved last summer and scattered after ridding the bed of oxalis.


A new quilt shop

After months of rumours and false leads, Clair’s Fabrics has opened at Warran Glen Garden Centre, Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, Warrandyte.

Once inside the doors there is plenty of fabric in the bright modern style and Clair ready to provide friendly advice. After so many shops closing it is good news that one has opened close to home.

Another horse chestnut tree in full flower spotted over the fence at the nursery. This one has flowers that are much darker than the ones I saw at Banksia Park.

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.