Friday, January 05, 2007

A New Home, a New Garden!

Well, I'm as happy as a Frenchman who's just invented self-removing trousers.

We're buying a home in Mt Kuring-gai, on the northern outskirts of Sydney. It's a beautiful place, backing onto Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Secluded, quiet, at the end of a cul de sac, and teeming with nature. It's the sort of place I've always dreamed of living in. During one of our inspections, a wallaby was grazing in the front garden!

Read about it and look at more photos here. You can see the region on Google Maps. (If it doesn't default to it, click on "satellite" so you can see all that gorgeous bushland!)

One of the most exciting aspects is its garden. It primarily has native plants but a few interlopers are there which I'll be excising. (Like the agapanthus. Can you believe that someone would plant agapanthus right next to a national park?)

In preparation, I've been making a list of all the native plants I'll be taking to plant out. Some are tube-stock I've bought or been given, some are in large pots and well established, and some I've propagated from seed or cuttings. The Lomandra 'Tanika' is in the ground, but I'll be digging it up--it's such a beautiful specimen I can't say good-bye to it.

Here is the list:

Acacia amblygona, Acacia fimbriata, Adiantum hispidulum, Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, Asplenium bulbiferum, Backhousia citriodora, Calothamnus quadrifidus, Cassinia denticulata, Clematis gentianoides, Crowea saligna, Darwinia citriodora, Derwentia perfoliata, Doodia aspera, Eucalyptus 'Summer Beauty', Eucalyptus macrocarpa, Goodenia ovata, Grevillea caleyi, Grevillea olivacea x preissii, Grevillea rhyolitica, Grevillea speciosa, Hardenbergia violacea, Hibbertia scandens, Kennedia prostrata, Kennedia rubicunda, Lepidozamia peroffskyana, Leptospermum scoparium, Lomandra 'Tanika', Lomandra longifolia, Melaleuca bracteata, Melaleuca linearifolia, Melaleuca thymifolia, Myoporum floribundum, Ozothamnus diosmifolius, Pandorea pandorana, Stenocarpus sinuatus, Stylidium productum, Stylidium adnatum, Telopea speciosissima, Telopea speciosissima 'Wirrimbirra White', Westringia fruticosa, Xanthorrhoea australis and Zieria smithii.

I've also a wish list of a few plants that are local to the area:

Clematis glycinoides Old Man's Beard
Dianella prunina
Actinotus helianthi
– Flannel Flower
Dampiera strictaBlue Dampiera
Hypolepis muelleri – Harsh Ground Fern
Ceratopetalum gummiferum – NSW Christmas Bush
Correa reflexa
Grevillea buxifolia
– Grey Spider Flower

I'm intending to do a proper garden scale plan, as we learned in the hort course last year. I've made notes on the habit, size, aspect and colouration for each species, to ensure they're happy and look as good as possible. It's a huge project, but I can think of none I'd rather do.

At the back of the house, under the sunroom is an open space which I'm commandeering to use as my hort headquarters. I'll put in shelves for my stuff, a whiteboard to keep records of propagating activities and a potting bench. Close by will be my greenhouse.

Naturally, one of the first things we'll be doing is setting up a water tank, and I'll use drip irrigation throughout the areas that will require watering, like the vegie patch. (Once established, the native plants will have to fend for themselves.) And, of course, there's be a frog pond.

There is an area between the house and a sandstone embankment that is just made to be a rainforest area, perfect for my ferns, tree ferns, zamia, elkhorns and asplenium. (Cool cave, huh? I wonder who lives there. And why does it need a ladder?)

We'll be moving in at the beginning of March. I haven't much time to think about it, though, because my Plant Internship starts on Monday and finishes the week before we move. More on the Internship soon.

2007 is starting spectacularly well for us. Let's hope it keeps going that way.

Oh, and happy new year!




Porgie said...

I've always said that a cave without a ladder is like a sunroom without a seagull! (but I'm like that...)

Hope your happiest of Gnu Years continues as well as it has begun...


Margaret said...

Thank you, Porgie! I hope yours is the best yet too.

Unknown said...


My Google Alerts on Stylidium led me to your blog post. I'm jealous that you have those species growing in your garden. I've tried growing S. debile in cultivation, but always end up killing it. If you happen to think of it, would you be willing to take a few photos of the Stylidium species and upload them to Wikipedia under one of the acceptable photo licenses? I wrote the article on triggerplants and I've had a hard time finding images that aren't copyrighted to use in the article--the only ones I could find are of one species, S. turbinatum.

Well, anyway, congratulations on the new home and new garden from an anonymous person directed to you by Google Alerts! Cheers!

Margaret said...

Hi Ryan, thanks for visiting!

I'm impressed that Google found my Stylidium. The Web really is a small world these days, isn't it?

My Stylidium productum isn't in flower now, but I will happily upload the photo I took when it was (see previous post on 27 October 2006) to Wikipedia for you.

My Stylidium adnatum are too little for a decent photo at this point--they're cuttings that are still striking. But the friend who gave me the cuttings might have some photos of them in flower. I'll ask her.



Margaret said...

Ryan, I've uploaded the image. I don't really know how Wikipedia works in terms of alerting you, so here's the URL, just in case:

(I've forced a break in that, because otherwise the line gets cut off!)



Unknown said...

Hi Margaret. Congratulations on the house. Looks perfect. I loved the outlook from the Sunroom.

I've looked a the link in your plant list. The myoporum looks amazing.
Did you propagate the Cassinia denticulata yourself? I'm still trying to grow these in the garden. I think they need plenty of moisture because you find them in rock cracks near creeks.
Dampiera stricta is one of my favourites, you can get one species in nurseries (tri-something?) but not stricta it seems. If you want a bit of blue why not try Hovea longifolia?

Hypolepis muelleri looks like the fern with runners that I try to kill all the time.

I'm sure I could dig up some Clematis for you.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margaret said...

Hi Stewart!

I loved the outlook from the Sunroom.

Yes, I think we'll be spending a lot of time in there, and out the back on warm summer evenings with a glass of red--hopefully often with you and S!

Did you propagate the Cassinia denticulata yourself?

I've propagated it (by cuttings) from the tubestock you gave me. It's growing along the front fence and it's very happy there.

I think they need plenty of moisture because you find them in rock cracks near creeks.

Hmm, mine hasn't been watered much at all, and gets westerly sun. Mine must be a tough bugger!

Dampiera stricta is one of my favourites, you can get one species in nurseries (tri-something?) but not stricta it seems.

I'd rather hang on till I can get the stricta, since that's endemic to the region.

Speaking of such things, next week I'm getting a vegetation map of Ku-ring-gai Chase, which'll help a lot. One of the projects I've got in mind is doing a plant survey of the region immediately behind our property.

If you want a bit of blue why not try Hovea longifolia?

Good idea!

Hypolepis muelleri looks like the fern with runners that I try to kill all the time.

I'm sure I could dig up some Clematis for you.

Hmm, if it's that vigorous, maybe I'll give it a miss! I'll let you know. Thanks.

See you next weekend. :)



Margaret said...

Ooops, Stewart, I see you were referring to the clematis, not the Hypolepis! Yes, I'd love some, thanks!



Unknown said...

Hi Margaret! Thank you so much for doing that. That's a fantastic photo and I really appreciate your effort on uploading it. I'll put it into the main article as soon as I can.

I'm especially interested in that genus (and family Stylidiaceae, too!) and hope to complete my master's thesis on it. If you're interested, I have plenty of references, including the bulk of Allen Lowrie's articles from the mid-90s that describe new species and give incomplete dichotomous field keys to some species. I also have the exciting November 2006 paper by Douglas Darnowski that explains Stylidium's carnivory! (I'm sure this sounds perfectly normal to another "plant geek" but whenever I express enthusiasm like this to my partner, I get a blank look and perhaps a roll of the eyes, haha).

Well anyway, thanks again!


Margaret said...

Hi Ryan,

As you might have gathered if you've been reading this blog, I'm currently an intern in the Plant Science Program at the National Herbarium of New South Wales. Prepared to get really jealous? This week, I got to look at some of Banks and Solander's specimens from their 1770 expedition to Botany Bay (when they came here while Captain Cook was busy claiming Australia for Britain and pretending the locals didn't matter)--including their Stylidium graminifolium specimen!

I'm going to post some pics on my website soon. I've been busier than a blue-arsed fly since I started the internship, but I'm putting together an array of photos, including (drum roll... wait for it...) a photo of an original printing, inscribed by the author, first edition of... "The Origin of Species"! I touched it! (My hands were clean.) I also swooned.

Leonie Stanberg is the plant person at the Herbarium dealing with Stylidiaceae. Have you encountered her work? Here's something that might be of interest, if you don't know it yet:

Stanberg, L.C. (1992) Stylidiaceae treatment, in Flora of New South Wales Vol. 3 pp 442-445, ed. G.J. Harden (University of NSW Press, Sydney).

I think I might have met her this week, but I'm not sure. It's all been a bit of a blur, but my sudden and burgeoning knowledge of Goodeniaceae genera is threatening to split open my cranium!

Hope you keep reading the blog, and I'll take more photos of the stylidium species I encounter, when they're in flower again.



Unknown said...


I am incredibly jealous of your internship and all the things you mentioned! I will definitely continue to read.

Thanks for the suggested reference. No, I haven't heard of Stanberg, but I'll look it up. Mostly I've seen Rica Erickson, Douglas Darnowski, and Allen Lowrie cited most often. Unfortunately, the library systems at my university in Washington state, USA don't carry many Australian journals and I often have to fight to obtain a copy of some relatively obscure journal. Perhaps I'll just have to visit someday and go nuts in a library, though I figure I'd be have to visit Perth to see the bulk of the Stylidium species in the wild.

Wishing you all the best in your studies and internship,

Anonymous said...

Hey margaret, your website is tops, i finally had a chance to have a look around it.

Your house looks beautiful, very envious that your so close to the bush.

I am also fascinated by those gereat red scales you had in the pickled article in you blog. I will have to ask aboput them tomorrow!


Margaret said...

Dan: Myer. Wait for the sales. :)