My Flower Garden 14-8-11

In the past I have focussed primarily on food crops. I feel I now have enough space devoted to fruit and veges to feed my family so I want to liven up the garden with some extra colour.

Having given this a fair amount of thought I came to the conclusion that just pouring tons of water on some annuals would give me a high water bill in these days of governments still trying to justify their desalination plants. I would get plenty of colour, true, but there would be tons of work taking up a lot of my time, not to mention the cost of buying seedlings every few weeks or spending even more time growing them myself. With all this in mind I decided on a perennial flower garden with a few structural giants among them. Details later.

I set about doing some research on perennials for my area. There are plenty of boring ones around and the usual array of plants that have been on farms in this district for over a hundred years, nothing wrong with those, but I usually like something to look a bit different. Pamela and I took a trip to Victoria to check out some gardens there, hoping to find the alternative lifestyle communities there. On that front we were unsuccessful and disappointed, looks like they have merged back into the mainstream. What we did find was one very exciting nursery, Lambley, at Lesters Road, Ascot. This a commercial nursery with a difference, from what I see in my district, as it focussed on dry garden perennials and bulbs needing little if any water other than natural rainfall. The owner, David Glenn, has produced two DVDs on just this topic and they are very informative and take flower gardening to a new level for me.  On display at Lambley is their Dry Garden, a living example of a superb flower garden without extra water after establishing the young plants. I particularly like David Glenn’s emphasis on showy plants that display their flower well. Many natives have beautiful flowers but they are often hidden underneath the foliage and flower for a very short time. Lambley perennials are those varieties that show their blooms outside the foliage giving a magnificent display. It is this issue that I feel is the difference between garden books and the Lambley philosophy. Gardening books often have nicely photographed blooms staged to show off the flowers and the reader has no idea whether the flowers display nicely or not in the garden and if the plant falls open at flowering time. I recommend a visit by anyone interested in dry flower gardening to see the difference.

Lambley Dry Garden March 2011

Being inspired to have a go at dry gardening using perennials I have just received my first order, mostly perennial flowers from his dry garden DVDs and in small numbers, a total of 30 plants, to make some tests in my garden. Although the climate in the Victorian goldfields has a very similar climate to mine here on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula we get fewer frosts than they do as David Glenn reports getting frost from April until November. We would only get half a dozen frosts during July or August in most years and those would be relatively light with minimum temperatures rarely going below freezing.

My first order, arriving on Friday, was unpacked Saturday. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the plants and the way they were packed. I have purchased from other mail order nurseries in the past and have been particularly disappointed with maturity of the plants. Those plants arrived in 50mm tubes with barely any root system while those from Lambley were at least in 100mm pots and well-developed plants, at least a growing season more advanced for the same cost. I would expect them to establish better than those from the other nursery (Diggers) for this reason. Many plants from Diggers were unsuccessful due to the plants having only a very juvenile root system. Diggers, to their credit, always credited the failures but the wasted season and personal effort has deterred me from buying recently.

So my plants from Lambley are ready to go in the ground. Some plants ordered were sold out quickly after their catalogue was released but I instructed them to substitute wherever possible. This is my list: Anthemis ‘Susannah Mitchell’ was sold out and substituted by Rhodanthemum ‘Tizi-n-Test’, Cistus x Purpureus ‘Alan Fradd’, Convolvulus Sabaticus ‘L.A. Form’, Cotyledon Orbiculatum ‘Silver Shadow’ was sold out and substituted with Cotyledon Orbiculatum ‘Queenscliff’, Furcraea Macdougalii, Helianthus Angustifolius was sold out and not substituted, Helianthus Grosse Serratus, Limonium Peregrinum L. Roseum, Salvia Nemorosa ‘Blauhagel’ or ‘Blue Hills, Salvia ‘Meigans Magic’, Verbena Rigida F.Lilacina, Miscanthus Transmorrisonensis, Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant, Ferula Linkii. I will post more details on each plant in a separate post as time permits.

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