Al-Ru Farm Open Garden and Plant Fair 2012


This weekend was a long weekend for Labour Day in South Australia. As  usual there is always plenty on the schedule here and this time of the year that is particularly true.

Nevertheless we decided to get out for the day on Sunday and take in the open garden at Al-Ru Farm One Tree Hill before visiting Jeremy and his family then picking some bits and pieces up including Tom’s motorbike faerings. We had  couple of hours with Jeremy, Kerry and Jayden then spent another couple with Christine Kuys (John’s wife). John had to work so it was cup of coffee and a chat with Chris befoe heading back home.

Plant Fair at Al-Ru

As it turned out the plant fair was a great success for me. I had been able to negotiate a swap with David Glen for one of his Stan’s Giant Rhubarb plants in exchange for some Olearia Pannosa cuttings I had located (see previous blog entry). I did pick up some fresh cuttings and will send over a struck plant once mine have rooted properly in a few weeks.

Lambley’s stand was manned by Pat Hockley and he was inundated earl with buyers. I had no intention of missing out as he had brought over quite a few rarer plants. I will list these a bit later in this post.

There was a nursery selling Bamboo from Victoria- Bamboo Creations. I could not believe they had an Dendrocalamopsis oldhamii which I had been searching for. This is an edible bamboo also suitable for timber, especially trellising, growing 15m tall and 10mm thick. Very exciting! Bought a small one for $65.

Dendrocalamposis  Oldhamii planted 1st October 2012 after purchase from Bamboo Creations at the Al-Ru Farm Open Garden and Plant Fair, One Tree Hill.

The following link shows how to propagate bamboo. Not trialled but included for reference.

Al-Ru Farm Open Garden Flyer

Background History

Ruth & Alan Irving planted a few trees in 1981. Previously sheep grazed to within 10 metres of the small stone cottage and camped under the 10 Ash trees close by. More serious planting commenced in 1985. The garden is now 4 ha (10 acres) in size with 600m of perennial borders. We have bore water.

Winter and Spring

Is heralded at Al-Ru with a constant display of bright pink Silene and lime green Euphorbia, a combination created in heaven to be enjoyed from both indoors and out.

The Pond Garden

with its grasses blowing and Crab Apple Trilobata has matured. The box plants were severely pruned this autumn. Having seen the splendid show of the giant blue asters elsewhere in the garden I have planted som for this year in the raised bed. The golden leafed Robinia pseudoacacia fresia is looking good as is Crabapple floribunda.

The Woodland Garden

is cool and inviting like a woodland which has taken ages to achieve. Helleborus followed by Bluebells, geranium, Aquilegia Campanula, Angelica, Acanthus and all sorts of ground covers give constant joy.

The Rose Garden

will need a new watering system, brick edging and some replanting. I have said this for many years and it is still on the agenda. The Iron Maidens have set the tone in this garden and everything else must follow suit! Daffodils and Freesias abound.

The Pool Garden

is only new and I have already replaced the hedge with Japanese Box. Early October apple and pear tree flowers and Al-Ru Daisy look fresh. I have planted more of these as well as bright salmon Bougainvillea for summer colour. I am keeping this planting slightly wild. I have also planted Buddleja weyeriana Sun Gold so we have butterflies throughout the summer feeding on its nectar. There is something to be said about floating in a pool with butterflies fluttering overhead. We have an active and successful breeding program here at Al-Ru.

The Glass House

still needs a floor, but this will have to wait another year or two as so many other things here at Al-Ru!!

The Meadow Garden

opposite the kitchen window has had a major upheaval in the last 18 months. The hay shed and pergola have been given new life. Bellis Perennis, Schoestyke Daffodils, Helianthus Astersm Lythrum, and Achillea filipendulina Gold Plate all take their turn to make a wonderful show as well as the Easter daisy and simple white Shastas top take over when the bulbs have finished.

The Dam Garden

is a bigger project than I care to think about too deeply and future planning will need time to mature in this large area. The garden seats around the lake make it a relaxing are to think about development.


Alan was given a 1957 Auster for his 70th birthday. We have mown an airstrip in the front paddock for him to bring the aircraft home from Gawler airfield.


The cold winter has severely retarded our gardening efforts. The Iris varieties are all slow to flower this season. I have changed my watering routine. Some areas do not get watered at all and others far less than previously. Lawn areas are kept tall in summer to protect roots and keep them cool allowing me to water less. I believe passionately that we must look after all our large trees and not allow them to die as this will have tragic consequences for our environment. I always make sure they have sufficient water in late summer.

Plant Fair

We hope to make this an annual event with local and interstate nurseries showcasing and selling their plants. Please visit their stalls to stock up on new plants for your garden.

The Garden Pavilion

The Garden Pavilion is our bed and breakfast cottage for guests to enjoy planted with Simply Magic standard roses. behind this building there are beds of roses for picking, including Graham Thomas, Jayne Austin, Pink Masterpiece and Ellen. There are many sweet smelling plants in these gardens for our guests to enjoy including a highly scented Russian olive.

Garden Weddings

We enjoy weddings in the garden and receptions on the lawns or in the Barn. This little enterprise helps with the costs of garden maintenance and new garden projects. We look on this as “charity for the garden”. It is a wonderful way to share my passion with so many happy guests.

If you want to see more of Al-Ru farm click on this link: Al-Ru Farm website.

Plants Bought at Al-Ru Plant Fair

Bamboo Creations Nursery

Bambusa Oldhamii

Unkown Nursery – SA

Dracunculus Vulgaris

Lambley Nursery, Victoria

Ceanothus Concha

Arguably the most beautiful of all the Ceanothus varieties making an evergreen shrub up to 3 metres in height and as much across. The vibrant dark blue flowers are produced from magenta buds early in spring. Can be pruned to keep it small enough to suit smaller gardens. Best in a sunny spot and is happy in dry parts of the garden.

Ceanothus Concha from Lambley Nursery

Geranium Rambling Robin

A newly imported plant which we got from Olivier Filippi’s nursery in the South of France last year. It’s a hybrid between two South African species, G. incanum and G. robustum. It has the trailing habit of the former and vigour of the latter. In the dry garden it has made good evergreen mats of deeply incised silver-green leaves. It produces large lavender-pink flowers for most of spring, summer and autumn. It is frost, heat and drought tolerant and will grow 30cm tall by 60 to 80 cm across.

Geranium ‘Rambling Robin’ from Lambley Nursery, Victoria

Chrysanthemum Buninyong Bronze

This is the only perpetual flowering Chrysanthemum I’ve ever grown. From spring until early winter and beyond this plant produces a continual display of small bronze-red flowers. I grew it in pots at the front door last season but it is just as happy in the garden. It picks well of course. 60cm by 40cm.

Chrysanthemum Buininyong Bronze

Phlomis Purpurea x Crinita

This new import is, to my mind, the most beautiful in foliage of all the Phlomis. It hasn’t flowered here yet, although it will do so this spring, and it is still such a new plant that our supplier, Olivier Filippi, hasn’t yet listed it in his catalogue. It has made a handsome, evergreen shrub a metre or so tall by nearly as much across in a year. The large felt-like leaves are silver grey on the upper surface and whitish grey beneath. 120cm by 120cm.

Phlomis Purpurea x Crinita

Viola Cornuta

A perennial species of Viola which weaves its way through our borders covering many a bare spot from early spring until autumn with its lilac, long faced pansy flowers. As other perennials grow around and over this Viola it will scramble up through to the light. A plant from hot hillsides in what used to be called Yugoslavia it is much more sun and heat tolerant than the bedding violas which give up at the first blast of hot weather.

Viola Cornuta from Lambley Nursery, Victoria

Salvia Forskaohlei

Black Sea Woodland Sage

We first got seed of this 20 odd years ago from an Archibald collection in woodland near the Turkish Black Sea Coast. We grow it in quite dense dry shade under olive trees and next to a privet hedge. It has large handsome leaves in a loose rosette. During spring and early summer 70cm tall wands carry large deep mauve-blue flowers each with beautiful white lip markings. One of the best plants for dry shade.

Salvia Forskaohlei from Lambley Nursery

Salvia Forskaohlei from Lambley Nursery

Origanum Dictamnus

Origanum dictamnus is a many branched plant with discoid to ovate, grey-green leaves that are sited in pairs opposite each other. The slender arching stems and lanate leaves are covered in a velvety white down and are 13–25 mm in size.

The flowers are pale pink to purple and have a deep lilac corolla with many deep pink coloured overlapping bracts. The colourful flowers forming a cascade of elongated clusters are in bloom in the summer months. The flowers are hermaphrodite, meaning they have both male and female organs, and are pollinated by bees attracted to their scent and bright colour.

Origanum Dictamnus from Lambley Nursery. Photo Wikipedia

Narcissus Xit

This little daffodil has flourished in the toughest conditions in a rough paddock for the last 15 years. Increasing quite quickly it soon makes good multi bulbed clumps of small narrow grassy leaves and dozens of small pure white, beautifully formed jon­quils. My grandchildren think they are fairy flowers. Happy planted in dry spots under deciduous trees or in full sun. They can be left undisturbed for many years. 12cm x 15cm.

Narcissus ‘Xit’ from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012

Geranium Rozanne

I’ve grown this plant in the garden for the best part of ten years. However legal problems, which didn’t involve us, has made this poor plant impossible to sell lawfully until the last couple of years. A hybrid between G. wallichianum and G. himaleyense, it is much tougher than either of its parents and more beautiful, producing masses of large flowers from spring until late autumn, clear blue during cooler weather, mauve blue when it’s warmer. Sun or light shade. 50cm x 50cm.

Geranium Rozanne from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012

Narcissus Henriquisii

One of the finest wild daffodils which is quite late to flower but blooms for a good six weeks. A patch of this wildling will fill the spring air with sweet, spicy fragrance. It has happily grown here in rough grass for twenty years but I’ve recently moved it to a more benign spot in the garden. The upright leaves are dark green, round and rush-like and are upright. The 4 or 5 flowers are held on each 30cm tall stem. One of the joys of the daffodil world.

Narcissus Henriquisii from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012.

Delphinium Volkerfrieden

The best Delphinium for Australian conditions. Soundly perennial, self supporting and branching, this plant is in flower with us for 20 weeks every year. It starts to flower during November. We cut it to the ground when the first flush of flowers is over in early January and within a few weeks we are rewarded by more columns of rich, deep sky-blue flowers. It needs good garden conditions in full sun. 120cm x 75cm. Pot grown plants.

Delphinium Volkerfrieden Peace from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012.

Salvia Sclarea ‘Archibald’s Form

Archibald’s Clary Sage

We offer a superb form of the Clary Sage collected by Jim and Jenny Archibald in Turkey about 18 years ago. It makes a mound of large rough grey green leaves which supports enormous columns of lilac hooded white lipped flowers surrounded by large bracts of pink white and green. Although short lived a few self-sown seedlings are generally produced. It is an essential part of our dry garden. Sun. 120cm x 75cm.

Salvia Sclarea Archibald’s Form from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012.

Salvia Sclarea Archibald’s Form from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012.

Salvia Sclarea Archibald’s Form from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012.

Ceanothus Joyce Coulter

This vigorous evergreen shrub, with dark green glossy leaves, has grown 150cm tall by 3 metres wide in my garden where it is planted in a hot dry sunny spot. During late winter and spring large heads of gentian blue flowers, less strident than C. ‘Blue Pacific’, make a prolific display. It is very tolerant of dryness and is frost hardy down to -10C.

Ceanothus Joyce Coulter from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012

Stylophorum Diphyllum

Celandine Poppy, Wood Poppy

A plant of the Eastern US woodlands the Celandine Poppy has grown in the same spot in my garden for 15 years. It is in complete shade during summer but gets more light during its early spring until early summer flowering period. Yellow poppies, the size of a 50 cent coin, are held on 30cm tall stems. The large oak-like basal leaves, green above greyish beneath, are handsome in themselves 30cm by 30cm.

Stylophorum Diphyllum from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012.

Stylophorum Diphyllum from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012.

Tanacetum Corymbosum

White Flowered Tansy

A tremendous garden plant, this is a plant of wild origin in the open grasslands of southern Europe where this white flowered daisy is almost like an achillea in growth habit. It makes evergreen basal rosettes of dark green, much dissected leaves. Quite early in the spring stiff leafy stems, up to a metre in height once established, carry wide heads of white yellow eyed daisies. It will repeat flower with us several times in the season if spent flower stems are removed. Tough sun loving drought tolerant plant. 100cm x 60cm.

Tanacetum Corymbosum from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012.

Tanacetum Corymbosum from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012.

Tanacetum Corymbosum from Lambley Nursery at Al-Ru Farm Plant Fair September 2012.


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