Visit to a special garden in Bulleen

Entering Max and Regina’s garden was reminiscent of stepping out of the bus into a roadside verge somewhere in South West WA – so many & varied plants wherever you looked and all of them stunning.  We were also treated to Max’s commentary & asides, always informative and entertaining.  If in doubt, prune and then prune some more.  Woe betide a plant if it gets ideas above its station!

Over 20 Yarra Yarra members were there and it was at times difficult to get a look in, too many in too small a space. We strolled in single file first through the front and then down the back,  lingered and then lingered longer,  before having afternoon tea a few hours later.  What a splendid afternoon it turned out to be, the plants, the venue & the congenial, convivial company of our fellow members.  There is a more detailed plant list below and detailed notes from Max also.

There were some standouts, show stoppers such as Banksia media (dwarf form), Micromyrtus leptocalyx, Thryptomene calycina ‘Little Treasure’, & Leionema rotundifolia.

Regina told me that Max (84) is in the garden 24/7 and what a testament to his efforts it is – a garden that inspires & delights at every turn. Thank you to you both.  We are blessed to have you in our group and hope we can continue to enjoy your company & mentorship for many years to come.

Report Miriam Ford.

MAX AND REGINA’S GARDEN

Our block, about 1 km south of the Yarra River, has a north-easterly aspect sloplng down to the bottom of a gully with a 1.3 m diameter underground stormwater drain.  Drainage and road works had covered most of the original high quality clay-loam topsoil with 30-50 cm of heavyclay.  Prior to subdivision, the land was used for orchards.  Landscaping involved disposal of clay from the front of the house, drainage, terracing and building up of the bases of garden beds with displaced soil.

Ornamental garden beds were developed manually as rockeries from 1973-1977.  We incorporated a mixture of coarse sand (fine crushed scoria (-7 mm) in the front garden), sandy loam, some mountain soil and screened local clay-loam topsoil, with gypsum and some compost, from 20 to 60 cm in depth.  The vegetable garden contains less sand and higher levels of clay-loam and compost.

Most of our initial plantings were from Austraflora (70c per 5″ polybag), Cecile Glass’s Tantoon Nursery in Eltham and from SGAP plant sales at Yarra Yarra and Maroondah.  We also bought plants from Peg Macalister’s Break-O’-Day Nursery and Bill and Marion Kings’ Chalka Nursery and from Gwenda & Ross Macdonald.  We became enthusiastic growers of seedlings and propagated numerous Acacia, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Grevillea and Hakea and legume species, among others, using seed from the SGAP seed banks, Study Groups, Kings Park, Nindethana and seed collected by ourselves.

Over time, large eucalypts and acacias, etc. have been replaced by shrubs, and more recently, large shrubs have given way to smaller ones in some beds.  Redevelopment has involved additions of compost, gypsum, blood and bone and trace elements with additional dolomite and iron sulphate.  Soaker hoses were replaced by polypipe and microsprays and in 2000 irrigation of the entire garden was enhanced by use of 19 mm polypipe feeder lines and an automatic timer.

lncorporation of additional sand, compost and used potting soil into the upper layers of garden beds has improved drainage further.  Organic mulching has been used extensively over the whole period and, around some smaller shrubs, small white pebbles to improve the light levels and provide a pleasing background.  We have sometimes include some fresh potting soil or a footing of coarse sand under the planting site of sensitive plants.  New plants were originally fertilised at planting time with Nutricote TE (3:L mix of 270 day and 70 day) and (except for legumes) some IBDU.  Recently, the use of Macrocote fertiliser (low phosphate 6 month) which includes a range of rhizobium spores and other mycorrhiza incorporated into the skin of the pellets, added to potting media and to the planting site, has enhanced the successful establishment of various leguminous species.  Previous plantings of legumes which were not thriving responded to addition of Macrocote granules into holes made by inserting the prongs of a coarse weeding fork into the soil around the plant.

Recently we have been successful in greatly enhancing the flowering of many species of Myrtaceae and Proteaceae in the garden by the seasonal top-dressing with granulated Potassium Sulfate (Rich-Gro Potash available from Bunnings) at a rate of about 4 g per square metre (one handful over a 2 m diameter around a medium shrub).  Potash is best applied after the vigorous new season’s growth has developed naturally or in response to pruning and/or application of a general fertiliser, but before or during the development of flower buds.  Flowering and regrowth of shrubs are also enhanced or extended by prompt and regular removal of spent flower heads, if these are not of ornamental value or required for seed production.

We are currently active members of the ANPSA Grevillea, Eremophila and Acacia Study Groups, participating in regular excursions and field trips.  Such field trips have included private excursions to Western Australia, Kangaroo lsland, and central eastern NSW and The Grampians, as well as Study Group excursions in southern NSW, around Victoria.  Over the past 16 years we have been helping Neil Marriott to organise local activities, field trips and working bees of the Grevillea Study Group.

PLANT LIST

(these are just some of the ones in flower now)

Acacia cupularis Grevillea preissii ssp glabrilimba
Acacia farinosa Grevillea ‘New Blood’
Acacia lanigera Grevillea latrobei “St Andrews” (rosmarinifolia form)
Acacia lasiocarpa ssp sedifolia Grevillea semperflorens
Acacia nitidula Grevillea ‘Panrock Princess’
Acacia verniciflua ‘Spicy’ (Heathcote form) Grevillea lavandulacea
Acacia sessilispica Grevillea ‘Fireworks’
Banksia spinulosa ‘Birthday Candles’ Grevillea synapheae
Banksia media (dwarf form) Hakea bucculenta
Banksia spinulosa Hakea francisiana
Brachyscome formosa Hardenbergia violacea
Conostylis (various) Hibbertia aspera
Chorizema cordartum Hypocalymma angustifolium
Correa reflexa (Brisbane ranges) Indigofera australis
Correa reflexa (Fat Fred) Isopogon divergens
Correa reflexa (Nowra form) Leionema rotundifolia
Correa pulchella Leionema elatior subsp. beckleri
Cryptandra amara Lechenaultia biloba
Darwinia lejostyla Lasiopetalum involucratum
Diplolaena grandiflora Melaleuca calothamnoides
Dodonaea lobulata Micromyrtus leptocalyx
Dryandra fraseri ssp oxycedra Phebalium canaliculatum,
Epacris impressa Phebalium glandulosum
Epacris ‘Pan Pipes’ Phebalium squamulosum forms
Eremophila drummondii Philotheca myoporoides
Eremophila maculata (deep red) and others Pimelea humilis
Eucalyptus preissiana Pimelea physoides
Eucalyptus rhodantha Prostanthera aspalathoides
Eucalyptus macrocarpa x youngiana Pseudanthus pimeleoides
Eucalyptus infera Pultenaea gunnii
Eucalyptus erythrocorys Senna artemisioides
Grevillea alpina x rosmarinifolia Spyridium scortechinii
Grevillea ‘Lady O’ Thomasia sarotes
Thryptomene calycina ‘Little Treasure’

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