I think I have more winter flowers than summer flowers somehow. As it turns out, many southern-Australian natives put on growth in winter (when there’s rain) and lie dormant in summer (when the earth bakes dry like it’s the end of times). Clever plants. Mishka likes to lead me through the garden every morning – after she’s said hello to her humans ten times – and we’re both enjoying all the red, pink and purple flowers in the garden right now, natives and old classics alike.
NB: This is a Zone 9b garden, with a few frosts each year and maybe one snow flurry. So it’s very mild, especially compared to most of North America and Europe, but it ain’t the tropics.
Banksia ‘Birthday Candles’
I’ve bragged about my baby banksias before, first when planting them and even at the end of this summer. They’ve been here for three years and they’re tiny, yet prolific. The inflorescences unfurl and develop through autumn into winter. I’ve been pruning the old cones in mid-summer when the spent cones finally turn brown (and just before the new ones sprout in January).
Calothamnus (One-sided bottlebrush)
Sometimes I’m reluctant to call plants by their ‘common name’ when I’ve never heard it spoken out loud. Have you ever heard a Melaleuca called a honey-myrtle, or are they just melaleucas? What about correas and dianellas? So even though the Latin names feel overly formal for the most part, at least there’s a mutual understanding.
That said: meet my calothamnus. I picked it up at the Plants of Tas Nursery autumn sale, and even though it’s just a twig in the ground right now, it’ll grow to 2m tall over time. I just saw a full-size version one street over, which makes me SO EXCITED about what my little guy will grow up to be. It flowers from the stems, and seems to flower for most of year. Cool.
My established camellias don’t look like total rubbish this year! This is huge for me. Was it the food and water I heaped upon them last spring? Is it the lack of early spring winds so far? A little bit of column A, a little bit of column B, I suppose. Gotta go nuts taking photos while they’re still perfectly formed.
The deep cerise ‘Jezebell’ correas put on a show in autumn, while the ‘Orange Glow’ groundcover (in the middle) flowers on and off through autumn/winter. I planted three groundcovers to sit in front of the bottlebrush hedge, since they don’t seem to mind part shade.
The green correa gets no respect. For real. I planted it two years ago in the mixed border, never look after it, and it just keeps on keepin’ on. It might join the others in the hedge one day – I like the idea of combining multiple colours of correas together.
Euphorbia ‘Tiny Tim’ and ‘Silver Swan’
I took out Tiny Tim’s cousin, Fat Mike (or whatever he wanted to be called, I never asked). You know – the euphorbia from years past that took over the garden and self-seeded like a beast. I think Tiny Tim is sterile, but even if he isn’t, he’ll remain nice and compact.
I love the ‘Tiny Tim’ cultivar’s lime-green flowers, but I added a second euphorbia further back in the bed, ‘Silver Swan’, for the foliage.
Turns out I can experience 4th of July fireworks in Australia after all! How about that.
I live on clay soil and we get frosts, so most grevilleas don’t love it in my yard. I’ve tried out a few and they overwhelmingly don’t take. The definition of insanity, blah blah. But the two ‘Fireworks’ plants in the front yard have done well, and I’m cautiously optimistic since this is their third year.
Hot pink, yellow, spidery jelly bean flowers. I love them. RIP my other grevilleas.
After the splendour of the ‘Fireworks’ grevillea, I have to give a participation ribbon for these two ‘Mt Tamboritha’ grevilleas. I planted these two groundcovers a couple of years ago, beside the hebe, but now they live under the hebe (oops) and I think they’d really prefer more sun. It makes me want to trial another spider-flowered grevillea somewhere. Can this be my year?
My divvied-up clump in the brick planter is doing well! Hellebores are classic winter flowers that cope with shade and cold weather, and I’m glad they’re here. I’d still love to have one of those darkest-purple cultivars in here, but the medium purple works for me too, let’s be honest. I’m going to have to try the “float hellebore flowers in a bowl of water” trick in order to show off their blooms.
(NB: My house is still two-tone, as the paint job is on winter hiatus. Feel free to pester us about getting it done once we get into warmer weather. No, seriously, I feel ashamed.)
Herb garden (perennial basil, rosemary, chia, lavender)
A couple of the herbs held out until the coldest days of winter: perennial basil, lavender. Others only bloom when you get into shorter days, like chia and rosemary. As soon as our big ol’ rosemary bush sees a rainy day, tons of tiny purple flowers appear.
My quick notes on growing chia:
1) It’s an annual herb in the salvia family.
2) The flowers are blue, which I thought was neat.
3) I haven’t found any seeds in the spent flowers. Did they even form? Where the heck are they hiding?
4) It grows to 4-5 feet tall. Fun ride, but I don’t think I’m growing it again.
I have to brag about the eternal jewels of my yard. Again. These mini cultivars (Bush Pearl and Bush Inferno) are back in full flower after I trimmed them at the end of summer. They like full sun and regular water, and apparently you can only expect 2-3 good years out of them so I’ll enjoy them while they last.
Next time I think I want to do an entire row of only pinks. Or a dense row of the full-size cultivars with flowers that reach five feet… but then I’d have to move my mini-banksias, and I don’t think they’d handle it well. The great (and awful) thing about a garden is that I don’t think I’ll ever run out of plans!
Pieris ‘Valley Valentine’
AKA Japanese Andromeda. Big surprise, I chose the pieris cultivar at the nursery with the pinkest, showiest flowers. I like deep reds and pinks.
This corner of the mixed border stays shady and damp, and I wanted another showy bush to anchor it since the two camellias live on the other end. I like the foliage of the pieris, and I think it works well in this woodsy corner with a bunch of newly-planted hellebores, my tree fern, trigger-plants and an olive tree to provide extra shade.
Finally – the winter cactus that lives by the kitchen door. I still can’t believe I inherited this beautiful beast. Thanks for having a look through all of my winter flowers!
I’ll post some more wide shots of the garden later this spring, since I’ve planted a few new things and I want to see how the older fellas are coming along. I’ve also got a couple of other outdoor projects ticking along… like the paver path (!) hiding in the photos of kangaroo paws.