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Garden diary

Long term members, Warren and Gloria Sheather, share regular updates on their Northern Tablelands garden, Yallaroo. 

What's happening in the garden

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  • 10 Dec 2017 9:01 AM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    Leptospermum spectabile is a rare tea tree from the Colo River near Windsor, NSW. L. spectabile is characterised by large red flowers and has been used in a breeding program by the Bywong Nursery, southern NSW.

    Leptospermum “Rudolph” is one of the progeny from this program. “Rudolph” was the result of a liaison between L. spectabile and a burgundy leafed form of L. morrisonii.

    L. “Rudolph” is an upright medium shrub with purplish foliage and red flowers. This is a classic hybrid that has inherited characteristics from both parents. Flower colour from L. spectabile and foliage from L. morrisonii.

    “Rudolph” is covered with flowers throughout December. When flowering is finished this hybrid is still an eye-catching plant with its purplish foliage.

    “Rudolph” will take kindly to cultivation in a container. Perhaps as a change from the usual a container-grown “Rudolph” could be brought inside and decorated as a flowering Aussie Christmas tree.

    More details, about this hybrid, are available from the Plant Database.


  • 7 Dec 2017 11:55 AM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    In this first week of summer we are still at Yallaroo waiting, somewhat impatiently, for a buyer. This morning we took a walk around one of our grassland areas as respite from packing. A smell of chocolate was detected in the air. Amongst the grasses and herbaceous plants we found Chocolate Lilies (Dichopogon fimbriatus) beginning to flower. If we have good autumn and winter rains these delicate plants with their stalks of purple flowers appear in large numbers usually in company with Bulbine Lilies (Bulbine bulbosa). At these times the chocolate scent permeates a wide area.

    Chocolate Lilies planted en masse would make both an aromatic and visual impact in cottage gardens and rockeries.

    Perhaps this could be the dawn of a new plant science: “Nasal” Taxonomy, the identification of plants by aroma.


  • 22 Nov 2017 9:49 PM | RALPH CARTWRIGHT (Administrator)

    I love the colour of the young flowers on robur and I was interested in the picture of a clump of flowers seen last weekend in a previous post.

    The plant in my garden also has multiple flowers, but on the woody lignotuber at ground level.



  • 22 Nov 2017 2:02 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    As we approach the 2nd half of November, 2017 we have decided to leave Yallaroo after 20+ years and move to the lower Blue Mountains. It is time to move closer to the family. We will miss Yallaroo but are looking forward to creating a new garden in a different environment.

    We are going full circle. Our first home was in Glenbrook 54 years ago. This was when we first joined the APS and when the Glenbrook Native Plant Reserve was established. At our first meeting the plant on display was Kunzea ambigua. As a floral farewell the K. ambigua in our garden is in full flower.


  • 11 Sep 2017 4:33 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    In this first week of September our Eucalyptus leucoxylon plants are in full flower. Their bright red flowers are dripping with nectar. This is a very reliable eucalypt that flowers annually.

    Of course this is the week that we celebrate Wattle Day. Since early August our garden is aglow with yellow flowers. Our procession of spring flowering wattle blooms will continue until early November.

    The wattles in the compilation shows their range of flowerts shapes and colours as well the variety of foliage.


  • 25 Aug 2017 10:03 AM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    In this 3rd week of August we should describe how useful our microwave is in our horticultural activities.

    We use commercial Seed Raising and Cutting Mix for all our cutting and seed propagation. After potting on our propagation successes we place the used mix in a rice cooker (earmarked specifically for this purpose). When filled the rice cooker is placed in the microwave on high power for 15 minutes. After cooling the recycled mix is ready to use again. Occasionally we add some fresh mix.

    Before sowing wattle seeds we soften the hard seed coats using the microwave. The seeds are microwaved in half a cup of water for 3 minutes. They are left to cool for 30 minutes before sowing. The photo shows how this treatment swells the seeds. The seeds are of Acacia leptoclada (see Plant Profile) a beautiful wattle from Northern NSW.


  • 17 Aug 2017 4:45 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    Our dense shrubberies have created a haven for small native birds. Around our house we have a flock of Superb Fairy Wrens that forage on our lawn and use the shrubberies for shelter and nesting sites. The pair, in the photo, spends a lot of time admiring themselves in our windows. Our bird list now totals 90 species.







    Hakea sericea is a very prickly shrub that flowers towards the end of winter in our garden. Finches take advantage of the prickly leaves and build nests in the protective foliage.

    H. sericea would be useful for areas needing protection from animals and directing foot traffic.  


  • 14 Aug 2017 10:30 AM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

     In this 2nd week of August the end of winter is fast approaching. Perhaps it is time to reflect on those plants that have brought colour to our winter gardens.  

    Correas usually flower from early autumn to early spring. In our garden their nectar-rich blooms provide food for our resident honeyeaters. 

    Hardy, fast growing, free flowering and with low water requirements once established Correas are ideal for gardens both large and small.

    Descriptions, of the varieties illustrated, are on this site's Plant Profiles


  • 10 Aug 2017 4:44 PM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    In this first week in August our wattles are beginning to put on their annual floral extravaganza. Because we have a range of wattles, growing both in the garden and surrounding bushland, our “wattle season” extends from July to late October. One of the first to flower is Acacia flexifolia, the Bent-leaf Wattle (see photo). This small shrub becomes covered with lemon-yellow blooms in July.


  • 2 Aug 2017 8:24 AM | WARREN SHEATHER (Administrator)

    The garden diary will be a weekly blog that provides information about our horticultural activities plus items about the wildlife with which we share our garden and surrounding bushland.

    Our garden, on the Northern Tablelands of NSW, has become rather large over years and we have created extensive shrubberies which on our 900 metre high hill provide some protection from the sometimes inclement weather as well a sanctuary for a host of small native birds. Because we cultivate a wide range of native plants there is always something in flower.

    Over 95% of the plants used are propagated on site. A large number of plants are grown from cuttings. We use a propagating unit with bottom heating and intermittent misting (see item and photo above).

    On this last week in July we have potted on struck cuttings of Correa baeuerlenii, Grevillea evansiana, Hakea nodosa, Prostanthera aspalathoides and Isopogon formosus. Descriptions and photos of most of these species are in the Plant Profile section.

    On the wildlife front: This week, for the second time, a Brown Antechinus (Antechinus stuartii) ran across our deck when we were having lunch. This was a very exciting sighting. Our White Boxes (E. albens) are in full flower and the Rainbow Lorikeets are raucously making full use of the nectar flow.

    This week’s photo is a flower head of our Grevillea Pink Surprise. This plant is carrying over 50 flower heads.



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