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What's going into the garden

edited November 2013 in Other Pastimes

Gopi asked me to dig planting holes for a dozen dietes grandiflora. For the last couple of years, until a few weeks ago, I thought they were lomandra longifolia. Anyone that knows much about plants can laugh at me now, but! it's an honest mistake, years ago I planted a bunch of lomandra about the place, and with interest in the garden rekindled with Gopi moving in I looked about and saw these strappy-leaved grasses around the garden...

These guys will grow in clay in almost impossible conditions, but don't look like weeds. And they reproduce and make little ones where you don't want them, so we have a stack of them in (temporary) pots, very handy for trying to get something (anything!) going after clearing an area of weeds. And they do look nice when they flower. Here's a picture of some dietes flowers in the garden from a year ago (they're having trouble this year with the weird weather):


Digging a hole in our back yard is a frustrating affair. You won't get very far before you hit a rock. And sometimes they are quite large. We're built on sandstone here, and there's also a lot of clay. I broke the handle of a new spade (Kelso brand from Bunnings, terrible design when you see how it's really made, replaced with a Fiskars which is doing a great job). In the end I decided to do it "properly" and excavated about 40-50cm of the planting area with the aid of a fencing bar. Here's the result:

Nov Planting

The level of the planting area on the right is maybe an average of 15-20cm lower than before. All the rocks on the left were previously underground... there are a few more stepping-stone sized ones not shown in the pic. Well, this "bounty" got put to use making progress on a project I started years and years ago:

Nov - Garden steps

The new part is the top two walls and the steps next to them. The reason there are no plants here is because we removed the weeds - lantana and herring bone fern, mostly. And that's what's left! Here's another pic:

Nov - Garden steps 2

I always forget to watch out for these guys....

Funnel web 1

This one wasn't hostile though, instead of rearing it just tried to run away. I felt a bit guilty about killing it but since we're going to be doing more planting up there... :( I also found a little scorpion under a rock but it nicked off while I was fetching the camera.

Around the front, I'm trying to get some banksia ericifolia going. These look fantastic up on Bangalley Head with the late afternoon sun on the flowers. So I've planted some in front of what is going to be a window out of my workshop so I can sit there soldering (or whatever) and admire them in the afternoon sun. in about ten years maybe! Clay underneath a thin soil layer here so they might not do very well but I guess we'll see.


We have a mama and papa macrozamia communis "burrawang" up the back and they seeded a couple of years ago and produced like a hundred little ones. So now I have more than I know what to do with in pots, a few from seed but most taken out of the ground. The problem is they're such slow growers that for the first ten years or more they won't occupy much space. Once they're a reasonable size, though, you'll never be able to move it because of the large root and I think it might even be illegal. I decided what the heck, I'm going to plant them a bit close and it will sort itself out I'm sure.


At the top of the picture is a melaleuca hypericifolia prostrate form and in the right corner you can just see a Dietes. The theory is that by the time the melaleuca gets larger the dietes will have seeded down the (barren) slope and can be removed, and by the time the burrawang gets to any size the melaleuca will have probably died anyway and been replaced. I've done a row like this above the bankias.



  • Looking good John ,cool .Its nice to have that's not just flat keep us updated with your landscaping .


  • Pretty! Lomandra, Dianella and Liriope all have a place in our semi-arid garden by virtue of being virtually bulletproof in terms of water supply and climate. Dietes on the other hand seem to like a tad more moisture...

    Don't forget Austrostipa scabra and Poa labillardieri as other fast growing native rockery options. As grasses, they hold ground quickly and are easy enough to clear out later if required.

  • edited November 2013

    Yes, we would be a little wetter than you, sopping wet the last couple of weeks in fact! Dianella caerulae is a favorite (of mine, not so much Gopi :). The variety we have here spreads with the rhizomes and ends up covering an area, only thing I've seen that completely keeps out asparagus fern. If you need more, just dig some up and pot or replant it, and off it goes. Tiny little blue flowers.

    dianella caerulae

    Thanks for the tips! Local nursery has some Poa labillardieri.

  • I have some lawn. So I hosed it with liquid weeder/feeder.

    End result... I think there is more weeds in my lawn, than lawn.

  • Is? Are? Or were?

    Besides...they're not weeds. It's a wildflower meadow. That's my story anyway.

  • edited November 2013

    The nursery industry is incredible! It can't be far behind the cleaning industry in selling you chemicals (and other stuff) you really have no idea whether you actually need or whether they make any real difference....

    Someone should make a movie about it... "in the beginning, a bunch of guys sat around a table and said, hey this home garden thing is taking off, if only we could convince people to pay $20 for a small bag of chicken shit we could all buy one of those new penthouse apartments in the city... let's see, super duper additives, organic, slow release pellets, liquid, seaweed, etc etc, a different kind of bag of shit for every different type of plant... and what if we color code it too? Hey this could work! It doesn't matter if it really works or not, all we do is put on the instructions that you have to dig it into the soil and remember to water, of course the plant will grow better! Now, what about those fertilizers the farmers buy for $3 per tonne..."

  • edited November 2013

    OK, so what I was going to say before I got carried away with that :) is that since Gopi likes to use this fertilizer called Osmocote, and since I like to plant natives, I thought hey, I'll get a second tub of the special native plant version of it because it says "specially formulated for native plants, low in phosphorus" Because some natives don't like phosphorous, apparently. It's all dirt to me, but anyway...

    I bought one, got home, and looked at the labels on the tubs. The regular stuff says:

    Phosphorous (P) soluble in neutral ammonium nitrate and water: 0.49%

    Water soluble: 0.3%

    The native gardens stuff, "Specially formulated for phosphorus-sensitive plants", says:

    Phosphorous (P) soluble in neutral ammonium nitrate and water: 0.7%

    Water soluble: 0.6%

    What the heck? The one for "phosphorous sensitive" plants has more phosphorous in it??? I swear I've checked it three times. It doesn't make any sense! So I've become pretty sceptical.

    Anyway, Graham, I'm sorry to hear about your lawn (actually, I'm not, I hate lawns) - but if you'd like to dig it up and put in groundcovers I may have some suggestions (which I read on the Internet)

  • Now, what about those fertilisers the farmers buy for $3 per tonne..."

    They are a myth - it's more like $150 to $300 per tonne for composted manure depending on whose shit you pick. Pelletised chook manure is upwards from $650 per tonne. Still cheaper per kilo than the smaller retail sizes but far from cheap...

    The inorganic fertilisers are even more expensive.... http://www.agsure.com.au/fertiliser

  • edited November 2013

    Seano said:

    Now, what about those fertilisers the farmers buy for $3 per tonne..."

    They are a myth - it's more like $150 to $300 per tonne for composted manure depending on whose shit you pick. Pelletised chook manure is upwards from $650 per tonne. Still cheaper per kilo than the smaller retail sizes but far from cheap...

    The inorganic fertilisers are even more expensive.... http://www.agsure.com.au/fertiliser

    Then you need a implement and tractor to disperse it :-) I'll grap you a few kilo's there just about to firtilise :-)



  • What's going in there? It looks like the way grow pumpkins up this way...

  • lettuce or cabbage ?

  • I was just having a bit of a rant :)

    I emailed Scott about the phosphorous, and they said that because of a lgislative change in WA, they reduced the phosphorous content of all their fertilizer. So that's why the All Purpose osmocote has the same amount of phosphorous as the "low phosphorous" one. (According to the tin, the all purpose one has less, but they said something about old stock on shelves... which makes no sense, but anyway.)

  • edited November 2013

    JohnR said: a project I started years and years ago:

    Nov - Garden steps

    I've planted the tiers now. Three grevillea trees up the top two tiers (Gopi likes buying bigger plants than me). Next one down, two shrubs correa reflexa and hibbertia aspera, with a leptospermum "pink cascade" ground cover between them. Bottom level is two melaleuca hyperifolia which should cover the ground nicely and make nice red flower things. All of those tubestock from Tharwa nursery. Here are some pics (not mine):

    correa reflexa

    hibbertia aspera

    leptospermum pink cascade

    melaleuca hypericifolia prostrate form

    So... chances of my plants looking that good in a couple of years? Pretty small... but I'm trying to do a better job than my old "stick it in the ground and see if it survives" method. Hence the investigation into fertilizers etc. Lots of contradictory information. I've decided that, after all, native plants like native conditions, I'm not trying to win a growing race here. So I'm sticking to eucalytus leaf mould (got a large pile of it decomposing in the old septic tank), dug a big bucket of it into each tier, and a sprinkle of the slow release Osmocote. I figure that actually watering the plants will help too...

    BTW a lot of natives seem to love being stuck into the decomposed eucalytus leaf, I potted some hakeas a couple of weeks ago and then repotted them, and after only a couple of weeks some had roots growing 5cm out. The only thing is the bottom of the pot gets soggy so I'm now mixing in some sand with it (hence the repotting).

    Gopi has a big container of Seasol so the only other thing I might try is to water newly planted ones with a solution of that.

  • edited November 2013

    I also put a couple of muehlenbeckia axillaris into the top two levels. This grows very well here, doesn't seem to mind clay or whether you water it or not...! It can get a bit out of control but it works really well if it has a wall to hang down.

    muehlenbeckia axillaris

  • Here was last year:

    Nov - Garden steps

    Here's this year:


    Walking up a little further:


    View from the top:


  • Looking nice John .

  • Thanks Mal :)

    I'm starting to feel like a bit of a nutter.

  • There's a good reason for that John :D

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