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We love: A Dollop of Clotted Cream

Opening pale pink then fading to soft coffee cream ‘Cafe au Lait’ is a celebrity-status dahlia.

The multi-petalled blooms are up to 25 cm across and there may be 40 on a plant at once, so strong support is essential.

Words by Linda Ross


Dahlia 'Cafe au lait' Photo - Horst Lieber/


Cut stems for the vase with at least two leaves and remove spent flowers to encourage more flowers and bushy growth. Dahlia tubers don't need to be lifted if the soil is well drained and won’t freeze in winter but they should be dug and divided every couple of years to keep them flowering at their best. ‘Cafe au Lait’ is available through most dahlia suppliers in Australia, including a few at Collectors Plant Fair in April.


Old-fashioned nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus), with handsome variegated leaves are easy to grow in any well-drained soil. ‘Alaska Mix’ has cream-marked lily pad-like leaves and soft lemon flowers. Softly mounding, compact ‘Alaska’ is a perfect disguise for fading bulb foliage in late spring, a striking edging and an attractive choice for showy containers, hanging baskets and window boxes. Happy in sun or part shade. Available form Mr Fothergills.


Nasturtium 'Alaska'. Photo - Kovalyk Artur/


‘Sally Holmes’ is a strong-growing shrub rose with lightly scented, clotted cream-coloured, single flowers held in large bunches. Large glossy, deep green leaves clothe a multi-branched bush to 1.5m wide and 2m tall. Every branch will produce up to 50 blooms which look outstanding in a tall vase. Rather than following the usual Hybrid Tea pruning techniques get the hedge clippers to this one in winter, trimming it to a neat shrub with a good metre of branching growth. Great as a hedgerow or a single specimen, this rose was a deserved addition to the World Rose Hall of Fame in 2012.


Sally Holmes rose


Flowering mid-to late-summer, Salvia ‘Clotted Cream’ throws up loose spires of creamy white flowers from a clump of aromatic green foliage. It will reach 50-60cm in height and width, making it the ideal container plant or border resident. Plant in sun. At the beginning of spring, trim lightly and feed.


Salvia 'Clotted Cream'


On the shelf

'Habitat' by AB Bishop

Melbourne garden writer AB Bishop reckons that all gardens should be designed with an eye to the wildlife for which they can provide shelter and food. Insects, lizards, frogs, birds, butterflies and larger creatures can all share our gardens with us in ways that enhance our experience of our backyard, balcony, rooftop terrace or bush block. Her new book is a practical guide to understanding how ecologically sound gardens work, with plenty of tips for transforming your own garden into one with a greater diversity of pulsating, fascinating, awe-inspiring life. RP 

‘Habitat: A practical guide to creating a wildlife-friendly Australian garden’ by AB Bishop is published by Murdoch, $40.


Cover photo by Heather Thorning