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Autumn in Linda's Garden

Morning light and grey, silver and blues to remind me of the ocean and the sea. Photo - Linda Ross


My garden on the coast about one and a half hours north of Sydney is a relaxed mix of coastal natives, blue bamboo, succulents and tough exotics. 

I like to experiment here and bend the rules. Failure is part of the equation. My biggest fail was a mass death of frangipani following a freak black frost.

I’ve (kinda) recovered from the trauma and celebrated a hot summer during which the garden shone with large swathes of massed succulents cheering me up even on those violently hot days.


I’ve planted.... purple roses

Inspired by the roses I saw at Chelsea Flower Show last year I have planted purple roses to ramble through my lilac kangaroo paws. After much research (thanks Swanes!) I went with ‘Ebb Tide’, which has deep purple, almost black buds and flowers of a smoky purple, with a delicious strong clove scent; ‘Bonnie Babes’, which is a low-growing rose with mauve-lavender blooms; ‘Thankyou’, which has heaps of mauve petals; and ‘Angel Face’, which has wavy purple petals and a lovely fragrance. I’m enjoying the purple petals contrasting with all that silvery blue foliage. There’s a belief that roses don’t harmonise with natives, but I reckon I prove that false with every posie I pick!



Lilac Queen kangaroo paws with purple roses and drumstick allium. Photo - Linda Ross 


I’m loving... my flapjacks

I have planted flapjacks (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) in recurring clumps throughout the garden in a repeated matrix alongside coastal rosemary (Westringia), artichoke, drumstick allium (Allium sphaerocephalon), eriostemon, purple kangaroo paw, Dichondra silver falls and blue chalksticks (Senecio serpens). Flapjacks respond to cooler weather by shooting up vertically, and producing dazzling flowers. The silver-encrusted stems glisten like diamonds and stand out against the spheres of soft grey coastal rosemary and the arching blue grey of the Mexican lily (Bershouldia). Honeyeaters, such as the Eastern spinebill, hang off the flowers all day long drinking in the nectar. Once flowers finish in early spring I cut them completely off and allow the small plantlets at the base of the plant to regrow.


In autumn flapjacks head for the skies! Blue chalksticks, coastal rosemary and sea lavender help create an underwater scene. Photo - Linda Ross

What to do now

* Cut back the finished flower stems of kangaroo paw. To extend the patch pull up a finished flower stem and prune off the stem and old leaf fan. You will see the new leaf fan bud at the base. Plant into a new spot, mounded soil preferable.


Linda Ross cutting kangaroo paw

Once the paws have finished cut them back - hard. Photo - Linda Ross


* Pick roses through autumn, on long stems to help keep black spot at bay.

* Cut back the native blue grass (Poa labillarii) using a bread knife to sheari foliage 5-10 cm above ground level. New bright blue growth appears in 10 days. beautiful in winter

* Contain clumping bamboo by knocking shoots off when they reach 20cm - much easier than cutting them out when they mature!



Text: Linda Ross

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Author: Linda Ross