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For me horticulture has always been a passion. Gardens change, gardeners change and tastes mutate but there are some plants whether nostalgic, special or just from experience that become all-time favourites. Those that know me well know that my favourite anything, can change as the day changes but here are my top three go to, close to my heart plants I love.


Begonias for colour in half shade
Begonias for colour
in half shade
Begonia Big leafed and big flowered
Begonia Big leafed and
big flowered


Begonias of Any Description

Begonias are by far my most favourite summer colour go to plant. Morning sun afternoon shade and they’re set. They need less water than many people think but also need to not dry out too much to keep the flowers on longer.
My secret is giving them a good start and then they’re ready to go throughout the summer without too much fuss. Whether is colourful bedding begonias or the larger patio favourites they do well if you ensure a good soil at planting, buy adding liberal compost and the organic fertiliser BioOcean to get them established. Once planted I always add a layer of mulch around the base too.

Through summer they need a feeding with Multifeed Flowergro, as a top up every few months but not much more.

In my garden every year I plant:
Bedding Begonias – I grow the brown leafed pink and green leafed white and sometimes green leafed pink when I can get them.

I always have a few Begonia Pink Dragon Wing and White Batwing, now called Begonia Big in my garden too.
But what I love and I get to enjoy even more here at Eckards is the wide range of different ones and I'm always adding when I can.


Nandina the Sacred Bamboo

I have beautiful fully established Nandina in my garden at Home. I also add them into any garden where I get a chance. When I was a student I was told by one of my mentors that beneath each one, a guardian angel lives and they are there to make sure it’s a happy home. If you moved one, it had to be to a better spot otherwise the spirit would leave and the plant would die. The pressure I went through as a young horticulturalist to make sure I looked after those spirits.

Only in later years, with some research I learned that in oriental gardens Nandina are regarded as friendship plants and are often planted near doorways as a welcoming gesture to all who enter. Either way, I love the story and but mostly how Nandina grows. Tall and leafy with a soft fern like look, flowering in summer, with berries in winter to attract birds rounds off why I just love them.


Sacred bamboo is a shrub not a true bamboo
Sacred bamboo is a shrub
not a true bamboo
Nandina berries attract birds
Nandina berries
attract birds

Grow Nandina in half to full sun. Once established they require almost no maintenance but will be more fern like lush with regular mulching and feeding with BioGanic organic fertiliser.

In my garden I have the tall Fern Flame which gets red new growth and turns red in winter with red berries. If you’re lucky, the rare Yellow Flame which gets white berries and turns yellow in winter not red are super special but they are almost impossible to find these days.

New varieties continue to arrive such as the pink tinged, Obsession variety as well as dwarf and smaller growing varieties. I just love them all and when I walk past or sit on the patio looking at them I always remember the story and smile, knowing that in my garden the Nandina spirit is very happy with their home.


Indigenous Forest Bell Bush

The October and November flowering, Mackaya Bella or Forest bell Bush is my go to for a shade loving garden. Growing easily up to 2 meters or a bit more they are wonderful as a screening shrub. I plant them against walls under trees to cover the walls and to add interest and depth to the garden.

Mackaya Bella covers in white flowers
Mackaya Bella covers in
white flowers
Indigenous and tough Forest bell Bush
Indigenous and tough
Forest bell Bush


Indigenous and tough I also like the fact that they attract bees and pollinators to the garden, adding to the garden ecosystem. I leave them to do their own thing but they are super versatile in a small garden. I have a friend who hedges them tight against a shady wall and they look really good all year.

Gardening is always a personal thing and when you grow your favourites then it truly becomes your haven.

It’s here with the spirits in the wind (and under my Nandina) that I will find and nurture my soul.
Thank you for indulging me in my story of my very favourite things ~ Wayne

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