I often get asked about my garden at home so I thought I would share some stories and insights from Stanmore Garden, my little haven. The house was built in 1929 and when I moved in just over twenty years ago there was no garden left so I had a blank slate to play with.
Having a clean slate allowed me to plant all my favourite things and over the years I've added and edited keeping to my belief that a garden should be filled with your favourite things to make it your space and not just something to walk past. The bones of my garden are my Silver Birch forest under planted with camellia, Indigenous forest Bell Bush, Orange Jasmine and Sacred Bamboo. Bay leaf and Petrea screen the utility yard and the patio is filled with a collection of succulents and treasures from my travels.
Over the years I have by design ended up with a shady garden on one side and a sun drenched patio against the house. The complete garden is only about 150m2 but it is full... at last count I have 57 pots!
Feed the garden
A garden is only as good as the soil it grows from and regular feeding. I mulch with compost throughout the garden in spring, twice through summer and in autumn we use all the leaves to pack a thick layer of mulch to get the garden through winter.
Feeding is important and my preference is organic BioGanic throughout every second month. I do alternate with BioOcean in spring and will use a 713 or 234 as a quick boost at the beginning of November when the rain season has started. All the containers regularly get Multifeed Classic or Flowergro alternated with Nitrosol.
That said I will sometime use a totally different fertiliser to break the routine. I believe if you get stuck on the same fertiliser the plants lose their lustre as it were and by changing it up it changes the nutrient ratios in the soil and plants respond better. We also add all the coffee grounds and eggshells to the garden continuously.
One would never say I don't collect stuff when looking at my garden. Over the years I have collected unusual colour Clivia's which fill the shady borders. Succulents mostly Echeveria, Gasteria and Agave fill the patio. My Cycads were all rescues in distress when they arrived. Many of the plants in containers were gifts or have some special meaning to them. One of my favourites is the Echeveria Tynie Burger which is named after my best friends mom who bred this special hybrid a few years ago now.
I also bring back stones, shells, small concrete ornaments and unusual pebbles from my travels. I love raw concrete and all over the garden there is something to discover whether it's a little frog or a secret wall plaque, many now well aged after years of being outside exposed to the elements.
Special to me is my grandfathers watering can and even a tile from our family farm patio finding its way into making up the eclectic mix that makes Stanmore Garden very much part of me and my story.
Colour for sure
There are always pots of colour and it varies. In winter I love the Giant Primulas, common Primulas as well as primroses. The summer garden is filled with Impatiens, Coleus and Begonias. I really love Begonias and I grow all of them from the little ones to the big leafed varieties and the collectable bulb varieties too. My colour planting secret is that I mix fresh soil into the pots at planting once a year and the second planting gets some compost mixed in to improve what's there. Every three years or so I totally replace the soil with Culterra Potting Mix. I add a handful of BioGanic in at planting and always make sure that the water runs out the base of the container.
After twenty years
This is my third garden and by far my most eclectic. A dear friend long ago said if you garden it is in your destiny to leave beautiful garden in your path behind you for other to enjoy. Will this be my last garden? Who knows what the future holds but one thing is for certain, it is my haven, my refuge and where I can find myself when I lose myself gardening and fiddling in the soil.