Whilst Walking the dog…

As I haven’t done much to keep in touch with my gardening friends and clients in a while (I’ve been designing and drawing a lot of residential gardens recently), I thought I might start being a little more active with the photos and updates on what’s happening with a few of my landscaping projects, starting with my own garden. So today I thought I’d add a bit of variety to the site and post some random photos of tropical and subtropical autumn-flowering plants that I saw on my lunch-time wander around the garden here with Max and Tess, my dogs.  Like most landscape designers I’m passionate about anything to do with plants, tropical and subtropical gardens and would like to spend a lot more time in the garden and less in front of the computer and at the drawing board than I do. Continue reading

Moira’s Garden – The Night Flowering Cactus

A lot of new customers ask me if they can look at gardens that I have designed. As most of my garden owners have often had their gardens constructed to create their own private little world, taking new customers to visit gardens that I have completed is not something that I generally do. Besides it is often hard to take credit for a garden that although initially my design and baby has become a joint project between the owners, the contractors and myself. So allowing you all to see something of my work via the photos on the website is actually quite important these days. Continue reading

My Garden – Priorities in the garden

I find myself cursing my landscape designer (me) at this time of year.  Who suggested you could save money by not installing an irrigation system and putting in a swimming pool instead as the temperatures start to rise and it seems like weeks ago since the last rains? Me?  Really? After all it rains for at last 8 months of the year here. We get up to 4 metres of water annually – sometimes up to 600mm – that’s two feet of water in one day. But during years when we get 4 months or so of no rain, it’s really hard work here trying to keep things alive.

And is it really so great having deep rich volcanic soil which is so well drained that after a few days of no rain the plants start to look a little crinkly and dry?

And really – roses????

Landscape designers never have enough money to do their own gardens – the search for perfection is expensive.  But do I really have to push the boundaries and grow plants that are really not totally comfortable with our sub-tropical climate here in the Cairns hinterlands?  Yes, but only in my own garden.

So I opted to hand water and now I’m paying the price.  I’m sick of lugging hoses around every hour or so. My life is divided into one hour segments – move sprinklers (make tea), draw , move sprinklers (play with dogs, make tea), draw, move sprinklers (more tea, skip throwing ball for dogs or maybe skip tea, throw ball)etc. Not a good routine – I just get into someone else’s magical garden in my head and then it’s back to reality, the train of thought is interrupted and off I wander again to lug around hoses (and get distracted). And stressed – have I missed anyone – did they all get their weekly allowance of water? It’s always that one little special specimen that somehow gets missed.

I’ve done all the right things that I told my customers to do to reduce the need for watering. I’ve spread over a hundred bales of mulch hay, I’ve fertilised with organic fertiliser, my soil is in perfect condition, but…every morning at 5am I start lugging the hoses around and trying to work out some method of keeping enough water up to those plants which I insisted I could manage. Yep the roses look glorious (though we still need to work out how to find the funds to get that retaining wall in front of them happening) and yes the Azaleas love that soil with its regular addition of the special Azalea and Camellia fertiliser and the new Cannas do seem to be peeking out where I actually manage to get water to them regularly enough (though there seem to be less  Azaleas than I’d realised – a few gaps in that bed), but as I set my life into one hour segments to stop everything and move sprinklers around, I realise that even in one of the world’s wettest places – a sensible irrigation system would be nice. OR I could take my own advice and grow plants that are suited to the climate – the baby bottlebrushes (Callistemons) are still surviving with no water at all – not cruelty, just an experiment – I don’t have favourites – much….

Attempting to work whilst you keep your garden looking reasonable is a sobering way to learn what your customers go through when you have to try and jiggle the usual normal commitments of work and family with the demands of keeping your garden alive and thriving – which is what your customers expect when they try to decide if you are the ONE who can be trusted to design them their dream garden.

I often get asked to design low maintenance gardens (in fact there are very few customers who don’t at some point during our initial brief mention – however casually – “Oh yes and it needs to be low maintenance”).  My number one recommendation (this week) would be – CONSIDER AN IRRIGATION SYSTEM. HAND WATERING GETS BORING AND LOSES YOU MONEY. I always put off doing the automatic system, because, well who needs an irrigation system when you only use it for four months of the year?  I DO!!!

On the positive side – spring is a glorious time of year and the roses (though few in number) do look wonderful, despite being so demanding and the Agapanthus are about to flower…….. Continue reading

April News

I’ve just returned from a few days in Townsville, getting my hands dirty working beside the team of landscape contractors as we completed a very special garden for a renovated Queenslander home on the hills overlooking the Coral Sea and Magnetic Island.  The garden still looks very new but with keen gardeners as clients, I was able to use a huge range of plants ranging from the white Bat Plant (Tacca integrifolia) to my ever favourite Bloomfield Penda (Xanthostemon verticillatus) and the new variegated River Reed (Lomandra ‘Stripey White’).

Exciting too to try some new products – hand-made Moroccan tiles and copper lotus lilies in yet another different water feature – my current favourite hobby – a different water feature for every project!  Continue reading

A Garden Revisited

So reporting back on the Townsville trip where I had nervously wondered what I was going to see after a few years break from a garden that I had really enjoyed working with. The photo says it all. The garden owner has kept faithfully to the original planting scheme and followed every instruction given about pruning, feeding, mulching and it was wonderful to see that most of the plants were thriving. She is now a marvelous gardener. Continue reading

Shouldn’t I get a Real job?

Tropical gardenDespite the fact that my design business pays half the bills around here, I wonder sometimes if designing landscapes is a rather frivolous way to make a living, but as my daughter’s say – “compared to what?”  Well a nurse maybe??  I guess it’s the fact that you love a job so much that makes it seem less serious, but the reply to that was that maybe nurses love emptying bedpans like I love staring at a computer with a constant cup of tea beside me and the chickens on the deck outside the office. It IS great to get paid for what you love to do… Continue reading

Who needs a web site?

Me it seems. Gone are the days of sending everyone endless photos of projects to see what I do. At last my infant website is live. Thanks to the very patient Maria Pesavento for persisting with my constant editing and for keeping me going with it when I just kept thinking that things weren’t good enough or could always be better. Continue reading