Hamilton Garden
Arno King



Viola and Neil Hamilton’s garden, located at Bahrs Scrub just west of Beenleigh, is well known to many people, opens regularly as part of Open Gardens Australia. The 0.8 hectare (2 acre) garden has been developed slowly over the last 28 years and contains a diversity of plants and distinct garden areas.

Arno King visited the garden and reported on its history.

When Viola and Neil moved here in 1985, there was no garden, just an open paddock. Viola’s intention was to create a garden that reminded them of the ones they had stayed at during holidays in the northern islands – “I wanted to be on holiday every day”.

They were on a tight budget, so everything happened slowly.

For many years, Viola’s garden information and inspiration was sourced from books at the local library. Then one day, Open Gardens Australia selector, Jo Armstrong walked down the driveway and asked if she could see the garden. She had been watching the garden develop and suggested Viola and Neil consider opening it to the public. Viola had never heard of the scheme and had no gardening friends. However in 2000, 18 months later, the garden opened for the first time, and Viola was now officially ‘gardening big time’. Through the opening and being involved with Open Gardens Australia, Viola has made many gardening friends.

From a 6 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Two
A pot full of Earth Stars (Cryptanthus bivittatus ‘Ruby’).
Rainbow Lorikeets also enjoy the garden.
A view through the rainforest garden.
Water Grotto Garden, Nevis, West Indies. Image Stephen Dunn Photography.

Roberto Burle Marx is considered to be one of the most innovative of landscape designers of the 20th century, and is particularly famous for his bold arrangements of plant material and architectural form. He has directly and indirectly influenced public and private landscapes around the world especially in tropical and subtropical climates.

Inspired by this master, Raymond Jungles from Florida, United States of America will be highlighting how Roberto Burle Marx has contributed to the modern landscape at the upcoming Australian Landscape Conference in September 2013, in Melbourne.

From an 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Two
Brazilian Garden at Naples Botanical Garden. Image Steven Brooke Photography.
Butterflies &host plants

Paul Plant

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Bees, butterflies and other insects play a vital role in the cycle of life on earth. However, the sight of a leaf-eating caterpillar munching a favourite plant often incites a gardener into vengeance. Keen plantsman and nature lover Paul Plant looks into the wondrous world of host plants and how we can encourage more butterflies in our gardens.

Butterflies are generally attracted to gardens for food (nectar from flowers), water and to lay eggs on suitable host plants. Caterpillars (the larva of the adult butterfly) are vital for the survival of butterflies and gardeners are encouraged to grow host plants and permit the caterpillars to chomp away on their leaves. Though this may sound disastrous for our favourite plants, rest assured that caterpillars are generally picky with what they eat.

Australia’s diverse country has around 412 species of butterflies identified, with perhaps more yet to be discovered. They have evolved to feed on specific native plants as their host food source, however many species are also happy to diversify their diet and feed on selected non-native plant species in our gardens.

Depending on the size of the garden, you can grow a few small plants to attract a few butterflies or a wide range of trees and shrubs to attract
more butterflies.

In a small garden you can grow small host plants such as the Arrowhead Violet (Viola betonicifolia) to encourage the Laced Fritillary (Argyreus hyperbius) into your garden. Another great small plant is the Love Flower (Pseuderanthemum variabile) which fits well into small pots and around the base of existing potted plants, and is the primary food source for numerous butterflies such as the Blue-banded Eggfly (Hypolimnas alimena).

The article comprehensively lists host plants for Australian butterflies as well as non-native host plants.

From a 7 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Two
Dainty Swallowtail (Papilio anactus). Image Noel Burdette.
Common Crow (Euploea core) chrysalis. Image Noel Burdette.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus) caterpillar. Image Paul Plant.
Lost in the grass

Heather Knowles

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If you are ever walking through bushland, near a dam or across a paddock, stop and look a little closer at those small splashes of colour in the grass beside your feet. There are some delightfully small native ground cover plants with colourful flowers that are usually overlooked in their natural setting. Some are found in cultivation, others not but deserve to be. Heather Knowles introduces us to some small plants, sedges and grasses you may encounter in these habitats. More will be featured in future issues.

This issue covers the following varieties:

  • Austral Bugle (Ajuga australis)
  • Three Awned Grass (Aristida gracilipes)
  • Tah Vine (Boerhavia spp.)
  • Australian Bugle (Brunoniella australis)
  • Burr Daisy (Calotis cuneata)
  • Tall Sedge (Carex appressa)
  • Bristly Cloak Fern (Cheilanthes distans)
  • Billy Buttons (Chrysophalum apiculatum)
  • Native Wandering Jew (Commelina diffusa)

From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Two

Austral Bugle (Ajuga australis)
Australian Bugle (Brunoniella australis)
Native Wandering Jew (Commelina diffusa)
Colour under the Canopy
Noel Burdette

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Many gardeners have shady locations in their gardens where they would like to add some flower colour. While many flowering plants need full sun to flower well, there are many that flower in the shade. Noel Burdette suggests some of his favourite plants which are well suited to the shaded warm climate garden.

No matter what kind of gardens we create, one thing is certain and that is that all gardens, big or small and everything in between are in a constant state of flux.

Over the years, as we watch our gardens grow and mature, we will respond to the many changes that occur. The increasing size of the trees and shrubs that we have chosen for our garden spaces is a major change in the garden. Plants that once thrived next to that young Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia cultivar) or Lillypilly (Syzygium species) while they were merely one metre tall, now struggle to perform as they compete for sunlight, water and nutrients with every passing growing season.

Although from the outside, this competition may seem problematic, there is a benefit that accompanies this maturity, for the availability of shade grants us the opportunity to grow an amazing assortment of flowering plants.

Shade does not have to be designated solely for species associated with the hot, humid tropics. Of course there is no denying that many members of the ginger, orchid and bromeliad families look perfectly at home in these situations, and so rightly they should, but there are many other species of plants that suit gardeners hankering for a different garden character.


From a 6 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Two

Summer Wisteria (Indigofera decora).
Natal Lily (Clivia miniata).
Golden Spider Lily (Lycoris aurea).
Grevilleas - grafting heralds solutions

Images Nick Hansa






Along with gums, wattles, kangaroo paws and the Sturt’s desert pea, grevillea flowers are an iconic component of the Australian flora. Grevilleas are popular in almost all gardens across this nation with species and cultivars suited to most climatic regions. However, many gardeners love to grow plants which may not be ideal for their particular climate or soil and in the case of grevilleas, this can lead to disappointment. Grafting is used with many plants to improve their vigour that maybe weak or slow growing and to enhance growth in plants that are adapted to specific soil conditions.

Grevilleas have been grafted for decades, primarily by collectors who wish to grow species from very different environments and which generally will not grow on their own root system in garden situations. Some Grevillea species and cultivars require very specific soil conditions. The soils in their native habitat may be very free draining, highly alkaline, highly mineralised or free from pathogens that may be present in a garden situation.



From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Two
Grevillea ‘Ivory Whip’.
Grevillea Robyn Gordon.
Grevillea ‘Loopy Lou’.
Bamboo – Shooting for the sky

Images Janne Nilsson
and Rick Warren




Various bamboo species are often used in landscapes for their screening effect and the contribution they make to gardens with an Asian or tropical character. In addition to their medium to fast growth habit and attractive appearance many bamboos are grown for their edible young shoots.
Once they are in full growth, they are one of the fastest growing plants on earth, Bamboo shoots have been measured growing at well over one metre per day. However this growth spurt generally occurs only during short and specific times of the year especially on acreage.

As it grows a bamboo shoot will often first break through the ground and then appear to pause for a week or two. After this short pause, the shoot begins its dramatic skyward journey. In as little as six to ten weeks, a bamboo shoot will mature from a sprout to a fully extended stem (correctly named a culm). It may take another season for the culm to fully develop its branches and leaves.

This record-breaking growth rate needs water. Bamboo shoots are up to 90% water before they harden off and become woody. In the early stages of shoot growth water is critical. This is also the reason why young shoots are easily broken by wildlife, storms or readily harvested for consumption.

A category for eating bamboo covers both good eating and not so good eating varieties.

From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Two
Bambusa sp. shoot. Image Rick Warrick.
Dendrocalamus latiflorus – one week old shoots. Image Rick Warrick.
Bambusa oldhamii. Image Janne Nilsson.
Bushfire Safety II

Joan Dillon

Images John Dillon

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Following on from the Fire Safety article in Issue 31, Joan Dillon provides the green alternative to fire protection – the green fire barrier.

Subtropical and tropical Australia is home to a broad range of vegetation communities and South East Queensland is particularly diverse. These vegetation communities overlap creating further diversity.

Gardeners have a broad choice of plants but there are some general truths when it comes to fire – all plants, whether native or non-native, will burn when subjected to sufficient heat. Some are simply more flammable than others.

That real or imagined ‘home among the gum trees’ is part of the Australian psyche but Gum Trees (Eucalyptus and Corymbia species) can burn fiercely in a hot fire although many recover if the fire is not too intense. The leaves of many plants belonging to the Myrtaceae family, which includes the gums, contain volatile oils.

Most gardeners tend to love the native Bottlebrushes (Melaleuca previously Callistemon species), Tea-trees (Leptospermum species) and Paperbarks (Melaleuca species) but they too are flammable so keep them well away from the house. She Oaks (Casuarina and Allocasuarina species)
in the family Casuarinaceae are also highly flammable stems.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Two
Ivory Curl Flower (Buckinghamia celcissima).
Norfolk Island Hibiscus (Lagunaria patersonii).
Native Guava (Eupomatia laurina).
Bonsai – Selecting a suitable plant
Craig Jurd

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There are several characteristics worthy of consideration when selecting a suitable plant that will grow and develop as a bonsai over the years to come:

  • The plant should be healthy and free of any pests or diseases
  • The plant should not be root bound (contrary to popular belief)
  • The plant should be bushy, with many branches close to the base and a single trunk
  • The trunk should taper from the base to the apex (top)
  • It is preferable if the base shows some surface roots as this can help create the illusion of age
  • The plant should be able to grow more branches.

It is preferable to select a species with small flowers, fruit or berries as these items will appear in proportion to the size of the bonsai.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Two
Dwarf Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’) is well shaped with small leaves and multiple branches – ideal for bonsai training.
A selection of pots suitable for bonsai displaying a range of colour, shapes and sizes.
Native Guava (Eupomatia Ficus rubiginosa ‘Little Ruby’ being trained as a bonsai. laurina).
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