Rooftop Renaissance
Helen Curran

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In Sydney’s harbour-side suburb of Cremorne is the garden of Noelene and Ian Dawes. Their garden is different from most gardens, as it is a rooftop garden that has had a lot of attention. Horticulturist Helen Curran visited the garden to see what all the fuss was about.

Rooftop gardens may bring to mind images of gardens high up on top
of apartment buildings with long flights of steps up which to walk. Instead, this garden is only a short flight of steps from the footpath, as the land slopes rapidly down from the street.

Although the original garden was quite pretty when the plants were in flower, the garden did not visually entice Noelene and Ian outside. The garden originally had planter boxes at either side of the back door. On one side the planter box was over one metre high while on the other side it was just over half a metre high. These planter boxes were filled with flowering shrubs including Camellias (Camellia japonica) and Glossy Abelias (Abelia x grandiflora).

From a 5 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Three
North western view across to the White Cedar (Melia azedarach).
Agave attenuata x ocahui ‘Blue Glow’, Fernleaf Orchid Cactus (Selenicereus chrysocardium) with Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Green & Gold’.
Euphorbia ‘Poysean’ hybrid.
Magnetic Attraction

Paul Plant

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There are few places where a gardener can experience on average 300 days of sunshine per year with an average minimum temperature of 20ºC. Located only eight kilometres east of Townsville, Magnetic Island is the picturesque exemplar of such a place. Editor Paul Plant visited to appreciate the beauty of the island and the gardens.

Apopular holiday destination for local, national and international visitors, there is more to see than just beaches, coral, diving and sunbathing. In addition to the twenty-five kilometre network of walking tracks from which to admire nature there is also the opportunity to see how the island residents garden under local conditions, for during the year many private gardens open to the public.

On my first trip to the island some thirty years ago I had expectations of leafy tropical gardens full of lush foliage and brimming with tropical flowers. I knew little of Queensland’s climatic zones or the tropics back then.
In July this year, with a better appreciation of the tropical vegetation and gardening, I eagerly anticipated my trip to the island.

From a 5 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Three
Peanut Tree (Sterculia quadrifida).
Sea Fanflower (Scaevola taccada).
Australian Kapok (Cochlospermum gillivraei).
Lost in the grass II

Heather Knowles

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Heather Knowles continues on her exploration of small native plants that are commonly overlooked while bushwalking.

This issue covers the following varieties:

  • Dwarf Blue Flax lily (Dianella rara)
  • Spike Rush (Eleocharis sp.)
  • Winter Apple (Eremophila debilis)
  • Fringe Rush (Fimbristylis sp.)
  • Glycine Pea (Glycine tabacina)
  • Goodenia (Goodenia rotundifolia)
  • Guinea Flower (Hibbertia sp.)
  • Waxflower (Hoya australis)
  • Spade flower (Hybanthus stellarioides)
  • Nine-leaved Indigo, Birdsville Indigo (Indigofera linnaei)
  • Sweet Jasmine (Jasminum sauvissimum)
  • Common Rush, Pin Rush (Juncus usitatus)
  • Matt Reeds (Lomandra sp.)
  • Grass Lily (Murdannia graminea)
  • Native Sensitive Plant (Neptunia gracilis)
  • Silver Plectranthus (Plectranthus nitidus)
  • Love Flower (Pseuderanthemum variabile)
  • Native Buttercup (Ranunculus lappaceus)
  • Wild Pansies (Velleia spathulata)
  • Showy Violet (Viola betonicifolia)
  • Native Daisy (Vittadinia cuneata + Vittadinia dissecta)
  • Native Bluebell (Wahlenbergia gracilis)
  • Zornia (Zornia dyctiocarpa)
From an 8 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Three
Glycine Pea (Glycine tabacina).
Native Sensitive Plant (Neptunia gracilis).
Showy Violet (Viola betonicifolia).
Art, Sculptures & Figurines



Famous landscapes and gardens are generally remembered for their design, plant combinations and their art, sculpture and figurines.
Some gardens reflect a bygone era and celebrate the wealth and opulence of that time. Figurines, grand water features and formal garden beds come to mind. What sets these gardens apart and appeals to many garden lovers is the use of plant material and how the design utilises vistas through the garden to create points of focus. It is here where art, sculptures and figurines are located for maximum effect.

The use of ornaments to draw people from one place to another is widely used in gardens around the world.


From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Three

Clustering similar items together makes a bold statement in the landscape. Image Cheryl Boyd’s garden.
Small figurines can be purchased from garden centres and are within the price range of everyone. Item Courtesy of 
The Urban Farmer.
Elevated sculpture encourages garden visitors to increase their appreciation of both the horizontal and vertical elements of the landscape. Image Cheryl Boyd’s garden.
Bushfire Safety II

Paul Plant

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Following on with the series of Bushfire Safety articles, Paul Plant takes a look at using both native and non-native plants for green fire barriers.

All plants will burn when subjected to intense heat, lack of water and an ignition point (that is the fire or airborne cinders). We can instigate a fire reduction strategy in the garden by using non-flammable and fire retardant plant species.

As mentioned in the last issue, plants with succulent leaves – those that hold moisture in their leaves or stems – are valuable tools to use in the landscape to reduce the spread of fire and to minimise further damage to the garden and structures.

Some plants hold water in their leaf axils. These include bromeliads, bananas and heliconias.

Many tropical and subtropical plants, native and non-native, with lush succulent leaves are also useful for this purpose. Ornamental gingers (including Australian native gingers), shrubs and even many trees are great at reducing fire damage.


From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Three

Alocasia macrorrhizos ‘New Guinea Gold’.
Walking Iris (Neomarica gracilis).
Solandra maxima ‘Variegata’.
Potting Mixes

Jill Coomb






With so many potting mixes on the market many gardeners are often confused which ones to buy and for what purpose. With that in mind, horticulturist and nursery person Jill Coomb investigates the role of potting mix standards.

Apotting mix is not soil dug out of the ground and placed in bags. It is a multi-million dollar business, producing carefully formulated components blended to give plants the ability to thrive in a container.

Potting mixes are covered by the Australian Standard AS3743. However not all potting mix meets this standard. The potting mixes which attain these standards are rigorously tested and carry five ticks on the front of the bag.

There are two levels of the Australian Standard AS3743 for potting mixes. Red ticks signify a premium mix and black a regular mix.

On the front of each bag of potting mix that reaches this standard will be five ticks. The difference between a standard mix and a premium mix (black or red ticks), is that the premium has high levels of fertiliser and will sustain your plants longer than the standard mix.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Three
Poor drainage.
Australian Standard marks.
Craig Jurd

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When starting to grow bonsai, the greatest challenge is to try to transform the nursery plant you bought into one that resembles a much older tree.
Start by identifying the outstanding attributes of the plant, and then try to make them a feature in the design of the bonsai.

The styles of bonsai are based on trees which are commonly seen growing in nature and maintained in a miniature form. There are generally five basic styles.

The five basic styles are:

  • Formal Upright
  • Informal Upright
  • Slanting Style
  • Semi cascade
  • Full Cascade
From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Three
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) trained from 2008 as semi cascade style.
Green Island Fig (Ficus rotundifolia ‘Green Island’) trained from 1993 as slanting style.
Japanese Juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Prostrata’) trained from 2000 as full cascade style.
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