Coleus: Kaleidoscope



Colour a garden with only flowers and you get seasonal change and short satisfaction. Colour a garden with leaves of the rainbow and you get a kaleidoscope of happiness and celebration year round.

Although most people may not know these plants by their botanical name, Plectranthus scutellarioides, most gardeners are not too ashamed to admit they have owned a few in the past. In fact, Coleus is riding a wave of popularity with gardeners, garden designers and plant collectors. It is now hip to be Coleus crazy!

Known as Painted Nettle in some countries, this soft stemmed shrub or groundcover thrives in warm climates producing soft leaves in an assortment of colours, shapes and sizes.

From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Seven
Oldies but Goodies
Kate Heffernan
Gold Coast

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The work of professionals in the horticulture and landscape industries sometimes takes them into gardens that are a treasure trove of fascinating, and often hardy, reliable and long lived plants. Gold Coast horticulturist Kate Heffernan has ventured into many gardens and is always delighted when she finds old favourites which shine as star performers.

Recording plants found in very old gardens opens a window into the gardening habits of our forebears.

In times gone by most gardens were created by the exchange of plants, cuttings and seeds between friends, family and neighbours, and proper binomials never recorded. Old fashioned species planted decades, or even centuries ago, and still found growing in old gardens are usually proven performers. Often overlooked or forgotten in the world of new releases and cultivars, some may warrant a place in modern gardens while others have been shown to be invasive plants.

Discovering their origins and identification can sometimes be a test, and requires careful research.

From a 3 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Seven
Hippeastrum are a favourite in old gardens and are reliable flowering bulbous plant.
Old fashioned roses are wonderful surprise in gardens.
Let us not forget classic trees such as the Drunken Parrot Tree (Schotia brachypetala).



Tropical and subtropical gardens are generally renowned for the colour provided by either foliage or flowers. Some of the most popular flowering shrubs are in the genus Hibiscus.

Few other plants shout and proclaim ‘tropical’ like Hibiscus. They evoke images of Hawaiian resorts with palm-lined beaches and colourful flowered landscapes.

With 43 reported species and over 10,000 cultivars, the Hibiscus plant rewards gardeners with lush green or variegated foliage and masses of flowers. Flowers range in size from a 50 cent piece to a bread plate and from intense vibrant colours to muted pastels and greys.

From an 4 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Seven
‘Starry Eyes’.
Heirloom Double Peach.
‘Erin Rachael’.
Downsizing...when small 
is big enough

Paul Plant

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Moving from acreage to a small suburban block can be both an adventure and a worrying task. For passionate gardeners, it’s time to assess which plants are to be left behind, which are to be transplanted to the new location and to recognise opportunities at the new location for growing new plants.

Horticulturist Paul Plant looks at small gardens that need to be both practical and beautiful while negotiating the downsizing process.

When space is limited, garden owners need to look at every square metre as valuable real estate. Where is seating to go? Is there space for dining and entertainment? Is the lawn large enough for children to play? Is a garden shed going to fit in the rear garden?

Work out your priorities. Note down what is needed and what you want.
When planning a garden with limited space, it is important to fit the various elements together in a seamless and harmonious design.

Play with small spaces by using generous large features. Large garden beds full of lush plants can counter the harsh impact of hard concrete and timber surfaces. If paving is used in large expansive areas, counter it with large garden beds.

In a small garden it is generally better to use a limited palette of plants to provide unity and harmony. That is, it is best to buy twenty plants of five different species rather than five plants of twenty different species.
Small gardens generally require more intricate work with a priority for detail and quality. In many regards the value of a landscape in a small garden has a higher value per square metre than a larger garden.


From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Seven

Large garden beds full of lush plants can counter the harsh impact of hard concrete and timber surfaces.
Deflect views sideways to create impression of space.
Downsizing Your Native Garden

Joan Dillon

Images John Dillon

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The continuing trend towards smaller parcels of land and ever larger houses on average sized blocks, has led inevitably to reduced ‘left-over’ space for a garden. However, all is not lost as Australian plant enthusiast Joan Dillon explains.

Planting a large eucalypt tree on a small block is not an option for reasons of safety as much as space, but there are many beautiful smaller Australian native plants. It is possible to find one or several suited to rockeries, courtyards, trellises, pots and planters, and even narrow beds between walls and fences.

As always, choice will depend on light levels, soil type, available water and the preferred garden style. The majority of native shrubs and groundcovers grown in a garden setting do best in moderately fertile well-drained soils with a regular water supply.

The watering regime should be determined by the rooting habit of the plants. Some have deep roots that search for water lower down in the soil profile while others are mainly surface rooted and dry out more quickly. A good layer of mulch is important. Sudden death of Grevillea plants can be due to root damage followed by a significant change in soil moisture. A cool root run and a moderate moisture level are generally preferred.


From a 3 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Seven

Graptophyllum ilicifolium.
Hibiscus geranioides.
Native Sarsaparilla (Hardenbergia violacea) grown on a trellis.
Glasshouse Mountains National Park

Melina Simpson







Glasshouse Mountains National Park is approximately an hour’s drive north of Brisbane and encompasses a number of volcanic peaks, ranging in height from 123 to 556 metres. This heritage-listed National Park consists of a flat, mostly sandy plain, which is punctuated by trachyte and rhyolite cores or plugs of extinct volcanoes that formed over 25 million years ago. Horticulturist Melina Simpson was keen to investigate and report on her climbing expedition.

Each of these peaks supports a diverse and rich range of habitats. Shrublands, woodlands, open forest and small rainforest habitats can be found throughout the park and the mountain tops. Montane heathland is of special significance, with over 20 threatened and endemic (exclusive to this area) plant species found here.

Of significant conservation value, the Park and is also home to a broad range of wildlife including koalas, goannas, echidnas, peregrine falcons and black cockatoos.

There are many trails to choose from depending on your fitness level and timeframe. An information centre is located in the Settlers Rotary Park and can help you plan your activities. The Queensland National Parks Department has a comprehensive website on facilities, activities and park alerts –

From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Seven
Contrasting strips of smooth bark on the rare Leptospermum luehmannii, make it an outstanding feature of the Ngungun summit.
Near the summit, winding down the steep path through crops of Leptospermum luehmannii.
Soft Bracken Fern (Cymbopogon refractus) thrives in the sclerophyll understory, along with Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea latifolia).
Australian Plants for Containers

Joan Dillon

Images John Dillon

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Many Australian plants can be successfully grown in pots, planters and hanging baskets. Since control can be exercised over the potting mix and watering regime, it may be possible to grow favourites from outside their climatic zone. As Joan Dillon explains, be prepared to treat some as annuals and enjoy the colour display while it lasts.

Many brightly coloured smaller Australian plants are naturally found in relatively sandy soils and grow well in a good quality native potting mix. Drainage may need to be further improved with additional washed coarse sand – a quick search in a reliable gardening reference book or magazine to locate the natural distribution of the plant will provide guidance. Take the opportunity to experiment. Fertilisers formulated for Australian plants are preferred for specimens of the Proteaceae family (Banksia, Grevillea, etc).

The type of pot or planter is not particularly important. It is worth remembering that unglazed pots dry out more quickly than glazed ones. Appropriate watering is critical.

Australian plants, as for any plant confined to a pot, will not tolerate over-watering. Group plants with similar water requirements. Shrubs in larger pots may not need water more than once a week, while other plants in hanging baskets may need water every day or second day, depending on exposure to wind. A simple automatic irrigation system is a great time saver.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Seven
Lechenaultia formosa.
Potted colour.
Pimelia linifolia.
Grevillea Cultivars

Heather Knowles

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Following on from Issue 36, this article looks at another 20 cultivars of Grevillea worth considering as garden plants. As captured by horticulturist Heather Knowles.

  • Basic Requirements
  • Grevilleas dislike wet feet
  • Grevilleas dislike fertiliser with a high phosphorus content
  • Grevilleas usually like sunny positions
  • Grevilleas in flower attract birds and insects
  • Grevilleas will appreciate a light prune after flowering
  • Knowing the plant parentage will help you pick the perfect location
  • Small Grevilleas can be used in rockeries or containers
  • Shrubby Grevilleas can be used as informal hedging
  • Read the label – but remember it may not be 100% accurate

Species featured this issue are:

  • Grevillea ‘Fireworks’
    G. ‘Scarlet Sprite’ x G. alpina
  • Grevillea ‘Flamingo’
    G. ‘Superb’ x G. ‘Moonlight’
  • Grevillea ‘Forest Rambler’
  • Grevillea ‘Golden Lyre’
    G. ‘Honey Gem’ x G. formosa
  • Grevillea ‘Golden Yu-Lo’
    G. ‘Sandra Gordon’ seedling
  • Grevillea ‘Goldfever’
    G. juniperina (prostrate yellow form) x G. rhyolitica
  • Grevillea ‘Gypsy Moon’
    G. 'Sandra Gordon' seedling
  • Grevillea 'Honey Gem'
    G. pteridifolia x G. banksii
  • Grevillea ‘Honeybird (Wattlebird) Yellow’
    G. 'Misty Pink' x G. 'Honey Gem'
  • Grevillea ‘Ivory Whip’
    G.‘Billy Bonkers’ seedling
  • Grevillea ‘Jennifer’s Joy’
    G. speciosa subsp. speciosa x G. linarifolia
  • Grevillea ‘Lady O’
    G. victoriae x G. rhyolitica
  • Grevillea ‘Lana Maree’
    G. nana subsp. abbreviata x G. banksii
  • Grevillea ‘Liliane’
    Unknown parentage
  • Grevillea 'Lollypops'
    G. ‘Billy Bonkers’ seedling
  • Grevillea ‘Loopy Lou’
    G. banksii var. forsteri (white form) x G. bipinnatifida (glaucous form)
  • Grevillea ‘Magic Lantern’
    G. preissii subsp. glabrilimba selection
  • Grevillea ‘Magic Wand’
    G. petrophiloides x G. paradoxa
  • Grevillea ‘Merinda Gordon’
    G. insignis x G. asteriscosa
  • Grevillea ‘Molly’
    G. aurea x G. bipinnatifida
From a 6 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Seven
Grevillea ‘Fireworks’ G. ‘Scarlet Sprite’ x G. alpina
Grevillea ‘Honey Gem’ G. pteridifolia x G. banksii
Grevillea ‘Merinda Gordon’ G. insignis x G. asteriscosa
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