An Explorer’s Garden

Joan Dillon

Images John Dillon

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Tucked away at the end of a ‘no through road’, on the outskirts of Maleny in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, is the fascinating property of David and Olive Hockings. On former dairy country David combined his passion for botanical exploration with growing flowers for export, a small production nursery, and establishing unusual, rare and just plain interesting plants in an extensive garden around their home. Local horticulturist Joan Dillon explored the garden with David. Images by John Dillon.

Many of these plants are now large trees but others are lovely flowering shrubs or sometimes rather rampant herbaceous perennials. Not all have names, some are possibly new species and others are the subjects of heated botanical discussion. Like economists, not all botanists agree!

David was born on Thursday Island and spent his early years as what would now be called ‘a free range child’ exploring his local environment. He was fortunate to have an ‘uncle’, his great grandfather’s nephew, who established the Hockings Museum on the island and to whom anything of interest was sent. Uncle Percy would then paint it and find out what he could about it. An interest in the natural world and how it worked was clearly in the family genes.

Early in his public service career, David recognised that the average garden expert and gardener needed and wanted more information and he inherited a radio gardening program in Toowoomba when Dr Alan May was transferred to Brisbane. Given his interest in plants he joined the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock in 1960 as an extension officer, although not initially in amenity horticulture. At that time many professionals regarded horticulture as a hobby rather than an industry but garden clubs and societies were flourishinG. David established an extension service for nurseries, cut flower growers and home gardeners.

From a 7 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Eight
Platysace lanceolata ‘Valentine Lace’.
Bonewood (Medicosma cunninghamii).
Crinum venosum.
Take a look at the Dark Side

Julie Roach

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When most people think of tropical gardens the images that are created feature lush foliage, bright flowers and lots of sunshine. In reality there are lots of shady spots in most tropical gardens, as those of us who live in the tropics try to avoid too much sun exposure. This makes for lots of greens, shadows and shafts of light to work with. Sometimes, dark coloured foliaged or flowering plants create a welcome addition to the garden as Julie Roach explains.

The tropical sun is harsh and tends to visually wash out colours. This is why tropical gardeners can get away with such a clash of bright colours together; as long as there is sufficient green in the mix.

Another popular garden design trick is to work with the subtleties of light and shadows when positioning plants in the garden. The morning or afternoon sun can be used to back-light the leaves of dark coloured foliage plants such as Cordyline ‘Red Wings’ and ‘Negra’. Similarly, Blood-leaf or Beetroot Plant (Iresine herbstii ‘Brilliantissima’) would look brilliant in such as position with its beautiful rich crimson leaves with beetroot coloured veins.

Dark flowered climbers such as Hoya macgillivrayi or even Allamanda ‘Black Cherry’ can be effectively highlighted when grown on a pergola or trellis in a place where the flowers will contrast against the bright sky behind them.

From a 5 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Eight
Hoya macgillivrayi.
Zebra Plant (Calathea zebrina).
Black Bat Plant (Tacca chantrieri).
Downsizing II... more Tricks for garden design

Paul Plant

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Following on from last issue where a number of visual tricks were suggested to help a small garden appear bigger, Editor and Registered Horticulturist Paul Plant offers some additional tricks for garden designing on a small scale.

Small gardens can often look and feel pokey, cluttered and awkward to enter. In most cases these are easy items to fix so as to help make the garden space appear larger.

All too often what we as gardeners have to address is our passion for collecting plants. By making plant selection choices based on the intended design and desired character, it is possible to curb the compulsion to continually buy plants. Wise plant selection can greatly enhance the appearance of the garden and can effectively make the garden look and feel more spacious.

Some gardeners can also embrace the limit space. An intimate garden courtyard with lush tropical foliage plants can create sense of retreat and comfort.

A well designed small garden space can increase the value of your property. Create the ‘Wow’ factor yourself or employ the services of a professional garden designer or landscape architect.

...and a further 10 More Visual Tricks is featured to follow on from last issue's sidebar feature!

From an 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Eight
Stick with one hard landscape surface material.
Use low plants in small areas to conserve space.
Simplify palette again – fewer different coloured plants make a garden appear less cluttered or busy.

Heather Knowles

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A number of plants are recognised internationally as iconic components of the Australian flora. Banksias are one such plant and their flowers are prized for floral arrangements and the plants are popularly featured in a diverse range of garden situations. Heather Knowles looks at a range of Banksia plants which are suited to warm climate gardens.

There are reportedly 173 Banksia species and all but one occur naturally only in Australia. Banksias were named after Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), who, in 1770, was the first European to collect specimen of these plants. In 2007 the genus Dryandra (found only in south-western Western Australia) was incorporated into the genus Banksia effectively almost doubling the number of species.

The inflorescence is made up of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of tiny individual flowers grouped together in pairs. The colour of the flower heads typically ranges from yellow to red. Many species flower during autumn and winter.

The hard woody fruits of banksias (called follicles) are often grouped together to resemble cones. Cones they are not – true cones are produced only by conifers. These woody fruit protect the seeds from foraging animals and from fire. Fire is essential for many species as it forces the woody fruits to open and release the seeds.

Western Australia is the main stronghold of the genus, but some species also occur on the east coast of Australia.

A brief overview of species found in Queensland is addressed:

  • Wallum Banksia (Banksia aemula)
  • Northern Banksia (Banksia aquilonia)
  • Glasshouse Banksia (Banksia conferta)
  • Coastal Banksia, White Banksia, White Bottlebrush,
    White Honeysuckle (Banksia integrifolia subsp. integrifolia)
  • Coast Banksia (Banksia integrifolia subsp. compar)
  • B. integrifolia subsp. monticola
  • Fern-leaved Banksia, Rusty Banksia (Banksia oblongifolia)
  • Hinchinbrook Banksia (Banksia plagiocarpa)
  • Swamp Banksia, Broad-leaved Banksia (Banksia robur)
  • Saw Banksia, Old Man Banksia (Banksia serrata)

Banksia spinulosa has four natural varieties...

  • Hairpin Banksia (Banksia spinulosa var. collina)
  • Banksia spinulosa var. cunninghamii
  • Banksia spinulosa var. neoanglica
  • Hairpin Banksia (Banksia spinulosa var. spinulosa)

From a 5 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Eight

Banksia aemula.
Banksia conferta.
Banksia plagiocarpa.
Benefits of Gardening as We Age




Gardening is one of the most rewarding activities a person can undertake for themselves and for the greater community. Its action impacts beyond the boundaries of a garden fence and extends out into and throughout the local community. It can directly or indirectly affect locals, visitors, tourists and the economy.

Personal isolation as we get older can be overcome by sharing a common interest such as gardening – join a club/community garden group; share ideas, techniques and plants; chat, discuss and debate botanical names; laugh along with everyone; create friends; and involve the grandkids.

It is important to keep the body active and healthy. Gardening provides gentle aerobic exercise for limbs and muscles, and is normally done out in fresh air, not in an air conditioned room. This form of exercise can be done with family, friends or alone. Other less obvious fitness aspects of gardening relates to walking when visiting gardens, parks and taking photographs.


From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Eight

Joining a Botanical Garden group will also increase your social calendar and keep you healthy and active.
Plant collectors span all age brackets, proving it is never too late 
to start.
edditor’s gadren







Some would say that a mechanic’s car is never tuned and a plumber’s house always leaks. So what would you expect from an Editor’s garden?

Having lived in South East Queensland my entire life, my first gardening experience I can vividly remember was creating a no-dig layer garden inspired by the original 1978 hardcover book “Esther Deans’ Growing without Digging” in semi-bush Coopers Plains. Not only has that suburb dramatically changed, so too has the expansive diversity of plants we now grow.

From Brisbane to Redlands, back to Brisbane then Ipswich, I am now in the process of creating a new garden in the Noosa hinterland, not far from the Noosa Botanic Gardens. While many downsize for valid reasons, I have done the opposite by moving to a heavily treed five acre property.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Eight
Butterfly – Orchard Swallowtail (Papilio aegeus).
Editor’s cabin, tucked amongst the gum trees.
Love Flower (Pseuderanthemum variabile).

Melina Simpson





Seasons change so be prepared throughout the year. Brisbane based horticulturist Melina Simpson shares some wise words about pruninG.

Summer in a tropical or a subtropical climate generally brings heavy rain, storms, lightning strikes, cyclonic winds, floods and invariable periods of heat and humidity. All of these factors can be stressful for plants, and surveying the garden towards the end of storm season may reveal trees and large shrubs with branches that may require trimming or removal.

Some branches may die back during the warm wet summer months due to pests, disease, weather conditions or old age. Others can split and hang or even break unevenly due to weight of rainwater on leaves and strong winds.

Correct pruning techniques remove unsightly damaged plant sections and can also promote new growth and assist in prevention and eradication of pests and diseases. Diseased wood should be disposed of immediately once removed from a tree or shrub and pruning implements should be sterilised. This will aid in prevention of further infections. Hygiene is critical for the health of your trees and garden.

From a 3 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Eight
Make the first cut against compression wood.
Make the second cut against tension wood.
Prune to a branch or trunk collar.
Grevillea Cultivars

Heather Knowles

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Following on from Issue 36 and 37, Heather Knowles continues to look at more Grevillea cultivars worth considering as garden plants.

  • 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 ‘Moonlight’
    G. banksii (white) x G. whiteana
  • Grevillea ‘New Blood’
    G. juniperina x G. rhyolitica
  • Grevillea ‘Ned Kelly’
    G. bipinnetifida x G. banksii
  • Grevillea ‘Ninderry Sunrise’
    G. formosa x G. banksia
  • Grevillea ‘Peaches & Cream’
    G. banksii x G. bipinnatifida
  • Grevillea ‘Pink Midget’
    G. leiophylla x G. humilis subsp. maratima
  • Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’
    G. banksii (red) x G. bipinnatifida
  • Grevillea ‘Sandra Gordon’
    G. sessilis x G. pteridifolia
  • Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’
    G. rosmarinifolia cultivar
  • Grevillea ‘Splendour’
    G. speciosa x G. shiressii
  • Grevillea ‘Strawberry Sundae’
    G. bipinnatifida x G. banksii
  • Grevillea ‘Sunrise’
    G. bipinnatifida x G. ‘Clearview Robin’
  • Grevillea ‘Sunset Bronze’
    Possibly a G. ‘Honey Gem’ seedling
  • Grevillea ‘Superb’
    G. banksii (white) x G. bipinnatifida (green foliage form)
  • Grevillea ‘Sylvia’
    G. ‘Pink Surprise’ seedling
  • Grevillea ‘Tango’
    G. bipinnatifida x G. formosa
  • Grevillea ‘Thorny Devil’
    G. nana x G. tenuiloba
  • Grevillea ‘Treasure Chest’
    G. pinaster selection
  • Grevillea ‘Wendy’s Sunshine’
    G. thyrsoides subsp. pustulata x G. bipinnatifida
  • Grevillea ‘Winter Delight’
    G. lanigera x G. lavendulacea
  • Grevillea ‘Winparra Gem’
    G. preisii x G. olivacea
  • Grevillea ‘Yamba Sunshine’
    Possibly a G. ‘Honey Gem’ seedling
From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Eight
Grevillea ‘Peaches & Cream’ G. banksii x G. bipinnatifida.
Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’ G. banksii (red) x G. bipinnatifida.
Grevillea ‘Winparra Gem’ G. preisii x G. olivacea.
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