Dennis Hundscheidt’s Tropical Garden
Arno King



Located in the Brisbane suburb of Sunnybank, Dennis Hundscheidt’s tropical garden is one of Australia’s most widely known and adored gardens, drawing huge crowds whenever it opens. Landscape Architect and Registered Horticulturist Arno King met with Dennis to discuss the garden; provide some tips for readers; and to discuss Dennis’ plans for the future.

Famed for its use of bold and tropical foliage plants beneath a canopy of palms, the Hundscheidt garden has been featured on television and in numerous books and magazines both in Australia and overseas. It has provided inspiration for gardeners across the country and encouraged many people to establish or renovate their own gardens.

The garden first opened to the public in 1988 and continued to open every year for 27 years before Dennis decided he needed a break earlier this year (2015). Gardening has been a passion for Dennis since he was a boy. He attributes his love of tropical foliage to his childhood spent at the Oasis
in Sunnybank.

Dennis also lets readers in on some tips regarding preparation, colour and bamboos, whilst giving us a list of his favourites in:

  • palms
  • cordylines
  • crotons
  • bromeliads
  • understorey plants
  • flowering shrubs.
From a 5 page Feature Article in Issue Forty
An open lawn area surrounded by lush foliage.
A quiet seating area in the garden.
Stepping stones lead visitors along the path.
Rock, Riffles and Vegetated Waterways

Joan Dillon

Images John Dillon

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Unless your garden is level enough to grow rice, the chances are that water will move across it at some time, particularly during heavy rain. The water will carry topsoil, leaf litter and mulch with it, leaving the ground bare. If the land is steep, the water will find an easy downhill route and start to create a channel. Finding ways to prevent this from happening, or to repair perhaps unexpected damage is all about controlling erosion. Soil needs to stay where it belongs instead of ending up in the nearby drain and ultimately the local creek. Joan Dillon suggests that there are many ways to control erosion and all can add an interesting dimension to your garden design.

Fortunately the days when so-called hard engineering or the construction of concrete drains to take water ‘away’ have largely gone in favor of a softer approach, which uses vegetation or a combination of rocks and vegetation to slow the flow and allow water to soak into the ground, where it’s actually needed.

Really good places to gain ideas are public parks and gardens. Adapting these ideas to a home garden is a matter of scale, appropriate plant selection and the availability of suitable rock. If rocks are present on your own site, so much the better. What may be seen as a problem can become an asset.

From a 5 page Feature Article in Issue Forty
Containment timbers.
Dendrobium kingianum.
Water dragon.
Non-Native Spurflowers, Plectranthus

Paul Plant

Images Anthony & Georgie Burke

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Common to cottage gardens and modern designs throughout Europe and northern America is a group of plants that are largely native to the southern hemisphere – Australia, Africa, Madagascar and into India, Indonesia and the Pacific Islands. Some of these plants are suited to dry desert conditions while others to warm humid climates. Some species have been used for aeons as medicinal plants or as edible plants while some are purely ornamental.
In issue 29 editor Paul Plant investigated a range of Australian native
species and here we look at some of the common non-native species.

Plants of this genus are typically soft-stemmed perennials ranging from tall shrubs of three metres stature down to compact groundcovers barely ten centimetres tall. This diversity has resulted in an impressive range of plants well suited to various landscape purposes.

In addition to the blue, mauve or white flower spikes these plants have lush foliage which has directly led to the popularity of Plectranthus. Many species are available in an assortment of variegated leaves and habits (dwarf, standard or upright). Breeding and the selection of particular appearance traits (phenotype attributes) from wild specimens have seen these plants featured in display gardens around the world.

Specimens featured are:

  • Plectranthus amboinicus – Allherb
  • Plectranthus barbatus – Indian Coleus
  • Plectranthus ciliatus – Purple-leaved Plectranthus
  • Plectranthus ecklonii – Large Spurflower
  • Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’
  • Plectranthus porphyranthus
  • Plectranthus saccatus
  • Plectranthus verticillatus

More to come...
More non-native Plectranthus to be featured in Issue 41.

From an 5 page Feature Article in Issue Forty
Plectranthus ciliatus.
Plectranthus porphyranthus.
Plectranthus saccatus.
Danger Plants



In our modern bubble-wrapped world where children are prevented from climbing trees, running in the bush, playing on a swing, swimming in a lagoon or even walking to school, the question is often raised ‘how safe are gardens?’.

If you take away all the snakes, spiders and all other creatures that may bite or harm, a garden will be left with soil, mulch, plants and created man-made hard surfaces such as decking, pergolas, play equipment, etc.

Soil itself is full of an array of macro- and microscopic flora and fauna that are critical for the existence of all plants and animals on earth. It is these microbes we need to keep alive and thriving. However, within the soil there may also be some harmful microbes as well as heavy metals, depending on where you live. Gardens located close to main road systems (especially road verges), railways or manufacturing factories are likely to have high levels of some toxic heavy metals.


From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Forty

Dangerous tulips –  a case of plant snobbery.
A tropical garden seems not complete without a ‘toxic’ Plumeria.
Elkhorns & Staghorns – the non-natives

Heather Knowles

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In addition to the Australian species of Platycerium featured in Issue 39 there
is a further fourteen species which occur in Africa, South America, southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea in predominantly tropical areas.
Heather Knowles continues her investigation, noting that many of these species can be grown in the subtropics. Some struggle, however, and grow much better in the tropical areas of Australia and in other countries.

Many selected forms and hybrids have been developed from these non-native species, particularly in tropical areas overseas.

Forms presented this issue are:

  • Platycerium alcicorne (syn. P. vassei)
  • Platycerium andinum
  • Platycerium coronarium
  • Platycerium elephantotis (syn. P. angolense)
  • Platycerium ellisii
  • Platycerium grande
  • Platycerium holttumii
  • Platycerium madagascariense
  • Platycerium quadridichotomum
  • Platycerium ridleyi
  • Platycerium stemaria (syn. Platycerium aethiopicum)
  • Platycerium wallichii
  • Platycerium wandae
  • Platycerium willinckii

A special 2 page section on propagation follows the above forms.



From a 8 page Feature Article in Issue Forty

Platycerium coronarium. Image Rita Kupke.
Platycerium holttumii. Image Rita Kupke.
Platycerium ridleyi. Image Rita Kupke.
Platycerium observations
Heather Knowles

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Seeing staghorns and elkhorns in home and botanic gardens is a joy most gardeners have experienced. To see them in their natural habitat growing where and how you do not expect them is a whole new different thing. Horticulturist Mike Kvauka reveals what he saw there.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to explore Carnarvon Gorge, Central Queensland. It was a dream come true – all the plants I had seen on television I was finally going to see in the flesh. Being a plant nutter, I could not wait!

I noticed whilst walking through the Gorge that all the Elkhorns (Platycerium spp.) were growing on rock faces and boulders or on the trunks of the native cycad (Macrozamia moorei) – not trees!

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Forty
Nursery of baby elk horns on native cycads.
Elkhorns habitat on rock faces.
Coconuts II – the potential






As debate continues about the value of coconut trees to our communities, innovative entrepreneurs have been active in capitalising on the highly desirable coconut.

Coconut water, oil and butter are three products popular for cooking and the health conscious foodies. To meet the demand of public consumption, most companies import the coconut water/oil/butter.

Some resorts promote the fact that they offer fresh green coconut water harvested from their own palms and thereby provide value-added branding of local produce.

Craft and local markets are also an exciting place to see recycled and innovative artistic ways of reusing coconut husks, shells and leaves.

However, the largest impact and economic value of coconut is its use of coir products in the horticultural industry, thereby reducing pressure on the depleted peat bogs of Europe.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Forty
Coastal coconuts at Port Douglas. 
Image John Sullivan.
Coconuts on Huahine Island in French Polynesia. Image Gino Trafton.
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