Marrying a traditional Queenslander with a contemporary garden can be an interesting challenge. Add to this equation the need for a water-smart and maintenance-friendly landscape and the mix seems even more complicated.

Luckily, in the subtropics, there is a wonderful and varied plant palette from which to choose. Many plants also have a tried and true history of flourishing and survival in varying water regimes over the decades. This gardens' planting structure is a mix of long-standing performers and of more recent introductions growing equally well to create a classic garden style, which complements the building with a modern pulse.
Examples of complementary and smart plant combinations are:

  • Bleeding Heart bromeliads (Neoregelia cultivars) under Bottle Palms (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis)
  • Spider lilies (Hymenocallis littoralis) under frangipanis
    (Plumeria rubra cultivars)
  • Cordylines (Cordyline fruticosa cultivars) and liriopes (Liriope muscari ‘Evergreen Giant’) under Solitaire Palms (Ptychosperma elegans)
  • Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) under Bird of Paradise
    (Strelitzia reginae)
  • Red Christmas Heliconia (Heliconia angusta ‘Red Christmas’)
    under Black Cordyline (Cordyline fruticosa ‘Negra’)
From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Fourteen



Curcumas are a group of plants that have in recent years moved out from the realm of hard-core plant collectors to become invaluable accent plants in the garden during the warmer months.

Curcumas are subtropical to tropical perennials that appear at the onset of the first rains and die down over the drier cooler months. This has the benefit of making them a water wise addition to any garden. Curcumas are typically purchased as flowering plants with the first plants appearing in garden centres in November with plants remaining on sale until autumn.
Covered in this article are:

  • Native Curcuma – Curcuma australasica
  • Tumeric – Curcuma longa
  • Siam Tulip – Curcuma alismatifolia
  • Curcuma ‘Voodoo Magic’
  • Curcuma rubescens ‘Ruby’
  • Curcuma roscoeana ‘Jewel of Burma’
From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Fourteen




In the traditionally wet valley of Main Arm, north-west of Byron Bay, a gardener has created an astonishing and inspiring tropical garden. Over 25 years of planting now provide an exciting riot of foliage colour, texture, and form that contrasts with the surrounding setting.

Many rare, unique and obscure plants native to intriguing although similar warm climate countries have been sourced. A diversity of plants that perform in the subtropics of the north coast of New South Wales are incorporated in this garden. Palms from New Caledonia, pandanus from Mauritius and bromeliads from the South Americas are such examples.

The successful combination of non-native plants in a native valley setting contributes to this garden’s significance. This landscape has evolved into a showcase botanical collection, the plant material contributing to a lush tropical setting.

From a 6 page Feature Article in Issue Fourteen


The below item complements this article read in the current issue:

Additional hardy white flowering shrub plants and more white climbers (p. 24)




Magazine Features:

Shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet)

Zebra Plant (Aphelandra squarrosa)

Downy Barleria (Barleria albostellata)

Spring Orchid Tree (Bauhinia variegata ‘Candida’)

Herald’s Trumpet (Beaumontia grandiflora)

Ivory Curl Flower (Buckinghamia celsissima)

Clerodendrum wallichii (syn. Clerodendrum nutans)

Plunkett Mallee (Eucalyptus curtisii)

Snowflake (Euphorbia leucocephala)

White Gardenia Tree (Gardenia thunbergia)

Bailey’s Oak (Grevillea baileyana)

White Paintbrush (Haemanthus albiflos)

Butterfly Ginger (Hedychium coronarium)

Peruvian Daffodil (Ismene narcissiflora; syn. Hymenocallis narcissiflora)

Arabian Jasmine (Jasminum sambac)

Leptospermum polygalifolium 'Cardwell'

Snow in Summer (Melaleuca linariifolia)

White Mussaenda (Mussaenda frondosa)

White Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)

White Oleander (Nerium oleander ‘Album’)

Cat’s Whiskers (Orthosiphon aristatus ‘Albus’)

Bridal Bush (Pavetta natalensis)

Egyptian Star-Cluster (Pentas coccinea ‘Alba’)

Frangipani (Plumeria stenophylla; syn. P. filifolia)

Cardwell Lily (Proiphys amboinensis)

Blackberry Jam Fruit (Randia formosa)

Scented Bells (Rothmannia manganjae)

May Bush (Spiraea cantoniensis ‘Flore Pleno’)

Brush Cherry (Syzygium australe)

Mexican Flag (Tradescantia zanonia; syn. Campelia zanonia)

Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)

Storm Crocus (Zephyranthes candida)

From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Fourteen




For those of us living in Sydney, Toowoomba and perhaps frosty inland regions a holiday to the tropics can make us envious of the lush growth and the array of plants growing there, that we have not been able to grow at home. Orchids would have to be the most envied of all these plants.  
In Bali, the stunning tessellated-flowered Blue Orchid (Vanda coerulea) grows on palm trunks. It is the ease of growth of these plants in the tropics and their beauty that inspires many people into growing them at home.

Orchids are considered one of the most highly hybridized (man-made) families in the plant world, providing gardeners with almost unlimited options.

Covered in this article are:


  • Bc. – Brassocattleya – (Brassavola x Cattleya)

  • Blc. – Brassolaeliocattleya – (Brassavola x Laelia x Cattleya)

  • Lc. – Laeliocattleya – (Laelia x Cattleya)

  • Slc. – Sophrolaeliocattleya – (Sophronitis x Laelia x Cattleya)

  • Pot. – Potinara – (Brassavola x Cattleya x Laelia x Sophronitis)
  • Hknsa. – Hawkinsara – (Broughtonia x Cattleya x Laelia x Sophronitis)
  • Vanda
  • Ascda. – Ascocenda – (Ascocentrum x Vanda)
  • ArandaArachnis x Vanda
  • VascostylisAscocentrum x Rhynchostylis x Vanda
From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Fourteen




With over 900 different species to choose from, as well as numerous cultivars and varieties, various salvias will grow in the different climatic zones across the country. There is little chance of not finding a cultivar suited to your own garden needs.

The centre of diversity for the Salvia genus is Central and South Western Asia. However salvias are found throughout Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North and South America. The species best suited to subtropical and tropical gardens are obviously those which originate in similar climates - in particular, those from Mexico, Central and South America, Central Africa and South East Asia. Those species from Europe, the Middle East, North America and Northern Asia have a lower tolerance for humidity and high rainfall during the summer months. They may be treated as annuals or short term plantings as the tropical and subtropical species are treated in cooler climates.

Covered in this article are:

  • Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’
  • Salvia coccinea
  • Salvia dorisiana
  • Salvia elegans
  • Salvia gesneriiflora
  • Salvia grahamii
  • Salvia greggii
  • Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
  • Salvia involucrata
  • Salvia leucantha
  • Salvia microphylla
  • Salvia officinalis
  • Salvia uliginosa
From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Fourteen




The introduction of the Tree Dahlia (Dahlia imperialis) to the wider world arose after the invasion of the Spanish conquistadors into the mountainous regions of Mexico and Guatemala during the sixteenth century, when they conquered the Aztec nation.

The Spaniards had the foresight to have amongst their numbers, botanists whose job it was to search for plants from the New World to send back to Spain.

Although having similar habits as the ornamental garden dahlia cultivars, this species has one big difference – it can grow up to imposing heights in a short space of time. The ‘canes’ can grow upwards to 5m, with large coloured single-petalled white or lilac flowers with a yellow to orange corolla, dangling out from the uppermost stalks, amongst the leaves.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Fourteen




Editor Paul Plant identifies some of the TOP 8 plants in the following categories:

Top 8 Scented Trees – eg. Ylang-Ylang (Cananga odorata), Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum), etc.

Top 8 Scented Climbers – eg. Fragrant Passion-flower (Passiflora phoenicea), Rangoon Creeper (Quisqualis indica), etc.

Top 8 Scented Shrubs – eg. Gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides), Brunfelsias (Brunfelsia pauciflora), etc.

From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Fourteen


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