Regelia ciliata – nice small shrub


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Small shrub, pretty purple flower in high summer. I found them along the eastern shore of the Peel Harvey Estuary, near Point Grey and Lake McLarty.

Identification was by people on the Facebook page of the Wildflower Society of WA, very knowledgeable (and friendly) group.

So, Regelia. Never heard of them before. Florabase lists five species in the genus.

The inestimable Wrigley and Fagg adds that those five are it. Another species unique to WA. And describes them as “showy, woody shrubs”; “moderately hardy in well drained soil” and easy to propagate from seeds or cuttings. Hussah!

As well as R. ciliata, W&F list R. inops (“prune to encourage branching”) and R. velutina (“Most striking. Suitable feature plant.” But can take years to flower from seed, in the eastern states, at least.)

And, the only one local (to Mandurah) is R. ciliata.

Seeds are available for all species from Nindethana and the Seed Shed. And, I collected a few seed pods today, which, according to the Australian National Botanic Gardens will open if kept in a paper bag in a warm area. Double Hussah.

The highly informative ANBG site has the derivation of the name too:

“Regelia in honour of Eduard August von Regel (1815-92), superintendent of the botanic garden at St Petersburg, Russia

ciliata – from Latin, fringed with fine hairs (the leaves are hairy).”

I can’t wait to drop that into conversation.

I think I might have to start talking to myself again…



Hypocalymma unknown Dawesville


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Small shrub, prolific and very appealing pink flower distributed along stems, pointy dark green leaves.

Found it in flower, early-Sept, on a vacant block somewhere between Touchstone Drive and the Old Coast Rd (Dawesville), not exactly sure of the road it’s off. Small patches in amongst some nice bush – eucalypts, banksia, a lot of hibbertia in flower. Very nice area.

I think it’s H. strictum, but not 100%. Gallery below is pictures of H. strictum that was in the Tuart Rd garden (looking forward to geting back there next May) but that sadly died after it’s first year. I’d been warned that they’re a bit touchy.

So, all the more exciting to find this one thriving in the bush, apparently self sewn. I’ve taken some cuttings (tut, tut) and put about 40 into a mix of coarse sand and compost (same one I struck the darwinia citriodora in.) I “sterilised” the mix with boiling water, and used a dilute natural honey solution (1 tsp honey to a big splosh of just-off-boiling water) as a root growth promoting agent.

I’m told that honey is a good substitute for synthetic preparations. Time will tell.

Western Australian wildflowers in pictures



Pictures by Janet Ryan and courtesy of her and Terry; taken in their two year old “Oz Garden”. Mostly Western Australian’s, one or two exotics. Deeply mulched, fed, watered regularly. Very interesting selection of plants, especially this year’s additions from of King’s Park, Perth.

Click the on gallery below for larger pictures and captions.

Propagating darwinian citriodora from cuttings


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Darwinia citriodora: a delightful small shrub that seems to hedge well, certainly responds to pruning.It’s more of a foliage than a flower plant, the leaves having a very nice lemon scent when crushed.

I came across it in the Jarrah-Marree forests near Balingup where it has profusely self-sewn following a “controlled burn”. Two years ago it was so small I could dig up a couple of plants for the garden (yes, yes, I know: naughty, but really, there were enough to withstand a bit of thinning, and, they’re doing well in the garden). This year: an increasingly dense understorey which is a joy to bash through for it’s delightful lemon scent.

I took some cuttings from a well established shrub. This was my first venture into cuttings. I had no rooting hormone, so wasn’t expecting great results. I put the cuttings into a roughly 1:1 mix of very coarse sand and potting mix. The cuttings were taken in June.

Contrary to the advice in the books I kept them open to the air (usual procedure is to use a cutting frame or cover them with a bag); It’s winter and I didn’t think they’d lose too much moisture through their leaves. I kept the mix pretty damp and left them outside in the weather, but not direct sun.

To my surprise and delight they struck. First I noticed new growth and then had a look under the tray and saw some roots coming through.

I potted them on this week (end of August) into a sand/humi-clay/decomposed woodchip soil mix. When I started to lift them from the cutting mix I found that not all the cuttings had struck, even though they we showing new growth. So, about half of the ones I potted on had either no roots or only very small ones. I suspect I was a bit early in potting on. I wonder: had I used rooting hormone whether I’d have got a more even rate of striking. Anyway, not to worry, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

I’m keeping the pots in a shade house and letting weather get to them, but no too much sun yet.

I also took some grevillea and corea alba cuttings at the same time, but these have not struck yet, although they’re still alive and some have new growth, so I’m hopeful. I read in “The Grevillea Book” by Peter Olde and Neil Marriott (amazing book) that spring/autumn are the best time for grevillea cuttings, so I was definitely a bit early.

And, it suggests that darwinia citriodora is relatively easy to strike. Interestingly, John Wrigley mentions that the d. citriodora makes a good root stock for more sensitive darwinias…now there’s an idea to play with!

The stunning yellow of winter in WA



Acacia pulchella in full flower on a piece of “wasteland” near Mandurah rail station.

That’s waste in the sense of “hasn’t been developed yet”. And I won’t get into what I think of the current definition of “developed”, let’s just say I’m looking hopefully for the green shoots of a civilisation, fat chance.

Anyway, Nature is having one last wild fling before the Return of the Bull-dozer. Amazing.

Growing Australian native plants in WA


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Here we go, life begins at 49.

  1. Back in Mandurah…tick
  2. Living in my own home…oops, not quite, never mind…
  3. Growing plants…undaunted by “homelessness” the process begins.

Thank goodness for community gardens and Men of the Trees (argh! That name…anachronism, sounded OK in 1922; times change, names, sadly sometimes don’t; now welcome women.)

This year I am growing from seed:

Petrophiles (previous post here.) Endemic to Australia, largely SW WA. S to M woody shrubs; showy flower heads; prominent, woody, cone-shaped fruits; nice foliage, much divided. Need excellent drainage, full or part sun, maybe a bugger to germinate the seed.)


P. Linearis (here on Florabase, local species, common name: Pixie Mops, very nice pink flower, small srub.)

P. serruriae (Florabase, no idea how to prounce it SUR-U-REE-Aaaaeeee’ish, maybe? Wheatbelt, small shrub, nice foliage and gorgeous yellow flower.)

P. Biloba (FB, Perth’ish, small shrub, lovely pink and white flower.)


Previously on Garden Geek.

Endemic, peaks in SW WA. Small to large shrubs; small leaves (heath like); small attractive, star-shaped flowers; attractive calyx after flower. Well-darined sand, full to nearly full sun. From cuttings or seed with difficulty.

C. fraseri (Florbase, local (or very nearly), small shrub, pink flower)

C. leschenaultii (FB, Wheatbelt and beyond, plus around Bunbury area, small rounded shrub, v. ncie purple flower, prolific.)

C. flavescens (FB, through SW, but not in Mandurah! Small shrub, gorgeous yellow flower.)

And some grevilleas:

Grevillea nudiflora (Florabase, not very local, from the south coast, Albany and beyond. Still, looks nice especially on retaining walls; Mandurah has lots of those, so I’m hopeful. Doesn’t mind extended dry periods, bonus; “reliable but rarely seen in cultivation” according the John Wrigley.)

G. quercifolia (FB, reasonably local, oak leafed grevillea, nice foliage and flowers, possibly sprawling ground cover…time will tell.)

G. wilsonii (FB, rounded shrub, very showy red flower, “One of the best” according to John Wrigley, but I’m sure he says that a lot. Reasonably local, definitely Perth area.)

And there are some others from cuttings, and maybe some conostylis candicans if I can collect seed, and definitely some annual flowers and…yeah, yeah, so on and so forth. Bugger, I need a house to store the plants.

I’m a Petrophile phile!


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Endemic Australian genus, 66 species, most from the SW of WA (where else?).

Smallish woody shrubs. Very nice flowers. Require excellent drainage. Most easily propagated from seed, although germination can take up to 6 to 8 weeks, so, I’m told, it’s best to not get impatient and throw out the seed trays too early.

Volunteers at King’s Park in Perth have grown a selection of 18 species this year (2015) which are going be on sale on March 22nd. Sounds like a good reason to be in Perth that day.

They’ve written about the genus here, which includes a link to photo’s by an enthusiast in Esperance. And Flikr user Westflora has some pictures here.

Needless to say I’m dreaming about growing some when I get back to WA…well, it’s nice to dream. WA seed supplier Nindethana stocks quite a few species, and by cross-referencing these with Florabase, I’ve come up with a short list that might grow well in the Mandurah (WA) area:

Petrophile biloba – very handsome (according to John Wrigley), if straggly shrub to 2 m, with nice fluffy pink flowers. From the pictures I’ve seen: looks gorgeous! A touch northerly for Mandurah, but very close…

P. brevifolia – erect, multi-stemmed shrub to about 1 m, very nice yellow flower. Originates north and east of Perth.

P. ericifolia – bushy shrub to 1m by 1m, yellow flower. Very handsome too. Occurs naturally way out to the east, but you know, Mandurah is getting hotter and drier, so I’m sure it will be OK.

P. linearis – erect shrub to 50 cm, “outstanding and charming”, native to Mandurah.

P. macrostachya – erect, compact, prickly shrub to about 1 m. Naturally occurs north of Perth. Gorgeous flower.

P. serruriae – erect shrub to 2m by 2m wide, very nice yellow flower. Againa, occurs naturally a bit to the east of Mandurah, but close enough to be interesting.

Images below are all stolen from the internet…

Growing veges in Tasmania


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A great Tasmanian specific vegetable gardening book: “Growing Vegetables South of Australia – Year ‘Round Tasmanian Food Gardening” by Steve Solomon.

From the Afterword:

“A successful gardening TV personality who lives near me has strongly urged me to make a heap of money from this book. All I would have to do is to dilute the focus of this book so it suits all the cooler parts of Australia, change its challenging title, eliminate all suggestions that you should buy seeds from abroad and tone down my criticisms of the vegetable garden seed business. Then I might interest a royalty-paying mainland publisher.

But this book is intentionally limited to my 480,000 neighbours who are not well served by mainland gardening writers, seed suppliers and authorities. This book was made for fun and service, not done for profit.”

Yay to that! And, once again (previously: The Clay Fad), “TV personality” gardeners revealed for what they are: money grubbers.

Not that I have a problem with money grubbing per se, more with the way they present themselves as “down-to-earth-save-the-earth-goody-goodies”, when in fact they’re cogs in gardening industry machine that has sweet FA to do with “Saving the Earth” and everything to do with profit…says I who’s been working in a commercial nursery!

Anyway, I was introduced to the marvellously detailed writings of Steve Solomon while WWOOFing in Dover, Tasmania: 5 acres of ferocious gradient in the back of the back of beyond. Lovely people, great work, great food and very nice vege and native gardens too…

A plant for fans of insect flagellation: Stylidia – the trigger plants


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Stylidia, what can I say? There are about 290 species in Australia (many unnamed!) with about 200 of those in WA. My newly acquired “The Western Australian Flora” by Grazyna Paczkowska and Alex R. Chapman lists all the WA ones, each with it’s own little description. What a thumping tome, I dropped it on my foot this morning and was thankful for my steel toe caps. (Thank you to Helen, we’ll think of you as the car lists to port on the Nullabor. :-))

The Stylidia, commonly called “trigger plants”, are outstanding for their unique approach to pollination. Apparently the stamens and style are combined in a single column which is all twisted and irritable, when landed on by an insect it springs out and whacks the insect on the back, so depositing some pollen. Honestly.

Plant guru John Wrigley says “they make fascinating potted specimens”…maybe so if you’re into insect flagellation. What an odd pastime.

Luckily we sell one species (s. graminifolium) here at the nursery in Tasmania. They’re a lovely little plant, with a spray of thick leaves at the bottom and long stalks capped with a profusion of pink flowers. Ever the explorer I stuck my finger into one of the flowers to see if it would trigger. It did. I hung around see if one would whack an insect for me, but alas, we seem surprisingly insect free today. So much for voyeurism.

Of course, my real interest isn’t the sexual proclivity of plants and insects but in whether I can grow some for the gardens back in WA. I’ve managed to sift things down to a handful of species based on seed that’s available from WA’s premier seed supplier, Nindethana, and what grows in and around Mandurah; plus a couple from that area for which there is no seed at Nindethana. I found those in “Growing Locals” by Robert Powell and Jane Emberson, a great little book for anyone planting natives in the Perth area (thanks again to Helen for the book).

So, Stylidia for the sandy soils of Mandurah:

Stylidium bulbiferum – creeping perennial herb, no more than 15cm, forms nice clumps, good for rockeries. Comes from the Mandurah region. Propagated by division or seed.

Stylidum brunonianum – rosetted perennial, flower stalks to 50 cm, nice pink flower, Sep to Dec, Mandurah and surrounds. Seed from Nindethana.

Stylidium maritimum – dense tufting perennial, flower stalks to 70 cm, purple flower, Oct to Nov, good in sand. Mandurah and up the coast. Nindethana for seed.

Stylidium piliferum – rostetted poerennial, flower to 50 cm, white to yellow, Sep yo Nov, sandy soils, Mnadurah and right across the SW coastal strip. No idea where to get seed.

Stylidum schoenoides – tufted perennial, flower to 40 cm, white, Aug to Oct, sandy soils, Mandurah and most of the rest of the SW. Very nice flower. Don’t know where to get seed.


Calytrix – an Australian genus worth growing


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Endemic to Australia. According to John Wrigley, the font of all things pure when it come to Australian Flora, “reaches its peak of development in south-western Australia”. That’s one of his stock phrases.

For those who care, Calytrix is a member of the myrtaceae family. There’s about 90 of them and they’re small to medium shrubs with “heath-like” foliage. I have no idea what “heath-like” means, but it does sound good…sparse and gnarly comes to mind.

They sport “masses of starry blossoms” (Denise Greig in her Australian Gardener’s Wildflower Catalogue) in yellow, purple and rose-pink; and after flowering the “richly coloured calyces” persist for some weeks; calyces being the “outer whorl of floral appendages”…the sort petals behind the petals…? Whatever, the “masses” of blossoms is enough to get my interest.

And, rare in cultivation…oh good, there’s a challenge if ever I’ve seen one.

They like full sun and well-drained sandy soils. Oh heaven, that’s my back garden.

They do occur naturally in the florally challenged Eastern states of Oz, but sadly lack the range of colour of their WA counterparts. And, the WA species don’t do well in the East. If you’re unfortunate enough to be so deprived then apparently grafting onto the “hardy in the east” calytirx tetragona is a way into the WA species, but really, isn’t it simpler to move to WA and grow them in situ? Or learn to live with inferior floral displays? Partisan flower appreciation…I’m ready to fight over anything.

There’s a detailed article on growing Calytrix here, although it seems to have been written with the eastern States in mind. And some nice pictures on Flikr here.

Apparently Calytrix are easy to propagate from cuttings and sometimes from seed, but, good seed is hard to come by. How true is that! That said, Nindethana, WA’s premier seed supplier stocks the following:

C. angulata – grows round Perth, nice yellow flower, upright shrub to 1 m.

C. brevifolia – round Geraldton, very nice pink-red flower, looks smaller and bushier than others.

C. depressa – Geraldton to Perth and smattered all the way across to Esperance (I’m getting my location info from Florabase), nice yellow flower, looks to be a low rounded shrub, very handsome. Might suit rockeries (Wrigley).

C. flavescens – right through the SW of WA, bright yellow flower, shrub to 0.8 m.

C. fraseri – all down the coast from Perth, purple flower, rounded shrub to 1 m, may not be easy to maintain (Wrigley).

C. leschenaultii – right through SW, very nice purple flower, bushy shrub to 1 m.

C. tetragona – south coast (and Eastern states), white flower, variable shrub to 2 m, supposed to be the hardiest of the genus in cultivation.

I believe the seeds like smoke treatment to germinate. Both Wrigley and Greig seem to favour “half-ripened tip cuttings”, but that might just be because of their supply and location problems. Go West!