Our group has evolved to encourage gardeners of this region the chance to share knowledge, friendship and learn how to best cope with the local climatic conditions for our Mediterranean climate. Members of MGi associations visiting this beautiful corner of Western Australia are welcome to contact Julie Kinney for advice on gardens to visit.
The gardens of the Margaret River region are the subject of Julie Kinney's new book 'The Garden Wanderer'. Click here to see a review of it by Trevor Nottle.
Click here for a list of our next events.
Here are some gardens we have visited recently (click on the images to enlarge them):
Visits to three members gardens: Tracey Tyler, Betty Darnton-Turner and Jenny Gower, in Karri Loop, Margaret River.
Click here to view a report and photographs.
July - Patsy and Laurie Bedford's expansive garden at Glenellie
August - walk to the Meekadarabee Falls, Ellens Brook
September - Carol Gaby's garden in Margaret River
Click here to view a report and photographs.
Pauline Vukelic’s garden in the hills of Yallingup
Di Whincop’s garden, River Gums
Click here to view a report and photographs.
Duggan Pavilion, Cowaramup
Mary and Michael McCall’s garden, Heronsbrook
Plant sale at Margaret River Organic Gardens
Click here to view a report and photographs.
January 2017 - Vere and Steve Fairbairn’s garden : Click here to view a report and photographs.
November 2016 - Leonie Maslin’s garden in Dunsborough: Click here to view a report and photographs.
September 2016 – Wilderness House and other gardens in Margaret River
We gathered at member Gayle Cornould’s Wilderness House garden set on the coastal sandhills, not far from the ocean, in Margaret River. Gayle has only been here 3 years and is busy carving a garden, albeit with a light hand, on her bush plot. The forest here is quite typical of the region with weeping peppermint the predominant shrubby tree, which allows soft light to fall on the forest floor encouraging plenty of wildflowers which are being encouraged to grow as close to the house as possible.
The vivid yellow shrub Hibbertia cuneiformis was in full flower and a patch of donkey orchids (Diuris aff. amplissima) was just outside the back door, astonishing everyone with the generous way they had propagated themselves
Diuris aff. amplissim
Gayle had planted Geraldton waxflower, Chamelaucium sp. (which generally thrive on coastal sands) and tangling itself about other plants was some brilliant coral vine, Chorizema diversifolium. We are seeing a lot of this around the region especially in areas that have been burnt.
As usual we were treated to a superb afternoon tea, which we could barely do justice to. Thank you so much Gayle for your wonderful hospitality and for sharing your treasures with us. Gayle is trialling some large pots buried into the ground with good soil for some exotic plants on the hope that it will prevent all the surrounding tree roots from taking all the moisture. We wish her success. There was a great table of plants to show and discuss. Now that members are tagging this makes it so easy for people to wander over and have a quiet look and perhaps even memorise the names. The star piece was a branch from Eucalyptus macrocarpa in magnificent flower. I just googled and none of the pictures showed the depth of colour in our piece, but I didn’t take a picture….
Meanwhile member Paula Cristoffanini had her garden open as a fundraiser recently and we were blessed with another sunny day for visiting. How she manages to share with the mob of kangaroos living nearby I don’t know. Paula, a sculptor, has some inorganic features in her garden to lust after and some great vistas. Gayle told us in her garden that one of her pieces was as a result of being inspired at Paula’s just the week before. Despite many wonderful plants, I have to say that the star of the day for me was a magnificent bank of the wonderful South African Arctotis daisies in big sweeps of colour. It was down a bank where it couldn’t all be seen from the house so it came as a great surprise.
My garden was open last Sunday and the morning saw a good crowd but sadly the rain and cold ruined much of the afternoon. There was a lot of interest in my giant Ranunculus creticus and interestingly they love it or hate it Salvia africana-lutea. Not everyone’s favourite flower colour.
On Wednesday a group from the Garden Circle in Perth came for a day visit by coach to visit three gardens here and a few members treated them to morning tea treats at the Duggan Pavilion in Cowaramup before they were taken out to gardens, again a River Angels fundraiser, so thanks to all who were involved. Our visitors were delighted.
July 2016 - Bill and Di Mitchell's garden, Downsouth: Click here to view a report and photographs.
May 2016 - a visit to Orondo at Dwellingup: Click here to view a report and photographs.
March 2016 – Visit to Christine Cresswell’s garden
We had a wonderful turnout of members for this visit. Members consistently travel quite some distance for our meetings so it looks like we might have the right offering. Chris has a battle-axe driveway and members lined plants to share along the fence to save carrying them all the way in. Generous gardeners also had produce to share, so many of us went home with at least as much as we had brought along.
The display table was crammed with buckets and bunches of plant varieties for us to learn about and I hope you will agree that this is where our microphone is so useful as now everyone can hear. We had branches of favourite shrubs and trees with their autumn hues or seed pods. Gorgeous rose hips from Chris's garden made everyone want to run out and source some to try.
This time of the year is so dusty and dry after our long summer and we had the hottest March day for years to contend with so the shady verandah was definitely the place to linger. One plant which was produced was Brillantaisia subulugurica, with its long erect head of mauve and white tinged flowers. It seems to have a history in this region with most people saying they had acquired it from an older gardener or an old property around here. This is a wonderful tall, late-summer flowerer, often mistaken for a Salvia but in fact a member of the acanthaceae family. I love it as much for the name but it is indeed most garden-worthy.
From Nannup and the prolific produce garden of Bob and Maggie Longmore came a new yellow fruit, which looked like a cross between a tomato and a Chinese gooseberry. Called a tomotilla or more correctly Physalis ixocarpa, its usefulness is untested yet. Mine is sitting ripening until I assess it might be worth a tentative taste test.
Highlights in Chris's autumn garden, aside from her many and varied species rose hips, were the buttery yellowy Liriodendron tulipifera and a wonderful Crataegus oxyacantha in full berry.
Liriodendron tulipifera and rose hips
There was also one of my great summer favourites, the Bauhinia galpinnii shrub smothered in its lovely orange flowers. Solanum wendlandii draped wedgewood blue flowers around a verandah pole and a young Parrotia persica was colouring superbly.
Overhanging the verandah and providing plenty of shade was a mature Gleditsia. Chris doesn't know the variety, perhaps it is the species, as it produces many seedlings but what was special were the huge seed pods which were spotted like a leopard. The casing was light and the enclosed seeds black. They would look good in a shallow bowl but on the tree they were quite a spectacle.
It is always a challenge to have people in a garden after our long summer and most people avoid it but we found so much of interest we are thrilled Chris invited us to share her seasonal treasures.
*As named by the previous owner of Chris’ place.
January 2016 – Visit to Wallcliffe
Wallcliffe was such a surprise for many although I know a lot of you were hoping we would be able to visit. The idea was somewhere cool and green for a hot January day and what did we get. The opposite as you will see by the sky in the photos. Not many photos as I never remember until too late. I wish I had taken one of the group on the terrace at the end but it was raining again at that stage. We were quite a crowd. For those who couldn’t make it, this is one of the South West’s iconic and historic gardens, which I daydream about one day perhaps becoming a public garden but that is just that, a daydream.
I love the old gnarled weeping peppermints (Agonis flexuosa) and paperbarks (Melaleuca sp.) down near the river. They give such an atmospheric other world feel.
Some of us tasted the delicious Mulberries from the ancient tree reputed to come from somewhere like Buckingham Palace, probably poetic license. They were truly delicious and we had no chance of hiding the evidence of having been in amongst the branches.
The steps leading to the croquet lawn were just so pretty lined with the seaside daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus) which we all know can run amok if given half a chance but what a survivor.
So many areas to take in.
Many thanks to Bev Evans for our delicious fruit platters and to everyone for chipping in for the local Wallcliffe Fire Brigade. They were so grateful.
September 2015 – Visit to Old Bridge House and Garthowen
Another successful garden meeting was held on September 7th. Old Bridge House is a property everyone in the area drives past but to which few have access. To be able to explore this property with the three Peirce sisters who were born here and have inherited their passionate gardening mother’s heritage was a thrill. They are so knowledgeable about the treasures their garden is filled with.
I have done a little research and found a picture of the blue ‘peacock’ bulb some of us were able to take home. It is Moraea villosa which comes in varying shades of blue. The flower is actually quite small.
The yellow one pictured is in my garden and came to me many years ago from an old friend of the Peirces, also a passionate gardener, who I was lucky enough to befriend and learn from. I think it is Moraea ochroleuca. Just be very aware that this plant can be rampant so please only share with thoughtful gardening friends.
Garthowen, owned by members Barb and Norm Stockton, was our next garden. They have only owned this historic property for about two years and are thrilled to have such a challenge. They are already doing a great job of restoring areas of the grounds. Originally the farm for one of the Bussell daughters of Wallcliffe House, the land is full of old peppermint trees, Agonis flexuosa, which provide parkland clearing for a few stock, with the old buildings a perfect backdrop for a garden.
The Stocktons took us around describing what they have done and their plans for the future as well as giving us a delicious afternoon tea.
A gnarled wisteria at Garthowen
Bob Longmore and Pamela Edwards playing with
silver festoons of Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides,
which you also can see on the tree behind them.
We were able to test drive our new sound system with the microphone allowing everyone to easily hear what was being said. Members brought plenty of plants to share and Barb and Norm had pots of oaks they had grown from seed. Every meeting sees more sharing and more varieties being discussed. Many thanks to Barb and Norm for so generously sharing their garden.
This old oven at Garthowen was the original oven
at the Margaret River Hotel which opened in 1937
May 2015 - Visit to Pamela and Frank Edwards’ garden
This stylish new garden is filled with plants which Pamela has collected and features the artwork of Paula Cristoffanini, including a great screen.
The espaliered camellias are impressive as are the grass trees, Zanthorrea sp. and the beds created under the native woodland. There is a lovely dell with filtered shade for the summer, small grasses and soft sawdust paths to wandering along. I also particularly loved the bank of prostrate rosemary.
All the different areas of interest looked immaculate. Pamela and Frank certainly set a high benchmark for neatness! Everyone also enjoyed hearing about the plans in the pipeline for further development of the garden.
In mid-winter we visited Downsouth, a sharp new garden in the north of the Cape region, created by a non-gardener to complement and soften a newly built stone wall. This then became a roller-coaster ride and he now has the biggest collection of aloes in the country. His latest acquisition is Echinocactus grusonii, the golden barrel cacti, which I saw and photographed at the Jardin Exotique in Eze last year. Note the artificial lawn. The owners had lived here for around 30 years and just admired the view, but now they have no time to sit and stare.
Succulent garden and view of the Cape
The new wall and artificial lawn
This 5 hectare garden of mazes and native plants has been created over 20 years by Cathy and Russell McKnight who hosted our visit and guided us around. Structures are all made from recycled materials and include a pergola of old mine shaft timbers milled locally then taken to the far away gold mining outback, only to return 100 years later to this garden. The timber now provides a sturdy home for Rosa ‘Crepuscle'. We were totally absorbed both by the giant games in the picnic area and the clever use of the endemic plants and unusual species which Russell had sourced. For more information, see the garden's website.
A lively discussion
Julie's garden - Goldstone
Members visited my suburban plot which we moved to 8 years ago. I decided to take on the challenge of making the front and streetscape waterless. After having had a large garden with 150 old roses, this was a new ethos and a learning curve which I have loved, and been constantly challenged by. Initially, floods caused my favourite Mediterranean plants to drown, then long hot, dry summers gave me no choice but to hand-water choice treasures.
I have used a mulch of local granite, copied from one seen at Val Joanis in Provence. The trees are Cercis siliquastrum (Judas trees) which aren’t as happy as I'd hoped despite being watered for two summers.
Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' is one of my specialities. It was rare in the area, in fact still is, but I have spread plenty of seed around. This is a stylish plant that spreads easily.
The hedge is Pandorea pandorea known locally as Wonga vine. On the outside of the fence are thirty espaliered olive trees and the vine is on the inside, a picture in spring. It has vigourous shiny green foliage all year round. However, surface roots spread, robbing moisture from across the whole garden, a new worry. On the left of the picture is an area where I'm creating small balls of santolina, myrsine and a local native, Leucophyta brownii.
Cercis siliquastrum with granite mulch
Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens'
Pandorea pandorea grown as a hedge