Wednesday, January 30, 2008

January 2008 Garden News

Well a rough start to 2008, we have had gale winds for a week and one of my nice pink brumansia’s was ripped from the ground, pity as it was just flowering and would of looked really good, the good news was several days of soaking rain and cool weather.
I made a good start on this year’s new project having all rocks, paver mowing strip and drain cemented into place and the base is ready for the new tank which arrives next week.
Lots of soaking rain, best I have seen for years, not much I could do in the garden due to the wet weather, and that something that has not happened at least for seven years.
Another rain water tank arrived from Bundaberg Plastics and is in place. This now gives us 65000 litres of water, I am pretty sure this will make us drought proof.
I have now plumbed all tanks with proper fittings and pipe with taps situated where they are most needed.
The lawns are growing like crazy and of course my ride on has broken down and so far it’s been three weeks waiting for parts, it’s a big job to mow it all with the hand mower as I did last weekend.
I am always thinking that my weekends will get easier but of course that is just not true, now that things are finally growing there are lots of trees and shrubs to trim.
If it’s not the cycads being eaten then it’s the abutilons now I find there is a plague of grasshoppers munching merrily through my beautiful cordylines, pests are becoming rampant. Not sure if I have mentioned it before but the lychee crop was eaten by flying foxes way before becoming ripe.
This weekend’s job is to mow, then point in between the rocks in the new garden then build a bridge across the new front drain.
After a hard long weekend the new front garden is complete all but a truck load of soil, rocks have been pointed and a bridge built, all looks good.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Heliconia Struggle

In my imagination I pictured my garden with many beautiful Heliconia’s all in flower both upright and pendant; in my mind it was certainly going to be a beautiful sight.
Over a period of time we bought a total of 56 different varieties, being told that all the varieties we picked would perform in the Brisbane area. We spent up to $75 for some of the better plants. All that was left was to wait for the flowers to come.
Well, we waited and waited and eventually found that only certain varieties would flower here and even then some of those would not survive a cold winter.
All in all it’s been a disappointing and expensive experiment.
Out of the 56 different Heliconia’s about 25 have survived with a number of those yet to flower.
So, here in Birkdale with poor soil and little water I can give you some recommendations based upon my experiences, the following Heliconia’s will grow, and believe me if these varieties can survive in my garden they will survive in any Brisbane Garden.

Here are my recommendations:
Caribaea ‘Kawachi’ has been a prolific flowerer.
Bihai ‘Lobster Claw’s’ one & two have also been good.
Bihai ‘Yellow Dancer’ has been good.
Orthotricas are perhaps my favourite Heliconia, but are temperamental, hate the cold and do not reproduce well here.
Augusta’s grow well ‘Red holiday’ and ‘Yellow Christmas’
The best of all Rostrata ‘Parrots Beak’, thank goodness it flowers well; in my opinion when in flower it is the most spectacular Heliconia of all.
Jamaican Dwarf has done well and always flowers.
Bihai ‘Chocolate Dancer’ is good.
Papsiana is good
Pseudoemygdiana ‘Birdiana’ has a great yellow flower and has survived for a number of years.
Hirsuta ‘costa flores’ is a great looking Heliconia and flowered spectacularly for me last year but was hit especially hard last winter’s cold, I am trying again, this time in a more sheltered position.
Spissa ‘Mexican Red’ flowered well but then died on me.
I know ‘Hot Rio Nights’ can grow well here but not for me.
I soon dug out the strictas as they were ‘travellers’.
Richmond red foliage grows well but has never flowered.
Chartacea ‘extra sexy’ and ‘sexy pink’ are not worth trying, not at all cold tolerant.
No luck whatsoever with Champneiana ‘Maya blood’ and ‘Maya gold’.
I am still trying with several others such as ‘emerald forest’, ‘prince of darkness’ ‘manoa sunrise’ ect.
I am not saying that given the right circumstances some of the ones that will not grow for me will not grow else where in Brisbane, given good soil plenty of water and a sheltered position they may do very well; all you can do is to keep trying.
Hope this is of some help to those of you who want to bring the tropics to Brisbane.