Open Gardens

Colourful Gardens Without Flowers


Michael: You know we’re lucky here in South Australia gardeners have 4 distinct seasons… the excitement of spring the struggle through summer the beauty of autumn and in winter you notice plants that you’ve never noticed throughout the year and you know how I love stickybeaking into people’s gardens. Today I’m at Casuarina in the Adelaide hills- It’s beautiful…a mixture of natives exotics and a touch of art.

Once a bare paddock near Mylor, this informal garden provides a living panorama from every window of Jane and Christo Juttner’s home. It’s hard to imagine the house without the garden, or the garden without the house.

Michael: Christo I love the artistic surprises dotted through the garden.

Christo: they are great. Most of them are found objects.

This…she had the idea of her bluebottles. I mean it’s just reinforcing rod which I cut up, bent and the bottles are sitting there. And that’s about all but it does look good.

Michael: it really does and you can see the blue.

Christo: The colours are better in winter I think. In summer it’s dominated by the roses.

Michael: No large garden should be without one of these-a Claret Ash. They were developed here in the Adelaide hills and in fact they’re a state icon. Through spring and summer it blends into the garden but this time of year absolutely spectacular.

Christo most gardens are either meticulously planned in the beginning or they just evolve Casuarina where does that fit in?

Christo: So really the house was the first thing and then all the topsoil was moved away and stored and then when the house was finished the topsoil was brought back and put on top of the clay all around here. It was always going to be a water wise garden. We put in an extensive dripper system and in the first 18 months or so Jane and our son planted about three and a half thousand plants.

Michael: So what does this now established garden mean to you and your family? What joy do you get out of it? Must be immense?

Christo: It is. It’s such a peaceful place. There’s always something to look at, it’s changing all the time. It’s a place we always love to come back to and our friends love to come back to… it’s a happy place.

Michael: Now I couldn’t leave today without showing you this-two Barbaras. One a lighter colour, really pink and this- such a beautiful purple colour. And that’s actually what I’m talking about in this month’s SALife magazine- How to get colour in your garden without relying on flowers. And as you’ve seen at Casuarina today it’s easy to accomplish.

And while I was up this way I had to call into Tupelo Grove: a great little hills Nursery run by Robin and Ian Powell.

Michael: Robin what’s your thoughts on all this?

Robin: Well Michael most plants only flower for a few months of the year at most some only a few weeks so texture and colour of the foliage becomes a really important factor in the garden.

Michael: What are some examples of plants that will give us colour but without flowers?

Robin: Just lately I’ve really come to like a lot of the acacias with fine foliage…tall ones like lime magic (limey green foliage) and really droopy. Michael: And Robin for a dark texture in the garden?

Robin: A dark texture in the garden …We’ve got things like agonis after dark and the dark leaved Cotinus. Cordylines.. I don’t think quite as popular as they used to be but certainly still very useful that texture and colour contrast. Yes they are. I also think that silver is important in the garden. Sometimes harder to use because you have to put the right colours with a grey or silver plant. We want some difference we don’t want everything evergreen whereas to lighten it up.. have some things that drop their leaves fruit.It’s a four seasons garden and that’s what we do need to consider. Some people like it to look the same all year round but I find those gardens a bit dull, boring.

Michael: And just one more plant this beautiful Echium its finished flowering but its sage blue leaves add so many colours to this garden all year round. This is one of the many plants I’ve listed in this month’s SALife magazine that will guarantee colour in your garden.

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