Blue Hippeastrum

Paul Plant

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Perhaps one of the most cherished and sought after plants for subtropical and warm temperate gardeners, the Blue Hippeastrum is considered one of the largest and rarest species of the lily family, Amaryllidaceae.

The subtropical Worsleya procera is also known by many gardeners as the Empress of Brazil. As its common name implies, it is native to Brazil.

The genus is named after Arthington Worsley (1861-1943), a British plantsman, who observed it in the wild and was the first to bring it into bloom in cultivation.

In its native habitat, this bulbous plant is considered a lithophyte, growing on horizontal rock faces among moss and lichen in full sun situations. The depressions and crevices accumulate small quantities of organic matter. In its habitat, the cool humid nights result in heavy dews accumulating on the leaves and running down to the plant's roots even during dry periods. Drainage however is excellent, and the rocks heat up during the day
as the sun rises.

Previous Names

  • Amaryllis procera
  • Amaryllis rayneri
  • Hippeastrum procerum
  • Worsleya rayneri
From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven
Distinctive recurved bluish-green leaves. Image Paul Plant.
Worsleya procera in the wild, growing at the base of Alcantarea imperialis. Image Dr Lyn Clarke.
The Evolution of Leumeah

Helen Curran

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

For a full list of key plants in this
garden, go to the following:

Leumeah Supplement





In Kenthurst, in Sydney's outer northwest, is a most unusual garden with an eclectic range of plants. It is the garden of landscape designer Anne Curry and her husband John. Helen Curran visited it to investigate its history and creative input.

After moving to suburban Kenthurst from a five acre property six years ago, Anne and John wanted to create something different to their previous English country garden – they wanted to create a subtropical oasis.

To achieve this in an area where the temperatures can go above 45ºC in summer and winter lows can go down to at least -2ºC, modifying the micro-climates becomes one of the most important issues for success. Anne patiently waited for over one year before making decisions regarding the hard landscaping and planting.

During this time she watched how the cold air moved through the garden identifying areas where the frost settled. Anne also watched how the soil absorbed the rainfall and how the excess water moved through the garden during heavy falls.

At the end of this time of watching, Anne realised that throughout summer, the soil baked in the hot sun without cover and that the exposed sandstone absorbed the sun's heat during the day and slowly released it throughout the night. During winter, the cold air dropped down to the back fence leaving trails of frost where it settled, far from an ideal environment for subtropical plants.

The next factor to be taken into consideration was the soil or in this case, the lack of soil. A ledge of partially exposed sandstone ran across the entire width of the property and was fully exposed in some places. In other places it was just 400 millimetres below the soil. The soil was predominately sand and seriously lacked nutrients. It was also water repellent and was in need of terracing to allow rainfall to soak into the soil.

With this information a site plan was drawn up showing the existing features as well as the new design.

From an 6 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven
The Sydney garden provides ideal conditions for subtropical plants to be combined with temperate plants.
Polyscias fruticosa 'Parsley'.
Dandebah – garden of memories

Paul Plant

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Rarely is there an opportunity to share two people's history spanning half a century, let alone a garden of the same age. Mavis and Tom Wakefield opened their Ipswich garden to editor Paul Plant and took him on an historic journey of collective memory.

Originally purchased for the grand price of £20 in 1918, Tom's grandparents became the owners of a large property that has, over the past century, been sliced up to pass on to family members and more recently for suburban development.

Tom and Mavis settled on the property 54 years ago when there was neither house nor trees, only a bare sorghum and potato field. They had only a quarter of an acre and began their garden as most people did back then – a narrow strip of cottage plants beside the front verandah and a patch of herbs in the back yard.

Plants were gifted to them from family, friends and neighbours, and some were bought at local fetes. A large number of these gifted plants now have sentimental value, reminding them of the people, of events and of periods in their life. Plants may have arrived in recycled tins but with a little boost from burnoff ash and animal manure, these plants thrived in the early years.

From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven
Gravel pathways are ideal as a security element.
Gloxinia sylvatica 'Bolivian Sunset'.
Double-barred Finch (Taeniopygia bichenovii) are encouraged into the garden with bird seed. The wire frame deters larger birds.
Anthurium – tail flower

Stephen Flood

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Anthurium means tail flower which is a reference to the flowers being borne on a tail-like spadix. The classic aroid spathe and spadix inflorescence varies immensely in size shape and colour between species and cultivars. Stephen Flood introduces us to this group of plants favoured by many gardeners and plant enthusiasts.

The genus Anthurium contains more than 1000 species distributed in Central and South America from Mexico to northern Argentina. Only a small number of species are cultivated, however the number is growing as enthusiastic collectors venture into the jungle habitats to locate and collect seeds of these fascinating plants.

Horticulturally, anthuriums have surprisingly diverse forms and requirements.

Most cultivated species are shade loving rainforest epiphytes or rock dwellers, however a few grow naturally in sunny, often seasonally drier habitats.

Popular Anthuriums

  • Anthurium andraeanum
  • Anthurium amnicola
  • Anthurium chamberlainii hybrid
  • Anthurium crystallinum
  • Anthurium dolichostachyum
  • Anthurium hookeri
  • Anthurium pallidiflorum
  • Anthurium scherzerianum
  • Anthurium veitchii
  • Anthurium warocqueanum
  • Anthurium dussii & Anthurium marmoratum
  • Anthurium 'Round Velvet'

From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven

Anthurium amnicola.
Anthurium crystallinum.
Anthurium white obake.
Landscape Art-itecture
Jill Coomb



In a recent trip to the Ellerslie International Flower Show in New Zealand, Jill Coomb was reminded that a garden can be both a form of art and of self-expression. Images Sarah Coomb.

The raw beauty of nature is often too readily forgotten. Like a floral arrangement a garden too can be a work of art. The use of colour, line, form and contrast in the garden can easily transform a backyard into a masterpiece. All gardens allow for a lush display of colour and foliage. Contrast can readily be created and sometimes overdone with a dense design.

The simplistic beauty of a feature plant can effortlessly transform a backyard or courtyard. The distinctive forms of tropical and subtropical plants can create a low maintenance garden and at the same time, a simple focal piece within the garden.

Various bromeliad species offer themselves as unique feature specimens. With appropriate culture bromeliads can be encouraged to produce brilliant, rich colouring in its leaves.

Too often the beauty of plants is overlooked in the overall landscape. By using a feature plant gardeners are able to flaunt nature's beauty and can also display their skill at growing stunning specimens. It can also display the diversity of a private plant collection. The colours and textures of leaves and even spines can also give a plant its unique and wondrous feature.


From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven

Elixir – Anna Kitchingman, Jody Tuuta, Daniel Assmus, Canterbury/Coromandel Penninsula  Silver Medal Distinction
She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not – Ben Hoyle. Winner of the Yates People's Choice Award
Winter fragrant plants
Noel Burdette



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

For an additional list of more scented plants to grow in warm climates and more of Noel's favourite specimens:

Winter Fragrant Supplement



The winter months in the subtropics would have to be one of the most pleasurable times for any gardener to get outside and simply experience what nature has to offer. Plantsman Noel Burdette looks into one benefit that winter brings to the garden.

One of the most alluring qualities in any plant (in my opinion) is fragrance and during these cooler months we see many of the somewhat forgotten species produce more than just pretty flowers... they bring with them a delicious fragrance that captures our hearts and we are instantly smitten.

Species looked at briefly are:

  • Rondeletia (Rondeletia amoena)
  • Pink Trumpet Tree (Handroanthus impetiginosus syn. Tabebuia palmeri)
  • Heliotrope or Cherry Pie (Heliotropicum arborescens)
  • Sweet Olive (Osmanthus fragrans)
  • Fruit Scented Sage (Salvia dorisiana)

Perfume from any kind of plant will undoubtedly keep our interest alive in the natural world around us. Hopefully along the way, it will also attract the interest from the next generation of gardeners. Perfumed flowers or fragrant foliage can trigger happy memories from your childhood years – from long forgotten family or friends – and most importantly, for just a moment, you can forget about your worries and put a smile on your face.


From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven
Rondeletia (Rondeletia amoena).
Fruit Scented Sage (Salvia dorisiana).
I just had to have it!
Jill Coomb





As I wandered around the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show I stopped and longed for the tulips on display. I knew they would not survive, let alone thrive back in subtropical Queensland. But I so desperately wanted a garden full of tulips.

Wanting to expand the garden palette is a desire for most gardeners. However, we must have realistic expectations when seeking something different. Simply expecting a plant from a different region to flourish is the road to heartache.

No amount of tender loving care can make a plant flourish if the environment is wrong. Attempting to simulate the plant's natural environment is not an easy task and most often leads to a dead plant and a disheartened gardener. Similarly, tough love will lead to the same results.


From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Seven
Tulips…the temptation is often too much.
Tulips…great to look at when visiting cooler climates.
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From a 3 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Six
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