Riverwalk Gardens

Paul Plant

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Anything is possible. A sparse farm property can have an extreme make-over to create a garden of terraces and mature plants. Editor Paul Plant visited Jill and Rudy Dokter’s garden to see what can be done in only six years. Images: Jill Dokter and Paul Plant.

Purchased in 2004, the gently sloping 1.011 hectares (2.5 acres) of farmland was initially sparsely planted with a row of palms and a few native and ornamental trees.

Before the house was constructed, unwanted Cocos Palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana) were culled, the dam was enlarged and approximately five hundred truck loads of land fill was brought on site to create terraces for the home, pool and sheds. Levelled areas were also set aside for future lawns which have become favourite play areas for the grandchildren.

As any gardener knows, leaving one’s garden and moving is full of conflict – which plant specimens can be moved to the new location and which ones must be left behind. With years to prepare before the ‘move-in date’ of spring 2006, Jill and Rudy began propagating plants and preparing trees for transplanting from their home in Ormeau. On the day of the move a truckload of transplanted plants was transported from the old garden to the new garden at Yatala. Some of the plants were over twenty-five years of age and were successfully transplanted with the help of many loads of good soil and mulch.

Overnight, the ‘new’ garden was literally created with mature trees.

From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Nine
Mass plantings along the dam edges work harmoniously with the bushland backdrop.
View from the dam up to the house.
Waterlilies provide colour and habitat 
for amphibians.
Planting on Riverbanks
Joan Dillon

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There is something very attractive about water. We play in or on it, live near it where possible and like to have ponds in our gardens. We cannot do without it but we have not always looked after this precious resource, which most frequently comes from our rivers. Joan Dillon discusses the intricacies of riverbank plantings.

History tells us that the first Europeans to colonise Australia settled around the Tank Stream on the Sydney harbour foreshore. They then proceeded to clear all the vegetation from its banks, dump rubbish and effluent into it and use it as a water supply until it became too polluted. The stream still exists, albeit now hidden under Sydney’s CBD. Unfortunately we have continued to clear the banks, dam, divert, straighten and use our rivers and streams as drains almost ever since.

Our inland rivers were seen by the early explorers as ‘chains of ponds’ which meandered through the landscape depositing silt on their floodplains and allowing water to slowly soak into the soil. Historical paintings and drawings provide a glimpse of those early river landscapes.

Towns were later built on the convenient flat areas close to the rivers with costly and often disastrous consequences in times of flood. Brisbane residents and those of many other towns know only too well what happens when a river breaks its banks. Fortunately, some parts of flood plains are now designated parkland where nature can resume its normal functions.

From an 6 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Nine
Rocks and plants in a landscaped garden assist water flow without causing erosion.
Mangroves are an integral element of a stable tidal zone.
Successful revegetation project shades a stream.
Some Tropical Gesneriads

Stephen Flood

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Most gardeners would not know what a Gesneriad is. It would surprise them to know that they have very likely been growing one of these plants at some time in their gardening history. Plant collector Stephen Flood discusses a few of these plants which are generally easy to grow in subtropical and tropical climates, and provide substantial rewards for gardeners.

The family Gesneriaceae is a huge family of pan-tropical plants with approximately 146 genera and in excess of 2000 species. Plants of this family are found in Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Asia, the Pacific Islands, North, Central and South America, the Caribbean and in Northern Australia.
In recent years many new cultivars have been developed by plant breeders who have produced both interspecific and intergeneric hybrids. Many of the species and hybrids have become popular in the trade.

The family contains perennial herbs, shrubs and climbers with a few species that are annual plants. A small percentage of the species are deciduous or semi-deciduous, surviving winter or the dry season by dying down to an underground storage organ such as a rhizome or tuber.

From a 3 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Nine
Nematanthus gregarius.
Streptocarpus x hydridus ‘Cynthia’.
Cycads suitable for cultivation in the subtropics.

Heather Knowles

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Cycads have an ancient lineage. As cone bearers, they predate flowering plants and the ancestors of the cycads we know today were established well before dinosaurs walked the earth. Fossil records indicate that these ancestors and other similar but now extinct plants, existed well over 250 million years ago. Horticulturist and nurseryperson Heather Knowles investigates some native cycads suitable for our gardens.

Cycads are hardy and adaptable plants. They are found naturally in habitats as diverse as coastal districts, cliff faces and wet tropical forests. There is even one species that is an epiphyte – Zamia pseudoparasitica.
These primitive plants are long lived perennials that are dioecious (have separate male and female plants) and reproduce by way of seed. Both male and female plants produce closed cones. An exception is the genus Cycas, which has an open female cone.


From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Nine

Bowenia spectablis.
Lepidozamia peroffskyana.
Lepidozamia peroffskyana female cones.
Native Cockspur Flower Plectranthus

Paul Plant

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Herbaceaous perennials plants make up a vast volume of our garden plants. They occur naturally in every continent.

A popular group of herbaceous perennial plants for gardeners belongs to the genus Plectranthus, which occur naturally in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate climates, and of which over forty species occur in Australia.

Horticulturist Paul Plant introduces some of the local Australian species likely to be found in warm climate gardens.

Native perennial plants are often overlooked by garden designers
and plant collectors when it comes to selecting specimens for gardens and landscapes. The Native Cockspur Flower provides a wealth of soft stemmed plants that fit well into tropical-style, contemporary, native and even cottage garden designs.

Depending on the species, some Plectranthus have highly attractive and scented foliage, while others are popular due to their growth habit. All native Plectranthus species have blue to white flowers on narrow spike inflorescences and are highly attractive to both native and honey bees.

Some native Plectranthus species covered:

  • Plectranthus alloplectus
  • Plectranthus argentatus
  • Plectranthus bellus
  • Plectranthus caldericola
  • Plectranthus cremnus
  • Plectranthus diversus
  • Plectranthus graveolens
  • Plectranthus habrophyllus
  • Plectranthus leiperi
  • Plectranthus nitidus
  • Plectranthus omissus
  • Plectranthus parviflorus
  • Plectranthus suaveolens
  • Plectranthus torrenticola

From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Nine

Plectranthus alloplectus.
Plectranthus cremnus.
Plectranthus parviflorus.
Helen Curran

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The genus Ruellia belongs to the Acanthaceae family, which includes many beautiful and unusual tropical and subtropical plants. Horticulturist and plant collector Helen Curran found out that even though they are not a well known or widely grown genus of plants, they are proving themselves to be reliable and easy to grow plants from the humid tropics down as far as Sydney.

Species examined are:

  • Ruellia brevifolia (syn. R. graecizans, R. amoena)
    Red Spray Ruellia, Christmas Pride
  • Ruellia chartacea (syn. R. colorata)
    Lobster Claw
  • Ruellia devosiana (syn. R. makoyana)
    Monkey Plant, Trailing Velvet Plant, Brazilian Wild Petunia
  • Ruellia macrantha
    Brazilian Rose, Christmas Pride



From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Nine
Ruellia brevifolia (syn. R. graecizans, R. amoena).
Ruellia chartacea (syn. R. colorata).
Ruellia devosiana (syn. R. makoyana).
Dombeya II

Paul Plant

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Following on from Issue 28, Paul Plant looks at a few more species of Dombeya worth considering for use in the garden and landscapes.

Species featured are:

  • Dombeya pulchra Silver White Pear
  • Dombeya rotundifolia Wild Pear (syn. Assonia densiflora,
    Dombeya myriantha
    , Xeropetalum rotundifolium)
  • Dombeya acutangula (syn. Dombeya cincinnata,
    Dombeya leucorrhoea
From a 3 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Nine
Dombeya rotundifolia.
Dombeya acutangula
Maidenhair Ferns

Images Don Heaton [DH]
and Paul Plant [PP]





Maidenhair Ferns hold a special place in many gardeners’ hearts. They are some of the most popular ferns grown in bush houses and shaded areas of the garden. To some, they are the simplest of plants to grow, to others they are a challenge.

As a continuation to last issue’s feature on ferns, this issue focuses on Maidenhair Ferns for all to enjoy and grow. There are about 200 species of Adiantum and many of the best can be easily sourced from your local garden centre.


From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Nine
Adiantum macrophyllum DH.
Adiantum tenerum 'Farleyense’ DH.
Adiantum trapeziforme DH.
Water Plants

Images Margaret Vitta
and Paul Plant





Following on from issue 28 we look at some additional garden plants to add to the edges of ponds in boggy areas, or grown in pots semi-immersed within the pond.

Species covered this issue are:

  • River Lily (Hesperantha coccinea)
  • Small River Buttercup (Ranunculus amphitrichus syn.
    Ranunculus rivularis)
  • Common Australian Buttercup (Ranunculus lappaceus)
  • Koala Fern (Caustis blakei)
  • Marble Queen (Echinodorus cordifolius ‘Marble Queen’)
  • Golden Club (Orontium aquaticum)


From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Twenty Nine
Common Australian Buttercup.
Koala Fern.
Golden Club.
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