"Pretty tough survivors"

The ongoing heat and dryness remind us to choose plants that can cope.
Monday, 14 October 2013     

Garden of Beverley Jenkins in Sydney

I am sure I am not the only gardener in Sydney who is thoroughly fed up with the incredibly hot and dry spring we are having this year! The prolonged hot spell we've had since early September - made worse by drying winds - has really put our plants under a lot of stress, reinforcing the importance of finding specimens that can cope with these sorts of conditions, as well as the other extreme we sometimes get in Sydney: heavy summer rain and humidity! I was reminded of this when I paid a visit last week to a garden I have seen evolve over the past 24 years.

Beverley Jenkins has always had a gorgeous cottage garden, ever since I first saw it in 1989. She has always looked after her plants very well, and they thrive under her care. She has built up her soil with organic matter and always mulches her plants well with cane mulch to help them get through summer. The backbone of the garden has always been comprised of roses, Beverley's great love. Originally, the garden contained many English-y perennials growing beneath the roses, of the type that many of us loved in the 1980s and 1990s. The garden has changed many times as she has trialled plants for their suitability for our climate, whilst always maintaining a cottage garden 'look'.

For example, over the years, she has experimented with many different kinds of roses - mainly old roses and David Austin varieties - but now she has narrowed them down to the ones that really do well in Sydney. Our climate is not perfectly suited to rose-growing, mainly because of our summer humidity. Beverley's suggestions to anyone wanting to growing roses in Sydney is to select from those known as 'old Tea roses' and 'old China roses'. In her experience, these are tough and disease-free, and bloom very well in Sydney over an extended period. She has an excellent specimen of Rosa 'Mutabalis' (a China rose), mentioned in last week's blog, which flowers for many months; and her favourite old tea rose is 'Duchesse de Brabant' (a lovely soft pink with many layers of petals). Hers is not the climbing version, but it has long canes that can be trained over an arch and that is how she grows hers. She also has 'Le Vésuve', regarded by many as a Tea-China hybrid, with vibrant pink blooms. Old roses such as these have a pleasing form and a delicious perfume , and seem much more robust than modern roses. They don't need severe pruning and are long-lived.

Growing between and beneath the roses are a variety of perennial plants that have a profusion of flowers, many held in spires as in traditional cottage flowers - all tough characters that can cope with heat and dryness. One of the stars now of these underplantings is the compact Salvia. She has a number of Salvia greggii and Salvia microphylla cultivars with spires of flowers in a range of soft and brighter colours of pinks, cream, white, apricot, crimson and purple, that all tone in well with the roses. Blue flowers are contributed by Salvia 'Marine Blue', a lovely small plant. These salvias bloom from October through to winter, and then they are cut back hard at the end of winter. Once established, they are quite drought resistant and need little care. They grow to very wide mounds and by the time summer comes, no earth between them is visible.

Other hardy perennials that she uses to create her Sydney cottage garden include perennial statice (Limonium perezii) with its clusters of purple, papery blooms, various forms of Phlomis; some of the more amenable species Geranium - in particular, G. incanum, which has very finely divided foliage and grows to form a very extensive carpet with pretty purple flowers; perennial Verbena hybrids; and Achillea. The repetition of plants through the garden gives a very cohesive effect and the result is delightful. On the ferociously hot and windy day last week when I visited, every single plant seemed to be taking the extreme heat in its stride - so Beverley has chosen very well in selecting plants for her Sydney cottage garden.

I will be having a short break for a few weeks; in the meantime, there are lots of blogs in my archives to peruse, and other members garden's to enjoy in my Garden Ramble.

 Reader Comments

1/21  Anne - 2518 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Enjoy your break! Thanks, Anne. Deirdre

2/21  Catherine - 2071 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

I haven"t seen Beverley"s garden for several years now but she was certainly one of the gardeners who inspired me, with her ability to group plants and also her continual experimentation to find the best plants for her conditions. Yes, she has a natural gift for planting combinations and every visit there inspires me. Deirdre

3/21  Peter - 2008 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

"Le Vsuve" Rosa "China / Bengale, Hybrid Bourbon, Tea..... yes find out where can get this one again... Used to get very many years ago from Roy & Heather Rumsay together with other good early hybrid teas like "Monsieur Tillier", "Lady Hillingdon", "Mrs Dudley Cross", "General Gallieni", R. sanguinea "Miss Lowes Rose" and sinenesis "Ten Thousand Lights" .... all good for Sydney & a few I"m using this week at a very coastal Beacon Hill garden sans black spot, powdery mildew YAY Thanks, Peter - as to sourcing these roses, see Glennis"s comment on the blog - Green-E is a fab nursery and the owner so knowledgable. I enjoyed a visit there even though I don"t even grow roses myself! Deirdre

4/21  Glennis - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Yes I agree that the old Tea Roses and Chinas do very well in Sydney as do the Noisettes and Hybrid Perpetuals. Once established these roses can be surprisingly drought tolerant. If you are looking to purchase Old World or Heritage Roses in Sydney I recommend Green E Nursery on the Galston Road at Galston - they have a good selection of these roses. I also find greggii and microphylla salvias are very hardy and they just keep flowering right through the hot weather. Thank you so much for your tips on where to get the roses, Glennis! I loved Green E when I visited. Deirdre

5/21  Peta - 2758 (Zone:9 - Cool Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

I guess there"s always an upside to the "downs" and it"s the year of the rose - no black spot here, healthy leaves and all loving the dry atmosphere. I know you have a section for plant search but I"d almost kill for Rosa glauca a fabulous species. It only flowers in the Spring, single pink blooms, has beautiful bluish leaves and outstanding hips in the Autumn. I"m pretty sure that it was listed in a rose catalogue in Australia once, but where? Help! Help! Have a good break Deirdre.

6/21  Margaret - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Thank you for reminding us of Beverley"s garden - it is truly inspirational to visit, and I have had the pleasure to do so a number of times. Enjoy a well-deserved break! Margaret Thanks, Margaret. Yes it is an inspirational garden. Deirdre

7/21  Beverley - 2113 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Thank you Deirdre for the kind words about my garden. I was also going to recommend Green E nursery at Galston for the old roses. They always grow well and they have a really good selection. Very nice people too. I would welcome anyone who would like to see my garden. 0415921837.Beverley. That is very generous of you, Beverley. Deirdre

8/21  Rhonda - 2830 (Zone:11B - Arid) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Thanks for this information. Does anyone know where Geranium incanum can be purchased? Thank you See Chris"s reply on the blog; I also recently bought it from Robyn BIble at the Kariong PLant Fair; she has a nursery at Riverstone (by appointment). Deirdre

9/21  Glennis - 2122 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Peta, a friend of mine bought 2 Rosa glauca plants from Parkers Nursery at Turramurra a few weeks ago - hopefully they still have some left.If they are out of stock there is a very good website called HelpMeFind. Good luck. Thanks again, Glennis - you have made Peta very happy! Deirdre

10/21  Meryl - 2206 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Rosa Glauca, also known as Rosa Rubrifolia, is available by mail order during the season from Thomas for Roses in SA. They have a huge selection of old and rare roses and can be reached on 08 8389 7795. Don"t put it off; I"ve heard rumours of retirement. The China rose I love the most is Comptesse du Cayla, which, in my Sydney garden, is 2m x 2m and smothered in bloom repeatedly through the season and never without some. The flowers are quite a strong pink-apricot and hold their heads up. Thanks for all that information, Meryl. Deirdre

11/21  Pam - 2159 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Rumsey Rose Garden in Parramatta Park (free entry at corner of Pitt St and Macquarie St) is worth a visit. Over 500 Heritage roses donated by Heather and Roy Rumsey (1992?)- they offered to donate 2 of each of all the old roses they grew. Gallicas, Teas, Noisettes, Rugosas and many more. Lots in flower at the moment - I visited last week. Sounds great, Pam - thanks for the tip. Deirdre

12/21  Pam - 2159 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

May I give a plug for Green-E-roses in Galston. They have a large range of roses - check their website. I bought a "Rosette Delizy" (Tea, 1922) last year - yellow edged with red. It is a great nursery; thanks for recommending it. Deirdre

13/21  Elyson - 4069 (Zone:11B - Tropical) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

I can"t speak too highly of the mutabilis rose. The first one was given to me as a birthday present and did so well I bought two more. Thank you for all this timely information - we in Brisbane are also rather fed up with such a dry spring and I"ve been considering planting more salvias. With this information I"m off to the nursery today. Enjoy your break. Thanks, Elyson. I hope we all get rain soon. Salvias are excellent for dry gardens but will also cope with rain. Deirdre

14/21  Chris - 2804 (Zone:11B - Arid) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Hey Rhonda, Geranium incanum is available from Perennialle Plants - www.perennialle.com.au/catalogue. All the best on your break Deidre Thanks so much, Chris. Deirdre

15/21  Peta - 2758 (Zone:9 - Cool Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Glennis you"re a peach! I phoned up Parkers and 2 Rosa glaucas are now MINE!!! Just have to come down from Bilpin to collect them. Meryl thank you too, you"re wonderful too! Have rung S.Australia to ask if they have a catalogue. Such fun when you locate what you want. Much as I love Green E and have nagged Brigitte for R. glauca (rubrifolia) she didn"t have it. Totally agree they are lovely people. Champagne tonight. Peta. That"s fab, Peta. Deirdre

16/21  Margaret - 2067 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

I visited Beverley"s garden many years ago and fell in love with cottage gardens. She gave me the information on how to join the Cottage Garden Club which has been wonderful. I am trying out a lovely salvia which I think is a Gregii cross. It is labelled as a Mesa type. Very unusual. Have a lovely break. It"s amazing how chance encounters can enrich our lives. Glad you are enjoying your salvias. Deirdre

17/21  Carole - 2230 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Monsieur Tillier! I had it and it did very well for years but it finally succumbed after repeated onslaughts from the increasing number of deer in our area. However, I am left with one favourite, a climbing Cecile Brunner that manages to keep on flowering despite deer and possum attack simply because it is a climber - and it is flowering at the moment - my bliss! Enjoy your break Deidre :-) Thanks, Carole. I love that climbing Cecile Brunner; it grows in our farm garden in the Southern Tablelands. Deirdre

18/21  Lillian - 3951 (Zone:10 - Mediteranean) Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A brilliant mail order rose source for species and classics ( and others!) is www.mistydowns.com.au. Bareroot shipping - so you"ll all have to wait until next winter. But get their catalogue in the meantime- it"s not only a little encyclopaedia,but obsessive reading over dozens of coffee breaks. And speaking of which -- enjoy yours, Dierdre Thanks, Lillian. Sounds like there are lots of great rose nurseries around for all the rose enthusiasts! Deirdre

19/21  Clarissa - 2075 (Zone:10 - Warm Temperate) Thursday, 17 October 2013

Thank you yet again Deidre - Hazel King told us to grow climbing roses in Sydney - "get them up into the sun" were her exact words...I just love my ever-flowering "Crepuscule" just find it hard to prune because of the constant flowering...enjoy... with much appreciation Clarissa Thanks, Clarissa. I love that rose - some of my friends grow it. Gorgeous colour. Deirdre

20/21  Jan - 2582 (Zone:9 - Cool Temperate) Friday, 18 October 2013

This is great, thanks Deidre. Have a great break! Thanks, Jan. Hope all going well with your garden. Deirdre

21/21  Rebecka - 2481 (Zone:11A - Sub-tropical) Monday, 09 December 2013

Yes I"ve too bought beautiful rare roses from Misty Downs - but as you say, Clarissa - the catalogue is hours of fun! Thinking back, I think it may have taken me 3 months to eventually make my way through it and select the three roses I was going to buy from them... terrific adventure, highly recommended.

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