Collectibles from Peta Trahar's richly planted garden at Woodgreen

3 Jul 2014

Jessica's Blue Garden ...

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Jessica’s Blue Garden

Text Peta Trahar MAIH MAILDM

One wild, stormy afternoon in the Summer of 2010 two towering old Eucalypts growing side by side at the front of our house received an awe inspiring lightning strike. Branches and woodchips flew, the phone lines melted and the electric fence control box exploded. Nature had unleashed supreme, impressive power. Within weeks the trees’ canopies were shrivelling and crisp leaves falling. They were dying. Their necessary removal was dangerous and expensive.

To replace with a similar species was not an option, so close to the house. Left behind was space for an oval shaped 35 square metre garden bed – a fresh planting palette in a dress circle location. It was sensible to install the selected deciduous replacement trees in Winter even before the planned drystone retaining wall was constructed. In went the weeping cherry Prunus ‘Snofozam’ and three Betula 'Penci-2' - Royal Frost ™ .

I chose a blue flowered planting scheme embellished with snippets of white and a touch of silver foliage. Gertrude Jekyll once wrote “blues will be more telling, more purely blue, by juxtaposition with … complementary tones”.    The blues will range from indigo through violet and importantly represent all four seasons. The beautiful Geranium ‘Rozanne’ will be massed. It’s my favourite blue Cranesbill with a long blooming season: November to May. To follow in early Winter, drifts of Snowflakes  then Spanish Bluebells. Blue fillers, Violas, Petunias, Love-in-a-Mist, Forgetmenots and Lobelia will contribute continuing impact.

Iris must be included – not too many, however this new sunny bed will accommodate a few Tall Bearded Iris of the loveliest deep blue. I selected “Dressed in Navy” and “Must Unite”.

Now for my blue star – the superb Echium gentianoides. Rare and endangered in its native La Palma, one of the Canary Islands and very scarce in general cultivation, this 70cm tall perennial needs good drainage, in sun. Our cool Bilpin climate suits it. The leaves are smooth and glaucous with a white midrib. The Spring blooms are brilliant spikes, akin to precious sapphires, turquoise and lapis lazuli. I must collect seed to ensure its continuance. Now there’s a challenge.

In the shade, maybe the little perennial Sanicula caerulescens will survive. Up till now it’s been in my fernery. It’s another rarity, a ground cover from China. Of course I’ll find space for Campanula, Clematis, Aquilegia, Asters and blue Boltonia. The fabulous Meconopsis grandis the Himalayan Blue Poppy, would be a triumph if successful but we are not cold and moist enough. I’ve killed too many already.

And why is it Jessica’s garden? Jessica was my cherished little Italian Greyhound. She was well known to many garden club members in Sydney and the Blue Mountains. She died recently at 15 and will be remembered for her faithful, sweet nature. Her grave is in the new blue garden. This one is for you Jesse.

Peta Trahar is Convenor of the Collectors’ Plant Fair to be held at Hawkesbury Race Club, Clarendon on 11, 12 April in 2015. or 02 4567 2026.




Walk peacefully, smell the roses and be touched by the hand of Nature
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