A Big Splash of Colour for Megan and Brad

Marie & I completed a garden makeover for Brad and Megan from Yarra Junction, who live on a lush green farmlet. They had a round about in the middle of their driveway of approx. 28m2 where a rose garden had become old which they had removed. The garden bed was bare and they wanted something new and different.

Because Megan & Brad are surrounded by green fields and green trees, Marie and I felt that what was required was a really good strong splash of year round colour. We chose a mixture of colourful Coprosmas, hardy low growing shrubs that come in beautiful pinks, purples, yellows, and we also chose a mixture of different coloured Flaxes in purple and yellow. We also chose French Lavender for its grey foliage and lovely blue winter flowers, a happy wanderer to be used as a groundcover and a Eurypos daisy with its grey foliage and bright yellow winter flowers.

As a central feature we planted a purple hop bush, a very hardy purple leaf compact shrub, and a bright blue flowering native Hibscus with a few other assorted small flowering shrubs to fill it up. With a mixture of brightly coloured foliage plants and assorted flowerings shrubs, the island will create a colour hot spot that will light up the entrance of the property.

To get the job done quickly Chris chipped off all the weeds with a sharp spade, then we tipped pine bark directly onto the bed with a tipper and spread this evenly on the bed before planting our plants. This way it only took 15mins to spread 1.5m of mulch. Then we scraped aside the mulch to plant the plants, and then put the mulch back around them, being careful not to bury the bottom of the plants with a thick layer of mulch because this can promote collar rot.

The whole job took 2 hours to complete.

Mini Makeover Two-Story Townhouse in Carrum

Rebecca has a two storey town house in Carrum that she purchased brand new. It had been ‘landscaped’ by the developer prior to her purchase and the turf and most of the plants had passed away prior to her moving into the property, the garden that was left did nothing to enhance her property.

Rebecca in her email said that she wanted modern plants like Yucca, Agave and Flax. When I went over and looked at the property there we were really poor attempts at modern gardens on both sides of her property, and I felt that another modern garden would blend into the poor modern gardens on either side and the overall result would be unspectacular.

I felt that she needed a large tree and I chose a Weeping Pagoda tree to go into the middle of the garden. Although it’s large now, it won’t grow much bigger and also being planted in sand it has a deep tap root and wont require too much water in the future.

I felt that a nice small hedge would define her feature tree and stand out and not blend into the neighbouring gardens, so we planted a hedge of Tom Thumb (Japanese spindle bush) around the perimeter of the garden. Then to make sure Rebecca was happy, we gave the garden a modern accent by putting a few Agave through it. Then we planted Daisy Spray and Silver Bush in a square pattern inside the hedge so that the garden would become full of flowers and vegetation inside the hedge and under the tree within a matter of months.

To complete the job we chipped off the weeds and dug out all the surviving plants from the original garden. I had some employees from the store helping because it was a front yard that we were attempting to complete in 3 hours. To keep down the weeds, we covered it in weedmat, cut holes in the weedmat and planted through the weedmat and then mulched the whole area with pine bark.

Rebecca came home just at the time when we were starting to plant, and she was delighted at how big her simplified front yard looked when we changed it from a two zoned area of a lawn and gardens beds to one zone. She put on a fabulous afternoon tea of chocolate dipped shortbread and lamingtons, which was greatly appreciated by all, as we’d landscaped quite a large area and needed that sugar energy boost.

When it was done Rebecca was really pleased at how her new front garden made her whole property look and she was pleased with the design and choice of plants. Even though what we had done was totally different to what she had visualized, she was particularly thrilled with the pagoda tree as it was well established, with a beautiful artistic weeping shape.

Mini Makeover Veggie Patch for Tony and his daughter

This week we made over a Veggie patch for Tony and his daughter, Lynne of Langwarren. They were lovely people. Tony has been a merchant seaman for 37 years and before that he was in the Royal Navy and is a veteran of D. Day. These days he keeps an immaculate garden and his hobby is growing tomatoes in his veggie patch.

What we did was to fork the garden over and give it a weed. Then we spread a few kilos of dolomite lime and several bags of Surecrop compost and forked over again. I dug the 2 ½ x 3-meter patch into three beds, with two paths, about 2 meters long through the centre. Tony had some nice hardwood slatted paths for keeping your boots clean. I placed these, one for each path. They’re a good idea because you can kneel or walk and not get you feet too dirty. They were painted white – an old skill Tony had acquired in the Navy.

All of these veggies will do well planted now and the garden will be producing before spring
We then planted a row of seed potatoes, Nicholas, which is their favourite. Then on either side of the potatoes we planted lettuce and spring onion seedlings. We planted everything from punnets, as seed is slow to germinate. In the next bed we planted onion, cabbage and bok choy and cauliflower. Then we planted Leek, Carrot, Broccoli and Beetroot (just a little of each). The last bed was a bit dry and full of roots from the neighbouring Pittosphorums, so we planted, across the top of the patch, Silver beet, which is the toughest of all the veggies. Near the fence we planted a row of popular and hardy herbs, such as Parsley, Mint, Thyme and Rosemary.

Tony and Lynne were very appreciative and made us afternoon tea. Tony offered us a shot of Rum, It was pleasant and sunny in the yard and I was sorry I didn’t take him up on the offer, as I still had a lot of work to do that afternoon.

What is interesting about the makeover is that a lot of people don’t plant their veggie gardens until spring, but all of those veggies will do well planted now and the garden will be producing before spring.

Mini Makeover for Michelle in Knoxfield

Michelle from Knoxfield sent us a photo of a lovely round flower bed approximately 6ft in diameter. Although we were going to do a rose bed this week, when we received Michelle’s email, Marie was touched by the simplicity of the request, saying here’s my bed all it needs is a Weeping Cherry.

The bed looked particularly nice because Michelle had put a brick border around it with some old bricks from her back yard

I had a beautiful Snow Fuzan which is the same as the one marketed by Flemings that they call the Snow Fountain. This looked beautiful in the centre of the circle.

The bed was a bit empty so we mixed in 10 bags of our planting mix, this bulked up the soil and made the bed nicely mounded.

We planted the Snow Fuzan in the centre and then planted 40 Daisy Spray which is a dwarf clumping form of the Seaside Daisy that flowers profusely all year round. I thought the Daisy Spray was a good choice as it will complement the Snow Fuzan when it is in full flower and not detract from it by being too showy. I felt in needed to be something that looked good all year and also something that is low to show off the shape of the Cherry.

It only took an hour or so for Marie, Michelle and myself to dig in the extra planting mix, plant the Weeping Cherry and the Daisy Spray, and complete the makeover.

As we finished the job Michelle’s’ young grandsons woke up from their afternoon nap and one of them very surprised said “That’s Chris and Marie!” They helped us plant the last few plants and tidy up the mess.

Michelle seemed very excited at the look of her new garden centre piece. She is now thinking of doing another round bed with a Cherry on the other side of the front path.

Kevin and Carmel’s Low Maintenance Garden

We chose this garden bed to do our makeover as it was a nice size and shape, and it was begging for a low maintenance garden.

The hard thing about this job is that I had decided to use over 1 ton of river stone and we only had 2 hours to do the job. We had some help, so there were three of us with a 15 square metre garden bed to complete in 2 hours. We wanted to complete the garden and photograph it with Kevin and Carmel before the light failed.

First job was to dig the garden, rake it over, smooth it and clear out the old plants and weeds. We also dug the soil away from the brick edge so that the river stones could cover the weedmat on the edge of the garden bed with the stones fitting flush with the bricks.

We gave the whole garden bed a final smooth with a steel rake and we were ready for the weedmat. We laid 2 sheets side by side over the bed and pinned them down with a few handfuls of pebbles. We then placed the plants in position and Marie, using a Stanley knife, cut a cross in the weedmat where each plant was to be planted. I dug a hole in the soil beneath the cross and put the surplus soil in pots so that I didn’t end up with too much soil on the weedmat.

We planted the plants, swept the weedmat clean and closed the cross up around the plant to get good weed protection.

At this point it was around 4.00pm and neighbours coming home from work were driving slowly past and they seemed surprised by the instant garden.

Daisies Garden Supplies gave me over a ton of really nice coloured river pebbles. To make the job go quickly I picked them up from their yard in Carrum Downs and got them to put them into big buckets so that I could take the buckets off my truck and tip them directly onto the weedmat. This is a very clean way of operating and saves a lot of shoveling (pebbles are hard to shovel). I would like to thank Daisies Garden Supplies I have used them for over 30 years and they are my favourite garden supplier because they carry a wide range of product, give good advise and charge a reasonable price. Daisies Garden Supplies have yards in Carrum Downs, Ringwood and Ashwood. I showed the chap in the yard a photo of the kidney shaped garden bed and asked him what volume of pebbles it would take. He said about 1 metre and he was exactly right.

I carried the buckets of pebbles and tipped them onto the garden bed and Marie spread them.

At 4.30pm the job was done and Kevin and Carmel looked slightly stunned!! They gave Marie and Nikki a big kiss and a hug, they seemed to appreciate the finished garden bed and we took final after photos at 4.30pm.

THE PLANTS
I chose 2 large Yucca Sculptures to go at either end of the bed. Yucca Sculptures are Yuccas that have been grown up, cut back and then they re-shoot back with large Multiple Yucca Heads facing out in all directions, these plants add some age and character to the bed.

We then planted a border well in from the edge of the bed to give them room to grow an alternating planting of Agave attenuata and Phormium Platts Black Flax. The brilliant green of the Yucca and the soft blue-grey of the Agave and intense purple-black of the Platts Black Flax make an exciting contrast. Many Flax grow big and unruly and lose their colour. Platts Black stays compact and keeps its colour.

These plants require very little water, fertilizer or trimming and are well suited to a low maintenance garden. In fact, Chris and Marie’s Plant Farm is the home of low maintenance gardens!

COST
Large Yucca Sculpture 2 x $70.00 = $140.00
12” pot Agave 10x $39.90 = $390.00
8” pot Platts Black Flax 10 x $24.90 = $249.00
Large sheet of Weedmat 1 x$39.90 = $39.90
1 metre of pebbles 1 x $120.00 = $120.00
Total cost of this instant makeover that looked completely finished $938.90 and quite a few aches and pains.

If you bought smaller sized plants this job would cost:
10” pot Yucca 2 x $29.90 = $59.80
8” pot Agave 10 x $9.90 = $99.90
6”pot Platts Black Flax 10 x $12.75 = $127.50
1 mete of pebbles 1 x $120.00 = $120.00
Large sheet of Weedmat 1 x $39.90 = $39.90
Total cost $$447.10
Planting smaller plants requires much less physical effort.

Mini Makeover for Tania & Con in Melbourne’s East

Chris & Marie completed their first mini makeover for Tania & Con from Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs. 3MP listeners emailed in some photos and background information of their gardens and Chris & Marie selected Tania & Cons garden where a nice centerpiece planting lifted the existing garden.

The idea was to complete a small garden project that would really give somebody a garden lift, a planting job that anybody could complete in their own garden at a minimal cost. Chris & Marie selected Tania & Con’s garden as it was very neat and nice but a little bit plain. Chris felt the centerpiece would really give their garden a big lift. When Chris & Marie met Tania she was a really lovely person and deserving of the mini makeover, they were happy to plant some plants in her garden to give it a lift.

Chris used a sharp spade and cut a neat garden edge in a round circular shape. The lawn was a variety of couch, so he carefully skimmed off the lawn with a spade and Marie raked and picked out the small pieces of root. The circle created was approx. 1.4m round. The soil was dug out to a depth of 18 inches deep and some planting mix was incorporated into the bottom of the hole and a bare rooted Celtic Cascade Kilmarnock Willow was placed into the hole on top of 6” of soft cultivated earth.

The hole was then filled in with planting mix. On top of the soil Chris used some Dolomite Lime and planted 50 mixed coloured Geraniums around the base of the tree and bare rooted English Box every 15cm around the perimeter of the circle.

Chris & Marie used a drop sheet on the lawn so that it didn’t get dirty whilst they were digging so it was just a matter of gathering up the weeds and excess soil once the job was finished.

COST
Chris & Marie used an advanced Celtic Cascade Kilmarnock Willow valued at $200 (a smaller 1st year specimen can be purchased for around $20).

They also used $15 worth of Geranium seedlings, $60 worth of English Box plants, $100 worth of planting mix & $2 worth of dolomite lime. The cost of the project with the advanced weeper was under $400 and if a 1st year specimen was used the cost would have been under $200.

As you can see the mini makeover lifted the garden!

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