Simpson Shadehouse - Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Simpson Shadehouse - Adelaide Botanic Gardens

19 December 2013

Hoya carnosa

There are 200 to 300 Hoyas in the world but Hoya carnosa is possibly the best known in Australia.  It's native to East Asia and Australia and thrives in shade in a potbound situation.

07 December 2013


Hydrangea is a bit out of fashion now as, in a dry climate, it needs quite a bit of water.  It's probably more sensible to grow hydrangeas in large pots.  That way they can be moved into the shade as the sun starts to blaze although it needs some sun in spring to stimulate flowering.  Plants can be watered more reliably in pots and they can be individually treated with bluing mixture if you want a mix of pink and blue flowers.

06 December 2013

Wicking Worm Bed

A few days ago I put together a wicking worm bed.  There's plenty of information available on wicking beds and wicking worm beds on the www (links below).  The main advantage of a wicking bed is that it's a low water use garden bed compared to traditional overhead watered garden beds.  In a wicking bed the water is contained beneath the soil in which vegetables are grown and is "wicked"up to water the roots.  This is a far more efficient way of watering especially in the dry areas of Australia and other parts of the world.

The beds themselves involve quite a degree of effort to set up.  We bought the frame, internal plastic liner, length of agricultural pipe, geo-textile layer and plastic outlet as a kit from 2 Acre Woods but you can build them from scratch with materials obtainable from many hardware stores.  Either way you'll also need a quantity of gravel or sand through which the ag pipe runs and where the water is contained.  Then you'll need good quality soil or compost on top of that.  So there's quite a bit of reasonably heavy physical work.

Once I set up the frames I lined them with the sheet of plastic (or pond liner).  You have to be careful not to puncture this!  I used large bulldog clips to hold the plastic in place on the frames (they can be removed when the soil has been put in the bed).  Then I carefully made a small hole in the plastic in line with the pre-drilled outlet hole and fitted the outlet pipe (pictured above).  The ag pipe (slotted pipe) is placed across the plastic from near this outlet to the other side of the bed and stretches up to the top of the frame (this is where the water is put in).  I've seen some variations where a length of solid pvc piping is used to deliver water to the ag pipe in the bottom of the bed.  

Gravel is then carefully placed around the ag pipe to just cover it.  Water the gravel to check for any unevenness and to make sure the overflow pipe actually overflows then cover the gravel with geo-textile (this stops the soil, which is placed above the geo-textile, dropping into the water below). 

A variation for wicking beds is to include a worm farm to increase the fertility and texture of the growing medium.  I used a quantity of compost to supplement the soil that I put in my wicking bed and the compost has a number of compost worms in it so I added a "worm farm" by using a largish plastic pot with an oversized plastic dish as a lid.  I've also used a small pot to cover the top of the ag pipe that is sticking out the top of the bed so that extraneous material doesn't fall into the water below.

Wicking beds can be constructed in small containers, such as polystyrene boxes, or in large garden situations.  To find out more about wicking beds and wicking worm beds have a look at:

2 Acre Woods (Adelaide Hills)

Scarecrow's Garden (Mid North South Australia)

Maireid Sullivan (Victoria - comprehensive e-book available)

Waterright (extensive information from Colin Austin,  the developer of the wicking bed system)

Wicking Beds - The Way To Health (Colin Austin's personal site)

05 December 2013

Alyogyne huegelii 'West Coast Gem'

Alyogynes are members of the mallow family and all species are found in West Australia or South Australia.  Alyogyne huegelii 'West Coast Gem' is a cultivar of a SA species with a profusion of purple flowers.  The flowers only last a day or 2 but there are usually a number of them in succession.  Incidentally the yellow flower behind the Alyogyne is a Yarrow (Achillea) with grey foliage.

04 December 2013


Yes it really did taste as delicious as it looks (looked).  These strawberry bushes were given to us by a neighbour 4 years ago so I can't say what variety they are.  I've noticed that our home-grown fruit (apples, apricots,  strawberries, cherries and blueberries) taste so much better than those from shops, even those that have fresh fruit direct from local growers.  My theory (based on a side by side taste test with one of our apricots and a local new season shop bought one) is that commercial growers use much more water than we do and probably some use growth hormones so their fruit is large and juicy but not always very flavoursome.  Still, this strawberry was both large and yummy.  Bonus!

Mother duck and ducklings - Minno Creek

As soon as our dog bounded up (on the other side of the fence from them) the ducks all scurried for the safety of water which was very sensible of them all.