Simpson Shadehouse - Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Simpson Shadehouse - Adelaide Botanic Gardens

29 December 2014

Pears (Pyrus communis)

In 2009 we planted a number of fruit trees in the garden - 2 cherries,  2 or 3 apples, 2 plums, a nectarine and a peach as well as 2 pears (one a pollinator for the other). All the other fruit trees have fruited over the past 3 or 4 years but this is the first year we have had any pears (there were a couple that set last year but they dropped off early on).  The good thing about pears is that they can be picked when still hard and will after-ripen.  This one is a Williams Bon Chretien (usually just called "Williams" or "Bartlett") which is self fertile but also a pollinator for our Lemon Bergamot pear (which also has its first pears).

28 December 2014


Amaranthus has about 60 species, some of which have edible leaves or edible seeds and some are just grown for their floral display.

21 December 2014

Dianella tasmanica (Blue Flax Lily)

There are about 40 species of Dianella and almost half of them are native to Australia.  Dianella tasmanica is found in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania and almost extends to South Australia.  In general Australian Dianellas have smallish flowers that tend to not be particularly showy or long lived but many produce bright berries which stand out in shady areas.  A few varieties of Dianella have edible berries but those of Dianella tasmanica are not - they are indeed poisonous.

19 December 2014

Buddleia davidii 'Ile de France'

Buddleias (sometimes spelt "buddleja) are often called "butterfly bushes" because they have a reputation for attracting butterflies with their often abundant sprays of flowers.  Buddleia davidii 'Ile de France' is an old variety introduced about 1930.  Buddleias are generally perennial plants that usually benefit from pruning after flowering.

14 December 2014

Life is just a bowl of cherries!

There are two young "Stella" cherry trees in the garden which started bearing about 3 or 4 years ago.  Last year rats, possums, birds and insects snaffled crops off both trees before we could pick any so this year we invested in serious bird netting and piping to protect all the fruit trees.  The result was 1.3kg of cherries off one tree and 1.5kg off the other (this bowlfull). I reckon that with the cost of watering, fertilising plus the netting and piping each kilo has cost us about $150!  But they are very tasty.

11 December 2014

First tomato

I noticed this ripe on one of our tomato plants a couple of days ago.  I suppose it's an indication of the warmer than average weather we've been experiencing which is not a good omen for the coming summer.  The creek by our place stopped flowing at the beginning of December.  In previous years that hasn't happened until January.

29 November 2014

Ringtail Possum in drey

Ringtail possums (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) build scrappy looking nests called "dreys" in trees and the dreys are often communal, housing a family of ringtails.  This one has built its drey in a large prunus.  Ringtails are very fond of young leaves (especially myrtaceae such as eucalypts, lilly pillies, melaleucas) as well as flowers and fruit.  You need to net fruit trees and even seedlings in garden beds as possums can be very destructive (especially brushtails which are heavier than ringtails so their weight can damage thin branches).

19 November 2014

Christmas cactus?

This "zygocactus" is called Easter cactus in the northern hemisphere where it flowers in the Spring and summer months.  But in Australia where the spring and summer occur around Christmas it's called Christmas cactus. It's a Rhipsalidopsis  whereas most "zygocacti" are now classified under Schlumbergera.  Zygocactus has had no botanical validity since 1953 (although many nurseries have sold these epiphytic plants under the name zygocactus since 1953, probably because they had the labels printed and didn't want to trash them).  Whatever, it provides a lot of colour.

17 November 2014

Grey Fantail nest

Of all the fantails, the Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa) is known to be the most inquisitive and most likely to fly close to humans.  That's certainly my experience.  They particularly like it when you turn over a compost heap and they'll zip around getting insects.  There's been a couple of Grey Fantails flying around the garden lately and I thought they must be nesting in a neighbour's trees.  In a way I was right.  I discovered this nest today about two metres off the ground in a Pittosporum undulatum growing over our fence in a part of the garden seldom frequented by human traffic.  Grey Fantails are renowned for their "wine glass" nests and this one has been exquisitely put together with grass interleaved and the outside of the nest covered with spider webs.

09 November 2014

Bees love poppies!

Poppy flowers don't always last a long time but there are usually many plants and some have multistems with flowers on each. And the bees love the flowers!

02 November 2014

Callistemon (bottlebrush)

This bottlebrush was planted in the garden by a previous owner but it looks to me like Callistemon 'Kings Park Special' which is a variety that arose as a seedling in the Kings Park Botanic Gardens in West Australia.  It's thought to be a cross between C. viminalis and C. citrinus.  Like most bottlebrushes it can be cut back quite severely after flowering and will usually spring back with new growth and more flowers the following year.  Most bottlebrushes are drought hardy but can withstand periods of flooding.  From experience this variety needs plenty of sun to get it to flower.

26 October 2014


Donated by a neighbour a couple of years ago so I'm not sure what variety it is.

25 October 2014


Most of the Irises that flower in the garden are a bluey-purple colour but these provide a pleasant change - a more reddish purple and an apricot.

15 October 2014

Melaleuca elliptica (Granite Honey Myrtle)

Melaleuca elliptica, from West Australia, grows up to 4 metres but can be pruned to smaller dimensions as it can get straggly otherwise.  Pruning also helps the flower display as flowers often grow on old wood so they can be partly hidden by new growth.  The flowers start off a deep red/scarlet colour but tend to end up a pale pink colour.  The bark is quite flaky which gives the plant an interesting, gnarled look.  It grows best in full sun and, apparently, is tolerant of sea spray.

06 October 2014

Lomandra hystrix in flower

The Lomandra genus is classified in (of all things) the Asparagaceae family and there are 51 species, all of them native to Australia (two also extend to New Guinea and New Caledonia).  Lomandra hystrix originates from the east coast of Australia (from Northern Queensland to Taree in NSW).  It grows along creeks and is tolerant of shade.  Many Lomandras have fragrant flowers although I didn't notice much scent from this one.

There are some other delightful small Lomandras, native to South Australia (Lomandra nana and Lomandra fibrata or Mt Lofty Matrush), which are rare but which ought to be in cultivation as they are small tufted plants with soft foliage (unlike their larger siblings) which would suit small gardens as well as bush gardens.  They also provide an important habitat to some native butterflies.

30 September 2014

Spring flowers

Spring when there's usually an abundance of flowers.  Here's a few from the garden.  The first two are camellias which were planted in the garden by previous owners so I can't say what varieties they are as there were no plant names attached to them.  But they can produce such perfect looking flowers.

The Dutch Iris look spectacular in spring with an intense blue whilst the brilliant Clivia flowers provide colour in a dry shaded area.  Incidentally Clivia was named after Charlotte Clive so, strictly it should be pronounced Clive-ia rather than with the more common short "i".


Dutch Iris


26 September 2014

New Growth on Lillypilly (Syzygium smithii)

My mother planted one of these in the 1950s.  In those days it was classified in the Eugenia family as Eugenia smithii.  Later it was renamed Acmena smithii and it's now classified as Syzygium smithii. It's reasonably common in older gardens around Adelaide, recognizable by its purple edible (but quite tasteless) berries.

The particular plant in the photo was one I grew from seed some years ago. It's one of many planted along a fence line but this one must be just far enough away to not get continually "pruned" by the ring-tail possums which love the new leaves of many Myrtaceae.

There are now many Syzygium cultivars sold in nurseries and this particular variety seems to have fallen out of favour but it's an attractive dense tree that holds its foliage almost down to ground level.  It can be slow growing but eventually it reaches to about 4 or 5 metres although it can be trimmed and grown as a large hedge which can look quite stunning with coppery new growth like this in Spring.

24 September 2014

Koala napping

This little lad (I know he's a male because he announced himself with the typical male koala bellow the other day) has been hanging around in the huge River Red Gum over the carport.  I think he's the baby that was being carried by his mother last year.  There was another larger koala in the same tree until last night so I think that was his mother who appears now to have said her goodbyes to him.  He doesn't seem too worried, just lying around sleeping most of the time, chewing a few leaves occasionally and bombing the carport with eucalyptus drops on a regular basis.

It's amazing how koalas can sleep on branches and not fall.  In this photo he's clearly holding on with a front paw and a back paw but a little later even those paws were hanging down - completely relaxed!

12 September 2014

Spring blossom

This Satsuma plum is only in its second season but it has amazing blossom on it.  Hopefully delicious plums will follow.  That's its pollinator, a Santa Rosa plum, at the back on the right and the pink blossom on the left is on a Goldmine nectarine.  Now if we can only keep the birds, possums and rats away!

09 September 2014

Late night visitor

Just as I was off to bed last night I saw that there was a visitor at the front door!   It didn't appear to be the least interested in the insect near its right hand.

08 September 2014

Philotheca myoporoides (Native Daphne or Long-leaf Wax Flower)

Philotheca myoporoides (which used to be named Eriostemon myoporoides) is an easy care Australian plant that provides a pleasant bloom of small white flowers in late winter and early spring.  It also has fragrant leaves.  It grows naturally along the eastern coast of Australia and in cultivation it seems to prefer dappled shade so it's quite useful for providing some interest in shady parts of the garden.  Of course, with all those flowers at this time of year, bees love it!

This one has grown to about a metre and seems to have stayed at that height for now but I've seen much larger individual plants as well as mass plantings trimmed as hedges.  It's quite easy to grow from cuttings although they might take a while to take root.  There are also some cultivars that have larger flowers.

07 September 2014

First spring ladybird

We noticed the first ladybird of the season in the garden today.  It's just waiting to chew up those aphids that are certain to develop as spring progresses.

01 September 2014

Kookaburra in mulberry

Happy Spring!  This kookaburra was banging something against a branch in the mulberry tree and trying to eat whatever it was.  It swallowed most of it and flew off.  I went to investigate what it was eating and found a yabbie claw on the ground under the tree.  Just then the kookaburra flew back with a very proprietorial look on its face. "Where's the rest of my yabbie?"

The light was fading so the photo is a little grainy.

30 August 2014

Grevillea rhyolitica subspecies semivestita

Grevillea rhyolitica subspecies semivestita, which is often sold as Grevillea 'Deua Flame', is a compact small shrub which has the desirable characteristic of flowering almost continuously, especially through winter.  As such, it's extremely attractive to honey eaters, particularly Eastern spinebills which can often be seen fluttering at one or other of the many flowers for nectar.  It grows in full sun to part shade and is frost and coastal hardy. It has adapted to soil with low fertility so it doesn't need to be fertilised (and it should never be fertilised with a general purpose fertiliser).  It can be grown from cuttings derived from regular trimming to keep it compact and to stimulate flowering.

28 August 2014

Ceratonia siliqua "Clifford"

Carob (Ceratonia siliqua) grows really well in South Australia's Mediterranean to arid climate. Commercial plantations as far apart as the Mid-North and the South Coast give some indication of how hardy and adaptable a tree it is in low rainfall but sometimes frosty environments. Large trees can still be found throughout South Australia in parks, older large private and school gardens, botanic gardens and the Waite Arboretum (where a particularly old tree with branches down to ground level provides a hideaway for children and romantic encounters alike!).

A member of the Legume family, Carob pods (which can be eaten raw from the tree) are harvested for "chocolate substitute" products whilst the seeds are harvested commercially to make a thickening agent.  Ceratonia siliqua is generally dioecious (meaning you need a male and a female tree) but "Clifford" is an hermaphrodite variety so it's suitable for gardens which cannot accommodate two carob trees.  This tree is quite young (planted about a year ago) but it has already flowered and is forming pods although they might not come to anything given the immaturity of the tree at present.

27 August 2014

Correa reflexa var. scabridula

This South Australian correa is a low shrub with attractive largish flowers which appear later in the season (winter/spring) than many other correas (autumn/winter).  So it keeps a supply of nectar going for small honeyeaters until the spring flush of other flowering plants.  This is only a new plant but it has flowered in its first year which seems to be a characteristic of many correas.  Correa reflexa var. scabridula occurs naturally on the eastern side of the Mount Lofty ranges and into the mallee so it can survive in a low rainfall environment and, accordingly to the label, it's frost resistant and not too fussy about soil type.

26 August 2014

Correa baeuerlenii (Chef's Cap Correa)

It's easy to see why Correa baeuerlenii is called Chef's Cap Correa with its flattened calyx atop its yellow/green flower having the appearance of a chef's cap!  With its shiny leaves and reddish stems it grows into a small shrub up to 2 metres but can be trimmed to keep it smaller.  It seems to grow best in a well mulched and shaded position. Correa baeuerlenii originates from the Bateman's Bay/Bega areas of NSW.

25 August 2014

Correa reflexa "Mallee Pixie"

Just when almost all the other correas in the garden have stopped flowering for this year, this ground cover appears as a late winter bloomer.  The photo makes it look larger than it actually is.  Interestingly, a Correa baeuerlenii (Chef's Cap Correa) and a Correa "Ivory Bells" had both finished flowering but each has come back into flower again with one flower each!  A last blush before spring.

19 August 2014

10 August 2014

08 August 2014

Almond blossom

In the midst of bare winter branches the first almond blossom appears!

03 August 2014

Frozen birdbath

It was cold enough overnight to freeze the water in one of our birdbaths.  That's probably not surprising in winter in some parts of the world but it's not a frequent occurrence here (and according to some locals it used to happen more frequently in winter than it does now).

01 August 2014

Ring Ring

This poor little thing isn't a large rat but a very bedraggled ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) which was suffering from the cold and wet overnight and trying to find a warm spot to have a nap.  It's highly unusual to see a ringtail awake during the day and certainly not at waist height in a small bush so he/she must really have been suffering.  Possums are protected animals even though they do a great deal of damage to gardens (this little one was munching on the new leaves on a lilly pilly that I'm hoping will one day grow large - when it stops getting pruned by possums!!).  Anyway, a little later it had curled up in the same bush trying to sleep but later still it was gone.  It's even colder this evening than this morning so I hope it survives.

06 July 2014

Correa "Royal Blush"

This is another natural correa hybrid whose parents are thought to be Correa alba var. alba and Correa reflexa var. scabridula.  Correa "Royal Blush" is a ground cover with an attractive large flower and aromatic leaves.  It's quite useful for rockeries and for filling spaces in the garden.

04 July 2014

Rosemary flowers

Once upon a time the only garden rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) was an upright small shrub with pale blue flowers but over time different forms (prostrate) and flower colours have been introduced.  Here's pink and a "Tuscan blue" flowering rosemary bushes side by side.

02 July 2014

Correa 'Redex'

Correa 'Redex' is a South Australian natural hybrid found on Kangaroo Island.  Its parents are thought to be Correa reflexa and Correa decumbens and "Redex" is derived from these species' names (the 're' and 'x' from reflexa and the 'de' from decumbens!).  It's not derived from the motoring products brand name.  Some Correa enthusiasts tried to re-register the plant as Correa "Dancing Lipsticks" but this was rejected by the Australian registration authority as Correa "redex" was a prior name.

Correa 'Redex" grows to about 2 metres tall and can fill spaces between other shrubs or trees as it tends not to spread like many other correas.  It's frost and drought hardy.

01 July 2014

Alyogyne huegelii

It's pleasing to see Alyogyne huegelii (Native Hibiscus) in flower at this time of year.  There are a number of Alyogyne cultivars in nurseries these days but the genus in the wild occurs almost exclusively in Western Australia or South Australia.  Although it grows in arid or low rainfall conditions naturally, Alyogyne huegelii seems quite adaptable to heavier, wetter soils and doesn't even seem to mind partial shade.  It fills a spot in gardens with bright flowers in mid winter.

30 June 2014

Angiopteris evecta

Angiopteris evecta (also known as King fern or Giant fern) was thought to be extinct in the wild in NSW until a single plant was discovered in 1978.  It can also be found growing in rainforests in Queensland.  Angiopteris is considered to be a primitive species which goes back to the ancient Gondwana flora. This specimen can be found in the Bicentennial Conservatory in Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

And this is the Conservatory from the outside!

28 June 2014

Simpson Shadehouse

Here are three photos taken on Monday (23 June) from the entrance to the Simpson Shadehouse in the Adelaide Botanic Garden.  Interestingly the Staghorns (Platycerium superbum) that used to hang on the internal walls of the shadehouse have all been moved outside to the southern wall of the shadehouse (facing away from the sun).  They are visible in the photo accompanying this post.