10 November, 2010

Now and Then

Please click here to be redirected to my new site.


Every garden blogger right now is blogging about the autumn colour, and why wouldn’t they when it looks this good. Above is the drive into Urban Jungle plant nursery where I have worked since the spring. The large bunches of bright white berries on the Cordyline australis, Silver Birch bark (Betula pendula) and autumn leaves illuminated by low evening sun. I noticed through the season that red leaved Acers seem by far the most popular choice. Those with innocuous, plane green leaves sit almost unnoticed. It’s only with the cooling, shortening days that these plane green cultivars, like Acer palmatum ‘Japanese Sunrise’ (bellow) come into their own, putting on a brief but spectacular display. And spectacular it is!

This time of year the nursery seems quite bare. Being a specialist in exotics, only the most robust specimens, clipped, top-dressed and stood in ranks, remain outside for the winter’s onslaught. In the bubble-wrapped greenhouses it couldn’t be more different. When customers say they haven’t got room for another plant they should take a look in any exotic plant enthusiast’s greenhouse in the winter. Bellow is one of the heated greenhouses stuffed to the gunnels, Liz, one of the nurseries owners, fighting her way through the foliage and me inspecting an angles trumpet (Brugmansia ‘Aurea’) oblivious to what’s going on around it and flowering its heart out regardless.

The jewel in the crown of the nursery is the show garden, where we went all out this spring to show just how exuberant exotic plantings can be. The growth and atmosphere surpassed all our expectations. If you were to visit the garden today in mid November you’d be confronted by something that resembles the surface of the moon spliced with the aftermath of a category five hurricane. We obsess over weather forecasts trying to guess when the first frosts will come. A call has to be made and the plants must be cut down in their prime. Today we lifted the last tender plants to Liz’s great relief as I leave in only a few days. Now we can rest assure knowing we beat Jack Frost this year.

The following pictures are a look back throughout the summer capturing the garden at its peak. This is what makes all the digging, potting and hauling worth it.

Top left: Hedychium 'Tara'
Top right: Ornamental gourd
Middle left: Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'
Middle right: Brugmansia 'Aurea' and Canna 'Wyoming'
Bottom left: Dahlia, Nasturtium leaves and Canna 'Durban'
Bottom right: Dalia 'Chimborhiza'


  1. Great writing on my favorite topics! I can't wait to read about your adventures abroad, and I'll be sure to share this on my blog soon.

  2. I can't imagine uprooting myself or my garden for long... thank you for offering up the photos so I can live vicariously! I know what you mean about no more room in the inn for an exotic plant enthusiast's greenhouse. Sometimes I've had kitchen windows crowded just as badly with potted citrus and tender houseplants.

  3. Ta! It's allways a strugle, good job Will Giles has provided me with a more than sufficient gardening fix, and right upto the last minute too.

  4. Now after reading most of your posts here, i am beginning to know what you do, maybe it's time to see the links you provided front page. But i really love your travelling style. I love this blog, so i signed in the following box and put the link in mine. Thank you, it is inspiring. However, the number of man-hours spent in gardening and then setting them off again as winter is approaching seem so depressing for me. In this country, plants are just left them on their own through the years and they will always give you the beauty they are created for!