Sydney Garden Designer Michael Cooke - Michael Cooke Garden Design

Cooler days = time to get out in the garden

At last the summer heat is behind us, and after the recent rain the garden couldn’t have a broader smile. There’s a fat Camellia sasanqua `Yuletide’ outside the studio by the driveway and I walk past it many times each day and it’s not only it’s clear red colour and golden stamens that make please me it’s the fragrance. The scent of Camellia sasanqua is underrated; there’s special kind of earthiness that cuts through the sweetness making it absolutely unique, and I admire the deep green evergreen foliage.

The cooler days are perfect for pottering about and I’m moving plants to new positions in the garden where I hope they will look and do better next season. As the garden matures there’s less sun – and things that once thrived like the Lilium `Black Beauty’ outside the bedroom window aren’t performing and I need to find somewhere now sunnier. I have been shovelling barrows of muck from the chook cage to mulch precious plants that need a boost and this gives me a satisfaction that’s out of proportion with the process itself.

Salvias too are hitting their straps, and almost every one is in bloom which delights the bees and also small birds like the Eastern Spinebills which feed on the flower nectar. It always surprise me when the jonquils begin to open, and later this afternoon I will pick a bunch that will fill the house with their heady sweet smell.

This is the season when the ornamental grasses really shine and last winter I ordered boxes full of unfamiliar varieties to trial. I never recommend plants in our designs that I don’t know first hand so I’m always on the lookout for plants I haven’t grown before and last winter one of the plants I purchased was Miscanthus nepalensis and I think that this one will have merit. I have grown it in an area which is less that hospitable and considering this I’m happy with it’s golden tassels, and in a few more years it may find a way into our designs.




Camellia sasanqua `Yuletide’



Salvia `Anthony Parker’



Miscanthus nepalensis