A tour of Janna’s home garden in Mosman

Janna Schreier's home garden

Crinum lilies with Loropetalum in the foreground in my Mosman garden

I have had the luxury of spending quite a bit of time in my own garden this Christmas and I thought I would share a few photos.  I have planted 50 new plants over the last fortnight, thanks to help from my wonderful parents who have been staying – my mum, who has far more resilience for digging holes in 30 degree heat than I do, and my dad, who somehow manages to pull large shrubs and small trees neatly out of the ground, upon request.

The first photo, above, shows the back of the garden, by the old gum tree.  Yes, we do have kookaburras sitting there, as the song goes, although this morning I spotted a group of galahs, all pink and fluffy! I thought they blended fabulously with the pink Crinum and burgundy Loropetalum!

Galah in Janna Schreier's garden

The gum tree is a favourite look out for many birds. Today we had a flock of galahs visiting

The shrub growing underneath the gum and wrapping around the trunk is Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis) – I can highly recommend this for a difficult, dry spot. We also have a couple of Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia) trees in this part of the garden; one white, one coral.  I adore their flowers.

Janna Schreier's home garden - from under the Brugmansia tree

In a shady section of the garden I uncovered a little pathway last week – irregular sandstone stepping stones winding around some trees – which had been completely covered over by years of leaf litter, now wonderful compost

In front of the coral one, you can just make out a Grevillea, with finer leaves.  This is Grevillea ‘Orange Marmalade’, a subtropical Grevillea, and one of my new plantings.

Grevillea 'Marmalade'

Subtropical Grevillea ‘Marmalade’, which I have just planted in my garden

I love the large, bright, subtropical Australianness of the flowers!  I have also planted lots of kangaroo paws; a group of yellow Anigozanthos ‘Bush Pioneer’, which give height and division without creating a solid boundary and a mixed group of A. ‘Ruby Velvet’ and A. ‘Amber Velvet’, in rich oranges and reds.

Another new plant I have put in is Protea ‘Little Prince’.

Protea 'Little Prince'

Protea ‘Little Prince’ provides great colour and texture contrast to many drought tolerant plants

Not a native, but it blends in wonderfully and gives a lush contrast with its large, bright green leaves.  My soil is very sandy, and whilst I add as much compost as I can to help with water and nutrient retention, choosing drought tolerant plants avoids me becoming a slave to watering.  It is very possible to have a low maintenance garden that still looks very green and lush, even with soils like these.

In a quiet section, near the cabana, we have a double tier birdbath.

Bird bath at Janna Schreier's home garden

The bird bath attracts a whole range of birds to the garden, providing water in a safe location, with shade from the Jacaranda tree above

We love to watch the birds here – mostly lorikeets, kookaburras and native mynah birds.  We have a permanent kookaburra nest in the Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis) at the back of us and it is particularly fun to see the young chicks learning to fly the short distance between the palm and gum tree each spring.

Lorikeets in Janna Schreier's garden

Lorikeets enjoying our bird bath!

Dietes irises are a real favourite of mine.  The photo below shows how the pure white flowers dance over the vertical foliage, just like little butterflies.  They are wonderful for a very narrow border, requiring the smallest patch of soil but branching out in every direction.  As long as they have sun, they will flower and flower all year round, particularly after rain, tolerating almost total neglect.

Dietes flowers float above the foliage like little butterflies

Floating butterflies of Dietes grandiflora underneath the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)

At the side of the house, we have a small water feature, which we look out on from the family room.  The sound of the waterfall is very relaxing and we enjoy watching the fish swim past.  Unfortunately, the kookaburras also enjoy the fish, but we have finally resigned ourselves to nature and take a visit to the aquarium shop a few times a year!

Formal pond with water plants

Formal pond and water feature with Cyperus, Nymphaea (water lily) and Thalia aquatic plants

The front of our house is south facing (which means north, to anyone in the northern hemisphere!) and although small, has a large crab apple, established Camellia and a huge brush box (Lophostemon confertus) street tree increasing shade levels.

Janna Schreier's home front garden

View of the front of our house from under the crab apple tree. Acanthus flower spikes and Asplenium ferns pop up above the Buxus hedges, catching the morning sun

I have therefore planted lots of shade loving plants; different ferns and philodendrons, hybrid clivias and Aspidistra, selecting species that can best cope with the dry conditions.  In the margins of the trees, where there is a little more light, I have planted for colour, with daylilies (Hemerocallis), Kniphofia and Crocosmia, all of which happily oblige in giving me flowers.  These are all shades of deep yellow and orange, tying in with the 1890s orange tiles on our front verandah.  The purple Liriope flowers and white Acanthus help soften the effect and bring the look into the 2010s.  It is really a subtropical take on a woodland garden.

Janna Schreier Front Garden-2

Low planting in a small bed under the Camellia. Buxus frames two sides with shorter Mondo grass alongside the two pathways. I love the way the light catches the Blechnum ‘Silver Lady’ fern. Yellow flowers of Hemerocallis, orange leaves of Philodendron ‘Imperial Gold’, purple hints of Ajuga reptans and Liriope feature alongside the wonderfully mottled, Heuchera ‘Marvellous Marble’

I will bring you more photos as the new plants grow and fill out, but for the time, wish me luck with the watering and newspaper tent provision for the new plants over the hottest parts of summer.  I know, I shouldn’t be planting now, but sometimes you just have to seize the only window of time you have seen in months!


I never tire of Agapanthus, especially the dark blue ones such as this, A. ‘Guilfoyle’. I have these spilling out of a pot on my patio; wonderfully drought hardy, bright green leaves all year and a splash of navy blue in summer – delightful!

8 thoughts on “A tour of Janna’s home garden in Mosman

  1. Louise Dutton says:

    Thanks for sharing your garden with us. It is lovely to see a garden designers garden. I have also planted two grevilleas knowing it is the wrong time. Sometimes avid gardeners just can’t resist, especially when you have some time! Having a very new garden, I really look forward to autumn…..watch out garden centres!

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thanks, Louise. I am glad it’s not just me! I had intended to get everything planted in early spring, but it didn’t quite happen. I am also looking forward to doing more when the weather cools down – roll on autumn!

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thank you! They are lovely, aren’t they? I actually ‘inherited’ them when we bought the house, so I don’t know which cultivar they are. I wonder if they may just be the species as it’s not readily identifiable as anything else. If anyone can tell me, I’d be interested to know!

      • Amelia says:

        What a great thing to inherit in a garden and they’ve been well positioned too. My new house only a dead mango tree! Do your maples grow well in Sydney over the summer? They look content. I’m in Brisbane and have some ornamental pear trees & liquidambars growing quite happily so I’m feeling more confident about experimenting with maples. Hopefully they don’t curl up their toes. Also thank you for responding

        • jannaschreier says:

          That’s a shame the previous owners weren’t too hot on planting trees. I have to say, I would avoid planting Japanese maples in Sydney again. I had them in Canberra and they were perfect, but in Sydney they were much less happy. I think it was partly the coastal breeze combined with sandy soil – they could dry out in a matter of hours and start to brown off at the edges of the leaves. Whilst Canberra is hotter in summer I had clay soil that retained water better (at least at tree root depth) and no drying wind – I’m not sure how your soil/’windiness’ compares to this. I also felt in Sydney they looked a bit odd in winter as they held on to dead leaves for many months, looking a bit messy in an otherwise very green garden. Let me know what you decide!

  2. Amelia says:

    Thank for taking the time to share so much information. I might with hold on the maples until I live in a state more further South. You’ve probably heard of it already but an anti transpirant spray like Drought Shield by Yates may help with leaf scorch on your maples. I live in a relatively breezy bayside suburb and I applied it on my pears over summer and they didn’t suffer any leaf scorch, maybe I was just lucky but it may be worth trying.
    Thanks again for your advice on the maples 🙂

    • jannaschreier says:

      I did buy some Drought Shield (thinking it would be good if we were away in summer) but never actually used it. I decided life was a bit short for this and planting the right plants was a lot more sensible. Sometimes it’s nice to put some plants in that you really love no matter how unsuitable they are though! I actually now live in London so I can start planting those maples again!

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