Like most people, I have a  garden full of plants given to me by friends and neighbours.  They are all very special.

Some years ago I went on an outing to the home of the late Laurel Phillips, a life-member of our local garden club at Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains.  I was enchanted with some tiny blue flowers spilling over a retaining wall.  Laurel  told me the plant was called Lithodora, and gave me some pieces to propagate. However, I failed miserably.

Laurel Phillips of Blackheath
Laurel Phillips 1917 – 2017

Now I suspect dear Laurel knew I wasn’t an expert. She had quietly taken some cuttings herself and potted them up for me.  At the garden club meeting a few months later she presented me with two flourishing plants; a deep blue flowering one, and the gorgeous blue and white striped variety that had originally caught my eye. The striped one reminds me of piped icing sugar flowers on wedding cakes;

Lithodora flowers.
Fit for a festive cake.
Lithodora flowers.
So pretty among the daisies.

They have done really well and are such a delightful reminder of Laurel.  I have them spilling over a wall, just as she did.  They like an acid, free draining soil in sun to part shade.

Deep blue Lithodora.
Lithodora and groundcover grevillea.
Spilling down a bank below groundcover grevillea.

The flowers make such sweet little posies for my bedside table or the window sill;

Window sill posy
An enduring memory of Laurel.

There is only one ‘problem’ with Lithodora. The blue obsessed satin bowerbirds steal the flowers for their bowers.

Adult male bowerbird
I’ll take these thanks Pauline

The green juvenile ‘apprentice’ grabs as many as he can;

Satin bowerbird stealing flowers
Couldn’t fit much more in!

Oh yes, and the crimson rosellas love them too. Just as well there are enough for us all. Honestly, how could I be annoyed at the sight of these colourful bandits?

Crimson rosellas eating lithodora blooms.
We’ll take some too.

Thanks so much Laurel, on behalf of me and the birds. I’m sure you had no idea how much pleasure your gift would bring.

Laurel Phillips lived in Blackheath for 80 years. She was a tireless worker  for virtually  every village community group, including the Red Cross and the CWA. In 2002, as the sole surviving member of the original Rhododendron Festival Committee, she was given the honour of planting the first rhododendron bush in Sutton Park. The plantings commemorated the 50th anniversary of the festival.  Laurel died a month after celebrating her 100th birthday. She is greatly missed and remembered with love.

  1. Older friends like Laurel are so precious. We learn so much from them, and they leave behind their gifts of plants and memories when they are no longer here.

    • Pauline

      I so agree Marcia. Everywhere I walk in the garden there are reminders of dear friends, relatives and neighbours. Will make it so hard to ever leave here.

  2. My garden’s the same. I have several plants that originated from my grandparents garden in Gloucestershire. Wherever I go, a cutting or root of those plants come with me.

  3. What a lovely tribute to Laurel as well as all the others who have given you some of their Gardens. And you are now sharing yours with us. Thank you.

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