Pretty and petite



Some flowers have a special, soft charm all their own, says Judith Sleijpen.

Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium pulcherrimum ‘Lambrook Mauve’) was originally found in a garden in Somerset, England, called Lambrook Manor. Its common name is derived from its ornamental, fern-like leaves, said to resemble the ladder mentioned in the Bible that led Jacob to heaven.

This delightful perennial grows to a height of about 25 centimetres and spreads up to 50cm wide. From early spring to late autumn, it displays pretty, cup-shaped,
mauve flowers.

‘Lambrook Mauve’ prefers to grow in a partly shaded spot in organic-enriched,
well-draining soil. It adds colour to low light areas and combines well in mixed perennial borders with plantings of Granny’s Bonnet (Aquilega vulgaris) and Blue Bugle (Ajuga reptans).

Low maintenance and easy to grow, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ appreciates a good soak during extended periods of heat and an application of slow release fertiliser in spring to encourage healthy growth.

Top Gardening Tips for December

  • Add an Australian flavour to your Christmas and decorate a potted, topiarised, Lilly Pilly. Keep the tree near an open door in good light and make sure it is well watered. Gradually return it to a sunny position after Christmas and with an occasional trim, you’ll be able to enjoy it year after year.
  • Brighten up the entrance to your home and entertaining area with some “instant colour”. Select pots of petunias, salvias, alyssum or marigolds for sunny spots or impatiens, begonias, and coleus for shade.
  • Pot up some herbs for some last-minute gift ideas. Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme are not only fragrant in the garden but have culinary uses as well.
  • Check the condition of your garden furniture before entertaining outdoors and make sure there aren’t any spider webs lurking in odd places. If you have a water feature, pond or birdbath, make sure it’s sparking clean and, for a special effect, float a few blossoms in the water during the day and some candles in the evening.
  • Give yourself and your garden a special treat. Add some interesting plants or accessories - a statue or a large, stylish container can make an interesting focal point.

What’s on?

Become a Friend of the Royal Botanic Gardens: Among other benefits, ‘friends’
receive a quarterly magazine packed with interesting articles on plants and gardens as well as generous discounts at various activities and functions. For more information, contact

Become a Bushcare volunteer: Northern Beaches Council partners with local residents to preserve and maintain our natural bushland. Volunteers need no experience and there are activities to suit all levels of fitness. Tools and guidance as well as morning and afternoon tea are provided. For more information, contact the Bushcare team at

Judith Sleijpen is an experienced horticulturist, columnist, and garden designer, advising clients on all aspects of their gardens. For more information phone 9907 6460.

Judith Sleijpen, Contributor, Peninsula Living Magazine

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