Every spring I marvel at the beauty of so many spring-flowering shrubs that originate from exotic locations.
Living in the Perth Hills I'm lucky to be able to grow plants that originate from colder climates as well as those from the tropics.
A classic example is the five cherry trees growing around two mangoes. These five-year-old trees produce 10-15kg of cherries a year and while that's not enough to get an orchardist out of bed, an avid gardener like me is thrilled.
Match that enthusiasm against the fact that while harvesting cherries I am watching the fruit set carefully on my Kensington Pride mango trees, which in April will deliver 200 or so 700g to 1kg juicy mangoes.
I don't know anywhere else in the world where home gardeners enjoy such diversity.
The same goes for the flowering superstars of gardens from around the world.
These are just a few of the terrific spring-flowering garden highlights you will find around WA this time of the year:
Rhododendrons are a classic example of a plant that the experts say won't grow here, yet every year around this time there are some amazing examples of these natives of China blooming.
In my street there are at least 50-100 bursting into bloom and as they start to reach their full height as a mature shrub of 8-10m, they are smothered in huge flowers that are often fragrant.
2. DECIDUOUS MAGNOLIA
Another cooler-climate small tree I just love is the deciduous magnolia or tulip tree.
Magnolias are another plant originating from China and modern hybrids do exceptionally well in WA when grown in a slightly acidic soil (6-6.5pH) and protected from drying breezes.
The simple beauty of these plants cannot be underestimated and most varieties have fragrant flowers.
Many garden centres stock magnolias but it's a good idea to pre-order some of the more impressive forms such as the highly sought-after "black tulip" with its almost black flowers and heavenly fragrance.
3. JAPANESE MAPLE
Japanese maples always look amazing at this time of the year as they burst into stunning new growth but there is a particular variety I love because its branches are also coloured.
The coral-coloured branches of the coral bark maple or Acer palmatum Sango kaku make a great feature in winter but when it bursts into leaf growth in spring it looks truly incredible. Come autumn and the reds of the foliage are equally dazzling.
Garden Elegance in Subiaco is a great source for many maple varieties.
A far more common plant but equally beautiful in my mind is the geranium.
The variegated climbing geranium has gorgeous foliage and does well added to a mixed planter. The flowers are not significant in my view but the foliage is a year-round attraction.
Another geranium of similar status is the zonal geranium with its golden foliage and red circular pattern in each leaf. The flowers are nice but the foliage is a wonderful foil against other foliage and flower colours and textures.
Both are hardy, easy to grow from cuttings and difficult to find in garden centres as they are considered such a common plant.
Spring means bulbs and while traditional ones like daffodils and tulips are not truly suited to our environment, Lachenalias, which originate from southern Africa and are commonly known as soldier boys, do exceptionally well here and don't require chilling to flower each year.
They are looking amazing around many Hills gardens and keeping them contained by growing them in pots or raised garden beds will produce stunning flower displays.
6. ABUTILON OR CHINESE LANTERN
Abutilons or Chinese lanterns produce beautiful and quite delicate displays each spring and well into summer, sometimes all year round.
The lantern-like flowers droop and come in shades of yellow and red and most often are at least bicolour.
They are incredibly drought- hardy and so easy to grow.
Don't buy plants unless you're looking for specific varieties - they grow easily from cuttings.
Magnolia Fairy Cream and Blush are two relatively new releases but their long-term benefits as screening plants will only become apparent in future years as they look scraggly in pots, which belies the true potential value these flower-making machines bring to a garden.
Give them a good water supply and they will grow quickly into a remarkable flowering machine.
Another magnolia that does really well in WA is the star magnolia or stellata forms. They have completely different flowers to the tulips and are produced in huge numbers before any foliage appears on their winter dormant stems.
As far as colour goes it's hard to beat statice. They look great in spring but really take over from annual spring flowering plants in early summer, producing flowers that can be harvested and dried.
A member of the plumbago family, they are probably one of the ultimate waterwise flowering plants, loving a sunny spot and deep sandy soils.
Euphorbias come in a huge range of shapes and forms but the forms of Euphorbia characias ssp. Wulfenii are probably one of the best you will ever get for Perth gardens.
Producing masses of green flower bracts, you can get variants of this species but they are all good for WA.
They are certainly harder to buy as you can't import them from the east and locally the best sources are cuttings from plants growing in your area.
When you grow them, break a stem off and let it dry for two days before planting in propagation mix. They will drop roots in no time and become a valuable waterwise plant.
Russelia has to be one of the most underestimated plants for Perth. Available commonly from garden centres, they are waterwise and hardy and, throughout spring and summer, produce mass flower displays that are as good as the best floriferous garden specimens you'll find.
They love deep sandy soils and watering once a week in summer is more than enough.