Empire Wholesale …much more than the usual cac & succ’s


Senicio talinoides ssp. cylindrica - Ice Sticks
Senicio talinoides ssp. cylindrica – Ice Sticks

Few other plant groups bring dynamic charge to a garden space more, than the super textural and foliage colour contrasts of plants with water storing succulence. 

Succulence, because of their water holding adaptions to places of semi arid climates and generally low humidity.  There’s just a few basic but important growing conditions that must be met, IF  the predominant climate in Sydney’s cool sub-tropics is to support them. That patch of converging sight lines for knock out year round interest can met using these very cool combinations.

Euphorbia caput-medusae - Medusa's Head
Euphorbia caput-medusae – Medusa’s Head (well excuse the weeds… no-one’s perfect)

These are very site specific plants and their weakest link is the perfect storm of winter shade combined with rain at that time of year or excessive irrigation that will prematurely rot them. So these beauties will only come between the cross hairs of your selection criteria, if the spot you’re considering receives full sun all day during the short June- August period. Add to this a fast draining sandy top soil, of only average fertility and a Texture Plot of hardy succ’s is tantalisingly close for your client’s delight …   

Aonium '
Aeonium ‘Ruby Lace’ dwarf compact habit
Aeonium - dwarf ground covering form
Aeonium – dwarf ground covering form

There is also an enduring approach to keeping your patch full …  as related to habitat in places like the Canary Islands, the Sth African Eastern Cape and arid and semi arid Mexico from which these plants come. Many like aeonium, crassula, sedum and senicio have ultra brittle leaves and or branchlets that can strike root systems where they fall from the mother plant.

Graptopetalum mendozae
Graptopetalum mendozae for tight, bunchy drifts between feature rocks

So you bumped your fave Grapto dragging the hose across the garden and a big bunch has just busted off ….just scratch the surface of a nearby vacant growing space and settle your snapped off ‘baby plant’ into the soil surface. An expanded repeat of that plant for a ‘louder’ textural impact will soon establish, to contrast with others adjacent. To be avoided, is a ‘donut’ regime will begin to develop, as your original plant expands ever further from it’s original planting location, making a ring surrounding a vacant centre.

Troy Southwood at Imperial Wholesale with many new spring babies
Troy Southwood at Imperial Wholesale with many new spring babies

The visionary talent behind Empire Wholesale’s vast expansion of offering is Master Propagator, Troy Southwood (formerly of Garden Gate Nursery with Wendy & Graham Twaddell) and the location is rear,  7 Moores Rd, Glenorie. Troy has planned some very tasty offerings for the new season including new alocasia, Dischidia ruscifolia and Pilea peperomioides  

Instagram Imperial Wholesale 

Troy Southwood troy@empirewholesale.com.au  

0403 970 398














Microbes Make Gardens Grow

At Islands in the Stream, compost worms feed microbes that new gardens need for plant growth. Vermiculturist Lee Fieldhouse has confirmed a deep suspicion I’ve always had, that my gardens were missing something during their early establishment. Some plant families like Rutacea (citrus, murraya) and Acanthacea (mackaya bella, ruellia) seemed especially affected showing persistent chlorosis well into the second year.

Cow paunch, you know you're standing in it
Cow paunch, you know you’re standing in it

Turns out the humble earth worm has a lot more to do with this than I ever knew. It appears their castings and spit are colonised by very specific microbes that contain chemical signatures unlocking nutrient gates to plant root systems. So no worms, no castings/spit, equals no or low microbes, means limited or no nutrient availability to plants. 


Designers necessarily import rather large quantities of “soil-less” component parts (sand, spent mushroom compost, ash, recycled sewerage waste and composted wood chip in one form or another) comprising imported mixes that pass for “dead” top soil, devoid of beneficial soil bacterium and fungus. 

This means nutrient is locked up from plants in new gardens, while we wonder why they sometimes fail to thrive despite slow release, organic nitrogen like manures and other goodies used at planting time.

Having used Lee’s odourless, fairly light weight worm processed, microbe enriched paunch with all new planting here at the “Sea-Changer”, I can attest the new garden has been far more robust and pest resistant than usual. The sterile mix I brought in to correct levels and plant in over underlying estuarine silt, is now bulging with worms where there were none and has lost the nasty anaerobic “stink” it had .. Used in another new garden at MacMasters Beach for Tania Wilson to equal effect, I’m now sold, BIGTIME.

Microbe enriched worm processed finished product
Lee grinning into microbe enriched worm processed finished product

Aside from bagged product, Lee also has a liquid form available soon, that I used at planting to bring root systems into instant contact with nutrient and as a foliar drench without a single loss to “plant shock” during heat wave conditions. This combination resulted in far less time for plants to “bite” into top soil at planting. 

Islands in The Stream – Lee Fieldhouse

66 Tea Tree Lane
Mitchells Island NSW 2430


0429 197 596





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