Saturday, 22 October 2016

Sweet Boronia for a Modern Garden


Fertiliser:Inorganic vs Organic
Did you know that farmers have used fertilisers on their crops for thousands of years?
In fact Egyptians, Romans, Babylonians, and early Germans are all recorded as using minerals and or manure to increase the productivity of their farms.
Organic Fertilisers photo M Cannon
But have you ever wondered how plants actually take up the fertiliser that you throw around on the soil?
After all the fertiliser is an actual solid mostly, so how does the plant use it?
Plus, is there a reason for being told to water in the fertiliser after you apply it?
Let’s find out . I'm talking with Penny Smith, horticultural scientist who specializes in soil science.

There are two groups of fertilisers: chemical based and organic based.
Organic fertilisers can be anything from processed green waste, to pelletised chicken manure and cow manure.
Pro's of organic fertilisers is that they contribute to a better soil structure in general.
Inorganic fertilisers are chemical based.
Inorganic fertilisers photo M Cannon
However, they need to be broken down by soil microbes before being available to the plant.
The pros of inorganics is that they are immediately available to the plant without the middle man soil microbes.
Fertilisers are after all minerals that must first dissolve in water so that the plant can absorb them through their roots.
So in effect, the plant has to be able to sort of drink up the fertiliser, before it gets transported up the stems and leaves.
You can catch up that segment by listening to the podcast


Heirloom Lettuce
LETTUCE is scientifically Lactuca sativa,
The Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) belongs to the daisy  or
Lettuce is great in salads, tacos, hamburgers, need I say more!
You might think it too boring to be a hero, but the earliest mention of lettuce in history is a carving on an Egyptian temple.
Did you know that Lettuce was considered an aphrodisiac in Egypt?
Not only that but ancient Greeks used lettuce as a medicinal plant to induce sleep?

Lettuce seedlings. photo M Cannon
So where did the first lettuce grow?
It’s thought to have started in the wild as a prickly lettuce, found as a weed in the Mediterranean.

Nothing beats the freshness of home grown lettuce but why should you grow heirloom varieties.?

  • Exceptional taste is the No. 1 reason many gardeners mention for choosing heirloom varieties.
  • Many heirloom vegetables have been saved for decades and even centuries because they are the best performers in home and market gardens.
  • Being transported to markets isn’t a main concern so taste always came first.
  • If you’re into saving seed, heirloom varieties are the only ones that produce viable seed.
  • Hybrid varieties only produce seed from one of the parent or sometimes the seed is sterile.
By the way, just how old does a cultivar have to be, to be an heirloom ?
Some authorities say heirloom vegetables are those introduced before 1951, when modern plant breeders introduced the first hybrids developed from inbred lines
So good reasons to grow heirloom veggies, but why grow heirloom lettuce?
What you mightn’t realise is that the flavour is lost in as little as 24 hours, and there’s no way supermarket lettuce is only 24 hours old.
So let’s go planting.
Lettuce can be planted all year round in all areas of Australia.
Having said that, in Arid districts, it might be a good idea to avoid the hottest months of the year, and in cool temperate districts, you might want to grow your lettuce in a greenhouse or undercover somewhere during winter.
But hang on, not all kinds of lettuce are created alike!
For all areas, planting or sowing in the spring and summer months, should only be the loose leaf types of lettuce.
Now’s the time to be planting
The hearting varieties are OK in the coolest months. (The upper temperature limit to grow heading lettuces is 28°C)
Summer is just too warm for the hearting types.
The most heat tolerant kinds of lettuce are the open leafed varieties (Looseleaf).
All the pretty fancy lettuces you see in the shops, the frilly and curly varieties, they are your lettuce varieties you need to grow.
What’s the best way to grow tasty lettuce?
Lettuces taste best when they are grown as fast as possible and for that they need lots of water and plant  food.

After that, Lettuces need good soil that’s light, free draining and rich in organic matter.
Ideally your soil should hold lots of water and lots of nitrogen and other nutrients.
Sandy soils need help from your compost bin or worm farm.
If you have clay soils, growing lettuce shouldn’t be a problem, as is growing them in pots.
Lettuce has shallow roots, so they dry out easily.
You must keep up a steady supply of water because any set back will at least, make them tough and bitter, at worst it will cause them to bolt to seed straight away without making any leaves for you!
So make sure they never get stressed (e.g. by forgetting to water them).
To sow lettuce seed, either spread the seed very thinly along a row and cover lightly with soil, or rake it in.
For all you balcony gardeners, any largish pot will do for 3 or 4 lettuce seedlings.
Lettuce seed is very fine so you’ll get a few clumps.

lettuce Freckles

Thin them out, you know the drill.
If the weather warms up in your district and your soil sandy, you will need to water daily.
Stick your finger in the soil if not sure.
By the way, lettuce seed doesn’t germinate that well at soil temperatures over 250C.  So if you are sowing it in a pot, keep the potting mix cool by putting it in light shade until the lettuce seed germinates.
TIP:If your lettuce grows slowly even though you’re giving them plenty of water, then they need more plant food.
Did you add organic compost, manures or worm castings to the veggie bed before you sowed the seed?
If you didn’t, then you need to supply extra nutrients, especially nitrogen. Some of the liquid fertilisers will do right now.
Some heirloom lettuce varieties for you to try are,
Lettuce Freckles-yep it’s freckly and it’s a butter lettuce as is Lettuce Tennis Ball.
Lettuce Amish Deer Tongue- Amazing two-in-one lettuce that can be cooked like spinach or used like lettuce, so you have a hot or cold vegetable to suit the season. Repeat harvest makes it a highly productive choice for space saving gardens.
Lettuce Crispmint is an outstanding variety with excellent flavour and crisp, minty green leaves.

Lettuce Grandpa Admire's

Seed Savers in the US have over 200 varieties of lettuce and rate this as one of their best.
Lettuce Grandpa Admires, is another heirloom with a bit of history.
 In 1977, Chloe Lowry made this family heirloom available to the world.
Named for her grandfather, an American Civil War veteran and custodian of this variety, Grandpa Admire's is a beautifully soft butter lettuce with bronze-tinged leaves.
It’s one of the slowest to bolt, making it the best choice to grow for summer salads.
So why is it good for you?
Lettuce is very good for digestion and promotes good liver function. It can reduce the risk of heart attacks and is good for healthy eyesight. It has good levels of Vitamin C, beta-carotene and fibre.
You won’t put on any weight eating Lettuce  because most varieties have over 90% water and are extremely low in calories.
Lettuce contain the sedative lactucarium (lactoo-caree um) which relaxes the nerves but not upsetting digestion.


Contemporary Garden Style part 1
This series is about garden styles and today it’s contemporary styles.
No, contemporary doesn’t mean astro turf, or concrete with a couple of plants in pots.

Contemporary or Modern Garden Photo M Cannon

Nor does it mean minimalist planting.
It also doesn’t mean you have to have a modern or contemporary house to have one of these types of gardens.
So what gives? Let’s find out what actually makes up a contemporary garden.
I'm talking with was Landscape Designer and consulting arborist Glenice Buck 

Angular lines, plants with architectural qualities, low maintenance are all the aspects of modern or contemporary style of garden.

Modern Garden photo M Cannon
Contemporary gardens usually have strong structural lines in their shape, they are used to make a statement or to be a focal point in the outdoor area.  They will vary in size and shape but the one thing all have in common is they use plants with strong form.  These plants may be short and spreading or tall and narrow but they will definitely stand out. 
So if you like architectural plants such as Draceanas and Yuccas, then maybe that’s the sort of garden you should plan.


Brown Boronia and hybrids, Boronia megastigma

This plant, Boronia megastigma or Brown Boronia, has a bit of a reputation for dropping dead soon after you brought it home.
Sure the intoxicating scent lured your to buy it in the first place and the mass of flowers seemed like a bouquet, ready made.
So what are the tips for hanging on to this plant?
So let’s find out. I'm talking with the plant panel:Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Boronia megastigma Lutea
Horticultural Notes:
Don’t let the plant dry out but don’t overwater it, especially in humid weather because this plant and many other Australian plants are prone to getting root rot fungus that loves moist warm soil.
Yes the flowers stems are great cut for your vase.
Brown Boronia doesn't always come in the colour brown.
There are a number of cultivars have been selected which have more attractively coloured flowers while retaining the fragrance. These include:
Lutea - yellow both internally and externally.
Chandleri - burgundy-red on the outside, yellow inside.
Harlequin - striped yellow and brown on the outside, yellow inside

The biggest tip is don’t expect your Boronia plant to last for more than a couple of years.
The other tip is dappled sunlight and not hot afternoon sun.
Mulching with gravel seems to help prevent root rot, but most importantly, well drained soil is essential.


Saturday, 15 October 2016

Grains of Paradise with Radishes


Quite a few hundred years ago pepper wasn’t so available so it was really expensive.
So what did spice merchants do to get the most out of this rare commodity?
They adulterated it with this Grains of Paradise, a particular spice that was considered inferior to pepper.
Now the tables have turned and this spice is the rare commodity and  it definitely isn’t used to bulk up your pepper corns.
Let’s find how to use it.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, owner of and author of the Herb and Spice bible.

The Grains of Paradise plant looks just like a Cardamom plant with those mid green strappy leaves. The main difference is that the flower stems are  hidden down inside the leaves.

Grains of Paradise plant
Grains of Paradise is still wild harvested and no commercial way of growing the plant has been formulated.
Although Ian recommends using Grains of Paradise in slow cooking, there are recipes on the web which suggest you can rub the ground grains onto your steaks, kebabs and fish before throwing them on the Barbie.
There’s even recipes which include the grains in marinades for vegetables, fish and chicken or in a lemon vinaigrette.
If you have any questions about Grains of Paradise or have some recipes to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


 Watermelon Radish Raphanus sativus acanthiformis.

Have you thought why we don’t see too many radishes being served up in salads these days except for the floral radish on the side?
Yes, they seem to have gone out of favour but that’s about to change
The word radish stems from the Roman word “Radix” that means “Root”, and it belongs to the mustard family.
Did you know that radishes were first grown in China thousands of years ago, then in Egypt before the building of the pyramids?
What’s more interesting is that in Ancient Greece the radish was so revered, that gold replicas were made and offered to the god Apollo.
Perhaps the Pandora people can make a gold radish to hang off their bracelets?
As usual there are myths and legends about eating vegetables throughout history and in England in the 1500’s,  it was rumoured that eating radishes cured kidney stones, intestinal worms and gave you a blemish-free complexion.
If only that were true.

Watermelon Radish
Today we’re concentrating on one particular type of radish although there are many types, and that is the watermelon radish.
Watermelon radishes are an heirloom variety of Daikon radish.
They’re a member of the mustard family, which includes arugula or rocket and turnip.
An interesting watermelon radish fact tells us that the Chinese word for these radishes is ShinRi-Mei, meaning “beauty in the heart.”
That name is because the inside of the radish is a lovely rose pink, much like the colour or watermelon flesh.
They’re also known as Misato, Asian Red Meat or Radish Rose Heart.
Their Latin name is Raphanus sativus acanthiformis.
What Does It Taste Like?
As to what watermelon radishes taste like, they have a milder, understated taste compared to other radish types and are a bit less peppery in flavour.
Unlike other radish types, the flavour actually mellows even further the more mature the radishes become.
Radish Watermelon You'll never see this one on the supermarket shelf.
When you slice through the bland looking white skin of this radish you’ll see that it looks like a mini watermelon with white 'rind' surrounding a bright pink interior;
Radish watermelon is delicious.
Note: This type of radish takes longer to mature; instead of 28 days , you’ll be waiting double that.
The unusual varieties are available through mail order seed companies such as Eden seeds  online.

Growing Radishes.
But there is more than one way to grow radishes.
Not only are radishes sown direct in to the vegetable garden, but radish seeds can be even grown in a sprouter and eaten just as you would eat mustard and cress or any other sprouted bean or seed.
When to sow.
Radishes grow in all climates and like to be in moist shady places, especially on hot summer days.
Plant them all year round in tropical and subtropical areas, in temperate zones they can be grown almost all year except winter, and in spring, summer, and autumn in colder districts.
Radishes are closely related to cabbages, so they need much the same type of thing.
The best thing about radishes though is that they’re quick, being ready 6-8 weeks after planting and because of that you can plant them among slower growing veggies like carrots.
TIP: Radishes will take light frost. And radish seeds can be sown directly into the garden when soil temps are above 40 C. but germinate best between 120-230 C.

To sow seed, make a shallow furrow (about 6mm deep,) lay down some chicken poo pellets or something similar, cover with a little soil and sprinkle in some radish seed. They also love a dose of potash.
You could also fill the furrow with compost or seed raising mix and water it in.
Important TIP: Seedlings will appear in a couple of days but makes sure you thin them out to 5cm apart otherwise your radish won’t grow into a big enough sized root for the dinner table and you’ll end up with mostly leaf.
Feed with a liquid fertiliser such as worm tea every week at the seedling stage.
Tip: As radish is one of the fastest growing vegetables, too much fertiliser causes the leaves to outgrow the root.
Long leaves have no shelf life, just look in your local supermarket
Add caption
Pick the radish when they are the size of a ten cent piece and leaves about or 10cm long.
Make sure radishes have enough water and don't let them become too enormous.
If they are water deprived or get too big, they can become bitter.
How to Cook with Watermelon Radish?
Radish flavour is best when they’re eaten raw.
Think radish and lentil salad or in pasta salad.
Tip: soak your radishes in iced water for a couple of hours for extra crispness.
You can also pickle those radishes or cook them by roasting or steaming and them mashing.
You’ll lose that pink colour  of watermelon radish though.
Why are they good for you?
Radishes are a very good source of fibre, vitamin C, folic acid and potassium, and a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese.
Radishes are also mildly anti-inflammatory, which is another good thing. A diet containing anti-inflammatory foods can help to control inflammation in the body, which is an underlying factor of so many allergies and illnesses.


This series is about garden styles which RWG has visited over the years with different designers.
Saying the words tropical garden style probably conjures up swaying palms, white sandy beaches, azure coloured ocean with a backdrop of tropical jungle?

Certainly there’s a water element, and a palm or two somewhere, but what else is there and can you go tropical in cool temperate districts?
Tropical Style Garden
All these questions are answered in the podcast. I'm talking with Landscape Designer and consulting arborist Glenice Buck

Tropical Styles in Garden Design
Large leaves immediately give you that tropical feel, and as for palms, be creative and go for more exotic palms like the Flame Thrower palm which grows a bright red new leaf.
Not all palms have to be tall.
You could perhaps choose the Walking Stick palm which grows to only 2-3 metres.
Whatever palm you choose, please don’t plant that weedy Cocos Palm whose leaves look like they been shredded by an eggbeater.


Hellobores, Helleborus x hybridus,

They’re a dependable addition to your garden with flowers that last for many months from late winter to early Spring.
They love the shade , they’re not weedy and they’re quietly beautiful.
You wouldn’t think these plants would be on a plant collector’s list but they are.
So what’s so good about them?

So let’s find out. I'm talking with the plant panel were Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Botanical Bite
The flowers have five petal-like sepals surrounding a ring of small, cup-like nectaries which are actually "petals" modified to hold nectar.
The sepals  remain on the plant, sometimes for many months.
Flowers colours range from apricot, yellows and greens through to soft and deep shades of pink, maroon and even deep, dark plums or slate greys and, of course, cream to crisp whites.
There's also spotted or picoteed (narrow band of colour on edge of petals) whilst others may feature double petals for a ruffled, romantic appearance.

Some say the secret to grow Hellebores is addling garden lime or dolomite.
Others say grow them under deciduous trees.
Lenten Rose is really only Helleborus orientalis, while those with a range of colours are hybrid Hellebores.
Wherever you grow them, grow lots of them, because that’s how they look best.


Saturday, 8 October 2016

From Paris Gardens to Sydney Rock Orchids


ladybird in search of aphid pests. photo M Cannon
Problem Solving That Pest Invasion.
Spring has well and truly sprung but what else is booming in your garden?
 Just when you’re not really looking to closely, some of the pest bugs are multiplying on a grand scale and before you know it, you’re fabulous garden has become a supermarket for mini-intruders who aim to make a meal of your flowers and leaves.
Let’s find out how to stem this invasion in the garden.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, General Manager of
PLAY: Spring Pest Watch_28th September 2016
White wax scale on citrus.
Everything from aphids, whitefly, scale, to fruit fly and caterpillars, are having a banquet at your expense until the good bugs can build up sufficient numbers to deal w
ith them.
Scale are pretty much invisible because they're very tiny and because they have legs at this stage of their lifecycle, they're called crawlers.

Fruit fly
You'll only realise you have scale when you see the next life cycle when they have created that waxy outer shell which is impervious to sprays.
So if you have had scale in the past on the plant year after year, then be pro-active and spray with botanical Eco Oil from eco organic garden's range.
It just goes to show that you can’t be complacent when it comes to gardening especially at the start of the warmer months.

You might think the cold weather knocked of most of your pests, but insects are resilient and they make up 60% of the world’s living things.
Did you know that there’s at least 6 million different species of insects in the world today and Australia has 220 thousand different species?
They are an amazingly diverse group of animals that have conquered almost every environment on earth and some of them benefit out gardens whilst others seem to enjoy them to our detriment.
If you have any questions about pests in your garden or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Cucumbers or Cucumis sativus..
Cucumbers just love the hot weather, so they’ll germinate and grow quickly at this time of the year.
Cucumbers are a member of the gourd or cucurbita family and have been grown for 4000 years!
Did you know that Cucumbers were widely eaten throughout Asia and Europe by the 6th and 7th centuries A.D?
Did cucumber start off in India?
No-one’s really sure although some sources point to somewhere in the lower Himalayas where the ancestor of the cucumber was probably a plant with 7 pairs of chromosomes and small, very bitter fruit.
Some pretty famous people have been known to be fans of cucumbers, even cucumber pickles.
Apart from just eating cucumbers they were also widely used as a source of several medicinal remedies .
They treated everything from bad eyesight, scared mice, and cured scorpion bites
Cucumbers photo M Cannon
According to legend, in Ancient Rome during the short reign of Emperor Tiberius (14 – 16 AD) he demanded to eat cucumber on every day of the year.
During summer special gardens were tended just for his vegetables, and in winter cucumber was grown on moveable bed frames that were moved to be exposed to the sun, or illuminated with the mirror-stones.
Cucumbers are the fastest and easiest of vegetables to grow so say some gardeners.
I would’ve thought radish, but maybe they’re a close second.
When is the best time to grow some cucumbers?
Cucumber plants do best in all types of temperate and tropical areas and generally need temperatures between 150-33°C.
Cucumbers are happiest when the average temperatures are around 210C
Sow the seeds of Cucumber in late Spring, say October and early Summer for cool temperate districts,
Spring and Summer for arid and temperate zones district

s, from August until March in sub-tropical areas.
Only the cooler months for tropical areas-so April until August unless you’re inland.
And where can you grow these delicious cucumbers?
You need to pick a sunny, well-drained spot, because Cucumbers are a subtropical plant, that needs full sun.
Cucumbers also want a decent amount of growing space in your garden.
If you’re short on space, try growing them up vertically on a trellis or even on some netting, perhaps a tomato trellis?
Greenhouse cucumbers photo M Cannon
In fact, growing up a trellis would be a great way to avoid all the mildews and moulds that cucumbers are prone to in still humid weather.
So Which Cucumber Should You Grow?
The list is pretty long but you have to decide between regular and burpless varieties to begin with.
Then do you want slicing, or pickling cucumbers?
After that, heirloom or greenhouse varieties.
The burpless varieties don’t need peeling which is an added bonus and would be the way to go if cucumbers repeat on you.
Pickling Cucumbers are shorter, stouter, and have a rougher outer skin, as well as drier flesh that allows them to soak up more of the brine they’re pickled in.
Obviously cucumbers for slicing need to be straight.
The ones you see in the supermarket are regular English cucumbers, usually long thin with a dark green skin.
Great for slicing, and not suitable for pickling.
Let’s start with cucumber “Sweet and Striped” that can grow to a metre long but it will curl.
Japanese Climbing, is flavoursome and the fruits are good for eating fresh or pickling. This one’s burpless.
Armenian cucumber
Ever heard of Armenian cucumber?
This cucumber is a pale almost limey green, it’s burpless with drier flesh so it can be stored up to one month.
Great for slicing or pickling.

Lemon Cucumber
My favourite is Cucumber 'Lemon'
'Lemon' is an apple type, heirloom variety, introduced in 1894.
The fruits are round, sweet and crisp with a thin yellow skin and white flesh.
It can be eaten like an apple and is easy to digest.
This cucumber is a good all-rounder because I can be used for salads, pickling and slicing.
For regular eating there’s Lebanese Cucumber 'Beit Alpha'
A Lebanese style of cucumber is thin-skinned, dark green, tender, and burpless.
This one can grow cucumber, up to 30 cm long.
If you pick it when it’s smaller, it has the best flavour whether pickled or fresh and is never bitter.
Lebanese cucumber vines bear early, are disease resistant and very productive
There’s also a number of dwarf varieties if you’d like to grow your cucumbers in pots.
Try Mini White- one of the most popular.
The 10cm long fruit and is best picked when young.
This one gives you lots of fruit per plant and it’s burpless  
Or you could try Cucumber Little Potato which as the colour or a potato or Kiwi fruit, with a zesty lemon burpless inner flesh.
Then there’s Cucumber 'Spacemaster'
'Spacemaster' is a bush variety, 90 cm across; suitable for growing in containers. Fruit is slender, dark green, 17 - 22 cm long with a crisp, sweet flavour.
It’s supposed to be disease resistant.
Good for salads or pickles, if picked young.
You’ll need to go to a seed mail order place for some of those, or if you’re in Adelaide or Melbourne, go to the shop in the Botanic Gardens.
The best thing is that Cucumbers aren’t picky about soils.
Parthenocarpic Cucumbers What?
Did you know that you can grow a seedless variety that doesn’t need pollination?
In fact, pollination creates an inferior fruit so these are best grown in a closed environment such as a greenhouse.
This type of plant is called parthenocarpic which is just the name of a plant that can produce fruit without pollination.
So what’s a cucumber plant that needs pollination called?
Gynoecious varieties have mostly or only female flowers ― the flowers that produce fruit ― and typically are earlier and have higher yields.
And do you get this information from seed packets?
No because most of the seeds you can buy are monoecious cucumbers which as male and female flowers.
Cucumber flowers photo M Cannon
In a monoecious cucumber ( nongynoecious cucumber) plant, the first 10–20 flowers are male and for every female flower 10–20 male flowers are produced.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen that information on the back of a cucumber seed packet?
However, do you find your Cucumber seeds sometimes don’t germinate?
They’re big seeds but if you’re raising them in punnets and the seed raising mix dries out, then the seed most like has dried up as well;
And if you keep it too wet, then the seed rots.
If this keeps happening, try using another type of seed raising mix, or even some good quality potting mix and try again.
What cucumbers like is soil that’s well-draining and has a pH of around 6.5.
Add in plenty of organic compost and fertilisers like chook poo or cow manure.
I’ve seen an idea where you make mini mounds, wet the soil first and then drop in 4 -5 seeds into the top of each mound.
Mulch the mounds so they don’t dry out but not too much or you’ll be wondering why nothing is germinating, that’s because the seed has rotted away.
When your seeds have germinated, pick out the strongest couple and throw away the others so you don’t get overcrowding.
When your cucumber has gotten going, water it regularly at the base of the plant, that way the leaves stay dry and you lessen the chances of the leaves getting the white powdery stuff growing on them, powdery mildew disease.
Cucumbers should be ready at about 50-60 days and picking fruit often stimulates more to start growing. Some of you probably have realised that if you pick your cucumbers when they’re quite small, this is when they’re at their sweetest.
Twist the cucumbers off the plant or cut the stalk just above the cucumber tip.
They keep for 7-10 days in the fridge then the start to look like something that came from outer space…green and slimy
Why are they good for you?
Cucumbers have lots of Vitamins C but why you should eat them is because the silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, you know, like muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone.
Cucumbers have some dietary fibre and Cucumber juice is often recommended as a source of silica to improve the complexion and health of the skin, plus cucumber's high water content makes it naturally hydrating—a must for glowing skin.
So eat them quick in sandwiches, salads or juice them for healthy glowing skin!



This series is about garden styles which RWG has visited over the years with different designers.
Have you ever wondered what makes up a formal garden style?
Palace of Versaille Garden photo M Cannon

Perhaps you like neat lines and clipped edges without too much fuss and frippery?
Can you have a formal style in your garden and how hard is it to maintain?
All these questions are answered and more so let’s not wait any longer.
I'm talking with Landscape Designer and consulting arborist Glenice Buck 
PLAY: Garden Styles_Formal garden_28th September 2016
A traditional formal garden is the most structured and rigid in their style. 
The designs are usually symmetrical in their layout and the number of species used is minimal.  The gardens tend to run in straight lines and form grid like patterns. 
The main axis’s of the gardens are formed by pathways (in grass or stone) that will stretch out across the site and where they intersect, a focal point such as a statue, a water feature or a urn will be placed.   I

Roden Garden Paris, photo M Cannon

t is usually the scale of these focal points which give the gardens a feeling of grandeur. 
The plantings in these balanced gardens are stylised into the orderly shapes of hedges in varying heights, avenues of trees and topiarised plants in all shapes and sizes. 
There you go, it seems that the formal style of garden isn’t that hard to maintain or establish.
Choose a plant for those hedges that suits your area then make borders with it.
Inside the borders grow anything from roses to peonies and voila’  instant formal style .


Sydney Rock Orchid; Dendrobium speciosum
There’s  many a garden that gets sucked into the vortex of admiration of orchid flowers.

Sydney Rock Orchid photo M Cannon
Orchid flowers are just so spectacular to look at but don’t they need a shade-house or green-house at least?
Not for this one and it’s one that you probably should have in your garden.
I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.
PLAY: Dendrobium_28th September_2016

The Sydney Rock Orchid or Dendrobium speciosum   is one of the worlds’ most underrated and exciting of orchids.
This rock orchid has the largest display and most spectacular shows of mass blooming of any known orchid.

Dendrobium speciosum photo M Cannon
The showy flowers grow in long racemes on straight or slowly arching, long, starchy stems with over 100 small sweetly fragrant flowers per stem from August to October.
Attach it to trees with some wire or twine and the root system will eventually attach itself, although this takes up to two years.
Extraordinarily tough, hardy and drought tolerant it should be one of the best cultivated plants ever!
Avoid frosts, unaccustomed hot sun, too much shade (make sure you can see a shadow when placing hand above foliage) and temperatures above 360 C if possible. .
Give D. speciosum needs plenty of food in the form of fertiliser.
Not just a spray with something once or twice a year, but a continuous regime of well balanced fertilising

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Green Tomatoes and Cottage Gardens


With a wingspan of up to 2.5m, and standing at least one metre tall, the Wedge-Tailed Eagle is the largest raptor in Australia.
A lanky bird, it hunts by flying up to 2 kilometres high, circling on thermal air currents for as long as 90 minutes and sailing out over the countryside, covering wide areas .
When flying, the wings have distinctive flight tips and its tail fanned and wedge shaped.
Let’s find more. I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons, Manager of

the Wedge-Tailed Eagle is found throughout Australia, including Tasmania and will aggressively defend their territory, even against drones.
Wedge Tailed Eagle
Earlier this century, when eagles were found on dead sheep and lambs, it was thought that they had killed them.
Bounties were paid to farmers for shooting them, (In one year in Queensland 10000 bounties were paid and between 1927-1968 in Western Australia another 150000.)
All that has stopped once people realized that the eagles usually attack only poor, dying or dead lambs and have little effect on the sheep industry. Today they are protected in all states.
If you have any questions about Wedge Tailed Eagles or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Aunty Ruby's Green
This segment won’t be complete without mentioning them at least once every year, because there’s always so much to be said about them.
Why? Because we just lover our summer tomatoes that taste better than the store bought ones, and once you get the conditions right, they’re relatively easy to grow.
There’s books written about them, they are prone to all sorts of pests and diseases, but every year, we plant them hoping for that ultimate crop.
tomatoes, or Lycopersicon esculentum.
Being in the Solanaceae family, they’re related to eggplants, capsicums, chillies and potatoes.
Tomatoes are botanically a fruit, or to be even more accurate a berry, because they are pulpy and have edible seeds.
Other botanical fruits classified as vegetables include squash, cucumbers, eggplants, and peppers.
The tomato is native to South and Central America, and the first tomato was thought to bear a yellow fruit and grown by the Aztecs.

Wild tomato plants are still found in the countries between Ecuador and Chile as well as on the Galapagos Islands, although only two have edible fruit.
Did you know that it’s thought that people were growing crops of tomatoes at least around 500 BC?
In the mid 1500’s, tomatoes were only grown amongst flowers in Italy.
They certainly weren’t eaten.
As late as the 18th century, physicians thought tomatoes caused appendicitis, and stomach cancer from tomato skins sticking to the lining of your stomach.
Europeans then refused to eat tomatoes because they were thought to be poisonous, and no-one was volunteering to be the first.
Why do a lot of store bought tomatoes have little taste?
The answer is because it’s a result of breeding tomatoes which ripen uniformly red.
This change occurred after discovery of a variety in the mid 20th century which ripened evenly, so was  then cross-bred  with just about every tomato variety, to produce attractive red fruit without the typical green ring surrounding the stem on uncross-bred varieties.
Before the introduction of this trait, tomatoes were able to produce more sugar during the process of ripening and were sweeter and tastier.
Usually, tomatoes turn red when ripe, but some varieties stay green.
These are the ones that we will concentrate on.
The usual concern or question is, how do you tell when green tomatoes are ripe?.
The colour green will change from a very bright green to a greeny-yellow tinge.
It’s a subtle change but once you’ve seen it you’ll know that it’s a reasonable difference.
If you’re still not sure how to tell if a green tomato is ripe and not just an unripe fruit,  close your eyes and feel it; if it's soft, it's ripe.
Some varieties for you to try are:

Green Zebra.
Green Zebra tomato
This is a very productive tomato, about 5 cm’s round that ripens to a beautiful amber gold with dark green zebra-like stripes over the amber background.
Inside, the flesh is a beautiful, sparkling green.
When those stripes appear, then you know the tomato is ripe.
Then there’s Aunty Ruby’s Green, is a luscious green big  sweet beefsteaks, bursting with a fragrant, complex, spicy-sweetness with a touch of tang.
Great for slicing.
A gorgeous green-when-ripe colour, this much sought after variety is a real treat to have in your garden, and is said to be the very best tasting green.
For the novice gardener this one you might need to tell by feel if it’s ripe though.
Green Grape tomato
Another favourite is Green Grape.
This one has an olive green skin, but is very sweet with a hint of lemon zest.
Last year it won the tomato taste test at the Botanic Gardens in Sydney.
A very compact plant ready to eat fruit in 10 – 12 weeks.
When to Grow Tomatoes?
There’s a tomato for every type of climatic condition and generally they’re a warm season fruit even though we call them vegetables.
In temperate climates you can plant them until December, hopefully some of you started them in early September to get the jump on fruit flies.
 In sub-tropical and tropical areas, this week it’s your turn to win, and yes, you can plant tomatoes all year round.
In cool temperate districts you have from October until December, and in Arid areas from August until March, so nearly all year.
What Do Tomatoes Like?
Tomatoes prefer full sun but if you live in very hot climates, you’ll get sun scald on your tomatoes, so afternoon shade of some sort is essential.
Growing tomatoes has to be in full sun at least 6 hours.
Tomato seeds can be planted into the ground as soon as the soil temperature reaches 200C.
For cool districts I recommend that you start your tomatoes off in punnets of some kind and place this in a plastic bag or mini-greenhouse.
Greenhouse tomatoes
Before your transplant your seedlings from the seed tray, and this applies to all seedlings, you need to harden them off.
That means taking them out of a protected environment and putting them into 50% shade for a few days.
TIP:When you plant your seedling, this is about the only plant I know that you pile the soil higher than it was in the pot-that way, it grows extra roots to support the plant.
At the same time, put in a tomato stake of some kind and sprinkle some Dolomite around the plant.
ANOTHER GOOD TIP is to put some hydrated or fluffed up water crystals in the bottom of the planting hole, especially if in your district it’s very hot during the day, that it’s sometimes hard to keep the water up to them.
They actually need lots of water to prevent a problem called “blossom end” rot, when they get a black bottom.
Which also means a lack of Calcium. But you put on the Dolomite didn’t you?.
Don’t crowd your tomato plants because they need good air circulation around them so that fungal diseases don’t take hold.
When your tomato plant has four trusses (or branches of flowers) nip out top of the plant. By this stage you should have plenty of fruits forming that need to grow and ripen.
You could do this mainly because you want the plant to put all its energy into these potentially succulent fruits. And…you don’t want it growing taller than you tomato stake and flopping all over the place.
Keep the soil moist by regular watering and using a mulch of some kind.
Once the flowers have formed, you need to feed weekly with tomato fertiliser or a general fertiliser but add a side dressing of sulphate of potash.
Tomato feed is very high in potash.
Be careful not to overfeed as this can lock up other elements in the soil / compost that the plants require.
HINT: tomato plants will only s
Homegrown tomatoes
et fruit if the temperatures don’t drop below 210C.

Did you know that a tomato picked at first sign of colour and ripened at room temperature will be just as tasty as one left to fully mature on the vine?
VERY IMPORTANT: Prune off the lower leaves to allow more light, improve air-circulation and prevent the build-up of diseases.
For some listeners, fruit fly will be a problem.
There are lures and preventative organic sprays that contain Spinosad.
 I intend to trail fruit fly exclusion bags. As soon as the fruits appear, on they go.
First the good news, there have been studies done which show that eating tomatoes lowers the risk of some cancers. Possibly because of the chemical lycopene that is found in tomatoes and makes them red.
Cooked tomatoes are even better because the cell walls get broken down releasing something called carotinoids. Eating tomatoes with a small amount of fat, like some olive oil in a salad, allows the lycopene part to absorb better.
Tomatoes are highly nutritious and sweet because of natural sugars – sucrose and fructose.
If you ate only one tomato a day, you would get 40% of you daily requirements of Vitamin C and 20% of Vitamin A.


Garden Styles: Cottage Gardens.
This series is about garden styles which RWG has visited over the years with different designers. 
It’s always good to revisit these styles to find out differing views as to what makes up the unique garden styles. 
Cottage Garden Cotswolds
You may not have a particular style in your garden but after hearing this series you may want to incorporate some of the plants that make up the various styles. 
We’re starting of with a cottage garden style.
Let’s find out more.I'm talking with Landscape Designer and consulting arborist Glenice Buck

 Some of the main ideas of a cottage garden are not dependent on the exact plants but on how that garden is arranged, and how the plants are cared for.
Low growing perennials make up the backbone of a cottage garden with some accent plants here and there.
But what’s not evident is those clipped shapes but instead plants that are allowed to grow into one another.
Scampston Cottage Garden UK. photo M Cannon

A cottage garden is known for its pretty flowering perennials. 
These gardens have a relaxed feeling with their informal style rather than a grand presence.  
 The plants are usually fluffy flowering plants seemingly growing into each other in peaks and mounds. The plantings are rarely in straight lines. Hedges would only be found on the outside or as boundaries of the garden.  Narrow winding pathways would meander, allowing visitors to wander and explore the garden.


Agonis flexuosa "Jervis Bay After Dark." Willow Peppermint
Plants with dark foliage make an attractive statement in any garden. 
They also break up the amount of green that you have in the garden and provide a striking contrast..
If gardens in England are anything to go by, then you won’t find a garden there without a plant with dark foliage. 
The people that market plants have their fun though and this one’s ready to party. 
So let’s find out more. I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley,
The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.
PLAY: Agonis Jervis Bay After Dark_21st  September_2016 
Willow peppermint or Agonis flexuosa Jervis Bay Afterdark is a slow grower but give it a sunny position and it can take most soil types along the east coast of Australia.
Prune it to whatever shape your like or let it grow all wispy and willowy. 
Just feed it with native fertiliser.  

If you're wondering how this plant got its name of'Jervis Bay' which is a location in New South Wales while Agonis flexuosa is native to Western Australia. 
The name marks the nursery where this dark-foliaged selection was made. 
Most native plants in the 70s and 80's were grown from seed in nurseries around Australia so quite often there were mutations of a variety of species.
This was a particular selection that was selected in 1985 as a spontaneous seedling mutation in a flat of Agonis flexuosa grown by R. and M.L. Turner at Jervis Bay Nurseries.