Sunday, 7 February 2010

All About Begonias

Sydney Garden Talk -Saturdays 12noon-!pm on 2RRR 88.5 FM
Today's program featured an interview with Peter Sharp, who has over thirty years experience in Begonia growing and was fundamental to establishing the Begonia beds at Sydney Botanic gardens fifteen years ago.
The beds contain 60 different species and about 50 different hybrids of Begonias.
Start with bedding begonias in a mass to give the visual effect.
The first can Begonia should be  Begonia "Irene Nuss,"  -will take full sun to part shade, flowers from end of spring to winter. Has huge panicles of pink flowers.Almost an angel wing leaf.
All Begonias have leaves that are asymmetrical.
Recommended groundcover Begonia: B. Convolvulacea-can grow up to cover a fence, otherwise about 30-50cm tall depending on conditions. Takes full sun or shade-will grow under trees.
Begonias are heavy feeders,-use a slow release and also supplement with a liquid fertiliser if growing in pots.
Need frequent pruning to shape and size. Pruning of cane Begonias forces growth from the root system rather than promoting lateral growth.
If pots are too small for these Begonias, growth of side shoots will be inhibited.
Begonias for shade: B. listada-deep green velvety leaves with lime stripe-groundcover.
Next to the Cactus family, Begonias are the most drought tolerant as they are succulents by nature. Store moisture in leaves, stems and root systems.
Vegetable Hero:Kohlrabi-Brassica oleracea "Gongylodes"
Heirloom seed from has purple skin and white flesh. Easy to grow.
It has a bright purple skin and white flesh. The flesh is tender with a mild, cabbage-turnip flavour. This is a very hardy vegetable and easy to grow .
Kohlrabi is usually grown from seedlings started in a mini greenhouse, but you can sow seed directly in the garden. Plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep; -, 0.6 to 1.3 cms,
Thin them to 13 to 15 cms or 5 to 6 inches when they're large enough to handle.
Kohlrabi likes fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. The soil should be high in organic matter. Also, when growing kohlrabi, you want to make sure to keep the soil well watered or you will end up with woody stemmed plants that are too tough. How do I know when it’s ready to pick?
When kohlrabi bulbs are two to three inches across they can be picked. Or pick then when small, golf-ball-sized, as they become fibrous with age.
Design Elements:-Sunny courtyard.
Using vertical elements will make the space seem bigger.
Climbing plants soften wals and scent intensifies in small spaces:Climbing Star Jasmine, Pandorea jasminoides "Jazzy Bellz," Rosa "Pierre de Ronsard,"-creamy pink double, repeat flowering. Passionfruit-Nellie Kellie.
Espalier-citrus, Coffee tree-Coffea arabica.
Shrubs-Viburnum tinus'Eve Price'-2.5x2.5m
Escallonia 'Red Knight'deep Cerise flowers, grows 1.5x1.5m
Striking folieage-Agave or Phormium Tricolour.
Seasonal colour-Geraniums-angel-wings.Petunias, Osteospermums-Daisy.
Plant of the Week:Ivory Curl Tree-Buckinghamia celsissima.
Buckinghamia celsissima is a hardy reliable flowering tree which has proved popular as a street tree in many areas because of its adaptability. It can either be grown as a tree, or pruned to maintain a shrubby appearance. Responds well to pruning.Flowers are white to cream and occur in summer in large racemes up to 200 mm long. The flowers are well displayed at the ends of the branches.
Ideal growth is achieved in full sun and deep well-drained soil, where it will develop a dense, compact, rounded crown of deep green leaves. New growth is flushed bronze/red. Moderately fast growth can be expected if well-watered and fertilized in summer.
Watering-Although watering is necessary initially, once established, rainforest plants require no more water than other garden plants.
What's On:
Tuesday 9 Feb: Eastwood Evening Garden Club will meet at 7.30pm at the Dundas Baptist Church Hall. Speaker Ken McGill, who works at a nearby nursery, will talk about what’s new for autumn. There’s a cutting table and library available. For more info phone 9874 2306
Friday 12 Feb Composting and Worm Farm workshop at Lane Cove Community Gardens corner Pacific Highway and Mowbray Rd, behind the church, from 9.30am to 12.30pm. Composting and worm farming prevents food scraps from ending up in landfill, and provides great nutrients for your garden. Online booking only for this one. Go to to book. If you do have enquiries about this or don’t have access to a computer call 9911 3555. It’s free of charge for anyone to come along and Lane Cove residents who attend get a free compost bin or worm farm.
Saturday 13 Feb. Growing Friends plant sale at the Royal Botanic Gardens from 9am – 1pm. Free entry.
Also-, Royal Botanic Gardens. Sogetsu Ikebana demonstration – in other words, the art of Japanese flower arrangement. Joan Perkins from the Sogetsu Teachers Association will show you the basic. 10.30Am – 12.15pm in the Maiden Theatre. Cost $35, book on 9231 8182.