Thursday, 6 September 2012

Fly Like a Kite and Eat Licorice.

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition


Wildlife in Focus: Black shouldered Kite

with Ecologist Sue Stevens.
Black-shouldered Kite
From a distance you might mistake this bird for a seagull, and wonder what’s a lone gull doing in the open field? But in actual fact you would be looking at a Black-shouldered Kite, in other words an entirely different bird.
Most certainly a farmer’s or even gardener’s friend if you have a garden big enough.
Like all the elanid kites, it is a specialist predator of mice and rats, which it hunts singly or in pairs by hovering in mid-air above open land.
Black-shouldered Kites form monogamous pairs, breeding between August and January. Though reported across Australia, they are most common in the south-east and south-west corners of the country..
Let’s hear more…
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Vegetable Heroes: Anise Hyssop

Painted Lady butterfly on Anise Hyssop, 14 Aug 2012  
  • Anise Hyssop is botanically-Agastache foeniculum. In the Lamiaceae or Mint family, it has square stems. Similar to Korean Mint but with a strong smell of aniseed.
  • Anise Hyssop is also known as:Liquorice Mint. The leaf is used as a tea, in salads, soups, fruit dishes and as a base for fruit cup.  
  • The flowers of Anise Hyssope are spiky purple flowers with an anise, or licorice, aroma. A companion plant that attracts bees, butterflies. bees to the garden because it’s a good source of nectar.
  • How it grows: A perennial plant that's compact and grows to 1 metre tall and 60cm wide, so back of the border for this plant. It's frost and drought tolerant but wilts on hot days. Anise Hyssop is like Borage that self seeds in the garden, but the seedlings are easy to pull so it’s simple to weed out any extras that have grown where you don't want them.  
  • Here are some tips on planting anise hyssop plants to get you started on growing in them in your own garden.
  • In Temperate and subtropical areas you can sow Anise Hyssop seeds in Spring and Summer. Arid areas should also have no problem with this plant, but perhaps grow it in partial shade. It can be grown in cool temperate climates although it may act as an annual due to winter temperatures.  
  • To plant them you can sow seed directly in the ground in early spring. Seeds should be placed about 60cm apart to give the plants room to grow. Anise Hyssop or Licorice Mint grows best in full sun, but can also tolerate partial shade.
  • Water regularly, but avoid over watering them since they don't like too much moisture. The spiky purple flowers arrive in mid to late summer that last through the early Autumn. Just when the garden is in need of flowers and colour.
  • Why grow Anise Hyssop? Thanks to the aromatic scent of the flowers they attract lots of lovely creatures to your garden including bees, and butterflies. The leaves of the plant can be used as garnish in place of mint .

Design Elements:The Potted Garden Series-1. Choosing Pots

with Landscape Designer, Louise Mc Daid from Eden Gardens.
Potted Tulips. Photo:M.Cannon
  • So you have this array of pots which um…could look a bit better instead of being a hodge podge of colour and texture.Where does one start in the potted garden? Lots of factors to consider and in the coming weeks Louise and I will be discussing how to design with pots, what pots are best suited for pots and feature plants for pots. You can’t go wrong if you listen into Design Elements’ Potted Garden Series.
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Plant of the Week:Wattles or Acacia spp.

with fellow Horticulturalist, Sabina Fielding-Smith.
Mountain hickory wattle
Acacia falciformis-Hickory Wattle
    Wattles have been accused of causing allergies even though they’re an insect pollinated plant. Research shows that pollen of wattles is relatively heavy and is not carried long distances by breezes. The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) has this to say:"Wattle is frequently blamed for early spring symptoms but allergy tests (skin prick tests) seldom confirm that wattle is the true culprit."There is also no doubt that many allergies attributed to wattles are, more likely, caused by pollen from grasses and other plants that happen to be flowering at the same time. A report relating to Wattles and allergies can be downloaded in full from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's web site.
    • Acacia falciformis-Hickory Wattle:
    • I have this growing in my backyard. A tree like wattle that has many uses.
    • Tall shrub to small tree, 3 to 12m tall, usually with a straight trunk, rough, cracked bark and a narrow canopy of foliage.
    • The leaves are actually Phyllodes or modified stems and are grey-green, sickle shaped, 10-22 cm long with a prominent mid-rib. 
    • Flowers are pale creamy-yellow globular heads of 5-18 headed racemes, sometimes in terminal clusters or panicles. They appear in spring-summer.
    • It’s not a prolific flowering plant, so I’m never overwhelmed by any scent and certainly not pollen. Wattles are insect pollinated so any allergy from wattles is more like to be from the scent of the flowers.
    • The fruits are apparently flat pods (fruit) are 6-20cm long , tapering between seeds. I’ve never had seed pods on any of my trees, but they’re growing on very shallow soil on a rocky outcrop that I have. When one tree dies, another springs up from one of the roots that are leading off the trunk along the shallow bed. They even grow in narrow cracks in the rocks.
    • I wouldn’t say that their roots are invasive, just stretch a long way across the rocks in my backyard.
    • One had grown to about 5 metres doing just that, unfortunately August winds in Sydney were a bit too much and it was blown down last weekend.
    • As I have it in my backyard you would have to say that the Hickory Wattle’s preferred climate is temperate coastal to cool inland; not into dry, hot areas of inland NSW. Preferred rainfall one of 600-140 mm/yr, otherwise tolerant of a wide range of conditions.
    • Where it can grow is shallow, rocky soils in hilly country amongst eucalypt forests; also in heavier, clay based soils.
    • Where it occurs naturally is in an eastern coastal band from north-east Victoria, through NSW into Qld.  
    • Common on tablelands and slopes of the Great Divide, mostly at 800 m to 1 200 m alt., from near Traralgon, Vic., N through N.S.W. and A.C.T. to Warwick, Qld; extending to the Atherton Tableland, Qld, but seldom seen North of Warwick.If anything plant Australia’s emblem wattle Acacia pycnantha, or one of the many new designer wattles that don’t have flowers and are marketed under names, like Acacia Fettucini, or Limelight.


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