Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Cool Down with Frangipanis

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
Real World Gardener is funded by the Community Broadcasting Foundation
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website

Design Elements

part 3, designing a cooling garden with landscape designer Louise McDaid

As the summer temperatures beat all record around Australia, we’re looking to escape the heat preferably in the cool of the garden.
Think Pina Coladas, lying in a hammock under the waving leaves of some tropical plant. Or maybe a G & T and a garden bench next to the bubbling pond.
Whatever your scene, there’s always different options to increase the enjoyment in your garden to escape the heat.
Today, it’s all about foliage and flower colour for cool gardens.
Let’s find out ..

Cooling blues, and palest of hues, as Louise said, increase the feeling of coolness. Or what about minty green combinations? Green as a colour can be varied quite a bit in your garden.
If you have any questions this week’s Design elements, why not drop us a line to. or write in for a fact sheet to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675,


BOTANICAL NAME: Melothria scabra syn. pendula
Cucumber Mexican Sour Gherkin  (available from )

This heirloom micro-sized climbing cucumber tastes both sweet and sour, just like a gherkin without the work! The fruit is really quite different-about the size of large grapes so that’s why it’s called mouse melon, Mexican sour gherkin, Mexican miniature watermelon and Mexican sour cucumber.

So where do you think it come from?
Mexico but of course.
But in England they’re called Cucamelons.
Like cucumbers, gherkins need a rich soil that doesn’t dry out, and has a pH of above 6.5.
Seeds sprout quickly at soil temperatures of 20 degrees.
Mexican sour cucumber gherkins love to grow up a trellis or tepee, in fact they could be used as a seasonal screening plant.

When is the best time to grow some cucumbers?

Just like last week, the times for Gherkins, is the same as for Cucumbers.
Sow the seeds of Cucumber in late Spring and early Summer for cool temperate districts, spring and summer for arid and temperate zones districts, 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 gherkin thingys?

Like all cucumbers choose a sunny well ventilated spot as they are prone to moulds and mildew in humid, still weather.
Most cucumbers want a decent amount of growing space in your garden.

These Mexican cucumber Gherkins need to grow up a trellis, and like last week, growing them this way would be a great way to avoid all the mildews and moulds that cucumbers are prone to in still humid weather.

That’s what would be normally said of cucumbers, but not these little guys, you can squeeze in one plant per 15 cm around a trellis without too much worry about those mildews.
Growing cucumber Gherkins
These cucumber gherkins are easier to grow than your regular cucumber. Not that growing cucumbers is all that hard.
They grow heaps of fruit but watch out in warmer areas as these may self seed.
Pick your Mexican sour cucumber gherkins often as soon as they're an edible size to encourage new flowers and fruit.
How do you eat these Mexican Gherkins?
The fruit can be eaten straight off the plant, or tossed into a salad, like a Greek salad with some virgin olive oil.
I think they would be just right for a quick snack with  cheese and biscuits and drinks of course.
In case you have trouble sourcing these Mexican gherkin cucumbers, I have some other varieties you might like to try.
How about Armenian cucumber? It’s an heirloom variety, that means you can save the seed,
Armenian cucumber is known as 'Yard Long Cucumber'.  It’s a light-green, ribbed, cylindrical fruit 20-60cm. 
It has a thin, soft skin, so no need for peeling. 
Grows best on a trellis. Plus it grows quickly.  This cucumber is actually a melon, but is grown & eaten like a cucumber and is ready to eat in 50-89 days

Can't get Mexican Sour Gherkin? Try these varieties instead.

West Indian Gherkin, or Cucumis anguria.   Another heirloom coming from Africa dating back prior to 1793.  
This one’s got small, oval shaped, green fruit 8x4cm.  best picked when still young and it does best in warmer weather.  You’ll get heaps of fruit in about.  55-70 days.  80 seeds.
Use it fresh in salads, soups, or pickled. 

Another unusual one is the African Horned cucumber ( Cucumis metalliferous. This unusual cucumber has unique Golden horned fruit growing to 10 cm. long. Green flesh has a taste of the tropics. Can be used as a dessert. A tip from the seed suppliers it that it may not fully mature in cold areas.
Why Are They Good For You?
Cucumbers or gherkins 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.

 Feature Interview

Here I am speaking with Events Coordinator, Anthony Grassi from the Frangipani Society of Australia.
Frangipanis are called Temple flowers and graveyard flowers in various countries because they grow there without any care. Much like some wild bush  roses grow in various graveyards around Australia.
Frangipanis originate in Central America and grow into a candelabra shaped tree of around 5-8 metres.
The flowers are whirled petals, five in number, but because the reproductive parts are deep inside the floral tube, it takes a very specialised pollinator to fertilise them.
Humming birds and hawk moths don't reside in Australia, so growers have to resort to using nylon fishing line to hand pollinate flowers.
Although some flowers have been known to set seed in tropical areas from pollinators unknown.
Anthony gives a bit of a rundown on grafting and caring for Frangi's as they're affectionately called by passionate members of the Frangipani society.

Listen to this.

If you want the most fragrant flower, go for the Classic White Frangipani, or Vera Cruz Rose, or Orange Glow. All other frangipanis do have fragrance to a varying degree in strength and a variety of perfume notes-from spice to vanilla.
TIP ON CUTTINGS:When planting a cutting of frangipanis, place the cutting in well drained mix, water in well, then only give a drizzle of water of very hot days. Otherwise leave them alone until next season, when you can re-pot them after they flower.
Fore more information of frangipani cultivation, visit society page, listed above.

Plant of the Week

Lilly Pillies have come in such a variety of sizes that it’s hard to know which one’s the best for you.
They can grow in all parts of Australia, offer fluffy flower heads, are brightly coloured fruits, are bird attracting, and once established take care of themselves.

Here’s some of the popular species-syzygium australe, syzygium luehmannii, syzygium cascade, syzygium paniculatum, syzygium smithii, syzygium jambos or 'Rose Apple' (Malabar Plum).
S. paniculatum or Magenta Cherry grows to around 15m.
Typically has creamy white flowers with beetroot purple berries in late summer to autumn.
New growth is pale bronze that turns green. Is affected by pysllid bug.
There’s a dwarf version of this one called Lillyput which is useful for hedging.
S. luehmanii or small Leafed Lilly Pilly grows to 6 x 3m. Some creamy white flowers and a red coloured berry in summer.
New growth on this one is pale pink which turns to red then ages to green. Not prone to pimple psyllid.
These lillypillies are one of the most popular in gardens because of the way they’ve been marketed. Neighbours Gone, and Hedge in a Hurry are a couple of names.
Those two are usually a variety of S. luehmanii.
This tree is usually free from pimple psyllid which most people know as the bumpy appearance on new leaves. Impossible to control.
Syzygium species of Lilly Pillys grow all around Australia as long as they don’t dry out.
Best part is they tolerate just about any soils-from clay to sandy soils.
They grow well in shady areas as some of them originate as understorey trees in rainforests.
They have attractive polystemonous (multiple stamens) creamy white flowers in late spring and summer followed by attractive red or purple berries.
All Lilly Pillys attract birdlife.

The downside is they’re not drought tolerant, so on hot dry days give them a good drink of water.

Only a couple of the Lilly Pilly’s were featured today, but there’s plenty more out there.
If you want a hedge, try for a variety that’s close to the hedge height that you want.
That saves you trying to rein in a tall growing plant that wants to shoot upwards and eventually gets a too big to control.
As a feature plant, you can’t go past, Magenta Cherry,

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