Friday, 28 February 2014

Wrens, Garlands and Autumn

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


with ecologist Sue Stevens
Are you like many people from all over Australia when visiting botanic gardens, like to know what birds they can find there?
Pictures are one thing, but sometimes little birds, are quite cryptic.
You might hear their song, but spotting them is another matter.
It helps to know a few different calls in case you can’t at first spot the bird and RWG has been describing and playing the calls of different birds for over three years.
Listen to this…..

  • Just remember if you come across a habitat pocket, that is, an area of vegetation which is being used by small birds, it should be protected - even if it is 100% weeds.
  • It needs to be protected until alternative native plant habitat has been created and has been seen to be in use by the small birds for at least an entire year, including a breeding season.
  • Perhaps call the bushcare officer at your local council if your concerned.
If you have any questions about the white Browed Scrub Wren, why not drop us a line to.


This vegetable hero has never featured before, because it’s a bit of an unknown.
Chrysanthemum coronarium is the latin name for chrysanthemum greens.
Chrysanthemum is also known as edible chrysanthemeum or Garland Chrysanthemum.
What is it?

It’s an annual leaf vegetable that is used when young in Asian cuisine.

  • The flowers can also be seeped to make tea, in fact in Asian supermarkets you can buy the dried Chrysanthemum flowers in the tea section and make your own tea.
  • I’ve tried it, it’s quite a pleasant tasting tea.
Did you know that the chrysanthemum holds significant importance in Japanese culture?
Yes, apparently the chrysanthemum is seen as a symbol of long life and royalty.
The image of the chrysanthemum flower is used as Japan’s Imperial Seal. In fact, the highest order in Japan known as, the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, and it’s the most distinguished honour a citizen of the county can receive.
Ever heard of National Chrysanthemum day at the Festival of Happiness? This is celebrated in Japan in autumn.
Chrysanthemum coronarium, is native to the Mediterranean and East Asia.
There’s also a variety growing in Crete where the species is called mantilida.
It’s also used in China where it’s called choy suey which became know as ”chop suey” by westerners.
Did you know that chop suey roughly translates into boiled leftovers?
Garland Chrysanthemum has a slightly mustardy flavour and a crispy texture, and an important ingredient in Chinese hot pot, Taiwanese oyster omelets and chop suey.
They can be stir-fried, parboiled, steamed and sautéed. Use raw or slightly wilted in salad preparations in lieu of dandelion greens, endive and kale.
In Korean, Cantonese and Japanese cuisines it’s often used to flavour soups, stews, hot pots (such as sukiyaki and nabeomono), stir-fries and casserole dishes. But the Japanese like this green the best.
Types of Chrysanthemum Greens.
There are a couple of types of Chrysanthemum greens, and the difference between them is the leaf-type.

So what do they look like?
The more deeply lobed, almost divided-leaf varieties are closer to the wild species, and tend to be easier to grow, but are strongly-flavoured. 
The broad-leaf varieties will be more work to grow (though really not difficult) and give you more succulent, delicious greens.
There’s also many “intermediate” varieties between these two groups that aim for highly producing, but still delicious foliage.
Occasionally you will find these delicious greens in Asian or maybe at the nurseries but even if you did, the choice of varieties would be low.
If you want to try these Chrysanthemum greens you need to buy the seeds and grow them yourself.
They’re actually available as seeds from major seed suppliers in Australia. as Shungiku as Microgreens
Growing from seed.
The best times of the year to grow Chrysanthemum greens in cool temperate and temperate districts in Australia is Spring through to Autumn.
Plants aren’t frost tolerant but can be grown in spring and autumn in arid zones.
In sub-tropical areas late autumn, winter and spring is better, and in tropical districts, wait until the dry season.
In warmer districts, or if planting in warmer months, once the heat starts to kick in you can’t keep plants from bolting.
Chrysanthemum greens are a quick crop, and sowing them every couple of weeks will give you a continuous fresh crop.
You can start off in small pots if you like, because do transplant much better than many greens.
Otherwise direct-seed them and thin after germination.
Chrysanthemum greens are great for balcony and patio gardens.
1 or 2 plants grown to maturity will give two people a regular supply of greens.
They are best grown in full sun though they can take a little shade.
Shaded plants tend to get elongated and thin-looking and don’t last as long into the warm season.
They also tend to have problems with insects.
These greens aren’t picky about soil, though the more rich the soil, the more bushy, succulent and happy the plants look.

  •  Water plants regularly, and feed occasionally with any balanced fertilizer like fish emulsion or kelp.
  • Compost or worm tea is a must for leafy greens as it is to almost any crop. Pinch off flowers when you see them develop.
  • Space out plants about 7-10 cm apart (depending on variety) if you want each plant to reach its full height which is around 10cm.
  • However, if you plant very close together, you can harvest as young greens by sheering off tops. This can be done successfully a few times but will need to be replanted after a few sheers (if you want to maintain good quality).
  • You Chrysanthemum greens should be ready in a little over 4 weeks!
What do they taste like and what do you do with Chrysanthemum greens?

  • Greens can be eaten fresh or stir-fried.
  • The taste is unique:, they have a nutty and slightly perfumey flavour.
HINT: When you cook them, cook them very lightly.
They can tend to become more bitter if overcooked, and their delicate flavour lost.
They can be quickly blanched or steamed but again, just slightly to retain their unique flavour.
Don’t forget the flowers are edible too.
ry floating a bunch on top of a winter stew, as a garnish. Very pretty.
Tip: Most often you see the divided leaf varieties, which are still delicious will last in the fridge moderately well.
You can propagate the tips by putting them in water and letting them grow roots.
Why is it good for you?
Chrysanthemum leaves are a nutritious green rich in fibre, Vitamins A and C, calcium and flavonoids.
The leaves are particularly high in potassium, having more potassium than even bananas.



with landscape designer Louise McDaid

The design series ‘green gardens started a couple of weeks ago, is about mainly using foliage in the design of your garden.

If you find flowers unrelieable or too short term in your garden, creating a garden that is constructed with different types, shapes and texture of foliage is a great way to provide year round interest.

You’ll never have to say, summer is boring because that’s when my garden hasn’t got much on show. Or whatever season you find that your garden’s lacking interest.
Today, landscape designer Louise, looks at autumn coloured foliage and how it fits into the green theme.
Let’s find out what this is all about.

Whether you live in a cool climate and have the luxury of trees changing colour in autumn, or in a warmer temperate or tropical climate.
The colours of autumn can either be used year round-that’s the yellows, golds, deep reds and burgundy colours, or by just using the turning foliage of deciduous trees.
Like an artists’ pallet, you can create your own tapestry of colour in the autumn garden.
It’ s only limited by your imagination.


Doryanthes excelsa

Plant of the week this week has a few common names.
Common names are often confusing especially if plants have different names in different states.
Also called Giant Lily, Flame Lily, Spear Lily, Illawarra lily, Gymea Lily.
But there’s no mistaking this plant once you see it, you’ll remember it no matter what name you choose to call it.

Doryanthes is the sole genus in the flowering plant family Doryanthaceae.
Of this genus there are only two species, D. excelsa and D. palmeri, both native to the coast of Eastern Australia.

Each plant grows from a thickened under­ground stem which is gradually pulled deeper and deeper into the ground by the roots con­tracting during periods of dry weather.
The leaves are up to 1m long and form a rosette which gradually expands as it matures.

The red-maroon flowers rise up out of the rosette around 2-3m high.
Best view from an upper storey window or from a distance.
The flower petals are amazingly thick, leather and quite chunky.
Flowering occurs from Spring to early Summer in temperate districts and from October to November in cool temperate climates such as Canberra.
The fruit is a woody capsule which splits open on ripening in Janu­ary or February from which brown, flattened and slightly winged seeds fly out.
Propagation is by division of established plants or from seed.

Seed will germinate readily within 2 months if only a year or two old and is best sown in autumn. However, plants grown from seed will not flower until about 8 years of age.

 Although the foliage is resistant to frost damage, the developing flowerbuds need protection in areas of heavy frost such as a hessian frame as used in the Australia National Botanic gardens.

The genus Doryanthes was first described in 1802 by the Portuguese priest, statesman, philosopher and botanist José Francisco Corrêa da Serra (1751–1823), a close friend of Joseph Banks.

Doryanthes or even Dory’s is probably just as easy to remember as Gymea Lily.
Did you know that honeyeaters love the nectar of the large flowers?
Besides that, Aboriginal people (in the Lake Macquarie district of NSW) used to  roast the stems, after chopping the stem off when it was about 40cm high and as thick as a person's arm?
They also roasted the roots which they made into a sort of cake to be eaten cold.

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