WILDLIFE IN FOCUSZEBRA FINCH or Chestnut Eared Finch.
What grows only to 10cm in size and 10 - 12 grams , is mostly found in only Australia, it’s favourite food is grass seeds and are often kept as pets?
The Zebra Finch as the title suggests?
Zebra finches have a chunky reddish coloured beak, with fine boned, tiny little legs.
Males have chestnut cheek patch; both sexes have zebra stripes with some barring.
Let’s find out about another unique Australian bird.
I'm talking with Birds in Backyards Manager, Dr Holly Parsons.
In the wild they tend to be in flocks and are not territorial.
They pair for life and will re-pair on the death of a partner.
|Zebra Finch photo: Birds in Backyards.|
The male zebra finch also doesn’t like contact with other birds.
I prefer to see birds in the wild.
If you do want to keep them as a pet I would recommend that you seek expert advice before taking a finch home.
As small and as simple as they look, finches needs patience and proper care in order to breed successfully.
By the way, cats are the biggest threat to finches so do keep yours in at night.
If you have any questions about Zebra finches or have some information you’d like to share, why not email firstname.lastname@example.org or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.
Radishes or Raphanus sativus.
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?
Perhaps the Pandora people can make a gold radish to hang off t
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.
|radishes. Photo RHS UK|
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.
Later on in autumn, you’ll have no trouble growing radishes in sunnier locations.
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.
TIP: Radishes will take light frost.
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.
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 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
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.
Here are some varieties to get you interested.
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; And it’s deliciously flavoured.
Or you can buy an heirloom mix from www.diggers.com.au
There’s also Champion cherry bell that has deep red skin and firm white flesh, good for cold districts.
Radish China Rose has a smooth rose coloured skin and is a great Chinese winter radish.
French breakfast is readily available, scarlet skin with a white tip, and a mild flavour. Ready in 28 days.
The unusual varieties are available through mail order seed companies such as Eden seeds or www.diggers.com.au online.
Why are they good for you?
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.
DESIGN ELEMENTSAccording to the Telegraph in the UK, Piet Oudulf is the most influential garden designer of the past 25 years.
Not just one of them, but THE one!
The article goes on to say that Piet has redefined what’s meant by the term ‘Naturalism” in planting.
Naturalism’s the exact opposite of clipped hedges and neat structured rows of planting.
Prior to Piet’s designs, Naturalism also tended to mean looking a bit wild, in the way of a wild meadow that you might come across somewhere in the UK.
|Scampston UK Photo: M. Cannon|
Not terribly wild by Australian standards.
No wonder the owner of Scampston Manor employed him to restore their garden which had been in the family for 900 years.
What an inspirational garden.
I'm talking with Garden Designer Louise McDaid
Naturalistic planting can be appealing, and look quite tidy, if not hard to photograph.
Just follow the type of plants that Piet Oudulf recommends, and also the ones that Louise suggested to substitute, because we can’t get them all here in Australia.
In the Perennial Meadow Piet Oudolf uses his technique of naturalised planting which gives a long season of interest. The form of each plant, leaf, flower head and stem is equally important, as well as the colour and shape.
|Scampston, swathes of Molinia grass. photo M. Cannon|
The colour palette is lots of purples, blues, burgundies with green foliage as well as silvery hints, bronzed seed pods – there are low seats in the centre of the garden to view have been specially chosen from this area in the centre of the garden.
Some of the plants were:
Achillea “summer Wine, and A. “Walter Funke.’
PLANT OF THE WEEKBuddleia davidii
Horticulturalists, botanists and many gardeners often lament those common names because they’re very confusing and often very different plants have the same common name.
Take Jasmine, there’s heaps of different types and some not really jasmine at all.
Then there’s Butterfly Bush, I know a few that don’t even belong to the same family of plants.
The species is reputed to be weedy but the plant panel is discussing the NEW CULTIVARS.
These Buddleias are a compact and eco-friendly Buddleia with a unique horizontal, low spreading habit.
Deep green leaves are graced with dark purple flowers that are continuously blooming.
These flowers are sterile so won't produce unwanted seedlings.
|Buddleia "Black Knight" photo. M.Cannon|
Buddleia Blue Chip-This breakthrough Buddleia has all the fragance and appeal of traditional varieties in a small, easy to maintain package.
Buddleia Lilac Chip-Lilac Chip features soft, lavender-pink fragrant flowers bloom continuously from summer until frost without deadheading.
Lilac Chip is a good groundcover for mass planting. Does not produce seed.
Let’s find out about one of these now. I'm talking with Karen smith editor of www.hortjournal.com.au and Jeremy Critchley, owner of www.thegreengallery.com.au
We didn’t mention that Buddleia davidii is named after Basque missionary and explorer in China, Father Armand David, who first noticed it growing.
But they were also supposedly named after botanist Reverend Adam Buddle who was responsible for introducing them into England.
Another botanist-missionary in China, Jean-André Soulié, sent seed to the French nursery Vilmorin, and Buddleia davidii began being sold in nurseries in the 1890s.