Saturday, 14 May 2016

Garden Mums and Red Cheeky Birds


Gardens are a particular favourite of this medium sized nectar feeding wattlebird.

Red wattlebird
One of the second largest, weighing  of it’s type,110grams, these birds make a typical clucking sound not unlike that of chickens and have a yellow underbelly with red cheek patches.
The biggest wattlebird is the yellow wattlebird and only lives in Tasmania. The red wattlebird lives mostly in the southern areas of Australia, but that includes New South Wales except for inland.
You might see one or two around Brisbane as well.
Are they coming to visit your garden or neighbourhood?
Let’s find out ? I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons Manager of Birds in Backyards.

The red wattlebird is a mottled browny-white with little globs of red called 'wattles' below the cheek.
Red Wattlebird photo Birds in Backyards
Not named after it’s penchant for hanging around Wattle trees, but for the red flap or wattle on each side of its face, a bit like that of chickens and turkeys.
This bird also has a yellow belly and a reddish eye when it's mature.
FACT CHECK: Nectar is a large par of any honeyeaters diet and you might find information on the web that wattlebirds have a brush tipped tongue.
That’s not correct, but is as Holly said, just a fairly long tongue that’s good for slurping up the nectar with the aid of a long curved bill for probing the flowers.
If you have any questions about red wattlebirds or any other birds or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675



You may have eaten garden cress in the past or you may not have even come across it at all.
Garden cress (Lepidium sativum), is a member of the cabbage family. Brassicaceae
Cress is native to the Middle East and interestingly was grown in Persia as early as 400 BC
Did you know that there are several types of cress?
Garden Cress is also called broadleaf cress, has flat, bright green leaves to 10cm long and 5cm inches wide.
Garden cress, a biennial, is also called peppergrass, pepper cress, and mustard cress.
Golden-leafed broadleaf cress is sometimes called Australian cress.
Common Garden Cress
Garden cress is an annual that thrives in damp soil.
 Curly cress (Barbarea vernapraecox), also called, early winter cress, or Upland cress, has finely divided leaves something like parsley or chervil and thin, branching stems.
Curly cress is dark green and  also likes to grow in damp soil.
 Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) is a trailing annual usually grown in water.
Watercress as grown in England
You can grow watercress indoors in pots set in a tray of water or along the side of a stream or watercourse.
Curly Garden Cres
Who has a stream or creek running past their kitchen window?
This is what some English people might do to grow watercress
Watercress is a member of the Nasturtium family.
Today I’m focussing on garden cress.\
How Do You Grow Garden Cress?
Cress is a reseeding annual or biennial, which can be grown in shade or  semi shade.
In grows well in the cooler months.
“If you plant cress during the summer, the plants will shoot up flowers without making enough growth to harvest.”
If grown in dry soil and very hot weather, instead of being refreshing and tasty, it becomes unpleasant and bitter.
Its seeds are light - germinating, in about 2 to 4 days.
Northern Hemisphere information will tell you to sow seed in early spring or late summer through autumn.
Garden Cress seeds can be sown any time of the year, although plants will generally grow best in Autumn, Winter or Spring.
If you live in a warmer part of Australia and want to grow garden cress during the Summer try growing it indoor that way you’ll have cress all year round.

Cress is also suitable as a groundcover, and can also be grown year around or on a windowsill in pots, bowls, boxes, or flat plates where it will often produce a more mild and pleasing flavour
If you want, you could have a continual supply, if you sowed seed every eight days.
It’s a fact that the officers in the 1700’s coming over on the first fleet, grew cress on wet flannel as a source of Vitamin C
Soil is not that important, and sand, coir peat, and compost are all suitable.
Water your cress well; both seeds and plants should be kept moist.
Cress prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8. that’s slightly acid.
How To Sow
Scatter your garden cress seeds straight into the garden bed, raking in to about 3mm deep and firming down the soil lightly prior to watering in to retain moisture.  You can soaking Garden Cress seeds overnight before sowing to increase the number of seedlings you end up with. 
Once the seedlings have a few leaves you can thin them out, leave about 20cm between them to allow room for each plant to grow.
Where to Grow
Garden Cress prefers to grow in a sunny spot or in light shade for part of the day.  For warmer areas, Garden Cress will grow better in partial shade when grown during the hotter months of the year outdoors. 
As far as companion planting goes, “Cress is not suitable for growing among other plants as it contains a tiny amount of mustard oil that’s supposed to interfere with the growth of other plants.” this is called aelopathic, or aelopathy.
Growing without soil
Cress can actually be grown without soil, by using moist paper towels
To do this at home, just layer and wet two paper towels and set them on a plate. Sprinkle the cress seeds on the wet paper towels and place plate in a light window, preferably a north-facing window.

Check daily to make sure the paper towels are kept moist.
In about three days, the plants should be about 1.3cm high.
Continue to keep the paper moist and when they reach 10 -12 cm high″, trim your cress with scissors and enjoy!
If you’re growing cress outside, pick your cress when it’s still young; 10-15cm in height.
When mature, garden cress produces white or light-pink flowers, and small seed pods.
Cress is used raw and in sandwiches and salads with mixed greens. Cress is also good with cottage cheese and with eggs. It can be overpowering to other herbs, so it is generally used alone.
Garden cress is added to soups, sandwiches and salads for its tangy flavor.
Also eaten as sprouts, and the fresh or dried seed pods can be used as a peppery seasoning.
Cress is used raw and in sandwiches and salads with mixed greens. Cress is also good with cottage cheese and with eggs. It can be overpowering to other herbs, so it is generally used alone.
Why Is It Good For You?
Garden cress is an important source of iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamins C, E and A.. The seeds are high in calories and protein, whereas the leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, C and folate.
Both the leaves and stems of cress can be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches, and are sometimes called cress sprouts. When buying cress, look for firm, evenly coloured, rich green leaves. Avoid cress with any signs of slime, wilting, or discoloration. If stored in plastic, it can last up to five days in the fridge. Another way to store cress is by putting the stems in a glass container with water and covering them, then put in the fridge until you need them.


Temperate regions like Tasmania and mountainous regions in Victoria and New South Wales.
Tropical-look cool climate rainforest.
 Montane rainforests are like tropical gardens in cool temperate areas, so it’s not such a stretch to consider planting or designing with the tropical look.
Let’s find out about tropical gardens for cool climates. I'm talking with Garden Designer Louise McDaid.

Montane rainforests have quite a lot of year-round rainfall, are mostly above 3,300 feet, or 1,000 metres but with a good amount of rainfall and mostly have a canopy layer but don’t have the year-round warmth and sunlight associated with tropical rainforests
It’s important to remember that windbreaks and creating microclimates will help establish large leaved plants that might not thrive or do that well to start off with. But with a bit of planning, I’m sure you can get that tropical look for your mountain garden. Close planting is the key, and layering.

If you have any questions about creating tropical gardens drop us a line to
All information will be posted on the website



Looking fantastic right now with their explosion of flowers that are so many, you can’t see the foliage.
This time the breeders haven’t held back with some of the variety names which include, Boulevard, Popcorn, Mars, Moulin Rouge and Clown.
Chrysanthemum multiflora

So, what about growing your own?
Let’s find out which ones are so good. I'm talking with  the plant panel were Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Chrysanthemum multiflora grows dense and can reach an average height of 40 - 80 cm and a spread of 40 - 80 cm.
The flowers  of Chrysanthemum multiflora are about half the size of regular or more commonly grown garden 'mums' but the number so many, that it makes for a dazzling display.
Chrysanthemum multiflora or Garden Mums are prolific bloomers and are easy to grow, hardy, and available in a huge range of colours. They have different type of flower and bloom season to fit every landscape need.
•Anemone: 1 or more rows of petals with a cushion-like centre.
•Pompom: Familiar globular shape
•Regular Incurve: Petals curve up and in, forming a sphere
•Single or daisy: Looks like its cousin, the daisy
•Spider: Long, curled petals droop down and give a spider-like look
Chrysanthemum multiflora
These are among the shorter, mounding varieties of mums generally grouped as ‘cushion’ mums.

1 comment:

  1. This is a good common sense Blog. Very helpful to one who is just finding the resources about this part. It will certainly help educate me.
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