Saturday, 9 September 2017

Mr Tulip, Miss Iris and Go Go Goji Berry.

What’s On The Show Today?

The Orris root iris is important in cooking and aromatherapy in Spice it Up, the best source of antioxidants in the goji berries in Vegetable Heroes; continuing the series on mass planting with Garden Designer Peter Nixon in Design elements, and a new segment about flowers called Talking Flowers with Mercedes Sarmini.


Orris Root: Iris germanica var Florentina

A little while ago on this show, in fact in the spice it up segment, featured the juniper berry as a major flavouring ingredient for Gin.
That is if you’re making your own Gin.
Today’s spice is something you would never think of being a spice let alone it being another one of the three major ingredients in Gin.
So what is it and what else can you use it for?
So let’s find out….I'm talking with Ian Hemphill owner of

So, how about the fact Juniper, Orris root and Coriander are the major ingredients in gin? Then you add all the other flavours, but Orris root is the one thing that brings all those flavours together because it's a fixative.

The rhizome is technically what's used in making Orris Root powder. 
The Iris rhizome is lifted, dried, sliced and then powdered.

If you were to inhale the smell of dried orris root you would be rewarded with a lovely scent of violets.

Unfortunately if you can't remember where you planted your orris root iris, than lifting and drying is the only way to identify it from all the other white irises you have in the garden.
Then there’s those pomander balls and real pot pourri.

Wouldn’t you like the real deal rather than coloured bits of bark?

Turns out though you might just have to make the pomander and real pot pourri yourself.

If you have any questions about Orris root powder why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 


Goji berries Lycium barbarum var goji

Something I’ve never talked about on this segment and that’s goji berries.
Regarded as a superfood now they have been used for thousands of years in those areas where they’re native, that is, the Himalayas and inner Mongolia.
This shrubby vine is scientifically Lycium barbarum or sometimes the added var. goji.
Botanical names are important because there’s also a declared weed that has a similar name, and that’s African Boxthorn or Lycium fericossimum.

This weed has thorns whereas the proper goji berry for eating doesn’t.

Goji berries are known as wolfberries in China and the United States, and as goji berries in Tibet and Mongolia and Australia.
Traditionally they have been used to treat inflammation, skin irritation, nose bleeds, aches, pains and as a sedative.
They are also commonly used with other botanicals in Chinese medicine for poor vision, anemia, and cough. 
What does it look like? 
The small and shiny red berries grow on a shrubby deciduous fast growing vine.
The vine has small trumpet-like white and purple flowers and olive like dark green leaves.
Other than the fruit and flowers, the plant has thin white canes and the bush itself looks nothing special.
Interestingly, it’s a member of the Solanaceae family along with tomatoes and peppers.

Why are goji berries so expensive? 
The reason why they’re expensive is that all the berries need to be handpicked, because the berries grow just like coffee berries.
You may know that coffee berries grow along the stem and they don’t all ripen at once.
That makes for careful picking of the fruit which can’t be done by machinery.
One thing to note if you plan to grow this plant is that the only drawback is that they take two to three years before they start fruiting although they’re supposed to start fruiting a year earlier if you grow them in pots.

Vals Seedlings

Rather than buying those dried berries at a handsome price, grow your own instead. 

A listener from Queensland wrote in to say that she had trouble germinating seeds that she bought from a seed company.

So instead Val soaked some dried berries that she bought from a health food shop for 2 weeks and planted them.
Val even went to the trouble of stratifying one lot in the fridge for three weeks but reckons that wasn’t really necessary.
Strangely enough, these all germinated and now she has 100 little plants growing in her shade house.
Val recommends raising the seeds in pure coir peat or 50% sand and 50%mill mud.

Mill mud is a by-product of the sugar cane industry and something most of us won’t be able to access. 
The best time to sow goji berry seeds is in Spring when they should germinate in around ten days.

Germination is best at 18-20°C.
Where Goji berries grow.
Of course using Val’s method you can’t be sure of what variety you’re getting.
As mentioned before, anywhere in Australia, is fine for growing goji berries, in fact from Toowoomba where Val lives to along the mountainous terrain south to the Snowy Mountains, also doing well in most capitals except Darwin.
Plants also don’t do too badly when grown in Tasmania.

Goji plants can cope with a temperature range of –15°C to over 40°C.
The best time to plant it is after the last frost if your get frost in your areas.

Picking a Site for your Goji Berries.
Choose a sunny spot, sheltered from the wind, in any type of well-drained soil; but Gojis like a high pH of 6.5–8.
Lycium barbarum fruits
In districts where summer gets pretty hot, some afternoon shade will see your goji berry bush last through the warmer months.
Tip: Goji berries like moist soil for the first 2-3 years and after that, they’re fairly drought tolerant.
If you plant to grow your goji berries in the ground, don’t just leave the soil bare, but cover it up with mulch to keep the soil moist.
You can use any organic material you can get your hands on.
To look after you goji plant it’s best to think of this it as a trailing plant rather than a shrub or tree. 
In the home garden it can be grown like a berry fruit (bramble-think raspberry, blackberry, and so on) against a fence or on wires or frame.
This will help control its sprawling nature and habit.
Tying the canes will also prevent damage from wind and the berries touching the ground.

How to Prune Goji Berry Canes the Correct Way

Each winter, the long whippy growths can be tied back to the wire and shortened a bit.
If you do this you’ll get lots of new laterals forming in spring each bearing clusters of delicious Goji berries.
With each year the plant will increase in size and amount of berries so you’ll be able to harvest a quite sizeable crop over a long period. 

  • You might be thinking that if they flower/fruit on new growth, can they not be grown like raspberries? ie. can't you prune off last year's growth and let new canes sprout from the trunk to flower/fruit this year? 
  • The answer is basically they’re different from raspberries in one aspect. 

  • The new canes from the base grow and only have a cluster of flowers at the end (10-20 flowers) in the first year. 
  • In the second year, the buds along the length of this cane produce shorter flowering spurs and unlike raspberries that only last one season, goji berries go on producing for some years. 

  • If you cut off all of last year’s growth then you’ll not develop the recurring fruiting structures. 

Why is it good for you?
Goji berries are widely known as being a "Super Fruit" packed with vitamins, anti-oxidants, amino acids and polysaccarides.
Goji berries are considered to be the best source of antioxidants and vitamin C and are sweeter and juicier than cranberries.
You have to believe its properties given the price currently charged for Goji juice, dried berries and similar products.



Mass Planting for a Mediterranean Garden part 2.
This series is all about mass planting but so it’s not boring.
There’s different levels, different leaf shape and textures and different colours of green to make your garden all that more interesting.

Warm temperate coast regions around Australia can look forward to these next plants.
There are so many plants for these regions that we’ve had done split it into two parts of this four part series. So this is part B
Let’s find out about what they are.
I'm talking with Peter Nixon, landscape designer and Director of Paradisus garden design.

Plants that are used to the sunny tropics may have a hard time in temperate winters s because often there’s rain, but weak sun, so plants can struggle.
Peter mentioned if you need weed suppression, something low but in semi-shade will suit Plectanthrus ciliatus, Carissa Desert Star with a dark green gloss leaf and starry perfumed flower or Acanthus mollis.
Jasminum nitidum
For sub-shrubs try Jasmin nitidum, which is a sub-shrub to about 1.2 metres and not invasive.
For difficult banks with a slope of 1:5, then go for Helichrysum petiolare Limelight, sometimes called Licorice plant.
For the 3m tall shrubs, try Hibiscus rosa-sinensis varieties or Mackaya bella.
Small trees that suit would be Brachychiton bidwilli- a semi-deciduous tree with a reddy pink barrel shaped flower.
If you have any questions about mass planting for temperate climates, why not email us?



Today a new segment starts and it’s all about flowers.
Not growing flowers, but cut flowers.

How good are you at floral arrangements?
Gardeners are often good at growing the flowers but not so good and floral arrangements.
Flower arranging is a skill that requires a good eye but most all it requires knowledge about how to treat the flowers in the first place.
It’s not easy for some but others just seem to know how to treat each flower. 
This series is all about how to cut the flower stem, how much water to put in the vase for different flower species, and how to look after those cut flowers in the vase.

So let’s kick off this new series by introducing the Managing Director of Flower by Mercedes with Mercedes Sarmini who has been in the floristry industry for 18 years.
Studio Interview with Mercedes Sarmini.
To see the video, click here.

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