Saturday, 4 November 2017

Birds of Paradise, Therapy and Biodynamics

What's On The Show Today.
 A new segment called Backyard Biodynamics and what is it? Something to help you relax in Vegetable Heroes: speaking of relaxing We’re talking Therapeutic gardens in design elements and a  flower that signifies beauty and strength in Talking Flowers.


Introduction to Biodynamic Gardening.
Most of us have seen products like cheeses, wines, bread, flour, and many grains like lentils that are labelled biodynamic.
Jurlique Farm in Adelaide is a Biodynamic Farm
Biodynamic farms are all over Australia and have been here for nearly 100 years.
Like many people, you probably thought that it was just another way of saying organic, but even though it has organic principles it’s a different method of gardening or farming.
So, what does that mean exactly?
Let’s find out all about biodyamics for your garden.
I'm talking with Dianne Watkins, Principle of Biodynamics Sydney and she tells me, a keen gardener too.

According to Wikipedia the definition for Biodynamic agriculture is a that it’s a form of alternative agriculture very similar to organic farming, but it includes various esoteric concepts drawn from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925).
Initially developed in 1924, it was the first of the organic agriculture movements.
It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.
Dianne mention a couple of preparations; BD500 uses a meatball sized preparation which is mixed in 100 litres of water. Too much for the small garden but good for parks, community gardens and a neighbourhood gardens if you can get people to share.

For home gardeners the best solution is the Soil Activator, which is also mixed with water and flicked all over the garden.

If you have any questions about Biodynamic gardening then why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Growing Herb Valerian 
Valeriana officinalis

Some say the whole plant, except for the flower, has an unpleasant smelly sock odour. 
But then why were Valerian flower extracts were used as a perfume in the sixteenth century?

Did you know that, the smell was considered bad enough for the early Greeks to have named it Phu (Phew!).
Then again Valerian roots were used as a moth repellent in stored clothing during the Middle Ages.
Personally I don’t find it that unpleasant and think that the root or rhizome of the plant is what’s got that smelly odour.
If you’ve got a feline companion that likes the smell of the Catnip plant, then they’ll also like the smell of Valerian.
Cats apparently find the smell of dirty socks intoxicating, so if you are the crafty type and want to please your feline, make an herbal pillow out of Valerian, and your cat will provide you with hours of entertainment! 
So What Does it Look Like?

Valeriana officinalis, is a tall perennial that grows to about 1.5 metres and ,  has clusters of (usually) white flowers that attract butterflies and bees.

If you know that plant Cherry Pie, then you know what the flowers of Valerian look like-flattened heads that appear in Summer.
The leaves are serrated or toothed and mid-green on stems of about 30cm.

The root or rhizome is the part used in herbal medicine and that’s what has that strong smell and a fairly unpleasant taste.
You might already use Valerian to help you sleep at night so know that it has properties.

Valerian is an easy to grow plant Grow valerian in any moist, semi-shaded location. 
Valerian is a heavy nitrogen-feeder, so apply a liquid fertiliser every fortnight and add organic material to the soil.
Plants can be raised from seed planted in spring or by root division in Autumn.
If you’re growing Valerian as a medicinal herb, cut the flower stalk s as soon as they appear to direct more energy to the root
You dig up the roots in autumn for drying.
By taking off the flowers as soon as they appear will give you a larger mass of roots to use.
If you’re growing valerian as an ornamental, let the plant flower, as the flowers have a sweet, cherry pie fragrance, a trademark of the Heliotrope family.
If you’re growing Valerian by seed, I should point out that the germination rate is poor.
It has to be fresh seed and only press the seed onto the surface because they’re so fine.
Valerian can be grown anywhere in Australia and the seedlings are frost but not drought hardy.
You can also grow Valerian in a largish pot but keep up the watering because it grows quite tall.
I’ve never had Valerian self seeding in my garden-but mines growing in a pot and probably needs to be planted out.
Using Valerian.
 When taken in the proper dosage, Valerian can induce restful sleep without grogginess the next morning, unlike prescription drugs.
Valerian root is the part of the plant that is used for medicinal purposes.  After you’ve dug up your Valerian roots- wash, them quickly dry at 1200C degrees in the oven until brittle.
Keep an eye on this so you don't burn the roots. 
If you store the Valerian roots in an airtight container, the roots will keep indefinitely.
Valerian root has traditionally been used as a sedative and it is an ingredient in many medicines used for this purpose.
Fresh or dried valerian root can be used to make a calming tea, though most people find that it is necessary to add honey or other herbs to off-set the taste. The tea may be useful to treat insomnia, cramps and stress, but do not use for extended periods without a break, or if you are taking other sleep-inducing medications.
Ground valerian root can also be used to make a soothing bath.
The mineral rich leaves are a good additive to your compost and a spray made from the root is which is then sprayed onto the ground is supposed to attract earthworms.
Valerian is often used as a companion plant, especially in the vegetable garden.
Why is it good for you?
Valerian is a central nervous system relaxer, and has been used as a calming sleep aid for over 1,000 years. 
Commercially the root can be distilled into oils and ointments, or dried and used in teas or capsules.


What Makes An Therapeutic Garden?

Are you a relaxed gardener?
By that I mean, do you go out in the garden to take a break or are you always out there thinking of what needs to be done, what needs to be raked, mulched, weeded or pruned, even planted.
But what else are gardens for?
Therapeutic Garden Chelsea Flower Show 2013
Some gardens like this one in the photograph are designed to specifically show what it's like to have decreasing vision as experienced with macular degeneration.

Let’s find out what we could be doing instead in our gardens.

That was Peter Nixon, principle of Paradisus Garden Design.
Most gardeners would prefer to be busy in the garden, rather than think about how doing the weeding and growing plants affects the mind.
Have you ever noticed though that when you’re doing these tasks, you often forget about any worries that you’ve had? 

The background noise falls away and you can escape from other people's thoughts and judgments, so that within a garden there is, perhaps, more freedom to feel good about yourself.
It helps if you have a nice relaxing space in which you can sit, relax, contemplate or meditate.
Seating is so important in a therapeutic garden because it also lower you sight level and how you perceive your garden.


Bird of Paradise
Strelizia reginae
Native to South Africa but naturalised in other parts of the world such as Madagascar and Mexico.
The scientific name comes from Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
She was married to King George III when the flower was first imported into Great Britain, so the royal gardener named it after her.It’s also more commonly called the crane flower in its native home.

Fun Fact
They are pollinated by sunbirds, which use the spathe as a perch when visiting the flowers. 
The weight of the bird when standing on the spathe opens it to release the pollen onto the bird's feet, which is then deposited on the next flower it visits.
Strelitzia lack natural insect pollinators in areas without sunbirds.
You can try to hand pollinate in order to try and get the plant to set seed.
This has proved largely unsuccessful and better methods of propagation is to try and prize a section of the leaf and rhizome for transplanting.
The plant as a whole does not successfully transplant either.
I'm talking with flower therapist Mercedes Sarmini.

Recorded live during Real World Gardener show, in the studios of 2rrr Sydney

No comments:

Post a Comment