Saturday, 10 March 2018

Cool Flowers Cooler Ginger and Cool Baby Tibouchina

What’s On The Show Today?

We’re going underground in the series “useful and beautiful” in Design Elements growing a tropical spice in Vegetable Heroes, a revolution in plant breeding in Plant of the week, plus this flower conveys courage and admiration in Talking Flowers.

Design Elements

Bulbs that are "Uuseful and Beautiful."
You could consider bulbs as ground covers, well some bulbs anyway because there is a pretty good range of different sizes when it comes to the actual resulting plant.
You may even think that most bulbs are useful and beautiful, but there’s some that perhaps stand out from the crowd.
I'm talking with Peter Nixon Director of Paradisus Garden Design 

Hippeastrum papilio
Peter mentioned several cultivars of Hippeastrum which incidentally means Knight’s Lily Star.
Strangely though , no-ones sure exactly why William Herbert called it that.
Peter mentioned Hippeastrum aulicum, Hippeastrum papilio, Hippeastrum psittiacinum which is very ornamental.
Most of these are for the semi-shaded garden. 
You may want to try "selfing" or hand pollination to get new varieties between two different cultivars, that is, grow them from the resultant seed.
Also Drimmyopsis maculata which puts up with dry shade and makes a nice clump with its spotted leaves.
For full sun try Jacobean lily or Sprekelia.
If you have any questions about groundcovers, either for me or for Peter or have some information to share, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Ginger! Zingiber officianale

Ginger is in the Zingiberaceae family along with Turmeric and Cardamom.

Have you ever wondered about growing edible ginger?

For years I’ve wondered about growing the real deal ginger.
Of all the times I’ve bought the nobbly brown root, it’s never sprouted until now.
Probably because now I’ve bought organic ginger that’s not sprayed with stuff to prevent it from sprouting-some sort of growth retardant usually.

Before those of you in cooler climates get put off, I daresay, my own climate zone is a bit out of its range, but I’m growing it in a pot and so can you.
Indoors if we have to.
Sprouting Ginger
For those of you who don’t have a piece of sprouting ginger, mail order garden catalogues supply pieces of ginger that are sprouting between July and September usually. I’ll put links on my website and facebook.

If you’ve ever seen ginger in supermarkets, and all supermarkets have them, you’d know that it comes from the root of a plant that has lots of underground tubers with roots.

Edible Root or Rhizome?
  • Are you thinking that bit of edible ginger is the root, technically it’s not, but most of us think of it as ginger root. 
  • Tuber or rhizome is what is should be known as. 
  • Did you know that ginger has been around for at least 2000 years but mostly used in medicine rather than cooking? 
  • Did you also know that together with black pepper, ginger was one of the most commonly traded spices during the 13th and 14th centuries? 
  • Ginger is native to south China, but it was the Arabs who spread it around the globe by carrying rhizomes on their voyages to East Africa to plant at coastal settlements and on Zanzibar. 
  • Around the same time in England, ginger was much sought after, and one pound in weight of ginger was equivalent to the cost of a sheep. 

So what is Ginger? What does it look like already?
  • It’s a herbaceous perennial which grows annual stems about a meter or 1 ½ m tall with narrow green leaves and insignificant greeny-yellow flowers. 
  • The leaves are much narrower than Canna leaves, and look more like the leaves of bamboo. 
  • They’re also a very limey green. 
  • Zingibar officianale or ginger is a tropical plant as you’d expect so it doesn’t like frost, waterlogged soil direct sun and high winds. 
  • But if you’ve got a sheltered area, maybe on your back veranda, and rich moist soil, or some good stuff potting mix, you can get by growing ginger. 
  • If you’ve also got warmer weather and high humidity you definitely can grow ginger. 
  • From reading garden forums on the web, ginger does well in the ground in temperate climates as well. 
  • For most of us, growing ginger will mean growing it in pots. 
  • If you plonk it in cheap potting mix, don’t expect much. 
  • If you’ve got water storage crystals in the mix, that’s good, but if you’ve added some coir, that’s even better, because what ginger needs, apart from free draining potting mix, is a mix that has some water holding capacity 
  • In other words, potting mix that doesn’t dry out too quickly. 
  • If you’ve only got one sprouting rhizome, put it into a 20cm pot, if you have 3 put them in together into a large 35cm pot. 
  • You can also add one part of good compost to two parts potting mix, and that’s going to add some nutrients as well. 
  • For those gardens with tropical or sub-tropical climates you can put that piece of sprouting ginger straight into the garden after you dug in a spadeful of compost. That should be good enough. 
  • Put in your piece of ginger about 5cm below the soil surface. 
    Ginger growing in Sri Lanka
  • Remember, filtered sunlight not direct sun for the position. 
For cooler climates, your ginger plant can take full sun because it won’t be as intense for the most part as in the tropics.
Near a north facing wall is ideal so the plant can get reflected heat.
If it gets too hot in summer, move the pot into semi-shade if you can.
Also, for cooler districts, move it inside at the first signs of cold weather and don’t water it too much.
The best planting time is late winter/early spring, but if you’ve got a piece sprouting now, don’t waste an opportunity to garden, put it in anyway.

Ginger grows quite slowly and doesn’t mind being a little bit root bound if it’s in a pot.
A good thing about Ginger is that it won’t overtake your garden, because, it’s slow growing and after all, you’re going to be digging it up every year to harvest the rhizomes for your cooking.
Drying out will most likely set the plant back quite a bit, and even cark it so in hot weather keep up the water supply.
To supply humidity for arid climates, you’ll have to get out there with the spray bottle and spray it when you think of it, hopefully every day.
For those growing ginger in the ground, add plenty of mulch to keep the ground moist.

Ginger growing in pots will need fortnight feeds of liquid fertiliser if you haven’t added any controlled release or organic slow release fertilisers to the mix before planting. 

Now the most important question, when can you dig it up?
All books will say the best time to dig up your ginger plant is when all the long green leaves have died down, 8 – 10 months after you’ve planted it.
This is easy if you’ve been growing it in a pot, because you can tip the whole thing over and just pull it out.
For areas where ginger growing is out of its range, you might be best to leave it for a couple of years for the rhizome to build up in size before tipping it out.
Break up the rhizomes into smaller useable pieces and either store it in the freezer, or my tip is, put the pieces into some Chinese cooking wine or sherry in a resealable jar and place it in the fridge.
Doing it this way keeps it fresh for quite a few months.
Don’t forget to replant some rhizomes for your next years’ crop of ginger if you’ve been successful that is.

Why is Ginger Good for You?
Ginger is said to stimulate gastric juices, and provide warming and soothing effects for colds and coughs.
Ginger is an excellent natural remedy for nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness and general stomach upset due to its carminative effect that helps break up and expel intestinal gas.
Ginger tea has been recommended to alleviate nausea in chemotherapy patients mainly because its natural properties don’t interact in a negative way with other medications.
Ginger is a very good source of nutrients and essential vitamins.
It is also a good source of minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and copper.
Ginger also has Calcium Carbohydrate Dietary Fibre Iron Magnesium and Manganese, but wait there’s more.
Potassium Protein Selenium Sodium Vitamin C, E and B6
Many thanks to the tropical permaculture group for providing some of the growing information.



Tibouchina cultivars
Ever heard of a plant godfather? 
There surely is one, and he’s the godfather of these next plants because one, he discovered how to pollinate them, and two, he bred smaller more compact and cold tolerant varieties with outstanding colours . All of this meant that gardeners suddenly had a plant that was manageable in size and could be grown in areas of Australia where it hadn’t been known before.
Let’s find out all about it
I'm talking with  Karen Smith editor of Hort Journal mamagzine
Tibouchina "Cool Baby" Image courtesy of Plants Management Australia
The newer varieties of Tibouchina were
Groovy Baby with vivid purple flowers that grows to 40 cm.
Peace baby with white flowers and deep purple stamens that grows to 60 cm and Cool Baby has white and pink flowers on the same bush and grows to 45 cm.
If you have any questions about groundcovers, either for me or for Karen or have some information to share, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Family: PlantaginaceaeAntirrhinum majus
Where did it get its scientific name?
Not from a botanist this time. Derived from the Greek words "anti," meaning like, and "rhin," meaning nose, antirrhinum, because the snapdragon's botanical name reminded the botanist of a snout or nose.
When the flower is gently squeezed, it apparently makes the flower look like a dragon’s head.
A bit of a mystery exactly where this flower originated but most likely originally wildflowers in Spain and Italy.
Flower colours: Colour range is pastel to bright colours including pink, orange, yellow, peach, purple, white, red and bicolour.
In the studio is floral therapist Mercedes Sarmini of
Recorded during the live broadcast of Real World Gardener on 2rrr, 88.5 fm in Sydney

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