Saturday, 7 July 2018

English Gardens, Trees, and Blue Tongues

What’s On The Show Today?

What makes an English landscape garden in the garden history segment, it’s really a flower head, but we eat it as a veggie in Vegetable Heroes,a shrub that’s native but looks exotic in plant of the week; plus tree selection in the 4 part series or trees in Design Elements with Arboricultural Consultant and garden designer Glenice Davies.


English Landscapes and How They Changed Australian Gardens.

Why did the first settlers try and emulate the English garden in such different conditions is easy enough to answer?
Stowe, England photo M. Cannon
They wanted a home away from home, much like peoples from other nations choosing to have quite different gardens.
In Today’s garden history segment we look at those first English influences and why they’re still relevant today.
I'm talking with Stuart Read, committee member of the National Garden History Society of Australia., which you can join or attend one of their meetings by the way.
Let’s find out..

PLAY: English Landscape Garden in Oz_27th June
David Jaques has written a book on English landscapes that Stuart recommends.
When Australia was being settled the "beautiful" or English "landscape" style was dominating garden design as it had started to do from the 1700's.
This was basically faked up landscapes that were intended to look like the real thing.
Funnily enough, 220 years later, they do look like the r"real thing," because the trees have grown into what the landscaper had intended.
Landscapers like Capability Brown started this revolution in garden design as seen in the photographs of Stowe, where he first started the trend.
Stowe, England, photo M Cannon
The most famous landscapers of that time were Capability Brown, along with Charles Bridgeman, William Kent, and later Humphrey Repton.
If you have any questions either for me or Stuart, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Broccoli is Good For You Greg!Do you know someone who just won't eat Broccoli?
No reason, just can't come at this very green vegetable.
Here's some facts that might change their mind.

Ever wondered which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange? 
Broccoli, Brassica oleracea var Italica or botrytis cymosa?

Would you have guessed that Broccoli heads are actually groups of flower buds that are almost ready to flower? 
Each group of buds is called a floret.

Broccoli is of course in the Brassicaceae family of vegetables along with cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, turnips and many of the Asian greens.

Did you know that most members of the Brassica Family, are related to a wild cabbage grown centuries ago?

Why should you grow Broccoli if it’s available all year round in your supermarket?
  • Firstly, supermarket Broccoli has probably been sprayed for all manner of pests whether or not the pests visited the Broccoli plant. 
  • Secondly, supermarket Broccoli stems are pretty tough to eat, when they’re supposed to be tender. 
  • Why, because that type of Broccoli transports better? 
  • Homegrown Broccoli, especially the heirloom varieties, also re-shoot after you’ve cut off the central Broccoli stem. 
  • Plus, Broccoli is pretty easy to grow. 
  • Just keep an eye out for bugs during warmer months, but there’s plenty of organic ways of controlling them. 
  • Finally, to taste great, broccoli has to be properly cared for and must also be picked at the right time. 
  • If you just buy broccoli at the green grocer’s, the broccoli may look great but the taste may not be up to scratch. 
  • How so? They may have been picked before becoming fully-mature. 
  • Or they may have been picked at the right time but then stored too long 
  • With home-grown broccoli, you can also be sure how it has been grown: 
  • You know exactly where it has come from, what you used to grow and protect it, unlike those sold in supermarkets and even in farmer’s markets. 
  • In tropical districts plant out seedlings until the end of July. 
  • For sub-tropical districts you can plant all year round. 
  • In Temperate districts, it was the end of May, but maybe you can try anyway. 
  • In cool temperate districts 
  • Temperate and cool climates suit Broccoli best with a temperature range of 150C to 250C. 
  • The ideal time for cool temperate districts has just passed also so not until October, 
  • However for arid, districts, you have until the end of July. 

Broccoli types

Broccoli comes in many shapes and varieties but is grouped into five major strains: sprouting, broccolini, purple, Romanseco, and Chinese varieties.

Today, I’m concentrating on the common or garden variety which is actually the sprouting variety.
Now you probably thought that was what those little shoots of Broccoli are called but you would be wrong.
Those little guys are called Broccolini.
Broccoli seeds are easy enough to get at supermarkets, garden centres and online seed suppliers of course.

Try these broccoli varieties
Di Cicco is a classic Italian style broccoli which is deep green in colour and has a sweet flavour that might help to get kids into eating it.
Broccoli di Cicco
Green Sprouting is a Calabrese style broccoli with bluish green coloured heads and a deep earthy taste.
Waltham 29 is a great all-rounder plus there’s purple sprouting Broccoli, which is well, purple and sprouting- attractive and tasty.
All of these varieties will provide months of continual harvest and can even be considered as a perennial plant if you can manage to deal with the influx of cabbage moths that come around as the weather warms up.

How to grow Broccoli?
  • Broccoli is not too choosy about the site it grows in but prefers to be in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade with no problems. 
  • Growing in too much shade will reduce the size of the Broccoli head. 
  • The ideal soil is a reasonably heavy (not pure clay) which is rich in nutrients and has been well-dug. 
  • Like all brassicas, Broccoli needs a minimum soil pH of 6; but really prefers a pH of 7. Add lime if you need to raise the soil pH. 
Broccoli is what’s called a heavy feeder, so do add plenty of blood and bone, and decomposed manures by the bucket load before you start.
  • Sow your Broccoli seed about 1 ½ cm deep, and space the seedlings about 40cm apart so they don’t crowd each other. 
  • Once a fortnight feed your broccoli with a liquid fertilizer; seaweed, manure tea, nettle tea etc. 
  • When your Broccoli is growing always make sure that the beds are free from competitive weeds by hand weeding regularly. 
TIP:Don’t plant or sow Broccoli in your veggie bed if you’ve grown it before in the past 3 years.
You may get a disease called Club Root that causes you Broccoli plant to wilt regardless of how much water you give it.
Remember the acronym. LRLC-Legumes, root veg, leafy then Cucurbits, Brassicas.

When do you pick your Broccoli?
Harvest broccoli heads when they have reached maximum size, are still compact, and before the buds loosen, open into flowers, or turn yellow. It will be about 70-100 days or 2 ½ -4 months, when your Broccoli will be ready if you plant it now. 
Here's how you should cut the stems
  • Make a sloping cut (this allows water to run off), picking a piece that's about 10 cm long. 
  • That way you’ve left a reasonable amount of the plant intact to produce smaller side-shoots or "florets," which you can pick as well. 
Great for stir fries.
At this stage, don’t stop feeding and watering the remaining broccoli stem otherwise your plants will go to seed and you won’t get any side shoots.
TIP: If your Broccoli plants starts to flower it’ll going into seed production and you won’t get any more side shoots.

Why is Broccoli good for you?
Broccoli contains twice the vitamin C of an orange.
Did you know that just 100g of Broccoli has two day’s supply of vitamin C (don’t overcook or you’ll lose some).
Broccoli also a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin E, folate and beta carotene
Broccoli also contains magnesium and as much calcium as whole milk.
One cup of broccoli boosts the immune system with a large dose of beta-carotene.
Great for preventing colds. Don’t underestimate the power of broccoli!



Melastoma affine: Native Lasiandra: Blue Tongue

If you’re into your gardening and love the colour purple for flowers and perhaps fruits or foliage, then this little gem might surprise you.

The reason is that it’s native to Australia but looks just like it’s exotic cousin from South America.
Let’s find out about it.
I'm talking with Karen Smith editor of

Because this plant is indigenous to Australia, there are pollinators that can visit this plant successfully, unlike the Tibouchina which it resembles.
Here's how they do it.
Funnily enough, Melastoma produces no nectar - giving pollinators large amounts of pollen instead, which must be extracted through pores on the anthers.
The flowers are pollinated in the wild by carpenter bees - the Giant Carpenter Bee and the Metallic Green Carpenter Bee - they grab hold of the stamen (the bit that holds the pollen) and give it a good shake.
Introduced Honey Bees can't 'buzz pollinate' - they don't have the ability or technique to vibrate their wings while clasping the stamen.
So, they can only gather pollen if it has been already released onto the petals.

That’s why you’ll never see fruits on a Tibouchina but will, on a Native Lasiandra.
Worth getting for that reason alone.

If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Tree Selection
This series is about arboriculture and managing trees.
Perhaps some people are put off trees because they can drop heaps of leaves and sometimes a branch or two, or fall over in storms.
But there’s a reason for that.
"For the trees in a landscape to grow, thrive and survive the test of time, many factors need to be considered when you are choosing the trees for your garden. "

Westonbirt arboretum, England photo M/ Cannon
Probably something we already know, and that is trees are an essential part of our landscape and according to the CSIRO, trees will clean air and are the lungs of the planet. 
Let’s find out who to call? 
I'm talking to Arboriculture Consultant and Landscape Designer, Glenice Davies.

When choosing trees you need to consider what you want out of a tree?
  •  evergreen or deciduous?
  • shape and habit
  • how big will it grow?
  • size of the roots.
  • flowering and/or fruiting?
  • life span
  • what maintenance is involved?
Cloud pruned trees, England. photo M. Cannon
Research shows that people experience more deaths from heart disease and respiratory diseases in urban areas where the tree had been removed than from those urban areas where trees were still allowed to grow.
Still want to get rid of those trees?

If you have any questions about tree selection or have a suggestion why not write in or email me at

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