Saturday, 28 July 2018

Exploring the Senses in Gardening

What’s On The Show Today?

Part 2 of garden toolboxes in the tool time segment and it’s not what you think,; growing no ordinary mint in Vegetable Heroes, 5 senses gardening in Design Elements with landscape designer Chris Poulton, plus scented flowers in winter in plant of the week;


Tools for the Advanced and Mature Gardener
Over the years, gardeners accumulate quite a number of tools that they regard as essential and wouldn’t be without.
Last week we talked about what you might need if you were a beginner or slightly more advanced gardener.
Cut Above Tools
So now we’re going for tools with more oomph and powered by more than your muscle power.
The reason is that it’s the experienced and the mature gardener that’s getting a look in.
Let’s find out what the experts recommend.
I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of

What do you think, do you agree with Tony’s advanced gardener’s tool kit or would you have chosen something else?

If you haven’t already, it’s probably time to buy a pair of ratchet secateurs (sek-a terrs) to add to your toolbox. Ratchet secateurs are great for pruning shrubs.
Mature gardeners might want gear action loppers
If you have any questions either for me or Tony, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


No Ordinary Mint: Vietnamese Mint

Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata.
Any time is a great time to be growing mints of all kinds, but this one is particularly good.
And…..Vietnamese mint isn’t actually a mint, nor is it in the mint family-Lamiaceae but in a family called Polygonaceae which is the same for buckwheat and rhubarb.

Botanical Bite

In botany, mint is the common name for any of the various herbaceous plants that have a botanical name starting with Mentha, in the mint family Lamiaceae.
Flowers of Vietnamese Mint
These mints have wide-spreading, underground rhizomes; erect, square, branched stems; and pairs of oppositely arranged leaves; and small, tubular flowers arranged in clusters.
Only the members of Mentha are known as the "true mints," some plants in same family but aren’t true mints, use mint in their common name.
But one things for sure and that is the entire family is known as the mint family.
In comes some other plants with fragrant leaves that have the common name of mint associated.
Vietnamese mint is one of these. Not a true mint and again, not even in the mint family.
Odorata simply means fragrant which this plant is
This so called mint is a herb that’s used a lot in Asian cuisine, and funnily enough, it grows easily, much like other mints.
How to use Vietnamese mint and other interesting facts.

The leaves are used fresh in salads, soups and stews.
In Singapore, the shredded leaf is an essential ingredient in laksa, a spicy soup.
Here’s a funny fact-did you know that some Buddhist monks grow Vietnamese mint in their private gardens and eat it often as a helpful step in their celibate life?
Vietnamese mint has an essential oil called kesom oil.
This oil is used a lot in the processed food industry where it’s used in the form of a natural food essence.
The cosmetic industry also uses kesom oil.
So what does it look like?

It’s a creeping herbaceous perennial that grows up to 30cm with a flavour that is a mix of pepper, mint and lemon.
The leaves are very narrow and angular looking and the stems are jointed much like wandering Jew which is now called Tradescantia.
The old genus name Poly­gonum (English: knot­weed) pointed to way the stem looked, - many joints linked together by slightly bent “knots” or “knees”

The top of the leaf is dark green, with chestnut-coloured dark rounded markings right across the leaf, and the underside is burgundy red.
When it flowers is has flat spikes of light lavender coloured flowers, but I can’t say mine has ever flowered.
In originates in Vietnam where it’s found in the wild in wet and boggy places.

Where it Grows
It can grow very well outside in summer in non-tropical parts of Australia.
Vietnamese mint prefers part-sun and well-drained soil.
For those areas with cool to cold winter, bring your Vietnamese mint indoors or under shelter as you would an indoor plant.
It grows very well in pots but is frost tender.
Tip: If you’re growing them in pots, once Vietnamese gets pot bound, it’ll stop producing leaves giving you a big hint to repot and divide it up.
Vietnamese mint rarely flowers outside the tropics, but it’s the leaves you want to use and not the flowers.
Vietnamese mint is normally fairly low maintenance and is easy to grow, as long as you give it a basic level of basic care.
All you need to do is keep it well watered and cut back to the ground when
leaves become tough to produce more fresh young leaves.
Vietnamese mint is a perennial plant that grows best in tropical and subtropical zones in warm and damp conditions.
But all gardeners like a challenge even if it the growing conditions aren’t ideal.
In good conditions, it can grow up to 15 to 30 cm.
In summer or when the temperature is too high, it does wilt.
If you know someone with this plant ask for some cuttings from a mature clump.
These mints are so hardy!
They will tolerate any soil conditions and even people stomping on them (by accident of course, or chickens trying to dig the plant up).
They don't need constant fertilising or watering but do like shading from the hottest part of the day.
Try planting Vietnamese mint if you'd like to attract butterflies and bees to your garden for tropical gardens of course.
So what do you do with Vietnamese Mint.
The fresh leaf is used typically in Vietnamese cooking and can be used in
place of Coriander in all Asian cooking, soups, salads and fish.
It can also be dried.
Vietnamese Mint Lemonade
You can even make Vietnamese Mint lemonade.
Just place some sugar in the bottom of a large jug.
Add ice, 1 cup of lemon juice, then slices of lemon, a handful of mint and top up with about 2 litres of mineral water.
Very refreshing.

Why is it good for you?
 Vietnamese mint contains high levels of Beta-carotene and vitamin E:
Also has high levels of folic acid, iron and calcium.
Mint leaves also have useful healing properties.
Mints can freshen breath, soothe the stomach and reduce inflammation. Mint leaves are not as potent as concentrated mint oil, but they still have many of the same health benefits.


Introduction to 5 Sense Gardening

Have you ever thought about the five senses when you think about your garden?
Probably not, but the best way to enjoy your garden is to engage all the senses.
Today we are going to talk about these senses and how to recognise and use them on a daily basis in small and large gardens.

Touch, Smell, Sight, Hearing, Taste are of course the 5 sense, so how do we incorporate these into garden design so each particular sense is invigorated.
Let’s find out about what, why and how.
I'm talking with Chris Poulton, Convener for the Australian Institute of Horticulture, and experienced Horticultural Lecture and Consultant.

Most gardens just have visual appeal, but you’ll enjoy your garden more if there are other
If you have any questions about five senses gardening or have a suggestion either for me or for Chris why not write in or email me at


Luculia gratissima

The shrub featured this week is an old fashioned shrubs but with outstanding features.
And just like undersized potatoes or oversized apples, they who make decision in the big stores that sell plants, have decided that they won’t be available to the home gardener.
So if you’re looking for a winter flower shrub or small tree with masses of pink fragrant flowers, this one’s for you?
Luculia gratissima
Let’s find out more…
I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

While the flowers make an impressive display, the leaves not so much.
The foliage shall we say get’s a little untidy, but gardeners grow it for the flowers not the leaves.
You can prune mature Luculias quite hard to tidy them up, should you be lucky enough to have one growing in your garden.

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

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