Saturday, 14 July 2018

Trees, Leaves and Frost

What’s On The Show Today?

Winter care of ornamentals in the Plant Doctor segment, growing a hardy herb in Vegetable Heroes, a groundcover whose leaves come in a plethora of colours in plant of the week; plus what does an arborist actually do? in the 4 part series or trees in Design Elements with arboriculturalist and garden designer Glenice Davies


Winter Care of Ornamental Plants
Ornamental plants are those whose leaves, flowers and fruits we don't eat.
Autumn is meant to gently acclimatise most plants to the cold.
What if Autumn is just an extension of Summer and then, whoosh, cold weather arrives all too soon and it's winter?
Snow damage on Eucalypts
That is one reason that during winter some of our trees and shrubs don’t look so healthy and gardeners start getting concerned that something is wrong with their particular plant.
Unsuspecting gardeners might even think that their plant is dying because the leaves have started dropping of, yet it’s supposed to be evergreen.
Could it be just a response to cold weather or is something untoward happening in the soil that is affecting the plant’s health?
Let’s find out.. 
I'm talking with was Steve Falcioni, General Manager of

The leaves can change colour due to the cold, and it may be just a normal reaction or because the plant can't access nutrients that it needs.
Frost Damagon Avocado. photo Dept of  Primary Industries W. A.
If you make a note in your garden diary that a particular plant did this or that in winter, you may discover that it’s quite normal during the cold months of the year. 
Seaweed extracts help plants reduce stress factors and one of them is coping with the cold.
Applying it regularly though is a must for this to be of benefit.
If you have any questions either for me or Steve, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Lemon Grass
Lemon Grass or Cymbopogon citratus is in the Poaceae Family
Lemongrass is a perennial grass native to tropical southeast Asia.
You may have heard of lemongrass and even seen it sold in the fruit and veg section of the supermarket, but what you may not know is that there are two main types of lemongrass.
There’s East Indian, Cymbopogon flexuosus , and West Indian, Cymbopogon citratus.
East Indian lemongrass, also known as cochin or Malabar grass is native to India, while West Indian lemongrass is native to southern India and Ceylon.
Did you know that lemongrass is one of the most widely used traditional plants in South American folk medicine?
In India, it’s used as a medical herb and for perfumes, but not used as a spice; in the rest of tropical Asia (Sri Lanka and even more South East Asia), it’s an important culinary herb and spice.

What does it look like?

Lemon grass grows in a bushy like clumps to 1 m tall with long narrow pale green leaves.
The slender stalks are about 30cm long and are rough to the touch, especially the leaf blade edges which feel quite sharp.
The common name gives it away but lemongrass has a wonderful lemony scent and taste because of the citral that’s the aldehyde that gives it the lemon odour.

It can be easily propagated by division and when you pick the Lemon Grass to use in cooking or teas, cut off the bottom part leaving just the roots - put this piece into a glass of water and it will shoot very quickly.

You can then replant it and you’ll definitely always have Lemon Grass in your garden.

For companion plant aficionados, growing a clump of Lemon Grass in the vegetable garden has a good influence on all the plants around it and the vegetables will be much more flavoursome.

How To Grow Lemongrass
Lemongrass is adapted to hot wet summers and dry warm winters, is drought tolerant and will grow on a wide range of soils but prefers rich, moist loams.
It dislikes wet feet, but it does like regular watering in summer.
If it’s damaged by frost in cooler areas, the tops should not be cut until all danger of frost has passed.

How to control that lemongrass.

Cut back the old leaves in early Spring to strengthen the bush as well as tidy it up because invariably if it has dried out , there’ll be plenty of dead stalks which aren’t much good for cooking.
This helps to protect the centre of the plant from further cold damage.

You need a pretty big pot to contain it.
In a small pot, it gets too cramped too quickly and as I’ve discovered, get little green growth and lots of dead leaves.
You can divide the clump, but it will soon be just as massive as it is now.
It's jolly hard work digging it, and every single piece with roots on it will in no time flat be just as big as the parent.

TIP:So putting it in the vegetable garden will only work if you contain it in perhaps a bottomless pot.
The leaves can be picked at any time of the year and the stems can be used fresh or dried.

So why Is It Good For You?
Medicinally Lemon Grass can be drunk as a tea as can taken either hot or cold.
Iced Lemongrass is a mild sedative.
Try it for your insomnia, or when you are under stress, or even if you need help to calm a nervous or upset stomach.
The herb is also said to relieve headaches.
Lemon Grass tea in summer is not only extremely refreshing but it’s good for the skin as the oil ctains Vitamin A. 

How To Use Lemongrass
For an invigorating bath, add a few drops of Lemon Grass oil to your bathwater. Teenagers with skin problems will benefit by drinking the tea regularly and it will also give eyes a bright clear look as well.
For cooking use the stalks only and pick the thick, light green ones that feel firm and aren’t dried out and wilted.

Cut off the woody root tip of each stalk until the purplish-tinted rings begin to show and remove the loose, dry outer layer(s).

Also, if the top of the stalk is dry and fibrous cut this off too.
When using it in cooked dishes, bang it with a cleaver to bruise the membranes and release more flavour.
Put a handful of the leaves into the saucepan when steaming or simmering chicken or fish to give a delicate but delicious taste of lemon.
It can be used in many dishes as a substitute for lemon.
To store fresh lemon grass, wrap well in clingfilm and refrigerate
This will keep for up to three weeks. 


Heuchera species.
Gardening isn’t just about the flowers you know.

There are plants that have leaves in a kaleidoscope of colours with names like Pink Fizz, Champagne, Gumdrops, and Forever Purple.
Heuchera is also great for dry shade in places where root competition won't allow most plants to grow.
There’s got to be one that will inspire you to plant into your garden.

I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith editor of 
Let's find out about them

Heuchera's have a shallow root system and are perfect for greenwalls of any kind.
Jeremy mentioned that Heuchera loves cooler weather and the Autumn/Winter months is the time when the grow most of their Heuchera varieties.
These plants tolerate shady condtions and will cope with being an indoor plant for quite a few months.
Darker leafed varieties can cope with full sun, but it's best to try them on in a sunny location first before planting them into the ground.
In colder climates, to protect them from frost damage, lay a 2 cm layer of thick straw mulch around the plants. 
Heuchera's have a shallow root system and are also perfect for greenwalls of any kind.
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


What Does an Arborist or Consultant Arborist Do?

This series is about arboriculture and managing trees.
Did you know that there was an Institute of Australian Consulting Arborists?
So what is a consulting arborist and can they cut down your trees if you want them too?
Let’s find out?

I'm talking with Consultant Arborist and Garden Designer Glenice Buck.

If you’ve been asked for an Arborist Report, a Tree Report or an Arboricultural Impact Assessment then a consulting arborist is the best person to call because they often prepare these reports for clients with respect to trees for a range of reasons.
And where do you find these consulting arborists? 
Look no further than the Accredited Members of the Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists (IACA) ( ) provide written reports for their clients in the public and private sectors. IACA members do not undertake tree pruning or removal work.
The other organization is Arboriculture Australia which also lists consulting arborists.
photo Capel Manor College-Arborist Course.

And where do you find these consulting arborists?

Look no further than the Accredited Members of the Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists (IACA) ( ) provide written reports for their clients in the public and private sectors. IACA members do not undertake tree pruning or removal work.
The other organization is Arboriculture Australia which also lists consulting arborists.

If you have any questions about what arborists do, consulting or otherwise or have a suggestion either for me or for Glenice, why not write in or email me at

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