Thursday, 4 April 2019

Flamingo Flowers, Finches and Formal Leeks

Gorgeous small birds that for once are easy to identify in the Wildlife in Focus segment with Dr holly Parsons, growing leeks in vegetable heroes, a new series on garden styles in Design Elements and today is what makes a formal style and what is Anthuriums in the Talking Flower segment.


Double Barred Finch

Small birds are notoriously hard to identify because (a) they’re small, (b) they’re incredibly fast and shy and lastly, they’re usually just a variation on brown.
Not so this next bird which has easily distinguished facial markings and is Perhaps you can spot one after listening to this. Described as having an owlish face, although in miniature, and with beautifully spotted wings.

I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons from
Let’s find out

Incredibly gorgeous little bird with a striking white face.
Like a miniature barn owl because of the markings. 
For once, not just a little brown bird that's hard to identify; this one has distinctive features which apart from the white face, the barring on the feathers stands out also.
Prefer drier regions.
Hanging around in flocks you’re bound not to mistake them for something else because they would make a spectacular sight.
If you have any questions either for me or for Holly, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Leeks, known scientifically as Allium ampeloprasum var. Porrum, are related to garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions.
There’s nothing like a good long history that some vegetables seem to have and the Leek is no exception.
Leeks are supposed to be native to Central Asia, and have been cultivated there and in Europe for thousands of years.
Did you know that Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans because of their supposed beneficial effect upon the throat.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle thought that the clear voice of the partridge was due to a diet of leeks, while the Roman emperor Nero supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger.

  • Another interesting fact that you might not know is that the leek became a Welsh emblem in 1536, and is still the national emblem of Wales.
  • Daffodil is the National flower.
Have you ever wonder why Welsh are such great singers?
Perhaps because they eat a lot of leeks, think Tom Jones.
Onions, celery, and carrots are very good companion plants for the leek.
Leeks, are a cool season crop and best of all they’re easy to grow.
You can grow leeks in hot summers, but you won’t get the same quality result as you will in a cool summer environment.
I know I’ve tried and they were a thinner weaker version of the winter leek.
Leeks are usually grown from seed and are generally started off in punnets first then transplanted.
When to Sow

  • Sow the seeds of Leeks from Spring until the end of Autumn in cool temperate climates, and late summer and autumn in warm and tropical zones, and in arid districts, seeds must be sown in February/early March and then you can transplant them in April and May.
  • I sowed some seed a several weeks ago and have already transplanted them into the veggie bed because they were a couple of inches-about 10cm high and were the thickness of a pencil.
TIP: By the way, the seeds germinated fine from an out of date packet.
Leeks will overwinter in cool temperate areas of Australia if properly mulched, but will generally not survive periods of extreme cold.
In case you don’t know what a leek is.
Leeks look like large fat spring onions, but have a very small bulb and a long white cylindrical stalk of layers of white then green, tightly wrapped, flat leaves.
It goes without saying that good soil is the key to growing leeks.
Leeks need nutrient rich, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
They’ll do well in almost any garden soil as long as it is well aerated and deep, about a spade’s depth is good.

Using some kind of dibble tool or stick to make a hole that's just deep enough to leave only the top inch of the seedling exposed.
Set the leek seedling into the hole and fill it loosely with soil.
Space the leeks 10cm or a large hand span" apart, in rows at least 25cm  or from your wrist to your elbow apart.
Find something practical like that to do you estimates.
Some people think that when growing Leeks the aim is to blanch the stems while the plants are maturing.
To save your back if you want to blanch the stems, rather than digging a trench, just use mulch.
When they’re 4 weeks old in the veggie bed, use a thick mulch of sugar cane or something like that.
In another 4 weeks or when they reach about 24cm, do the same again, or you can use shredded newspaper.
The leeks will still grow as well if you don’t do any of this.
  • Some gardeners cut off the top portion of the leaves, about halfway up the plant, as the leeks are maturing.
  • This supposed to bring on stalk growth, giving you a larger leek for the dinner table.
To be honest you can do all this, but if you don’t the leeks are just as tasty.
Make sure the plants get at least a couple of cm’s of water a week; otherwise the stems will be tough to eat.
Mulch to conserve moisture, and side-dress with manure tea once a month.
  • Begin harvesting leeks as soon as they're big enough to use.
  • Young, tender ones are good raw; once they reach the width of a paper roll, they're better cooked.
  • They usually take 16-18 weeks--4 ½ months.
Quite a long time so explains why they are so expensive at the greengrocer, market or wherever you buy them.
To prepare Leeks cut them very thinly and sautee’ just as you would other members of the onion family.
 Like their allium cousins, onions and garlic, let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking to enhance their health-promoting qualities.
Why are they good for you?
Good source of dietary fibre also a top source of vitamin C
Leeks have a high concentration of the B vitamin folate
Leeks give you small amounts of other minerals and vitamins.
The green tops have some beta carotene which your body can make into vitamin A.
Like onions, they also have some sulphur compounds that scientists believe reduce your risk of some health problems.
Leeks are believed to be good for the throat.
Leeks are low in calories and fat-free. 100g of leek has just 125kJ.

Formal gardens have a long history.
Did you know that the style of a formal garden started in the Persian Gardens in Iran, such as the Monastery Gardens from the Late Middle Ages?

This style was sort of carried over into the Italian Gardens from the Renaissance that’s the 1400’s and was further refined into the formal French Gardens from the Baroque period which was around 1650.
Let’s find out what this style has to offer.
I'm talking with Danielle Collier from Artistic Horticulture.

Formal style is all about straight lines, no clutter, repeated plantings with as much symmetry as you can stuff into your garden.
Add a water feature or two and some espalier or topiary, and voila’ you have a formal garden.


Anthurium andreanum: Anthuriums
Common names:Anthurium Flamingo Flower, Boy Flower, Painted Tongue and Painter's Palette
The anthurium flower derives its name from two Greek words: oura, meaning tail and anthos, meaning flower. Translated the phrase means tail flower.
Anthuriums are evergreen subtropical plants with heart shaped leaves. Similar flowers to the Madonna or Peace lily.
Botanical Bite:

These flowers are really modified bracts, called spathes.
The actual flower of the anthurium plant are tiny blooms that line the fleshy inner spike called a spadix.
In their natural environment, Anthuriums grow on rocks or trees and in the home or garden need perfect drainage around their roots.
An ideal mix is equal parts of premium potting mix and decomposed sugarcane and plants in a terracotta pot.
 Too much water in winter suffocates the roots and causes them to rot, so let plants go dry in between each drink.
Flower vase life is up to 8 weeks if you look after them properly!

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of
Video recorded during live broadcast of Real World Gardener.

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