Thursday, 4 November 2010

Connecting with a Historical Past

Real World Gardener Wed 5pm, Sat 12noon 2RRR 88.5fm
Feature Interview: Talking with Hazel King, Horticlturalist, AIH member, accredited garden judge. Hazel was the daughter of the Head gardener of Yaralla, the home od the late Dame Edith Walker, in West Concord. A magnificent garden with 27 gardeners on the estate to provide the owners and those living on the estate with fresh produce and flowers for the table. Hazel King was also the judge for the Ryde Spring garden competition this year.Find more information on Yaralla at
Vegetable Heroes:Tomato, Lycospericon esculentum, Family Solanaceae.       In the 18th century Carl Linnaeus created binomial nomenclature to name species, was keeping in mind that people thought tomatoes were poisonous because they came from the Nightshade family.     So Linnaeus gave them the scientific name of Lycopersicon esculentum, which literally means, "edible wolf peach". Old German folklore claimed that witches used plants of the nightshade family to evoke werewolves, a practice known as lycanthropy. The common German name for tomatoes translates to "wolf peach", and was avoided for obvious reasons. Growing your tomatoes:      
  1. Growing tomatoes has to be in full sun at least 6 hours.  
  2. When you plant your seedling, this is about the only plant I know that you pile the soil higher than it was in the pot. That way, it grows extra roots to support the plant.    At the same time, put in a tomato stake of some kind and sprinkle some Dolomite around the plant. The Dolomite-Calcium Magnesium Carbonate is to prevent that blackening of the bottom of the tomato called blossom end rot.   
  3.  A good tip is to put some hydrated water crystals in the bottom of the planting hole. Sydney gets so hot during the day, that it’s sometimes hard to keep the water up to them. They actually need lots of water, as well as Calcuim, to prevent a problem called “blossom end” rot, when they get a black bottom.     
  4. Mulch with Hay, lucerne tea tree or some home made compost, which will break down over the next few weeks.   
  5.  As soon as your tomato gets the first yellow flower, you need to start fortnightly feeds with a liquid tomato food. Cow Manure is not enough…it doesn’t have anywhere near the right amount of Potassium. That’s needed to bring on the flowers and fruit..     
  6.  Now when you get to four trusses (or branches of flowers) nip out top of the plant. By this stage you should have plenty of fruits forming that need to grow and ripen.    You need to do this mainly because you want the plant to put all its energy into the fruits. And…you don’t want it growing taller than you tomato stake and flopping all over the place.      
  7. Keep the soil moist by regular watering and using a mulch of some kind. Feed weekly with tomato fertiliser.  Irregular watering or drying out of the soil or compost in very hot weather can result in the fruits splitting. The inside grows faster than the skin, splits and unless eaten quickly, disease very quickly enters the damaged area and the tomato disposed of.      If you ate only one tomato a day, you would get 40% of you daily requirements of Vitamin C and 20% of Vitamin A. Don't forget to email you garden question or tip to
Design Elements: Redefining spaces-Today, Lesley and I discuss redefining the outdoor living room.
Listen to the podcast.
 Plant of the Week: Beaumontia grandiflora, Herald Trumpet Vine. Family, Apocynaceae. Beaumontia is a climbing vine that can be very vigorous. The foliage is semi-evergreen. The leaves are glossy green on the upper surface and dark green and hairy underneath. They measure more than 20 cm long and have prominent venation. The woody trunk and branches act like wires to enable the plant to grow in height. The plant produces oblong green fruits from the end of summer through autumn. After the flowering season, the plant may lose a few leaves or the leaves go a purple shade on their tips as a response to cold in temperate regions.  In sub-tropical and tropical areas  it is evergreen.
Under 15°C, the plant will not flower so you probably can’t grow it if you live in the Blue Mountains.. The plant grows ideally in a heated veranda or hot glasshouse. Beaumontia grandiflora demands a lot of light and humidity.
Soil must be rich and well-drained. Beaumontia does best in light, but do not place it under a direct sun.  Keep soil moist for best results.When we propagate from the vine, we have to wear gloves to avoid getting the milky sap all over us. It’s relatively easy to grow from cuttings, but you do need a green house with bottom heat and misting. Semi hard wood cuttings work best with nodes close together. If you don't have a green house, put the cuttings in a peat:sand mixture and cover with a plastic bag. Using a wire frame around the cuttings to prefent them touching the plastic.
These plants are available from the Sydney Botanic Gardens, Growing Friends'nursery. Opening times:M-F, 11.30-2pm.
What's On: Sunday 7 November from 
On10:00am – 12:30pm there’s a Gladesville Hospital and Priory Walk led by Peter Colthorpe, chair of Friends of Gladesville Hospital. Meet at The Priory,
2 Salter St.
, Gladesville. By donation for repairs to The Priory. Bookings and enquiries 0434 673 101
Also on Sunday 7 November the city of Ryde has free tours of Brush Farm House at 11 and 1.30. these tours chronicle the social and architectural history of the house. Brush Farm is at
19 Lawson St
, Eastwood. Bookings essential on 9952 8222.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Tea Tree or not to Tea Tree

Real World Gardener 2RRR 88.5 fm Wed. 5pm, Sat. 12noon
Feature Interview: Talking to Peter Kinnard from Northern rivers tea tree plantation. Peter talks about the benefits of using tea tree mulch-moisture retention, adding nutrients to the soil, and enables rain penetration around the roots of the plant. Mulch thickness recommended 2-3 inches or 5-7 cm.
Tea tree Oil placed on ant trail deters ant: on end of broom deters spiders.
Vegetable Hero: Beans-Phaseolus vulgaris.To grow beans you  need up to four months of warm weather. Beans, either climbing or Dwarf Beans, sometimes called French Beans, don’t like the cold at all Beans are best planted at soil temperatures between 16°C and 30°C. so planting them from now on is good.. Easy to grow. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. About 2.5cm or  1-inch or depending on the size of the bean I guess.Go easy on the fertiliser or you’ll get lots of leaves and no beans. the most important nutritional fact for beans is that they provide a major source of soluble fibre, which, when passing through the digestive tract grabs and traps bile that contains cholesterol, removing it from the body before it's absorbed
Design Elements. Introduction to "Structure in the Garden."
Listen to the podcast:
Plant of the Week:Babiana anbd Bluebells.Bluebells Botanical name: Scilla hispanica Spanish Bluebell, and Hycinthoides Hispanic for English Bluebell.  Family: Liliaceae. Plant/bulb type: True bulb Planting time: Late Summer to Autumn. Height: 20cm tall.      Depth & spacing: 6cm deep & 5-10cm apart. Aspect: Full sun to half shade. Filtered light is well tolerated. Soil: Well drained. Rich soil is ideal if you are going to allow the bulbs to naturalise.Flowering time: Early Spring.After flowering care: These bulbs can be left undisturbed for years. Comments: Also known as the “wood hyacinth” this bulb is wonderful when planted in drifts, large clumps, pockets or pots.The English Bluebell is usually found in woods. It is unusual to find it on open ground. When the flowers are fully formed, the stalk of English Bluebells curves downwards to give its characteristic look. One why to help identify an English Bluebell is to see if all the flowers are in the same side of the stalk. As all the flowers on an English Bluebell are on the same side of the stalk, the effect of gravity pulls the stalk over into a beautiful curve.    The Spanish Bluebell is usually found open ground. It is unusual to find it in woods. When the flowers are fully formed, the stalk of Spanish Bluebells is straight. One why to help identify an Spanish Bluebell is to see if the flowers are all around the stalk. As all the flowers on an Spanish Bluebell are on the same side of the stalk and the stalk is thicker than the English Bluebell, the effect of gravity does not operate in the same way on the Spanish Bluebell so that it keeps its characteristic straight stalk.
Spring flower bulbs are very simple to grow & most have similar requirements so that once you understand the basics you can grow almost any bulbs with ease.Planting time: For best results, plant Spring flower bulbs April to May (Australia). This allows both the weather and the soil to cool.
What's On:Granny Smith festival, Saturday 16th October, Easwood Plaza.
2RRR will be broadcasting "live," from Eastwood Mall.
Real World Gardener will be going "live" at 12 noon!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Tomatoes For Everyone

Real World Gardener 2RRR 88.5fm Wed 5pm Sat 12noon
Feature Interview: Frank Hogan of Colourmaster nursery talks about tomato cultivars, growing tomatoes and more.
Vegetable Hero: Wheatgrass. Triticum aestivum-grow it to make wheatgrass juice. Regarded as a superfood to boost your energy, suppress your appetite, supply your nutrient deficiencies.
To grow wheat grass, you'll need wheat grass seeds (available online or at health food and garden centers), some soil (any soil will work, but potting soil is convenient), planting trays (any 1" to 2" deep tray will work) and plastic wrap or mini green house.
Preparing your container. Fill your tray with potting mix leaving about a ½" to 1" of empty space. Your tray should have drainage holes or slits -if has has too many-line with newspaper to stop mix from falling through. 
To begin growing wheat grass, soak your wheat seeds in water for 8 to 12 hours. Drain the water from your wheat grass seeds and rinse. Repeat this process-you may have to repeat two or three times-until the seeds produce tiny, white sprouts. Moisten the soil in your container and then place your sprouted wheat grass seeds on the surface of the soil so that the surface is covered with seeds. Cover the container with a layer of plastic wrap or place in mini greenhouse.Place your wheat grass tray out of direct sunlight-a closet or pantry will work well. Spray the seeds once a day with a light mist of water.
After three or four days, the wheat grass will begin to sprout. The emerging leaves are very pale yellow. Remove the coverings and place the trays in a protected, warm, lighted spot. The grass soon turns green.Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Mist or spray with a little water every day or two when the soil feels slightly dry. .Water a little for another 7-14 days (depending on whether it’s summer or winter – wheatgrass takes longer to grow in cold winter months
Ready set go!, your wheat grass should have grown to15-20cm or 6" to 8" and will be ready to harvest. Cut the blades of grass with a sharp pair of scissors about ½" 0r 1.3cm above the soil. Wheat grass is best served fresh, but can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Wheat grass can be juiced into smoothies or used in salads.

Design Elements: Famous garden Designer Vita Sackville-West. Listen to the podcast.
Plant of the Week: Rondeletia amoena. Memeber of the Rubiaceae family. On the website  Rondeletia amoena is the “grow me instead” of plant for Butterfly Bush or summer Lilac-Buddleia davidii. What's On.

This is a tall evergreen shrub up to 3m, with large shiny leaves which look attractive all year round. It has rounded clusters of tiny pink perfumed flowers in August and September. Originates from Central America, it is a very tough, drought-tolerant plant for our gardens and is useful as a background shrub or grown as an informal hedge.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Natural Remedies

Sydney Garden Talk 2RRR 88.5fm Wed5pm Sat. 12noon
Feature Interview:
Alan Hayes author of 27 books about natural remedies for the house and home, talks about living the sustainable and carbon lifestyle in his Duralong Valley home. Go to for more information.
Vegetable Hero: Mint or Menthe spp, in the family Lamiaceae. Ideal growing temperatures for mint are warm sunny days (25°C) and cool nights (15°C). This is why, in the hotter climates, mint generally grows better in the more shaded areas of the garden. Mint can be propagated either cuttings or by seed. You can grown new plants by digging up plants in late winter–early spring (like now) and dividing them into runners with roots, then replanting. This will prevent the plants from becoming root-bound and prone to disease, giving you strong, healthy plants for the new season.
Most of the time we are busy trying to just keep it tidy. It can take over your garden if your not care so, be like me, and grow it in a pot that you can sink in the garden bed. Mint, when planted nearby will help beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, chili and bell peppers, Chinese cabbage, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, salad burnet and squash. Planting mint near peas, cabbage or tomatoes will improve their health and flavor. Mint will attract hoverflies and predatory wasps to your garden. Mint is also a favorite of earthworms.
Design Elements:Lawns-BUFFALO Sir Walter (Patented Turf)
Australian grass - Soft Leaf Buffalo grass has excellent drought tolerance
due to its strong and deep root system. Because it is Winter Active it maintains its colour
longer than other Buffalo and does not go purple in winter. It can handle full sun and grows well in the shade. The crisp green colour of Sir Walter makes it a most attractive lawn in summer and winter.
"Palmetto is an emerald green Soft Leaf Buffalo that has a long broad soft leaf which is shade and drought tolerant. This turf is extremely hardy once established and does not go purple in winter. Palmetto is a medium grower with a strong root system which recovers very quickly from damage.
Shademaster "This variety of Soft Leaf Buffalo has a broad and long course leaf. It is good in high traffic areas as it is a very fast grower. It loses its colour and turns purple in winter."
Nara Native Turf-or Zoysia macrantha, sacts the same way as any Buffalo lawn, can be bought in rolls. Use the same fertilizers and cut the same way.
CT2 Couch-"This is a blue/green couch with a longer blade than the Winter Green and Green Leaf Park couch. It is very hardy and has very good drought tolerance. CT2 recovers in half the time as most other couches. It will however discolour if the temperature drops below 3° C.
Windsor Green Couch (Patented Turf)-"This dark and very dense lawn has a small leaf with very few seedheads. Windsor Green discolours if the temperature drops below 3° C. It is a hardy grass with good wear and tear tolerance. Grows best with a minimum of 4 - 5 hours of sunlight per day. Considered the best grower in the shade of all the couch lawns."
Greenleaf Park Couch "This is a blue/green couch with small blades. It is not however frost tolerant and will discolour if the temperature drops below 5° C. It is a very hard wearing grass and is used in most bowling greens."
Winter Green-"This is an olive/green coloured grass with small blades (smaller than Green Leaf Park Couch and does slightly better in the shade). Will discolour if the temperature drops below 5° C. This couch produces a lot of seedheads unless it is well fertilised. It has a tendency to get patchy. It will take some shade but needs at least 6 - 7 hours of sunlight per day."
KIKUYU I think this is a weed.
Plant of The Week: Culture:  Strelitzia Reginae: This South African genus is a member of the Musaceae family.An evergreen perennial that will reach 1.5m—2m in most situations. It is grown for its spectacular flowers and are used all over the world for cut flowers.Strelitzia Reginae needs full sun to light shade with warm temperatures, when planted in pots keep them crowded for the best amount of blooms. In very cold climates it is better to grow them in pots that could be moved indoors when freezing temperatures are expected.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A Circle of Orchids

Sydney Garden Talk Wednesdays 5pm, Saturday 12noon
Feature Interview:Eastwood and district Orchid Circle secretary-Bernadette Williams talks about the 70 year history of the club, and a bit about the cultivation of Phaleanopsis or Moth Orchid. The club meets on the first Wednesday of every month at 8pm un the Uniting Church Hall, Acacia st, East Denistone, 7.15 for Novice and Intermediate growers in the back room.
Vegetable Hero:Cabbage or Brassica oleracea "Capitata." Cabbages do best in a reasonably firm soil, so leave it for several months between digging and planting. Why firm soil? So they don’t fall over when they grow those heavy heads.Pick a reasonably sunny spot for the site where you are growing cabbages. If you can, use a site where peas and beans (Legumes) where grown the recently-dig the pea and bean roots into the soil to provide nitrogen. I’ve been told that transplanting cabbage seedlings helps them to grow strong roots , so if you are starting from seed, sow them in a punnet.
Design Elements:small herb gardens for small spaces. Why not make it a herb spiral of about 1m high by 1.5m wide. Place rocks around the base and gradually build up to a conical shape. Drier herbs like Marjoram and Sage at the top, shadier herbs like Mint around the back and sunnier herbs like Parsley and Coriander around the front.
Plant of the Week: Camellia Japonica-large green leaves, showy flowers in winter. Pale coloured flowers prefer a dappled aspect in the morning particularly, or semi-shade most of the day. Dark coloured flowered Camellias can take full sun in the morning. Mulch with 2.5cm cow manure now and fertilise with Camellia fertilser after flowering.
Camellia japonica "Duo de Chartres." (pictured)
What's On:Camellia Show-Henry street Gordon at Ravenswood School for Girls. Sunday10-5pm.
Orchid show Sunday 11th July at Eastwood Mall

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Dry Spell Gardening

Sydney Garden Talk, Wednesdays 5pm Saturdays 12noon 2RRR 88.5fm
Feature Interview: Brendan Moar-host of TV series dry spell gardens on cable TV. Talks about creating a connetion between a 1950's style house and an uninspiring plain backyard.
The garden is open this weekend 22nd,23rd May as part of the open garden scheme. Brendan created a succulent cage that looks suspended somehow from the fence. In fact is attached with quite a bit of steel engineering. The lawn and garden beds are edged with long lasting aluminium. Looks fantastic!
Rounded balls of Helichrysum petiolare blend with the planted succulents. Japanese box make the other defined features.

Vegetable Hero: Curry Tree Plant-Murraya koenigii.Rutaceae family, named after botanist Johann Koenig.
Full sun or light shade. Fertilize with palm or citrus fertilizer to promote leaf production. Curry plants can be grown in large pots and also on the ground .I have one plant in large pot and it’s only about 1 metre in height. They do not spread very much laterally on the ground or in pots but can succer if roots are disturbed. Use a well drained potting mix. Full sun, water and fertilise well. Use young leaves and crushed seeds in curries, soup stocks and sauces. Berries are edible but seeds are poisonous.
Plant of the Week: Ceratostigma willmottianum-Chinese Plumbago.Ceratostigma willmottianum : This sub-shrub needs full sun flourishing in any well drained soil and being well suited to drier soils such as sandy soils. Will cope with some shade/ Spreading habit makes it great as ground cover amongst rock plants in a tough sunny dry spot. 30cm by 45cm spread

Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Feed with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring. For a tidy, neat appearance, shear annually to shape. Pruning time: autumn after flowering-will withstand pruning to the ground.
What's On:Sunday 23 May, Guided Walk of Shrimpton’s Creek. This walk will follow the bushland corridor between suburban developments. Witness some examples of landscaping and bush regeneration designed to reduce the pressures on our urban creeks. You will also see what happens when plants escape from our gardens into the bush and learn about some of Ryde’s indigenous flora. Distance: 3.4km, Grade: easy.
Part of the Catchment Connections Program Time: 2 - 4pm
Cost: Free
Bookings: 9952 8222

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Save the Salt Marsh Please

Sydney Garden Talk Wednesdays 5-6pm, Saturdays 12-1pm. 2RRR 88.5fm
Feature Interview: Mia Dalby-Ball, ecologist specialising in salt marshes, and river systems.
Saltmarshes are considered to be important coastal habitats because of their role in filtering surface water and  run off from land before it enters the estuary and the sea, their contribution to coastal productivity and because they are a source of organic material and nutrients for a wide range of marine communities.Salt marshes are the spongy layers between Mangroves and the land that may occur inland or near the sea.
They support grasses and succulents plants, but also small crabs, about 2-3 cm in size. The spawn from the crabs supports fish called small fry that are an essential food source for the bigger fish and so on up the chain.
Large numbers of crabs burrow in saltmarshes environments. These crabs excavate burrows over large areas in the saltmarsh, changing the physical structure of the environment.
From studies about mangroves and crabs, it’s been found that when the crabs bury the plant material in their burrows, this enhances the efficiency of microbial decomposition in subsurface mangrove sediments..
Crabs in mangroves are recognised for the role to the structure and function of mangrove habitats because of their burrowing and feeding activities, where they are high order predators.
These crabs are important to the foodweb because they process the leaf litter into more palatable forms and so contributing to nutrient recycling.
Vegetable Hero:Ellataria cardamomum-Cardamon
Cardamom is a perennial (means won’t grow a trunk or turn into a tree) with tall simple canes or stems that grow out of rhizomes. It is native to the shady forests of India, Ceylon and Malaysia.
Growing Cardamom-is a tough plant and drought tolerant as well if you grow it in the right spot.
You need to get a rhizome from someone in order to grow cardamon.True to its original habitat, cardamom prefers humous rich soil, filtered light and room to grow. You can grow it in a pot if you really must, but over summer it will get pot-bound, and refuse to flower, so you must keep dividing the plant and passing it out to friends (a great gift, by the way).

Even if your plant doesn’t flower you will have a huge supply of fragrant leaves, which is just as good to have as the spice.
From winter to midsummer feed your plant with fish emulsion.
Design Elements;Colour in Garden Design, designing with Hot Colours.Tropical associations, red, yellow, bright pink and organge.Warm colours may the garden seem closer than it is really is so use these colours to make parts of the garden to draw visitors into a space. Create a focal point with a hot colour.
Use Bougainvillea, Cannas, Bird of Paradise, Hibiscus, Kniphofias.
Temper down the look with palms,Philodendron and ferns-ie. plants with big leaves. Try Ensete ventricosum.
Plant red flowers among silver foliage to give jewel effect.
Plant of the Week. Asters:Mostly very frost resistant, asters have a preference for well-drained fertile soil that remains moist during the growing season. A sunny, airy, open position ensures maximum flower production and minimum mildew, which can cause problems in humid conditions. Deadhead routinely to encourage continued flowering, and cut back hard after flowering. Propagate by winter division or from spring softwood cuttings.
What's On:
Bromeliad Society Autumn show. Senior Citizens centre,Wellbank street, Concord 24,25th April. 9-5pm

Sunday, 7 February 2010

All About Begonias

Sydney Garden Talk -Saturdays 12noon-!pm on 2RRR 88.5 FM
Today's program featured an interview with Peter Sharp, who has over thirty years experience in Begonia growing and was fundamental to establishing the Begonia beds at Sydney Botanic gardens fifteen years ago.
The beds contain 60 different species and about 50 different hybrids of Begonias.
Start with bedding begonias in a mass to give the visual effect.
The first can Begonia should be  Begonia "Irene Nuss,"  -will take full sun to part shade, flowers from end of spring to winter. Has huge panicles of pink flowers.Almost an angel wing leaf.
All Begonias have leaves that are asymmetrical.
Recommended groundcover Begonia: B. Convolvulacea-can grow up to cover a fence, otherwise about 30-50cm tall depending on conditions. Takes full sun or shade-will grow under trees.
Begonias are heavy feeders,-use a slow release and also supplement with a liquid fertiliser if growing in pots.
Need frequent pruning to shape and size. Pruning of cane Begonias forces growth from the root system rather than promoting lateral growth.
If pots are too small for these Begonias, growth of side shoots will be inhibited.
Begonias for shade: B. listada-deep green velvety leaves with lime stripe-groundcover.
Next to the Cactus family, Begonias are the most drought tolerant as they are succulents by nature. Store moisture in leaves, stems and root systems.
Vegetable Hero:Kohlrabi-Brassica oleracea "Gongylodes"
Heirloom seed from has purple skin and white flesh. Easy to grow.
It has a bright purple skin and white flesh. The flesh is tender with a mild, cabbage-turnip flavour. This is a very hardy vegetable and easy to grow .
Kohlrabi is usually grown from seedlings started in a mini greenhouse, but you can sow seed directly in the garden. Plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep; -, 0.6 to 1.3 cms,
Thin them to 13 to 15 cms or 5 to 6 inches when they're large enough to handle.
Kohlrabi likes fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. The soil should be high in organic matter. Also, when growing kohlrabi, you want to make sure to keep the soil well watered or you will end up with woody stemmed plants that are too tough. How do I know when it’s ready to pick?
When kohlrabi bulbs are two to three inches across they can be picked. Or pick then when small, golf-ball-sized, as they become fibrous with age.
Design Elements:-Sunny courtyard.
Using vertical elements will make the space seem bigger.
Climbing plants soften wals and scent intensifies in small spaces:Climbing Star Jasmine, Pandorea jasminoides "Jazzy Bellz," Rosa "Pierre de Ronsard,"-creamy pink double, repeat flowering. Passionfruit-Nellie Kellie.
Espalier-citrus, Coffee tree-Coffea arabica.
Shrubs-Viburnum tinus'Eve Price'-2.5x2.5m
Escallonia 'Red Knight'deep Cerise flowers, grows 1.5x1.5m
Striking folieage-Agave or Phormium Tricolour.
Seasonal colour-Geraniums-angel-wings.Petunias, Osteospermums-Daisy.
Plant of the Week:Ivory Curl Tree-Buckinghamia celsissima.
Buckinghamia celsissima is a hardy reliable flowering tree which has proved popular as a street tree in many areas because of its adaptability. It can either be grown as a tree, or pruned to maintain a shrubby appearance. Responds well to pruning.Flowers are white to cream and occur in summer in large racemes up to 200 mm long. The flowers are well displayed at the ends of the branches.
Ideal growth is achieved in full sun and deep well-drained soil, where it will develop a dense, compact, rounded crown of deep green leaves. New growth is flushed bronze/red. Moderately fast growth can be expected if well-watered and fertilized in summer.
Watering-Although watering is necessary initially, once established, rainforest plants require no more water than other garden plants.
What's On:
Tuesday 9 Feb: Eastwood Evening Garden Club will meet at 7.30pm at the Dundas Baptist Church Hall. Speaker Ken McGill, who works at a nearby nursery, will talk about what’s new for autumn. There’s a cutting table and library available. For more info phone 9874 2306
Friday 12 Feb Composting and Worm Farm workshop at Lane Cove Community Gardens corner Pacific Highway and Mowbray Rd, behind the church, from 9.30am to 12.30pm. Composting and worm farming prevents food scraps from ending up in landfill, and provides great nutrients for your garden. Online booking only for this one. Go to to book. If you do have enquiries about this or don’t have access to a computer call 9911 3555. It’s free of charge for anyone to come along and Lane Cove residents who attend get a free compost bin or worm farm.
Saturday 13 Feb. Growing Friends plant sale at the Royal Botanic Gardens from 9am – 1pm. Free entry.
Also-, Royal Botanic Gardens. Sogetsu Ikebana demonstration – in other words, the art of Japanese flower arrangement. Joan Perkins from the Sogetsu Teachers Association will show you the basic. 10.30Am – 12.15pm in the Maiden Theatre. Cost $35, book on 9231 8182.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Grasshoppers vs Neem Oil

Sydney Garden Talk on 2RRR 88.5 fm, Saturdays 12 noon-1pm
Todays Show:
Crickets, grasshoppers, kaydids and locusts are a group of insects that have strong chewing mouthparts designed for chewing leaves, and they have extra large hind-legs designed for jumping.
There are two types of grasshopper.

Short Horned Grasshopper & Locust s belong to one group called the Acrididae Family.
Antennae are short, horn shaped & half the body length. Length is from 1/2 to 3 1/8 inch long. They feed on all crops and are active during the day. Eggs are laid below the soil surface.
The other type is the…
Long horned Grasshopper & Katydid belong to the Tettigoniidae Family.
Antennae are quite long, bodies are from 1/2 to 3 inch in length.
Hoppers range from dark brown to shades of green Katydids are generally green.
Eggs are laid inside plant tissue. They feed on tree and shrub foliage. These hoppers are mainly nocturnal.

Controlling Grasshoppers
Plant barrier plants like Horehound (Marrubium vulgare, Cilantro, Calendula), netting your crops, catching them early in the morning,
Small traps can be made out of jars or buckets filled with water and a 10% molasses solution, cover with a film of canola oil to deter bees and mosquitoes. Bury the containers up to their rim in the soil; clean and renew the bait as needed.
Insecticidal potassium soap sprays work best on small grasshoppers.
Make up a garlic or chilli spray as a repellent.

Neem Oil:
Neem Oil: Made from the seed of the Neem (azadirachta indica) tree, a shade tree native to India. The active compound azadractin is extracted using water, alcohol or petroleum ether.
Neem has many different effects on insects. It acts as an insect antifeedant and repellant. It can stop or disrupt insect growth (IGR = insect growth regulator) and sterilizes some species.

Plant of the week: GARDENIA
Gardenias prefer regular substantial watering, but they also need moderately well-drained soils with plenty of organic materials worked in before planting. Equivalent to the Rhododendrons and Azaleas, the Gardenia does best in an acidic soil. The root system is shallow and sensitive, so a thick layer of mulch to control weeds is better than cultivating.
Yellow leaves
One of the most ask questions about Gardenias is the yellowing of older leaves in late winter and spring. This is usually a sign that the plant is moving its magnesium to the new growth. In the beginning of spring feed with Epsom Salts (Magnesium sulphate) will usually solve this problem.
To avoid getting other nutrients out of balance, only apply Epsom Salts no more than once a year.
Flower Problems
Watching plump flower buds drop or fail to open is no fun. Neither are blooms that yellow and brown prematurely. Most flowering problems are caused by poor cultural conditions like dry soil, poor drainage, extreme temperatures (hot and cold) and lack of light.
Fertilising:Gardenia plants require to be fed through spring, summer and autumn with Azalea & Camellia food.

What's On:
Hope you recycled that green Christmas tree into the green bin.
Visit For more tips on recycling.
January 2-3, 6-10, 13-17
Movies in The Overflow at Sydney Olympic Park is a FREE outdoor cinema series and one of the Park’s most popular summer entertainment events. The 2010 program will kick off on Saturday January 2 and will feature 11 films in addition to an array of international short films which will be screened in The Overflow (opposite ANZ Stadium).