Thursday, 24 November 2011

Coastal Designs and a Silver Princess

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm Sat. 12noon, 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.   email
Design Elements:Maybe your plants are yellowing, burnt or stunted, or possibly you can't even get them established in the first place. If this sounds familiar, we'll give you some ideas on how to overcome common problems in growing plants by the coast. Listen here to Lesley simpson And Marianne (host) discuss Coastal Designs.

Vegetable Heroes: This weeks Vegetable Hero is the Cape Gooseberry Physalis peruviana syn. P. edulis  that can be grown in all parts of Australia. But does best in temperate and subtropical areas. The time to sow Cape Gooseberry seed in every region except Tropical is now until December.
For Tropical zones, Mar-August is the time to sow seeds.
They need lots of water throughout the growing year, except towards fruit-ripening time.
These plants grow in most soil types and do very well in poor soils and in pots.
Water them regularly and, when they grow flowers, feed them every two weeks with a tomato food.
Cape gooseberry plants get the same pests as what you’d get in your area from the common tomato. No surprises there
Cape gooseberry once extracted from its husk, can be eaten raw tasting bit like ordinary tomatoes maybe a bit more zingy.
Online suppliers:
Plant of the Week: Not only suitable for native gardens but also exotic gardens because of its form and shape, not to mention leaf and flower colour.
Eucalyptus caesia eg E.caesia “Silver Princess” a tree that grows best in W.A.
Myrtaceae-Distribution:Granite outcrops in a restricted area in south Western Australia.. Gungurru (it is believed that this name may be more appropriate to E.woodwardii)
E, caesia “Silver Princess” is a small Eucalypt that can grow to about 6-9 m high. Great for smaller gardens. It has a very ornamental weeping habit and a silvery, white powdery substance that covers the branches and adds to it’s appeal all year round.
Reddy pink  flowers appear during late winter/early spring followed by large gumnuts also covered in the white powdery stuff. Large "gumnuts" about 30mm in diameter.
E, caesia “Silver Princess” does grow a little sparsely-flowers and branches aren’t that many so it doesn’t give a dense shade. But if you like the look of Birch trees, this is an Australian alternative, because this eucalypt has dark brown bark which peels in curling strips to show a pale undersurface and has deep green leaves with a whitish bloom
E, caesia “Silver Princess” can be coppiced as this plant does have a lignotuber-means it can resprout from the base.
E, caesia “Silver Princess” needs a  soil that  is reasonably well drain.
E. caesia can grow in all areas of Australia except across the top in Darwin and through the arid-dry centre. Certainly will grown from Cape Yorke down to Tasmania and over in W.A.
Not a tree for a shady location, prefers full sun and is highly drought tolerant.
Feature Interview: Goodnight Gladesville hosts, Danny Scrivano and Geoff Martin interview their mate, a bushwalking fanatic. Here are some tips.
Bushwalking in Sydney-If you go to the website Australian suburb Guide,,au you can navigate to bushwalks where you’ll get a list that gives you a good comparison of the bush walking tracks. Sort the bush walking tracks by difficulty, time, distance, starting and finish point, and pick the bush walking tracks which are suitable for you. There’s also walking coastal Sydney website.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Tropical By Design

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm Sat. 12noon, 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
Design Elements:In the 17th Century Europeans interest in tropical gardens grew largely because people equated tropical gardens with their idea of paradise and perhaps the ‘garden of eden.’
Listen to Lesley Simpson, garden designer and Marianne (host) talk about  how you can create your own paradise.
Vegetable Heroes: Phaseolius vulgaris or CommonBeans, either climbing or Dwarf Beans, sometimes called French beans.
To grow beans you  need up to four months of warm weather.
In subtropical climates beans can be grow them  all year. For the rest of us, mid-spring through to late summer are the best times to plant. In colder districts, beans, don’t like the cold at all and they certainly don’t like frost. But you should be safe from any cold snaps now.
Beans are best planted at soil temperatures between 16°C and 30°C. so planting them from now on is good..
Beans are 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 .
Keep watered and watch for bugs and green caterpillars .
Pick the beans regularly to encourage new flowers.
Flowering will slow right down if you let the beans get too large (hard and stringy) on the plants.
For a continuous crop, plant more seed as soon as the previous planting starts to flower.
Protect against snails and slugs by laying down straw or sugar cane mulch and sprinkling coffee grounds around the edge of the veggie bed.
Slugs and snails will completely destroy newly sprouted beans.
Beans do poorly in very wet or humid tropical climates because they get bacterial and fungal diseases.
Pods won’t set at temperatures above 270 C.Go easy on the fertiliser or you’ll get lots of leaves and no beans.
When working with the mature plants and picking the beans, try to do so when they plants are dry. Working with them wet tends to cause them to have diseases.
When are beans ready pick?
Generally the green beans are ready to pick in about 10-12 weeks.
Pick them when they are about as thick as a pencil, smaller if you want a better, tender taste. Length is determined by the type you plant, but usually they will be at least four to six inches long.
Some online sources of heaps of varieites are .
Plant of the Week:Geraniums and Pelargoniums are great collector’s plants with many varieties available. They are a good source of vivid colour, even in winter if a warm spot is provided. There’s even Geranium & pelargonium societies like the one in S.A.  
Geranium sanguineum and Geranium himalayense-yes true Geraniums!  The stork’s bill family – geraniaceae has about 700 plants spread over temperate and subtropical countries. To buy online try this site.  
In this family we have two genera which probably started the confusion in most people’s mind. The genera Geranium and the genera Pelargonium.
What’s the difference I hear you ask? The first difference is that Geranium flowers are 5 petalled and have a radial symmetry or actinomorphic ie, can be divided into two exact parts if a line is drawn from one side to the other reaching the centre, no matter where the line is drawn.
Pelargoniums have two upper petals and three different lower petals, and  have a single symmetry plane or zygomorphic. Only two symmetrical parts are possible if a line is drawn from one side to the other reaching the centre, also known as bilateral symmetry.
What else is different? True Geraniums are sturdy yet refined, with five-petaled flowers on dainty stems close to the palmately-divided leaves.
Hardy Geraniums not as well known as Pelargoniums which people call Geraniums. True geraniums lovely flowers in a wide variety of colours, but they also have varied growing habits to suit gardeners in almost any climate.
True geraniums grow as low growing mounds of dark green leaves topped with pastel flowers make this variety an unequaled addition to the perennial border.
Geranium & Pelargonium tip for November is -Keep deadheading plants so they flower longer- Keep an eye out for white fly as the weather warms up,-          Don’t prune your plants until February.
Feature Interview: Host, Marianne is talking to Jenny Patterson, volunteer guide at -          What can we do to help scientific response to climate change? We can become a Citizen Scientist. Listen here for the interview.

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Friday, 11 November 2011

GST for a Country Garden

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm Sat. 12noon, 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.

Wildlife in Focus: The Grey Shrike-thrush is best known for its lovely song. Birdwatchers call this bird the "GST". Grey Shrike-thrush.  Find out what this songbird sounds like, what it feeds on and how you can attract the GST to your garden.
To hear the full segment with Kurtis Lindsay and host Marianne click on the player.
Vegetable Heroes: Chillies or Capsicum, annum, C. chinense, C. frustescens and others.
 Sowing chilli seeds  can be done throughout the year in Tropical and sub-Tropical climates. Luck guys. Being a warm season plant the season is shorter in temperate climates only fruiting over the summer months and dying back in winter. They’re totally not suitable in areas where  frosts occur. Perhaps try them in a pot and place it a very warm verandah because warm conditions over a five-month growing period are necessary for any good quality fruit. Chillies need soil temperature of 15–30°C to germinate.
Germination takes from 1 to 6 weeks so don’t give up.
To grow chillies well, add lots of high nitrogenous matter, like Nasturtium or comfrey leaves to the soil  as well as compost and manures, so you won’t have to fertilise with chemical fertilisers.There’s no special soil or potting mix that they need, just start to add a side dressing of fertilise when you see the flowers develop and don’t let them dry out too.
!4 different varieties available from
Capsaicin in chillies will cause an unpleasant burning sensation to eyes and skin. Try to avoid handling them too much, wear gloves if possible, and be sure not to touch your face or eyes during preparation. So happy chilli growing gardeners
Design Elements:     Country garden style began in England  in the 18th Century and was also called English landscape park. This style of garden spread across Europe, replacing the more formal, symmetrical Garden à la française of the 17th century as the principal gardening style of Europe.
Listen to garden designer Lesley Simpson and Marianne discuss how country garden styles can suit your garden.
Plant of the Week : Brunfelsia spp. Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow Plant.
When the flowers first appear, they’re a deep purple. As the days pass and the plant ages, the flowers fade from the deep purple into a lighter lavender color, and finally, the petals fade to white.  
They fade quicker than a kiss and the plant has earnt the name Kiss Me Quick in America!
a.    Brunfelsia is a genus of flowering plants and shrubs native to the tropics and the subtropical regions of South and Central America
b.   Grows to about 2-3 metres.
c.     B. pauciflora, has the largest of flowers that completely clothe the plant.
d.   Members of this genus have broad, simple leaves and distinctive tubular flowers with broad petals called “salverform”.
e.  These plants are native to woodland habitats and prefer partial to filtered shade. People growing them in hot, dry climates with long, bright days should lookfor shadier areas, while people in cooler climates with less strong light can try growing Brunfelsia in full sun, although not generally a cool climate plant. You can grow it in a pot and move it around because some people have success growing them in cooler climates by bringing them indoors in the cold months, although they will lose their leaves in the winter.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Life's A Town Garden

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm Sat. 12noon, 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.

Design Elements:At first gardens were just vegetable plots in front of the town walls, and the produce was sold in the horticultural  markets. It was quite a few centuries before the town garden evolved to what it is today. Listen here to garden designer, Lesley Simpson and host Marianne discuss what's needed in designing today's "Town Garden."

Vegetable Heroes: Eggplants, Aubergines or Solanum melongena.
When to sow: In tropical areas, eggplants can be sown in spring through to autumn, in temperate areas spring through to early summer and only during late spring in cool climates.
Eggplant is a short lived perennial plant that grows to about 1metre bush and is treated mostly as an annual. So far my plants from previous years never survive the cold and I have to start all over again.
Eggplants need warm soils temperatures to germinate-around 200C. 
In cold areas start your seeds in a small pot—about 100mm four inches big—for each seed. Plant the seeds about half an inch into the soil and add a bit of water. Cover with a plastic bag or put the seeds into a  mini-greenhouse and put the greenhouse where it will get sunlight. After about a few weeks you should notice a little seedling popping up from the soil. You can now transplant this into its permanent place in the garden. 
Before transplanting your eggplants, mix  some pelleted chicken manure, or blood/n/bon and compost in with the soil before planting your eggplants. A good ratio is about 20% manure/compost to 80% soil.
TIP: If you think your soil is too cold, transplant into a bigger pot. Cold soils set the plant back and they’ll grow just fine in pots.
Eggplants have to have full sunlight or they simply won’t thrive. 
Any spot that gets about six to eight  hours of full sun (meaning no shady plants or structures nearby to block the sun) would do well. 
 After the seedlings have been transplanted, give them a little water and leave them to grow.          Make sure to add a little mulch to the top of the soil to help keep soil in. This is useful in areas that get quite warm or are prone to drought.
  Eggplants are ready for picking in about sixty days, you should notice the fruit popping up on your eggplants.
Plant of the Week:      PHALAENOPSIS.Orchid.
The flower is exotic and fragrant; the plant is considered a good air-purifying house plant. Moth orchids are usually planted in pots with good drainage.

A well-grown Phalaenopsis is not rich green. But when grown to perfection the plant is a medium green with a hint of yellow or red lurking in the background. Using leaf color is a good simple way to tell if your plant is getting the correct amount of light.
Rich green, more light! Keep trying for that hint of red or yellow if you want lots of FLOWER.
The flowers appear on a spike from the stem between the leaves and, depending on the type, there may be anything from a single flower to over a hundred.
RWG Tip: Don't cut the flower spike unless it turns brown. New flowers will continually appear on the spike for quite a while. When a flower bud develops into a small plant with roots, cut off this part  and pot it up. These propagations may flower within a couple of years.
Watering and feeding. -As they do not have storage pseudobulbs, their compost should he kept evenly moist using tepid rainwater, or reasonably pure tap water if you are lucky enough to have it. Do not let it dry out.
Phalaenopsis like a minimum temperature of 20°C but can tolerate 15°C as an adult plants and may actually flower better after a few weeks at this night temperature in autumn.
Avoid using cold water and don't allow water to remain in the crown of the plants for more than a couple of hours as it can induce rotting. Give a quarter strength fertiliser once a month.  Your African violet fertilizer will be adequate, after all, African Violets and Phalaenopsis like the same conditions. Oversimplifying it because in actual fact, the Moth Orchid likes a bit less light.
Moth Orchids are both beautiful and useful. The flower is exotic and fragrant; the plant is considered a good air-purifying house plant. Moth orchids are usually planted in pots or baskets (sometimes hanging) with good drainage; some suggest fir bark is the best soil

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