Sunday, 30 March 2014

Chinese Gardens for The People

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website


Chinese Gardens Part II
Last week we heard some of the history behind Chinese gardens and some of the different types of gardens.

photo by Louise Brooks-Chinese Gardens
Darling Harbour, Sydney
Imperial gardens are on a vast scale with a lot of pavement, very old and gnarled trees.
Monastic gardens were more like a parkland with areas for growing food.
But what about real Chinese gardens for ordinary folk?
Today we continue with part two of what makes a Chinese garden and you’ll probably want to know how you can create one yourself?

There are some things you already might associate with Chinese gardens like Lion statues and water features, but what are the elements that make the difference between Imperial, Monastic and residential Chinese gardens?

Louise Brooks interviews Peter Nowland, landscape architect with Sydney Foreshore Authority, and horticulturalist, Andrew Meade in part two, Chinese Gardens.

To create a Chinese garden you have to have water, rocks and of course plants.
Water is the giver of life and the Ying or female part of the garden.
Then there's the rock or Yang-the masculine part of the garden. rock in China is usually limestone, but you can use rock that's endemic to your region, such as granite or sandstone.
The plants are specific, for longevity, luck and wisdom.
So many elements that you can add to your garden from zig zag bridges to stop negative energy, to thinned out bamboo to create a bamboo forest rather than just a solid dense clump of bamboo.
What about some cloud stones at the bottom of bridges and pavilions, or in our case a pergola. Cloud stones are to lift you up as if you were standing on a cloud?

photo by Louise Brooks-Chinese Gardens Darling Harbour, Sydney
Lotus flowers are of course is about symbolism of life but you would need a rather large water feature to fit them in.
If you have any questions about Chinese gardens, why not drop us a line to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675,


Canna edulis, Arrowroot

Today’s vegetable is loaded with carbohydrates or carbs as we refer to them.
Why am I talking about carbs?
Because a new study showing a high carbohydrate, low protein diet can help you live fifty per cent longer has just been released from Sydney University.

But first a question.Ever heard of arrowroot as in arrowroot biscuits perhaps?
Did you know Arrowroot is actually a plant and not just the name of a type of biscuit?
The scientific name of the type of arrowroot that I’m talking about today is Canna edulis but it’s known as edible canna and Qld arrowroot.
There are other types of arrowroot, but generally not available to buy or grow in many places in Australia, so I’ll stick to the Canna edulis one.
Some of you might know that Canna plant already, with its sword shaped leaves and brightly coloured flowers.
Well arrowroot is an edible canna.
In fact it reminds me a bit of edible Ginger or Cardamom because it’s a very hardy, clump-forming perennial plant with thick stalks and large bright green leaves 300-600mm long to 2m high.
But which part do you eat?
In this case, like the edible ginger, you eat the tubers.
If you dig them up when they’re small - about the size of a tennis ball and the skin is still white is the best time.
They can be used all year round, as a potato substitute.

 HINT: Another good thing about Arrowroot tubers is that you can plant them at any time of the year.

The large round red rhizomes can be eaten raw, cooked as you would a potato or used as a flour and thickening agent.
Young shoots can also be eaten as a green vegetable.

Edible Canna is easy to plant, to grow and to harvest.
While the tubers grow at a rate of knots,  in deep rich friable soil, they are the most hardy of all the tuber crops and grows well in any type of soils even where most other tubers refuse to grow.
You can start digging the tubers up USING A GARDEN FORK after 6 months usually around Summer and Autumn.
In fact if you had planted a tuber last Spring, you would’ve had a clump about 1 metre across by now.


Even though the books will tell you that Arrowroot needs a warm sunny position; Arrowroot will tolerate heat and light frosts.
The only drawback is growth is much slower in cold areas

Canna edulis flowers
Suitable for temperate, subtropical and tropical areas but there’s no reason for you not to try it in Gippsland or even Canberra, just not out in the elements.
An idea would be to plant it under a shrub as protection from deep frosts.
Arrowroot can be grown in any soil even clay soil because it likes moisture and even copes with poor drainage.
Full sun is the key, so even though I said shelter it from frosts under a shrub, the position has to be north facing.
 Of course if you add compost, manures and all those great organic fertilisers you have in that garden shed, you’ll get fast growth and lots of tubers.
One other thing, if you’ve got poor sandy soil, don’t forget to keep up the watering.
Edible canna or arrowroot does develop small orangish flowers that will set black seeds.
If you live near a watercourse or creek, there’s potential for the seeds to spread into bushland or along creek-lines, so do cut off the flowers as they finish, and definitely cut off the seed heads.

HOT TIP: seed grown plants are slow to mature and vary in the type of plant you get. It’s faster and better to divide your plants if you want to give some to other gardeners.
TIP: If you can grow Cannas you can definitely grow edible Cannas and arrowroot has few problems with pests and diseases.
As mentioned arrowroot is starchy and can be eaten like potatoes.
Digging them up when they’re small is the best because as they get older they become dry and stringy.
Just peel them like potatoes and soak them in water if you want less starchiness.
Freshly grated arrowroot can be used as a thickening agent.
By the way, unlike potatoes, unless you’re thinking of making arrowroot flour, which is a longer process than I have time for, you need to dig up your tubers and use them soon after.

Why are they good for you?

Excellent carbohydrate, the starch is easily digested and is a promising food source.
Arrowroot also has 10g of protein for every 100g of tuber.
But apart from the carbs and its use as a thickening agent, and extracting arrowroot flour, there are no vitamins or minerals in this plant.
So back to that study, Sydney University research found mice fed a high carbohydrate, low protein diet had a longer lifespan and better cardiometabolic health despite the fact they were overweight.
I recently spoke to Professor Steve Simpson who conducted the study, and his suggestion was that a diet that consists of 15-20 per cent high quality protein, low in fat and high in good quality carbohydrate will deliver the best metabolic health and longest life.
No need to cut out those carbs, just the fried chips.
Available from these suppliers.


Bunya Pine Araucaria bidwillii
The Araucariaceae family of trees has been described as both ancient and bizarre. This group is one of the most primitive of the world’s trees.
There are only three genera, Agathis, Araucaria and the newest addition Wollemia (the Wollemi pine).
Did you know that Australia is the only place with all three genera?

Have you heard of a pine tree that grows in the rainforest?

Not heard of anymore in the northern hemisphere but common in rainforests in Australia and New Guinea.

But there’s more, the nuts are edible!

The Bunya pine is a beautiful ornamental pine tree.

If you’re growing an Australian conifer, then don’t go past a Bunya nut.
Although it’s a rainforest tree, it seems to be pretty adaptable with reportedly trees growing in Hobart, Perth and in various botanic gardens and parks in the northern hemisphere.
Even in Canberras botanic gardens there are trees over a hundred years old.
Canberra of course experiences a wide range of temperatures.
From -10ºC in winter to 30ºC in summer

The Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii) is a large tree, growing 30-45 metres in height, with a straight, rough-barked trunk and a very distinctive, symmetrical, dome-shaped crown.

 I've heard it described like looking like the back of a shovel.

Bunya leaves are very sharp
The downside of this tree is that it’s got very sharply pointed, lance-shaped leaves, about 2.5cm long, which make it uncomfortable to be around if barefoot, as it drops twigs and leaves quite often. 

 The Bunya Pine has one of the largest cones of any conifer.

The kernel of this nut is a pale beige colour with a firm but waxy texture which some say is sort of like the taste of raw macadamias.

I’ve seen cookbooks which is like a 1001 ways to cook with Bunya nuts.

A council sign in the town of Vincent reads.

Bunya pine cones can weigh up to 10Kg.


Signed the chief executive officer.

This one’s definitely for lovers of long lived trees
You heard that Bunya nuts are the size of a 50 cent coin and each cone can have 50 – 100 nuts and might weigh up to 10Kg.
It’s safest to collect cones that have fallen to the ground and rolled out from under the trees. Otherwise make your harvesting run under the trees very quick not when the wind is blowing, and preferably with a hard hat!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Chinese Gardens, Japanese Flowers

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website


Chinese Gardens part 1

with Louise Brooks
Chinese Gardens, Darling Harbour, Sydney. photo taken by Louise Brooks
Do you know the difference between Chinese and Japanese gardens?
Are they both similar or completely different?
If you were a Chinese Emperor or member of the Imperial family, you garden would be built not only for beauty and pleasure but to impress.
But what about smaller gardens or gardens for the common people?
Louise talks to Peter Nowland, Landscape Architect from Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority   to find out the important elements in a Chinese garden.

If you lived in the 1600’s  the time when the earliest recorded Chinese gardens were created, you would have to put yourself into the valley of the Yellow River, during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 B.C).
These gardens were large enclosed parks where the kings and nobles hunted game, or where fruit and vegetables were grown.
Taoists developed the concept of Yin and Yang, and Confucius believed in the family unit. These all were used in the template of the Chinese Garden, developed over 2,000 years.
Southern Chinese gardens are more lush and tropical looking then  gardens in northern China.
There are three main elements in Chinese gardens, rocks water and plants, plus pavilions for family, reading, artwork, music and contemplating. A pavilion, or "ting", is an essential component of a Chinese garden . . . the resting place from which to contemplate nature.
All the features in a Chines garden has been deliberately chosen and placed not only for artistic effect but for its symbolic importance. No garden is without a lake or pool. This body of water, no matter how small, is its spiritual heart.
Pavillion, Chinese Garden, Darling Harbour Sydney. photo Louise Brooks
Rocks,represent mythological stories and are placed in groupings. A bamboo forest is created by judicious pruning to serve as reminders of qualities valued in human beings.


Plants are chosen the symbolize something for tradition and history.
The magnolia tree has traditionally represented wealth.
In China, the azalea (Rhododendron spp.), together with the primrose and the gentian, is considered one of the "three famous flowers


Radishes  or Raphanus sativus. 
Have you thought why we don’t see too many radishes being served up in salads these days except for the floral radish on the side?
Yes, they seem to have gone out of favour but that’s about to change
The word radish stems from the Roman word “Radix” that means “Root”, and it belongs to the mustard family.
Radishes were first grown in China thousands of years ago, then in Egypt before the building of the pyramids.
 In Ancient Greece the radish was so revered that gold replicas were made and offered to the god Apollo.
As usual there are myths and legends about eating vegetables throughout history and in England in the 1500’s,  it was rumoured that eating radishes cured kidney stones, intestinal worms and gave you a blemish-free complexion.
But there is more than one way to grow radishes.
Radish seeds can be even grown in a sprouter and eaten just as you would eat mustard and cress or any other sprouted bean or seed.


Radishes grow in all climates and like to be in moist shady places, especially on hot summer days.
In autumn, you’ll have no trouble growing radishes in sunnier locations.
Plant them all year round in tropical and subtropical areas, in temperate zones they can be grown almost all year except winter, and in spring summer and autumn in colder districts.
Radishes will take light frost.
Radishes are closely related to cabbages, so they need much the same type of thing.
The best thing about radishes though is that they’re quick being ready 6-8 weeks after planting and because of that you can plant them among slower growing vegetables like carrots.


To sow seed, make a furrow about 6mm deep, lay down some chicken poo pellets or something similar, cover with a little soil and sprinkle in some radish seed. They also love a dose of potash.
Fill the furrow with compost or seed raising mix and water in.
TIP Seedlings will appear in a couple of days but makes sure you thin them out to 5cm apart otherwise your radish won’t grow into a big enough sized root for the dinner table and you’ll end up with mostly leaf.
Feed with a liquid fertiliser such as worm tea every week at the seedling stage.
Tip: As radish is one of the fastest growing vegetables, too much fertiliser causes the leaves to outgrow the root. Long leaves have no shelf life, just look in your local supermarket
Pick the radish when they are the size of a ten cent piece and leaves about four inches or 10cm long.
Make sure radishes have enough water and don't let them become too enormous. If they are water deprived or get too big, they can become bitter.

Here are some varieties to get you interested.

Radish Black Spanish Round: The radish chefs prefer, this unique black skinned radish has a delicate black circle around the pure white flesh when sliced. Can also be pickled.

Radish Watermelon You'll never see this one on the supermarket shelf. When you slice through the bland looking white exterior of this radish you’ll see that it looks like a mini watermelon with white 'rind' surrounding a bright pink interior. And it’s deliciously flavoured.

Or you can buy an heirloom mix. This seed packet contains a kaleidescope of healthy bright round radishes that add a spicy punch to salads and sandwiches.
Includes golden Helios, Purple Plum, scarlet Round Red, pink and white Watermelon and Black Spanish.Radish
There’s also Champion cherry bell that has deep red skin and firm white flesh, good for cold districts.

Radish China Rose has a smooth rose coloured skin and is a great Chinese winter radish.

French breakfast is readily available, scarlet skin with a white tip, and a mild flavour. Ready in 28 days.
Plum purple is bright purple with crisp sweet firm white flesh.
The unusual varieties are available through mail order seed companies such as Eden seeds or  online.
Why are they good for you? Radishes are a very good source of fibre, vitamin C, folic acid and potassium, and a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese.
Radishes are also mildly anti-inflammatory, which is another good thing. A diet containing anti-inflammatory foods can help to control inflammation in the body, which is an underlying factor of so many allergies and illnesses.


Posoqueria longiflora Japanese Needle Flower

Have you ever thought about what connects plants for them to be put into plant families?
For Botanists this is key to identifying unknown species on field trips, but to home gardeners, is it just a curiosity or will it help knowing this information?
I would say some listeners would know that plants within the Daisy family and the Mint family. But what about plants in the Rubiaceae family?

Did you know that the Rubiaceae is the fourth largest family of flowering plants after the Asteraceae or Daisy family, Orchidaceae and Fabaceae or peas and bean family

Typically this family has small flowers arranged in whorls and most of the family members are tropical.
You might know the coffee plant, gardenias, and even pentas and ixoras.
Would you have guessed that because coffee is such an important economic crop, the Rubiaceae family is sometimes called the coffee family.

Posoqueria longiflora, has white flowers are drawn out at the base into a narrow tube up to 35 centimetres long - they smell a little like gardenias, which are in the same family, the Rubiaceae.

The extremely long and narrow tube, and the white colour, of the flowers were probably pollinated by hawkmoths, with their long 'straws' for sucking up nectar.

If you touch the tips of the flowers when it’s ready to be pollinated, the clustered anthers give a sharp flick which is supposed to dust the visiting pollinator with pollen.
Australia doesn’t have any hawkmoths.

These white flowers are set off by the deep green of the leaves.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Bringing Butterflies to Your Garden

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
Real World Gardener is funded by the Community Broadcasting Foundation
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website


with ecologist Sue Stevens.

Butterfly Gardening part 2

Did you know that butterflies are and indicator of the environment’s health?
How’s this for an interesting fact about butterflies?
Monarch butterflies are known for their long migration. Every year monarch butterflies will travel a great distance (sometimes over 4000 km), females will lay eggs and a new generation of monarchs will travel back, completing the cycle. And Butterflies attach their eggs to leaves with a special glue.
Not bad ?
Listen to this…..
Websites for looking up butterflies are the Museums of Australia, Queensland and Victoria. These sites are  great for finding out specific food plants of butterflies.The books were Australian butterflies in Colour by Charles McCubbin, “Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden” by Densey Clyne, also the Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia by Michael F Braby.


Want to know what will help your sleep better?
The answer is is Lettuce and I’ll tell you why a little later on.
What to the words Tango, Red Leprechaun, Tennis Ball and Freckles have in common? They’re all lettuce varieties that you can buy.
LETTUCE or Lactuca sativa,  is a temperate annual or biennial plant of the daisy family Asteraceae.. great in salads, tacos, hamburgers!
You might think it too boring to be a hero, but the earliest mention of lettuce in history is a carving on an Egyptian temple.
Did you know that Lettuce was considered an aphrodisiac in Egypt?
And that the Greeks used lettuce as a medicinal plant to induce sleep?
Lactuca sativa or lettuce is just everywhere and thought to have started in the wild as a prickly lettuce, found as a weed in the Mediterranean.

Why is fresh best?

Nothing beats the freshness of home grown lettuce though.
 Just pick some leaves fresh when you need them.
What you mightn’t realise is that the flavour is lost in as little as 24 hours, and there’s no way supermarket lettuce is only 24 hours old.

When to Plant

 Lettuce can be planted all year round in all areas of Australia.
Having said that, in Arid districts, it might be a good idea to avoid the hottest months of the year, and in cool temperate districts, you might light to grow your lettuce in a greenhouse or undercover somewhere during winter.
Not all kinds of lettuce are created alike!
For all areas, planting or sowing in the summer months, should only be the loose leaf types of lettuce.
Now’s the time to be plantingIceberg and the other hearting lettuce varieties, like Butterhead and Cos Romaine because they prefer being grown in the cooler months of Autumn, and in some districts during winter.
These hearting varieties are OK in the coolest months. (The upper temperature limit to grow heading lettuces is 28°C)
Summer was just too warm for the hearting types.
How to Grow

Lettuces taste best when they are grown as fast as possible and for that they need water and food.
During the cooler months, you need to sow your lettuce in full sun.
Don't plant them in deep shade, like under a tree. They will just grow into pale, leggy things with few leaves on them.
After that, Lettuces need good soil that’s  light, free draining and rich in organic matter.
Ideally your soil should hold lots of water and lots of nitrogen and other nutrients.
Sandy soils need help from your compost bin or worm farm.
If you have clay soils, growing lettuce shouldn’t be a problem, as is growing them in pots.
 Lettuce has shallow roots, so it dries out easily.
You must keep up a steady supply of water because any set back will at least, make them tough and bitter, at worst it will cause them to bolt to seed straight away without making any leaves for you!
So make sure they never get stressed (e.g. by forgetting to water them).
To sow lettuce seed, either spread the seed very thinly along a row and cover lightly with soil, or sprinkle it over a bed and rake it in. For all you balcony gardeners, any largish pot will do for 3 or 4 lettuce seedlings.
Lettuce seed is very fine so you’ll get a few clumps.
Thin them out, you know the drill.
If the weather warms up in your district and your soil sandy, you will need to water daily. Stick your finger in the soil if not sure.

By the way, lettuce seed doesn’t germinate that well at soil temperatures over 250C.  So if you are sowing it in a pot, keep the potting mix cool by putting it in light shade until the lettuce seed germinates.
I mentioned before that hearting types of lettuce will go to seed in summer very quickly and not form a heart at all.
For tropical and sub-tropical districts, the most heat tolerant kinds of lettuce are the open leafed varieties (Looseleaf).
All the pretty fancy lettuces you see in the shops, the frilly and curly varieties, they are your lettuce varieties you need to grow.

Is your lettuce grows slowly even though you’re giving them plenty of water, then they need more food.
 Did you add organic compost, manures or worm castings to the veggie bed before you sowed the seed?
If you didn’t, then you need to supply extra nutrients, especially nitrogen. Some of the liquid fertilisers will do right now.

Some lettuce varieties for you to try are, Lettuce Freckles-yep it’s freckly and it’s a butter lettuce as is Lettuce Tennis Ball.

Lettuce Amish Deer Tongue- Amazing two-in-one lettuce that can be cooked like spinach or used like lettuce, so you have a hot or cold vegetable to suit the season. Repeat harvest makes it a highly productive choice for space saving gardens.

Lettuce Crispmint is an outstanding variety with excellent flavour and crisp, minty green leaves. Seed Savers in the US have over 200 varieties of lettuce and rate this as one of their best.
And for a great winter lettuce why not try Lettuce

Rouge d’Hiver or 'Red of Winter' due to the elegant deep brown-red leaves that fade to green near the heart.
So why is it good for us?
Lettuce is very good for digestion and promotes good liver function. It can reduce the risk of heart attacks and is good for healthy eyesight. It has good levels of Vitamin C, beta-carotene and fibre.
You won’t put on any weight eating Lettuce  because mostvarieties have over 90% water and are extremely low in calories.
Lettuce contain the sedative lactucarium (lactoo-caree um) which relaxes the nerves but not upsetting digestion.
As a general rule, the darker green the leaves, the more nutritious the salad green. For example, romaine or watercress have seven to eight times as much beta-carotene, and two to four times the calcium, and twice the amount of potassium as iceberg lettuce. By varying the greens in your salads, you can boost the nutritional content as well as vary the tastes and textures.  
Happy Lettuce growing everyone!


with Jason Cornish, landscape designer.
Plants are a living thing, and as much as we like to think of never having to sweep up leaves, prune, hedge, clip would be great.
Let’s be real, unless you want plastic plants, there’s always going to be some sort of maintenance in your garden.
So why do some garden designs not live up to expectations?

Let’s find out what this is all about.

So it seems that formal gardens, whether traditional or contemporary, or those gardens which are quite structured are the ones the need the most upkeep.

That means trimming, pruning, hedging, mowing, fertilising, raking leaves.
In fact, all gardens need some sort of maintenance even if you've only got a square of lawn and a pot plant.

You have to mow that lawn, water and fertilise it. Same goes for that pot plants.

No sorry, a square of astro turf does not classify as having a garden.

The next problem is trying to squeeze too many plants into the available space.
Problems arise from plants crowding each other out, then having to be removed.


Leucophyta brownii or Cushion Bush
Do you wonder where to put those plants you’ve bought that the leaf shape, leaf colour and size just don’t seem to fit anywhere.
At first glance, this week’s plant of the week might just have this problem.
But if you must have this plant you can use it as a highlight in your garden.
Cushion bush is a bushy coastal shrub across Australia, growing on rocky cliffs and sand dunes.
Cushion bush grows up to 75cm high and 90cm across.
Native to Western Australia, with round yellow to white flowers, Dec or Jan to Feb.
In it’s native habitat it grows on white or grey-white sand over limestone, brown sand or brown sandy clay over granite.
This plant is suitable for extreme coastal locations.
This bush is a must for areas with low water usage because it’s extremely drought tolerant, low maintenance, grows in any type of soil, yes sandy soils and clay soils.
But there’s more, it is salt, wind and frost tolerant.

How come all these tolerances?

Cushion bush has tiny hairs growing all over its leaves, giving the plant a silver appearance. The Trichomes (small hairs) on the leaves absorb atmospheric water; also reduce the rate of transpiration and shade the tissues below from intense light.

Cushion bush likes winter rains and dry or arid summers but copes with moist temperate and warm summers.

The only places cushion bush doesn’t like is the hot humid tropical and sub-tropical north of Australia.

Design element:

The silver foliage reflects light at night so when there’s moonlight, you could see it in your garden, perhaps along a path.

Like lavender, silver or grey foliage plants create a contrast to other plants in your garden.

Team it with low mounding grasses or groundcovers like Goodenia, or Hardenbergia.

Team it with other drought tolerant shrubs for a waterwise garden:

Some suggestions-Artemisia, Bergenia, Correa alba, Correa reflexa, Dodonea or purple leaved hop bush, Helichrysum petiolare or Licorice plant, lavender, Limonium or Statice, Myrtus communis and Plumbago. Various salvias like Salvia leucantha or Mexican sage, Santolina, Rosemary and Ruta graveolens.

For a dry garden, or Mediterranean garden, leucophyta is certainly a novelty looking plant that does better when plant in groups of three or five.
Available for the Royal Botanic Gardens nursery and Australian Garden at Mt Annan. for opening times

Friday, 7 March 2014



“If someone asks for help in the herb garden, you can certainly give Sage advice if you have Thyme.”
Why did the chef add extra oregano to his sauce?
He was making up for lost thyme.

Listen to this…..with herb expert Ian Hemphill from

If you want to grow Thyme in your garden but your soil’s a heavy type, first spread a layer of gravel then plant your Thyme.
Should that fail, Thyme grows well in pots . Use it as a filler in a bigger pot with a large plant in it.
Thyme can be preserved by freezing some in ice cube trays. When the cubes are frozen take them out of the tray and pop them into a plastic bag.
Another way is to wrap the Thyme, stem and leaves in foil and put that in the freezer.
Frozen Thyme keeps well for a few months.
Thyme is quite pungent so even if you add some sprigs of Thyme at the beginning of cooking, there will still be flavor at the end.
The best advice for adding fresh herbs to any cooking is at the end. Dried herbs are best at the beginning.


Well it’s TIME FOR VEGETABLE HEROES  Garden Sorrel and French Sorrel or Rumex acetosa  and Rumex scutatus are members of the Rumex family and found mainly in temperate climates all over the world
Some people think Sorrel’s are all alike
Did you know that there’s a Garden Sorrel or Common Sorrel and French Sorrel?
French Sorrel is not quite so sour.
The word "sorrel" comes from the old French surele, which derives from sur, "sour".
The Cambridge World History of Food and Drink claims that “sorrel” actually comes from a Germanic word also meaning sour.
Yes, we get the picture, it’s sour to taste.
Have you been given a pot of something and planted in out in the garden, only to think a few weeks later, “where did I plant that?”
I was given a pot of what is most likely the French Sorrel over the weekend which I accepted gladly because I couldn’t remember where in the garden my sorrel had got to.
The flavour of sorrel is memorable – astringent and a lemony taking me back in time when I was very young.
I was given some Sorrel soup and although eating it, complained that I had been given soup made of grass.
How things change.
Sorrel originates in Europe, North America, and Asia.
Sorrel is a close relative of the weed dock, with large, arrow-shaped leaves.
If you know the weed Curled Dock, you’ll know what I mean.
Sorrel, whether French or the Garden variety, grows best in a rich soil, but will grow in any well-drained soil, and can be planted in sun or partial shade.
Sorrel grows anywhere in Australia, and for Tropical and Sub-tropical climates it’s a good substitute for Spinach, which tends to run to seed in those areas.reenish brown flowers when they appear in summer by cutting the flowering stem, or the plant will put its energy into seed, not leaf, production.
When your sorrel plant is established, it's easy to propagate by using a sharp knife to cut sma
Prepare the bed by digging in generous amounts of aged manure or compost.
An occasional side dressing of compost doesn’t hurt during the growing season either.
The plants should be kept moist, so water well during dry summer months.
French Sorrel is a perennial (means in will continue growing year after year) grows to about 15-45 cm high, and about 60cm wide if you put it into the garden.
The mid green leaves are shaped like squat shields.
Plants can be bought from a garden centre or started from seed.
Better still, if you know someone with an established sorrel plant, ask for a small cutting.
The plants will grow into fairly sizable clumps, anywhere from ½ metre high, and will produce tangy, edible leaves approximately four months after thinning.
Remove the gll sections from the main root.
Autumn is the best time to do this and these sections should be potted up to give away or planted back in the garden and watered in well.
Once the plant has matured, it can be treated as a 'cut and come again' crop.
Sorrel is pretty much a self-care plant.
Just don’t forget where you planted it in the garden.
So what do you do with Sorrel?
If you pick the leaves when they’re young they’ve got a fresh, palate cleansing taste and make a delicious addition to a salad.
Older leaves can be pureed to make green sauce for fish, French Cream of Sorrel soup, or a variety of Russian borscht.
Sorrel leaves go well with avocado in a salad or on a sandwich.
Add some shredded leaves to scrambled eggs, omelets and frittata.
Quinoa salad loves the tangy addition of sorrel as do seafood and tomato dishes.
Why not stir finely shredded sorrel through a basic white sauce to give a real zing to vegetables.
Tough, outer leaves can be fed to rabbits and chooks or tossed into the compost bin.
Picking the leaves is simple, either pinch or cut the leaves off with a knife at any time during the growing season.
Leaves grow upward on a strong stem, so they don't get gritty, like spinach.
When picking the leaves, remember the smallest leaves are the most concentrated in flavour.
To keep your sorrel patch going at full strength, start new plants from section cuttings every few years.
That's all the work there is to growing sorrel.
Sorrel is basically disease and insect free - aphids may show an interest in the young leaves.
These can be removed with a sharp spray of water. Even slugs rarely bother this potherb. It's a great plant for the organic gardener.
Why Is It Good For You?
Sorrel is considered to be good for you in much the same way as Spinach.
Sorrel leaves are rich in potassium and vitamins C and A, and will keep its beneficial qualities and great taste for a long time, but they are especially good when fresh.
To store, put French sorrel into a sealed plastic bag and keep in the fridge. Sorrel doesn’t dry well, but it can be frozen.
Sorrel is high in oxalates and not good for people with kidney stones or arthritis.
with Louise McDaid

Today the final in the series on the colour green in gardens, and as a colour, mostly gardeners overlook on how effectively it can be really used.
Are you worried about having too much green in the garden and not quite getting the variation in leaf size, shape and texture to give your garden a lift.
Today we might have just the right answer in the final of the series
Let’s find out what this is all about.
PLAY: Green_Gardens_pt5_26th Feb_2014
Louse was talking mainly about plants with cream and green or cream and white variegations.

  • What is a variegated plant – one with leaves that have more than 1 or 2 colours – for this purpose we’re talking about green with white, cream or yellow. The colours are usually in thick or thin stripes, but sometimes other markings a bit more random like splashes or marbling – often there will be a few tones of green
Stripey – NZ flax, iris, dianella, miscanthus ‘zebrinus’, alpinia zerumbet ‘variegata’, agave succulent
Perimeter splashes or edging – hibiscus, zonal pelargonium, hosta, pittosporum (screening plant)
Random splashes and spots – aucuba (gold dust plant), zantedeshcia (calla lily)
Euphorbia – mentioned them as a green flower but also available with variegated foliage
CULTIVATION TIP: Plants with more white or yellow need more sun than those with less – the trick is to give enough light but not too much sun to burn the leaves.
For the most part, variegated plants don’t like full shade because the leaves have less chlorophyll for photosynthesis.
That tends to mean they also grow a bit slower.
HOT TIP: Plant an variegated and non variegated version of the same plant - it works well because of the repetition of shape, texture and form that gives consistency and harmony, but variation with the colour to add interest


You might be surprised to learn that Bursaria grows in all states except Western Australia and Northern Territory, generally excluding more arid areas, grassy plains, and heavy clay soils at higher altitudes;

One thing we didn’t touch on was that all Bursaria species are vigorously rhizomatous.
Once established bursarias  are extremely hardy and will last 30-50 years.
Bursarias are great colonisers of marginal or disturbed sites and regenerate from rhizomes, e.g. after fire.

Bursaria spinosa is of high wildlife value, as a habitat for birds and as a nectar source. It is a useful honey plant in poor seasons, producing medium to heavy quantities of pollen.


Bursaria spinosa is an erect, prickly shrub to about 3-4 metres tall.

The leaves are an elongated oval shape 20-45 mm long and up to 12 mm wide, green above and hairy beneath.

The flowers are creamy-white, star like, and have a sweet pittosporum like scent.

The petals are quite small about 7-10 mm in diameter and are carried in dense panicles at the ends of branches-i.e. terminal panicles.

Flowers are usually seen in mid summer, around Christmas time, which gives rise to the common name of 'Christmas Bush' in Tasmania and South Australia.

Flowers are followed by flattened, purse-shaped seed capsules about 10 mm x 10 mm.