Sunday, 25 May 2014

Gumballs, Savories and Red Brows on Finches




Red Browed Finch
The Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis - a little bird that’s  found along the entire east coast of Australia from Buchans Point, north of Cairns continuing south as far as Adelaide and Kangaroo Island.
They’re also the most commonly seen finch around Canberra.
During the winter months, you’re more likely to see them feeding on lawns where the grass is seeding, probably because they’ve moved in to forested areas for breeding during summer.
Listen to this…..with ecologist Sue Stevens
Such a shame that some people keep this little finch in captivity but only by dedicated finch breeders who tend to put the effort into breeding them.
Unfortunately, these birds are easily acquired by illegal trapping so they remain a relatively cheap species.
I don’t advocate feeding wildlife but did you know that the Red-browed Finch is one of only a very few small Australian birds that can be attracted to bird feeders?

If you have any questions about the red browed finch or have a photo, send it, or drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


THIS WEEK-I’m growing winter SAVORY
Savory, The Herb of Love!
How many times have you heard the phrase "a savory stew?"

Or, it’s got a savoury flavour or taste?
Now you know that savory is actuallyherb, in fact an annual or perennial herb, Satureja hortenis, for Summer Savory, or Saturejo montana being for Winter Savory
Did you know that Savory is used in herb combinations, such as Herbes de Provence, a French combination of herbs used for seasoning.
If you’ve heard of Savory before, you might already know that it’s best known for its use in dishes made with beans.

So where does savory come from?
All Savory’s belong to the mint or Lamiaceae family.

They have dark-green, very narrow little leaves for winter savory and light green narrow leaves for summer savory.
The savories can be used fresh or  dried and crushed.
I can’t say that it’s a well know herb but the history of savory goes back about 2000 years and it’s one of the oldest culinary herbs.

Interestingly, the botanical name Satureja was named by the Roman scholar Pliny and is derived from the word satyr, the half-man, half-goat creature in mythology who owned the savories.

Would you’ve guessed it was used in a love potion? Of course.
Weren’t they all back then? Sure seems like it.
Apparently it’s been associated with love potions for centuries.
Romans also used savory as a medicinal (for example for treating bee stings) and culinary herb long before they discovered pepper.
When the Romans brought savory to England, it was used there as an herb for chicken stuffing instead of a medicinal.
There are two distinct varieties of savory - summer and winter. Summer savory is most often used for healing.
There is a myth or old wives tale that Summer savory increases your sex drive, while winter savory decreases it.
Make sure you get your savories right.

 Savory has active ingredients called  carvacrol, p-cymene and tannins.
Because it’s an astringent and mild antiseptic if you made a tea from summer savory,  it was said to control diarrhea, stomach-ache and mild sore throat.
Rubbing a sprig of savory on an insect bite will bring instant relief.
How To Grow Savory
What does winter Savory like?
It’s an evergreen perennial plant, with dark green narrow leaves that are aromatic.
The tiny 5mm flowers are white and pink and appear in the middle of summer on terminal spikes. The plant itself only grows 30cm high with a small spread of 20cm.
If you do manage to get savory seeds, they’re very tiny, so it’s probably best to start them in punnets –and they need light to germinate.
usually but it’s a bit like Coriander, these tiny plants resent being transplanted.
The better method of getting new plants is either by cuttings in spring or by root division, also in spring time.
If you know of someone with this plant, put a note in your dairy to ask them for cuttings later on in the year-the cuttings should be soft-stem cuttings of about 2-3 cm long.
Put them in some seed raising or propagating mix.
You probably don’t even need to cover it, because, just like the herb Thyme, it strikes very easily.

  As for growing you winter savory, well, it’s no different than growing Thyme, it likes full sun with well-drained soil.
Savory prefers to be planted in soil that's slightly alkaline.
Give it a side-dressing of compost or worm castings whenever possible.
All savories are a bit bushy and low-growing so it makes an excellent edging plant for a kitchen garden, herb bed, or vegetable garden.
Trim your savory plant from time to time, to promote new growth and keep it looking good.
Savory doesn’t like wet feet or clay soils, or cold wet winters.
If some of those conditions sound like something you have, you need to put your savour in a pot in a sheltered position.
 I have some growing in a strawberry pot so that it cascades out of one of the holes. It seems to like that spot better than the strawberries.
As far as the soil in my container goes, well it’s just potting mix with soil wetter crystals added to it. So you see it's well-suited to container gardening, as well.

Harvesting and Storage
You can begin to take the leaves from your savory plant as soon as it reaches 13cm or about 6 inches in height. Keeping the plant pruned means you’ll always have some. When they insist on flowering, cut the whole plant and put on a some paper in a warm shady place. When dry, strip the leaves and store in airtight jars or tins. When the seed begins to turn brown, harvest them for next years planting. My plant dies down a bit in winter, but always regrows, so that’s a good reason to get some summer savory for your herb garden.
Tips For The Chef
Winter savory, Satureja montana, is a nice herb to use when you are cutting back on salt-it's flavour is mild, a little bit similar to thyme, but with it's own unique flavour.
Both summer and winter savory are used in cooking. Summer savory has a peppery taste much like thyme, while winter savory has a more piney taste. To me, it has a slightly peppery flavour, but a piney fragrance when you crush it in your hand.
Savory blends well with other herbs such as basil, bay leaf, marjoram, thyme and rosemary. It is said that the taste of savory brings all these herbs together in a unique taste.
Savory is popular in teas, herbed butters, and flavoured vinegars. It complements beef soup and stews, chicken soup, eggs, green beans, peas, rutabagas, asparagus, onions, cabbage, and lentils. Use savory when cooking liver, fish and game. Winter savory, which has a stronger presence, works well with game that has a strong flavor.
You can chop up winter savory finely and combine it with bread crumbs for coating fish or add some leaves to vegetables such as squash before sautéing or steaming.
Of course there’s that famous bean, garlic and savory dish.
Why is it good for you?
The Savory herb has many minerals and vitamins which make it an excellent herb to use for medicinal purposes.
The shoots and leaves of this herb are a rich source of zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and selenium. The vitamins that this herb contains include Vitamin A, Vitamin B-complex group vitamins, Vitamin C, pyridoxine, niacin and thiamine. You would need to eat about 100g of savory leaves which is a bit too much, but making a tea of the leaves would have health benefits as well.

Rocky outcrop in garden

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid

Do you have a rocky outcrop in your garden?
Or do you have a patch where the soil’s quite shallow or you don’t have any soil at all.
Maybe you’ve got lots of rocks that need to be sifted out before you plant anything.
So what do you do? Over the next four weeks, this new series on design elements, is dealing with gardening on rocky, shallow, or now soil.
We’ll be covering plants that can cope with very little soil, and there’ll be advice on raised garden beds and even no dig gardening.
Let’s find out what this is all about.

Remember the top tips: work out your soil depth in different areas of the garden.
Hestercombe UK.

Remove as many rocks as you can and stockpile them for use later on.
Add compost and manure to what soil you do have. Use any exposed rock as a feature with plantings in pockets of soil and around in and build up your soil level.


How well do you know your trees?
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve mentioned some trees for great autumn colour, perhaps not so much for temperate areas, but more for inland and southern states where overcast skies and cool nights contribute to the best autumn colour.
This next tree has great autumn colour bit is more known for its huge size and the woody balls that hold onto the branches into winter.


Liquidamber styraciflua is a deciduous tree to 20m tall, broadly conical in outline, with rather glossy, maple-like, 5 to 7-lobed leaves which turn to shades of orange, crimson and purple in autumn
Other common names-American red gum, American sweet gum,bilsted, copalm balsam, red gum, satin walnut.
Where it grows:Full sun or part shade. Green foliage in spring and summer. Orange purple and red foliage in Autumn. Grows to more than 12 metres and spreads to 8 metres.

All liquidambers are slow growing, long lived to more than 50 years.
Liquidamber is hardy and tolerant of frost when mature. Young plants need to be protected from frost.
Liquidambers are adaptable to loam, clay or sandy soil. Although they need soil to be lime free, moist but well drained soil.
But there’s other varieties that are more backyard friendly.

Liquidamber sytraciflua "Gumball." This smaller version only grows to 5 metres and doesn't have the fruits of the larger version.
see for details.


Leaves change colour because of certain pigments in them and as the tree approaches dormancy in cooler weather, the masking effect of the green part-or the chlorophyll starts to fade and the real colours come through.
Carotenoid pigments give leaves a more yellow or orange colour, glucose gives it more red as you might see in a Maple leaf, and anthocyanins give leaves a more purple-red colour.
That smaller version was L. styraciflua ‘Gumball,’ –grows only 5 metres high has no fruits and the leaves colour mainly to yellow-gold with some shades of burgundy red in late autumn.

Sunday, 18 May 2014



with Permaculture North's Margaret Mossakowska
Do you or someone in your family preserve fruit using the bottling method?
Somewhere in the garage or shed there’s a row of preserved plums, peaches and nectarines?
Preserving is creating an environment to prevent bacteria growing, so usually preserving is with vinegar, or sugar and water.

But bottling isn’t the only method of preserving fruit.
So what else is there? For a start there's sauces, jams and relishes.
Ever heard of Plum Povidil?
Listen to this…..
Something for you to think about-
Preserving doesn’t improve the taste of fruit. So it’s best to preserve only sun ripened fruit with flavour.
Preserving green tasteless fruit is a waste of your time.
To preserve things whole you can use salt, eg salting lemons.
Did you know that you can use the flesh from preserved lemons to scrub your sinks?
Sure it's sticky, but then you wipe it off with a damp cloth. But the lemon juice cuts through grease and the salt acts like an abrasive.
Fruits that are higher in acid are better for preserving as they are far less likely to harbour clostridium botulinum, which is the bacteria that produces the botulinum toxin.Low acid fruit and most vegetables are at risk of contamination by this bacteria and therefore require different preserving systems than for high acid fruit.
Plums have lots of pectin which sets the jam.
A litmus test should be able to confirm the acidity if you’re at all concerned;
If you have any questions about the scale, or  even have a photo a problem on your plant, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.



The mints belong to the genus Mentha in the family Lamiaceae which includes other plants with oil in their leaves such as basil, sage, rosemary, marjoram, lavender, pennyroyal and thyme.
Sometimes the history of the herb or vegetable of that I'm talking about is simply fascinating.
Mint is no exception.
Here’s a fabulous legend or myth from Roman times.
There was a nymph called, Minthe who was
Pluto's lover. When his wife Persephone found out, in a fit of rage she turned Minthe into a lowly plant, to be trod upon.
Pluto couldn’t undo the spell, but softened the spell by giving her a sweet scent which would perfume the air when her leaves were stepped upon.

In the 1700s mint was considered to be an important medicinal herb, appearing in remedies for everything from digestive disorders to headaches. Mint also began to make more appearances in foods and drinks.
Did you know that peppermint is usually the mint that’s used commercially in liqueurs, toothpastes, soaps and mouthwashes?
All mints are fairly low-growing plants, readily sending out runners, or stolons, which develop new roots and shoots at the nodes. Under good growing conditions, stems can reach up to a1 m in height.
The mints will grow in a wide range of climates and are pretty popular in home gardens all over Australia. \
Growing Mint from Seed
If you’re growing mint from seed, the best times vary all around Australia.
In temperate and sub-tropical zones-August to November, in Tropical Zones, it’s April to July,  in arid areas-June and July is best, and cool temperate, September  to December.
But who grows mint from seed these days?
It’s really quicker and easier if you just get a piece of the stolon and plonk into the ground.
If you leave in a frosty area, put your mint cutting into a pot under cover until all frost has finished for this year.
Growing Mints-What do they like?
In general mint likes a cool moist root run, yet plenty of filtered light, and they also likes a fairly constant environment.
We’re looking for a humus rich moist deep soil, but well drained, filtered light but not deep shade. A light soil, not a clay type.
Growing in a pot is fine as long as it’s a largish one, because mints like to have a little room, it’s a bit of a roaming plant so give it space.
Keep up the moisture-mint doesn’t like to dry out, so use a specialist terracotta and tub mix with some added water retention crystals.
Growing mint in warmer climates can cause problems,
Mint does require constant moisture, so in Queensland try growing mint in morning sun and shade from midday on.
Eau de Cologne Mint
A high water requirement means that soils must be deep and well drained while holding plenty of water.

Remember that in cooler areas mint will die back in winter, but will bounce back in spring. Generally not to many pests to worry about.

Mint can be propagated either cuttings or by seed.
You can grown new plants by digging up plants in late winter-early spring 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.
Companion Planting
Planting mint near peas, cabbage or tomatoes will improve their health and flavour. Mint will attract hoverflies and predatory wasps to your garden.
Mint is also a favourite of earthworms.

The most common mint grown in home gardens is actually Spearmint (M. spicata).
Leaves are smooth, bright green and elongated with a pointed end. Flowers are a pink to lilac colour and grow in clusters on the ends of the stems.

chocolate Mint
The other common mints are eau-de-cologne mint (M. × piperita var. citrata) and apple mint (M. rotundifolia).
Peppermint (M. × piperita). This is a low-growing plant that has small, pointed, dark green leaves with a purplish tinge. Peppermint is the most commonly grown species for oil production.
But there are so many-ther’es chocolate mint, lavender mint, orange mint, basil mint …how about apple mint (M. rotundifolia).?
Very flavoursome with a strong apple taste and perfume. The leaves are light green, soft and downy, with a rounded shape.
Lemon Mint is good in drinks and used as a potpourri -mild mint and citrus aroma..
Eau-de-cologne (M. × piperita var. citrata). This mint has a very strong, sharp perfume. It has smooth green, oval-shaped leaves that are tinged with purple.
Moroccan Mint is used to make traditional mint teas -infuses better.
The main pests are slugs, snails aphids, loopers and leaf rollers. So watch out. Either had pick them off or go organic and pick up used coffee grounds from your local coffee shop, and spread it around your mint plants if you have this problem.

Why are mints good for us?

The menthol in peppermint soothes the lining of the digestive tract and a hot cup of herbal tea is an excellent way to settle your stomach after a big meal.
Did you know that if you want to increase the effectiveness of peppermint tea as a breath freshener, you can add a pinch of anise, caraway or cinnamon.
Mint is also a good remedy for gingivitis.
Peppermint is reputed to have the calming, sedative effect.
Mint contains Vitamin C and Vitamin A.

Mints in Cooking

Apple Mint

Chop up some leaves in a salad or use as a garnish on soups and stews.
Spice Up Your Vegetables: Put mint in water used to steam vegetables.
Minty rice: Toss whole mint leaves in cooked rice before serving.
Minty Salad Dressing: Make salad dressing with mint, lemon juice, vinegar and a light oil.

Spice up your tuna: Chop spearmint and mix with olive oil and use as a marinade for fresh tuna. Marinate 30 minutes, grill.



with landscape designer Jason Cornish

 Soils are the least glamorous of topics in gardening.
We’ve all heard about soil types a few weeks ago when Louise mentioned them, but why exactly do we have different soil types and can we really change the profile in our lifetime?
Why do we need to bother so much about soils?
Plants obtain most of their oxygen and carbon from the air by photosynthesis; and hydrogen is obtained, directly or indirectly, from the water in the soil.
These three elements together make up over 90 percent of fresh plant tissue.
However, plants cannot survive without the much smaller quantity of essential nutrients that they obtain from the soil, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur.
How do different soils come about? why do you have clay soil or sandy soil?
Soil composition is made of the parent material, air and water.
What happens if you have a type of soil that is luxurious loam with the right mix of water air and parent material?

Let’s find out what this is all about.
PLAY: Drainage_9thMay_2014
The characteristics of soil play a big part in the plant's ability to extract water and nutrients.
If plants are to grow to their full potential, the soil must provide a everything needed for plant growth.
The things that your soil is made from—your soil's composition—affect all of these aspects of plant growth. Knowing what soils are composed of will help you understand how soil affects plant growth.

PLANT OF THE WEEK:  Pistacia chinensis  - Chinese pistachio

Did you know that autumn colour is already in the leaf and it’s covered by the green which is chlorophyll during the growing season of the leaf.
Do you live in an area where deciduous trees give you great autumn colour?
Those turning leaves do give those brilliant, reds, yellows and oranges that make for a standout landscape that artists and photographers can’t resist.
Why not have a bit of this in your own backyard.
Q.Do you know why leaves change colour?
Leaves change colour because of certain pigments in them and as the tree approaches dormancy in cooler weather, the masking effect of the green part-or the chlorophyll starts to fade and the real colours come through.
Carotenoid pigments give leaves a more yellow or orange colour, glucose gives it more red as you might see in a Maple leaf, and anthocyanins give leaves a more purple-red colour.
Pistacia chinensis  - Chinese pistachio
Chinese pistachio is a small to medium deciduous tree with a rounded head and upright branching.
In the cashew family-Anacardiaceae, and is native to central and western China and Taiwan.
Chinese Pistacia has attractive fine pinnate foliage, dark green, almost lustrous, produces brilliant autumn colours of yellow, orange and scarlet.
Blue/red fruit following flowers.
The bark dark grey, has shallow furrows which reveal a salmon to orange inner bark.
Adapts to most soil types.
Formative pruning required developing central trunk.
height x width (m) 6-10 x 5-8:growth rate Moderate
flower colour Green, inconspicuous panicles. Dioecious with separate male and female plants. Followed by the fruit which is a small red drupe, turning blue when ripe, containing a single seed.
flowering time Summer
shade tolerance Mainly full sun
drought High drought tolerance grows satisfactorily with no obvious signs of stress in a
dry summer.


Sunday, 11 May 2014

Lemon Scent, Archangels and Chandeliers

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


with Ian Hemphill from
Backhousia citriodora, also known as Lemon Scented Myrtle, Lemon Ironwood and Sweet Verbena Tree.

For gardeners wanting fragrance in their gardens, you can’t beat planting a tree whose leaves exude a lemony scent all year round.

It might be too subtle for some because you really need to crush the leaves for the leaves to get the delicious aroma.

This tree has already featured in plant of the week as a bush tucker plant, but why is it so good that it’s popping up again in the Spice it Up segment?

Because the potential use in our kitchens has yet to be realised and who better to ask than herb and spice guru from Herbies Spices to find out all those extra uses in cooking.

Listen to this…..PLAY: Lemon Myrtle_9thMay_2014
What did you think of all those extra uses for lemon scented myrtle?
This tree grows well in all areas of in the eastern states of Australia.
Would you try chicken stuffing with a handful of the fresh leaves, then rub the outside of the chicken with some powdered lemon scented myrtle, plus salt and pepper?
Also use it in Asian cuisine-laksa, curries, spice blends, just substitute lemon grass with lemon scented myrtle leaves.
TIP: cut out the mid rib of the fresh leaves before using in cooking.
Lemon scented myrtle can be substituted for Lemon Verbena leaves in cooking.
What about lemon myrtle cream or yoghurt?
Sounds delicious doesn’t it?If that doesn’t suit, then there’s the dried crushed leaves in shortbread biscuits and cakes.
REMEMBER THE TIP: ½ teaspoon of dried powder to 1 cup of flour.


Angelica archangelica or just angelica
 Doesn’t it sound a bit religious you say? Why’s that?
Did you know that supposedly an angel gave an angelica plant to man as a cure for the plague, and 15th and 16th century herbalists recommended eating or chewing the roots as a cure for a number of diseases?
Apparently back then, they also believed that angelica would protect against witchcraft and evil spells.

Angelica is native to Europe, Asia and North America.
Although angelica is a biennial herb-growing the first year and flowering the second-it will continue to live for several more years if you clip off the flower stems before they bloom.

So what does angelica look like?

The yellowish green, feathery leaves look tropical and are large, becoming about 0.7-1m long, and are divided into 3 leaflets with toothed edges. Angelica has greenish white flowers that hang in umbrella like clusters at the ends of the stalks which are 1-1.5m tall, hollow, and stiff, so it's not really a plant for pots.
Angelica leaves-Real World Gardener 2014

How to grow it

Angelica likes moist, rich soil that is slightly acid, growing best in semi-shade.
Angelica can grow it most of Australia although doesn’t grow that well in hot humid climates.
Find a shady, sheltered spot for growing angelica - it likes moist soil, so keep it well watered - if you have a pond and can provide shelter, then it would do well there it’s normally found near water in the wild. Although that’s not really necessary.
Soil need to be kept moist, slightly acid  and in semi-shade
Mine grows well on the south side of a garage-but then it spread to a nearby veggie bed, and seems to be OK there too.
Angelica grows easily from seed that is if you’re growing your own or know of someone that has some.
To get the flower seed-it’s just a matter of waiting after the flowers have died. One seed head has about 100 seeds.
But you need to sow them within a few weeks after ripening or they lose their viability.
TIP: If you leave the seeds to ripen on the stems, will mean they’ll self sow readily.
Then you can pick out the seedlings when they’re quite small and pass them on to friends.
Angelica is a hardy perennial and you need no more than one plant in a 5ft (150cm) square.
Either sow seeds in the late summer and thin to 15cm then in the second year to 60cm then to 150cm or buy plants in autumn or spring and set them a metre apart.
If they self seed, then keep the strongest as replacement stock.
You also can propagate angelica from root cuttings.
It grows for four to five years as a rule, then it’ll die.
One thing to note, Angelica dies down completely in winter and re-shoots in spring, so remember where you last planted it.

Harvesting Angelica

Angelica stems-photo Real World Gardener
So now you’re growing Angelica and you’re wondering what do I do with this plant.
Firstly, it’s a reasonably attractive addition to a green garden, because the flowers and leaves are various shades of green so they blend well with just about anything.
But you can use it in the kitchen if you’re prepared to wait a year.
Plus, the candied angelica that you buy is not a patch on the real deal.
I’ll post the recipe on the website or you can write in for a fact sheet.
In the second year and onwards, you can cut the stalks for candying.
The books say do this in mid to late spring, whilst they are still young and green, but honestly, we’ve had such warm weather, that the Angelica I have in the garden is still green.
If you want to use the roots, then do it when the plant is still young in autumn or early winter or they may get woody
The roots, leaves, and stalks of angelica have a number of uses.
Young angelica stems can be candied and used to decorate cakes and pastries, and can also be jellied.
The leaves are used in herb pillows - it's said to have a calming effect - and the roots can be cooked with butter.
You can also eat the boiled roots and stems like celery.
Commercially, the seeds and an oil made from the stems and roots are used as a flavouring in many liqueurs such as vermouth, chartreuse, and Benedictine, and the seeds also can be brewed into a tea.
Wait, there’s more, the leaves or roots can be cooked with rhubarb or gooseberries to lessen the acidity.
So, all round it's a good value plant and there's a great deal of satisfaction to be had from producing something that most people only buy in shops or see in restaurants - candied angelica.
it’s well watered and remove the stems before they flower as the angelica will die after flowering and setting seed.
You can keep one or two going longer to fill in the gap left by waiting for seedlings to mature by not allowing them to flower.

Why is it good for you?

After the bacterial theory was proven in relation to the bubonic plaque of 1665 it was realized that Angelica had antibacterial properties.  Some people apparently chew the dried root for its anti-viral properties.

Candied Angelica

Angelica stems, granulated sugar, water Caster sugar for dusting.

Cut shoots into 8-10cm lengths.
Place in saucepan with just enough water to cover them, simmer until tender and then strain and peel of the outer skin.
Put back in the pan with enough water to cover  and bring to the boil, strain immediately and allow to cool.
When cool and equal weight of sugar and place in a covered dish for two days.Place the angelica and syrup which will form back in a pan and slowly bring to the boil.
Simmer, stirring occasionally until the angelica becomes clear and has good colour.Strain and discard al the liquid.
Sprinkle with caster sugar-as much as that will cling to the angelica.
Allow the stems to dry in a cool oven (1000C) to prevent them going mouldy later.Angelica stems, granulated sugar, water Caster sugar for dusting.
Cut shoots into 8-10cm lengths.
Place in saucepan with just enough water to cover them, simmer until tender and then strain and peel of the outer skin.
Put back in the pan with enough water to cover  and bring to the boil, strain immediately and allow to cool.
When cool and equal weight of sugar and place in a covered dish for two days.Place the angelica and syrup which will form back in a pan and slowly bring to the boil.
Simmer, stirring occasionally until the angelica becomes clear and has good colour.
Strain and discard al the liquid.
Sprinkle with caster sugar-as much as that will cling to the angelica.Allow the stems to dry in a cool oven (1000C) to prevent them going mouldy later.Store in an artight container between greaseproof paper.


Design Elements

Maintaining Your Potted Garden
Glasshouse -ideal location for your overwinter pot plants.

How many pot plants do you have in your garden?
Too many? Do you think, I need to cut down, but there’s no room in the garden to plant them out and you’ve got those special plants that someone gave you or you just have to have.
Or, maybe you live in a villa, and potted gardening is all you really have room for. Yes, pot plants do need a reasonable amount of maintenance –but what do they really need?
Let’s find out what this is all about.
PLAY: Maintaining Potted Garden _14th May_2014

When watering your pot plants does the water seem to run straight out the bottom?
Hmmm, that might be a sign of root crowding-in other words, the plant is pot bound and all the soil is used up.

Time to heave it over and give it a big root prune and refresh the potting mix.

If it’s too big, scrape off the top 10cm of soil and freshen it that way.

Better still, drill some large holes around the stem and throw in some water crystals and fresh potting mix.

PLANT OF THE WEEK-Hibiscus schizopetalus

Trees and shrubs should make up the backbone of your garden.

Hibscus schizopetalus_Japanese Lantern Hibiscus
Do you find though, some of the newcomers on the market aren’t what you were looking for? Perhaps you’re looking for a good doer that offers something exotic?
If that’s the case you can’t go past this week’s offering.

An arching shrub up to about 4 m, and produces flowers sporadically throughout most of the year. These flowers are attractive to butterflies, particularly some of the larger Swallowtails.

The distinctive flowers with their frilly petals and long slender column are often described as looking like an oriental lantern, a parachute or a chandelier. Because the flower hangs down like a chandelier or lantern, the common name Japanese lantern somehow has stuck.

The flowers open in the morning and die after about 12 hours. Flowers are attractive to butterflies, particularly some of the larger Swallowtails.

Plants suit tropical conditions best but can survive periods of cold and drought. Will grow in any fairly good soil and can tolerate coastal salt conditions.

Japanese Lantern or chandelier hibiscus or a couple of common names you could ask for when buying this plant.
But as sometimes happens, plants that have been around awhile, if not taken up zealously by landscape designers, they drop off the list of plants that get stocked in the nursery.
But, you may find that someone is growing in your neighbourhood and you might be able to get a cutting or two or three.
The Royal Botanic Gardens nursery in Sydney does propagate and sell this plant.

If you have any questions about where to buy the Japanese Lantern, why not write in to


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Rocketing up the Scale

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 Steve Falcioni from
SCALE:This pest that attacks all manner of plants is tiny, really tiny, only 2-3mm long.
So, yes you’d need a good magnifying class to look at them.
The thing is, when they’re doing damage to your plant’s leaves and branches, they stay very still under a covering which is mostly impervious to anything that you spray on it.

Scale on Port Wine Magnolia
So what do you do? Listen to this…..
If you notice block stuff sticking to the leaves of your plants and ants going about their business as well, then you definitely have got some sort of scale happening.
Some scale insects (like soft scales) hatch from eggs, while others are born live.
They disperse to favourable sites on the leaf, settle down and start feeding. This dispersal stage is known as a ‘crawler’.
The juveniles then become sedentary, and start building their protective scale covers.
As we mentioned, targeting scale when they’re most vulnerable is the best method.
If you have any questions about the scale, or  even have a photo a problem on your plant, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Well it’s TIME FOR VEGETABLE HEROES Rocket or Arugula and scientifically Eruca sativa.
Arugula was cultivated by the Romans and for some time was thought to have aphrodisiac properties.
Did you know that, around the 13th century, the Roman Catholic Church banned rocket from being grown in monastic gardens for this reason?
ROCKET is native to the Mediterranean region and belongs to the Brassicaceae family along with Broccoli, Mustard greens, Kale and Cauliflower.

Like its namesake, rocket is a fast growing annual green, with a mild peppery tasting leaf; the taste depends on how well you grow it.

The leaves are 10 – 20 cm long, serrated edges and what’s called deeply lobed-that is, not a complete simple looking leaf.

At the end of the growing season, they send up long stems-up to a metre, with small yellow or white flowers, that attract all those good bugs.

Torpedo shaped seed pods grow after those flowers have finished which blast seeds all over your veggie bed, to grow more rocket.

The spicy leaves can be grown all year round but are best in cool weather. I’ve found that certain plants like Arugula or Rocket and Coriander just bolt to seed in summer and it’s pointless getting the varieties that are supposedly slow bolting, because they always bolt in temperate zones anyway.

So why do some plants bolt to seed so fast in warmer weather?
The reason is that long days and warm temperatures initiate flowering in these plants so you can’t fight nature.

When To Sow?
In sub tropical, temperate and arid districts, you can sow Arugula seeds from March until November, in cool temperate areas, it’s also March until November, except for the winter months unless you have a greenhouse or even a mini-greenhouse.
For tropical districts the advice is don’t bother, it’s just too hot for rocket.
For those of you that have a soil thermometer and actually use it, the soil temperatures for germination should be between  4°C - 14°C
Soil temperature is usually a few degrees less than outside air temperature as a general rule.
Sowing Your Rocket-Arugula is best grown from seed and sow them a couple of weeks apart to have a continuous crop.
Rocket prefers to grow in full.
Sow seeds  every 2-3 weeks so that not everything’s is ready at once.

Tip:Be brave let one or two plants go to seed so you have fresh seed for next season.
Rocket self-seeds readily, although seed is sometimes slow to germinate.

Tip: If you’re having trouble getting rocket seeds to germinate, first soak them in tepid water with a splash of seaweed solution from Australia’s favourite seaweed company, for 6-8 hours before sowing.
Seeds should germinate in 5-7 days.
Sow the seeds in the garden bed, or in pots or troughs as Arugula is shallow rooted like all salad vegetables.
Keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge.
The plant grows to about 40cm high so thin out the seedlings so they’re 20cm apart.
You might get fungal problems in warmer areas if the plants are closer, but for others, crowded rocket plants doesn’t seem to do much damage.

If you do get unseasonally warm days after sowing your rocket seeds, keep up the watering.
Evenly moist soil will help slow bolting and if you don’t want your Rocket or Arugula to be too spicy, then don’t let the plant come under stress.
In warmer areas, it is best grown during winter or in partial shade.
Rocket or Arugula prefers moist, fertile soil, pH 6.0-6.8 but will tolerate a wide pH range.

Leaves gradually alter in appearance, to become feathery, indicating that the plant is about to flower. Once the flowers appear, the growing season is over.
Arugula tolerates some frost.
Having said all that, rocket or Arugula is one of those plants that’s easy to grow so would suit your kids or gran kids if you’re trying to get them into gardening.
I’ve been growing the Wild Rocket in my garden and it seems to be hanging in quite well over the years, self seeding here there and everywhere.
Wild rocket has more narrow leaves and the flavour is quite mild.
Some varieties of rocket for you to try -two types of Rocket, the regular as well as Arugula Pronto, which has larger soft leaves and a mild flavour.
Why is it good for you?
Rocket is rich source of certain phytochemicals thought to be important in preventing cancer cell growth.
Rocket is also a good source of folates, a 100g contains 24% of the daily allowance. Rocket also contains good levels of Vitamin C as well as B complex and vitamin A.
That same 100g of Rocket will give you 90% of your Vitamin K. Vitamin K is linked to bone and brain health.
Lastly, rocket is great as a salad vegetable or why not try making rocket pesto? Something different.



with landscape designer Louise McDaid

Easy Make Overs-paint your terracotta pots.
photo Real World Gardener
Easy Make Overs for your garden
Do watch those garden makeovers on telly?
Seems like that’s what gardening is all about according to the TV executives.
Who could be interested in just plants?
But, just in case you want to do an easy on your pocket makeover on your own garden and by yourself –no team of trades people to work 12 hours a day, then here’s just the thing.
Let’s find out what this is all about.

Whether you choose to hire a landscape designer or do it yourself, garden makeovers are an excellent creative outlet.
In fact, gardening is an excellent creative outlet in general don’t you think?
Gardens, whether they’re made over or have just evolved over the years, turn a house into a home.


Zelkova serrata-Japanese Zelkova
Do you live in an area where deciduous trees give you great autumn colour?
Those turning leaves do give those brilliant, reds, yellows and oranges that make for a standout landscape that artists and photographers can’t resist.

Why not have a bit of this in your own backyard.
Zelkova serrata is native to Japan, Korea, eastern China and Taiwan.
Zelkova grows naturally in lowland forests with maple, beech and oak. 
Japanese Zelkova is deciduous growing to 18 metres high with a 15 metre spread.
Has some possibility as a substitute for the American (Ulmus americana) and English elm (Ulmus procera) because of its resistance to Dutch elm disease which has devastated the trees of the northern hemisphere.

For showy autumn colour - the green leaves turn yellow, copper, orange, or deep red to purplish-red. 
Young trees have smooth grey bark and as the tree ages, the bark peels to reveal orange or pink patches.
Zelkova can grow quite a large trunk of up to one metre or more in diameter. It has a moderate growth rate and likes a sunny exposure. Tolerates heat and strong winds. Moderately drought tolerant, though intolerant of waterlogged soils.

Wood from Zelkova serrata is very fine grained and highly valued in Japan. Wood from all species of Zelkova is used in cabinet making and inlay work.
Several distinctive cultivars have been developed including Z. serrata ‘Green Vase.’ A good tree for Australian gardens because of its fire retardant properties.
TIP:Transplants easily.
Zelkova is a funny name, but it’s in the list of Australia’s top ten trees according to the sponsor of last year’s winner of the Chelsea Flower Show.
The won the overall best garden with their Australian Garden entry.
If you have the room, this tree is hardy and moderately fast growing. Why not give it a try?