Sunday, 28 June 2015

Green Colours But Not On Potatoes


How many pot plants do you have in the garden?
Are you always saying, ‘I’ve got to get rid of all those pot plants, I’ve got too many?”
Perhaps you’ve only got a couple of pot plants.

Either way, there’ll be a time when your plant in your pot starts to look unwell.

You plants could have anything from yellowing leaves, to semi-circular holes taken out the leaves.

So what can you do about this
problem and how can you be sure you’re treating the right problem?
Let’s find out, talking with Steve Falcioni, General Manager

Firstly, those semi-circular holes taken out of leaves, mainly rose leaves, are caused by a native bee called the leaf cutter bee.
Leaf cutter bees are solitary native bees that nest inside cavities and build their egg cells with pieces of leaves.
They build multiple egg chambers per nest hole and in every one of them they lay an egg with a little bit of pollen, nectar and saliva so that the larvae can grow and develop.
leaf cutter bee photo. theangryblender
Before you get cranky at these bees taking the clean circular bites out of your plants’ leaves, did you know that the leaf cutter bee are very important pollinators of crops like clover, alfalfa, fruits, some vegetables — such as onions and carrots — and wildflowers?
How can you recognize leaf cutter bees?
These bees look like your regular honey bee and to the untrained eye they might be mistaken for one.
But here is the tip: while honey bees carry pollen in their corbicula (special structures in the tibia of the hind leg), leaf cutter bees carry the pollen that they collect on their scopa (elongated hairs on the abdomen).
Also, many times you will see these bees carrying parts of leaves back to their nest and honey bees don’t do this at all.
If you have any questions about problems with your plants in pots, why not write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Vegetable Heroes

Potatoes or Solanum tubersoum
It’s always interesting to find out where our vegetables started and how they became popular.

Did you know that potatoes were the first vegetable to be grown in space?

Did you know that farmers in the Andes Mountains of South America first discovered the potato 7,000 years ago?
Then in the1500’s when th
e Spanish Conquistadors invaded Peru the potato arrived in Spain.
The Spanish thought of potatoes for the underclasses, or feeding hospital inmates.
The status of the potato didn’t improve until around 1780 when the people of Ireland adopted the potato as a food crop.
You might be surprised to learn that potatoes contain most of the vitamins you need to survive?

So what is a potato really?
The potato is a tuber and member of the nightshade or Solanaceae family so its leaves are poisonous.

Have you ever wonder why a potato left too long in the light begins to turn green?
That’s because of chlorophyll in the plant.
Underground the chlorophyll can't develop, but exposed to sunlight for long enough and the potatoes start going green.
The green skin contains a substance called solanine which can cause the potato to taste bitter and green potatoes can also upset the stomach, so don’t try them.

Another tip: Always grow potatoes from Certified Seed Potatoes from reputable suppliers.
Yes it is possible to simply buy some from a specialist green grocer and keep them for seed, or use leftover potato peelings.
What’s wrong with that? You run the risk of introducing diseases such as Potato Virus Y, Potato Blight or Potato cyst Nematode, if you use leftovers or buy from supermarkets or green grocers.
You might think it’s only a small risk, but once you get potato blight into your soil, it’s their forever. No chemical will shift it.

When to SowPotatoes can be planted pretty soon all over Australia.
I’m giving you this information so that you can order all those really great varieties you don’t see in the shops.
In temperate and sub-tropical districts, August to October is the best time, in arid areas August until December is your best cool temperate zones, and September through to January.
Cooler areas have a bit of extra time to order some of the more unusual varieties before they grow in the ground.

How about Cranberry Red?
Cranberry Red has red skin and red flesh, great in salads, for boiling and baking.  These stay red, even after cooking.

Cranberry Red Potatoes
Or what about Potato Sapphire? That has purple skin and purple flesh.

Blue sapphire

Purple Sapphire I’m sure is sold also as Purple Congo, is perfect for mashing, boiling and roasting, and yes, it stays purple after cooking.
Purple mash, Yum, and yes, I’ve cooked it.
And for a good all rounder, try growing Royal Blue.

Potato Royal Blue is oblong, with purple skin and dark yellow flesh.
If you’re buying through mail order or online, you have until the end of August to buy them. After that, they’re not available.
Growing PotatoesTo grow your Potatoes-put seedling potatoes into a trench in as deep and rich a soil as you can get.
Plenty of compost and manures please.
And as they grow pile the earth up around them.
You will need to hill the rows or potato container several times until the potatoes have flowered
You need to do this to stop the greening of tubers and also protect them from potato moth.

Also, hilling up the soil and mulch will give you more potatoes as they tend to form on roots near the surface.
That means, as you pile up the soil, you get new roots, and more potatoes....
Chicken manure or blood and bone should be dug through the bed because potatoes need a lot of phosphorus but not too much nitrogen. 
Too much nitrogen will mean lots of leaves rather than potatoes.
Keep the water up and but only water moderately as potatoes will rot in soil that is too wet.
They can also get a fungus growing inside them if the soil’s too wet.
When you cut them open, they’ll have grey patches inside which actually do taste mouldy. Ewwww!

You can add fish emulsion and seaweed extract when you’re watering too.
Potatoes can also be grown in your black compost bin if you’re not using it for compost. Plant the seed potatoes at the bottom, let them grow to about 50cm, (so with your ruler that’s  almost 2 x ruler heights) then, over the top and add 8cm of soil, let them grow a little more, add some more soil, and so on, in the end a stack of potatoes.
When are they ready?Pick your potatoes when the vine has died down to the ground, that’s if you want the most potatoes, but they can be harvested from when the first baby potatoes are formed. 
The lower leaves should be turning yellow – this happens about 3 to 4 weeks after flowering.
Keeping Potatoes
If you plan to store your potatoes, cut off the foliage and let the potatoes rest in the ground for 3-4 weeks to allow the skin to 'set', they keep longer this way. Store in a dark, cool, well ventilated spot.
For a great article on growing potatoes visit DPIW Tasmania
Roasting Potatoes include: Arran, Royal Blue, Cara, Celine, Desiree, Maxine, Picasso, Ruby Lou, Romano, King Edward, Kondor, Maris Piper, Stemster and Valor.
For Chip Potatoes try: Nadine, Kestrel, King Edward, Desiree, Kennebec.
For Boiling Potatoes try: Nadine, Dutch Cream Kestrel, Desiree, King Edward.
For Mashing Potatoes try: Kestrel, Nadine, King Edward, Tasmanian Pinkeye.
For Salad Potatoes try: Nicola, Tasmanian Pinkeye, Ponfine.
Why are potatoes good for you?The potato is densely packed with nutrients.
The Irish couldn’t be wrong could they?
A medium potato provides vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
Potatoes are known as the foods people crave when they are stressed. 
Why? because the carbs in potatoes (about 26%) help make space for tryptophan with a smooth passage into the brain.
This, in turn, boosts the serotonin level (the feel good hormone)  in the brain.
High serotonin levels help boost your mood and help you feel calm.
To preserve these nutrients it is important to peel the potato just prior to cooking and not leave it exposed to the air or standing in water any longer than necessary.


with garden designer Lesley Simpson
This series is all about colour in the garden.

Do you ever think about the colour of the leaves and grass in your garden as being part of your colour scheme?
Of course, green’s a colour and it’s in your garden. So unless you’re making the effort to only use grey or silver leaved plants in your garden, you will have some amount of green there. Possibly too much green.
Let’s find out about using green colours in your garden.

Did you know that the first colour wheel has been attributed to Sir Isaac Newton?
Newton in 1706 arranged red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet into a natural progression on a rotating disk.
But it was in 1810  that a Mr Goethe Farbkreis introduced the first systematically organized colour wheel?
His observations on the effect of opposed colours led him to a symmetric arrangement of his colour wheel, where he wrote "for the colours diametrically opposed to each other… are those which reciprocally evoke each other in the eye."


with Karen Smith  editor and Jeremy Critchley nursery owner

Yellow Cottonwood Tree
Talipariti tiliaceum syn Hibiscus tiliaceus .

Would you like a small tree in your garden with beautiful heart shaped leaves and lemony yellow hibiscus like flowers with a maroon centre?
Better still, if you like butterflies, the leaves are the food plant for the larval stages of the Common Oakblue Butterfly.
What is this plant? Let’s find out …

Gnarly trunk of mature Talipariti tiliaceum syn. Hibiscus tiliaceus
Commonly found growing on beaches, by rivers and in mangrove swamps. Sea Hibiscus is well adapted to grow in coastal environment in that it tolerates salt and waterlogging and can grow in quartz sand, coral sand, marl, limestone, and crushed basalt.
Like some other plants in the Malvaceae or mallow family, the flowers change colour as they age, turning dull orange or reddish by the time they fall.
In winter there may be few or no flowers in mild-tropical or subtropical climates, but the flowers may remain on the tree for more than a single day
Talipariti tiliaceum Rubra
Yellow Cottonwood  or Hibiscus tiliaceus is a fast-growing tree which is best suited to landscaping, although it can be kept in containers if properly pruned and potted up as necessary. It can be also grown successfully as a bonsai.
This plant prefers full sun but can be grown indoors if placed by a window where it can get as much sun as possible, preferably in the morning, although it may be very difficult to get flowers indoors.
For something different why not tree  Bronze cottonwood that has the same yellow flowers but deep red foliage.
If you have any questions about growing

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Purple Podded Peas and Woodland Flowers


with Ian Hemphill

Licorice flavours can come from a number of different spices.
This flavour is because of anethole being present in the herb or spice.
You may have heard of an Australian native tree, Aniseed myrtle that used to be Backhousia anisata and is now Aneothola anisata.
But we’re not talking about trees with leaves that have an aniseed flavour but two spices that you can use in your cooking if you like the flavour.

Star anise (left) Aniseed (right)

Let’s find out what the difference is.

Star anise is the dried whole ripe fruit of Illicium verum, an evergreen tree native to China.
Aniseed isn’t really a seed but the dried whole ripe fruit of Pimpinella anisum, a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia.
Both are quite different and both get their licorice flavour from the anethole they contain.
The main difference is that star anise also contains safrole which gives a more distinct aroma to the spice.

It could be said that star anise has a deeper licorice like notes, with a greater depth of flavour than aniseed.
Aniseed has a clean anise flower profile.
Use aniseed with pork, duck and game meats.
Aniseed is also nice with veggies like carrots, butter and a sprinkle of aniseed.
Star anise is ubiquitous in Chinese cooking.
For example, Chinese Master stock consists of the following:
soy sauce, water, sugar, star anise, Chinese brown cardamom and black pepper.

Did you know though that the real liquorice plant is Glycyrrhiza glabra.
The root of the plant is used by first being pulped, then boiled, and the liquorice is then concentrated by evaporation.

The star anise tree can be bought from
Illicium verum or star anise tree can be grown as far south as Sydney, but it will be difficult to get this tree to fruit in that climate.
If you have any questions about star anise or aniseed, why not write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Peas (Purple Podded Dutch)
And you thought you knew everything there was to know about peas?
Did you know that peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a (pea) flower.
However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking.
Botanically peas are Pisum sativum and they belong to the Fabaceae family, which means they fix Nitrogen from the air into their roots.
You might be surprised to find that peas were common throughout ancient Europe as far back as the Neolithic Period and are as old and economically important as wheat and barley.
Peas have been found in ancient ruins dated at 8000 years old in the Middle East and in Turkey.
Not only that,  the oldest pea fossils were found in the “Spirit cave on the border of Thailand and Burma dated 9750 years old.
Back then, dried peas were an essential part of the diet because they could be stored for long periods and provided protein during the famine months of winter.
Did you realise that both dwarf and field peas were part of the cargo of the First Fleet to Australia in 1788 and, on arrival at Sydney Cove, each convict and marine was given a weekly ration of three pints of ‘pease’?
By 1802 we were growing peas in Port Jackson and Parramatta gardens.

Are you aware that there are three major types of peas?
Pisum sativum var. sativum, the common garden pea; Pisum sativum var. medullare, the “marrowfat” pea; and Pisum sativum var. saccharatum the sugarsnap pea.

When to Sow
The best time to sow Peas, if you are living on the East Coast is from April until September; from April until August in arid climates, from April and until July in sub-tropical districts and for cool temperate zones, late winter until October.
On the Tablelands they should be sown after the last frosts.
Peas are best planted at soil temperatures between 8°C and 24°C.

Purple Podded Dutch Peas
You probably didn’t think of planting any unusual peas this winter but ever thought of growing one of the most beautiful pea plants, called Purple Podded Dutch peas with its pretty pink flowers?

Purple Podded Peas from Amsterdam

When the flowers finish, grow these dark bluish-purple pods that hold bright green, plump peas.
Purple podded Dutch are also known as Capucinjer (CAP-YOU-SIGH-NER), peas, because they’re believed to have been grown by Capuchin monks in the 16th century.
They’re the best variety for drying and using in soups or for any recipe needing marrow fat peas.
Interestingly, in previous centuries peas were rarely eaten fresh.
Peas were dried to preserve them and to make it easier to transport the m. They were then used in stews and of course soups, including pea soup.
Peas (pictured right) were bought in Amsterdam and passed through customs after sought deliberation. Hence the scribbled writing on the top left hand corner.
Marrowfat peas
What are marrowfat peas you may ask?
Marrowfat peas are green mature peas that have been allowed to dry out naturally in the field, rather than be picked when they’re still young like the normal garden pea.
They taste better that way, and because the pea has a thin skin, they fall apart when cooked making their own gravy.
Did you know that these types of peas are used to make mushy peas and also the snack food wasabi peas.
In Holland nearly all the supermarkets carry jars of precooked capucijners, and everyone knows what they are.
On the vine, this variety reaches the dry soup stage in about 85-100 days. 
They’re also quite good when young as an edible podded pea but are a bit bland and too starchy for using as fresh shelled peas.
How to Sow and Grow Your Peas.
Sow the seeds directly into the soil around 2cm deep (or knuckle deep) and 8-10cm apart . Water in well and don't let them dry out.
I like to soak my pea seeds overnight so they germinate faster.
Some gardeners prefer to sow their seeds into tubs/punnets so they can keep a closer eye on them especially if there is a possibility of a frost.
Once they have their second crop of leaves and no more frost, they can be transplanted out in the garden.
Peas don’t seem to grow well near Onions, Chives, Garlic.
Peas don’t like a lot of mulch or manure especially up against the stalk/stem, or being over-watered as they tend to rot off at the base of the stem.
Don’t overfeed young plants or they will grow lanky and you won’t get a good crop of fruit.
Wait until they have started flowering and then give them a good feed of liquid fertilizer at least once a fortnight.
Use liquid fertilisers in winter because they act much faster during the colder months.
 By watering Peas in the mornings you’ll avoid powdery mildew.
Don’t overhead water late in the afternoon.
If you do have mildew, try spraying with MILK mixed with a couple of drops of detergent.
With dwarf Peas you will have one main crop, with a second lighter crop and some pickings in between for the pot.
Peas freeze well and, as long as you do that straight after picking them so they don’t lose more of their nutritional value than in if you just cooked them.
Dwarf Peas only grow about 30-60cm high and probably won’t need much support.
Climbing Peas grow well over 2m high and will definitely need some kind of trellis or other support.
The position of the trellis should be facing towards the midday sun, (towards the North).
Climbing peas produce much longer than the dwarf types.
Purple podded Dutch pea seeds are actually purple.
Pick regularly to keep plants vigorous and encourage a bigger crop.
After the Peas have stopped producing the trellis can also be used for growing cucumbers, pumpkins or tomatoes.
TIP: Before you start ripping the pea vines off the trellis cut the stems off at ground level; leave the roots in the ground as pea roots produce nitrogen nodules.
These roots will break down and give your next seedlings a good kick start.
Why are they good for you?
Being low in calories, green peas are good for those who are trying to lose weight.
Green peas are rich in dietary fibre, have a high amount of iron and vitamin C and B6 .
The lutein present in green peas helps reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and
Green peas, also help keep the energy levels steady.


with garden designer Lesley Simpson
This series is all about colour in the garden. Part 4-Cool colours in garden design.
Did you do art at school? You probably did and may even know about the colour wheel.

Cool colours with greys and pinks
This next segment is about using cool colours in garden design. Cool colours fall on the purple-blue-green side of the colour wheel and also include white, gray, and silver but not black.
Let’s find out about using cool colours in your garden.

Classic cool-colour combinations include blue and pink, a range of blues arranged in a monochromatic scheme, or purple and silver.

Pastel forms of traditionally warm colours such as yellow, salmon, and apricot also fit into a cool-theme garden plan.


 with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith, editor of

Nemesias with fragrance. photo J Critchley

You mightn’t have heard about this next low growing winter flower perennial, Nemesia species, with names like Quince, Cruela, Clementine and Raspberry.
If not, then you’ve been limiting your flower border or hanging baskets to the same old winter plants, like pansies and primulas.
Let’s find out … more

Nemesia is in the snapdragon family.
Cool temperatures are fine for growing this plant and it’s frost tolerant once hardened off if you’re growing from seed.
Also daylength doesn’t affect flowering of the new varieties that can flower for many months of the year.
The new Nemesias are also more tolerant of sun and can survive the summer months.

They’re at their best when massed.

Nemesias prefer to be planted in a sunny position but can still flower in part shade, although somewhat less.

Nemesias are ideal for bedding plants, borders, cluster planting and containers.
The vibrant colours of golden yellow, sunset red, clear pink, golden orange and creamy white flowers will certainly light up the garden beds, not to mention the fragrance that can be apparent up to 20 metres away.

Give all your annuals and perennials a good feed every month to keep them flowering and looking their best.
Cut back if becoming a bit leggy.

Note: Nemesias that are available in seedling packs are seed grown Nemesias and are the annual variety.
Nemesias that are in the 6 inch pots are the newer hybrid varieties that will bloom for several years.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Hot to Trot with Colours and Plants


Plant out your winter vegetables now.
Some people think that gardening is only seasonal, that is, only Spring and Summer and then gardeners do nothing much at all in between.
Sure, gardeners are pretty busy in those times, but in winter, there’s still plenty to do.
For starters, your garden’s pests and weeds don’t take a break.
Let’s find out what gardeners can get up to in winter. Talking with Margaret Mossakowska of

Broadbeans for a winter crop
Looking after your garden all year round is not only great for the garden, but great for the gardener as well.
Pruning dormant plants is something that you can do on sunny winter days.
It also lets you see if there’s some problem with the plant, like die back or borer on the stems.
In the coldest month of the year when soil temperatures are starting to dip, few vegies will germinate from seed in cold soil.
But, if you’re keen to do some planting you could try sowing spinach, onions, leeks, peas, turnips, kale, broccoli, cabbage and broad beans.
Don’t overwater at this time of year because the combination of cold and wet will cause your seeds to rot.
Keep the soil just moist until germination occurs. If you have any questions about winter tasks in your garden, why not write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Well it’s TIME FOR VEGETABLE HERO-  Horseradish
The answer to that tricky question “what comic book character loved this veggie and what country adds it to their beer and make Schnapps with it?”
If you were a fan of the comic strip that featured Dagwood Bumstead, well you would know that Dagwood ate horseradish regularly in the popular comic strip, "Blondie," by Dean Young and Stan Drake?
But did you also know that Germans still brew horseradish schnapps and some also add it to their beer?
Apparently the Egyptians knew about horseradish as far back as 1500 B.C.
And early Greeks used it as a rub for lower back pain and as an aphrodisiac.
In Germany, it’s called "meerrettich"
Meerrettich literally means “more radish” or “greater radish”, and supposedly that’s the comparison of horseradish to garden radish (Raphanus sativus).
"Radish" comes from the Latin radix meaning root.
In the 1600s, Englishmen loved to eat their beef and oysters with horseradish.
But not only that, the loved it so much, that the English, grew it at inns and coach stations, to make cordials to revive exhausted travellers.
BOTANICAL NAME: Armoracia rusticana syn. A. lapathifolia
Horseradish is a member of the mustard family or Brassicaceae.
This family used to be called the crucifer family and contains kale, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and the common radish.
Gardeners grow horseradish for its thick, fleshy white roots.
Did you know that the bite and aroma of horseradish root is totally missing until it’s grated or ground?

That’s because as soon as the root cells are crushed, volatile oils known as isothiocyanate (ISO-THIGH-O SIGH-A-NATE)  are released.
Vinegar stops this reaction and stabilizes the flavour.
If you’re interested in making your own horseradish, and you don’t want it too hot and bitey, just add the vinegar straight away..
Growing Horseradish
Growing horseradish is easy – the tricky bit is stopping it taking over your garden.
Horseradish is a perennial to 1.5m high above ground but below ground there is a parsnip like tapering, fleshy taproot to 60cm long and 5 cm thick
The above ground parts look like lime green  large rough textured  leaves, 30-90 cm long, so that’s about 1-3 ruler lengths.
The edges of the leaves are extremely saw tooth, or serrated and as botanists and horticulturalists say, that is, leaves with toothed margins.
Horseradish has white flowers in the middle of summer to mid-autumn.
Plant your horseradish in a permanent position and don’t disturb it because new plants will spring up from any broken roots and will quickly spread throughout the garden bed.
Horseradish can grow in most soils even damp soils and grows quite quickly.
TIP: This deep rooted plant can be used in orchards to open up compacted soils and return nutrients to the surface of the soil.
By far the easiest way to grow Horseradish is from root cuttings.
Now’s the time to get a piece from a friend, or your friendly garden club members because Horseradish is propagated by root division in spring or autumn for harvest the following year.
If you know someone who has it in their garden, just one piece of root will start off for you.
Yes it’s winter now, but you can start your piece off in a pot ready for spring sowing.
Don't worry too much about soil or position, because it won’t although too much shade and it’ll die off.
If you want to you can dig out a trench at least 60cm deep – horseradish has extremely long tap roots.
Replace about 40cm of topsoil and then add some compost .
Lay the roots of horseradish on this about 30cm apart and then cover with more soil.
Firm down the soil.
Really, if you’ve got anything other than heavy clay soil, you don’t have to go to all that trouble.
Another way is with seed.
If you can get seed, the time to sow it is in early spring.
Keep your horseradish well watered.
Next year by mid-autumn if you were lucky enough to have planted it last year either in autumn OR spring, the roots should be ready to harvest.
Dig up all the plants.
Use the larger roots to make horseradish sauce and store the smaller ones in sand for replanting next year.
You could plant some of the smaller shoots in pots – either give them away or sell them once they start showing signs of growth.
By digging up all the plants, you’ll prevent the horseradish from getting out of control and taking over your garden.
Although I must say, in my garden it’s extremely well behaved.
I have found suggestions that sinking half of an old rubbish bin into the ground, with its bottom removed stops its spread.
Horseradish is very versatile – not just as a sauce with beef, but it goes well with smoked fish, sausages, ham, trout, eggs and avocado.
Why is horseradish good for you?
Horseradish is a natural antibiotic.
If you’re on a low salt diet, then horseradish is really useful as a seasoning.
Horseradish has only 2 calories a teaspoon, is low in sodium and provides dietary fibre.
Where do you get it? Well there’s an online company that has divisions, but they won’t be available until July. Otherwise, the herb section of most nurseries and garden centres do stock this plant.


with garden designer Lesley Simpson
Using Hot Colours
This series is all about colour in the garden.

The best way to learn how to use colour in the garden is to try different combinations and decide what you like and don't like.
Red adds energy and excitement and this colour works well as an accent and to highlight an area. But not everyone likes red in the garden.
On the other hand perhaps you’re after a garden where the colours jump out at you?
If you do, this segment’s for you.
Let’s find out more.

There are many ways of combining colours for different effects.
 Colours change constantly depending on their surroundings and colours seem to change depending on what they’re next to, as well as how much light they receive, what texture the flower is, and so on.

Hot colours can look cool when teamed with white.
A colour's brightness gets more so when it is placed next to a contrasting colour (one that falls opposite it on the colour wheel).
A colour’s intensity gets less when placed next to a colour that lies next to it on the colour wheel).


with Jeremy Critchley owner of
and Karen Smith editor of www.hortjournal.c
  The Tuckeroo is an Australian native tree is a good all-rounder that doesn’t grow too tall.
It’s not known for its flower but more for the decorative fruit  that is the favourite food of many fruit eating birds.
It’s the fruit which will catch your eye.
Rather large three sided orange berries, in bunches all over the tips of the branches.
Not only birds like the fruit but it’s the food plant for the larval stages of many butterflies such as Pale Ciliate Blue, Dark Ciliate Blue, Marginata Blue, Hairy Blue, Fiery Jewel, Common Oakblue, Fielder's Lineblue and Glistening Blue Butterflies.
Let's find out more...


A medium sized native coastal rainforest tree suitable for most
conditions including coastal exposure. Grows to around 8 metres in height with a similar spread.
It would make a great shade tree because of its wide rounded crown when mature.
Attractive glossy green foliage with yellow flowers and orange seed
According to information from the native tree dept. (Aust. Govt) this is a great tree along with Harpullia pendula  for the east coast of Australia and also for South Australian climates.
There’s a listener question about transplanting Tuckeroo trees.
The short answer is transplanting of the Tuckeroos isn’t successful.

The plants throw down a fairly large tap root and on plants up to 50cm in size the tap root is about 40cm. At that size they’re just about all tap root and no laterals, so that if you dig them up you’re likely to break that tap root and the plant won’t survive.


Monday, 8 June 2015

Sincere Flowers and Lilies


Have you ever noticed how fallen leaves get skeletonised leaving a tracery of what looks like a lacey leaf?
This looks very artistic, as if someone had taken great care in removing all the living components of the leaf and just left the fine bones or veins.
Not so this next pest the Lily caterpillar.
You won’t get so much a tracery as a complete removal of the chlorophyll layers and sometimes, just a heap of mush.
Let’s find out what this pest is and how to deal with it.with Steve Falcioni general manager

The caterpillars are about 5 cm long , generally a black with black, and golden yellow and white stripes. It has dots on the front end and back end of the caterpillar.
This caterpillar attacks plants from the Lily family, and includes cliveas, and belladonna lilies.
The caterpillars pretty much chew threw all the layers of the leaf leaving a skeletal mushy remains.
The leaf will then be a dried and pale looking.
If this attack doesn't get down to the roots, or the bulb of the lily, you can cut the plants back to just below the damage, and they may spring back.
Some people spend time picking the caterpillars out of their garden, but this is somewhat inefficient because you could pick 20 caterpillars out of your plants one day and the next day, go out there and find 20 more.
If all else fails, you could use Dipel which contains Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring soil bacteria that you can put in your garden.
This is non-toxic to humans and animals, but the caterpillars will either stay away or die.
Then there’s the longer lasting product eCo Neem which coAlso organic.
If you have any questions about caterpillars in your garden, why not write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Well it’s TIME FOR VEGETABLE HERO-  planting bulbs
So what is a bulb?
A bulb, in botany, is something that’s in the resting stage of certain plants.
Usually a bulb is made up of a relatively large underground bud with fleshy overlapping leaves that come up from a short stem.
Tunicate bulb
A bulb’s fleshy leaves are its food reserves that let the plant to lie dormant when water is unavailable (during winter or drought) and start growing when conditions are more favourable.
You’re probably familiar with onion, garlic, and brown or golden shallots as the most common vegetable bulbs.
There are two main types of bulbs.
The onion type, has a thin papery covering or tunic, protecting its fleshy leaves.
Funnily enough, these are called tunicate bulbs.
The other type, the scaly bulb, as seen in true lilies, has storage leaves that are unprotected by any papery covering.
Lily bulb
These bulbs dry out faster and are more easily bruised.
All true bulbs have a few things in common such as:
-being more or less rounded, sort of ball-like, and narrow to a point on the top.
Leaves and flower stems appear from this point.
With or without a tunic, true bulbs have a flat part, called a basal plate, at the bottom. That’s where roots grow and also where shoots and scales are attached.
True bulbs have new bulbs, called offsets, which form from the basal plate. When they get big enough, these offsets, or daughter bulbs, produce flowers on their own.
And true bulbs are made up of rings, called scales, which are modified leaves that store food.
If you cut apart a true bulb, like an onion or hyacinth at the right time of year, you’ll find a miniature plant inside, just waiting to begin growing.
Think of onions that have been stored too long, when you cut them open, they have a green shoot inside ready to grow a new plant.
Bulbs can vary in size from insignificant pea-sized ones
to those of large crinums (crinum lilies.)
Did you know that gladioli and crocus aren’t true bulbs, but they’re really corms?
Corms still store food, but if you cut them open, they won’t have any overlapping leaves.
Also when a corm finishes flowering, the corm dries up and a new one grows on top of the old one.
If you’re replanting corms, you usually should remove the old dried up corm  first.
Bulbs are divided into two categories based on when they either flower or produce the edible vegetable.
Spring flowering bulbs are hardy bulbs because they survive cold winter conditions.
In fact, they need exposure to cold temperatures in order to flower properly. Summer-flowering bulbs, including dahlias, begonias and gladiolus, are planted in the spring.
They are tender and don’t survive extreme cold winter conditions.
When  and how to plant bulbs
Spring-flowering bulbs and vegetable bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, garlic, and shallots, are planted in autumn, in most districts.
This allows both the weather and the soil to cool.
For cooler districts though , shallot bulbs for example, are best planted in winter.
Haemanthus coccineus
Spring flowering bulbs are easy to grow and most bulbs can be planted in the same way so that once you understand the basics you can easily grow almost any bulbs.
Bulb planting Depth & Spacing:
Most bulbs are planted twice as deep as the bulb is high/tall and the same distance apart.
The pointed end of the bulb should be upwards.
Anemone & Ranunculi are the only exceptions where the points or claws are pointing downwards.
If you’re not sure which way to plant your bulb can always plant your bulb on it's side and it will always grow upwards!
Best Soil type for growing bulbs:
Most Spring flowering bulbs are best planted in a freely draining soil.
You won’t find any bulbs that like to be planted in heavy clay I’m afraid.
You can raise or mound up the garden beds to improve drainage, otherwise plant and grow your bulbs in pots if your soil is soggy.
Where to plant your bulbs
Most bulbs grow best in full sun to light shade.
If you plant your bulbs in too much shade, you’ll get leggy, taller and softer stems.
In warmer climates, most bulbs tolerate being planted in a bit more shade.
Most Spring bulbs like their soil kept moist when they’re actively growing, which is usually from late Winter to early Summer.
They also like to be kept reasonably dry when they’re dormant.
Spring flowering daffodils
Only start watering when green shoots appear and stop when the leaves start to yellow after flowering.
If your district gets high Summer rainfalls, dig the bulbs up in and store them in a dry spot otherwise they’ll probably rot off.
If they’re in a pot, put the pot on its side under a tree somewhere out of the way, and especially away from naughty chooks that like to jump in there and have a great old dig around.
As a general rule of thumb, top dress all bulbs in Autumn and water this in.
Using a specialty bulb fertiliser or an organic fertiliser is fine.
For flowering bulbs, you’ll get a better second year if you add some fertiliser  straight after flowering as this is when the bulb is taking in nutrients for next year's flowers.
Of course with garlic and shallots, you’re going to eat them aren’t you.
After flowering care:
As mentioned, when the bulbs have finished flowering, it's important that you keep on watering and feeding the leaves since they’re generating the energy the bulb needs to produce next year's flowers.
Digging and storing your spring flower bulbs:
Don’t be in too much of a hurry to dig up and store those bulbs.
Also yes, the leaves can look untidy for a while as they die down, but if you cut them off you’re depriving the bulb of nutrients that it needs to store for next season’s flowering.
Let the leaves die down properly before digging up your bulbs.
Loosen the soil with a fork and gently pull up the bulbs by their stems.
Allow the bulbs to dry somewhere cool (not in full sun).
 Once dry, brush off any excess dirt and remove old flower stalks.
Try to leave the bulbs 'skin' or tunic intact as this helps protect the bulbs.
Store the bulbs somewhere cool (less than 25oC), dry and airy until you replant the following Autumn.
To refrigerate or not to refrigerate?
Tulip bulbs are the only bulbs which require 4-8 weeks in the crisper of the fridge before planting. DO NOT FREEZE THEM.
An easy way to remember is to put your tulip bulbs in the fridge around April fool's day, then plant your bulbs around Mother's day.
Guide lines for planting your Spring flower bulbs in pots:
Keep the bulbs away from the outer edges of the pot which get very hot.
Water regularly to keep soil slightly moist.
TIP: plant the bulbs in the garden the following year since most won't flower consecutive years in pots.
Seeds from bulbs?
Did you know that when pollinated, most bulb flowers will produce seeds, and you can use them to grow new plants?
So why don't you see daffodil or tulip seeds at the garden centre?
Because it takes at least 5 years, and sometimes longer, for seedlings to mature and produce flowers.
Who wants to wait that long?


with garden designer Lesley Simpson
This series is all about colour in the garden.
Colour schemes affect mood.

Why the fuss about any particular colour?
Because colour has an effect on, style, theme, texture and even on mood.
You should really consider your space and what time of day you use it.
Why not can start off with your favourite colour to use in the garden, but then what goes with that colour?
Let’s find out more..

There can be a huge range of shades of the one colour which if you’re not careful, can make your colour scheme not exactly work.
For example, there’s yellows that can range from being a golden yellow right through to an almost apricot colour and to a bright yellow.

If you have any questions about colours in the garden, why not write in or ask for a fact sheet.
All information will be posted on the website


with Jeremy Critchley owner
and Karen Smith editor of hort journal

You would have been seeing Cyclamen almost everywhere since about mid-autumn.

Some, usually the bigger ones, have even got a light perfume, while others just have their outstanding colour and form with which to dazzle you.
Did you know that this next plant, the cyclamen, along with the columbine or grannys bonnet, was one of the flowers of choice for Leonardo Da Vinci at the beginning of the 16th century?
He liked them so much that he covered the margins of his manuscripts with drawings of them.
My sister tells me that she has been throwing out her Cyclamen when it dies down after flowering. Is this you?
You know you should be hanging onto the tuber so your Cyclamen can re-flower for you in the following year.
Let’s find out more

The Cyclamen lifecycle is one of shooting up leaves at the beginning of autumn. That's when you take them from the shady position in the garden and put your potted cyclamen somewhere where it receives dappled sunlight.
At this time give it some fertiliser of any kind.
Water your cyclamen when the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch.
Too much water will cause leaves to yellow and the tuber to be susceptible to rotting.
After your cyclamen has finished flowering and the leaves have died down, put the pot somewhere where it won't get too much rain. Even turn the pot on it's side. Now it's ready for the dormant stage before restarting the lifecycle next Autumn.

You might not be aware that in the language of love, giving someone a cyclamen expresses sincere feelings and why not? With flowers looking like butterflies.
Thanks to its tuber, cyclamen cope with neglect and other tough conditions.
The tuber, which is in fact a swollen root won’t ever have corms or bulb offsets, however, as in the case with the  potato (which is a similar organism), the tuber can be divided provided each portion has both a growth eye and part of the rooting region of the tuber..