Sunday, 30 August 2015

From New York to Candy Kisses.


Q and A with Horticultural Scientist Penny Smith
Probably most gardeners agree that compost is good for the garden.
Making your own compost is cheap and you get a bit of exercise doing it.
But, is there a right way or wrong way to compost?
Can it get too hot or too cold?
Is there a right temperature that compost should get to?
Yes, there is, because the bacteria that breaks down compost and makes the nutrients available for your plants, dies off if the compost heap is too hot.
If your heap is too cold, the bacteria also dies off because the bacteria need a little bit of temperature.
All these questions are answered, and more, so let’s get started on  composting.
Listen to the podcast audio to hear all the tips.

If you’re not convinced about composting, then think on this.
Healthy plants with healthy soil
Compost is free plant food it increases soil health and soil structure, improves drainage and helps the water holding capacity of your soil.
That means your soil won’t dry out so easily because it’s holding the moisture longer.
But you can't be in a hurry because improve your soil structure using compost will take a couple of years not a couple of weeks.
You do have to aerate your compost about once a week in the warmer months because you don't want your compost to spoil and become anaerobic. The compost is then not that good for your plants.
Finally, most things can go in compost, except fat or oil, and bones and meats because they attract vermin.
Also non bio degradable materials like plastics.
These take a few thousand years to decompose.
If you have any questions about composting, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Celtuce or Lactuca sativa var. asparagine or var anustana.
Are you a fan of lettuce or celery or do they go mouldy in the crisper before you use them?
All types of lettuce, helps you sleep at night if you include lettuce in your evening meal.
But we don’t feel like lettuce in the cooler months so what do we do then?
Lettuce soup is nice but not every night.
What is Celtuce exactly? I’ve heard it called Asparagus lettuce, Celery lettuce and stem lettuce.
Sounds like people just can’t make up their minds what it actually tastes like.
Did you know that China produces about half of the world’s lettuce?
So it’s no surprise that Celtuce, or this mixed up vegetable cross, originates in China.
Lettuce has been grown in China since about the 7th century, and that includes this strange lettuce mutant.
Did you also know that Chinese traditionally don’t use lettuce in salads but in stir fries?
When Celtuce is growing, it looks a bit like Cos lettuce, and it’s at this stage that your pick the leaves and eat them as you would lettuce.
The leaves of Celtuce are more coarse than most lettuce so steaming them or using them in stir-fries might be a good option.
The stem actually does look like a bit like a fat Asparagus stem.
In China, where it’s grown in commercial quantities, the fleshy stem is cut into sections and cooked by steaming or stewing.
Why grow Celtuce?
Because you can use all parts of it, plus it’s easy to grow.
When to Sow?
Lettuce can be planted all year round in most areas of Australia.
But for Celtuce or Asparagus Lettuce, sow the seeds, in September through to December in temperate zones.
For arid areas and sub-tropical districts, Celtuce can take more heat in hot summers than lettuce, and it doesn’t seem to mind wet weather either.
in cool temperate areas, you might like to grow your lettuce in a greenhouse or undercover somewhere during winter.
Celtuce tolerates most soils, including clay soils.
Any gardening book (mostly written for the northern hemisphere) will tell you that full sun is essential.
Full sun is best ONLY when it isn't too hot. Once the temperatures go into the thirties, your lettuce will definitely appreciate some shade, especially afternoon shade!
Sow the Celtuce seeds only half a cm deep, spreading 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 is very hot 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.
Don't plant you celtuce or any lettuce in deep shade, like under a tree, or they’ll just grow into pale, leggy things with few leaves on them.
If you can't find a position that provides dappled shade in the afternoon, try interplanting between taller plants that won’t totally shade them like capsicums/peppers or eggplants, staked tomatoes.
Lettuces need good soil, that means light, free draining and rich in organic matter. 
You soil need to be able to hold lots of water, nitrogen and other nutrients.
Sandy soils need help from your compost bin or worm farm.
If you have clay soils, growing celtuce or lettuce shouldn't be a problem, as is growing them in pots.
All types of Lettuce have shallow roots, so they dries out easily.
You must keep up a steady supply of water because any set back will at best, 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).
Celtuce not being a hearting type of lettuce won’t go to seed in summer very quickly.
TIP:In the summer months, you can’t grow hearting lettuces, even Cos/Romaine types, as they're also very heat susceptible and won’t form a heart at all.
I have grown those types of lettuce and they were the first to bolt to seed at the first sign of hot weather
Celtuce takes about 3 months from seed to harvest, but you can pick the leaves much earlier.
When the stem of the celtuce gets to about 30cm tall and is about 3-4cm thick, that’s the time to cut it and use it as a sort of asparagus come celery alternative.
TIP: Unlike Asparagus, you need to peel the stem because the outer part which has the sap, is bitter to taste.
The soft, translucent green central core is the edible part.
You can eat this fresh, sliced or diced into a salad.
The flavour is sort of like a cucumber, yet different.
Why it’s called Asparagus lettuce or celery lettuce has more to do with it’s appearance and not it’s taste.
So why is it good for us?
Asparagus Lettuce is very good for digestion and promotes good liver function.
All types of lettuce have good levels of Vitamin C, beta-carotene and fibre.
You won’t put on any weight eating Lettuce  because most varieties have over 90% water and are extremely low in calories.
Lettuce contain the sedative lactucarium  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 Asparagus Lettuce growing everyone!


talking with landscape designer Glenice Buck about designing a garden in upstate New York.
If you were a landscape designer, would you fly all the way to America just to design someone’s garden?

Surely there’s plenty of American landscape designers who could do the job?
But, what if you were offered the job and thought well, it’s an exciting opportunity to discover new plants, and learn about a new landscape, even if it’s thousands of miles away.
So why would we be interested?

photo Glenice Buck
Some listeners might live in just that type of climate and want to know what sort of plants will grow there that they can try and source.
The garden is a 2 acre block just out of the little hamlet called Germantown.
Germantown is approximately a 2 and 1/2 hour drive north of New York city in Columbia County which forms part of the Hudson Valley. 

Germantwon is located on the east bank of the Hudson river with the Catskill Mountains to the west and the Berkshire mountains to the east. 
The house is in fact a converted 115 year old barn.
photo Glenice Buck
The block of land the Glenice has to design for is  boomerang shape. The trees growing on it are two old Gleditsias, Magnolias, lilcas, pink oak, white oak and shaggy barked hickories. 
Let’s kick off this new series, “ the garden at the barn-designing a garden in New York State.

We know where this garden is now, and over the next few weeks you’ll hear the story unfold, what trials and tribulations were encountered and how it ended up.
You’ll also hear about what plants worked, no gum trees of course, or Bottle Brushes or Banksias.
So what are the plants that grow in New York State?
You’ll hear about those too.


with Karen Smith editor of and Jeremy Critchley owner
Don’t you just love the way garden marketing gurus name new plants.
Take last week’s Pelargoniums. We had Big Red and Big pink.
This week we have Hemizygia Candy Kisses or Mauve Magic.
Sounds more like a sweet, or a lollipop, perhaps even an energy drink, probably not that, but it’s a plant?
But it’s not just the marketers that are having a field day with this plant.
The botanical name is a doozy too.
In any case, you’ll want to have one of these that’s for sure.
Let’s find out what it is.

 Hemizygia Candy Kisses is an attractive, upright, perennial shrub that produces a delightful display of pink flowers that are highlighted by its stunning variegated foliage.
Short days initiate flowering that would mean it flowers in winter.
The flowers are produced in sprays of flowers which are prominently held above the foliage.
Candy Kisses can be grown for its flowers or foliage.
For best results plant in a sunny to partly shaded position in moist well-drained soil.
Prefers a warm, frost free position.
Spent flowers should be removed after flowering.
An ideal garden specimen well suited to cottage gardens, containers and tubs or as a general feature plant.
Grows to 1m high x 80cm wide.
You would buy this plant just for the leaves, especially around Christmas, because the leaves are that dark green with cream edges and almost look like variegated holly.

Without the prickliness of course, and the stems are sort of succulent.
Beats hollies any time because it will flower with a spectacular show although flowering is initiated by short day length so that means it flowers in winter.
Still, the leaves give all year round interest.
Want one? Yes, what gardener wouldn’t want something new.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Go Sharp with Big Red Flowers


Talking about the Brown Treecreeper with Consulting Ecologist, Kurtis Lindsay.
A little while ago, you may have heard about a bird on this show that creeps up and down trees.

Image Chris Tzaros
The brown treecreeper, is the biggest treecreeper in Australia and is more arid adapted than its cousin.
About the size of a Pee Wee, the brown treecreeper has shades of brown with white flecks and paler eyebrows with a little black mask on its eyes almost like a zorro mask.
It also has hidden orange
Unlike the White throated treecreeper that always stays on the trees, the brown treecreeper can be found not only foraging in trees but also on the ground. They peck and probe for insects, mostly ants, amongst the litter, tussocks and fallen timber, and along trunks and lateral branches In fact up to 80% of the diet is comprised of ants.
Let’s find out more about this interesting bird

Some birds are opportunistic so that when they lose their habitat they can adapt to living amongst humans in big cities and towns.
Image-Chris Tzaros

Others are more shy and loss of habitat, fragmentation of woodland and forest remnants which isolates populations leads to local extinctions.
Also the ongoing degradation of habitat, particularly the loss of tree hollows and fallen timber from firewood collection and overgrazing is another major threat to these birds.
Fortunately, people are understanding the value of having trees on their property.
The critical factor thous is to leave fallen wood and trees as well.
Did you know that this treecreeper has an amazing diet?
Apart from ants making up 80% of the diet they also eat other invertebrates (including spiders, insects larvae, moths, beetles, flies, hemipteran bugs, cockroaches, termites and lacewings) making up the remaining percentage; Plus they like the nectar from Mugga Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) and paperbarks, and sap from a eucalypt are also eaten, along with lizards and food scraps.
Young birds are fed ants, insect larvae, moths, craneflies, spiders and butterfly and moth larvae.
If you have any questions about Brown Tree Creepers, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


BOTANICAL NAME: Turmeric or Curcuma longa is a tropical rhizome that looks great in the garden and is a member of the ginger family.
Turmeric is native to India and has been around since 500 BCE where it’s an important part of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda translates to “science of life.”
In India, inhaling fumes from burning turmeric is supposed to alleviate congestion, also turmeric juice aids with the healing of wounds and bruises, and turmeric paste was applied to all sorts of skin conditions – from smallpox and chicken pox to blemishes and shingles.
But it’s not only medicine where Turmeric gets its cachet.
In Hindu religion there’s a wedding day tradition in which a string, dyed yellow with turmeric paste, is tied around the bride’s neck by her groom. This necklace, indicates that the woman is married and capable of running a household.
You may have seen Buddhist monks with their saffron or yellowy coloured robes.
This is where the natural colouring properties of Turmeric comes in.
Not only is it used to colour Buddhist robes, but has been used to dye clothing and thread for centuries.
The whole plant is edible; the rhizome or roots are boiled, dried and ground up to produce turmeric powder, the leaves make a wrap for steamed fish, and even the flowers can be eaten as an exotically beautiful vegetable, like lettuce.
You probably didn’t realise that you’ve been eating Turmeric every day because it’s used as a food dye in mustard, margarine, chicken soup or just about anywhere else a golden colour is called for.
Sometimes sold as Hidden Ginger, you need to be aware that there are different kinds of hidden ginger, and only the rhizomes of Curcuma longa, Curcuma zedoaria and Curcuma aromatica should be grown as spices.
So why Grow it?
Did you know that if you make your own Turmeric powder from the rhizomes, it won’t be as bright as the processed store bought version?
Because the root can harbor mould and foodborne pathogens, turmeric is typically irradiated to kill pathogenic bacteria.
Irradiation also creates a brighter powder, but if you don’t want irradiated Turmeric, either buy organic powder of grow your own.
What does Turmeric plant look like?
The leaves are about a metre long, sheath like and a lime green. Much like the leaves of a Canna Lily.
The flowers are pure white and extend upwards on floral spikes, up to 20cm long. Suitable for picking too.
How to Grow Turmeric
Turmeric is a sub-tropical plant that needs temperatures of at least 200-300C to survive.
The plant will grow well in both tropical and temperate regions of Australia, but will die down in the temperate areas over winter and return the following year.
Turmeric is a rhizome so like Jerusalem Artichokes, and Ginger, you plant them in the soil when the rhizomes are dormant.
If the plant is stressed by drought or too much sun, the leaves will hang limp and develop burnt tips.
Plant turmeric in September or October, into a warm soil.
The rhizomes should be planted 5-7 cm deep.
It’s often planted on ridges, usually about 30-45 cm apart and with 15-30 cm between plants.This is between Autumn and Spring.
You might even find turmeric tubers growing at your greengrocers later in the year, otherwise you can order them online.
Turmeric won’t cope with cold conditions and if you live in districts where you receive frost or very cold temperatures, you can of course, grow it in a large pot in a sheltered location, either indoors or in a glasshouse.
Take it outside when the danger of frost has passed.
To grow Turmeric in the ground, it’ll handle anything you throw at it, re-sprouting from drought and coping with boggy soils.
Probably because where it naturally grows, the average rainfall is between 1000 and 2000mm a year.
Gardening books and magazines will tell you that it requires moist and well- drained soil, but it grows just as well in clay.
Turmeric can grow in full sun, but only if the soil remains constantly wet. Otherwise, grow it in dappled shade or at least have mid-day shade.
Your Turmeric will be ready in about 8 months because then the plant will be mature enough to harvest the root for food.
Usually when the leaves turn yellow and disappears, is the best time to dig the plant up and harvest the root
How to make turmeric powder Version 1
Break up your rhizome into small pieces and dry it under mesh but in full sun until it’s quite crisp. About 10 days.
If you have one of those dehydrator thingies, that’s even better.
Use a coffee mill or spice grinder. Sieve it and then grind it again so it’s quite fine. Store in airtight bottles.
It should last for 12 months.
Homemade Turmeric has a much better flavour
How to make turmeric powder Version 2-faster process
First clean the rhizomes thoroughly, then boil rhizomes for 45 min.
When they've cooled you can peel off the skins.
After that dry in shade for around a week.
When the turmeric is dry and crisp break up the rhizomes with a kitchen basher, like what you would use to tenderize meats.
Finally, grind the rhizomes using a mortar and pestle, or a food processor
Why are the good for you?
You don’t have to make the powder but instead use it as you would fresh ginger.
How about a fruit and veg Turmeric smoothie, or Turmeric pickle?
For sore throats, add 1 teaspoon of Tumeric to your favourite milk, and heat. Add some honey to sweeten. Drink this before retiring for bed.
If you had 1 ounce of 28 grams of Turmeric you would have 26% of your daily needs in manganese and 16% in iron.
It's also an excellent source of fibre, vitamin B6, potassium, and healthy amounts of vitamin C and magnesium.
But you don’t need to eat that much.
Even a small dose has health benefits such as an improved ability to digest fats, reducing gas and bloating, decreased congestion, and improved skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Believe it or not.


talking with Tony Mattson, General Manager of

Are you in the middle of winter pruning right now?
What’s the state of your gardening secateurs?
Do they open easily, are the blades sharp? You know they’re sharp if they make a clean cut through a plant’s stem without leaving a little tear behind.
Almost as if you only cut through part of the stem and then pulled off the remaining part.
If they’re not sharp, those cuts that you make on your plants will end up with bruising and tearing on the stems leading to dieback and fungal disease problems.
Listen to the podcast for all the tips.

You don't have to sharpen your secateurs and other gardening tools every day or every time you use them.
Sharpening takes off a bit of metal and reduces the blade.
Only sharpen your much loved secateurs when they don't cut cleanly anymore.
That can be best described when a piece of stem cuts only part way and the rest is torn.
It's worth remembering that these kind of cuts on plants are entry points for disease such as fungal dieback.
Oilstones are things of the past.
The better method is to use either a diamond stone or a tungsten-carbide stick.
For bypass secateurs, sharpen the outside of the blade. 
Start on the inside of the blade and go outwards when sharpening.
For anvil secateurs, sharpen both sides.
To quote a long time gardening presenter on Gippsland FM, the jobs not done until the tools are put away.


with Karen Smith  editor of and Jeremy Critchley, garden nursery owner
With so many amazing plants in garden centres today, it can be easy to forget some of the most obvious choices.
And if you’ve been to England or Europe over the warmer months you would see the most amazing hanging baskets of Geraniums flowering beautifully. With the recent geranium revival, it’s time to give the humble geranium a look with a fresh pair of eyes, especially some newer varieties that make the flowers of old seem small.
Let’s find out about these newer varieties and listen to the podcast.

Firstly let’s get out the way the confusion people in general have about Geraniums.
Geraniums most people see in hanging baskets, especially in Europe and the UK, are actually not Geraniums, they’re Pelargoniums.
Pelargonium is a genus of flowering plants which includes about 200 species of perennials, succulents, and shrubs, commonly known as geraniums
Confusingly, Geranium is the correct botanical name of a separate genus of related plants often called cranesbills
True geraniums are more fragile looking, and couldn’t cope with nearly as much sun in Australia, as these Pelargoniums.
Now for a bit of history.
Supposedly, the first species of Pelargonium known to be cultivated was P. triste, a native of South Africa.
Most species bred today originate from South Africa.
In 1631, the English gardener John Tradescant the elder bought seeds from Rene Morin in Paris and introduced the plant to England.
Did you know John Tradescant’s tomb is in Lambeth garden museum in London?
I went there in 2013.
He’s important because together with his son, he went plant collecting and bought back lots of plants that are used in gardens still today.
I’m not sure if the weed Tradescantia is his discovery.
The name Pelargonium was introduced by Johannes Burman in 1738, from the Greek, pelargós (stork), because the seed head looks like a stork's beak.
Pelargonium leaves are usually alternate, and palmately lobed or pinnate, often on long stalks, and sometimes with light or dark patterns.

Difference between Geraniums and Pelargoniums.

From the Geranium and Pelargonium society of WA
True Geraniums are known as Cranesbills, which refers to the shape of the seedpod.

Geranium Big Burgundy
five petals that are the same size and shape as each other;
ten fertile stamens;
seed pods with 'curls' that act like a catapult to hurl the ripened seeds away from the parent plant;
many thin stems attached to fibrous roots;
need of cool climates so most are difficult to grow in Perth's heat.
A pelargonium flower   Pelargoniums were so named because the seedpods resemble the beak of a stork. (Pelar means stork).
five petals, of which the upper two differ in shape and size from the lower three (more noticeable on the species or 'original') ;
ten stamens, but not all are fertile;
seed pods have a feathered end that enables them to float on the breeze to find a place to grow;
succulent, thick stems that hold moisture to enable them to withstand drought.
Geranium Big Pink

Geranium Big Red

Those big Geraniums of old are called Regal Geraniums and grew in many a country garden where they sometimes lined the long driveways alongside other old world shrubs.

They had a particular place and you either liked or hated them.
As with all Geraniums, old and new, they keep a lush appearance in some of the hottest, driest conditions, are elegant in pots and can be the mainstay of low-maintenance gardens.
These and are showy and hardy.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

SugarsThrough The Looking Glass


with Jaggery (Palm sugar) and Gula Malaka .
Talking with Ian Hemphill
There’s more than one type of brown sugar and they don’t all come from the sugar cane plant.

 Not only that there’s more than one variety of each different sugar.

Just like we see sugar being sold as white, brown and dark brown sugar, you may find once you decide to use them in your cooking that there’s a few different types that have their different applications. There's light palm sugar and dark palm sugar. Dark palm sugar is closest in flavour to dark brown sugar.
Gula Malaka is all of these.
Let’s find out  and listen to the podcast.

If you can't buy Gula Malaka, or Jaggery, you can substitute it with soft brown sugar.
Jaggery is made from boiled down sugar cane juice. It's very natural and not processed.
Used a lot in Indian cooking and has a very different aroma to palm sugar once blended with other spices.
An example of using the different palm sugars in cooking is -for Red Thai Curries use dark palm sugar, and for green Thai curries use light palm sugar.
Would you believe that palm sugar or palm jaggery is one of the healthy sugar substitutes that is available in the market today.
Unlike sugar, it is unrefined and unbleached retaining all its nutrients, but not only that, it has a smoky flavour and a rich aroma.
Palm sugar is produced by tapping the sap from the flowers of the tree and boiling it down to produce a syrup, which is then sold as is, or allowed to crystallize into various shapes and sizes.
Some of these sugars are mixed with cane sugar so that’s something to watch out for.
If you want the genuine article either buy a reputable brands or check the ingredients and hopefully, that will tell you if it’s 100% palm sugar.
If you have any questions about winter rose care or roses in general, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


BOTANICAL NAME: Bay Leaf, Sweet Bay or scientifically Laurus nobilis
A tree in the Laurel family and yes it’s a tree but we call it a herb because it’s the leaf that we use.
Bay Tree has a long history, in being used as a way of recognizing someone who had achieved something great.

For example, a great scholar, or the winner of a chariot
race, or the soldier who had excelled in battle. All of these would have been given a laurel of bay leaves.
That’s why it’s been give the latin name of Laurus nobilis, reflecting that’s it’s given to someone for performing a noble deed.
Did you know that the term ‘baccalaureate’ originates from this giving of bay leaf crowns to signify success, as does the term "poet laureate?"
Bay leaves are widely used in European cooking and are classically found in Bouquet garni, and usually found in mixed herbs.

Bouquet garni is French for bunch of herbs which can be anything but traditionally includes a sprig of Thyme, a sprig of Parsley, a sprig of Marjoram, sometimes a sprig of Oregano and a sprig of Bayleaf.
Tie them together with a piece of kitchen string.
It can be used fresh or dried.

Bay leaves have quite a strong flavour so need to be used sparingly.
Bay leaves contain the oil cineole and eucalyptol, but is fresh best when using this herb?
It seems the flavour profile of the fresh bay leaf is more bitter.

However, the flavour profile of a dried bay leaf has lost that background bitterness and all but about 10% of the moisture content.
Dried Bay leaves are best in long slow cooking.
Fresh bay leaves are used when you’re cooking something for a very short time such as with fish on a barbecue.

Bay leaves are very easy to dry.
Hang a bunch of leaves in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks, then strip off the leaves and put them into an airtight container.
They will last for 12 – 18 months. Oil of bay leaf repels cockroaches.
So spread some dried leaves in your kitchen pantry cupboards to deter those cockroaches.

What does the Bay Tree look like?

The Bay tree is evergreen growing quite large, to about 8 metres.
But it’s not in a hurry to do this being quite a slow grower.The leaves themselves are a leathery dark green about 5 – 8 cm long.
The leaves have a strong odour and a bitter taste and that’s because Bay leaves contain essential oils and a compound called Eucalyptol.
The leaf, both dried and fresh, and the fruit of the bay leaf tree are used for medicinal purposes but don’t try to eat the berry because it’s poisonous.
You might be surprised to learn that the essential oil that you get from the fruit is used in making soap.
How do they grow?
You might think that at 12 metres, the Bay tree is a bit big for most gardens these days, but not so.
Bay trees are often sold as topiary subjects and can be kept in pots for many many years.You don’t even have to upsize to the next pot.
Simply take out your bay tree if it’s become pot bound and hack of the bottom 1/3 to ½ of the root ball.
Then replenish the potting mix and put your tree back in the same pot.Give it a seaweed drink so that it re-covers from transplant shock, but they’re pretty hardy, so not much can go wrong.
Do this every couple of years.Bay trees can grow in any soil and are generally hardy to -5°C but can withstand lower temperatures in sheltered positions.
Bay is hardier when planted in the ground.

You can also keep it as a topiary subject in the ground as well to limit it’s size.
All that will happen is that the trunk will get thicker.
You may have seen Bay trees topiaried as balls on sticks, or the stems of two trees intertwined.
When to plant your Bay Leaf?
You can plant your bay leaf any time really because they’re pretty hard, but in cold climates if it’s only a small sapling, wait until the hard frosts have past.
Prune your Bay leaf in late spring also and remove any leaf tips damaged by winter weather.
Mature bay trees can tolerate even hard pruning but are slow to recover and re-grow.
Stagger this hard pruning over 2 -3 season is a better idea so your tree doesn’t look terrible for most of the warmer months.
For trees in pots the roots can be susceptible to freezing through the pot in a cold winter.
Prevent this happening by using bubble wrap around the pot.
TIP: Don’t over water your bay tree in the pot because over-watering can cause root damage
.Bay trees can get attacked by scale insects so keep a watch out for those because they discolour the leaves and are not any good for using in cooking
.Spray your leaves with a botanical oil at the first signs of scale at the beginning of Spring.
Why are the good for you?
Fresh leaves are very rich source of vitamin-C, and A and folic acid.
Apparently components in the essential oil can also be used in many traditional medicines in the treatment of arthritis, muscle pain, bronchitis and flu symptoms.
I can’t vouch for it, but some people drink Bay leaf tea to help with common digestive disorders like constipation and acid reflux.



Why Don't Plants Last with Louise McDaid, Landscape Designer.
Have you ever bought a plant thinking or knowing that it’s not suited to your climate?
You’ve said to yourself that you’ll create a micro-climate, or you’ll give it a go in a pot next to a north facing wall so it gets reflected heat.
Or you’ll protect it from freezing winters by remember to cover it with a blanket of some sort.

Perhaps it’s a plant that you grew up with in a colder climate and now that you’ve moved to somewhere more temperate or tropical, you want to try and grow it.
Perhaps this plant of yours evokes all sorts of memories, or the flowers have that special colour, so you give it a go anyway.
Let’s find out plants like this, and why some plants don't last.
Did you know that lavender isn’t frost tolerant? I would never have thought because I’m sure my father grew Lavender in his Mt Gambier home.
But perhaps it had a microclimate?


with Karen Smith, editor and Jeremy Critchley
Coprosma repens " Pacific Series"
What plants grew by the seaside when you were quite young and went to the beach with your parents?
They are pretty tough plants with shiny leaves that withstand extremely dry conditions and salt spray.
Often called Mirror Bush or Looking Glass Plant because the leaves are that shiny.
The flowers are insignificant, but people living near the coast used to plant these shrubs because they could withstand the salt spray and grew where nothing much else would.
Especially in neglected gardens or gardens of holiday houses.
Perhaps it’s one of these plants that we’re about to talk about?
 What is this plant? Let’s find out …
Make sure you buy the newer types of Coprosma as in the Pacific series that are self sterile and not the weedy species Coprosma repens.
Coprosma 'Pacific Sunset' is a brilliantly coloured low growing evergreen shrub.
The leaves are coral red in the centre with broad dark red-brown leaf edges, very shiny and with an unusual wavy habit.
The growth is dense and compact, to around a metre and a half high and wide. It is great for low hedges and screens, and does beautifully in containers.
Grow in a sunny position to light shade in a moist soil. Feed with a handful of slow release fertiliser in spring.
Another new cultivar is Coprosma Pacific Sunrise.
 This is a striking evergreen plant growing to 1.5m high, with a glossy wave shaped leaf consisting of hot pink foliage and chocolate brown highlights.


That species Coprosma is a weed of coastal environs (i.e. sand dunes and headlands), heathlands, open woodlands, closed forests, temperate rainforests, wetlands, roadsides, disturbed sites, old gardens and waste areas in temperate regions.



Sunday, 9 August 2015

Snip Snip Go The Roses


Winter Rose Care

Who doesn’t love receiving a bunch of roses?
It certainly puts a smile on your face especially if they’re the fragrant type.
Perhaps we don’t receive them as much as we would like and if that’s the case, you need to grow some roses of your own.
Pruning can seem complicated if you read blogs on the web or books on roses and their care.
Steve certainly advocates the simple approach to winter rose care.If you’re not that familiar with looking after roses, this next segment has simplified some of the things you have to do to roses in winter in order to have plenty of flowers.

Talking with Steve Falcioni, general manager
Let’s find out...listen to the podcast

The more you know about your rose the easier the task will be.
For example:
Is your rose once-flowering or remontant (repeat flowering)?
What is its normal growth habit - climber, tall, medium or short bush?
Do you get frosts in your area? This is very important for the timing of pruning.
Of course the later you leave the pruning, the easier it’ll be to find a bud as they begin to swell.
The first thing to do of course is to prune of dead and diseased wood.

Pruning cuts are always 1-2 cm above these buds.

Just a few major steps first for beginners.
Prune two-thirds of the bush if it's a vigorous hybrid tea, (most commonly grown) otherwise if it's weaker growing than just half to a third.
Floribundas or shrub roses aren't pruned as heavily, but the same principle applies.
Climbers are different, don't prune those long whippy stems but tie them to a support and prune the stems that come off this main branch to about 2-3 buds.

If you have any questions about winter rose care or roses in general, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


BOTANICAL NAME: Turnips or Brassica rapa

It’s funny that some vegetables have received a bad rap through no real reason other than not looking all that appealing.
One thinks of Turnips as some bland vegetable that’s used to flavour soups and stews.
But you wouldn’t eat it as a stand alone veggie would you?
Swedes, Parsnips maybe, but not the regular or even mini turnip.
I can’t say exactly why that is because I’ve been enjoying eating mini turnips for the last few weeks. Delicious!
Perhaps it’s the name-Turnip, just like Kohlrabi, the name and sight of the actual thing isn’t that appealing until you actually taste it.
Then you’ll be thinking, why didn’t I try this before because it tastes so good?
Did you know that the Romans used to throw turnips at unpopular people?
Maybe that’s why turnips got such a bad reputation?
But back the UK in the early 1700’s a bloke called Charles Townsend made turnips popular in England.
He did this by discovering that animals could be fed and fattened by eating turnips because they grew in cold and damp climates.
That meant that farmers were able to keep their livestock instead of having to kill them all for winter because there was nothing to feed them on.
You’ll be glad to know that the large woody turnips of old have mainly been replaced with smaller mainly white varieties that are delicious grated raw into a salad or as a side dish, leaving the swedes to take over in the stew department!
Why are Turnips Good to Grow Again?
Turnips are a very versatile vegetable - they can be harvested when mature or when they’re still quite small, cooked or eaten raw and the young tops can be used like spring greens.
Not only that, they’re quick to mature and easy to grow.
What does the Turnip look like?
Just in case you’re mixing up turnips and Swedes and Parsnips, the turnip is round, sits in the ground with just the top exposed to the light as it grows, and is actually the swelling at the base of the stem of the plant.
The Turnips that I’m going to talk about have mainly a white flesh and skin with a rosette of green feathery leaves that can also be eaten.
How do they grow?
Turnips can grow in full sun and partial shade, but like a well-drained soil.
Whatever you do when you plant turnips, don’t let them dry out.
When to plant your turnips?
Well I’m afraid it’s a bit of a mixed bag around Australia, so here goes.
From September until May in temperate districts and also cool temperate districts.
From August until May in sub-tropical areas.
For arid areas, you’ll have to wait until February then you have until August and Tropical areas, have even less of a chance, only between April and June.
Before you sow your turnip seeds, give the veggie bed some chook poo-about a handful per square metre.
Sow the turnip seeds no more than 1 cm deep.
It’ll be a bit tricky to get the right distance apart so keep thinning them out until they’re about 15cm apart.
If you thin them before 8 weeks, both the root and leaves are good to eat at this stage.
The leafy tops of these early pickings are great in salads.
Even though you’re getting an early start on your turnips, if you have some unseasonal warm weather, look after them by not letting them dry out, otherwise they’ll be small and woody.
Mulching with sugar cane, pea straw or something like that will help with keeping the soil moist.
Turnips take about 2-3 months to grow, so add a handful of chicken manure every 4 weeks.
You can pull them out when they’re the size of a golf ball when they’re at their sweetest, or wait until they’re the size of a tennis ball.
There are quite a few new varieties out there so why not try
Turnip White Mini-Tender round white roots, stores well. Crisp, beautiful well shaped rounds, ideal for the turnip lover. Harvest in only 7 weeks.
Turnip ‘Snowball’ is a very popular first-class, globe variety with solid white flesh and a juicy, sweet, mild flavour. Snowball’s an heirloom turnip that was introduced before 1885.
Snowball is best harvested when no larger than a tennis ball and can also be enjoyed when much smaller. Snowball takes between 5-8 weeks to be ready.
Turnip 'Golden Globe'  Also known locally as 'Butter Turnips' locally. Were introduced before 1888, this a heritage turnip with a beautiful golden skin, amber yellow flesh and delicate flavour. Stores well.
Why are the good for you?
Turnip roots are high in dietary fibre, vitamin C and B6, folate, calcium, potassium, and copper.
The greens are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as a good source of calcium, iron, and riboflavin


 Talking with Landscape Designer Glenice Buck.
Over the last few weeks a series about designing a garden on a rural property a couple of hours south of Sydney has been the topic.
We talked about where to locate the garden, should it be where the bones of the old garden was, should it be somewhere else but not where farm machinery needed to trek through it?
Then was soil needing to be improved? Of course it was.
Now comes the most exciting part of the process.
What plants what materials are going in, not to mention how many?
Let’s find out ….
PLAY: Re-working  A Garden part 4_5th August_2015
photo Glenice Buck
Some of the plantings are outlined below.
Shade was needed for the back of the house from the western sun but at the same time the trees couldn't be too large so that they would block the views.

Glenice chose Olive trees, alternating these with Crepe Myrtles, underplanted with Buxus and Santolina.
Lower down Glenice used ornamental grasses, Agastache, Sedums, groundcover Geraniums, Salvias and Chrysanthemums.

The back section of the garden included an avenue of Manchurian Pear trees.
If you want to hear that segment again, go to the website and click the podcast.

Not everything is transcribed from the segment, so if you’re looking for something in particular, email or write to me and I can give you more details.


Talking with Karen Smith from www.hortjournal and Jeremy Critchley
Australia has a diverse range of plants that many wouldn’t recognise as being native other than the usual suspects of Eucalypts, Grevilleas, Bottlebrushes and Banksias.
In steps a climbing vine that is so lush you’d think it came from the rainforests of Madagascar or Sumatra.
Pandorea jasminoides or Bower of Beauty or Bower Vine.
But it turns out to be truly a native plant with dark green glossy leaves and lightly scented flowers that measure around 5cm across.
 What is this plant? Let’s find out …

Even though Bower vine comes from tropical and sub-tropical rainforests, it’ll grow well in southern states if you give it plenty of moisture and protect it from frosts when it’s a young plant.
The newer varieties are Jazzy Bellz-white with deep maroon throats, Ritzy Bellz-pure white petals and throat, Sassy Bellz-medium pink with crimson throat and Flirty Bellz-soft pink with ruffled edges and a dark pink throat.
Same as the original but the distance between the internodes is shorter so appears even more lush, if that was possible.
Large white trumpet flowers with golden centres and is often seen growing all over Australia.
It can be easily trained over fences and trellises forming a dense screen.
I also have a white one with a yellow “throat.”
So, what’s the difference.
Well the original climb to 3 metres high and 5 metres wide. That’s big. I have it climbing over a large arch but it’s not that wide so a trim during the growing season with hedge clippers is need a couple of times.

Jazzy Bellz
Why grow one at all? Bird attracting- Suitable for hedge- - Fast growing
So attractive, I had a birds nest in it for the last two years.
Flowers mainly in Spring and Summer, then you get the long seed pods filled with winged seeds that germinate easily given the right conditions.
I’ve given away quite a few plants that have been grown from seed.
Well there are more varieties out now under the hybrid name “Auzzie Bellz”…with an unusual spelling.
The varieties Jazzyy Bells masses of clean white flowers with ruffled edges and a deep crimson and Sassy Bellz-a darker pink with a crimson throat.
Both only grow to 40 cm
That makes them suitable for pots being more compact, growing to only 40 cm
Use on trellis and pots or on a frame.
There’s also two more varieties that grow as big as the original Pandorea jasminoides but with a deep red flower called Ruby Bellz and a yellow flower with a whi