Saturday, 27 August 2016

Cycads, Seeds and Stripes on Herons


Striated Heron
The Striated Heron is doesn't get as much attention as other Australian herons because of its quiet nature.

Butorides striata; Striated Heron

With its short legs, black crown with striations or  stripes on its throat and neck that can either be grey or rufous in colour; it lives quietly among the mangrove forests, mudflats and oyster-beds of eastern, northern and north-western Australia, where it creeps about in the soft mud among the mangrove roots in search of prey such as fish, crabs and other marine invertebrates.
Let’s find out about it. I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons, manager of Birds in Backyards.

 These birds are a touch smaller than the white faced heron, and about the same size as Dusky Moorhens.When foraging, these herons usually adopt a hunched posture, with the head and neck drawn back into the bird’s body, while keeping the bill held horizontally, parallel to the surface of the mud.
It may be small with short legs but it’s pretty good at stalking it’s food.
Slowly, either standing and waiting for prey to emerge or by sometimes plunging at it from a perch, before stabbing it with its sharp bill.
If you have any questions about Striated Herons or any other bird or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Different stages of germination
It would be a vegetable hero without seeds to grow those vegetables.
Today a how to of getting those seeds to germinate?
You probably would know that all seeds have particular temperature ranges, and light requirements to germinate.
All seeds germinate when light, temperatures and moisture are close to what they prefer to survive.

This might mean that although you can germinate peas in Summer, they will struggle
through the warm months to produce anything, and most likely will be devastated by insect pests and disease.
So know when the best time of year to sow your seeds by checking the information on the back of the packet.
Seeds also have different times when they still remain viable.
All seeds have a seed coat that varies in hardness.
Some need a little help to germinate faster and you can do this yourself several ways.
The process of softening the seed coat is called scarification.
One way to do this is by shaking some seed in a jar with some coarse sandpaper or sand for a few minutes.
Commercially this is done in a large box lined with industrial diamonds.
But these seed companies process tonnes of seed every day.
The sand method might be used for fine seed that you can then pour into a row, sand and seed altogether, into the garden bed.
Another method is by soaking in water.
Some seeds need to be soaked in water first to help them germinate.
Sweet peas for example.
There are a few seeds that require darkness to germinate such as Pansies and Parsley. After you sow these seeds, you need to cover them with damp newspaper or a damp paper towel.
Check on them every few days because you need to remove the paper as soon as they’ve sprouted because that’s when you need to remove the paper or towel.
Most other seeds need light to germinate.
When I talk about planting in Vegetable Heroes, I mention how deep you should plant your seeds.
Why do this? 
Most seeds don’t need ‘instant’ access to light, they can germinate and push up through the soil by drawing from their own energy reserves.
Seeds have a food store for the embryo which emerges.
If you plant your seeds too deep, the food store runs out before the plant reaches sunlight.
After that all green plant seedlings need access to light so that they can make their own food (through photosynthesis) and continue to grow.
The other problem is if you plant them too shallow, then they’ll dry out and die before they get anywhere.
Sounds tricky, but if you’re having trouble germinating one type of seed, it’s probably because one of the things I’ve mentioned isn’t just right.
My tip if you’re having trouble, is to cover your seeds with a layer of vermiculite, and spray that with water to make sure it’s really wet.
Vermicullite  let’s in plenty of light in and I mostly get success with seeds that way.
I also like to use a mini greenhouse for at least the first week if the weather’s not quite right for the seeds that I’m trying to grow.
When I used to work at Yates, I’d get calls about the seeds being of poor quality because the caller couldn’t germinate them.
That’s rare although it can happen.

I’ve got to say though, seed companies all do germination tests in their laboratories to make sure they get 85% germination rate, before they process and package them.
Otherwise they’re wasting their time and money packaging up their seed.
If the germination rate is below that number of 85%, then they scarify them and do the germination test again to see if that improves the rate.
In any case, if you buy a packet of seeds and can’t germinate them, you can ring up the company and they’ll send you a fresh pack.
Another question I was often asked about, was why are some seeds coated with a fungicide called Thiram? This usually makes the seed pink.
This is to prevent the seed from rotting when you put it into the ground. Sometimes seeds are prone to fungal attack and are treated that way because of that, or in some cases, the seed supplier doesn’t have a particular certification and the seed company then coats them.
Plants grown from this treated seed aren’t poisonous. The only thing that’s poisonous is that pink coating on the seed.
So what can you do if you’ve got some seed you’re having trouble with, or if you have some packets of out of date seed? Haven’t we all?
How about a Home test for Seed viability?
What you need is a sheet of paper towelling, clear plastic bag to fit and spray bottle of water.
Spray paper towel so it’s completely moist but not dripping.
Add 10 seeds from your packet and space them out on one half of the paper towel.
This is doing a seed sample. If 7 or 8 seeds sprout then you have 70 -80% germination rate. If you have only 3-4 seeds sprouting, that means a low germination rate.
Either use more seeds to get what you want or not use them at all.
Take other half and fold over the seeds.
Spray towel again.
Put this in zip lock plastic bag and seal it up.
Put this into a warm environment such as a cupboard or a desk drawer for about a week.
Check on it every 2-3 days to make sure that it remains moist.
After a few days, fresh seeds will have sprouted if the seeds are fresh.
Growing from seed is the cheapest and most rewarding way of growing plants.
Once you get the knack, you’ll be growing everything from flowers to vegetables.


Updating Your Garden with Different Shaped Plants.
Have you updated the flower colour in your garden yet?  Or are you considering putting in some grasses, or strappy leaved plants with coloured foliage?
Are you thinking about moving some plants for a fresh new look?
Here’s something you mightn’t know or realise, and that is: a single species can have different leaf shapes over the life of the plant.
In fact, some can have different leaf shapes on the plant at the same time.
Mt Tomah Botanic Garden photo M Cannon
For example, gum trees have different adult and juvenile foliage. That’s complicated enough, but what about the shape of the plant itself?
Good garden design takes the shapes of plants into account.
Did you know that you can update your plants using just the shape of the plant?
What does that mean?
 Let’s find out….I'm talking with Garden Designer Louise McDaid.

Blenheim Palace garden, England. photo M Cannon
As Louise said, if one of your garden beds could look a bit better, think about introducing a different shaped plant, one with perhaps a vertical shape, like the ornamental pear, or a lollipop on a stick.
Perhaps a fountain shaped plant will fit the bill, like a weeping grass with stripey foliage- such as variegated Miscanthus.
Lots to ponder when thinking about updating your garden.


Cycas revoluta SAGO PALM
Did you know that the term Gymnosperm that’s used to classify or define conifers or pine trees and cycads means naked seed?
That’s because the seed doesn’t come from a flower because conifers don’t have flowers but the seeds develop on the surface of the pine cones, which is the reproductive structure.
Cycas revoluta; Sago Palm
That’s how plants evolved around 200 million years ago.
This plant doesn’t have flowers either but it’s not a conifer.
Let’s find out more with the plant panel:Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

The leaves are a deep semiglossy green and about 50–150 cm  long when the plants are at the cone bearing stage.
Cycas revoluta
They grow out into a feather-like rosette to 1 m in diameter. T
he crowded, stiff, narrow leaflets are 20 cm long and have strongly recurved or revolute edges hence the latin species name of  Cycas revoluta.
Of all the cycads, Cycas revoluta is the most popular in gardens and parks.
It’s called Sago Palm but it has no links to actual palms which are flowering plants and therefore Angiosperms.
It’s seen in almost all botanical gardens, in both temperate and tropical locations.
In many areas of the world, it is heavily promoted commercially as a landscape plan.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Paprika Spice and Soft Tree ferns


PAPRIKA Capsicum fruitescens.
Paprika is the most popular of spices and is found in many spice blends, especially for meat.
The Paprika fruit looks like a long and narrow chilli, but the Spanish variety is like a slightly squashed capsicum.
Paprika Red Banana
Alma Paprika

The top quality grades of Paprika are called "Noble Sweet" and these have the best flavour.

Without this spice Hungarian goulash, Spanish chorizos and Indian tandoori chicken just wouldn’t be the same.
Be warned, only use Paprika that's labelled Hungarian Sweet Paprika in your Goulash, otherwise the taste will be quite strong and unpleasant.
It's so famous in Hungary that there’s even a Paprika Museum in the town of Kaloscsa.
Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, owner of

That town in Hungary that Ian mentioned holds an annual Paprika festival every October.
Not only that, in the villages of Szeged and Kalosca, peppers are threaded onto long pieces of string and hung up to dry outside the houses and from garden fences.
Fun Fact:For those in the know, they can tell when the Paprika is the correct amount of dryness from the sound the dried Paprika makes when the wind rattles the peppers!
Cooking isn’t the only way Paprika is used.
Did you know some zoos use it mixed in with the feed to keep the bright pink hue of flamingoes!
If you have any questions about Paprika or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Globe artichokes or Cynara ascolymus belongs to the Thistle family.
What a history this vegetable has!
There’s an Aegean legend about a girl called Cynara…who to cut a long story short got to be made into a goddess.
However she was spotted returning to her earthly family whom she missed and for her troubles was turned into the plant we know as the artichoke or Cynara ascolymus.
This legends originates about 370 BC.
Ancient Greeks and Romans considered artichokes a delicacy and as well as an aphrodisiac.
Artichokes, including leaves, were thought to be a diuretic, a breath freshener and even a deodorant.
The globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) belongs to the thistle family.

It’s also known as the French artichoke and the crown artichoke, but is not related to the Jerusalem artichoke, which is actually a tuber.
The artichoke ‘vegetable’ is actually the flower head which is picked and eaten before it flowers.
Only the heart and the fleshy base of the leaves is edible.
The floral parts in the centre and base of the flower (the choke) must be removed before eating.
What does the plant look like?
Like a very very large grey leaved thistle plant, and up through the middle of the plant comes this big fat segmented looking flower bud.
This is the bit you eat before it turns into  flower.
When to grow you Globe artichoke
August until November for sub-tropical and temperate areas.
September through November in cool temperate areas and for Arid areas, June through to December.
The only district that misses out, are the Tropical areas that can only grow Globe Artichokes from April to July.
Artichokes need a bit of space to grow - a mature plant will end up about 1.5m high and across.
Because the plants are perennial and will stay in the same place in the garden for a number of years, pick a spot you don’t mind them being for a few years.
For cold districts, Globe Artichokes won’t put up with the really cold winters.

For these gardeners, choose a cold hardy variety from your local garden centre and grow it as an annual.
They prefer an open, sunny spot in the garden, with well-drained soil, and of course add some compost and decomposed manure or fertiliser.
Artichokes can be planted from seed now, but it’s far easier to plant suckers.
A mature plant usually has a main stem and a number of lateral suckers.
If you know of someone with a plant ask them to separate sucker using a spade.
Trim back any woody leaves or roots and plant in a suitable place in mid-late winter.
Water plants well until they are established and protect them from frost and later on from heat stress when they’re still young.
Once mature, they’re fairly resilient.
Next autumn build up mulch around them, and cut stems back once the leaves go yellow.
Mature plants will appreciate a boost of fertiliser and mulch each spring.
When to harvest those globe artichokes.
Not in the first year, because that’s when you take off any flower heads so that the young plants have a chance to grow and produce leaves.
From the second year on, pick the artichokes (generally 10-12 heads) once they are swollen, but before the scales have started to open and turn brown on the tips.

Globe artichoke flower
When picking your artichoke, leave a few centimetres of stem.
Small buds can be picked early in the season and eaten whole.
Globe artichokes will get crown rot if the drainage isn’t any good, and give them a good rinse to get rid of any earwigs and other insects.
Why are they good for you?
Current research is showing benefits to the liver from cynarin, a compound found in the artichoke's leaves.
Silymarin is another compound found in artichokes that has powerful anitoxidant properties and may help the liver regenerate healthy tissue.
Artichokes are nutrient dense, so, for the 25 calories in a medium artichoke, you're getting 16 essential nutrients!
In addition to all these important minerals, artichokes are a good source of fibre (12% of the RDV), vitamin C (10% of the RDV), and folate (10% of the RDV).


Updating your garden with existing plants.
That simply means, moving some plants around the garden to give it a new look.
We’ve been updating our garden over the last couple of weeks.
 Starting with flowers and flower colour, then changing or putting in some new foliage colour. Perhaps some grasses or cordylines with pink or red, like Cordyline “Electric Pink” with a muted pink shade really.That was last week.

Today, we’re talking about what do you do if you just want to update your existing plants?
Poinsettia can be easily moved. photo M Cannon
Sounds like you don’t have to spend a penny, just put in some hard yards in the garden to give it a fresh look.Let’s find out. I'm talking with garden designer Louise McDaid.
Japanese viburnum can be easily moved to update your garden. photo M Cannon

How about moving some plants during the cooler weather?
I always find moving plants is very satisfying, especially if you move them into the right location where they just suddenly look better.
That’s a great way of updating your garden with existing plants.
Cannas can be easily moved to update your garden. photo M Cannon
For those plants that can't be moved such as Salvias, cuttings can be  easily taken and the new plants planted somewhere else in the garden.
But think about it if your gardens need some of that type of adjustment like that, and make a note of where you would like the plants to go.
There should be plenty of ideas to get you started if you’re a beginner gardener, and some tips for those of you who’ve been doing it for a while.
The Helichrysum petiolare that Louise mentioned is commonly known as Licorice plant.
Helichrysum comes in two colourways, the traditional grey green foliage of the species and the lime green foliage of Helichrysum petiolare “Limelight.” Easily clipped into a bun shape or grown as a low hedge.


SOFT TREE FERN Dicksonia antartctica Dicksonia Antarctica is a statement tree which will create a dramatic sense to any garden.

Easily established and maintained, this evergreen tree is guaranteed to intensify your garden.
Let’s find out.
I'm talking with the plant panel, Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal 
and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Soft tree ferns live in moist areas with high water content in wet sclerophyll forests, along creek beds, in gullies and occasionally at high altitudes in cloud forests

Dicksonia tree ferns can grow up to 15m in height; it has large dark green roughly textured fronds in a spreading canopy of up to 6m in diameter.

They have an erect rhizome forming a trunk. They are very hairy at the base of the stipe. (trunk). The "trunk" of this fern is the decaying remains of earlier growth of the plant and forms a medium through which the roots grow
Fast Fact:

Did you know that the soft tree fern doesn’t reach maturity until it’s 23 years old?

A lot of places just name this tree fern but you mightn’t want the taller growing coin spot tree fern.
Look for Soft tree fern or Dicksonia Antarctica on the label.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Nature in Action and Beautiful Foliage


What happens when an ecologist from Australia, packs up and leaves to work in Namibia for a couple of years?
Namibia wildlife
Some of the wildlife found in Namibia are big cats, Cheetahs, Elephants, Zebras, and Giraffes.
Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Katie Oxenham, a Consulting ecologist who now lives in Sydney.
Katie's role in Namibia was conservancy and natural management support. She was employed by the Namibia Nature Foundation and worked with communities in the north of the country to manage natural resources such as the harvest of Devil's Claw. Devil's Claw is different to the Australian weed by the same name found in the Top End.

Help with how to sustainably harvest the Devil's Claw was important because it prevented the plant from becoming regionally extinct.
Katie also helped the indigenous population with entering into contracts with private companies of eco-tourist lodges whereby they would acquire jobs thus giving them a reason to conserve wildlife.
Namibia has unique landscapes and is home to a vast diversity of wildlife found nowhere else on Earth.
There are approximately 4,000 plant species, over 650 bird species and 80 large mammal species.Namibia is a pretty special place and a must see destination for tourists wanting to see African wildlife.
If you have any questions about Namibia or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange?
Broccoli, Brassica oleracea var Italica or botrytis cymosa?
Earlier this year I mentioned that Broccoli heads are actually groups of flower buds that are almost ready to flower?

Each group of buds is called a floret.
That’s still true, nothing’s changed.
Broccoli is of course in the Brassicaceae family of vegetables along with cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, turnips and many of the Asian greens.
Just to remind you why should you grow any type of Broccoli if it’s available all year round in your supermarket?
Firstly, supermarket Broccoli has probably been sprayed for all manner of pests whether or not the pests visited the Broccoli plant.
Secondly, supermarket Broccoli stems are pretty tough to eat, when they’re supposed to be tender.
Why, because that type of Broccoli transports better?
Homegrown Broccoli, especially the heirloom varieties, also re-shoot after your cut of the central Broccoli stem.
Plus, Broccoli is pretty easy to grow.
Finally, to taste great, broccoli has to be properly cared for and must also be picked at the right time.
If you just buy broccoli at the green grocer’s, the broccoli may look great but the taste may not be up to scratch.
How so? They may have been picked before becoming fully-mature.
Or they may have been picked at the right time but then stored too long
With home-grown broccoli, you can also be sure how it has been grown:
You know exactly where it has come from, what you used to grow and protect it, unlike those sold in supermarkets and even in farmer’s markets.
Today’s Broccoli is the Romanesco broccoli or some call it roman cauliflower

You might think this lime green cauliflower come broccoli is a new invention but it’s been around since the 16th century.
The reason why broccoli is making an appearance in this segment is that even though it’s called Romanesco broccoli it’s much more crunchy than either broccoli or cauliflower.
The flavour is different as well, some say nutty even, while others say it tastes like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.
That seems too hard to imagine.
To add to the confusion, apparently the French call it Romanesco cabbage and the English called it Italian asparagus.
So it’s a mixed up vegetable if you like but the most fascinating part of Romanesco is its appearance.
Much has been said about the mathematics of this spiral pattern, a lot of which is fairly complex.
Its spiralled buds form a natural approximation of a fractal, meaning each bud in the spiral is composed of a series of smaller buds.
You might’ve heard of the Fibonacci sequence?
The spirals follow the same logarithmic pattern.
Plus it’s a very attractive vegetable to be growing in the garden.
Where did it come from?
Romanesco is a unique Italian variety of broccoli with a yellowish-green dense head that forms an unusual spiral pattern.
How to grow Romanesco Broccoli?
Sow the seeds of Romanesco broccoli in from February July in arid zones, March through to August in sub-tropical areas, Spring and Autumn in temperate zones,
 And cor cooler regions, you’ll have to wait until October before sowing.
The plants need the same care as either Broccoli, or cauliflower and that is they’re not too choosy about the site they’re growing in but prefers to be in full sun, but also will tolerate partial shade with no problems.
Growing in too much shade will reduce the size of the Broccoli head.
The ideal soil is a reasonably heavy (not pure clay) which is rich in nutrients and has been well-dug.
Like all brassicas, Broccoli needs a minimum soil pH of 6; but really prefers a pH of 7.

Add lime if you need to raise the soil pH.
Broccoli is what’s called a heavy feeder, so do add plenty of blood and bone, and decomposed manures by the bucket load before you start.
Sow your Broccoli seed about 2 mm deep, and space the seedlings about 40cm apart so they don’t crowd each other.
Once a fortnight feed your broccoli with a liquid fertilizer; seaweed, manure tea, nettle tea etc.
Don’t plant or sow Romanesco Broccoli in your veggie bed if you’ve grown it before in the past 3 years.
You may get a disease called Club Root that causes you Broccoli plant to wilt regardless of how much water you give it.
Remember the acronym. LRLC-Legumes, root veg, leafy then Cucurbits, Brassicas.
Harvest broccoli heads when they have reached maximum size, are still compact, and before the buds loosen, open into flowers, or turn yellow.
It will be about 70-100 days or 2 ½ -4 months, when your Broccoli will be ready if you plant it now.
When do you pick your Romanesco Broccoli?
You’ve got to time it just right, and that’s when the cluster of tight buds in the central head is well formed and before the individual flowers start to open.
Make a sloping cut (this allows water to run off), picking a piece that's about 10 cm long.
That way you’ve left a reasonable amount of the plant intact to produce smaller sideshoots or "florets," which you can pick as well.
Great for stir fries.
At this stage, don’t stop feeding and watering the remaining broccoli stem otherwise your plants will go to seed and you won’t get any side shoots.
TIP: If your Broccoli plants starts to flower it’ll going into seed production and you won’t get any more side shoots.
Why is any type of Broccoli good for you?
Broccoli contains twice the vitamin C of an orange.
Did you know that just 100g of Broccoli has two day’s supply of vitamin C (don’t overcook  or you’ll lose some).
Broccoli also a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin E, folate and beta carotene
100g broccoli has 120kJ.
Broccoli also contains magnesium and as much calcium as whole milk.
One cup of broccoli boosts the immune system with a large dose of beta-carotene. 
Great for preventing colds. Don’t underestimate the power of broccoli!


Update Your Garden with Different Foliage.
Do flowers play the starring role in your garden, while the greenery gets relegated to backstage?

Foliage makes a garden. photo M Cannon
 The greenery, or foliage if you like, are the mainstay of gardens and garden design because they’re there all year when the flowers fade.
Think of the delicate fronds of ferns or the fountain like effects of many types of ornamental grasses. The leaves of these plants don’t just serve as a lovely background for flowers, because they have their own attraction. There are some really beautiful foliaged plants that could be used as a dominant feature alongside your flowers. Remember, foliage will carry your garden through all seasons, long after the flowers have faded away.
I'm talking with garden designer Louise McDaid.

Coloured leaves photo M Cannon
If doesn’t hurt the pocked to update your garden in this series, because we’re not doing the crazy make-over.
There should be plenty of ideas to get you thinking about updating the foliage in your garden.


Sandpaper Fig Ficus coronata
Bush tucker plants are one of the hot trends in horticulture and this one is no exception.
Ficus coronate Sandpaper Fig
What about a tree that has leaves the not only feel like sandpaper, but can be used for sandpapering surfaces.
Let’s find out more about this plant by listening to the podcast.
I'm talking with the plant panel, Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Ficus coronata is a food plant for the caterpillars of the Queensland butterfly the common- or purple moonbeam. One of many host plants for the larvae of the Common Crow (Euploea core).
Good jam fruit but fussy to prepare because of hairs on skin.
Suited to a shady position in gardens, or medium to brightly lit indoor spaces. Like all figs in garden situations, they attract birds such as species of silvereye and rainforest pigeon.
Of the 1,000 fig species, most are tropical and 70 per cent of the animal life in the rainforest depends on them.
They are a “keystone” species: no figs, no jungle. Birds, bats, monkeys, gibbons, insects – all run on figs.
They are sweet – which means they are high in energy – and the trees can fruit/flower several times a year.
Aboriginal Women: Would use the leaves to "sand" there feet and nails.
Men: Would use the leaves to do the fine sanding of important artefacts and weapons.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Plums, Roses and Curry Leaves


For hundreds of years the rose has been widely recognized as a symbol of love, sympathy or sorrow, but did you know that the rose is not only England’s national flower but from 1986, America’s as well.
Few people dislike rose
Roses for your garden photo M. Cannon
s, especially receiving or giving bunches of them.

Not everyone likes or can grow them successfully, but us gardeners still like to try.
Here’s some timely tips.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, General Manager of

Roses need to be pruned if you want plenty of flowers because they flower on new growth.
Prune your roses mid winter or in August for those districts that receive late frosts.

Quick Pruning Guide

Hybrid Teas:
For example:Papa Meilland, Peace, Sir Donald Bradman.
Prune to half of the bush and leave 3-4 canes cutting older greying canes back to the base.
If you only have 3-4 canes then leave them and hopefully you'll have new vigorous growth.
Modern Bush Roses:
For example: David Austen.
Prune by one-third but don't cut out any old canes. They need to be left like a bush.
Climbing Roses.
You should have a framework of 3-4 main canes, from which come shorter canes.
Only prune these to about 3-4 buds, about 10 cm.
Note: All pruning cuts should be sloping and about 1 cm above an outward facing bud.
Bare Rooted Roses:
Old world roses photo M. Cannon

When you receive your bare rooted roses the two most important things that get your roses off to a great start are to make sure they're in the right growing conditions and to plant them properly.
Here’s something you mightn’t know.
We usually call the sharp spikes on the stem of a rose bush "thorns", but these are in fact technically prickles.
If you have any questions about rose care or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Curry Leaf Tree or Bergera koenigii it used to be called Murraya koenigii,  and for the most part, because people are more familiar with that botanical name, the nursery industry is sticking to it and so shall I.
Murraya Koenigii grows very well in all of Australia.
What is a curry leaf tree really?
Basically it’s just an aromatic Murraya species in the family Rutaceae.
Even when fresh the leaves of this tree have a strong curry aroma, but they take on a whole different flavour in cooking. Mmmm!
But there are other shrubs called curry plant, so be careful, because the others aren’t the edible or cooking with variety.
The Curry tree is native to India and Sri Lanka, and can grow into a large shrub to small tree growing 4-6 m tall.
However, if you keep it in a pot, you can keep it reasonably small.
What Does It Look Like?
The leaves are much like but  in a smaller way to Murraya or Orange Jessamine being in the same genus.
Why wouldn’t you grow this bush with
Curry Leaf Tree
the highly aromatic leaves, and heads of flowers that are white, and fragrant appearing in Spring and Summer?

One thing to remember though is that after flowering, the plant produces small black, shiny berries that are edible.
The second part  of the botanical name or the species name commemorates the botanist Johann Gerhard König which translates to  king in the  German language.
Where it likes to grow
Full sun or light shade is the ideal spot and all you need to do is fertilize with palm or citrus fertilizer to get plenty of leaves.
Curry leaf plants can be grown in large pots and also on the ground.
The type of soil doesn’t matter either.
I have one plant in large pot and it’s only about 1 metre in height.
I’ve got to say that it’s pretty slow growing so don’t worry too much about re-potting it.
They have a tendency to sucker when in the ground, so keeping it a pot if you’re worried about this is probably a good idea.
Full grown plants on the ground can survive frosty conditions, plus the curry leaf tree is hardy and drought tolerant once established.
Where Can You Grow it?
Murraya koenigii or curry leaf tree grows anywhere from tropical areas to cool temperate districts.
A listener, Lesley, has written in to say that she has have several plants in the ground in Melbourne which are now nearly 2 ½ to 3 metres, and thriving.
She doesn’t even cover them during winter period!
Murray koenigii flowers
Like the hedging variety of Murraya, pruning your curry leaf tree every year will make it more bushy so you’ll get more of those fragrant curry leaves.
Picking of the leaves for cooking is also a way of getting bushy growth.
If you want to propagate this plant, when you see the berries at the very tips of the branches turning black, is the time to propagate from seed.
By the way, in some sub-tropical districts this tree has spread into bushland because of birds eating the berries.
If you live in those districts, prune off the berries before the birds get them.
They can be propagated from root suckers but the new plant will sucker even more if you do it this way.
For propagating the fruits are best picked when they are half ripe or when fully ripe ie, quite black.
The fruits should also never be allowed to dry, because the curry plant seeds in them lose their viability when they shrivel or dry up.
Peel the seed out of half ripe or fully ripe fruits by squeezing out the flesh before planting.
The fruit around the seed may slow down germination.
 Seeds are best planted quite shallowly in seed raising mix and germinate in about 10 days -they germinate best with warm soil 210 to 270 C
Use young leaves and crushed seeds in curries, soup stocks and sauces.
The leaves are spicy but not hot  so they can flavour vinegars and salad oils.
Curry leaves are used a lot in South Indian kitchens, where the curry leaves are generally sautéed in oil with mustard seeds and added to dhal, fresh coconut chutney or vegetable dishes.
I always strip the leaves from their stalk before frying, and sometimes tear and crush them between my fingers to release more of their essential oils.
UNUSUAL TIP: do you worry about bad breath?
You probably haven’t heard of this type of breath freshener before.
Did you know that the people of India grow the curry leaf tree, Murraya koenigii, not only to flavour traditional dishes but also known for treating bad breath.
Murraya koenigii berries
What you do is put a few of the fresh leaves in the mouth and hold them there for several minutes and voila’-fresh breath.
I can’t say I’ve tried it though.
Why Are They Good For You?
Apparently scientists are studying the extract of the leaves as a natural medicine against high cholesterol and high blood sugar.
Curry leaves are also known to be good for your hair, for keeping it healthy and long.
You can buy the plant from the herb section of your local nursery or garden centre, some Asian supermarkets, and online from
But be careful that you’re not getting the curry leaf bush-Helichrysum italicum.
This has a grey feathery leaf and can’t be used in cooking at all, even though it smells of curry when you brush past it.
Think of the king when buying your Curry tree plant-Murraya Koenigii!


Would you like a garden make-over but think, Nah, it’s too costly?
There are other ways of making over your garden without all that expense that you see on those televised garden renovation shows every week.
Over the next few weeks, Design Elements will explain different ways of updating your garden without all that expense, sweat and hard labour.
Flowers to update your garden. Photo M.Cannon
We’ll cover updating your garden in many different ways, including using existing plants, colour and shape of plants, and easy make-overs.
Today, we’re starting with updating your garden using flower colour.
I'm talking with was Louise McDaid  Landscape Designer.

Heliotrope arborescens; Cherry Pie. photo M Cannon

One of the great things about plants is the huge variety of colours available – both in their leaves, their flowers and their berries or fruit.
Flower: the blooming of flowers brings joy to the garden and seasonality through different flowering times.
As an example, take Perennials
Oriental lily, asiatic lily, hosta, Peruvian lily (alstroemeria), pink butterflies (gaura), statice (limonium), Christmas bells, gerbera, scabious (scabiosa), Mona lavender (plectranthus).
There should be plenty of ideas to get you started even if you’re a beginner gardener, and some tips for those of you who’ve been doing it for a while.
Plus there’s so many new flower cultivars coming out each season to tempt you.


DAVDISON PLUM Davidsonia pruriens, Davidsonia jerseyana.

Bush tucker plants are one of the hot trends in horticulture and this one is no exception.

The Davidson plum looks rather alien and Dr Seuss like the dark skinned fruit hang like bunches of large grapes from either the long narrow trunk or the branches and there’s a variety to suit most climates in Australia.
As for picking the fruit, they conveniently drop to the ground when they’re ripe.

Let’s find out about growing it.

I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Fruits are dark purple in colour, oval shaped and covered with fine almost indiscernable hairs.

Fruits contain two large seed cases with a single seed and are fibrous.
The fruit flesh is dark red when fully ripe.
D. pruriens fruits are produced in large pendulous clusters from the trunk, they are large deep purple, though the fruit flesh is slightly paler and contains more fibre than its NSW cousin..
Davidson plum trees have a narrow habit with branching on the top half to a third of the tree.

Davidsonia pruriens.  photo M Cannon
Despite their tart taste Davidson plums are known as one of the best of the native plums.
Did you know that the Davidson plum has 100x the vitamin C found in oranges?
They also contain lutien, magnesium, calcium, potassium and manganese.
Store in the fridge for a couple of days or you can freeze them.
When making jams be sure to use twice the amount of sugar, but first cut the fruit in half and remove the two stones or seeds.
You don’t have to just make jam with this fruit.
You can make Davidson Plum Paste, Davidson Plum Chutney or even Davidson Plum and Ginger sauce.

Davidson Plum Chutney

500g Spanish onions, sliced
1 garlic clove
butter for frying
200g Davidson’s plums, de-seeded and chopped
200g brown sugar
100g sultanas
100ml dry white wine
100ml white wine vinegar
a pinch of curry powder
1 clove

Saute' the onions and chopped garlic in a little butter until transparent. Add the remaining ingredients and boil for 1 to 2 hours or until thick stirring occasionally.