Saturday, 24 September 2016

Cut the Summer Scent in the Shrubbery


How many secateurs do you have?
Just the one?
If that’s you, then you’re in for a surprise because secateurs are like dressmaking scissors, or side cutters in the blokes shed, and that is you probably need more than one for the different jobs you might have in the garden.
So just in case you’re in the market for a new pair here’s some timely advice.
Let’s find out. I'm talking with Tony Mattson,  General Manager of

The real interest gardener might have anywhere between 2 to 4 pairs of secateurs while the casual gardener may make do with one.
There were plenty of tips for updating your secateurs or adding one to your garden tool kit.
We only briefly mentioned left handed secateurs and cut and hold secateurs which are helpful for pruning roses so that cut branch can be put directly into your garden trug or whatever you’re using to put the prunings in.
There are also a new type of spring that looks like a coil rather than the traditional veloute spring for secateurs.
Florists use them day in and day out so look out for secateurs with those types of springs.
You can catch that up by listening to the podcast
If you have any questions about secateurs or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Looking like something that dropped from outer space, today we’re growing a horned melon.
Scientifically, African Horned Melon is Cucumis metuliferus, but to us gardeners it’s horned melon or kiwano, also African horned cucumber or melon, jelly melon, hedged gourd.
Like other melons it’s an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family, Cucurbitaceae.
Why should you grow a horned melon?
For those who like to grow strangely different things this one’s is for you.

Its fruit has horn-like spines, hence the name "horned melon".
The ripe fruit has yellow-orange skin and lime green, jelly-like flesh with a tart taste, and texture very close to that of a cucumber.
In fact as its seeds are found throughout its flesh, not just within a seed cavity, it’s more like a cucumber than a melon.
The fruit's taste has been compared to a combination of cucumber and zucchini or a combination of banana, cucumber and lemon.
It is also said to taste like an unripe, watered-down banana.
A small amount of salt or sugar can dramatically change the flavour.
Some also eat the peel, which is very rich in vitamin C and dietary fibre.
Horned melon is native to Sub-Saharan Africa where it’s also a  traditional food plant in Africa.
And it’s one of the few sources of water during the dry season in the Kalahari Desert.
So How Do You Grow This Thing?
Growing a jelly melon plant is much like growing and caring for cucumbers
Plant the horned fruit seeds directly into the garden after all danger of frost has passed and temperatures are consistently above 12 C.
Optimum temperatures for germination are between (20-35 C.
Plant seeds at a depth of 1 ½ - 2 ½ cm, in groups of two or three seeds.
Allow at least 30 cm between each group.
You can also start the seeds indoors, then plant the young melon plants in the garden when the seedlings have two true leaves and temperatures are consistently above 150C.
Water the area immediately after planting, then keep the soil slightly moist, but never soggy.
Watch for the seeds to germinate in two to three weeks, depending on temperature. Be sure to provide a trellis for the vine to climb, or plant the seeds next to a sturdy fence.
Just like for cucumbers water your horned melon plants deeply, giving them at least 2-3 cms of water per week, then allow the soil to dry between waterings.
A single weekly watering is best, as shallow, light irrigation creates short roots and a weak, unhealthy plant.
African Horned Melon vine
Water at the base of the plant, if possible, as wetting the foliage places the plants at higher risk of disease such as powdery mildew.
Cut back on watering as the fruit ripens to improve the flavour of the fruit.
At this point, it’s best to water lightly and evenly, as excessive or sporadic watering may cause the melons to split.
When temperatures are consistently above 230-240 C., the horned melon plants will appreciate a few cms of organic mulch, which will conserve moisture and keep weeds in check.
The green-yellow skin turns a bright deep orange when ready to harvest, and the pulp resembles lime-green Jelly.
The easiest way to eat a horned melon fruit is to cut the fruit horizontally, through its centre.
Take one piece and squeeze its pulp into your mouth.
The seeds are like cucumber seeds and are edible.
And there you have it.
Horned melon growing is that easy.
Give it a try and experience something different and exotic in the garden.
The seeds are available online and I’ll post the links on my website/blog. and
Why Is It Good For You?
The Horn melon consists of over 90% water and is rich in vitamin C.
It is also a source of iron and potassium and vitamin A.
Plus it only has 103 calories.
As for cooking with it, you can scoop out the inner fruit and toss it in fruit salads or use it as a colourful garnish.
Kiwano or Horned Melons are also excellent in exotic drinks.
 How about a minty gin-and-champagne horned melon or kiwano (it’s other name) cocktail!


A couple of weeks ago we started a new series on scented plants for your garden.
So many plants are lovely, with beautiful blooms, but only a smaller section of these also include a wonderful fragrance.
Japanese Needle Flower
When it comes to shrubs you probably know Gardenias, Lavender,  and last week we talked about Jasmine, and of course there’s that ubiquitous Murraya that everyone seems to have.What about something different, something surprising.
Let’s find out more I'm talking with Landscape Designer Peter Nixon

.Don’t miss out on planting scent in your garden.
Peter mentioned the old fashioned Rondeletia that belongs to the shrubbery of old.
.Quite tall but with wonderful scent and much less trouble than Gardenia.

Radermachera "Summer Scent."

For those looking for an alternative to the cloying scent of Murraya paniculata or Orange Jessamine, choose the Japanese Needle Flower or Posequeria longiflora which is very tough and eventually grows to 3 metres. However it can be pruned to much less than this.
There was also Radermachera "Summer Scent." This is a low alternative to Murraya.
Why not grow some or all of these plants so that you can turn your garden in to a perfumed paradise all year round.



These next plants are quite low growing but are the sort of plant that flowers a lot and you can stuff here and there into rockeries and nooks and crannies in your garden, or if you like hanging baskets, they’ll trail over these.

They have a bit of a strange name so I’m surprised that marketers haven’t coming up with something more inspiring.
The flowers are pretty showy though so let’s find out what it is.
I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner 

It turns out that Scopia is just a name for a series of 16 varieties of Bacopa.
Among them are the Gulliver varieties, which have very large flowers.
If you’re area’s climate is really warm, then Bacopa doesn’t like to grow there so much.
However Bacopa does grow well in dappled and semi-shade so there’s another choice for all those gardeners that either have different amounts of sun and shade in their garden where they need a plant that can cope with both.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Wattle Will Goldilocks Do with Juniper?


Juniper Juniperus communis
This small tree is native to desert regions so it’s hardy and drought-resistant.
But not only does this tree give your garden an interesting focal point with its fibrous and furrowed bark and attractive needles, the dried berries can be used to give your homemade gin its distinctive flavour.

Juniper berries have a bloom.
 Conifers in general have pine cones however the Juniper bush has what appears to be fleshy berries with a large seed inside.
The berry  of the culinary Juniper, Juniperus communis, is somewhat smaller than a blueberry and and about the same size as an Allspice berry.
Let’s find out what it is. I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, owner of Herbies Spices and author of the Spice Bible

Ian says Juniper berries are a demon to harvest because they don't all ripen at once, and the needles on the Juniper tree are very prickly, so you need protective gloves.
Make Your Own Gin
The berries can be used to flavour your own gin.
Start with some vodka to which you can add whole Juniper berries, some Coriander seed, and Grains of Paradise. You can crush the berries in a mortar and pestle if you wish.
Cooking with Juniper Berries
The piney flavour of the berries help to balance foods that are rich or cloying, such as Duck or Pork.
Juniper berries go great in a meat pie either used whole or crushed.
Juniper Trees
Unlike other conifers that have either needles or scales, juniper trees have both, sometimes on the same branch.
The needles have sharp edges and a pungent, distinctive scent, sort of like Rosemary with Citrus undertones.
The berries look like smaller blueberries, juniper berries also appear in red or copper, and are in fact soft cones.
Like typical hard and prickly conifer cones, juniper berries also contain the tree's seeds.
You can catch that up by listening to the podcast
If you have any questions about growing Juniper Berries or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


What vegetable plants, herbs and fruits will grow in your garden this Spring?
Have some or no idea?
Well here’s a few seconds of music so you can go and get pen and paper to jot down what you might grow in your gardening zone.
It may just jog your memory to remind you to get started on one or two veggies that you had forgotten about.
In temperate areas the soil is still pretty cold.
For some of us the late frosts can pop up after a run of warm days and rain might be in scarce supply, depending on where you live.
There’s no rush to get summer crops in the ground.
If you’re desperate to get warm season crops in like tomatoes, your best bet is to start them indoors where they are protected or use a heated propagating mat/tray.
Be prepared to protect them on cold nights, and plant seedlings out in the open  when the risk of frost has passed.
The kind of veg you can grow in September is "shoulder" season stuff like spinach, peas, turnips, kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, Asian greens, mustard, silverbeet, carrots, beetroot and radishes.
Depending on where you are, you could also grow beans, rosella, eggplant, sweetcorn, sweet potato and zucchini.
It’s also a good time to plant herbs such as coriander, dill, mint, rosemary, thyme and parsley, and perennials such as rhubarb and globe artichokes.
And of course spring onions.
They're the easiest onions to grow and are absolutely made for planting in September!
In arid and semi arid zones it's getting warm enough to plant early summer veggies such as bush and climbing beans, corn, tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, beetroot, silverbeet, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, parsnips and zucchini.
Add caption
Hold off on capsicums, eggplants, and cucurbits like watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkins until next month.
The herbs you could sow are pretty much all types of herbs.
Watch out for fruit fly and control spray lawn weeds.
In the frost-free subtropics you can get stuck into planting heat lovers such as capsicums, eggplants, tomatillos, pumpkins, and watermelons.
You could also get in a fresh sowing of sweetcorn, basil and okra, along with perennials such as sweet potato, yam, taro, cape gooseberry, lemongrass and passionfruit.
These all need warm soil to germinate, and tend to grow well in the spring dry season with extra watering if needed.
It’s also a great time to plant citrus trees, guavas and other subtropical fruiting evergreens. 
For the topics or sub-tropics, it’s a good time to sow some herbs too.
The herbs you could sow or  plant are  basil, chives, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme.
In the tropics, it’s a good time to get in a fresh sowing of sweetcorn, basil and okra, along with perennials such as sweet potato, yam, taro, cape gooseberry, lemongrass and passionfruit.
Cool Temperate& Southern Tablelands and Tasmania, Sow broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, beetroot, cucumber, leek, endive,  lettuce, silver beet, snow pea, spinach, strawberry, sweet corn, zucchini and tomato.
Traditionally, you don't plant your tomatoes in Tasmania until late October, but you can make an early start and hopefully get fruit by Christmas - if you give your plants a bit of protection."
"Don't use high-nitrogen fertilisers with tomatoes or you'll get lots of leaves and less fruit. Use compost and lower-nitrogen manures like sheep or cow. I'm using cow
HERBS – sow basil, chives, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme.
For those of you without a veggie garden, perhaps it’s time to start one now in a sunny spot.
If you are limited by space and are planting in pots, make sure you choose the sunniest part of your balcony or courtyard.
Begin your veggie garden by digging over the soil, then adding two kilograms of compost or cow manure per square metre and then mix in well.
By also adding two handfuls of dolomite every square metre, you’ll  prevent blossom end rot happening in tomatoes and will also add essential calcium to the soil.
Dig compost into the garden beds four weeks before planting any seedlings.
But that’s OK, because you can start your veggies off in punnets or trays first and they should be ready to plant out by then.
If you’re a bit forgetful and are handy with the mobile phone or ipad, you can actually download apps if you put in the words “garden planner.”
There’s a few available so just pick one that suits your area.

Scented Bulbs for Your Garden
A couple of weeks ago we started a new series on scented plants for your garden.
So many plants are lovely, with beautiful blooms, but only a smaller section of these also include a wonderful fragrance.

Fill Your Garden With Scented Bulbs photo M Cannon


When it comes to bulbs you probably know hyacinths and peonies and paperwhites as fragrant choices - but did you know there are bearded iris, daffodils, hostas and even tulip varieties with a luscious scent?

Let’s find out more. I'm talking with Landscape Designer Peter Nixon.

Some of the bulbs Peter mentioned are:-
Polianthes tuberosa - Tuberoses
Eucharist amazonica - Eucharist Lily
Amorphophallus riviera Konjac - Voo Doo Lily

Crinum x powelii
Hymenocalis literalis, speciosa, caribaea
So many gardens are planted without a thought to scent – perhaps because there has been such a shift to perennials, which are the least-scented group of plants
They’re missing the third dimension – fragrance puts the whole garden onto another level.
Why not grow all of these plants so that you can turn your garden in to a perfumed paradise all year round.


The Plant Panel choose their favourite Acacias.
Acacia leprosa Scarlet Blaze
Wattles herald the coming Spring with masses of mostly yellow blooms all throughout our bushland, parks and reserves and even in some gardens.

This mass display is mostly seen as winter draws to a close but did you know there’s one of these in flower somewhere in Australia at all times of the year?
Let’s find out what our favourites are?
I'm talking with the plant panel:- Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Plant Panel Picks
 Acacia leprosa “Scarlet Blaze
Scarlet Blaze It is a small tree or large shrub, growing to 5 metres high and 3 metres wide.
Acacia baileyana flowers
All forms of Cinnamon Wattle, and so this one, have leaves that release a cinnamon-like scent from its foliage, particularly in hot weather.
Acacia baileyana "Goldilocks."
A Grafted Standard form of Acacia baileyana that makes a stunning feature plant to the landscape. It has grey fern like foliage and bright yellow rounded flowers that bloom in late winter to spring providing a mass display of grey and gold in a weeping waterfall habit.
No secret about this plant of the week because the Australian National Colours of green and gold are representative of the Wattle in flower.
Acacia cognata "Limelight"
'Limelight' looks fantastic all year round with its lime green foliage a stand out against many other common garden plants
Acacia cognate 'Limelight"
Did you know that the wattle, specifically Acacia pycnantha was officially proclaimed as the National Emblem on the 19th of August 1988, but has been unofficially accepted as our Floral Emblem since federation in 1901?
It used to be in August but now September the 1st is National Wattle Day in Australia.
The Golden Wattle is an Australian Symbol  of unity, resilience and spirit of the people of Australia.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Devil's Ivy Beware But Not Climbers With Perfume


So Africa is on your bucket list of places to visit, but which part?
You might want to consider Namibia because not only has it all the animals you want to see, but it also has got everything from semi-desert vegetation to subtropical plants.
Conservancy Members with Animal Traps for Monitoring photo Katie Oxenham

 Not only that, according to the Lonely Plant guide,  Namibia possesses some of the most stunning landscapes in Africa, and a trip through the country is one of the great road adventures.
Let’s find out what else in this final part of Namibia with Katie Oxenham, ecologist who worked in Namibia for 2 years as Conservancy and Natural Resource Management Support.

Conservancy Member with Gerbil for Monitoring photo Katie oxenham
Katie was living in a remote area which was surrounded by lush tropical plants along a river in the north of the country.
Some of the animals that were counted were the Jennet, a cat like Mongoose or perhaps like a Meercat.
In the north of the country the ere more vegetation than the arid areas of the south which are mainly covered with veldt grasses.
Northern Namibia has a wet season and a dry season, with open woodland rather than forest.
There are some great sights to see in Namibia, which Katie mentioned in part 1 of this interview, like Etosha Nationa Park, and the Petrified forest.
You can catch that up by listening to the podcast by searching this blog.

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 and I’ll send you a packet of seeds.


What is Coriander or Coriandrum sativum?  
Is Coriander really Cilantro or is that just what Americans call it?
Well :it’s just a bit of a technical difference to confuse us poor gardeners.
Cilantro refers to the leaves of the plant and coriander refers to the seeds.
In Australia we call the leaves and the seeds coriander and some people even call it Chinese parsley.
So coriander leaf is nothing else but cilantro.
People either hate it or love Coriander because it does have a pungent citrus flavour to the leaves. 
Coriander flowers belong in the Apiaceae or carrot family, where Parsley, dill and carrots belong.
 Would you believe that the name coriander is derived from the Greek word koris, meaning bedbug, since the unripe seeds and leaves when crushed supposedly have a smell suggestive of a crushed bedbug?
I wouldn’t know about that.
On the other hand, Coriander has been grown for over 3,000 years.
Did you know that about half a litre of coriander seeds were found in the  tomb of Tutankhamen?
Because this plant doesn’t grow wild in Egypt, this suggests that coriander was grown in the gardens of ancient Egyptians.
The Chinese once believed it gave you immortality and in the Middle ages it was used as part of a love potions.
Coriander is a very familiar herb that we are used to seeing at the greengrocers and in the supermarket.
It’s called an annual herb because it flowers, sets seed then dies in under a year..
So why should we grow Coriander.
Heaps of Coriander seeds are used in curries, tagines and many other Asian dishes.
In fact the whole herb, including the roots can be ground up to make Green Curry paste.
I just mash it up in a food processor when I make that paste. I’ll post the recipe on
Now here’s a big tip:
Always grow coriander from seed, sown in the exact spot you want it to grow as it absolutely HATES being transplanted.
Transplanting coriander stresses it so that it goes straight to seed and then it dies. And you never get any leaves at all!
Coriander gets a has a big taproot as it grows so growing it in a pot won’t work either, it’ll go straight to seed as well.,
For sub-tropical and arid zones, you have August to September;
And  in temperate districts, sow the seeds from September until the end of November,
In cool temperate zones, October to November,
Sow your seeds about 1 cm deep, cover them and keep them moist.
Whether or not you sow them in rows, scatter them amongst your other veggies, or use them to grow as a shade plant for your lettuce, it really doesn’t matter.
Coriander takes a couple of weeks to germinate, so go do it after my program.
Coriander grow fairly big, about 50 cm or 2 feet tall.
Big Tip: Grasshoppers don’t like coriander, so plant it around the spinach to stop the grasshoppers eating holes in the leaves.
You want about 5 cm between the plants if you grow it for the leaves..
Leave a few plants to go to seed, yes, on purpose so you have a continuous supply.
When your plants is big enough, take the leaves off from the base of the plant.
Just make sure the plant is big enough to cope and leave some leaves on it so it can continue to grow.
As soon as that flower stalk appears, your coriander plant stops making more
Just remember when coriander plants get stressed, or in hot weather, or once they reach a certain age, they stop making leaves and instead start growing a tall flower stalk.
So it’s a good idea to-sow some coriander seeds every few weeks during the growing season.
Not only that, it’s a good idea to leave in a few plants that have gone to flower because the Coriander flowers are an important food source for beneficial insects, especially little parasitic wasps and predatory flies.
To attract many beneficial insects you want lots and lots of coriander flowers why not sprinkle some coriander and parsley seeds through your other vegetables under your fruit trees and in any other place you can fit them.
Keep watering and feeding your coriander plants well, and wait for the flower to develop and set seeds.
In hot weather this may take as little as 4 - 6 weeks from when you first put the seed in the ground.
Fresh cilantro (coriander) should be stored in the refrigerator in a zip pouch or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel.  Use as early as possible since it loses flavour and nutrients quickly if kept for longer periods.
Harvesting coriander seed is an easy affair. Just wait till the flower heads are dry. And now you should have enough coriander seed to cook with and still plenty left to throw around your garden next year!
What are the health benefits?
Coriander contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fibre which help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" while increasing HDL or "good cholesterol" levels.
The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
It’s also rich in many vital vitamins like folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin- A, beta carotene, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Coriander leaves provides 30% of daily recommended levels of vitamin-C.
Coriander is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K

Scented Climbing Plants part 2
Hoya pubicalyx "Shooting Star."
Last week in this new series of scented plants we started with those climbing plants with scent. But there was so much to say, that we had to make another part.
Let’s find out more. I'm talking with Landscape Designer Peter Nixon.

Hoya multiflora

Some of the plants Peter mentioned are Hoya carnose, the Hoya that most people know.
There is also Hoya pubicalyx "Red Buttons,' Hoya bella, Hoya multiflora "Shooting Star:, which as a gum leaf shaped leaf.
Akebia quinata

For cooler climates Peter mentioned Akebia quinata or Five Leaved Chocolate Vine.
All are good for container planting in a warm temperate climate down to 3 degress Centrigrade.

Of course other segments in the series on scented plants will be about scented shrubs, scented trees , scented bulbs, roses, scented leaves, and even a cool temperate segment. 
All of these plants so that you can turn your garden in to a perfumed paradise all year round.


POTHOS Epipremnum aureum
Are you looking for an easy-care indoor plant that will cascade and trail, and soften those hard edges? 
Are you looking for a plant with health benefits? 

Because this one (devil’s ivy)is known to efficiently cleanse the air of pollutants.
Researchers from NASA discovered that( Devil’s Ivy ) it was one of the top 10 most air purifying plants. The pores in the leaves remove harmful elements from the air and absorb them.

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.

Pothos growing in the rainforest
An evergreen vine growing to 20 m  tall, with stems up to 4 cm  in diameter, climbing with the aid of aerial roots which adhere to surfaces. 
The leaves are alternate, heart-shaped or ovate (in aureum), entire on juvenile plants, but irregularly pinnatifid on mature plants, up to 100 cm long and 45 cm broad.
Leaf colour vary from white, yellow, or light green variegation.
Aureum has glossy bright green ovate leaves spotted and streaked with cream or yellow
This plant produces trailing stems when it climbs up trees and these take root when they reach the ground and grow along it. The leaves on these trailing stems grow up to 10 cm long and are the ones that attach.

Avoid if you have house pets that are likely to chew plant leaves, as the plant is highly toxic if any part of it is consumed. 
Of course you don’t have to grow it indoors because this lush vine does well in most environment's, offering growers a chance to enjoy the plant almost anywhere in the Australia.