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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Who Gives a Fig?

Sydney Garden Talk 2RRR 88.5fm wed 5pm
Feature Interview: with Dr Dale Dixon, Manager Collections at Sydney Botanic Gardens Herbarium. Dale talks about the role of the fig wasp in pollinating the flowers inside the fruit. Inside the female fig tree’s fruit is black insects with wings-these are the female fig wasps. Fig wasps develop from eggs laid in the fig flowers. The male wasp apparently never leaves the fig because he dies after mating. The female wasp gathers pollen from male flowers before departing. Not that the female wasp used this pollen.The female wasp now has to tunnel into a fig that has unripe male flowers but ripe female flowers. She lays her eggs into the flask like flowers at the same time leaving the pollen behind that she collected from another fig. The flower that has the eggs turns into a gall and becomes food for the wasp baby or larvae. There’e more to this story, but that’s it in a nutshell.
Vegetable Hero: Herb Alloysia triphylla or Lemon Verbena. - Lemon verbena thrives in full sun; even better is a site in the reflected light of a white fence or garage wall.
Prune hard every Autumn or early winter to keep it from looking straggly.
Why is it good for you?- It helps in digesting food, strengthening the nervous system and relieving nausea and cramps. - Lemon verbena is often used as a slimming aid, since it breaks down cellulite and regulates metabolism. - Lemon verbena is used as a mild sedative during times of stress or to help with sleeplessness
Design Elements: Gertrude Jekyll-famous English garden designer. Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932), created over 400 gardens in the UK, Europe and America; her influence on garden design has been pervasive to this day. She spent most of her life in Surrey, England, latterly at Munstead Wood, Godalming. She ran a garden centre there and bred many new plants. She was famous for her painterly style being influenced by such artists as Turner. She also designed hardy flower borders rather than just perennial borders.
Plant of the Week: Tulips.Depth & spacing: Plant 12-15cm deep and 10-15cm apart.
Aspect: Full sun to very light shade. In warmer climates, Tulips like a cool, part shaded spot. Top dress with a complete fertiliser after planting & water in. Otherwise incorporate fertiliser into the soil a week or more before planting. For best results in subsequent year, top dress again immediately after flowering. Use a complete fertiliser like Dynamic Lifter for Roses.
Drying leaves & flower buds This is often caused by Botrytis (Tulip Fire). To protect against Botrytis, spray the Tulips with a fungal spray designed for ornamental plants (ask at your local nursery).
Foliage but no flowers: This is usually a result of bulbs becoming too hot (which cooks the flower bud). This can happen during storage or after planting. To avoid this, ensure the storage spot stays relatively cool (ie less than 25C) and don't plant the bulbs until early May. This gives the soil a chance to cool down after Summer.
What's On: September 18th, Fluid fibre and food -walk and talk at the Sydney Botanic Gardens, 2-4pm. Book 9231 8182.
Richmond Tafe Open Day 18th September-Horticulture courses for everyone.

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