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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stopping the Methane Bubble

SYDNEY GARDENTALK 2RRR 88.5 FM Saturdays 12noon-1pm. Wednesdays 5-6pm.
Feature Interview: Helen Kerley-Ryde Waste Communications Officer.
Go to connect with what bins you can get from council for composting and worm farms.
Go to to find the latest info on problems with landfill, waste, and the latest articles written about these environmental issues.
Vegetable Hero:Perennial Coriander, Eryngium foetidum.
A better choice for subtropical and tropical areas than common coriander as it also dries well and stands up to cooking
This perennial form of coriander produces dandelion-like leaves and prickly seed heads. Keep removing the seed heads as they form if you want greater leaf production.
The leaves can reach 25cm long, -when they get this long, the leaf gets sharp spines along the leaf edge. The flowers are white after which a round fruit grows, covered with rounded protrusions. Sharp spines also occur on the flower stalk. It has a taproot which grows down to about 12cm.
Perennial Coriander flowers quite freely or some might say, ‘a lot’ especially during summer, and the prickly flower heads need to be regularly pruned from the plant to get more leaf growth or to make sure of new leaves get formed.
How to cook with this Coriander.
The leaves need to be chopped as they are tougher than the regular coriander. The leaves of perennial coriander will put up with some cooking unlike regular coriander. Use leaves in stir-fries, soups, salads, curries and salsa. Use the root to flavour vegetables.
The prickly seed head can be made into a spicy paste. Put seed head into blender or processor with chilli, ginger, garlic and sesame oil or vegetable oil and whiz until smooth. Store in fridge. Use to flavour curries and stir fries or spread on sandwiches or biscuits with cheese. The paste can also be stirred through chopped chicken for a delicious sandwich fill.
This variety of coriander dries well, retaining good colour and flavour.
Design Elements:Styles
Plant of the Week: Tibouchina "Alstonville" or Tree Lasiandra.
Tibouchina lepidota 'Alstonville'
Classed as a shrub by some, it can be trained as a small tree with appropriate pruning. Its small and controllable size has no doubt contributed to its popularity in modern gardens, where there is no longer space for grand tropical flowering trees like poinciana.
Also, many other trees flower in spring or in early summer. Although it can produce some flowers in spring, 'Alstonville' provides a burst of colour in late summer/early autumn. Its namesake Alstonville (NSW), the town near which this plant was developed, has a Tibouchina festival every year in March when the trees are putting on their best display
'Alstonville variegata' is a variegated leaf form. If anyone is still producing this cultivar commercially, please get in touch.
Tibouchina 'Jules'
This cultivar is also very popular, but in contrast to 'Alstonville' it is a dwarf shrub, suitable for a garden bed or container.
Tibouchina granulosa 'Kathleen'
This cultivar has pink flowers (The original species T. granulosa has purple flowers), and will grow into a tree if left unpruned.
Whats On:
Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 March, Open Gardens at Drummoyne. You might think that visiting an Open Garden means driving out of Sydney and seeing some of the big gardens in the Blue Mountains or Southern Highlands. Not so. There are some fascinating local gardens in the Open Garden scheme, and we have two this week at Drummoyne. Error and Trial is at Unit 1, 26 St Georges Crescent, and the Hooper garden is at number 24 St Georges Crescent. There’s an $8 joint fee to view both gardens and they are open fro 10am to 4.30pm both days of the weekend.
Saturday 6 March. The Bushcare Program will be holding a 'Field of Mars Discovery Afternoon' from 1:30pm-3:30pm The event will include:
A guided walks program that will cater for all age groups and a variety of interests.
An interactive Australian animal show (live animals).
Displays promoting Bushcare, Catchment Connections and Waste Education.
Free afternoon tea.
Plant giveaway.
The event is being held in conjunction with the Ryde Hunters Hill Flora and Fauna Preservation Society (RHHFFPS) and the Habitat Network. It will start off an exciting new series of monthy activities planned by the RHHFFPS.
We know how great Field of Mars Reserve is.....let's share it with other people!
If you would like to come please contact Sandra Payne, Bushcare Officer, Open Space, City of Ryde, Phone: 9952 8257

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Garden Clubs

SYDNEY GARDEN TALK 2RRR 88.5 FM Saturdays 12 noon-1pm & Wednesdays 5-6 pm
Feature interview: Eastwood Garden Club Secretary:ailsa Wareham.
The club meets every 2nd Tuesday at 7pm at the Dundas Baptist Church,154 Marsden Road, Dundas (cnr Carson str.) opposite Brush Farm House.
Vegetable Hero: Chives-Allium Schoenoprasum.
Chives are a very easy plant to grow. A couple of seeds planted in a pot or a corner of an herb garden make a great source of a flavourful herb for soups, dips, omelettes and garnish for just about anything.. Chives like sunny spots, but they will cope with a bit of light shade.
They like well-drained soil, loaded with organic nutrients, and they like to be kept moist. That’s the tip. People think that chives are a dry climate plant because of their appearance-grey, narrow leaves, pretty much what dry climate plants look like.
So if you’re wondering why your Chives are looking poorly or not growing that much, give them so more water than you’ve been doing especially around the root zone.
Even so, chives will tolerate dry conditions for reasonable periods of time. Sprinkle chive seed on top of the soil and tamp down lightly. (Chive seeds lose their viability quickly; so try to plant them within the year they have been purchased.)
If you’re not having any luck with seeds, try propagating some by division.
That is, planting rooted clumps in spring,
Established or more mature plants usually need to be divided every 3-4 years. Design Elements: Ornaments in your courtyard garden.
Design Elements:Ornaments for your Courtyard
Choose large pots to make a statement. Steer clear of itty bitty pots-too much to care for, will need constant watering.
Plant of the Week: Hibiscus-Hibiscus rosa-chinensis
POSITION: In order to obtain the best results from your hibiscus, make sure you choose an open sunny situation, preferably sheltered from cold prevailing winds. Full sun is essential, although hibiscus will grow and survive in shaded positions, they will not bloom as prolifically as if planted in full sun. Hibiscus do well on northern walls, particularly the modern varieties.
Hibiscus will grow with other shrubs, but they prefer to be planted on their own, and to obtain optimum results prepare a special bed for them alone, so that they do not have to compete for food, light, water and sun. Half a day's sun is the minimum requirement Remember also that hibiscus grow happily in pots, given an open potting mix and kept moist
The best time to prune hibiscus is just before the new season's growth, usually about September
What's On:
Sunday 28 Feb, Permapatch Community Garden Lane Cove is open from 2 to 5pm if you’d like to find out more about community gardening. There’ll be a working bee, children’s activities and afternoon tea. It’s located behind Chatswood West Uniting Church at the corner of Pacific Highway and Mowbray Road. There’s parking on site. Call Jono on 0401 890 256

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Frangipani Fever

Feature Interview: Frangipani Society of Australia's events coordinator, Anthony Grassi.
I hope you’re inspired to go along to the next meeting Sunday 28th Feb 2010, 2pm sharp, in the Padstow area
Bookings essential, non-members welcome
For bookings and address please phone Anthony Grassi on 0417 483 010 or email Susan Newhouse
Vegetable Hero: Basil or Ocimum basilicum, member of Lamiaceae family.
Plant it in a sunny spot, though basil will tolerate light shade too, especially in this heat, make sure that your basil has at least four hours on sunlight a day.
Basil grows best in very fertile soil - the more feeding, the bigger the leaves. Unlike many plants where overfeeding produces insipid plants, underfed basil is less fragrant than a well fed plant. Give your basil frequent doses of liquid manure throughout the growing season to keep up leaf production. The more you pick your basil the more you need to feed it. Basil has a very vigorous root system. Basil does not like water logging and all the annual Basil types will die off when the weather gets cooler.
Striking Basil-Just take a tip cutting off any plant at any time of the year. Cut off all the leaves except for the tiny ones that are emerging at the top and stick the thing in a pot. Keep it in partial shade and keep it moist. Basil cuttings root very quickly. Once the little basil plant is actively growing again you can plant it out.
Garden Design Elements: Shady courtyard design.
PLANT of the Week:Brachyscombe multifida-Cut Leaf Daisy.
Brachyscome multifida - from the Greek brachys meaning 'short' and kome for 'hair', this refers to the short pappus bristles on the top of the achenes of some species.
Multifida - Latin for 'multiply' or 'divided' referring to the divided nature of the leaves
Brachyscome multifida, Cut-Leafed Daisy, is a perennial herb found in the grassy understories of woodlands and open forests. It is naturally distributed throughout the temperate areas of southern Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, however it is limited by the seasonal dryness to the north and the colder climates of the south.
Propagation:-two best methods are cuttings,and by  layering.
Cuttings should be taken from firm, new growth and will strike readily. The stems naturally sucker and these to can be treated as cuttings. Layering is the most common propagation method as it occurs naturally and roots are usually well developed along many stems that are in contact with the soil. Growing from seed is not recommended.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

All About Begonias

Sydney Garden Talk -Saturdays 12noon-!pm on 2RRR 88.5 FM
Today's program featured an interview with Peter Sharp, who has over thirty years experience in Begonia growing and was fundamental to establishing the Begonia beds at Sydney Botanic gardens fifteen years ago.
The beds contain 60 different species and about 50 different hybrids of Begonias.
Start with bedding begonias in a mass to give the visual effect.
The first can Begonia should be  Begonia "Irene Nuss,"  -will take full sun to part shade, flowers from end of spring to winter. Has huge panicles of pink flowers.Almost an angel wing leaf.
All Begonias have leaves that are asymmetrical.
Recommended groundcover Begonia: B. Convolvulacea-can grow up to cover a fence, otherwise about 30-50cm tall depending on conditions. Takes full sun or shade-will grow under trees.
Begonias are heavy feeders,-use a slow release and also supplement with a liquid fertiliser if growing in pots.
Need frequent pruning to shape and size. Pruning of cane Begonias forces growth from the root system rather than promoting lateral growth.
If pots are too small for these Begonias, growth of side shoots will be inhibited.
Begonias for shade: B. listada-deep green velvety leaves with lime stripe-groundcover.
Next to the Cactus family, Begonias are the most drought tolerant as they are succulents by nature. Store moisture in leaves, stems and root systems.
Vegetable Hero:Kohlrabi-Brassica oleracea "Gongylodes"
Heirloom seed from has purple skin and white flesh. Easy to grow.
It has a bright purple skin and white flesh. The flesh is tender with a mild, cabbage-turnip flavour. This is a very hardy vegetable and easy to grow .
Kohlrabi is usually grown from seedlings started in a mini greenhouse, but you can sow seed directly in the garden. Plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep; -, 0.6 to 1.3 cms,
Thin them to 13 to 15 cms or 5 to 6 inches when they're large enough to handle.
Kohlrabi likes fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. The soil should be high in organic matter. Also, when growing kohlrabi, you want to make sure to keep the soil well watered or you will end up with woody stemmed plants that are too tough. How do I know when it’s ready to pick?
When kohlrabi bulbs are two to three inches across they can be picked. Or pick then when small, golf-ball-sized, as they become fibrous with age.
Design Elements:-Sunny courtyard.
Using vertical elements will make the space seem bigger.
Climbing plants soften wals and scent intensifies in small spaces:Climbing Star Jasmine, Pandorea jasminoides "Jazzy Bellz," Rosa "Pierre de Ronsard,"-creamy pink double, repeat flowering. Passionfruit-Nellie Kellie.
Espalier-citrus, Coffee tree-Coffea arabica.
Shrubs-Viburnum tinus'Eve Price'-2.5x2.5m
Escallonia 'Red Knight'deep Cerise flowers, grows 1.5x1.5m
Striking folieage-Agave or Phormium Tricolour.
Seasonal colour-Geraniums-angel-wings.Petunias, Osteospermums-Daisy.
Plant of the Week:Ivory Curl Tree-Buckinghamia celsissima.
Buckinghamia celsissima is a hardy reliable flowering tree which has proved popular as a street tree in many areas because of its adaptability. It can either be grown as a tree, or pruned to maintain a shrubby appearance. Responds well to pruning.Flowers are white to cream and occur in summer in large racemes up to 200 mm long. The flowers are well displayed at the ends of the branches.
Ideal growth is achieved in full sun and deep well-drained soil, where it will develop a dense, compact, rounded crown of deep green leaves. New growth is flushed bronze/red. Moderately fast growth can be expected if well-watered and fertilized in summer.
Watering-Although watering is necessary initially, once established, rainforest plants require no more water than other garden plants.
What's On:
Tuesday 9 Feb: Eastwood Evening Garden Club will meet at 7.30pm at the Dundas Baptist Church Hall. Speaker Ken McGill, who works at a nearby nursery, will talk about what’s new for autumn. There’s a cutting table and library available. For more info phone 9874 2306
Friday 12 Feb Composting and Worm Farm workshop at Lane Cove Community Gardens corner Pacific Highway and Mowbray Rd, behind the church, from 9.30am to 12.30pm. Composting and worm farming prevents food scraps from ending up in landfill, and provides great nutrients for your garden. Online booking only for this one. Go to to book. If you do have enquiries about this or don’t have access to a computer call 9911 3555. It’s free of charge for anyone to come along and Lane Cove residents who attend get a free compost bin or worm farm.
Saturday 13 Feb. Growing Friends plant sale at the Royal Botanic Gardens from 9am – 1pm. Free entry.
Also-, Royal Botanic Gardens. Sogetsu Ikebana demonstration – in other words, the art of Japanese flower arrangement. Joan Perkins from the Sogetsu Teachers Association will show you the basic. 10.30Am – 12.15pm in the Maiden Theatre. Cost $35, book on 9231 8182.