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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Future Focus

Sydney Garden Talk Wed 5pm,Sat. 12 noon 2RRR 88.5fm
Feature Interview: Catchments Connections Officer, ryde Council-Kristin Gabriel. Talking about Future Focus program for all residents in the catchment of Lane Cove River. Four creeks lead to this river-Shrimpton Creek,...
To find out if you're in this catchment area and eligible for a home visit from Kristing, go to Ryde council,… or ring 9952 8222
Vegetable Hero:Garden Cress-Lepidium sativum.
Cress is a reseeding annual or biennial, which can be grown in shade or semi shade. In grows well in the cooler months. “If you plant cress during the summer, the plants will shoot up flowers without making enough growth to harvest.”
If grown in dry soil and very hot weather, its refreshing nip becomes unpleasant and bitter.
Its seeds are light - germinating, in about 2 to 4 days.
Soil is not that important, and sand, coir peat, and compost are all suitable. Water well; seeds and plants should be kept moist.
Cress prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8. that’s slightly acid.
Desgin Elements:Built Structures-using built features such as Pergolas, walls-either stone, brick or other man made materials to construct division or levels for interest in the garden. Use garden paths-stepping stones, or pavers edged with a low growing perennial to lead the eye to a focal point.
Plant of the Week: Cyclamen-Cyclamen persicum.
Watering and Feeding
Cyclamen don't usually die prematurely through lack of care. Most people who kill their plants do so with kindness and that is, overwatering.
Cyclamen grow from tubers, these are storage organs that keep it alive during periods of dormancy. These tubers will rot when continuously saturated.
Water your cyclamen when the soil has dried, but don’t allow too much time to pass before watering again. Since cyclamen are best suited to cooler temperatures, they appreciate a cool drink rather than a warm one. Saturate the soil well, and allow the excess water to exit through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Proper drainage is necessary in order to keep the tubers healthy.
What's On:World Environment Day-Eden Gardens-Saturday June 5th.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dry Spell Gardening

Sydney Garden Talk, Wednesdays 5pm Saturdays 12noon 2RRR 88.5fm
Feature Interview: Brendan Moar-host of TV series dry spell gardens on cable TV. Talks about creating a connetion between a 1950's style house and an uninspiring plain backyard.
The garden is open this weekend 22nd,23rd May as part of the open garden scheme. Brendan created a succulent cage that looks suspended somehow from the fence. In fact is attached with quite a bit of steel engineering. The lawn and garden beds are edged with long lasting aluminium. Looks fantastic!
Rounded balls of Helichrysum petiolare blend with the planted succulents. Japanese box make the other defined features.

Vegetable Hero: Curry Tree Plant-Murraya koenigii.Rutaceae family, named after botanist Johann Koenig.
Full sun or light shade. Fertilize with palm or citrus fertilizer to promote leaf production. Curry plants can be grown in large pots and also on the ground .I have one plant in large pot and it’s only about 1 metre in height. They do not spread very much laterally on the ground or in pots but can succer if roots are disturbed. Use a well drained potting mix. Full sun, water and fertilise well. Use young leaves and crushed seeds in curries, soup stocks and sauces. Berries are edible but seeds are poisonous.
Plant of the Week: Ceratostigma willmottianum-Chinese Plumbago.Ceratostigma willmottianum : This sub-shrub needs full sun flourishing in any well drained soil and being well suited to drier soils such as sandy soils. Will cope with some shade/ Spreading habit makes it great as ground cover amongst rock plants in a tough sunny dry spot. 30cm by 45cm spread

Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Feed with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring. For a tidy, neat appearance, shear annually to shape. Pruning time: autumn after flowering-will withstand pruning to the ground.
What's On:Sunday 23 May, Guided Walk of Shrimpton’s Creek. This walk will follow the bushland corridor between suburban developments. Witness some examples of landscaping and bush regeneration designed to reduce the pressures on our urban creeks. You will also see what happens when plants escape from our gardens into the bush and learn about some of Ryde’s indigenous flora. Distance: 3.4km, Grade: easy.
Part of the Catchment Connections Program Time: 2 - 4pm
Cost: Free
Bookings: 9952 8222

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Preserving Our Flora & Fauna

Sydney Garden Talk Wed 5-6pm,Sat 12-1pm 2RRR 88.5fm
Feature Interview:Ryde, Hunters Hill Flora and Fauna Preservation Society committee members Brigid Dowsett & Cathy Merchant talk about the history of the society and it's major achievement being saving the Field of Mars from being turned into a tip. Field of mars is now a Heritage Reserve. Visit Field of Mars visitors centre to obtain a map that walks around the 33 hectares of reserve. For more info on the society, goto
Vegetable Hero: HorseradishBOTANICAL NAME: Armoracia rusticana syn. A. lapathifolia
Horseradish is a member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae syn. Cruciferae -kale, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and the common radish) and is cultivated for its thick, fleshy white roots.
The bite and aroma of the horseradish root are almost absent until it is grated or ground. During this process, as the root cells are crushed, volatile oils known as isothiocyanate are released. Vinegar stops this reaction and stabilizes the flavor. For milder horseradish, vinegar is added immediately.Propagate by root division in spring or autumn for harvest the following year. At harvest-dig up all the plant and use the larger roots to make horseradish sauce and store the smaller ones in sand for replanting next year.
Design Elements:Sturcture using hedges-hedges give that strong vertical element and help define beds and borders. You can use hedges in clipped geometric shapes or curves for variety.
Buxus are good in any garden on their own as a clipped feature or as a hedge. Buxus microphylla var Japonica is a fairly fast grower. Try Teucriam fruticans, Westringia fruticosa for tight grey foliage, or Alternanthera for dark burgundy foliage.
Plant of the Week: Hakea laurina or Pin cushion Hakea. Named after Baron von Hake.In the Australian National Botanic Gardens it is grown singly as a shrub or small tree reaching 5 m. The best specimens are in open beds of light soil, watered but well drained. In full sun the species forms an upright shrub with a compact, rounded head, flowering freely and evenly each year on the well-ripened wood. Specimens 20 years old in light shade are rather slender and sparse and in this position they do not flower well or regularly. The rounded pin-cushion flower heads are soft deep pink, with projecting long styles, white to pale pink on aging. A faint, pleasant scent may be detected and bees have been seen visiting the flowers.
What's On: Epping Open Garden-17 Dallwood Ave, Epping, 22nd,23rd May 10-4.30pm. Brendan Moar presentation 2.30-3pm

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Timely topiary for a Tidy Garden

Sydney Garden Talk Wed.5-6pm, Sat 12-1pm, 2RRR 88.5fm
Feature interview:Mark Morrison, horticulturalist and topiary enthusiast. Start your topiary now. For more info go to
Feature interview2:Nara Native Turf-from Ozbreed
Vegetable Hero:Cauliflower-Brassica oleraceae Botryoides.
All cauliflowers need a neutral or slightly alkaline soil to do well. If the soil is too acidic, the plants will be unable to obtain all the trace elements they need, and may develop whiptail. On the other hand, soils which are too limey or chalky can lead to stunted and discoloured cauliflower. Leave at least six weeks between liming and manuring. As with all brassicas, avoid using a plot on which a brassica crop was grown within the past two years. Cauliflowers will definitely suffer if they are grown on the same plot for two or more years in a row. A cauliflower is ready for cutting when the upper surface of the curd is fully exposed and the inner leaves no longer cover it. As usual in your veggie garden, cauliflowers are ready at the same time. If the weather is warm and you leave the cauliflowers in the ground once they have matured, the heads expand and they become discoloured and less appealing. To avoid this lift some early, they will be quite edible.
Here’s a tip to not have to eat cauliflower everyday for a month, gather up the leaves and tie them together over the curd so that they cover it, using garden twine, an elastic band or raffia. It will also protect the winter ones from the frost.
Design Elements:Structure for the garden-an overview.
It’s the bones of your garden. If you half close your eyes and look at your garden the things that stand out are the ‘structural’ elements. Providing a sound underlying structure is at the heart of good garden planning. Structure can be many things:
1 At its most obvious it’s the hard manmade elements in a garden – stone or brick walls, wooden screens, a pergola. Paths and paved areas (like a patio) also provide structure – they are elements that define a space.
2 Plants also provide structure. Obvious examples are hedges as they often enclose the garden and define its boundaries and are a very strong vertical element. But mid height and smaller hedges are also structural – think of the box hedges in a knot garden and the way they form a pattern. You can use smaller hedges to break up the space in a garden – either a mid height hedge to hide a section of your garden, or a small hedge to edge a planting bed.
3 Evergreen plants are structural elements in a garden. They keep their leaves all year round and their shapes, whether columnar, round or spreading, define the space. Some plants have, or can be pruned, into a clearly defined outline so you can use them architecturally (box). Many have an architectural outline – think of yuccas, phormiums with their sword-shaped leaves. You can also use standards for a structural element – a row of standard roses alongside a pathway.
4 Focal points are extremely valuable for structure and interest in the garden. Could be feature tree (weeping ones work well), a striking plant in a beautiful container, a sculpture, water feature, or seat.
Plant of the Week:Banksia ericifolia-Heath Banksia.
Both varieties of Banksia ericifolia are medium to large shrubs with narrow , linear leaves to about 15 mm long. The flower spikes are 80 - 110 mm wide, up to 500 - 600 mm long and usually orange in colour, although there is a form with maroon flowers in cultivation and another with whitish flowers with red styles. B.ericifolia is one of a group of banksias with "hooked" styles projecting from the axis of the flower spike. The flowers occur in autumn and winter and are followed by woody seed-bearing cones.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

New Ozzie Breed of Plants

Sydney Garden Talk Wed 5-6, Sat. 12-1pm 2RRR 88.5fm
Feature Interview: Todd Layt, owner & manager of Ozbreed Plants-talks about new plants he has bred.
ISABELLA®Liriope muscari
Isabella is a denser more compact fine leaf foliage and forms a dense ground cover.
In summer, display of showy pink flowers.
Isabella is drought and frost tolerant, and good for sunny or very shady positions.
In cooler areas it is a good idea to cut it back low to the ground in late winter.
Isabella grows to about 40cm high, with a wide spread of 50cm, making it an excellent ground cover.
PENNSTRIPE Pennisetum alopecuroides 'PAV300'
First Variegated Australian Native Grass Pennstripe is a showy, compact clumping perennial grass with narrow arching leaves and spectacular feathery flower plumes from summer to autumn.
The main feature of this variety is its stand out variegated foliage and compact form. Pennstripe grows to approximately 45cm x 45cm, which is 3/5 the size of the common form.
Pennstripe is the first variegated Australian native grass.
Vegetable Heroes:Broad Beans-belong to Fabaceae.
Like all beans, they fix atmospheric nitrogen and so, are also useful as a green manure.
They are hardy, easy to grow. Plant them in April or May for an early spring harvest. Good varieties for this region include Early Long Pod, any of the Windsor varieties and Cole’s Dwarf Prolific.
Broad beans prefer a sunny well-drained position in the garden. Ideally, the soil should fertile, but should not
have excess nitrogen or rich manure as this will promote leaf growth rather than flower (and bean) production and will make the plant more sensitive to frost and disease.
Sow 5-10cm below ground. You can sow in a weak solution of seaweed extract overnight to speed up germination.Takes up to two weeks to germinate and 3-5 months to harvest. Pick early to avoid having to peel them beans to eat them.
Design Elements: Colour Green.
Plant of the Week: Banksia ericifolia.
What's On. Sydney Botanic Gardens plant sale-Sat.8th May, 9-1pm.