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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Historical Camellias

Sydney Garden Talk 88.5fm 2RRR Wed 5pm, Sat12 midday
Feature Interview: Jim Lykos from
the Sydney branch of the Camellia Research society. Jim talks about the project to re-introduce some of the 400 camellias that were lost from Camden Park, the historical home of William MacArthur of the 1800's.
Vegetable Heroes:Pisum Sativum or Peas from the Fabaceae family.Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a (pea) flower. However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking. Peas belong to the Fabaceae family, which means they fix Nitrogen from the air into their roots. Sow the seeds directly into the soil 15mm to 20mm deep (1'' or knuckle deep) and 75mm to 100mm apart (3'' to 4''). Water in well and don't let them dry out.By watering Peas in the mornings will help to avoid mildew. Don’t overhead water late in the afternoon. If you do have mildew, try spraying with MILK mixed with a couple of drops of detergent.
Design Elements:designing small water gardens. Small water gardens are just a collection of submerged potted plants. If they don’t work for you, just lift them out and start again.
A half wine barrel, or terracotta pot of similar size, can house a small water garden
You can get glazed pots with no holes or plug one you’ve got with some cork and seal it with silicon to make absolutely sure. You will have to water proof your regular terracotta pot with with a sealer.
For the wine barrel, line it with a pond liner cut to size.When you place your pot or tub in it’s final position, make sure you use a level so that it sits right, otherwise you’ll have to tip all the water out and adjust it.
Some suggest that putting some sand underneath the pot gives it a flat even surface. Otherwise you can put your pot on your paved area.
Pumps are optional, but they are a good way to keep your pond clear instead of filling up with algal bloom. The drawback is you need a handy power point.
Combine marginal plants like a tall spiky planted like yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus) with broad leaves like Alocasia or Colocasia spp.
If you want to build a frog pond, you can pick up a kids paddling pool-those shell shaped ones that you might see on a throw out day, and sink that into the ground. Place a few large rocks around the edge and inside the pond so that the tadpoles when they are frogs can climb out.Plant some sedges and other marginal plants around the edges. Put in some floating duckweed and one or two dwarf lilies (otherwise it wont flower) as this type of pond is really shallow.
A note from your local council: Generally, there is no point in releasing frogs in a garden. They have a homing drive and are unlikely to stay.
Plant of the week: Magnolia soulangiana Common names for the Saucer Magnolia include Tulip tree and Japanese magnolia., their showy flowers are large and goblet shaped and may vary in color from light to deep pink. The size and shape of the flowers are what gave the Saucer Magnolia its common name. When fully opened into the "saucer" position the petals range from 5" to as much as 10" in diameter. The large flower buds are covered with pubescent scales. The flower itself is made of 6 tepals, mostly pure white inside. Each tree flowers for about 28 days.
Needs protection from hot dry winds and from frost. Water well in summer to avoid leaf burn.
Fertilise with a complete fertilizer when young otherwise it’s not necessary.
This tree is difficult to propagate from cuttings and doesn’t like being transplanted.
If you do prune a branch take the whole branch out rather than leave a stunted stump-because that’s how it will stay. Generally tends to have its own shape.
What's On: National Tree Day. Sunday 1st August

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Life's A Garden Tour

Sydney Garden Talk 2RRR 88.5fm Wed 5pm, Sat 12 midday
Feature Interview:Secretary of the Eastwood Evening Garden Club, Ailsa Wareham talks about her recentr trip to visit gardens and parks in southern NSW and Victoria. Highlights were, Foxglove Spires in Tilb a Tilba, and Heronswood in Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula. The garden club meets every second Tuesday of the month at Dundas Baptist Church Hall.
Vegetable Heroes:Lemongrass-Cymbopogon citratus. Native to India and member of the Poaceae family. Lemon grass has slender stalks about a 30cm long (12”). To grow in the garden, confine it in a bottomless plastic pot, otherwise it will spread and take over your garden.
For cooking use the stalks only and pick the thick, light green ones that feel firm and aren't dried out and wilted. Cut off the woody root tip of each stalk until the purplish-tinted rings begin to show and remove the loose, dry outer layer(s). Also, if the top of the stalk is dry and fibrous cut this off too. When using it in cooked dishes, bang it with a cleaver to bruise the membranes and release more flavour.
Put a handful of the leaves into the saucepan when steaming or simmering chicken or fish to give a delicate but delicious taste of lemon. It can be used in many dishes as a substitute for lemon.
To store fresh lemon grass, wrap well in clingfilm and refrigerate, it will keep for up to three weeks.
Design Elements:what to put in a small flower bed?j. Buy plants as seeds shoots bulbs or root cuttings.
i. Summer display-think about Minature gladioli, Belladonna lilliies, Crinum and of course Hippeastrums-but you need to buy the bulbs now. For year round foliage-try Iris flowers and day lilies.
ii. Autumn flowers-Alstroemeria-Princess Lillies, Easter daisies-asters,Chrysanthemum,Penstemons, red Hot pokers or Kniphofia sps. Gingers-Costus barbatus and bulbs-cyclamen, Sternbergia lucida-yellow autumn crocus-yellow flowers that don’t need lifting or dividing.
iii. Winter flowering-Paper daisies-used to be Helichrysum bracteatum now are Xerochrysum bracteatum. Hellebores or Lenten roses-good for shady locations in winter. Some Correas-the funny Chef’s hat. Red hot pokers-Kniphophia “Winter Cheer.”-flowers that almost look like flaming torches-also a magnet for nectar feeding birds. For winter flowering annuals-can’t go past pansies. So many varieties-some with cat’s whiskers, bi-colours and solid colours. Often flower well into spring and easy to grow from seed. In fact you can sow them now.
iv. Spring flowers-Lillies-Novemebr Lillies that is, all manner of bulbs-spring stars, daffodils, anemones, etc
Plant of the Week:Acacia spp. or Wattles. Acacia pycnantha is Australia’s floral emblem-proclaimed 1st September 1988. Australia has 950 different species of wattles.Wattle was an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning pliant woody branch or a barrier made from pliant branches.
Early settlers used wattle branches as framework for their homes.
Extract from Historical Records of Australian Science.
Wattles were used by Aboriginal Australians for food, medicine and other purposes. Fruits, seeds, tubers and berries were eaten; sweet drinks were made from flower nectar and teas made from leaves. Some plants were used as Medicine and others for making spears, tools, baskets and shelters.

Sydney Golden wattle-A.longifolia-used seed (ground into flour) gum and grub 3-6m
Golden Wattle A.sophorae-seeds, gum.4m Yellow flower spikes in mid winter to spring.
Seeds used in all wattles. look for grow me instead plants. Cootamundra wattle or Acacia baileyana has proven to be invasive outside its natural region. Seeds are spread by birds and germinate quickly. It cross pollinates the already endangered Down Wattle or A.pubescens.
Habitat/ecology: While many Acacia species favor drier sites, others are adapted to more moist conditions.
What'sOn:. PARADISE GARDEN SPRING OPEN WEEKEND Free Entry Plenty of Easy Parking
WHEN: Saturday 31 July & Sunday 1 August 2010 TIME: 10 am to 4 pm both days
Over 12 hectares of Camellias, Magnolias, Cherry Blossom and other glorious flowers and trees.
Learn how to grow drought hardy camellias from members of the NSW Camellia Research Society Take a free guided tour of the garden;Buy a great range of plants at bargain prices.
WHERE: 147 Greta Road, Kulnura 2250 Paradise is approximately 30 minutes from Gosford (via Somersby) and Wyong (via Yarramalong), find a map at
DONATIONS from sale of plants to NSW Camellia Research Society and Peats ridge/Kulnura Scout Group.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Enter Spring Garden Competition Now

Feature Interview: Robbie Cunningham, liason officer for Parks and Community at Ryde Council talks about judging criteria for Spring Garden Competition. enter online at
Vegetable Hero:Chinese Cabbage-Brassica chinensis and Brassica pekinensis. Chinese cabbage shocks easily, and transplanting sometimes shocks it into going to seed. Therefore, it's best to sow the seed directly in the garden and thin them to stand 20-30cm or 8 to 12 inches apart. This is quite different from your regular cabbage because last week I mentioned that transplanting European Cabbage actually helps grow stronger roots on the plant. With Chinese cabbage, the time from planting to harvest is 7 to10 weeks depending on the variety. You should harvest when the cabbage heads are compact and firm and before seed stalks form.
Cut off the whole plant at ground level.
Design Elements: Small rockery design-choose a site 1metre x 1 metre. Half bury your rocks to give it stability.What makes a rockery ugly? Plenty of soil on show or a straggly plant that’s growing up among the rocks is too tall and out of place.
a. Go for a theme and stick to it.Try any of these themes-
i. Succulent theme-Echeverias, Kalanchoes, sedums.
ii. Orchid theme-Dendrobiums there is-a range of colours available.
iii. Flower theme-alyssum, acheillea,asters, Begonias-rhizomatous, campanula, diascia, gazania, phlox, primula-make sure you select for sun or shade.
iv. Native rockery plants-bush Kangaroo paws, Austromyrtus dulcis, dwarf heath myrtle or beackia now Babingtonia, ground cover grevilleas like G Gaudi Chaudi.” Myoporum –pinks or whites.
Plant of the Week: Lilly Pilly: Acmena smithii and Syzygium spp
Here are my top choices: in descending order of height.
A. Acmena smithii var minor-small leaves, grows to 5 x 5metres. This is considered a dwarf Lilly Pilly because they can grow up to 25 m in their natural habitiat.Tolerates clay and heavy soils as well as sandy soils. Prune annually. Moderately drought tolerant so needs a good watering when the temps go up high in summer.Not prone to pysillid damage.
B. Acmena smithii “Allyns Magic” has coppery new growth.
C. Acmena smitthii Sublime-5 metres x 2.5 m-thick dense foliage all the way down to the ground. White flowers and purple berries in mid winter to spring.
a. Great for a privacy hedge and cope better in shade than all those people planting NZ Pittosporums in that 50cm wide bed between the pool and your neighbour’s fence.
D. Syzygium leuhmannii-5m+ pink new growth and whitish berries. Weeping habit and is one of the best privacy screening hedges.
E. S. australe “Bush Christmas" and “Elite” can be pysillid prone but I’m growing one to topiary and haven’t had the problem. These are considered mid size around 3-5 metres max. A. smithii “Hot Fl;ush” is a mid sized Lilly Pilly that is not pysillid prone.
F. S. leuhmanii x wilsonii or Cascade Lilly Pilly-grows to 3m. A hybrid that has powderpuff pale pink flowers and pale pink fruits. Great hedging
G. Little ones-under 2m.
a. S. leuhmannii "Royal Flame.” Resistant to pysillds.
I. Tiny under 1m
a. A. smithii “Hedgemaster.”-b. S. australe “Tiny Trev.”NOT
what's On:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Circle of Orchids

Sydney Garden Talk Wednesdays 5pm, Saturday 12noon
Feature Interview:Eastwood and district Orchid Circle secretary-Bernadette Williams talks about the 70 year history of the club, and a bit about the cultivation of Phaleanopsis or Moth Orchid. The club meets on the first Wednesday of every month at 8pm un the Uniting Church Hall, Acacia st, East Denistone, 7.15 for Novice and Intermediate growers in the back room.
Vegetable Hero:Cabbage or Brassica oleracea "Capitata." Cabbages do best in a reasonably firm soil, so leave it for several months between digging and planting. Why firm soil? So they don’t fall over when they grow those heavy heads.Pick a reasonably sunny spot for the site where you are growing cabbages. If you can, use a site where peas and beans (Legumes) where grown the recently-dig the pea and bean roots into the soil to provide nitrogen. I’ve been told that transplanting cabbage seedlings helps them to grow strong roots , so if you are starting from seed, sow them in a punnet.
Design Elements:small herb gardens for small spaces. Why not make it a herb spiral of about 1m high by 1.5m wide. Place rocks around the base and gradually build up to a conical shape. Drier herbs like Marjoram and Sage at the top, shadier herbs like Mint around the back and sunnier herbs like Parsley and Coriander around the front.
Plant of the Week: Camellia Japonica-large green leaves, showy flowers in winter. Pale coloured flowers prefer a dappled aspect in the morning particularly, or semi-shade most of the day. Dark coloured flowered Camellias can take full sun in the morning. Mulch with 2.5cm cow manure now and fertilise with Camellia fertilser after flowering.
Camellia japonica "Duo de Chartres." (pictured)
What's On:Camellia Show-Henry street Gordon at Ravenswood School for Girls. Sunday10-5pm.
Orchid show Sunday 11th July at Eastwood Mall

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Sydney Garden Talk Wed 5-6pm, Sat. 12-1pm
Feature Interview:Geoff Fulcher from the NSW Orchid Society talks mainly about Cymbidium Orchid care. There show is on at the Tropical Centre, Sydney Botanic gardens 3rd and 4th July.
Vegetable Hero:potatoes discovered by south Americans. Contains solanin when exposed to sunlight turns green. You can get virus free seed potatoes from harware stores, some supermarkets, and garden centres of course. To grow potatoes, you will need to deeply dig the garden bed to ensure the soil is loose. Chicken manure or blood and bone should be dug through the bed as potatoes need a lot of phosphorus but not too much nitrogen. Too much nitrogen will cause the potatoes to create too much leafy growth rather than potatoes. Make sure the potatoes are planted into the soil to about 10cm deep to get enough soil coverage. Seed potatoes should be planted about 50cm apart.
As the potatoes grow, it is important to keep them well covered, either by mounding the soil or heavily mulching. If sunlight reaches the potatoes as they are growing, they will turn green and become inedible. Keep the potatoes watered moderately as potatoes will rot in soil that is too wet
Design Elements;Reviewing Climbing plants-Try Podranea ricasoliana-pink flowers), Pyrostegia venusta-Orange Trumpet Creeper for quick covers. Wisteria chinensis-chinese Wisteria, or Wisteria macrobotrys-Japanese Wisteria-for beautiful scent and hanging flowers in Spring. These are deciduous creepers.
Plant of the Week:Hellebores spp. Helleborus orientalis and Helleborus x hybridus.Hellebores have dangling cup-shaped flowers which invite one to reach down and look inside. The outside of the sepals (which look like petals: the true petals are reduced to nectaries within the flower) may be rich pink while the inside may be paler, sometimes spotted, within. Dark nectaries can make the flower even more fascinating.
The pink, plum and white varieties are known as Helleborus x hybridus and incorrectly as Oriental varieties Most hellebores prefer semishade particularly in hot areas. Mine in the garden are never watered. Like most perennials, hellebores are best planted in Autumn but they are so hardy that I plant them year-round. I am enjoying the reward now
What's On:Camellia Show at Ravenswood Girsl High School, Sat, July 10th 1-4pm and Sun July 11th 10-4pm.