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f you read magazines back to front, as I often do, you have already seen Michael McCoy’s column and know that where he lives, in country Victoria, the trees are turning bare and winter is moving in. In my mind’s eye, he is chopping wood for the ire and checking on the brassicas in his vegie patch, planted long ago to get ahead of the frosts. For me, though, the month of May means gentler light, mild temperatures, and respite from humidity. It’s the chance to do some tidying up and planting. I love i I have a few edibles to put in this year, starting with blueberries. While raspberries aren’t really on the gardening menu for those of us in sticky Sydney, blueberries are, and I’m going to dot a few through the ornamentals in my front garden. Justin Russell has some great advice for growing blueberries in his story on page 58. here’s always stuf to do around roses at this time of year, and of course, they can be planted bare-rooted from now until the end of winter. But the way we buy roses is changing, with plants available for much of the year as potted specimens in nurseries, where you can examine the colour and fragrance of the bloom. hey are also being grown as cuttings, or ‘on their own roots’. What does it all mean? Jennifer Stackhouse explains on page 26. For more rose action, Josh Byrne visits one of our regular writers, Deryn horpe, to see how she has managed to create and maintain a classic cottage garden on Perth’s dry, sandy soil. How does Deryn get her roses to thrive there? Turn to page 20 to ind out. On a diferent note, we welcome guest writer Rees Campbell, a Tasmanian gardener who grows more bush foods in her home garden than I imagined could possibly exist. She proiles 10 of her favourites, sharing growing tips and wonderful ideas for cooking and eating (page 60). And in an extract from her new book (page 32), Sophie homson tells the story of setting up her orchard, weaving through bits of practical advice for fellow fruit growers. It’s time again for the Gardener of the Year competition. You’ll ind the entry form and judging criteria on page 30. We’re choosing ive inalists this year, with the winner once again receiving an overseas trip for two. So, don’t be shy... get your entry in. Until next month, happy gardening!

on Facebook at ABCGardeningAustraliamagazine and Instagram @gardeningaustraliamag to keep up to date with the latest gardening news and to see some great photos.

COMING UP ROSES You can never have too many roses! Jenny checks a rose story before printing, high on the scent of a rose from her late autumn garden.

Share your stories, tips, photos and opinions with us. Write to Your Say, Gardening Australia, nextmedia, Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards NSW 1590 or email GARDENING AUSTRALIA

May 2018





ABC TV HOST Costa Georgiadis PRESENTERS Josh Byrne, Tino Carnevale, Jerry Coleby-Williams, Jane Edmanson, Millie Ross, Sophie Thomson


CONTRIBUTORS Steve Ball, Rees Campbell, Jason Chongue, Leonard Cronin, Sandra Eterovic, Jackie French, Robert Frith, Lauren Hampson, Judy Horton, Dr Peter Kirkpatrick, Michael McCoy, Martyn Robinson, Justin Russell, Luke Simon, Jennifer Stackhouse, Angus Stewart, Deryn Thorpe, Kim Woods Rabbidge NATIONAL ADVERTISING MANAGER Anabel Tweedale, Phone (02) 9901 6371

7.30pm Friday May 2018


Your bumper

Gardener of the Yea competitior n

En ter no w!


DIRECTORIES ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Alora Edwards, Phone (02) 9901 6101 ACCOUNT MANAGER Annya Azzopardi, Phone (02) 9901 6320 PRODUCTION MANAGER Peter Ryman PRODUCTION AND DIGITAL SERVICES MANAGER Jonathan Bishop

I • lant blueberries • row bush foods • prune an espalier • harvest kale

CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Carole Jones EXECUTIVE PRODUCER ABC TV Gill Lomas SERIES PRODUCER ABC TV Chris Paterson EDITOR ABC MAGAZINES Kate McMahon MAGAZINE COORDINATOR ABC COMMERCIAL Jacqueline Forster SUBSCRIPTIONS 1300 361 146, EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES Phone (02) 9901 6325 NEXT MEDIA PTY LTD Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards NSW 1590 Phone (02) 9901 6100 CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER David Gardiner COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Bruce Duncan ISSN: 1325-1465 ABC Gardening Australia magazine is published by nextmedia Pty Ltd (ACN 128 805 970) under licence from the publisher, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and is subject to copyright in its entirety. ‘ABC’ and the ‘Wave’ and ‘Gardening Australia’ trademarks are used under licence from the ABC. The contents may not be reproduced in any form, either in whole or part, without written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved in material accepted for publication unless specified otherwise. All letters and other material forwarded to the magazine will be assumed intended for publication unless clearly labelled not for publication. nextmedia and the publisher do not accept responsibility for damage to, or loss of, submitted material. Opinions expressed in ABC Gardening Australia magazine are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of nextmedia or the publisher. No responsibility is accepted for unsolicited material. No liability is accepted by nextmedia, the publisher, nor the authors for any information contained herein. All endeavours are made to ensure accuracy and veracity of all content and advice herein, but neither ABC Gardening Australia magazine nor its publisher or contributors is responsible for damage or harm, of whatever description, resulting from persons undertaking any advice or using any product mentioned or advertised in ABC Gardening Australia magazine or its website.

ROSES Success in sandy soil Bare-rooted, potted or grown from cuttings Top tips for colourful hips


on the cover his ‘Mme Isaac Pereire’ rose was shot in Walter Duncan’s garden in South Australia. Turn to page 26 for our story on the diferent ways to buy and grow a rose, and if you’re on sandy soil, turn to page 20 for invaluable rose-growing tips. Photo: Luke Simon

Actiо P lр! All your monthly tasks & practical advice, p68


PRIVACY POLICY We value the integrity of your personal information. If you provide personal information through your participation in any competitions, surveys or offers featured in this issue of ABC Gardening Australia magazine, this will be used to provide the products or services that you have requested and to improve the content of our magazines. Your details may be provided to third parties who assist us in this purpose. In the event of organisations providing prizes or offers to our readers, we may pass your details on to them. From time to time, we may use the information you provide us to inform you of other products, services and events our company has to offer. We may also give your information to other organisations, which may use it to inform you about their products, services and events, unless you tell us not to do so. You are welcome to access the information we hold about you by getting in touch with our privacy officer, who can be contacted at nextmedia, Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards, NSW 1590.

68 4

May 2018




16 60

12 16 18 20 26 30 32 38 48 57 58 60 75


Plectranthus Crabapple Queen of hearts Roses: success in sandy soil Roses: bare-rooted, potted or grown from cuttings Gardener of the Year competition – enter now! Sophie Thomson on setting up her home orchard Q&A special: Your bumper problem solver Roses: Top tips for colourful hips Harvest kale Plant blueberries Grow bush foods Prune an espalier

FEATURES 12 Velvet gems

76 Backyard visitors Pacific black 78 80

duck and acacia borers Feathers & fur How to train pets and strengthen bonds Mailbox Your letters, photos and questions The directory

87 97 TV & radio guide Your ABC 98 The big picture

KITCHEN GARDEN 57 The harvest Kale 58 Out of the blue Grow your own easy-care blueberries

60 Bush tucker Native foods to grow, plus tasty recipes

66 Recipes & Pick Me Now


Striking foliage and flowers of plectranthus in its many forms

16 Golden oldie Crabapple puts on an autumn show

20 Beating the heat A cottage garden filled with roses is thriving in Perth’s hot, dry climate

26 How to buy a rose The way modern roses are propagated and what to look for

32 The making of an orchard Sophie Thomson on setting one up

38 Q&A time! Problems, problems... all solved


44 A star is born The story of a white Rangoon creeper

REGULARS 6 8 10 18


48 68

Marketplace Plants and products On the grapevine Latest news Out & about What’s on The inside story Growing tips for queen of hearts At home with Jackie Action planner What to do in your garden this month

competitions + reader offers 30 Enter the Gardener of the Year competition for your chance to win an overseas trip 54 Subscribe and go in the draw for a 7-night stay on the Sunshine Coast, worth $4258 83 Win 1 of 15 double movie passes to see he Bookshop 84 Solve the crossword and you could win one of 10 Earthlife packs, worth $59 each GARDENING AUSTRALIA

May 2018



what’s Take a look at what’s hot in plants, curl up with a beautiful new book and cast your eye over some great ideas for your garden


Award-winning Fairytale Magic rose has luscious olde-worlde blooms in pink touched with apricot, and a delightful fragrance. With prolific clusters of flowers from top to bottom on this healthy upright Floribunda rose, it is a good pick for a beautiful garden display or hedging. It grows to 90cm high.


The crepe myrtle Lagerstroemia ‘Enduring Summer Red’ has its first flush in late spring, then blooms all summer and into autumn with prolific, bright red blooms. New spring foliage is tinged red before ageing to glossy green on this compact shrub to 1.5m high. Trim off spent flowers in winter to maintain a bushy shape. A spot in full sun is best.



With year-round variegated gold and green foliage and yellow blooms in spring, Leucadendron ‘Pot of Gold’ is an attractive feature plant for borders or screens. This sun-loving, heat- and frost-tolerant shrub to 2.5m high likes well-drained soil. Prune after flowering to maintain shape.


A prolific bloomer, the Climbing Arabia rose has an arching habit and can be trained up an arbor or lattice. It grows to 2.5m, with dark coppery orange to bright peach blooms with a spicy fragrance. Good disease resistance.


Ideal for small gardens, pots or low borders, Garden of Roses is a compact grower to 60cm high. Framed by dark foliage, its full blooms in romantic, soft apricot colouring have a tender fragrance. This lovely new Floribunda repeat-blooms well, and has received multiple awards since 2009.


h lf



May 2018


1. Be prepared for pruning winter roses with these practical and colourful Scratch Protectors gloves from Quality Products. The thick, goat leather gauntlets protect your arms, while the gloves are sturdy, yet soft enough to grip pruning tools. 2. Get set for entertaining outdoors this winter with the new DécoFire Accendo Firepit. Featuring a large fire bowl to generate plenty of warmth, and integrated wood storage underneath, it is practical and stylish for contemporary outdoor spaces. 3. Zhoosh up your vegie harvests in the kitchen using Herbie’s Spices Box of Ideas for Autumn. Packed in a seasonally coloured box, this special selection includes French tarragon, ‘Southern States’ bay





books Country Women’s Association Country Classics Viking You will find more than 400 tried and true classics and back to basics recipes in this new edition. This go-to cookbook is perfect for newbies and kitchen whizzes. Think home-style cooking such as rhubarb and apple pie, lemon butter, Edna’s sponge sandwich and delicious scones.

How he Finch Got His Colors by AnneMarie Guertin and Helena Pérez García Familius This delightful children's book tells how the Gouldian finch, native to Australia, became the world’s most beautiful bird. Rainbow descended to bestow her colours on all the drab birds, but the little Gouldian misses out until the others share.

Leaf Supply by Lauren Camilleri & Sophia Kaplan Smith Street Books

5 4

seasoning, ‘Loomi’ black lime powder and Japanese-style Furikake seasoning sprinkle, which includes sesame seeds, chilli and orange peel, with a delicious nutty crunch – toss on salad leaves or stir-fried greens. 4. The Frankie Pot Collection from Tuscan Path combines the convenience of lightweight fibreglass with stylish geometric design. Available in two matte colours (latte and charcoal) in four sizes, from 27cm to 44cm wide, they suit indoors or outdoors.

he Italian Garden by Cecilia Hewlett & Narelle McAulife hames & Hudson Garden designer Paul Bangay’s brief was simple: to transform a car park and dumping space into a courtyard garden that would complement the surrounding architecture. This is a story of a once-grand Italian palazzo brought back to life by an Australian designer with Italian sensibilities.




Profiling more than 100 indoor plants, with comprehensive information on how to keep them in shape, this book has a beautiful layout and inspiring images. It also offers styling advice, from choosing pots to integrating plants into the home and workplace.

May 2018



on the


We keep you up to date with all the latest headlines, happenings and events in the gardening world

cities get back to nature The annual Green Cities conference, held this year in Melbourne, brought together sustainability experts and industry leaders to debate ‘Energising Communities’ in a bid to make the world’s cities ecologically rich and emotionally satisfying. Pascal Mittermaier, global managing director for cities at The Nature Conservancy, spoke on the role nature has to play in helping communities thrive. Planting more trees is important, but more nature-based strategies are required to solve issues such as climate change, rising populations, pollution and water run-off. “By mapping and understanding where rain flows, we can create a network of bioswales, rain gardens and other green infrastructure to stop and filter water where it falls,” he says.

ix for fruit ly infestation Steps have been taken to reduce the prevalence of Queensland fruit fly in South Australia, with the release of hundreds of thousands of sterile fruit flies via an aerial drop over Adelaide. Another 2 million males were set to be released in April, with the goal of limiting reproduction of the species, which will benefit the home gardener as well as commercial agriculture. Queensland fruit fly is a major pest of a wide range of fruits and fruiting vegetables. Reducing the fruit fly population will result in more crops and fewer applications of sprays. This technology is still in the trial phase, but watch this space!

8 May 2018


The Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria (NGIV) recently presented ABC Gardening Australia presenter Jane Edmanson with the President’s Distinguished Service Award. The NGIV says this award “recognises an individual who has made a significant contribution to the association and the industry over an extended period of time, and has done so freely, willingly and selflessly, repeatedly going that extra mile.” At the ceremony, president Paul Boland (above) said, “Jane has been involved in horticulture for more than 40 years, working in propagation, growing plants, owning and managing a retail nursery along with television, radio and other media commitments. She has been a fantastic contributor to our wonderful industry and has given so much for so long.” Jane has been an invaluable contributor to this magazine since its inception.




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what’s on in

May 12th Secret Garden & Nursery Autumn Fair

Secret Garden & Nursery Autumn Fair

9am–4pm. Western Sydney University, Hawkesbury Campus, Clydesdale Lane, Vines Dr, entry off Londonderry Rd, Richmond (follow signs). 0414 784 460. $2. This not-for-profit hub delivers horticultural therapy for people with a range of abilities. Browse market stalls and choose from many cottage garden plants. Snacks and drinks available. Explore the 10ha on foot or aboard a new train.

31st–2nd Jun Tweed District Winter Orchid Show

New South Wales


5th–27th Everglades exhibition

5th–6th Chrysanthemum Society of Vic Show

11am–3pm. 37 Everglades Ave, Leura. (02) 4784 1938. $13 for gardens, house and show. Transitions is an exhibition of photographs by Tracy Ponich of Everglades Historic House & Gardens through the seasons. The show also incorporates historical photos and documents, including diary passages by the garden’s creator, Paul Sorensen, from the 1930s.

Sat 1–4pm, Sun 12pm–4pm. Burwood Heights Uniting Church Hall, cnr Burwood Hwy & Blackburn Road, Burwood East. (03) 9898 5458. $4. See chrysanthemums in a huge range of sizes, shapes and colours, including some as big as soccer balls. Expert growing and exhibiting advice, and plants for sale.

12th Bush Food Experience

Western Australia

Sat 12.30–2.30pm, Sun 10am–2pm. The Wild Play Discovery Centre, Grand Drive, Centennial Park. (02) 9339 6664. On Saturday ($40), join Aboriginal guides to discover how to use bush foods. Gather fruits, seeds, berries and native vegetables, and learn about traditional food preparation.

2nd, 9th, 16th Your Garden with Josh Byrne

12th Crookwell Potato Festival

5th–6th he Hills Artisans

9am–3pm. Crookwell Showground, Goulburn St, Crookwell. (02) 4832 1988. $5. Roll up for old-fashioned country fun – see special guest Costa Georgiadis, watch the cooking demos, browse market stalls, visit the quilt and art show, tuck into food and drink on sale – and enjoy all the spuds, of course!

10am–3pm. Pickering Brook Sports Club, 35 Weston Rd, Pickering Brook. 0422 176 003. Free. Discover inspiring art and crafts in an event linked to the Bickley Harvest Festival. Delicious food and kids activities. Proceeds to the Patricia Giles Centre for families affected by domestic violence.


May 2018


6.30–8.30pm. Various venues. 0488 311 090. Free. Bookings essential. Hosted by Josh Byrne, this series of workshops provides Perth residents with ideas and inspiration to create a successful garden, while helping the Swan and Canning Rivers.


Thu–Fri 7am–9pm, Sat 7am–3pm. Tweed City Shopping Centre, Minjungbal Dr, South Tweed Heads. 0416 114 007. Free. View the judged exhibition of specimens from diverse orchid genera. Expert advice on orchid culture, and plants for sale.

tell us about your event he August calendar deadline is May 4, 2018. Send event details (date, event name, opening times, address, phone number, entry fee and description) to Shows, Gardening Australia, nextmedia, Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards NSW 1590 or email

19th–20th Art & Craft for the Garden & Home 10am–4pm. Kalamunda Agricultural hall, 48 Canning Rd, Kalamunda. 0427 260 252. Free. Watch local artisans at work and browse their artefacts for sale for the home, garden and courtyard. Plants, delicious food and teas for sale.


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5th–6th Gympie Garden Expo Sat 8am–4pm, Sun 8am–3pm. Gympie Showgrounds, Exhibition Rd, Gympie. 0428 193 156. $5. Ideas and advice, including expert talks from Paul Plant and other speakers, and plant and orchid displays. Gardens are open around the district. For more details visit

5th–6th Southport & Districts Orchid Society Annual Show Sat 9am–4pm, Sun 9am–3pm. Robina Community Centre, 196 Robina Town Dr, Robina. 0408 777 993. $4. See beautiful judged orchids on display, get expert advice, join in the raffle, and browse orchids and supplies from nine vendors.

26th–27th Brisbane Plant Collectors Fair Sat 8.30am–4pm, Sun 8.30am–3pm. Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha, Mt Coot-tha Rd, Toowong. 0407 586 443. $5. Discover rare, unusual and difficult-to-find plant species from around the world, and hear Noel Burdette, Angus Stewart and Jerry Coleby-Williams among other guest speakers.

Herb Awareness

27th Herb Awareness 9am–3pm. Albion Peace Hall, 102 McDonald Rd, Windsor. (07) 3279 6037. Free. The Queensland Herb Society shows herb usage since medieval times in a day of discovery on their origins and how to propagate them. Expert talks, medieval minstrels and herbs for sale and made into tasty treats.


plant yea rounrd

vvet GEMS

Striking flower and foliage colours, multiple forms and an easy-care habit put plectranthus in the picture, writes DERYN THORPE


rown for its colourful, velvety leaves and mass flower spikes, plectranthus is an unfussy, beautiful collection of plants for gardens and containers. These plants are a favourite at my place because of their versatility, and I especially appreciate those that thrive in dry shade, as well as the coloured-leafed coleus and hybrids with flower plumes, which provide the wow factor in pots and beds in autumn. Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides) has been grown since Victorian times for its velvety, coloured leaves. It has the most spectacular foliage of the genus, but others have variegated cream leaf margins, which brighten shady parts of the garden. There are about 350 species of plectranthus, which is in the mint family (Lamiaceae). Plants originate in tropical and temperate areas, including Africa, Asia and the Pacific islands, and about 22 species are from eastern Australia. Plants differ in form, and can be shrubs or perennials, some with glossy, fleshy foliage, others with soft hairs on aromatic leaves and stems. While they are renowned for doing well in shade, some varieties prefer to grow in full sun. All forms like free-draining soil and resent frost. Most flower in autumn, though you can get flowers through much of the year, except in winter.

care & cutting tips Plectranthus prefer well-composted soils and adequate moisture, but they cope with a dry spell or root competition, especially species that store water in their succulent stems. Since they originate from areas that receive summer rain, they appreciate moisture during the warmest months. Tip cuttings, taken with at least two nodes (where leaves grow from the stem), strike easily in moist potting mix, and the tropical varieties will root in a glass of water. Transfer

12 May 2018


HIGH IMPACT From left he neat habit of Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’ works well in a formal pot; edible Cuban oregano (P. amboinicus) has a strong lavour that is good in soups and stews.

to potting mix when roots are about 4cm long. Take cuttings of glossy varieties at any time, except during winter in cold climates. These grow quickly and can fill a 25cm pot in a few months. The hairy-leafed varieties are best struck in autumn and spring. The plants need an annual pruning after flowering to keep them dense. Stem tips of the trailing forms should be regularly trimmed to ensure they retain their compact shape, and to encourage branching. Although plectranthus are relatively undemanding and pest-free plants, they appreciate an application of a complete fertiliser once a year in spring. Give them a dressing of compost, over the root zone, too, topped with bark or cane mulch. Coleus, especially those that are overwintered in greenhouses, can suffer from downy mildew, so it’s best to water from below and keep air circulating.


all shapes and sizes There is a wide range of groundcovers to choose from. P. oertendahlii is an African variety loved for its slightly succulent, variegated leaves with silver markings and deep red undersides, and the bonus of mauve or pink flowers from late summer to winter. It reaches about 30cm tall, and can be grown as a groundcover in the garden, or a trailing pot plant in a bright spot indoors. The one I find the most useful is P. ambiguus, which gets to about 40cm tall and creates a dense carpet as it scrambles through dry shade beneath trees, where stems put down roots anywhere it touches the ground. It attracts little comment most of the year, then in autumn sends up striking spires of purple flowers that make it a highlight. I team this with the native silver plectranthus (P. argentatus), which adds height and foliage contrast. Also from southern Africa and similar in growth habit is the oddly named Swedish ivy (P. verticillatus).


May 2018



Often used in hanging baskets, it has scalloped leaves and a lacy froth of white flowers, mostly in autumn. These creeping plants and similar fleshy varieties of plectranthus seed and root very easily, so they are potentially weedy in areas with warm, wet summers. Cuban oregano (P. amboinicus), also known as four seasons herb, is a groundcover that grows to about 50cm tall. Its edible foliage, which is good in meat dishes, is said to taste like a strong blend of thyme and oregano. It is also used medicinally in some countries. I grow a variegated form in part shade. Pungent leaves are a feature of plectranthus, and few are as smelly as dogbane (P. caninus). The unpleasant smell of its crushed foliage reputedly repels dogs and cats. It flowers best in full sun, grows about 30cm tall and 1m wide, and is almost indestructible. Its pretty, purple flowers look like lavender spikes, and appear on short stems, mostly in autumn. But their odour will not encourage you to pick a flower posy! Shrub forms are mostly grown for their massed display of small, tubular flowers. Some have purple undersides to the leaves. Named hybrids, mostly crosses between P. saccatus and P. hilliardiae, are compact shrubs that make excellent container plants. One of the taller forms is P. ecklonii, which grows up to 3m tall and about 90cm wide in semi-shade, and produces masses of purple, pink or white flower spikes in late summer and autumn. I have one that grows beside a frangipani, with clivea and purple tradescantia at its feet, but it also teams beautifully with Japanese windflowers (Anemone x hybrida) and cane begonias, which flower at the same time. GA

common name plectranthus, coleus

botanic name Plectranthus spp.

plant type perennial, small shrub 10cm–3m 30cm–3m year round

14 May 2018


full sun/ semi-shade/shade spring to autumn


A SENSE OF DRAMA Top Coleus come in many foliage colours, including this striking red with contrasting lemon-yellow margins. Above he dark foliage of Plectranthus ‘Velvet Elvis’ is a dramatic counterpoint to its plumes of lavender blooms.


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6 top picks


Silver plectranthus (P. argentatus)

Native to Australian tropical and subtropical rainforests, with plush, velvety leaves and autumn spikes of lavender flowers. It is one of the few silver-leafed plants to enjoy damp shade, but copes with dry shade. It sprawls, so cut back in winter to keep tidy. Look for compact ‘Silver Shield’. 60cm tall 1m


Coleus (P. scutellarioides syn. Solenostemon scutellarioides) Extensively hybridised with plush-leafed cultivars in gold, red, yellow, cream, green and white. Plants have broad, oval or narrow, tapering leaves, with toothed or wavy edges. 15cm–90cm 15cm–60cm


P. parvilorus ‘Blue Spires’

A native, with aromatic, green and white variegated foliage and perfumed, blue-lilac flowers held above foliage from spring to autumn. Good in cottage gardens, pots and baskets. 40–50cm 30–40cm



P. ‘Mona Lavender’


P. ‘Velvet Elvis’


P. ‘Cape Angels’

A neat, upright shrub smothered with spectacular spikes of lavender flowers from late summer through autumn. Green leaves have purple undersides. All hybrids make great container and basket plants. Bred at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town, South Africa. 80cm 60cm Deep green leaves with almost black undersides form a dramatic backdrop for plumes of lavender blooms from late summer through autumn. 70cm 70–80cm Available with striking white, pink, purple and magenta flowers from summer to autumn. The flowers are held above green foliage, which has purple undersides. 60cm–80cm 70cm



grea autumtn colour

OLDIE Crabapples offer more than pretty spring blo som. They re a welcome sight in the autumn garden with their colourful leaves and decorative fruits, writes JANE EDMANSON

planting & care

Select a position in full sun, or semi-shade in very hot climates. Trees are best planted dormant and bare-rooted in winter. Crabapples suit all soil types, although sandy soils benefit from bulking up with compost. Plants don’t require staking, except in very windy positions. During dry summers, give your tree

16 May 2018


a deep watering from time to time. Feed with citrus and fruit tree fertiliser every few months, concentrating on the root zone. If the tree becomes straggly or too large, prune immediately after flowering. Your main ‘pest’ will be competition from possums and birds for the apples. If you don’t want to share, cover trees with bird netting, with a mesh under 5mm. GA

Jane’s top 5

Q M. ‘Golden Hornet’ Pink buds followed

by white flowers in spring, with large clusters of bright yellow fruit that hold well on the tree. 6m 5m Q M. ‘Eleyi’ Purple leaves, fragrant crimson flowers and very decorative, purplish-red fruit on a small, upright tree. 6m 5m Q M. ‘John Downie’ White flowers, large, bright orange to red fruit. Often called the ‘best of the crabs’. Fruit hangs on to the branches well into winter. 5m 5m Q M. trilobata Lobed, maple-like leaves, with beautiful red autumn colour. Large white flowers in spring, and greenish yellow fruit. Upright habit. 10m 4m Q M. yunnanensis var. veitchii Narrow tree with lobed leaves that turn brilliant crimson and orange colours in autumn. Creamy-white flowers and deep red fruit. 6m 4m

A TREE FOR ALL SEASONS From above Malus ‘John Downie’ is one of the best crabapples for making jelly; mellow yellow days as the fruit on a M. ‘Golden Hornet’ hit their peak.



maller than ordinary apples, but with a taste that packs a punch, crabapples have been part of my life since childhood. In our earliest garden, there was a beautiful crabapple that I could climb and sit in for hours, crunching on its fruit. Its parentage was not known but everyone in the district was familiar with its delicious flavour. My mother made crabapple jelly, with a colour that was hard to beat. In a courtyard garden, ‘crabs’ grew as espaliers on the walls. They were selected for fruit colour as much as their spring flowers. The attractive fruit hung on the branches all winter, as long as birds didn’t spot them. It was my job to run outside to scare the parrots and cockatoos that swooped down in autumn. They were Malus ‘John Downie’ and M. ‘Golden Hornet’, tried and true crabapples that grew well in the heat of Mildura. The first tree I planted in my front garden was a Betchel’s crab (M. ioensis ‘Plena’), which excels for its ease of growth. It produces pink and white spring buds and flowers, and needs no work to maintain its lovely shape. It has good autumn foliage colour, too, and being on the western side of my garden, gives shade in summer and lets sunlight through in winter. Crabapples are, in my opinion, much better value, faster and easier to grow than ornamental cherries.

At a glance common name crabapple

botanic name Malus spp.

plant type deciduous, medium-sized tree 5–10m 3–4m


winter semi-shade/shade



inside story Glossy, heart-shaped foliage and easy-care requirements make queen of hearts a great indoor plant, says JASON CHONGUE

queen of hearts botanic name Homalomena rubescens If you want to try a less common indoor plant with an elegant tropical look, queen of hearts is well worth tracking down. It has a clumping growth habit, and long petioles (leaf stems) adorned with heart-shaped leaves, and it’s easy to grow. Specialist growers, tropical plant collectors and plant fairs are your most likely sources of stock.



Grow indoors in a bright, well-lit position or in filtered light. Low light results in spindly growth and yellowing of the lower leaves.

Keep soil moist but not wet to encourage lush growth. Give it a drink when the top centimetre of mix is dry. Water weekly in warm months and every 2–3 weeks in winter.


Keep away from draughts, and heating and cooling vents. Use smaller plants as table centrepieces, then move to another spot as upright growth matures.

Feed with slow-release fertiliser every six months, and half-strength liquid fertiliser every fortnight in the warmer months to encourage healthy growth.

Species of Homalomena include H. wallisii, with variegated leaf markings, or try a cultivar such as red-stemmed ‘Maggie’, sapphire-green ‘Emerald Gem’ or golden ‘Glory Gem’.

TOP TIP For an interesting cluster of foliage, group queen of hearts with radiator plants (Peperomia spp.), betel leaf plant (Piper betle) and dwarf umbrella plant (Schefflera arboricola).


May 2018




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JOSH BYRNE visits the Perth garden of an English-born journalist who has found a way to make her beloved roses and cottage garden plants thrive in the city’s hot, dry climate

20 May 2018


See Josh visiting Deryn in her garden on Friday, May 4 at 7.30pm on ABC TV

ROSES, ROSES EVERYWHERE From left he Bourbon rose ‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ has an intoxicating scent; Deryn prunes ‘Penelope’, an old-fashioned Hybrid Musk rose; Viburnum tinus hedges provide structure, while climbing roses add beauty to a fence line.


erth is a beautiful place to live. Its great weather, fabulous beaches and wealth of open space all contribute to a terrific lifestyle. Unfortunately, these attributes also present major gardening challenges, including sandy soil, hot weather and months of summer heat with no rain. An ever drier climate has meant that Perth now has permanent water-saving measures in place, which limit garden irrigation. It’s not surprising that, over the years, Perth gardeners have responded by creating drought-hardy gardens suited to the local conditions. The inclusion of native plants and other species with low water needs has become the norm, and the traditional cottage garden filled with romantic and often tender exotic species is becoming somewhat of a rarity. Deryn Thorpe is bucking this trend. Deryn is a print and radio journalist, and an avid gardener. She writes for ABC Gardening Australia magazine (see her story on plectranthus, on page 12 of this issue), co-hosts a gardening podcast with Steve Wood called All the Dirt, and leads gardening tours around the world. On top of this, she finds time to tend a thriving garden on a 1200m2 property in the leafy inner Perth suburb of Mount Lawley. Born in the UK, Deryn says she owes much of her gardening style to her English roots. She spent her early childhood in Kent, often referred to as ‘the garden of England’, before arriving in Australia at the age of six. Despite gardening on some of the world’s poorest soils,

she was determined to grow the plants she loves, and has proved this is possible if you put in the effort.

in the garden

Deryn describes her garden as something of a fusion, “a cottage garden with a bit of plant collection wrapped around a Federation-period house”. The front garden is a spectacle of colour and texture. Garden beds are brimming with roses, vegetables, flowering perennials and massed border plantings. Hanging baskets and pots furnish the sweeping verandah. Two neatly manicured squares of lawn either side of the main arrival pathway quieten everything down. Established trees give dappled shade and a sense of scale to the high-set house. The back garden is more structured, complete with arbor, parterre and sculptural focal points. Hedges and brick-edged limestone paving add to the formality. Plants are still the heroes, with great care taken in the species selection. Roses dominate and are grown in various ways to be functional as well as beautiful. Climbing types are particularly effective in providing screening along the boundary fence. An occasional cutback is all they need to keep them under control. Growing an assortment of varieties means there are flowers throughout the year. Deryn admits cottage gardens are time-consuming, but they are fantastic for plant collectors and those who like to trial new plants. “It’s a fabulous style if you like flowers, and obviously I do!” she says. “They can


May 2018



22 May 2018


“If you have a structured design to the garden, the informal ramble of cottage plants does not look so untidy”

look messy, especially in a small space, but if you have a structured design to the garden, the informal ramble of cottage plants does not look so untidy.” Deryn also advocates experimentation. “I’m still surprised where plants thrive. For example, in the front garden, my ‘Ann Tilling’ pelargonium, which has luminous golden foliage, likes dappled shade, too. It romps through the hydrangeas and plectranthus, and makes the area look bright and casual. “Out the back I’m rather pleased with the way the dry, rooty area beneath a big coral tree (Erythrina indica) tree looks. I have planted it up with tough plants, such as ruscus, dianella, lomandra, Philodendron ‘Xanadu’ and angel’s trumpets (Brugmansia spp.), which are all thriving in the difficult conditions.” My visit to Deryn’s house included homemade cake and tea taken on the back verandah. I left with a bunch of plant cuttings and a great deal of respect for the work that she and husband Bill have put into creating such a beautiful garden, despite the conditions.

A FEAST FOR THE EYES Clockwise from far left A pergola at the entrance is adorned with a climbing ‘Pierre de Ronsard’ rose; arbors, urns and impeccable paving ofer a sense of formality in the courtyard, but the free-lowing cottage plants are still the heroes; a stepped display of potted pelargoniums and beds of rambling perennials create a sunny, welcoming entrance.


May 2018



tricks of the trade If you live in a hot climate and would like to create a garden like Deryn’s, here are some of her tips to help you make it a success. Understand your microclimate Work out the different microclimates around your garden, and plant accordingly. Deryn grows fuchsias, hydrangeas, geraniums and begonias in a bed in dappled shade beside the front verandah. All of these would fry over summer in the more exposed parts of the garden. Drought-hardy plants are chosen for the exposed areas. Condition the soil Like most Perth gardeners, Deryn is on sandy soil. As well as regularly adding compost and mulch, 10 years ago she began incorporating kaolin clay, which has significantly reduced water repellency, and improved water and nutrient retention. More recently, she’s been adding biochar, which helps prevent nutrients from leaching. Use water efficiently Given that Perth has year-round water restrictions (twice weekly watering on mains and three times with a bore, with no watering allowed during winter months), the careful use of water is essential. Deryn uses high-efficiency sprinklers to water the lawn and garden beds, and drip irrigation for all the pots. These are regularly checked to make sure they always remain in good working order.

24 May 2018


WONDERFUL AND WATERWISE From top Roses climb, cling and trail over vertical structures, while heat-tolerant plants thrive at ground level; an espaliered white adriatic ig in a self-watering pot is lanked by pig’s ear (Cotyledon orbiculata). Right A Louisiana iris contrasts with anAeonium decorum ‘Sunburst’.

As seen at The Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.

3 steps to rose heaven Deryn loves roses, and has filled her garden with climbers, Hybrid Teas and miniatures. Here are some of her favourite ways to grow them. 4 TRELLIS Roses make great screening plants, and can be trained up a trellis and along a fence line. Deryn has ‘Lamarque’, with clusters of violet-scented white flowers and few thorns, ‘Souvenir de Madame Léonie Viennot’, a Tea Rose with coppery pink flowers, mostly in late winter to spring, which repeat flowers, and ‘Crépuscule’, a virtually thornless rose with masses of small, apricot-yellow flowers. 4 SWAG Growing roses on a swag, which is a chain or rope strung between posts or columns, can delineate areas within a garden. This is also a good use of space, as other plants can be grown underneath the trailing rose. Deryn uses climbing ‘China Doll’, with trusses of hot pink, double flowers, for this purpose, and she says that climbing ‘Pinkie’, which has pale pink, semi-double blooms, works well, too. 4 POLE Deryn grows roses on a pole to add height, but not shade in her garden. ‘Penelope’, a Hybrid Musk rose from 1924, has the perfect shape for a pole (see page 21). It has coppery salmon-tinted buds that open to perfumed, creamy pink, semi-double flowers, which have prominent yellow stamens that fade to white. GA

Simply purchase a Plum Gorgeous from your local retailer, to have the chance of winning a $5,000 travel voucher to a destination of your choice.

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The way we buy garden roses is changing. JENNIFER STACKHOUSE examines how modern roses are propagated and sold

26 May 2018





raditionally, roses are sold when dormant in winter. These bare-stemmed bushes are known as bare-rooted plants. Their roots are bare of soil but protected with sawdust or sphagnum moss, and wrapped in plastic. Increasingly, though, roses are also sold year-round in containers. The way roses are produced by nurseries is also changing. The traditional propagation method that has been used for a rose bush is a type of grafting called budding, where a small piece of a desirable variety, which is called the scion, is inserted into the stem of a vigorous rose, known as the rootstock. Rootstock is grown from a cutting planted in soil and grown for at least six months before it is grafted in situ in the field. Once the scion begins to grow, it forms the above-ground part of the rose that produces the leaves and flowers, while the rootstock forms the base of the stem and the roots. One to two years later, in autumn, grafted rose plants are dug up from the soil. The soil is removed from their roots, and the roots and branches are pruned, ready for the bush to be packed for sale. While this traditional grafting method is still the main propagation method used for roses, more are being produced by cutting and tissue culture (see page 28).

diferent methods

Budding roses in the field is a skilled but awkward job. With a shortage of skilled labour in Australia, many budders are brought in from overseas, usually from New Zealand. Various rose growers have developed systems to allow budders to work at ground level

BLOOMING BEAUTIES Left Roses such as this David Austin ‘Golden Celebration’ are sold potted and in bloom from spring through to autumn, making it easy to see what you are getting.

potted instead of bending over to bud each rose. These systems include budders lying on low trolleys, so they can move along the rows of roses in the field. This complicated and time-consuming process has been the norm, as many hybrid roses are not particularly vigorous, so they need the benefit of another rose’s root system to grow strongly, cope with a range of soils and produce lots of flowers. However, all roses can also be propagated from cuttings. In recent years, rose growers have been experimenting with cutting-grown hybrid roses produced in pots. Recent releases, including the Flower Carpet series, are cutting-grown. Easier and cheaper to produce than field-grown grafted plants, they are grown in pots and sold year round. Not all potted roses, however, are cutting-grown. Most of those in containers in garden centres are field-grown grafted roses, transferred into pots to be sold in leaf or flower in spring and summer.

bare-rooted vs pot-grown

Bare-rooted roses are usually cheaper than the same sized grafted rose in a pot. They are also well suited to mail order sales, allowing many growers to sell roses directly to the public from autumn to winter. Although bare-rooted roses look like a bundle of bare, thorny sticks in winter, once planted they begin to grow and flower when spring arrives. Grafting also allows many plants to be grown from a limited amount of propagating material. To grow the same number of roses from cutting requires more propagation material. One downside of bare-rooted roses is that unless you are familiar with the variety, for example having seen it growing in a rose display garden, you have to rely on the label, or information on the rose grower’s website, to see what the rose looks like. For those who want to know what they’re buying, a potted rose in flower in a garden centre has instant appeal.


May 2018



cutting-grown grafted Above Garden roses are budded onto understock (left) or cutting grown (right). Below he Flower Carpet series of roses are all cutting grown and sold in pink pots.

leading the way with cuttings

tissue culture

More than 25 years ago, Victorian nurseryman Anthony Tesselaar revolutionised the way garden roses were grown and marketed around the world when he released the first Flower Carpet rose. His plan was to grow the groundcover rose on its own roots in a pot, like other plants. He took the bold decision not to involve traditional rose growers in its propagation, but to use production nurseries that specialised in growing potted flowering plants. He sold the rose in a coloured pot (not the typical black pot) with a large, glossy label and full-on marketing campaign. He said it would take the world by storm and appeal to all gardeners, not just rose fanciers. It did!

Most roses can also be propagated by micro-propagation (tissue culture). Using a very small amount of tissue from a plant, and a growing system with highly controlled growing media and environment, an entire plant can be propagated. Once the plant has formed roots and shoots, it is transferred into a pot with potting mix. Miniature roses are often grown from tissue culture.

28 May 2018



Another important downside of grafted roses may be encountered once the bush is planted in the garden. The vigorous rootstock may outgrow the grafted variety, leading to a large but unremarkable rose plant growing in your garden. One commonly used rootstock rose is a variety known as ‘Dr Huey’, which has thorny growth, light green leaves and small, double, crimson flowers in spring. When growth appears from below the graft, which is usually below the soil, this indicates that the rose plant is stressed. Rootstock growth should always be removed as soon as it is seen. If this happens to your plant, give it more water and fertiliser to encourage more vigorous growth above the graft. The big pluses of buying a rose in leaf in a pot are that these plants are available year round, and the overall appearance of the plant can be assessed, from its green leafy growth to the colour, shape and fragrance of the flower. As more varieties are developed that suit the cutting-grown system of production, there will be more of these potted roses available for sale at garden centres, and they may be cheaper than grafted plants in pots. Regardless of how a rose has been propagated, they all benefit from the same care and management, particularly in their first year of growth. Smaller plants with small root systems will need careful watering. GA


could you be the next

Gardener of the Year? Are you a passionate gardener with an interesting story to tell? Enter our competition and you could be in the running for a wonderful overseas trip for two, courtesy of Collette

IlleNtte W a Co

trip for two worth

$15, 000

COOL CLIMATE SPECTACLE he Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, Canada.

how does it work? his year, we are choosing ive state inalists. he states are divided into: Western Australia; South Australia & NT; New South Wales & ACT; Victoria & Tasmania; Queensland. One person will be chosen as the 2018 Gardener of the Year. he competition commences April 16 and closes August 6, 2018.

oicial entry form entrant ’s details Ms/Mrs/Miss/Mr/Other Name Address State

what are we looking for?

Regardless of the size or location of your garden, if you are a passionate gardener, we want to hear from you! We’re looking for someone who demonstrates creativity and inventiveness, and who is committed to making a gorgeous garden for themselves or the use of others. The judges will consider the following: DESIGN ELEMENTS This includes the look and functionality of the garden, how the layout relates to the needs of those using it, and how well the garden sits within its broader setting. PLANT CHOICES The judges will assess how well you have selected your plants for your local environment, how they work together and how successfully they are growing in your garden. SUSTAINABLE FEATURES Tell us how you manage your resources. Do you collect rainwater, make compost or recycle or upcycle materials? MAINTENANCE & PROBLEM SOLVING How involved are you in the day-to-day care of your garden? What challenges have you overcome and how?


4 The Gardener of the Year receives $15,000 from Collette. This amount will cover the cost of airfares and tour package for two people to North America, Europe or your preferred destination. 4 Each state finalist receives prizes from Gardena, Fleming’s Nurseries and Quell.


Daytime phone After hours phone Email WHAT TO INCLUDE WITH YOUR ENTRY In 300 words or less, tell us about your passion for gardening. Provide a sketch of your garden’s layout, a completed entry form and recent photos of the whole garden, including one or two ‘before’ shots to show how your garden has grown. Entries close August 6, 2018. ENTER ONLINE OR BY POST Gardener of the Year, ABC Gardening Australia magazine, Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards, NSW, 1590. Enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope if you’d like your entry returned.

entry checklist

† Completed coupon* † 300 words about your passion for gardening † Up to 12 photos of your garden and a photo of you (prints, jpegs or USB) † Sketch of the garden’s layout * If applying online, scan the completed coupon and upload with your photos Terms & conditions: Competition open to Australian residents aged 18 and over. Competition starts April 16, 2018, 00:01 AEST and ends August 6, 2018, 23:59 AEST. One winner will receive a voucher for $15,000 for travel with Collette. 5 x state finalists will receive prizes from Gardena, Fleming’s Nurseries and Quell. Entrants consent to the use of their name, state of residence, photos and entry for promotional and marketing purposes, and agree to participate in reasonable promotional activities as requested by the promoter. Winning gardens may be photographed or filmed. For full terms and conditions, visit


May 2018



the making of an

ORCHARD Keen on growing some fruit at home? In her new book Sophie’s Patch, SOPHIE THOMSON describes how she set up her home orchard, and the planting and growing techniques she has deployed in her quest for a year-round harvest


May 2018



MANY HAPPY RETURNS Left Sophie is now seeing her hard work bear fruit. Opposite She adapted her original wish list, and by 2014, ive years after planting, the orchard was taking shape Previous page he 1.5ha block spreading out from the stone cottage now has a sustainable organic garden with a large vegie patch, an ornamental area, and an orchard divided into quadrants, with more than 100 fruit trees.

fruit tree selection

The goal was to have fruits all year round. We planned to achieve this by planting many different varieties of each type of fruit, giving fruiting across the season. To extend the season further, excess produce would be stored in the large cellar under the house and in a small household cool room. Fruits that don’t store well would be bottled, frozen, dried or made into preserves. The initial planting included: 15 apples, 10 pears, 10 apricots, 16 peaches and nectarines, 3 almonds, 3 chestnuts, 3 mulberries, 5 cherries, 3 pistachios, 10 figs, 2 persimmon, 2 quinces, 3 avocados, 3 white sapote, 3 jujubes, 3 walnuts, 2 guava, 2 olives and 2 loquats. When I chose multiple varieties, as with the 15 apples, I selected 15 different varieties ranging from early to late season, in order to spread the harvest. As well, I included pollinating varieties for those fruits that need cross-pollination. When choosing a fruit tree, it’s important to check whether the variety you like is self-fertile or requires another tree for pollination. Trees grafted with a pollinator are also available for some fruits.

34 May 2018


layout and preparation The orchard block is roughly rectangular with an angled bottom. It is divided into four quadrants by broad paths that allow vehicle access. One quadrant contains the fowl yard and Sherlock the Maremma sheepdog’s pad. The rest is given over to fruit trees. To prepare the soil for planting, we used a cultivator to deep rip the entire area to 50–60cm deep, running parallel with the contour of the gently sloping land. This means if there are any summer showers, the rain soaks along the rips, rather than running away down the hill. The rips were spaced 1.5–2m apart, and we planted in every second rip row. The fruit trees were spaced 3–4m apart in rows, depending on the variety. This relatively close planting means that the trees will be slightly stunted and should not get as big as they would if more space was available, yet they will remain as productive as a full-sized tree. While I’d love to say that all the trees survived and thrived, I can’t. Some died due to the heat and possibly the effects of our salty water or didn’t take to our soils, while others were ringbarked by the geese or snapped off by Sherlock the dog while he was racing around. We’ve reviewed our plant choices and replanted some, while others were swapped for tougher varieties that should tolerate our soil, water and extreme climate. I planted several varieties of avocado, white sapote, jujube and chestnut, yet none were successful. I think the avocado and chestnut didn’t like our salty water, so I plan to try again as we get more rainwater collected from the new sheds. I also planted a total of 100 raspberries, all of which died, and have since discovered that they don’t like the salty water either! I will try berries again down the track when I can water them with stored rainwater.

growing options While we have space to grow lots of individual trees, it’s still possible to grow a selection of varieties with some clever planting methods or smart grafting even if your space is limited. Some are even suitable to grow in containers.



he orchard at Sophie’s Patch contains around 100 fruit trees and is home to our flock of chooks, ducks and geese. Planting the orchard was the first thing we did when we purchased the property, as we realised that it would take several years before the trees even started to fruit, let alone reached full production. Growing our own fruits would cut our food bill tremendously. The settlement of our property came through in late winter, and by careful planning and lots of ringing around I managed to buy 100 bare-rooted fruit trees at the end of the season. We invited 50 friends to come with a spade, gloves and a plate of food to an ‘orchard planting’. We managed to plant the 100 trees in just 90 minutes before enjoying a wonderful shared lunch. A few of the trees ended up in the wrong spot, halfway between rows, and I needed to replant about 10 per cent; however, having this working bee was a great way to get started.


DWARF-GROWING VARIETIES These are trees that are grafted onto a rootstock that limits the tree size. The downside is that sometimes production of fruit is also limited as, while the individual fruit is usually of the same size as on a larger tree, there’s just less of it. MULTIPLE PLANTING This is a planting technique that allows several different deciduous fruit trees to grow in the space that it usually takes to grow just one. Choose two or three trees of a similar type and habit, and plant them with their trunks 15–30cm apart at the base. Each tree can grow on its own root system, so one variety won’t grow more vigorously than the others, as can happen with multigrafted fruit trees. The size of the combined trees remains the same as it would for just one tree, as they stunt each other and in effect grow as two halves (or three thirds) of a single plant. Prune out any limbs that grow from one variety into the space of another. If choosing just one type of fruit, such as apple, you can choose varieties that will ripen at different times, as long as you cover their pollination requirements. Alternatively, you can choose three different types of fruits, provided they are self-fertile, such as nectarine, peach and plum. MULTIGRAFTED TREES In this technique, a number of different trees of the same family (such as citrus) are grafted on to one tree. This can work well; however, a degree of skill is needed to keep all the grafted varieties growing successfully, as they vary in vigour. The more vigorous varieties tend to take over, and the more they are pruned, the more vigorous they become. CLOSE OR HEDGEROW PLANTING This suits a number of fruit trees including apples, pears, peaches, nectarines and citrus. Choose specimens that have a strong central leader, and plant them 1.5−3m apart in a row (depending on the size of the variety planted). Once established, simply maintain the trees at around 3m high by 1.5m wide. Rows are best orientated north–south. ESPALIER Many fruit trees can be grown very successfully on a trellis, or against a wall or fence, as espaliered or fan specimens. This form of training is ideal for apple, crabapple, lemon, pear, plum, quince and stone fruits. To establish and maintain these trees requires rigid

36 May 2018


EASY DO Left Broa the orch and eat f in spring Beware, so cover ringbark

area of ss down ty of eggs ook locks. ng trees, may

keep the birds of

Now that our trees are producing, we have netted the entire orchard in a cage-like structure, as commercial orchards do, to allow for easy access and maintenance. Even in a suburban backyard, it’s wise to net fruit trees to protect them from birds. Net the whole orchard or just individual trees prior to the crop ripening. Choose wildlife-friendly netting that allows pollinators through but is small enough to stop larger creatures such as birds or bats from getting entangled. Keeping nets taut also helps prevent wildlife becoming trapped. Check nets regularly to release any wildlife and remove netting as soon as fruit has been harvested.

training and heavy pruning to keep the tree flat against its support and following the desired pattern. As an added benefit, espalier against a sunny masonry wall that retains heat to create a warm microclimate for cold-sensitive fruit trees such as citrus in cold climates.


beyond the orchard

Outside the orchard I grow a hedge of feijoa (also called pineapple guava), one of elderberry, Chilean guavas, some strawberry guavas and two medlars plus a medlar hybrid. I also have a separate grove of more than 20 citrus, planted in the early spring of 2017. It’s important to get advice from a fruit tree specialist about the best rootstock–citrus combination for your garden. My trees have been custom-grown for me on trifoliata rootstocks designed to survive salty bore water and manage with potentially waterlogged soils. Even with this, we’ve raised the beds to at least 50cm above the original ground level to ensure good drainage. They are planted in the garden beds around our brightly coloured bike wheel arch, where crops of pumpkins and garlic have previously been grown. I plan to grow some pumpkins in between them as they grow. At Sophie’s Patch, I planted the most commonly grown citrus – lemons, oranges and mandarins – as well as limes, grapefruits, tangelos and cumquats.

If you have space, choose early-, mid- and late-season varieties to extend your harvest. To get the most out of your space, especially with oranges and mandarins, plant trees just 2m apart. Choose trees grown on normal rather than dwarf rootstock, as close planting works to dwarf them to 2m high. Close-planted trees are still capable of producing up to 200 fruits per tree per season. This way, they produce most of their fruits in the outer 90cm of the tree canopy. Tip-prune young trees regularly to keep them compact and encourage a good shape. Any vigorous water shoots can be reduced in size in late winter. On established trees, pruning and shaping is best done after harvest in spring. GA

This is an edited extract from Sophie’s Patch, by Sophie Thomson, published by ABC Books, RRP $35. Available from bookstores everywhere and at


May 2018


Q&A time!

All gardeners have questions, and we got a swag of them at our Reader Lunch in February – far more than we could answer on the day. Here’s a selection of queries on everything from planting under citrus to managing nematodes, answered by our panel of experts who attended the lunch. Where supplied, names and suburbs are given.


38 May 2018

Sophie Thomson

Phil Dudman

Elizabeth Swane

Judy Horton



WHAT, IF ANYTHING, IS SUITABLE FOR PLANTING UNDERNEATH CITRUS TREES? Joan, East Gosford, NSW You can do this, but keep it to plants with shallow roots. I suggest annual alyssum, or perennial alyssum ‘Snow Princess’, which both flower over a long period and attract bees and beneficial insects. Small flowering annuals such as pansies or lobelia are suitable, as are shallow-rooted herbs. Try marjoram, oregano or thyme. All of these will do best on the outer edges of the canopy, where they can catch some sunshine. In the shadier spots, try some colourful impatiens. Just be sure to maintain a clear area at least 30cm in all directions from the trunk, so you can keep an eye on the graft union and ensure it remains healthy, while avoiding moisture build-up on the bark, which may encourage collar rot. To prevent damaging the citrus roots when planting, just pile compost on the surface and plant seedlings into that. Phil


WHICH PLANTS DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR SPOTS IN THE GARDEN WITH DRY SHADE? Barby, Wentworth Falls, NSW Here are some classic options to choose from, all of which are clumping plants that will multiply happily, even in dry shade: clivia (Clivia spp.), aspidistra (Aspidistra elatior), hellebores (Helleborus spp.), Japanese windflowers (Anemone x hybrida) and lamium (Lamium spp.), such as Lamium ‘White Nancy’. Elizabeth


WHAT ARE THE BROWN SPOTS THAT APPEAR ON APRICOT TREE FRUITS, AND WHAT CAUSES SHOT HOLES IN THE LEAVES? Christine, Belair, SA Sometimes this is called ‘freckle’, after the spots on the fruit, and sometimes ‘shot hole’ after the damage to the leaves, but it’s caused by the same thing. It’s a fungal problem, and it’s worse in some years than others. If we get a humid, wet spring, it tends to be worse, and some varieties are more susceptible than others. The fruit is still fine to eat, just not as aesthetically pleasing. If you want perfection, apply a copper-based spray at bud burst, but be aware that long-term use of copper is not good for the worms in soil. I don’t spray for that reason, and the same with leaf curl on my peaches, but our climate is predominantly dry, whereas growers in more humid areas may have to spray. Keeping trees strong and healthy improves resistance, although it doesn’t mean you won’t get it at all. Sophie



PELARGONIUMS, COMMONLY CALLED GERANIUMS, REQUIRE ACIDIC SOIL. HOW DO I MAKE SOIL IN A HANGING BASKET ACIDIC? Carolyn, Berry, NSW They’re not really that particular, however if you want to make the soil more acidic, mix in some compost, and mulch with pine needles. Elizabeth


I HAVE A PUMPKIN VINE AND THE PUMPKINS KEEP ROTTING WHEN LITTLE. WHAT CAN I DO? Judy, Riverview, NSW It’s more than likely that the female flowers haven’t been pollinated. Female flowers on plants such as pumpkins and zucchinis have swollen bases that look like tiny fruit, while the males don’t. When they are not pollinated, these tiny fruits brown, then drop off. You can always help by using a small artist’s brush to collect pollen from a male flower, and gently dab it into the centre of the female. This is best done in the morning. Regularly pollinating the flowers in this way will ensure much greater returns. It’s also beneficial to grow flowers among your vegies to attract lots of natural pollinators, such as bees. Keep in mind, too, that pollination can also be adversely affected by very hot or wet weather. Judy


IS IT BETTER TO USE SUGARCANE MULCH OR PEA MULCH AROUND THE GARDEN? These are both great options, so it really depends on what you want from a mulch. Pea straw breaks down fairly quickly – within three months or so – adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Sugarcane mulch takes about six months to break down, and it conditions the soil, but is not as rich in nutrients. If you just want an easy-to-handle, long-lasting mulch for a vegie patch or flower border, choose sugarcane. If you would like to increase fertility, then go with pea straw. Phil


WHAT IS A GOOD EVERGREEN TREE ABOUT 2M HIGH TO PROVIDE SUMMER SHADE FOR HELLEBORES? THE POSITION FACES WEST. Chris, Drummoyne, NSW You really need a shrub that you can prune into a tree shape, so it develops a clear trunk and doesn’t obscure the hellebores. In your area, I’d suggest either a sasanqua camellia or a glory bush (Tibouchina spp.). Tibouchina ‘Noelene’ is particularly attractive, because the flowers change from white to pink and mauve shades, deepening as they age. If you prefer native plants, I would recommend a lemon-scented tea tree (Leptospermum petersonii) or the lillypilly Syzygium ‘Cascade’. Judy



May 2018




CAN YOU TRANSPLANT A MATURE CITRUS TREE EITHER INTO A POT OR TO ANOTHER PLACE IN THE GROUND? IF SO, WHAT ARE THE STEPS PLEASE? Yes, you can. If it’s large, you may need an excavator to get out the root ball. If moving it to a pot or crate, make sure it’s at least 1m in size. First of all, prepare the ground or pot. Enrich the garden bed with compost and aged cow manure, and ensure the new spot is well drained, or use premium-quality potting mix. On moving day, trim the canopy and tidy up broken or snapped roots. Lift the tree from its old hole onto builder’s plastic or hessian strapping, and slide it to its new position. Do not pull or hold the tree by the trunk. Use the hessian or plastic as a sling to manoeuvre the tree into place. Water it in, and give the soil a dose of liquid seaweed to reduce transplant shock. Autumn to late winter is the preferred time, although sometimes you just have to do it out of season. Josh Byrne re-pots a patio lime in our upcoming June issue. Elizabeth


40 May 2018



CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT IS EATING MY ROSE LEAVES? PERFECT CIRCLES ARE CUT OUT OF THE LEAVES, STARTING FROM THE EDGES. Ain’t nature grand! Leafcutter bees clip perfect round or oval sections of leaves to line their nests. Preferring soft, new growth of plants such as roses, wisteria, Robinia spp. and Buddleja spp., the female bee snips a neat, uniform section of leaf with her jaws, and then delicately curls it under her body, securing it with her legs. She then takes flight, off to build her cylindrical nest in a narrow cavity. Even more remarkable is that she makes individual compartments, each containing bee larvae and food, then seals them and repeats the process along the cylindrical nest. Try capturing her leaf-cutting prowess on your phone or other camera. Elizabeth


SINCE MOVING HOUSE, WE HAVE HAD AN ONGOING PROBLEM FOR OVER A YEAR WITH OUR INHERITED CAMELLIA HEDGE, WHICH MUST BE AT LEAST 20 YEARS OLD. THE BRANCHES HAVE BEEN DYING BACK, STARTING AT THE TIPS, AND WE’VE LOST THREE BUSHES. WE HAVE TRIED WHITE CURL GRUB KILLER, COW MANURE, COMPOST, BLOOD AND BONE AND LIQUID SEAWEED. ANY SUGGESTIONS? Elizabeth and Gary, Glenhaven, NSW Have you been doing any concreting nearby? Sometimes, people render a wall or do some other kind of cement work around their garden, then they wash out the wheelbarrow near the tap, which affects any plants that are growing nearby. Camellias don’t like lime, and this is my guess for what’s affected your hedge. The same thing can happen when you put a plant in a new cement pot. Lime can leach out of the cement for quite some time, affecting plants that prefer growing in a more acidic environment. Sophie



WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO WATER FRUIT TREES, SUCH AS NECTARINE AND APRICOT, AND FOR HOW LONG? Phil, Belair, SA The most important thing is regular watering until you’ve harvested your fruit. If they dry out while they have fruit on them, they may drop their crop. The aim is to get water to penetrate 30cm into the soil profile around the root zone of the tree. You need to water once a week to that depth from the time the weather turns dry, which in our state is October. It doesn’t matter how you do it – through drippers, wobblers or a sprinkler – but the key thing is to not let the soil dry out after it is thoroughly saturated over winter. Use your mulches to help conserve moisture, and if you aren’t sure whether you’re watering deep enough, dig a hole after you’ve watered and check how far it’s penetrated. Sophie

I HAVE TWO VERY LARGE NATIVE TREES (AT LEAST 20 YEARS OLD) IN MY GARDEN THAT WERE PLANTED IN A BRICK-WALLED RAISED GARDEN BED. THEY TOWER OVER THE HOUSE, AND TOUCH THE FRONT GUTTERING. SHOULD I GO FOR A SIMPLE TRIM BACK FROM THE GUTTERING OR DO THEY ALSO NEED TO BE TRIMMED ACROSS THEIR TOPS? Sue, Woodbine, NSW The decision may well depend on what species they are and how they respond to pruning. Personally, I’m never comfortable with trees that tower over houses. They may be fine day to day, but it only takes one freak weather event to cause some damage. Without knowing or seeing the trees, the best advice I can give you is to engage an arborist – a tree-care professional – to assess the trees and advise you on how best to manage them. Phil

MY ‘LITTLE GEM’ MAGNOLIA, WHICH IS IN SEMI-SHADE, IS SPINDLY AND SLOW-GROWING. WOULD A BIG PRUNE AND FEED HELP? Yes! Enrich the soil with organic matter, such as compost and cow manure. Spread it on as a mulch, about 5cm thick. Also, apply a controlled-release fertiliser in spring and autumn around the drip line. Increase the watering – give the plant a good, deep soaking once a week. If you want a dense, compact shape, prune the plant regularly, especially after flowering, but ease off pruning once the new flower buds appear. Elizabeth


SPANISH MOSS IS INVADING OUR TREE CANOPIES. IT IS BEHAVING LIKE A WEED IN MY AREA ON SYDNEY’S NORTH SHORE. IS THE HORTICULTURAL INDUSTRY REVIEWING ITS INVASION OR REMOVING THE PLANT FROM SALE? NOTHING CAN GET RID OF IT, AS IT IS UP IN THE TREE CANOPIES. Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), also known as old man’s beard, is a tree-dwelling bromeliad that’s often associated with the Florida Everglades. It can become a weed in Australia in warmer areas with high humidity, and is on the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries weed list. In such areas, it is best grown as an indoor plant or in a shadehouse that is protected from birds (they use it as nest material). Selective pruning of trees may increase sunlight and air movement, which can help reduce its spread. Judy


DO COFFEE GROUNDS HELP VEGETABLES GROW IF FRESHLY SPRINKLED AROUND? HOW MUCH CAN I USE AND HOW OFTEN? Chris, Morisset, NSW Ideally, add the grounds to the compost bin or worm farm, and let them break down. If you don’t have compost or worms, sprinkle them around different parts of the garden each time. Elizabeth


HOW DO WE GROW BIGGER CAPSICUMS IN THE HOME GARDEN? Quite simply, growing bigger capsicums comes down to giving your plants a little more love and attention. Start with good soil prep – plenty of compost and well-aged manure, a tight fistful of blood and bone per plant, and a good pinch of potash. Never let them dry out – they need a steady supply of moisture when forming fruit – and give them an extra feed with pelletised poultry manure every six weeks. Phil


Australia’s Favourite Composting and Worm Farming Solutions



I HAVE A BUNYA PINE, PLANTED FROM SEED, THAT’S GROWING IN A BONSAI POT. IT’S ABOUT 30CM HIGH, HEALTHY AND IS NEVER PRUNED. HOW LONG WILL I BE ABLE TO KEEP IT IN THE POT? Cynthia, Canberra, ACT The art of bonsai, where you create the illusion of a fully grown tree in miniature, is centuries old. A bonsai that’s well cared for will last for decades. Keeping it in a small bonsai pot will restrict the root growth, and trimming the foliage keeps the leaves smaller, too. To maintain the bonsai, remove the tree from its pot every two to four years during late winter, tease out and trim off about a third of the roots, then re-pot into the same container using potting or bonsai mix. Bonsai require very well-drained potting mix and careful, regular watering to keep the roots moist. The best position for these plants is in a sheltered spot outdoors, although they can be brought indoors for a day or two for temporary display. Bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii) is a huge tree in its natural habitat and, given space, it can reach 35m tall and has a lifespan of up to 600 years. The National Arboretum in Canberra has an impressive bonsai collection – its oldest plant is 60 years old.


It’s worth a visit there to pick up some growing and care tips. The Association of Australian Bonsai Clubs is another source. Visit Elizabeth I’M FINDING LOTS OF NEMATODES IN MY ABOVE-GROUND GARDEN BEDS. WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO MANAGE THEM? Helen, Caringbah South, NSW If you are growing food in your raised beds, steer away from chemical controls, as these aren’t safe to use with edible plants. The traditional organic solution for nematodes is molasses. There is a recipe supplied by Jerry Coleby-Williams on the Gardening Australia website ( that is worth trying. It is essentially as follows: Mix 8L warm water with ½ cup blackstrap molasses and 1L full fat organic cow’s milk. This makes enough for a 9L watering can. Water weekly over plants and soil until plants recover. This treatment works by encouraging microbial action in the soil. Other things that you can do are practise crop rotation, which helps prevent a build-up of problems, and increase the organic content of your soil by regularly forking in some worm castings or organic-based, pelletised poultry manure or compost, either homemade or bought. Sophie


HOW CAN I KEEP BRUSH TURKEYS OUT OF MY GARDEN? Grahame, Gosford, NSW Well, this is the million-dollar question! In the spirit of gardening camaraderie, here is what our panel of experts has tried (mostly in vain). The bottom line really is: protect your prize plants with physical barriers, and learn to live with these interesting creatures the rest of the time. They are just after a comfortable home, like the rest of us!

takes the cake: the caller said he installed a life-size, corflute cut-out of himself, which did the job of keeping the turkey out (or should I say, of scaring it away). My question to him was, ‘how did you just happen to have a life-sized print of yourself lying about?’ Turns out he fell in love with a Swedish woman who was here on holidays, and they decided to marry. Sadly, when she went home to tell her parents, he couldn’t get time off work, so he sent her off with his corflute stand-in, decked out in his tradie work gear.

Phil Dudman says Callers to my radio show in Northern NSW have made all sorts of quirky suggestions in the past, from positioning mirrors about the place to give the visitor the impression that this spot is already occupied, to installing small, pop-up, dome-shaped beach shelters to mimic another turkey’s nest. But this one

Elizabeth Swane says Living very close to the bush, we expect the wildlife to visit. Brush turkeys have wandered along the verandah railing, startling our kelpie, but fortunately didn’t stay to build a nest in our garden. Good friends who live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches had an amazing


42 May 2018




Architectural Gabion Australian manufactured gabion mesh Rock Walls Retaining Walls Cladding and Columns


experience where a resident brush turkey removed their entire leaf mulch layer more than 100m down the steeply sloping block to build an enormous nest, 1m high and 2.5m wide. Eggs were laid, and once the chicks hatched, the brush turkeys left the mound of compost and leaf litter behind – ready for the humans to drag back up the slope! When fences were built the following year, the brush turkeys decided to nest in neighbouring gardens instead. Judy Horton says I have tried many deterrents to stop them making huge mounds in my garden. I’ve propped up mirrors on wheelie bins; tried glass-eyed, metal cut-out cat scarers; made a lot of noise and flapping; and even moved their mulch pile to an outer area of the garden. None worked. But it’s worth noting that the following season, the brush turkeys did me a favour. I had recycled some compressed coco-fibre grow bags from a local vegie grower, and the brush turkeys kindly scratched out their contents and spread them around! They are amazing birds, so I’m trying to learn to love them, while at the same time protecting my garden beds with pegged-down chicken wire. GA 8/20 Ricketty St Mascot NSW 2020 (02) 8338-8879 1-800 608 095 ¹IURVWIDEULF ¹ URRW EDUULHU ¹ ZHHGPDWWLQJ ¹JHRWH[WLOHV ¹ JUDVV SDYHU ¹ GUDLQDJHFHOO ermathene founded 1959


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IS BORN words & photography KIM WOODS RABBIDGE

Many of the plants you see in a nursery have a wonderful back story. This is a tale of how passion, skill and serendipity led to a pure white version of Rangoon creeper making it to market


s she lay down the first batch of cuttings a couple of years ago, nursery owner Juna Kebblewhite was feeling quietly hopeful. Several plant breeders had failed to get this pure white form of Rangoon creeper (Combretum indicum syn. Quisqualis indica) to strike in quantities required to develop it for market. But Juna, known as a ‘plant whisperer’ for her ability to tease difficult plants to grow, had been refining her techniques for many years and this was just the kind of challenge she loved. Rangoon creeper (or Chinese honeysuckle) is a versatile plant well known to gardeners in warm climates. Left to its own devices, it will happily climb, but it can also be kept as a shrub, and will thrive in a pot. It’s drought hardy, and pest and disease free. Petite, star-like flowers, which bloom for six to seven months, are borne in prolific clusters. They normally start out white, then turn rosy or scarlet as they age. The plant material Juna was working with came from a plant that produced pure white flowers that stayed white. If they could get it to strike, it would be a beautiful addition to the range of white-flowering plants available to the home gardener. Unfortunately, all of Juna’s first cuttings withered and died.

from little things

Juna and her husband Tony Kebblewhite own the Florabundance Wholesale Nursery on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Tony started the business as the

Grevillea Garden Centre in 1980. Going into the nursery business was a natural career choice for Tony who, while still at school, had borrowed $100 from his parents to buy plants from a nursery, before selling them for $150 at the local markets. After Juna and Tony met, he showed her his propagating houses. Juna wasn’t that impressed with the sea of green and asked, “Where are all the pretties?” A couple of years on, and 80 per cent of the business had changed to growing roses. In 1991, they gave the nursery a more suitable name. Juna learnt about propagating, and began “playing around with plants”. One day, at the nursery, she spotted a seedling among a bunch of brush cherries (Syzygium australe) that was distinctly different from the others. “Tony told me not to bother with it, as it wasn’t what we were growing,” she says. But Juna wanted to see what she could do, and nurtured it for 18 months, keeping it hidden from Tony. What she finally revealed to him was a specimen with shorter growth, and small, vibrant red leaves. It was a winner, and Syzygium ‘Blaze’ became Juna’s first plant to attain plant breeders’ rights (PBR) status, meaning they control the commercial propagation of the plant for a set period of time… no one else can propagate the plant to sell. This was the beginning of a fascinating journey for Juna. She became passionate about learning all she could about propagating plants, sometimes gleaning information from books more than 100 years old.


May 2018



“I look at each plant individually, and I keep good records of where it was, what it likes,” she says. Once you’ve cracked something and it’s making sense, you know what to do, but you can still have a really bad weather event that can cause grief.” Juna spends countless hours tending plants in the ‘prop houses’ at the nursery, and sometimes Tony brings over wine and nibbles to share with her as she works into the night. But when she’s working on her ‘special’ plants, she works completely alone, as her techniques are confidential. “Tony might accidentally share them,” she says with a laugh.

trial & error

The potential for a new form of Rangoon creeper was first spotted in the garden of Kristen Mathews and her mum, Brenda Seabourne, in Burpengary, just north of Brisbane. Kristen had been given a plant by her grandmother, Jessie, which seeded, and after potting it up in 2003, Kristen noted that it had unusual lime green leaves. In 2005, it flowered in a beautiful pure white, and she named the plant ‘Jessie’s Star’ after her Nana, who had died just a few months earlier. Kristen remembers her with affection. “She was very bright, and had a great sense of humour. She was a star.” The white climber thrived in the garden and eventually set seed. Of the hundreds of seedlings that Kristen potted up, none were white, but she managed to get a handful of white plants from root cuttings taken from the original plant. In 2006, in an attempt to breed these for commercial sale, Kristen

46 May 2018


sent cuttings to an expert plantsman in Cairns. None of them struck. Then, leading national plant breeders, who had their own tissue culture labs, took it on. For nine years they tried every technique available to them, but finally conceded defeat. In 2016, on the advice of horticultural friends, Kristen contacted Juna and Tony to see what they could do with this alluring but defiant plant. After her first lot of cuttings died, Juna had a second go. Only half died this time, so she tweaked her methods and tried again. Her third batch had an 80 per cent strike rate. Everyone was ecstatic that this special plant could now go through the necessary process to prepare it for sale.

getting to market

Before it could be sold to nurseries, Combretum ‘Jessie’s Star’ had to undergo a series of trials, and Kristen needed to gain PBR approval. Tony performed all the growing trials, keeping a detailed record of comparative colour charts, assessments and measurements, then lodged a PBR application on behalf of Kristen, which proved successful.

A LITTLE BIT OF MAGIC From far left Kristen Mathews with her mother, Brenda Seabourne, and pets Remy and Denver; ‘Jessie’s Blush’ is another plant that has come from Kristen’s garden; Tony and Juna Kebblewhite at their nursery. Previous page he white-lowering ‘Jessie’s Star’ should be available for home gardens in spring this year.

After years of hard work trying to make her Nana’s special plant available for other gardeners to grow, this has been a thrilling outcome for Kristen. And having had to give up her previous business due to chronic ill health, it has provided her with a new passion that continues to develop. Other plants that have come from her garden are C. ‘Jessie’s Blush’, C. ‘Jessie’s Love’, Salvia ‘Cupie Doll’ and S. ‘Ice Princess’. By spring 2018, gardeners should be able to purchase the beautiful white C. ‘Jessie’s Star’ for their own garden. And next time you see a new plant in a nursery, it may have a lovely back story, too. Maybe not featuring quite so many stars! GA

HIGH & LOW Right he original white-lowering plant on an arbor in Brenda and Kristen’s previous garden. Below Remy plays hide and seek under ‘Jessie’s Star’.


May 2018


At he withJackie

h hooray! W

inter is bare rose time, with their thorny legs and leafless branches. Or you might have a few sparse flowers if you are lucky, sunny and have chosen the few that bloom (a bit) in winter. There is a distinct lack of colour and interest in the rose garden over the winter months except, that is, for the hips. These are the seed capsules of the rose that turn red, orange or even yellow when all the petals have fallen. Rosehips become sweeter and sometimes softer in the winter cold, though they will never be truly soft. They are edible in a ‘pick carefully and cook a lot and you will end up with something delicious’ way. Do not try munching them straight from the bush or you may break a tooth or even get prickles stuck in your tongue or gums. Nearly all roses produce hips, and they range from small to enormous, but bigger does not necessarily mean sweeter or more flavourful. Some of my favourite rosehips come from the wild (and weedy) dog rose (Rosa canina), with its bright orange-red oval hips. They are small and hard, but excellent in cooking. The relatively dingy rosehips of the climbing ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ roses that grow outside my study are good, too.


May 2018


But if you are looking for the fattest, most spectacular hips of all, like small red apples hanging on bare bushes, you probably want to choose a Rosa rugosa or one of its hybrids. My favourites are ‘Alba’, ‘Scabrosa’, ‘Rugspin’ and ‘Fru Dagmar Hastrup’. Rugosas are tough. Many bloom only in spring, or in spring with a lesser repeat in autumn, but those flowerings are stunning and prolific, and the giant red hips a joy. Rugosas laugh at drought once established – they grow and flower even if you forget to feed them, though of course they grow faster and bloom more when treated well. They don’t need pruning, spraying or cosseting in any way. They do best in full sun except in semi-tropical areas, where they do better in dappled shade in the afternoon. Plant them 2m apart, and you’ll have a hedge thorny enough to keep out all but the most determined intruders. Rugosa roses vary from white to red through mauve and pink, usually single but sometimes double. But remember that if you pick too many of the flowers, you’ll get few hips, and after you have tangled with the extremely thorny stems on most varieties, you will probably only pick a few each season. But that gives you the best result of all – gloriously fat hips. GA


In winter, when all the rose petals have fallen, the colourful rosehips left behind are little treats that can be cooked up into delicious recipes, writes JACKIE FRENCH

rosy recipes rosehip tea

A delicious tea that is high in vitamin C 1 cup rosehips, chopped in a blender 6 cups water 1. Place the hips and water into a saucepan and gently bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 seconds. Set aside for 1 hour to steep. 2. Strain, then reheat the liquid. Give the seeds and pulp to the hens or put out for the birds.

sauce eglantine

One of Queen Victoria’s favourite recipes 6 cups rosehips 1 cup white sugar Juice of 3 lemons 1. Boil the hips in as little water as possible until soft (this can take 2 minutes or 2 hours depending on the rose variety). Press through a sieve. 2. Add the sugar and lemon juice, and simmer until thick (1–5 minutes). 3. Serve with roast mutton or any fried food. Or, for something a bit different, serve with ice-cream, or drizzle over cream on a cheesecake or pavlova.

winter rosehip soup

A warming soup for chilly evenings 1 large onion, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 1 dessertspoon olive oil 4 cups rosehips or 2 rosehip tea bags 4 cups boiling water (2 cups if using tea bags) 2 cups chicken stock 1. Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil as slowly as possible until soft. Set aside. 2. Simmer hips until tender (up to 2 hours) or steep tea bags in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool. 3. Reheat slowly and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool, then strain liquid into a bowl. 4. Add the deep red liquid and chicken stock to onion and garlic. Simmer for 2 minutes. 5. Drink with enormous enjoyment.


May 2018



Day ’ Gift Guide



Fiskars PowerGearX Tree Pruners allow you to reach high tree crowns and easily cut through dense bushes, so you can trim overhead safely without a ladder. Its adjustable head and cutting angle up to 230 degrees provide easy, safe, comfortable pruning up to 6m. 25-year warranty.

The Haws One-Litre Indoor Copper Can has a long spout, making it easy to reach plants, and the small, removable, fine-spray rose gives a gentle shower to your indoor garden. It’s beautiful enough to display, yet durable enough for long-lasting use. Presented in a box, it makes an ideal gift.


t: 1800 726 687 w:



If you’re looking for a unique gift, consider the rare Wollemi pine. Plants are delivered in a 150mm pot, carefully packed in a beautiful presentation carton, complete with growing guide, label and certificate of authenticity. This large tree can be kept in a good-sized pot. $99 (usually $169).

The Gardena Premium Multi Sprayer covers all your watering and cleaning needs around the garden with its five spray patterns, which are fine-mist spray, gentle soft spray, bubble jet, flat jet and hard jet. Made in Germany, it comes with a 5-year warranty. Available at Bunnings. $59.99.




Mother’s Day Gift Guide



An intensive treatment for dry, cracked and calloused hands, Plunkett’s NS Working Hands is guaranteed to soften and repair hardworking hands. With its non-slip, non-greasy formula, it absorbs quickly and keeps hands moisturised, even when handwashing. Available from pharmacies. $11.95.

The WaterWhiz 400 Tap Timer features four individually programmable outlets, giving you a wide range of watering options. Perfect for mixed plantings, lawns and water restrictions, it gives you complete flexibility with your watering schedule, whether you’re home or on holidays. $149.

t: 1300 366 833 w:




Quell has a wide range of fire safety products that will help you keep your home and, more importantly, your family safe. The range includes smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers, fire blankets and fire safety kits. Suitable for homes and vehicles. Available from major retailers.

The Wagner FLEXiO 590 Paint Sprayer is the perfect all-rounder for indoor and outdoor projects around the home. This handy multi-purpose sprayer makes painting much easier, leaving less mess, and it’s quick to clean up. It comes complete with two spray attachments. $249

t: 1800 654 435 w:

t: 1800 924 637 w:



Byron Biochar supplies quality Australian-made biochar and wood vinegar to gardeners. Created from sustainably sourced biomass, with no added chemicals, biochar is the perfect soil conditioner for your garden or crop. Wood vinegar is an ideal, totally natural biostimulant for garden plants.

Available in 4 harmonious melodies, Earth, Water, Wind & Fire. Free gift wrapping for Mothers’s Day and free delivery for orders over $100. $65 each or $240 for the set.

t: 0459 175 729 w:

t: 03 5523 3410 w:




Give mum the gift of peace and relaxation this Mother’s Day with a Swingz n Thingz Hanging Chair. Australian-made for more than 25 years, the swings are available in a great range of outdoor fabrics for all weather conditions, and come in different designs for all ages. $195. Free delivery.

Handmade in beautiful, fine, Italian-stitched straw, Julie Fleming hats are classics built to last a lifetime. A wonderful natural colour, this range of hats will work with many outfits, and features wide brims or compact, easy-wear shapes, with an adjustable head fitting. From $149.

t: 0414 551 895 w:

t: 0413 886 720 w:



Now you, too, can dig your garden the easy way. Wherever you would use a spade, mattock or fork, the Power Planter 312 makes the job much easier. It simply attaches to your cordless drill, transforming it into a very effective soil digging machine. Perfect for use in the vegie patch. $89.

Boost the natural growing power of your soil with EcoDust, a volcanic Australian rock dust used to remineralise soil, enhance growth and build natural immunity in plants. Chemical and pesticide free, and safe for animals and humans, it is ideal for edible and ornamental plants.

t: 0423 248 746 w:




The Gardena AquaContour is ideal for irregularly shaped gardens up to 350m². This automated irrigation system has a variable spray range, with programming of up to 50 contour points. Made in Germany, it is covered by a 5-year warranty. Available at Bunnings. $299.

The Thermacell Halo Mosquito Repeller provides odourless, invisible, continuous protection from mosquitoes. It also features a long-lasting 48-hour fuel system, and a Zone Check system that provides a visual indication that the Mosquito Protection Zone is active.




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Hvсt kale Botanical name Brassica oleracea (Acephala group), B. napus (Pabularia group)

A group of annual or biennial plants with green or purple edible leaves. They are closely related to cabbage, but the central leaves do not form a head like cabbage.

Varieties Blue Curled Scotch, Cavolo Nero, Chou Moellier, Dwarf Siberian, Halbhoher Gruner Krauser, Red Bore, Red Russian, Red Winter

Planting & care Kale thrives in a sheltered, sunny spot that gets 3–6 hours of direct sun a day. Soil needs to be rich and well drained, so dig in plenty of organic matter before planting, and mound soil to improve drainage. A soil pH of 6–7 is ideal. Seedlings are readily available at garden centres, but buying seed will give you access to a greater range of varieties. Kale seed germinates quickly, and you can sow them in punnets or directly in the spot you want your crop to grow. To maximise early harvests, space plants 30cm apart initially, then thin to 60cm apart as plants bulk out. Kale crops can continue growing and producing for a year or more, and tolerate temperature extremes once established. Plants eventually grow about 1m tall, and may need staking to support their long stems in windy or wet conditions. Keep your crop well watered and well fed. Apply an organic fertiliser, such as pelletised poultry manure, every six weeks. Look out for the cabbage white butterfly and their leaf-eating larvae. Squash eggs and larvae, or cover crops with exclusion netting to stop butterflies laying their eggs on the leaves.


Harvesting You can begin harvesting leaves as needed in about six weeks. Remove outer leaves first, grabbing individual leaf stalks at the base and snapping them sharply from the main stem.

did you know? A cup of chopped kale has more vitamin C than a medium orange.

Turn to page 66 for kale recipes. GARDENING AUSTRALIA

May 2018



out of

the blue

Blueberries are delicious little morsels of goodness, and they are surprisingly easy to grow in a home garden, writes JUSTIN RUSSELL

getting started In cold, frost-prone areas, the best variety is northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum). This originates in south-eastern Canada and eastern US, where plants grow on the edge of pine forests in moist, acidic soils. Replicate these conditions at home, either in the ground or a pot, and you’re on to a winner. In subtropical and warm temperate areas, where frost is occasional or non-existent, direct your attention to low-chill varieties. These are rabbiteye types (of the species V. ashei), southern highbush types, from places such as Florida and South Carolina, or hybrids. Only 100–200 chilling hours (below 7°C) are required for some of these varieties, and they tend to be slightly more drought and heat tolerant than their cold-climate cousins. In all cases, you need to provide a low soil pH. Around 4.5–5.5 is necessary for highbush plants to


May 2018


thrive, while low-chill types prefer 5.5–6.5. If your soil is only slightly acidic, you probably need to lower it (see Problem Solver box) and if you’re on alkaline soil, grow blueberries in a pot for maximum success. Choose a pot that’s 30cm or more across, and make sure it has drainage holes. Use potting mix designed for azaleas and camellias, which have similar requirements.

care & harvest Two things to note: blueberries like it moist, but not swampy, and pollination needs vary among varieties. Regular watering is essential, especially in dry spells, but good drainage is vital. If your ground is heavyish (but not sticky clay), dig in homemade compost before planting. Don’t use mushroom compost, as it is alkaline. As for pollination, highbush types are often self-fertile but perform better with a partner, while rabbiteyes need a partner to cross-pollinate with, and hybrids vary, so check with your nursery. It’s best to stick to varieties from the same group to ensure bumper returns. Be careful when pruning blueberry plants. Fruit is borne on the previous season’s growth, so all-over haircuts will remove the fruiting wood. The best approach is to cut back entire stems at ground level when they get too tall and spindly. Do this in winter. Fresh, healthy shoots will form at the base in spring, and then flower and fruit the following year. As a general rule, healthy, established blueberry plants can bear 8–10kg of fruit per bush per year. A pair of mature blueberries growing in containers sees you eating berries for brekkie most mornings in summer, while a hedge of up to 10 plants keeps you in breakfast berries, and has enough left over to freeze for winter or swap with the neighbours. GA



lueberries have an enviable reputation in the world of edible plants. They are renowned for being one of the healthiest fruits, high in antioxidants and able to boost serotonin levels in the brain – and they’re delicious! It’s little surprise that they command eye-popping prices – upwards of $80 a kilogram for premium organic fruit. I know some wonderful organic blueberry farmers in places as diverse as southern Queensland and southern Tasmania, and demand is booming. Many growers can barely keep up. Yet in the right conditions, blueberries are relatively easy plants to grow at home, capable of thriving anywhere azaleas and camellias are happy, from far north Queensland’s Atherton Tableland, all the way south to Tasmania’s Huon Valley, and along the southern coastline to Perth in the west.

5 of the best

BERRY DELICIOUS Above, from left Grow blueberries in pots if you have alkaline soil; the small berries grow in large clusters.

‘Blue Rose’ For cold, high-chill climates. Bears fat, delicious fruit from Christmas to late February. Self-pollinating, but produces heavier crops when growing alongside ‘Denise’. ‘Denise’ One of the best high-chill varieties for pot cultivation, bearing heavy crops of large fruit in January and February. Self-pollinating, but team with ‘Blue Rose’ for greater returns. ‘Powder Blue’ Medium-chill rabbiteye. Produces quality, light blue fruit in late summer and early autumn. Semi-deciduous. Plant with another rabbiteye variety for cross-pollination. ‘Sharpblue’ The blueberry to grow where others won’t cut it. Tough and reasonably drought tolerant, with excellent large fruit. Low chill and self-pollinating. Spring harvest. ‘Sunshine Blue’ Compact, self-fertile and low chill. This is an ideal variety to grow in a pot. Midsummer harvest.

At a glance problem solver

common name blueberry

botanic name Vaccinium corymbosum, V. ashei

plant type


fruiting shrub 1–2m 1–1.5m full sun/ semi-shade

potted plants in spring, bare-root plants in winter September to March

The most common issue with blueberries is a lack of vigour despite fertilising and regular watering. More often than not, this is due to a pH imbalance. Don’t fall for the idea that pine needles and coffee grounds can sufficiently lower pH. They help, but to get this down you really need to apply sulfur annually. Birds love to snack on blueberries too, so you need to net your bushes when the fruit starts to colour up. Blueberry rust (Thekopsora minima) is a fungal disease that is present in all states where blueberries can be grown. It appears as pustules on the underside of foliage, which produce red lesions on the leaf surface. Spray with copper hydroxide in anticipation of warm, humid weather in spring.


May 2018



grow your own Australia is rich in native foods that can be home-grown and used in the kitchen. Tasmanian gardener REES CAMPBELL shares some of her favourites, with growing tips and recipes



id you know Tasmania has more than 150 edible native plants? The botanical larder of Australian bush food extends to this little island I call home, which has a long history of people living off the land. I’m fifth-generation Tasmanian and passionate about its environmental wonders. Three years ago I started Murnong Wild Food Garden with my husband, Col, and we now grow more than 115 species. I make a range of preserves, and we eat wild food every day. Occasionally, we host dinner parties of wild food – a truly unique gastronomic experience! It’s incredibly rewarding to know that we are keeping the state’s horticultural and cultural history alive, and giving value to many plants that have long been overlooked. The next step is to organise nutritional analysis, horticultural development and commercial growing of some of the wild species in our garden. If you are interested in growing some bush foods yourself, here are my top 10 to get you started. There’s a mixture of fruits, tuberous roots, vegetables and herbs, ranging from the well-known warrigal greens to the much sought-after native mountain pepper.

60 May 2018


Sea parsley (Apium prostratum) Also known as native parsley, this glorious herb is a perennial prostrate creeper, found naturally just above the high-tide zone on coastal beaches throughout southern and eastern Australia. With glossy, dark green foliage on 1m-long, self-rooting runners, it couldn’t be simpler to grow or use. Try it in your cooking where you would normally use parsley. It produces flower heads that quickly seed without losing the whole plant, and this seed is a great addition to salads or anywhere you would like a salty crunch. It’s happy in full sun in low-nutrient, sandy soils, and will also grow in heavier ground. Sea parsley is a worthwhile addition to the herb garden. There is also native celery or Flinders Island celery (A. insulare), which is only found in the wild on the Bass Strait islands. It has a stronger flavour, and grows to about 1m tall in celery-like clumps. 20–40cm 30–100cm

Warrigal greens (Tetragonia tetragonoides) This is probably our best-known bush food. A tough prostrate creeper, it is indifferent to soil, sun and season, so it grows over much of Australia, but the best flavour comes from plants raised in a watered vegie garden. Warrigal greens (pictured left and right), sometimes called native spinach, can be used in many recipes but should be cooked, due to high oxalate levels in the leaves. 30–50cm 0.5–2m


Water ribbon (Cycnogeton procerum syn. Triglochin procera) Also known as ribbon weed, this water plant was reportedly used by the first Tasmanians as baby food. The bulbous part of the root was baked, then ground and mixed to a gruel. These crunchy white tubers are also great eaten raw, stir-fried or fried as chips. Numerous green seeds, which are produced on tall spikes in spring, are lovely raw or in casseroles or soups, and can be stored in the freezer. In the wild, this plant grows into a large, spreading clump, but it’s easily contained in a small pond. We grow ours in a kid’s paddling pool. 30–60cm 30–60cm

Saltbush (Atriplex cinerea) Locally referred to as coastal saltbush, A. cinerea is the best Tasmanian variety, but there are 61 species in Australia, many with edible leaves and seed. Saltbush is known as a food for sheep, but its leaves are delicious for humans, too. Baked or fried, the leaves are widely offered in gourmet restaurants – they make moreish, healthy vegetable chips that can be eaten as a snack, mixed through mashed potato or used as a garnish on baked meats. Historically, boiled saltbush leaves were eaten as a nutritious, tasty green vegetable. As it is a halophyte (salt absorbing) plant, it should be boiled before eating in any volume to reduce salt content. Seeds from female plants, either fresh or dried, are a welcome addition to dukkas and nut mixes, or ground seed can be used in baked foods. The plant, with pretty silver foliage, grows up to 1.5m, and is easily grown in drier areas. 0.5–1.5m 1–2m

Pigface (Carpobrotus rossii) Pigface is the humble king of wild fruits. Growing naturally along the southern coast of Australia, this prostrate succulent is easy to include in the garden. Preferring full sun, it will spread over a wide area as a groundcover and drape down rock walls, and produces a profusion of bright pink, daisy-type flowers followed by fruit in summer. The bland leaves can be eaten cooked, but the fruit is truly magnificent, with pulp that is a sweet, strawberry-figgy delight. Fruit is excellent in jams and jellies, preserved or eaten raw. I love a simple pigface and blackberry coulis (see page 64). So summery… it’s perfect. Flowers can be eaten, but I prefer the fruit. 20–30cm 1–3m


May 2018



Mountain pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata) Mountain or native pepper is the iconic Tasmanian bush food. A small, subalpine dioecious tree, it is an attractive addition to the garden if kept moist but well drained. It features shiny, dark green leaves and bright red new growth, and is covered with black pepper berries. The leaves, flowers and berries are all edible and very hot! The plant’s active chemical, polygodial, also has antibacterial, antifungal and 1–3m insecticidal properties. 2–6m

Native elderberry (Sambucus gaudichaudiana) This splendid southern relation of the European elderberry is a prolific fruit producer that is harvestable around Christmas. The round, sweet, white berries are perfect, either fresh or cooked, in a range of desserts, and the flower heads are delicious made into syrup or sparkling wine. This is a perennial bush that dies down over winter and then re-emerges in spring, and is similar to rhubarb in habit. Its beautiful bright, light green leaves complement other plants in the garden, and sprays of flower heads serve as an excellent insect attractant. It grows about 1.5m high and wide in a range of habitats, occurring naturally in coastal regions (so it is quite happy in salty winds), and as an understorey plant in sclerophyll bush. As with most fruiting plants, the berries are sweeter and juicier when it is watered, but it is not a highly 1.5–3m demanding plant. 1.5–3m

Native raspberry (Rubus parvifolius) This prickly rambler is often mistaken for a spindly blackberry and pulled out of gardens, but it produces our very own scrumptious raspberry. The fruit is similar to the introduced raspberry, but slightly smaller, and with larger, more differentiated segments. Copiously covered in pretty pink blossom, followed in summer with fruit, this rambler can be tamed to climb a trellis. If allowed to spread, it quickly roots from suckers. Interestingly, this species is also native to Japan. There are many other Rubus species native to Australia, but R. parvifolius is one of the tastiest, and it is very productive and low-care, growing in a range of soils and light. My favourite thing to make with 0.5–2m the fruit is native raspberry and native pepperberry ice-cream. 0.5–1m

62 May 2018


Native wintercress (Barbarea australis) Native wintercress is a nationally recognised rare and endangered endemic species that is left only in pockets along Tasmania’s rivers. This open-leafed brassica is easily grown in vegetable gardens on sandy to heavier soils. It is similar to rocket, with peppery, bright green, spinach-shaped leaves, followed by a spire of edible yellow flowers that rapidly turn to seed. I love it thinly sliced and cooked with grated potato in a pancake, and it’s great in a stir-fry. 30–60cm 20–30cm


more bush foods to try

Spiny-headed mat-rush (Lomandra longifolia) This commonly used landscaping plant is also a versatile and widely used bush food. The white leaf-stem base, pulled up from the centre of the 1m-wide clump, is lovely eaten raw in salads, or slow-cooked in butter as a caramelised vegetable. The flower is edible and high in nectar, and the seed from the female plant is a great nutty addition to baked goods. Preferring poorer soil and full sun, it grows in all climate zones up the eastern seaboard. 1–2m 1m

HERBS native mints (Prostanthera and Menthe species) native thyme (Ozothamnus obcordatus) native rosemary (Olearia axillaris) lemon bush (Baeckea gunniana and Boronia citriodora) TEAS sassafras (Atherosperma moschatum) white correa (Correa alba) running postman (Kennedia prostrata) tea trees (all Leptospermum species) ICONIC SPECIES murnong (Microseris lanceolata) TREE SEEDS wattles (Acacia spp.) she-oaks (Allocasuarina spp.) banksias (Banksia spp.) GRASS SEEDS cutting grass (Gahnia grandis) kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra)

where to buy native bush foods Victoria CERES Permaculture & Bushfood Nursery, (03) 9389 0111, social-enterprises/nursery Queensland Witjuti Grub Bushfood Nursery, (07) 5446 9265, Northern Territory Allora Gardens Nursery, (08) 8984 4006, Western Australia The Bushfood Factory, 0429 678 676, South Australia Reedy Creek Nursery, (08) 8737 2211, au/communities/reedy-creek-nursery New South Wales Sydney Wildflower Nursery, (02) 9548 2818, Tasmania Habitat Plants, (03) 6397 3400,; Plants of Tasmania Nursery, (03) 6239 1583,; Oldina Nursery, 0417 391 417, or get in touch via their Facebook page


May 2018



These are edited recipes from Eat Wild Tasmanian by Rees Campbell, which also includes bush food growing info, maps and colour photos.

pumpkin & water ribbon seed curry This simple, quick vegetable dish is an excellent accompaniment to a range of main meals.

250g pumpkin 1 teaspoon–1 dessertspoon curry powder salt and native pepper, to taste 1 dessertspoon butter ½ cup green water ribbon seeds 1. Slice pumpkin about 2mm thick and layer in a microwave-proof dish. 2. Sprinkle with curry powder, salt and pepper, then dot with butter. 3. Lightly cover and cook on High in a microwave for 3 minutes. Mix in the water ribbon seeds and cook for a further 1 minute. Voilà! This recipe makes 4 small portions.

herb-crusted quail eggs 1 cup rice bran oil 1 handful each saltbush and native parsley leaves, washed, thoroughly dried 20 quail eggs Coating 3 cups fresh breadcrumbs from a good sourdough bread 3 quail eggs, beaten with a little water ½ cup inely chopped fresh or dried native parsley leaves 1 teaspoon native parsley seeds salt and native pepper, to taste 1. Place oil in a small saucepan and heat until quite hot. Fry leaves, a few at a time, for 20–30 seconds. Beware, as they will spit! Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Repeat until all are done, and arrange on a serving plate. Leave oil in the saucepan for frying the eggs.

2. Boil eggs in water for 1½ minutes, then quickly cool under cold, running water. Carefully peel, and set aside. 3. Mix the breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, chopped native parsley leaves, seeds, salt and pepper with a fork. With wet hands, coat each egg with herb mix. Use as little as you can to get a sealed coating. For a crispy, crunchy crust, you can also roll the crumbed eggs in Bush Tukka Dukka (recipe in book – see box). Place eggs on a plate, making sure that they are kept apart. 4. Reheat the oil to hot and fry the eggs, a few at a time, for just a minute or so until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. 5. To serve, cut the eggs in half, to show the layers of yellow yolk, egg white and the green-flecked crust. 6. These are fabulous hot or cold with a range of sauces or chutneys. They are shown here with Magenta Madness Rhagodia Sauce (recipe in book).

250g pigface pulp 250g blackberries juice 1 lemon 150g sugar, to taste, depending on sweetness of berries 1 tablespoon brandy (optional) 1. Using this method, it keeps for at least two months in the fridge Place the prepared fruit in a saucepan, and mash with a potato masher until it’s

64 May 2018


broken up, but still lumpy. Add lemon juice and sugar, and slowly heat to a slow boil, stirring constantly. Using this method, it keeps for only a few days in the fridge Blend all the ingredients using a stick blender. To remove the blackberry pips, press the mixture through a coarse sieve. 2. Pour coulis over any bland dessert. It’s great with ice-cream, sour cream or pies, and brilliant with apple. GA


pigface & blackberry coulis

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 D rills a perfect hole for planting bulbs at the right depth  D igs effortlessly through all soil types including compacted clay!  W  orks effectivley as a soil culivator up to 12 inches deep  Attaches to a standard cordless drill When faced with planting thousands of bulbs at his property in Dural, horticulturist Brian Chapman began searching for a better tool to dig the ground. Trialling all the options, manual bulb planters, small mattocks, spades, tree planters and more, he came across a fantastic invention made in the USA which leaves all the others for dead. The Power Planter attachment goes on your cordless drill and only takes around 3 seconds to dig the perfect size hole for planting your favourite bulbs. And not only is it perfect for bulb planting.. by digging multiple holes in a cluster, you can cultivate a whole garden bed in minutes. More than 20,000 Aussie gardeners are now big fans of the Power Planter and many have said it is the best tool they have ever bought. All I can say is.. give it a go. There is no risk because we even allow you to send it back for a full refund if you arent happy.

Brian Chapman

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I have finally got around to plant a big bag of bulbs with the help of my power planter 207. A breeze! Gerda Aaberg, Gawler TAS 7315

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cokg with...


Kale is delicious, nutritious and versatile, and it's wonderful picked straight from the garden



sesame-soy salmon with fried rice serves 4 2 tablespoons reduced-salt soy sauce 1½ tablespoons mirin 2 teaspoons sesame oil 4 x 100g skinless salmon illets 1 cup frozen baby peas 1 red capsicum, seeded, diced 1 small bunch kale, trimmed, centre vein removed, chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 2 cups steamed basmati rice 2 bunches steamed broccolini, to serve


Combine 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the mirin and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil in a shallow glass or ceramic dish. Add salmon fillets and turn to coat. Cover and set aside in the fridge to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes. Heat remaining sesame oil in a large wok over a high heat. Stir-fry peas and capsicum for 1 minute. Add kale and garlic, and stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until vegetables are just tender. Add steamed rice and the remaining soy sauce and mirin. Stir-fry until heated through and combined. Keep stir-fried rice warm. Heat a chargrill pan or non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Drain salmon and lightly spray with olive oil. Grill for 2 minutes each side for medium, or until cooked to your liking. Serve grilled salmon on the rice, with the steamed broccolini.

2 3

4 66

May 2018








green ginger buzz

serves 1 2 cups baby spinach or kale ½ cup pineapple ½ green apple ½ banana 2 teaspoons grated ginger ½–¾ cup cold water

1 2

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until thick and smooth. Pour into a glass and serve immediately. Enjoy!





Pick me n




kale, vegie & pepita slice


serves 8 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 large red onion, inely chopped 2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed 3 large carrots, grated 2 large red capsicums, seeded, thinly sliced 1 large bunch kale, trimmed, centre vein removed, chopped

18 eggs ⅓ cup reduced-fat milk ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme and oregano) ½ cup grated parmesan 1 tablespoon pepitas 250g punnet cherry tomatoes on the vine


Heat the olive oil in a large, deep, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Saute onion for 5–6 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic, carrot and capsicum, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the kale and cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes, or until just wilted. Set aside to cool. Whisk the eggs and milk in a large bowl. Stir through the herbs and half of the parmesan. Season with black pepper. Preheat oven to 160°C. Lightly spray a 6cm-deep, 22cm x 32cm rectangular baking dish with oil, and line the base and long sides with baking paper. Scatter the vegetables into the prepared dish, then pour over the egg mixture. Sprinkle evenly with remaining parmesan, and top with the pepitas. Bake for 35–40 minutes, or until golden, puffed and set. Meanwhile, place tomatoes on a lined tray, spray with oil and roast for 10 minutes, or until just wilted. Cut the slice into 8 wedges and top with the roasted tomatoes.

2 3


hese recipes come from previous issues of Healthy Food Guide, and are developed in consultation with a dietitian.

Sweet potato Start harvesting tubers (above) after plants have been growing for four months. Dig up the entire crop now and store the tubers – advisable if you get heavy winter frosts – or leave tubers in the ground and harvest as needed. Use a garden fork to loosen soil and expose tubers.

Lime You can pick fruit when they change from dark to light green, right through until they are fully ripe and turn yellow. Test early harvests by giving the fruit a gentle squeeze – they should give slightly. Use secateurs to clip fruit from the tree.

Spring onion Harvest whole onions when they look big enough to use. Pull them out, shake off the soil and trim off the roots. If you don’t need the sweet white section at the base, use scissors to trim off the tops at ground level, and the plants will regrow.

Also in season

••• •• ••• ••• ••• • • •• • • • • • •• • • • • • •

apple avocado banana beans beetroot broccoli brussels sprout cabbage carrot cauliflower celeriac fennel fig ginger grape kiwifruit leek lemon lettuce mandarin nashi pear pak choy parsnip persimmon pomegranate potato pumpkin quince radish rhubarb silverbeet

m o re th a n

50 jobins

to do ion ur act


a month in the


your planner top job

plant japonica camellias



ow that sasanqua camellias and their hybrids (left) are in full bloom, it’s time to be thinking about finding a spot for a japonica camellia or two. They are probably Australia’s best loved winter bloomer, boasting an almost perfect combination of majestic flowers, tidy bushes and dark, shiny, dense foliage, with very few pests or diseases. Thousands of named varieties include single, double and peony flower forms, ranging from pure white to soft pink to full red. ‘Desire’ is an incredibly beautiful double variety that has long-lasting blooms with white to pale blush-pink petals, edged with deeper pink. ‘Lovelight’ is one of the best performing pure white japonicas, with large blooms that continue up to September, while ‘Grand Marshall’ displays large, vivid red, informal double blooms. Japonica camellias bloom quite well in the shade, and actually prefer dappled shade, as they can suffer from sunburn. They make delightful screens and hedges, and grow well in pots. You need to keep them well watered after planting, but once established they are surprisingly drought tolerant. Keep well mulched with a mix of straw and compost, and fertilise with camellia food in spring.

plant brassicas Brassicas thrive in the cooler months. In all but the coldest parts of the country, there’s still time to plant seedlings of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale (above). All are hungry feeders, so dig in plenty of compost or well-rotted manure before planting, and feed them weekly with liquid fertiliser.

IT’S TIME TO... Plant winter- and spring-lowering annuals such as pansy, viola, primula, nemesia, sweet alyssum, dianthus and Iceland poppy Trim summer- and autumn-lowering shrubs to shape as they come to the end of their show Cut back untidy perennials (above), and dig up and divide perennials such as catmint, campanula, aster, salvia, achillea and ajuga Buy potted cyclamen in bloom for indoors and shaded outdoor areas in the cooler months Sow or plant native paper daisies – species of Schoenia, Xerochrysum (below) and Rhodanthe – in full sun, digging in compost and coarse river sand before planting for free-draining soil Choose autumn-foliage plants for your garden while they’re showing their colours Move any frost-tender pot plants to a protected spot Protect new plantings of frost-sensitive trees and shrubs by covering with hessian stockings Transplant evergreen shrubs and trees that are in the wrong place Manage winter weeds as they emerge by hoeing or smothering with mulch


May 2018


your planner care for worms Composting worms eat less as the temperature drops, so reduce the volume of food scraps that you put into worm farming systems to avoid problems with the bedding becoming putrid.

DO IT NOW Gather up autumn leaves and put straight on garden beds as mulch or in the compost Provide a winter food source for birds by planting grevilleas (above) and banksias Plant allium, lilium, delphinium (below), peony and lily-of-the-valley in cool areas Liquid-feed spring-lowering annuals fortnightly with a lower-boosting fertiliser product Re-pot shrubs that have been in the same pot for several years Apply iron chelates to banksia, grevillea and eriostemons if the growing tips are yellowing Look for correas in nurseries while they are in lower Give rock orchids (Dendrobium speciosum) a liquid feed to encourage better lowering in spring Feed polyanthus with a fertiliser for lowering plants, and protect the vulnerable seedlings from snail attack Plant spring-lowering bulbs – May is your last chance to get them in the ground or potted up


May 2018


If you are worried about sour smells coming from your compost piles, it’s time to take action. Bad smells can be the result of too much nitrogen in the mix, an excess of food scraps, too much water or not enough air. The best thing to do is empty all the material out onto a tarp or plastic sheet. It will probably be quite wet and sticky. Mix through high-carbon material such as dry leaves (below), sawdust, straw, shredded cardboard or newspaper. These help to soak up the excess moisture and balance out the excess nitrogen. Aerate the pile by giving it a good turnover with a fork. Let it sit for a couple of days, adding more carbon if necessary, then return it to the compost bin. Avoid wetting the material for a while and cover it to keep the rain out. Whenever you add high-nitrogen materials, such as fresh grass clippings or food scraps, be sure to always balance them out with a load of dry, high-carbon material, and turn the heap regularly to keep it well aerated.


tend to smelly compost

top job

sow or plant spinach


nglish spinach is one of the most sought-after leafy vegetables, and it’s handy having it growing in the garden. It can be tossed into salads, casseroles and curries, or blanched and served with eggs. It thrives in the cooler months and can be planted now in most parts of the country. You’ll find punnets of seedlings available, but seeds germinate readily, so consider sowing them directly where you want them to grow in the ground or in pots. Find a spot that gets at least four hours of direct sun a day, preferably morning sun. Prepare your bed well, removing any weeds and digging over the soil to a fine, crumbly consistency. Mix through some compost and an organic fertiliser, such as blood and bone or pelletised poultry manure. Rake the soil level, lightly dampen it, then sow your seed 1cm deep in furrows 20–30cm apart. As long as you keep the bed moist, your seed should germinate in 1–2 weeks. Thin out excess seedlings, so that your plants are spaced about 15cm apart. Keep the water up to them, and treat them to some liquid fertiliser once every 10 days or so, and you should be enjoying your first harvest in 8–10 weeks. English spinach is a classic pick-and-come-again type of crop, so always pick the outside leaves first, as you would with lettuce or silverbeet, leaving behind enough foliage to support continual growth.

divide clumping plants Autumn is a good time to divide crowded clumps of agapanthus (left), clivia, liriope, spider lily, dianella and other clumping plants. Sharpen your spade, so you get a nice clean cut through the roots. If the soil is hard to penetrate, loosen it first with a garden fork or give the ground a good soaking a couple of days beforehand to soften it up. Your divisions can be whatever size you like, as long as they have lots of healthy roots. Trim any ragged roots cleanly with secateurs before replanting.


May 2018


your planner

IN THE TROPICS Add a splash of colour by planting sweet peas, phlox, marigolds, sunlowers and pansies, and keep them well watered over the dry season for a spectacular display Net ig trees and other soft fruit (above) to safeguard your crop from hungry birds Soak pink shower tree (Cassia javanica) fortnightly throughout the dry season to prevent excessive leaf drop Plant citrus in a sunny, wind-sheltered spot where the soil is well drained Keep planting dry-season beetroot (below), wombok, silverbeet, rocket, broccoli, snow peas and coriander, but don’t delay Spread compost and mulch around fruit trees to help hold in the last of the wet-season moisture Harvest cassava and taro roots, freezing the excess, then replant the tops for your next crop Plant gerberas in pots or raised beds in a spot that gets morning sun, but is shaded from the afternoon’s rays Water native ferns regularly during the dry season, so that they don’t turn shabby


May 2018


lok t! Snails are likely to be out and about chewing your freshly planted vegie and flower seedlings. Gather them from hiding places, such as rocks and strappy-leafed plants, and put out pet-safe pellets.

go easy indoors

As temperatures start to fall, indoor plants use less water, and their potting mix can easily become waterlogged and airless if you water them too often. This may cause tender roots to die off and rot, which can spell disaster for your plants. Monitor your house plants closely over the cooler months, and only give them water when you are sure they need it. The best approach at this time of year is to let the mix dry out before watering. Just do the old pinkie test and stick your finger in the mix. If it still feels damp, don’t water. It’s better to keep the mix on the drier side in cool conditions.

top job

rejuvenate old hydrangeas



ig, old, neglected hydrangea bushes become very woody and over time lose some of their vigour, producing less growth and smaller blooms. This can all be turned around with some serious pruning. Using loppers or a sharp pruning saw, cut back the oldest, thickest stems at ground level. This stimulates vigorous new growth from the base. Then cut out all the thin, weak branches, along with any damaged or diseased wood. All you should be left with is young, strong, healthy growth. Prune back any stems that have recently flowered by about a quarter, to just above a pair of plump buds. These buds will produce flowers. Leave unflowered branches alone, as they’ll also produce flowers next season. Give the bush a deep soaking, then mulch with compost. Fertilise and water in spring.

so w & plant…


asian greens O O O O O beetroot O O O broad beans O O O O broccoli O O O O O cabbage O O O O O carrot O O O O caulilower O O O O O celery/celeriac O O O O coriander O O O O english spinach O O O O garlic O O O O jerusalem artichoke O O O O O kale OOO O  leek O O O O lettuce O O O O O onion  O O O O parsley O O O O O peas  O O O rocket O O O O O silverbeet O O O O

KEY tropical






warm temperate O cold temperate


check for borers Monitor native trees regularly for tree borer, particularly eucalypts, acacias and melaleucas. Look for tell-tale signs such as pinholes and sawdust on the trunk and branches. Poking a piece of wire deep into the holes is all that’s required to kill the pest. If a branch shows signs of dieback due to severe infestation, consider removing all of the affected material, cutting back to a point where the wood is sound and healthy. If you have a large tree in need of attention, call in a arborist. For more on borers, turn to p77 for ‘Grubs anyone?’


May 2018


EDIBLE GARDEN Plant winter herbs including dill, coriander (right) and fennel Reduce watering of deciduous fruit trees, but continue soaking citrus trees during dry periods to prevent fruit drop and splitting Put in place frost-protection measures for tender fruit trees, including mango, banana and pawpaw Sow lettuce, rocket and asian greens in pots, as they grow well in containers during cool conditions Bag and bin diseased and fallen fruit at base of trees Plant strawberries in all but cold areas, and keep them mulched with straw or pine needles Sow broad beans (left) in double rows, 20cm apart Remove codling moth traps from apple trees, and reduce hiding spots for cocoons by scrubbing trunks to remove laky bark and litter from branch crotches Side-dress brassicas and leafy greens with blood and bone or pelletised chicken manure every six weeks

prepare to plant Start preparing holes for planting bare-rooted roses, fruiting and ornamental trees, shrubs and vines, rhubarb and asparagus crowns, and cane fruits such as raspberries (right). These will all be available soon from garden centres and online suppliers, and prepping now will make it easier to plant when you get hold of your new purchases. Choose your spot, and dig over the area to about a spade’s depth and 2–3 times the expected root ball width, then till through a generous amount of compost or aged manure. Water the area well, and keep it just moist while the worms and microbes work their magic. Your new plants will be well pleased when they arrive.

tidy up canna lilies After months of producing gorgeous flowers, canna lilies start to die back in late autumn, so it’s a good time to cut them back and set them up for next season’s performance. Cut spent stems down to ground level, but leave any young shoots, as they will be the first to flower next season. Lift and divide the clumps if they are getting crowded. Mulch around plants with compost and straw, and fertilise in late winter, just before they are ready to start growing again.

Heavy rains and constant watering over summer and autumn can cause the drainage holes in pots to block up, especially if they are sitting flat on pavers or concrete. Blockages like this can lead to waterlogging and issues with rot during the cooler months. The best way to avoid this is to raise the pots onto pot feet, bricks or a few tiles. This will allow excess water to drain away freely.


May 2018



raise outdoor pots





prune espaliered apple An espaliered apple tree is perfect for small spaces, and TINO CARNEVALE shows how to keep it on track 1 KEEP IN CHECK Whippy new growth won’t produce fruit, so this has to go. Cut each stem back to 2–3 leaves to encourage fruiting spurs to develop further down. 2 PINCH OFF TIPS To restrict the growth of the remaining new, shorter stems, pinch off all their tips. This also encourages more fruiting spurs to develop. 3 TIE IT DOWN Use pieces of cloth to loosely tie new growth at the ends of the main branches to the frame. While you’re there, replace old ties where needed.


May 2018



guests&pests Courtship rituals are on display as this oddly named duck enters its breeding season, but interlopers threaten, says LEONARD CRONIN

Len gardens in the Northern Rivers, New South Wales



oadkill is a major contributor to the decline of native animals, especially in rural and urban areas where the roads come close to wildlife habitats. I often see the sad results of vehicle collisions with frogs, reptiles, birds and marsupials. I now have a mental map of the collision hot spots, and approach these places with caution. There are always surprises, however, and one that brought a smile to my face was a delightful encounter with a mother Pacific black duck shepherding ducklings across the road. She flew into a panic as I approached, and her precious ducklings dashed around in all directions. Equanimity was soon restored, and the ducklings fell into line behind their mother to continue their purposeful journey across the road. These ducks are now at the beginning of their breeding season, so this a good time to enjoy their courtship rituals. Demonstrating their fitness, drakes perform complex splashing and posturing displays for the females, who paddle brazenly up to chosen drakes and suddenly take to the air, pursued by desperately quacking suitors. Such provocative games can lead to aerial copulation, even though it is too early to mate. The bonds they form now will last until eggs are laid between June and December. ‘Black duck’ is a misnomer, as they are mostly brown, with a cream face sporting brown stripes. In urban areas you may see paler versions, which are likely the result of introduced mallards breeding with the native ducks. Mallards are more dominant, and depend on permanent waterways to breed. It is feared their genetic takeover will leave ‘mallardised’ flocks incapable of migrating and changing their breeding patterns in times of drought. To preserve the gene pool of our native ducks, it is vital that unwanted pet ducks are not dumped on local waterways. Pacific black ducks are mainly vegetarian, mostly eating seeds of water plants. The sight of them upending their tails as they dabble in the shallows is very endearing. Small crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic insects are also taken, but bread, biscuits and other processed foods are detrimental to their health. Lettuce, spinach, alfalfa sprouts, budgie seed, worms and insects are suitable supplements.


grubs anyone? Borers that tunnel through dying wattles are a valuable resource for the table or fish hook, writes MARTYN ROBINSON


attles are lovely but tend to be short-lived. Some grow to the height of a small tree and look great for a while, but within a year or two of achieving maturity they start to look sick. If you see sawdust emerging from holes in the trunk, it’s easy to think that borers are killing the tree. In fact, the tree was already dying of old age, and the borers are just salvaging the remains for their own use. This also presents an opportunity, as they are delicious! The most common borer of large acacias in eastern Australia is the larva of the poinciana longicorn beetle (Agrianome spinicollis). This big beetle is able to detect damaged or dying trees of a number of species, including wattles and poinciana (Delonix regia), and lays its eggs in them. The eggs hatch into creamy-white grubs that feed on the tree as they tunnel through the trunk, and before they emerge as adult beetles. These are the most commonly used of what are loosely grouped as witchetty grubs in bush food cuisine. Bush food restaurants often pay their suppliers several dollars apiece. Being large, they can be cooked up in a variety of ways, or eaten raw if you can’t wait. Also, freshwater anglers hoping to catch a nice big golden perch or Murray cod regard these as superior bait, so tackle shops often stock them. Grubs stay plump and healthy for a couple of weeks when they are stored in containers of sawdust from the dying tree you found them in, and kept in a cool place. So if you need to remove a dying wattle tree, be careful how you cut it up so you can save the grubs for dinner, or a fishing trip!

Martyn gardens mainly on Sydney’s Northern Beaches

Paciic black duck Anas superciliosa

at eth ?


Have you found something interesting in your garden? Send us a photo and Martyn will ID it. Email with ‘Creature’ in the subject line.


May 2018



treats, tricks TRAINING Training your pet provides enjoyment and stimulation for everyone involved, and strengthens your bond, says DR PETER KIRKPATRICK

eaching pets new tricks and training them in obedience is fun, interactive and one of the best brain stimulations you can give them. (The old saying ‘You can’t teach a dog new tricks’ is not true!) And we’re not just talking about dogs. Our story about Marshmallow the dog-cat (see box) shows how cats can also learn some tricks. Consistent, regular training is one of the best pastimes you can have with your pets, so remember to enjoy their learning experience. Here are the basics.


decide on methods as a household, then practise together until everyone is training in the same way.

how long?

which treats?

Consistent training is important at any age, but you need to make sure that you’re not undoing all your good work by continuing to train when your pet’s attention has wandered, or when she’s too tired. Young animals lose interest quickly, just like children do, so keep your training short and positive. Once her attention has wandered, take a break and try again later. Five-minute sessions are a great achievement. Older animals may get tired quickly, but generally 15–20 minutes or longer of solid training is achievable.

For effective training, use small but high-value treats that are not part of meals or other everyday feeding. It’s best to limit these treats to training time, so your pet looks forward to this time with you. A cooked chook, liver treats and other smelly or tasty foods that can easily be broken up into small pieces are ideal. If your pet is picky, try a paste such as peanut butter, Vegemite or cream cheese in small amounts.

who can do it? The more people in your household who participate in training, the quicker you’ll see positive results and have a pet who listens to more than one person. Commands, cues and rewards need to be consistent from everyone. Pets easily become confused if different words, hand gestures or tones are used, so it’s a good idea to first


May 2018


how does it work? There are a number of different training methods out there, but the method that reliably provides fun and quick results is using treats and voice affirmations as positive reward-based training. Once your pet has mastered her skills, you can slowly stop using treats and simply stick with positive praise.

how much? It is important not to overfeed treats – with their high fat content, this may result in pancreatitis, which is a painful condition. It’s best to use foods that can be broken into smaller pieces. A good measure is to make the treats no bigger than one of your fingernails (little fingernail for small dogs or cats; thumbnail for larger dogs). If your pet isn’t picky, try vegetables such as carrots or peas, or small pieces of apple. GA

TALE FROM THE CLINIC Marshmallow was a two-year-old Siamese cat when he was re-homed with a new family. He was a little bit cheeky, but loved sleeping the day away. His new owners decided he needed mental stimulation, and being a cat didn’t mean he couldn’t learn some commands. They started slowly, introducing a word for food time and another for pats. They then introduced ‘sit’, using a firm hand to guide his bottom to the ground and treating him with yummy salmon. They continued his basic training every day, three or four times a day, for about two months, until he had these down pat. Next came ‘drop’ and ‘roll over’, which was a little harder because he would stop halfway for tummy scratches, and he’s now working on ‘shake hands’. His owners make each session short, fun and varied. They also made sure they had lots of favourite, strong-smelling treats on hand for his rewards. So have some fun getting creative with your cat this weekend!

tips for success


Here are a few tricks to help training work Reward your pet as soon as she responds correctly. Giving her small, consistent rewards every time is the key to a long-term response. If you ask her to sit, as soon as her bottom hits the ground, treat and praise her. Eventually, when she responds every time in a variety of situations, you can wean her off the treats and only use praise. Don’t ask your pet to do multiple commands before rewarding her, or you will end up with a circus animal. ‘Sit’ means bottom on the ground. ‘Drop’ means lie down. ‘Roll over’ means… well, roll over! If you ask her to do all of these commands straight after each other, and then only reward her at the end, this is what she will begin to do every time you ask her to sit. Don’t be tempted to reward half-hearted attempts. If you don’t have your pet’s full attention, and she’s only doing things half way, take a break and try again in half an hour.


May 2018



PHOTOS Y&LETTERS, QUESTIONS Here we share your tips, tales, photos and feedback, answer your questions and identify mystery plants

& QA

Yvonne Hargreaves, Euroa, Victoria

I inherited a grevillea when I bought a unit last September. It was badly out of shape, as it was up against two very old bottlebrushes, which we removed. We cut off all the dead limbs on one side, and quite a lot of new growth has appeared (right). What is the best way to prune it so I don’t lose the wonderful flowers, which the birds just love? It has flowered beautifully since September. precisely the right thing by pruning in spring, as there is a risk that if you prune now, you will encourage soft new growth that is likely to be damaged by frost. Wait until next spring, when you can prune as hard as is necessary to create a more even shape. Look for several healthy new shoots or branches that will grow out to create an evenly shaped bush, then use a nice sharp pruning saw to cut just above these at an angle, so that water cannot collect on the subsequent wound. Be aware that a really hard prune back to a bare stump tends to create a lot of vegetative growth, and so it may be a year or two before that part of the plant starts to flower again.  At the same time as pruning, feed it with a handful of low-phosphorus native plant fertiliser, and water it in well. As the grevillea grows back, you can also tip-prune the new shoots to encourage extra bushiness and even more flowers. Over time, those extra shoots that form will flower at their ends and produce the most spectacular display possible.


May 2018



Angus Stewart says You have done




Got something to say? Share your thoughts, ask a question, slip us a tip and show us your best shots. The pick of the crop each month wins a six-month subscription to ABC Gardening Australia magazine (current subscriptions will be extended).

& QA

Betty Howden, Stawell, Vic

How do I get my potted peony to flower? It gets morning sun and is dying down. I understand they don’t like to be disturbed.

Jennifer Stackhouse says It is tricky to grow herbaceous peonies successfully in containers. Even in the soil, plants can take several years to flower, and they do best in full sun. Plant this peony in the garden during winter when it is dormant. Choose a sunny position, and enrich the soil before planting by digging in well-rotted manure. If this is not possible, plant into a large container (at least 40cm) filled with quality potting mix. Keep root disturbance to a minimum when transplanting, and position the root so the ‘eyes’ (points where it shoots) are covered by only a few centimetres of soil or potting mix. Place the container where it’s sunny in spring and early summer. Water regularly, and liquid feed while it is growing.

PUMPKINS ALOFT Here’s a snap of my grandson, Jamie, standing under the pumpkin arch at my daughter’s house. There are more pumpkins on the vine, hiding behind the leaves.

Jenny Taylor, Hadspen, Tas (letters) (questions) Your Say, Gardening Australia, nextmedia, Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards, NSW, 1590 FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM @gardeningaustraliamag #gardeningaustraliamag

Jenny Taylor, from Hadspen in Tassie, has won a six-month subscription for her photo (left) of her grandson standing under their pumpkin arch. What a great way to grow these space-hungry vegies!

7.30pm Friday April 2018






Your guide to getti + climate-speciic ng started advice

G • • rhubarb • agave • lorence fennel


Jackie French Deciduous or dying? Signs a tree is in trouble

Angus Stewart How to make urban soils safe for food plants

HEAVY CROPPERS I planted two tomato plants this year – Mortgage Lifter and Grosse Lisse. The first has been excellent, with two weighing in at half a kilo each. The other was disappointing, though, as it produced many fruit but they were in miniature.

Muriel Dunn, Deniliquin, NSW


May 2018



& QA

Melissa Rasche, via email

On a recent holiday we saw this beautiful bird of paradise. It was a large plant, and the ‘beak’ was about 30cm long. Truly amazing. Can you tell me more?

Elizabeth Swane says It’s a Strelitzia nicolai or the giant white bird of paradise. It grows to 6m tall and 3m wide. Many nurseries in coastal areas of eastern Australia and Perth stock it, or they can order one for you.

Jo  о


Instagram readers catch autumn rays in their patch…

& QA

daisyjanec snapped this golden orb weaver living up to its name in the reflected sun’s rays, as it was busily catching mosquitoes and flies from around her garden in its web. Meanwhile, rivergardens_axedale celebrated the first day of autumn in her garden in Victoria, where this evergreen Princess magnolia has been planted near one of the ponds – she was looking forward to seeing the tree covered in lots of these beautiful flowers as it grows bigger, and was looking forward to more mellow autumn days.

I have a plum tree in my garden that was healthy last year, but this year all the plums have split and the leaves look dry and curled up. Any idea what could be wrong?

Phil Dudman says Splitting commonly occurs in fruit when watering is erratic, such as when a long dry spell is followed by a soaking. Give trees a regular deep watering during dry periods. The leaves look like they have had a visit from plum leaf-curling aphids. Look for them when the tree produces a new flush of growth, and dislodge them with a sharp spray of water or apply a soap spray.

Jan Hennessy, George, Tas

I bought a bunch of these lilies – most gorgeous flower ever. Can you tell me its name and if I can source a plant?

Elizabeth Swane says These are oriental or double lilies, and this is Lilium ‘Soft Music’. Try your local nursery, or find it online. Good luck!


May 2018



& QA

Ian Sinclair, via Facebook



& QA

Can you please identify this little fellow for me, from my garden in the Adelaide Hills?

is this QA &

Martyn Robinson says This

Regina Rich, via email

is another flower spider, a Cetratus rubropunctatus, and it usually has red flecks on the tip of the abdomen. This species prefers to hunt on the green leaves and stems, but feeds in a similar way to other flower spiders, by a quick embrace with those long front legs, followed by a fast-acting paralysing bite. It’s a lovely-looking spider that’s harmless to humans.

I found this amazing little spider on our sunflowers. Can you please tell me what it’s called?

Martyn Robinson says This is a flower spider in the genus Diaea. Several of these spiders can change colour to match the flowers they are on, so they become camouflaged while they wait for prey such as bees, butterflies and flies. They have very fast-acting venom, as their prey must die instantly in a lifelike pose so it doesn’t attract the attention of birds, which are spider eaters! These spiders are harmless to humans, although they can give you a nip.

& QA

Colleen Hunt, via email

Georgia Finemore, via email

I found this interesting leaf/pupa on our Corymbia ‘Summer Beauty’ tree. Can you tell me exactly what it is?

Martyn Robinson says It is a gall formed by a tiny cynipid wasp. Several insects cause galls on plants. The insect lays its eggs in the plant tissue, and the irritation causes the tissue to swell around the eggs and hatchling larvae, which provides them with a safe place to feed and grow. You can cut them off and compost them – or leave them be, as they do little damage to the plant.

WIN 1 of 15

double movie passes

Starring Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson and Bill Nighy, he Bookshop is a ilm based on the best-selling novel by award-winning author Penelope Fitzgerald. he story centres on a free-spirited and tenacious young widow, who risks her inheritance on buying a bookshop in a small English town, opening up a political mineield.  It screens in cinemas from May 24. Courtesy of Transmission Films, we have 15 double passes to give away, each worth $40, to see The Bookshop. To enter, tell us in 25 words or less what fictitious title you would give your gardening memoir and why. Write your name, address, daytime phone number and entry on the back of an envelope and send to Movie Pass Competition, Gardening Australia, nextmedia, Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards, NSW 1590, or email with ‘Transmission’ in the subject line. Closing date is May 13.


May 2018



take a break! Put the kettle on – it’s time to relax. Solve our puzzle to be in the running to win an Earthlife gardener’s pack

31 across A

WIN a Gardeners Pack

2 down B



across 1. Green seedless grape (7) 8. Common name for Myosurus minimus (9) 10. Deep pink to purple-flowered tree of the pea family (5,4) 11. Edible Arctic lichen, … moss (7) 12. Another name for plantain lily (5) 13. Barb, prickle (5) 14. One or more diamonds (colloq.) (3) 15. Edible shellfish (7) 17. Paul McCartney, for one (3) 18. Garden in which Adam and Eve lived (4) 19. …, vegetable or mineral (6) 22. Lend a hand (6) 23. Rotate, revolve (4) 24. Meat and three … (3) 26. Fragrant shrub with white flowers (7) 30. Hole-making tool (3)


May 2018


31. Popular flowering shrub (PICTURE A) (5) 32. Nest of a bird of prey, especially an eagle (5) 33. Indigenous name of Easter Island (4,3) 35. The Milky Way’s nearest neighbour (9) 36. Fruit of the tree Citrus reticulata (9) 37. Small, simple house (7)

down 1. Hypericum perforatum or … wort (2,5) 2. Orchid of genus Spiranthes (PICTURE B) (5,7) 3. Teetotallers (10) 4. Treat with carbon dioxide (6) 5. These flowers (PICTURE C) (6) 6. Dried milkwort root used as an expectorant (6)

7. Polynesian shrub yielding an intoxicating drink (4) 8. Cantaloupe or honeydew, for example (5) 9. Small indoor plant of the genus Rhapis (4,4) 16. Shrub with citrus-scented leaves (5,7) 20. The yellow-flowered weed, Lapsana communis (10) 21. Plant of the mint family used as a herb (8) 25. Small bomb (7) 27. Sea separating southern Italy from Greece (6) 28. Cure-all, panacea (6) 29. Small jumping insects (5) 30. Sour, bitter (6) 34. Variety of apple, … lady (4)


5 down C

WIN 1 of 10 each worth


give your garden a mineral boost Earthlife ofers a range of fast acting, no-dig, waterwise solutions for easy gardening. Whether you garden on clay or sand, in pots or even indoors, Earthlife products revitalise and reinvigorate your soil and plants for lush growth, vibrant lowers and healthy fruit and vegetables. Gardens and lawns become strong, healthy and resilient, ready to handle the extremes of our climate.

how to enter We have 10 Earthlife Gardeners Packs to give away, each worth $59. Every pack contains a 3kg bag each of Flower Blend, Garden Mate, Veggie Mate and Garden Delight. To enter, unscramble the highlighted letters in the crossword (opposite) and email your answer by May 7 to Put ‘Earthlife’ in the subject line and include your name, street address, email and phone number.

WINNERS Lady Prong (Feb 18) G Boswell, Dover Gardens, SA; B Djokic, Deloraine, Tas; B Jefery, Bracken Ridge, Qld; P Mills, North Albury, NSW; B Mitterfellner, Nicholls, ACT; D Roper, Avenel, Vic

solution C A T E R P I L L A R




April 2018 crossword G E N I S T A O A Y L L T A N G E D U G H E A R A R O N E M U H Y S S E B A L S L D E B C E L O P E R G O W O S A R T E M I S G T C O E Y O H I M


April’s unscrambled word: autumnal

MEET STEVE BALL! He’s the man who messes with your mind each month with his clever clues. his issue marks his 100th crossword for ABC Gardening Australia magazine. Happy 100th, Steve!


May 2018




Earthlife packs

advertising promotion

instore Information from some of our advertisers about their products

relief from aches and pains Do you love gardening but your body complains? All-natural Simply Flower Power Pain Relief & Moisturising Cream (homeopathic) is here to help. Enjoy your gardening without the painful side effects. It is available in health food stores, online or call (03) 5976 2444. Samples can be supplied to readers on request. For more information, visit

grow a rare tree The Wollemi pine is one of the world’s oldest and rarest plants, dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. With fewer than 100 adult trees known to exist in the wild, research is underway to safeguard its survival. You can help by growing your own tree, either in a large container or planted in your garden. Each Wollemi pine is delivered in a presentation box, with a growing guide, label and certificate of authenticity. For more information, visit

enjoy easy pruning Fiskars has combined its PowerGear technology with a unique UltraBlade coating to bring you the PowerGear 2 range. Giving you up to three times more power on every cut, the PowerGear 2 Pruner, Hedge Shear and Lopper are designed to help you slice through branches effortlessly and efficiently. These models are exclusive to Bunnings Warehouse. For more information, visit


May 2018


let Sophie inspire you This gorgeous, inspirational gardening book from popular ABC Gardening Australia presenter Sophie Thomson is jam-packed with ideas, tips, projects and great advice, all based on Sophie’s own garden in the Adelaide Hills. For more information, visit

directory To advertise please phone 02 9901 6101 Email:


Vass Garden Caddy


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May 2018



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May 2018


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Professional Gardening Tools Australia-wide delivery!

Felco Pruners & Loppers

Your own indoor garden Felco 4-$74, Felco 2/8/9/11-$90 Felco 6-$83, Felco 7/10-$108 Felco 12-$104, Felco 100-$108 Felco 220-$240, Felco 231-$240 Full Felco range + spares in stock

Grass & Edging Shears

Telescopic handles Grass - $65; Edging - $65

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High Limb Chain Saw Hand operated high limb chain saw. 1.2m blade on 6m ropes with throw weight. Made in USA. $80

Dramm Watering Products

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Professional US made watering products including wands, valves, nozzles and guns. 61cm classic Over 150 tree & gardening books wand + 400PL head pictured $38

Barnel Telescopic Pole Saws Ideal for high branches and palm fronds. 460mm Samurai steel blades. 3 sizes: 1.8-5m $300; 2.3-6.3m $360; 2.3-7.5m $500

Large selection of hedge shears, loppers and saws! Tel: 02 9417 7751 Fax: 02 9417 7426


May 2018

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May 2018




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MAPLE SPRINGS NURSERY AND JAPANESE GARDENS Specialist growers of Japanese Maples. 250 grafted varieties. Cool Climate Trees & Shrubs, Conifers, Ornamentals & Bonsai (Open 7 days) (Goryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;u Japanese Gardens Open by appt only)


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May 2018






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May 2018




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Move your bins easily, safely, quietly and hygienically Failsafe braking, long leverage and wide track increase safety Handles up to four bins in various conďŹ gurations Third wheel takes the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;tiltâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; load New WheelieSafeâ&#x201E;˘ â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Electricâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; incr independence. Ideal for steep sites with no efort required, just steer! Contact us 03 6225 2622


May 2018




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Free Colour Bulb Catalogue. Quality Imported varieties; new strains Autumn/Spring/Summer Flowering Bulbs Tulips, Dutch Iris, Daffodils, Alstromeria,

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Raspberry Canes

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April 2018


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For details of programs on your local ABC station, call 139 994 or visit



ABC Radio Canberra

ABC Radio Central Coast

ABC Radio Adelaide; 1485 ABC Eyre Peninsula & West Coast; 639 ABC North & West; ABC South East

Saturday 9–9.30am

Saturday 8.30am

ABC Mid North Coast

999 ABC Broken Hill; 1062 ABC Riverland

Saturday 8.30–10am



Gardening Australia is on ABC TV every Friday at 7.30pm and repeated on Sunday at 1.30pm and on iView.

April 13 In the second of our specials from the archives, Jerry Coleby-Williams meets renters who grow much of their own food, Jane Edmanson chats to an architect with hundreds of indoor plants, Sophie Thomson (above) shows how to make a wicking bed, and Millie Ross grows a green seat.


April 20

Wednesday 9.30–10am, Saturday 9.30–10am

Saturday 9am

1233 ABC Newcastle


Saturday 9–9.30am

Sunday 10.30am

ABC New England North West Thursday 9.30am, Saturday 8.30am


ABC North Coast Saturday 8.30–9.30am

ABC Radio Hobart; ABC Northern Tasmania

ABC Riverina

Saturday 9–10am

Wednesday 10.30–11am, Saturday 8.30–9am


Saturday 8.30am

ABC Radio Melbourne; ABC Victoria

ABC Central West ABC South East

Saturday 9.30am

Tino Carnevale helps set up a remembrance garden, Costa Georgiadis visits the kitchen garden of chef Ben Shewry at Rippon Lea Estate, Jane Edmanson meets the team knitting poppies for the centenary of the end of World War I, and Sophie Thomson sees a pool turned into a pond.

Wednesday 10.05–10.30am, Saturday 9.05–10am

ABC Ballarat

April 27

973 ABC Illawarra

ABC Radio Sydney Saturday 9–9.30am

ABC Western Plains Thursday 9.35am fortnightly, Saturday 8.30–9am

Wednesday 6.40am monthly, Thursday 10am fortnightly

1602 ABC South West Victoria Thursday 7.20am fortnightly

ABC Central Victoria

Costa Georgiadis visits a garden in the Blue Mountains, Jane Edmanson gets the lowdown on dahlias, Josh Byrne reacts to a problem pest, Jerry Coleby-Williams discovers a slice of nature on Brisbane’s doorstep, and guest presenter Paul West shares a pumpkin recipe.

Saturday 8.30–9.30am

Ma y 4

ABC Radio Darwin

ABC Mildura – Swan Hill

Saturday 9–9.30am

Tuesday 9.30am

Jerry Coleby-Williams propagates cardamom, Costa Georgiadis visits the productive family farm of Dr Sandro from ABC’s Ask the Doctor, Tino Carnevale prunes banksias, and Josh Byrne visits Perth gardening journalist Deryn Thorpe.

Ma y 11 Tino Carnevale talks garlic, Jane Edmanson plants a hanging basket, Sophie Thomson makes a succulent frame, Costa Georgiadis meets a high-flyer who balances work with garden time, and Josh Byrne gets styling tips for house plants.

Thursday 9.30–10am

NT 783 ABC Alice Springs; 106.1 ABC Tennant Creek Saturday 8.30–9am

Tuesday 9.10am

ABC Gippsland


Monday 10–10.30am

ABC Radio Brisbane

ABC Goulburn Murray

Saturday 6–7am

Tuesday 10.05–10.30am

ABC Capricornia; 630 ABC North Qld; ABC North West Qld; ABC Tropical North; ABC Western Qld; ABC Wide Bay Friday 10–11am

91.7 ABC Gold Coast; ABC Southern Qld Saturday 9–10am

ABC Far North Friday 10–11am, Saturday 8.30–9am

Visit to watch previous episodes of Gardening Australia

594 ABC Western Victoria

WA ABC Radio Perth; ABC Great Southern; ABC South West; ABC Goldields Esperance; ABC Kimberley; ABC North West; ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt Wednesday 2.30–3pm, Saturday 9.05–10am

Download the ABC listen app and listen to live radio streams of gardening programs across Australia. GARDENING AUSTRALIA

May 2018


the big picte

waiting game The annual disrobing of his oak tree stirs a desire in MICHAEL McCOY for a speedier pace of renewal


May 2018


“I’m invariabl y watching for signs of uplift, as subterranean rumblings lead, in da ys, to startlingl y colourful blooms” umbrageous canopy for at least five months. The moment of change is thrilling, in its way, as there’s light beaming into corners that you’d forgotten about. Distant views open up, along with enormous unbroken skies. I love all that. The sobering part is that it’s the last change for a very long time. In spring, there’s a passing show of bulbs, the ‘sparklers of season’ par excellence. In early to mid summer, perennials gatecrash the party, and entirely dominate it. By late summer and into autumn, there’s a slowing, but bulbs, again, are the focus of my daily wanderings. I’m invariably watching for signs

of uplift, as subterranean rumblings lead, within days, to startlingly colourful blooms. But they’re all gone by now. And once the leaves are blown down, it’s months of apparently lifeless monotony. The next significant change will be the arrival of the snowdrops, and depending on the date of leaf fall, that’ll be about 80 days away. Thankfully, as the garden lies dormant, the imagination doesn’t. In the absence of floral action, planning for next season begins, and anticipation pops up in places you didn’t know you’d planted any. GA Michael blogs at



s a gardener, I’m addicted to change. My ideal garden would present some new and fresh excitement every time I wandered out into it. Well, maybe not every time. That might be asking too much. But at least once a day. Change, of course, is messy. Whether it’s the falling of leaves, or the dramatic decline of ornamental grasses that bolt from ground level to 3m tall each year, or even the dying leaves that linger after daffodils have flowered, gardens that celebrate change are hard work. Unfortunately, for all my willingness to live with the consequences of a spectacularly seasonal garden, there are very few moments in the ebb and flow of my particular climate that allow for the rate of change I crave. This month my garden experiences the most dramatic change event of the garden calendar, often overnight, when a high wind leaves our deciduous trees completely leafless. The grand old oak that billows up on the front lawn and dominates the view from nearly every point in our little valley is skeletonised, and we’re left without its protective

Growing Australian gardens for over 70 years. At Tesselaar we only send plants that are garden worthy, plants that we have trialled and tested to ensure they meet our high standards and yours. We are so sure of our products, we offer a full money back guarantee on everything we sell. We search v>À>`Ü`iÌw`ÌiLiÃÌ«>ÌÃvÀÞÕÀ garden, then we package them with care so they arrive safely at your door, no matter where you live in Australia. We send seven seasonal, full colour, free catalogues each year. We also offer additional online specials and limited release rare plants. Our friendly staff are always happy to help out with your garden questions. All our products are accompanied by detailed growing instructions and tips to help you along your way to creating the most beautiful garden for your home.


r in g








er 17

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Profile for ankhang

Gardening australia may 2018  

If you read magazines back to front, as I often do, you have already seen Michael McCoy’s column and know that where he lives, in country Vi...

Gardening australia may 2018  

If you read magazines back to front, as I often do, you have already seen Michael McCoy’s column and know that where he lives, in country Vi...

Profile for ankhang