Real World Gardener Introduction to Garden Styles in Design Elements

March 12th, 2019


Garden Styles: Introduction to Federation, Modern, Formal and French ProvincialStyles of Gardens.


How well do you know your garden history in Australia?

For example when did the Federation garden style begin and end and when did the Modern garden style begin and end?

What were the components of the Federation style?

Let’s find out a little bit about each style.

I'm talking with Danielle Collier from Artistic Horticulture


Garden styles have a long history, much longer that we might think.

Formal gardens for example have their origins in Persia all those centuries ago.

What does it mean for us gardeners?

Well we can embrace a style for our gardens which will in the end give us immense satisfaction.


For Federation gardens, built features such as fountains and gazebos were important. (Pictured)


If you have any questions either for me Danielle why not write in to

Real World Gardener How To Make Natural Soap on The Good Earth

March 12th, 2019


Making Your Own Natural Soap

Soap making is an ancient art, but did you know that you can make your own soap at home? 
Soap making is an art form where the potential ingredient combinations are practically endless. 
Homemade soaps use natural skin-nourishing components such as Almond Oil, Grape-Seed Oil, Macadamia Oil or Margaret's favourite is Coconut Oil.

 These handcrafted soaps are enriched with vitamins, minerals, and beneficial oils that won’t’ dry out your skin like store-bought soaps have a tendency to do. 
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at making soap, listen to this. 
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska from 
There are so many dried herbs that you can use to infuse your own soap with. 
Lemon Verbena, Rosemary, Thyme are just a few that you can start with. 
Steep the herbs in your favourite oil for several weeks and then strain off.
There are a few critical steps you need to watch for such as watching the temperature of the caustic soda and only putting the soda into the oil and not the other way around. 

The recipe is important so go to Margaret’s blog to check it here:Making Natural Soap

This is an extract from Margaret's web page on making soap

Recipe ingredients for a soap made from olive oil (this is the “cold” soapmaking process):

  • 1000 grams olive oil (plain or scented with garden plants – see the link above)
  • 135 grams caustic soda crystals. If you want more moisturising soap, add 5% less
  • 380 grams water (= 38% of oil weight)

If you have any questions either for me or for Margaret, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Beautiful Banksia in Talking Flowers

March 12th, 2019


Banksia species

Australia isn't overwhelmed with different types of Banksias.

Banksia is a genus of only around 173 species in the plant family Proteaceae.

All but one occur naturally only in Australia.

Breeders have hybridised many more, think Banksia 'Birthday Candles.'



The flower heads are made up of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of tiny individual flowers grouped together in pairs. 

The colour of the flower heads appear very similar across many species. 

Think a honey coloured brown with some red.

Banksias are great for nectar feeding birds because they flower over autumn and winter when food is scarce for them.

The fruits of banksias (called follicles) are hard and woody and are often grouped together to resemble cones. they're not cones of course because Bankias aren't conifers.

In many species the fruits won't open until they have been burnt or completely dried out.

  • An easy way to release seed is to place the 'cone' in an oven at 120°­140° C for about an hour. 
  • The follicles then open and the seeds can be removed with tweezers. Two black winged seeds are usually found in each follicle.

Real World Gardener Cooling Birds Nest Ferns in Plant of the Week

March 12th, 2019


 NEW  Birds Nest Ferns

  • Asplenium nidus is an epiphytic species of fern in the family Aspleniaceae, native to tropical southeastern Asia, eastern Australia, Hawaii, Polynesia, Christmas Island, India, and eastern Africa.

Ferns are great for shady places in the garden where not many flowering plants will go.

But do you think of ferns as a tad boring?

They’re just green right?

Wrong. Ferns come in all shapes and sizes, with so many different frond shapes and a little variation in colour as well.

But here’s a fern that’s traditionally too big to consider for indoors unless you have a conservatory, now available in a dwarf form too.

Let’s find out why we should grow it.


I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of the

Asplenium nidus 'Crispy Wave'

Jeremy grows a lot of birds nest ferns in different frond shapes and sizes.

Some of these are dwarfish and can be used as indoor plants.

Why not look out for these in your local nursery or garden centre.

Asplenium 'Crispy Wave' or Asplenium' Chrissie' and Asplenium 'Victoria.'

Real World Gardener Scentuous Frangipani part 2

March 12th, 2019

Frangipani Culture part 2

Last week I had part 1 of the interview with the President of the Frangipani Society of Australia.

Anthony had so much to say it was necessary to split it over two weeks.

In this part, you’ll discover quite a few extra tips and growing frangi’s as they’re known by members, and how to get them to flower well.



Let’s find out. I'm talking with Anthony Grassi from the Frangipani Society of Australia.


LIVE: Anthony Grassi_13th February 2019

General Tips:

Frangi's can be transplanted in winter when they're dormant.

Reduce the canopy by 50% because you will have to reduce the root system prior to moving the tree.

Frangipani seeds last 5-6 years but some can last upwards of 10 years before planting.

Sow the Frangi seed in seed-raising mix and stand the seed up. The fat end goes in first.

In warm temperate districts, the frangipani will flower 2-3 years after sowing the seed. In the sub-tropics it may be as little as one year.


Frangipani rubra flowers photo M. Cannon

Colder climates will take around 5 years or more.

They now are a FB society so you can join their FB page, but if you join the society, you get to also join the financial members FB page as well as receive a lovely calendar, CD and tips on how to grow the best Frangipanis ever.


If you have any questions either for me or for Margaret, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Gorgeous Lisianthus in Talking Flowers

March 7th, 2019


Lisianthus: Eustoma grandiflorum (syn Lisianthus russelianus)

Praire Gentian is one of its common names.

How to grow 


Seeds are as fine as dust particles, and the need light to germinate.

When you sprinkle this dust onto the seed raising mix, barely press them into the soil.

Then just cove them with a fine layer of vermiculite and mist with water from a spray bottle.

Preferred temperature range for germination is (21-24°C).

It takes 5 months from seed sowing to flowering.

Once plants are growing keep the soil most. Plants get stressed at temperatures over 29°C

Grows well in pots and prefer full sun.

Prairie Gentians are heat loving plants that flower best where nights are warm.

If you live in a climate with rainy, humid summers., then grow something else, because you'll have difficulty keeping these flowers going in your garden.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini from about how best to keep the vase life of Lisianthus going.

Mercedes mentions tips about how to choose the best lissies from your florist or flower seller.

Real World Gardener Lovely Ctenanthe is Plant of the Week

March 7th, 2019


Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii

Some plant names are meant to confuse but botanists persist in them remaining. The reasons are varied but it often is because of what family it’s in, where it came from and because once upon a time, a botanist declared that it looked like horses hooves, or a dolphin’s snout.

So here we have a great plant, the Ctenanthe but with a name that just isn’t that attractive.


Ctenanthe Burle-Marxii

It's pronounced:  Ten- An-Thee

No, don't ring up Jeremy and ask for ke ten-an-thee.

I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of the

Ctenanthe is sometimes called the ‘never-never’ plant, but nowhere can I find why?

It’s much hardier than it’s cousin Calathea that looks similar but with thinner leaves.

Both of these plant types like to be warm, so unless you live in the tropics or sub-tropics, it’s an indoor plant for you.

If you have any questions either for me Jeremy why not write in to

Real World Gardener Beautiful Frangipanis and Their Secrets Part 1

March 7th, 2019

All About Frangipanis Part 1

What’s new in Frangipanis?

Q. I have a leaf here that doesn’t look great? 

The green in the centre has gone white and there’s white fluffy stuff, maybe scale? What do you think?


Mite Damage on Frangipani leaves

A: this is typical mite damage on the leaves seen an Frangipani and Camellias as well.

The treatment is Natrasoap spray to which you can also add Neem Oil.

Available from

I'm talking with Anthony Grassi from the Frangipani Society of Australia.

Q. It’s been so hot but my Frangi’s aren’t flowering what can be done and is it too late?

 A. When Frangipani are still relatively small, often every second year is a resting year, so they don't flower. Especially if they're in a pot, flowers will be bi-annual. 

It's only when the Frangipani is a mature tree, that you see yearly flowering because they have enough leaves to carry out the photosynthesis needed for lots of flowers.

The exception is when there is a micro-climate and the plants are pampered with high potash fertilisers.


Frangipani Society of Australia
 are now  a FB society so you can join their FB page, but if you join as a financial member, you get to access another FB page as well as receive a lovely calendar, CD and tips on how to grow the best Frangipanis ever, plus seeds for you to grow some new varieties of Frangipanis.


photo M. Cannon


Real World Gardener No Shade for Outside Dining in Design Elements

February 21st, 2019


No Shade For Outside Dining

Summer has been hot, really hot, and we want to cool off.

In the evening, things cool down a bit, but the sun stays up late.

So what do you do if just outside the back door where the outdoor dining setting is, it’s still really stinking hot?


Peter's Sea Changer Garden


You sit outside for a little while and then you can’t stand it anymore and retreat inside.

So what can you do to fix that? Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer

You could make yourself a shade hut or a dining canopy.

Or if you want a pergola, grow a deciduous climber on it that will drop it’s leaves in winter so that you can enjoy some winter sun.


Designer Peter Nixon ‘Clifton’ Masterclass on Sydney Cool Subtropics Gardens

7 Woolwich Road, Hunters Hill, 10am – 11.30am

Wednesday 1st May, 2019

for L’Arche 4 Australia


Peter Nixon’s home work garden ’Sea-Changer’ will open free on Saturday 4th May, 10am till 2pm at 21 Lavinia Street, Forresters Beach on the Central Coast an hour’s drive from the Wahroonga on ramp. See Garden Lovers & or Instagram at Designers midday ‘Walk & Talk’ & 1 page hand out for exciting names of plants in flower and or foliage on the day.

Real World Gardener Lemon Balm as Herbal in Plant of the Week

February 21st, 2019


Lemon Balm as Herbal

Herbs are a great addition to any garden even if you’re just growing them in a pot or trough.

They’re useful plants to have because they tend to be used almost daily throughout the year in our cooking.

This is one herb that’s not talked about too much when Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme are mentioned.

I'm talking with Simone Jeffries, Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist .

Let’s find out …


Lemon balm is also used for insomnia, cold sores, indigestion, and heartburn

In essential oil form, the scent of lemon balm is said to reduce stress.

Lemon balm makes a great calmative tea. 


Put 5-6 leaves in boiling water and let steep for 5 minutes.

Sip before bed-time for a restful night's sleep.

Grow it from seed if you don’t know someone who can give you a piece.

Remember Simone’s tip, grow it in a pot if you don’t want it taking over your garden.

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