Real World Gardener Tree Selection in Design Elements

July 5th, 2018


Tree Selection


This series is about arboriculture and managing trees.

Perhaps some people are put off trees because they can drop heaps of leaves and sometimes a branch or two, or fall over in storms.

But there’s a reason for that.

"For the trees in a landscape to grow, thrive and survive the test of time, many factors need to be considered when you are choosing the trees for your garden. "

Probably something we already know, and that is trees are an essential part of our landscape and according to the CSIRO, trees will clean air and are the lungs of the planet. 

Let’s find out who to call? 

I'm talking to Arboriculture Consultant and Landscape Designer, Glenice Davies.

When choosing trees you need to consider what you want out of a tree?

  •  evergreen or deciduous?
  • shape and habit
  • how big will it grow?
  • size of the roots.
  • flowering and/or fruiting?
  • life span
  • what maintenance is involved?

Research shows that people experience more deaths from heart disease and respiratory diseases in urban areas where the tree had been removed than from those urban areas where trees were still allowed to grow.

Still want to get rid of those trees?


Cloud pruned trees, England. photo M. Cannon


If you have any questions about tree selection or have a suggestion why not write in or email me at


Real World Gardener Native Lasiandra in Plant of the Week

July 5th, 2018


Melastoma affine: Native Lasiandra: Blue Tongue


If you’re into your gardening and love the colour purple for flowers and perhaps fruits or foliage, then this little gem might surprise you.


The reason is that it’s native to Australia but looks just like it’s exotic cousin from South America.

Let’s find out about it.



I'm talking with Karen Smith editor of


Because this plant is indigenous to Australia, there are pollinators that can visit this plant successfully, unlike the Tibouchina which it resembles.

Here's how they do it.

Funnily enough, Melastoma produces no nectar - giving pollinators large amounts of pollen instead, which must be extracted through pores on the anthers.

The flowers are pollinated in the wild by carpenter bees - the Giant Carpenter Bee and the Metallic Green Carpenter Bee - they grab hold of the stamen (the bit that holds the pollen) and give it a good shake.

Introduced Honey Bees can't 'buzz pollinate' - they don't have the ability or technique to vibrate their wings while clasping the stamen.

So, they can only gather pollen if it has been already released onto the petals.


That’s why you’ll never see fruits on a Tibouchina but will, on a Native Lasiandra. 
Worth getting for that reason alone.

If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Winter Care of Citrus in Plant Doctor

June 28th, 2018


Citrus Winter Care

Are you wondering “what’s wrong with my citrus tree?” right now.

Perhaps the symptoms that you’re seeing now seem to happen every winter?

If that’s the case, then you’ll need to listen in closely to this next segment which is just about that.

Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, general manager of


Steve offered quite a range of things to do for your citrus tree.

Firstly though, you need to assess your tree to determine what’s going on with it.

The number 1 problem to look out for is scale.


Citrus scale ( white louse scale) will cover the stems, twigs and branches of your citrus tree in what looks like fine shredded coconut that has tuck fast.

To treat this problem spray with Eco Oil making sure all surfaces are covered well.

Spray again a week later as a follow up spray.

If it looks like nothing's happened try flicking off the scale with your finger. Live scale easily flicks off, whereas dead scale sticks fast.

If the scale problem is so bad that the oil spray doesn't seem to be working, then go for a lime-sulphur spray. Winter is the only time for this one on citrus.

Some districts that have warmer weather all year round need to hang a pheremone trap to control citrus leaf miner. 

The moth lays its eggs into the leaf where the larvae feed and finally tunnel out created leaf distortion and silvering.

One things for sure, and that is there’s no point in spreading granular citrus tree fertiliser around the tree in winter.

There is next to no if any, uptake of nutrients from the fertiliser because the tree isn’t in active growth, (unless you’re in subtropical areas) and the fertiliser won’t break down to release the nutrients because of the lack of microbial activity in the soil during winter.


If you have any questions either for me or Steve, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Red Rocket Bottlebrush in Plant of the Week

June 21st, 2018


Callistemon x citrinus "Red Rocket"

Bottlebrush "Red Rocket"

Segment produced and presented by Lewis Beere and Hugh Mandalidis.




Callistemon Red Rocket has bright red new growth and only grows to 1.5 metres high and 1.5 metres wide.

Perfect for pots and low borders. Like all Callistemons, they suit sun or part shade and cope with all types of soils.

Once established, (give it at least a year), it will tolerate dry conditions and light frost.

Bottlebrushes are also not bothered by too many pests and diseases.


If you are after low maintenance then this is one of those plants.


Start of fertilising it with a slow release low phosphorus fertiliser to help first establish the plant. 


Although it can cope without too much fertiliser, if you want lush foliage, it's best to follow up with the occasional reapplication of fertiliser.


Mulching around the base of the plant will help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Plant Breeder: Ian Shimmen




Real World Gardener Choosing A Focal Point in Design Elements

June 21st, 2018


Choosing a Focal Point

Today RWG’s garden designer Peter Nixon is taking a look at focal points in the garden.


Natal Flame Bush

At this time of year, when trees are looking bare, and perhaps there’s not much to look at in the garden, it’s a good time to assess what you have and what you could improve.


Plumeria Pudica


Focal points are some plant, whether it’s a tree or a shrub a water feature or a statue, that draws the eye and gives the garden some sense of design. 

How do you know what to choose, especially these days when we have smaller gardens?

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, Director of Paradisus Garden Design.


The small trees mentioned were Plumeria pudica-the evergreen Frangipani, Synadenium grantii rubra or red south African mild bush; Alberta magna-the Natal Flame Bush for cool temperate to warm temperate regions or don’t go past the double flowering Crabapple-Malus ionensis plena. 


If you have any questions about growing small trees for focal points or have a suggestion why not write in or email me


Real World Gardener Winter Garden in The Good Earth

June 21st, 2018


Winter Gardening and Crop Rotation


How well do you know your plant families?

Did you know that you shouldn’t plant veggies from the same plant family in the same spot year after year?


Created by Margaret Mossakowska


That’s all part of crop rotation which means of course you need to know your plant families.

There’s good reasons for practising crop rotation, but what if you only have enough room for a couple of veggie garden beds, what does a gardener do?

Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska, director of and Permaculture North Course coordinator.


PLAY: Preparing for winter veggies

Soon you’ll be saying things like Brassicas, Solanacea, and Fabaceae with ease and know what veggies belong to these families. 

If you don't have much room and only have one area for a veggie bed, you can still divide it into four sections and follow crop rotation.

Otherwise, planting in pots is an alternative especially for the Solanacea family; the recommendation being wait 5 years before replanting any veggie from this family.


Brassicas: cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi

Allium: shallots, onions,garlic,

Solanaceae: tomatoes, chillies, capsicums, potatoes

Fabaceae: beans peas, snow peas,

Margaret’s tip to fertilise your garden is to use your homemade compost. and add things like chook poo, or other organic fertilisers.

If you have any questions either for me or Margaret, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Crocus, in Talking Flowers

June 14th, 2018


Crocus vernus ( Dutch Crocus), Crocus sativus.(Saffron Crocus)

In the Iridaceae family


The latin word crocatus, meaning saffron yellow, gives the Crocus flower it's name. 

The crocus is the first to flower in Spring, although in some districts its Jonquils.

Looks like a light bulb so some people call it the light bulb flower.


 Growing Crocus

Plant crocus bulbs 8-10cm  deep (with the pointy end up).

Plant dormant bulbs in Autumn.

Crocuses needs a period of winter chilling, and will not persist long in warmer areas. Dormant Crocus corms require 6-8 weeks chilling in a refrigerator before planting out in warmer areas. Crocus are best treated as an annual in warmer areas.


Did You Know?

It takes 165 crocus flowers for 1 gram of expensive saffron spice. Saffron is the stigma (female flower part) of saffron crocus but you can grow.


I'm talking with Floral Therapist, Mercedes Sarmini of


Real World Gardener Pittosporum Tasman Ruffles in Plant of the Week

June 14th, 2018



Pittosporum " Tasman Ruffles"

Pittosporum tenuifolium "Tasman Ruffles."


Are you interested in a screening hedge that can grow to a metre a year?

This next plant has varieties that have delicate lacey leaves that are contrasted by that very dark coloured bark. 


The genus comes in a variety of shapes and sizes from quite small and almost self hedging to the larger screening shrubs.

I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith editor of

Let’s find out more about them


Originating in New Zealand, these plants are pretty hardy and even second line salt tolerant.


Pittosporum Golf Ball 

Jeremy also grows Pittosporum Golf Ball, which grows into the size of a basketball.

This pittosporum is ideal because it's practically self shaping with the internodes being much closer than you would expect to see on a pittosporum.


Pittosporums are generally tough plants but there is one exception though.

If you’re trying to grow a pittosporum on the shady south side of a fence in just half a metre of soil next to a pool, be prepared to be disappointed.

The bottom half will lose its leaves and you’ll eventually see them die off one by one.

This is the experience of a neighbouring garden which is little more than pool, these poor pittosporums and a patch of lawn.

If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Gardens Fit For a Magazine

June 14th, 2018


Steve's Garden On Show

Have you ever wondered how gardens are chosen to feature in gardening magazines?

Well, it all starts with a photo.


Steve's Garden photo Brent Wilson

Perhaps you’ve sent in a photo of your garden to a magazine editor hoping that they would think it worthy enough to come around and photograph?

If you haven’t, and you have such a garden, then it may just be timely to start taking photos, then choosing some of the best ones to send in.

RWG contributor from the Plant Doctor segment did just that.

Let’s find out how it came about.

I'm talking withSteve Falcioni General Manager of

PLAY: Steves Garden_ 6th June 2018


Steve has a rooftop garden in the inner city of a major city, so it’s subject to many plant unfriendly conditions like strong winds, blazing sun or cold hard shade.

Over time time with the correct plant choices, and possibly some bad ways along the way that got turfed, Steve managed to create a suburban oasis.


Steve Falcioni’s rooftop garden shows he’s mastered the art of gardening on concrete (Photo credit – Brent Wilson for ABC Gardening Australia magazine)

Steve mentioned Aptinia cordifolia, Ficus pumila. Tracheospermum asiaticum, as ground covers to protect the potted plants behind. 

When asked if Steve ever grew Dichondra repens " Silver Falls," he said that because it went " off" ( looked tatty) during the winter months, it wasn't appealing enough to keep.

There are also indoor plants featured in this garden in a light filled apartment.

If you have any questions either for me or Steve, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Pot Marigold in Talking Flowers

June 7th, 2018


Calendula officinalis: Pot Marigold

Calendula derives from the Latin calendas, 

The reason is possibly because the plant flowers every month even in winter where temperatures aren’t too low.

The petals are edible and can be used fresh in salads or dried and used to colour cheese or as a replacement for saffron.

A yellow dye has been extracted from the flowers

You can toss them into a salad or soup; the taste is tangy and the bright colour enhances food.

Growing Calendula1-Calendula%2Bpotted%2Bcolour.jpg

Sow direct or in pots after the last frost has passed.

Companion Planting

Calendula repels a number of bad nematodes in the soil, but may attract slugs. 

Plant with tomatoes and asparagus.

Where will it grow?

Calendula grows best when sown directly into the garden. It tolerates any type of soil and will grow in partial shade to full sun.


Calendulas will do well in almost any soil, and semi-shade as well.

Calendula takes well to pot culture, and is easily grown in a variety of pots and window boxes on a balcony or deck.

I'm talking with florist, Mercedes Sarmini of


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