Real World Gardener Winter Care of Ornamental Plants in Plant Doctor

July 11th, 2018


Winter Care of Ornamental Plants

Ornamental plants are those whose leaves, flowers and fruits we don't eat.

Autumn is meant to gently acclimatise most plants to the cold.

What if Autumn is just an extension of Summer and then, whoosh, cold weather arrives all too soon and it's winter?


Snow damage on Eucalypts

That is one reason that during winter some of our trees and shrubs don’t look so healthy and gardeners start getting concerned that something is wrong with their particular plant.

Unsuspecting gardeners might even think that their plant is dying because the leaves have started dropping of, yet it’s supposed to be evergreen.

Could it be just a response to cold weather or is something untoward happening in the soil that is affecting the plant’s health?

Let’s find out.. 

I'm talking with was Steve Falcioni, General Manager of

The leaves can change colour due to the cold, and it may be just a normal reaction or because the plant can't access nutrients that it needs.


Frost Damagon Avocado. photo Dept of  Primary Industries W. A.

If you make a note in your garden diary that a particular plant did this or that in winter, you may discover that it’s quite normal during the cold months of the year. 

Seaweed extracts help plants reduce stress factors and one of them is coping with the cold.

Applying it regularly though is a must for this to be of benefit.

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 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 Favourite Camellias in Plant of the Week

June 28th, 2018




Camellia japonica 


Camellias originate in China and Japan and if you’ve never grown one, it’s time to start looking at those flowering in people’s gardens and in nursery and garden centres to choose one of your favourites.

Soon you will have a long list of favourites and find it difficult to narrow it down to just one or two.

I asked the plant panel this question, and let’s see what they came up with.


Camellia japonica Lovelight

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


 Favourites mentioned are : Easter Morn; Lovelight, Mrs D. W. Descanso, Betty Cuthbert, Bob Hope.




 Camellias prefer acidic soil so if you like to grow Azaleas and they’re successful in your garden, why not add a backdrop of Camellias or two. 

If you’re short on space, Camellias make good subjects for espalier too.

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 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 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 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


Real World Gardener NEW Ajuga is Plant of the Week

June 7th, 2018


Ajuga reptans " Ruby Glow"

Carpet Bugle

Do you want a ground cover that suits shade, still flowers and provides plenty of colour?

William Turner, a 16th century physician and naturalist described it as ‘It is a blacke herbe and it groweth in shaddowy places and moyst groundes.’-


Ajuga reptans Ruby Glow

This can only be Ajuga reptans.

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

Let’s find more about it

Not only does Carpet Bugle cope with shade but it copes with sun as long as it gets sufficient watering.

It's great as a weed suppressing ground cover because it tightly hugs the ground and creeps along very lightly to form a dense cover.

If you want extra plants, simply divide the plants in Autumn and either pot up straight away or place in another garden location.

Nobody knows why it’s really called Bugle flower , it’s one of botany’s mysterys.

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 Lilacs in Talking Flowers

May 31st, 2018


Syringia vulgaris: Lilac

We all love the Lilac but all can't grow it.


Lilac is a deciduous medium to tall shrub. 

Highly fragrant flowers appear to cover the bush Spring.

What Lilacs Like:

Prefers good, rich soil in cooler districts but not clay soils; prefer sandy, gravelly soils. 

Tolerant of lime, resents acid soils.


Lilac Shrubs in Vienna: Photo M. Cannon

The Story Behind The Name

The story of lilac, according to Greek mythology, begins with a beautiful nymph named Syringa (lilac's botanical name). Captivated by her beauty, Pan, the god of the forests and fields, chased Syringa through the forest. Frightened by Pan's affections, Syringa escaped him by turning herself into an aromatic bush – the flower we now refer to as lilac.

In A Vase:

Lilac flowers can last up to a week in the vase if you singe the bottom of the stem.

Because of the sap in the stem, it's best not to mix with other flowers in the same vase.


Real World Gardener Useful and Beautiful Fence Concealers in Design Elements

May 31st, 2018


Plants to hide that fence

Are you the sort of gardening that doesn’t think too much about the look of the fence?

Perhaps you’ve had the fence so long that you’ve gotten used to the idea of looking at it without realizing that it’s really an eyesore.


Montanoa hibiscifolia: Mexican Tree Daisy

It’s really important to conceal the fence for a few reasons.

You may remember that last week I said, no-one is saying “ my garden looks too big.”

Plus it’s not all about climbers, climbers climbers, to hide the fence.

Let’s find out. 

That was Peter Nixon Garden Designer and Director of Paradisus Garden Design.


Hiding the fence will make the garden look bigger.

So, Peter mentioned

Viburnum odoratissimum “Dense Fence” or Viburnum odoratissimum “ Quick Fence.” if you’re wanting a free standing shrub.

Mexican Tree Daisy or Montanoa hibsicifolia

For Cool Temp districts:

Prunus lusitanica - Portugese Laurel Prunus laurocerasus - Cherry Laurel 

  If you have a question either for me or Peter, why not drop us a line to


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