Real World Gardener English Garden Designers in Garden History

July 5th, 2018


English Landscapes and How They Changed Australian Gardens.


Why did the first settlers try and emulate the English garden in such different conditions is easy enough to answer?


Stowe, England photo M. Cannon

They wanted a home away from home, much like peoples from other nations choosing to have quite different gardens.

In Today’s garden history segment we look at those first English influences and why they’re still relevant today.

I'm talking with Stuart Read, committee member of the National Garden History Society of Australia., which you can join or attend one of their meetings by the way.

David Jaques has written a book on English landscapes that Stuart recommends.

When Australia was being settled the "beautiful" or English "landscape" style was dominating garden design as it had started to do from the 1700's.

This was basically faked up landscapes that were intended to look like the real thing.

Funnily enough, 220 years later, they do look like the r"real thing," because the trees have grown into what the landscaper had intended.

Landscapers like Capability Brown started this revolution in garden design as seen in the photographs of Stowe, where he first started the trend.


Stowe, England, photo M Cannon

The most famous landscapers of that time were Capability Brown, along with Charles Bridgeman, William Kent, and later Humphrey Repton.

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


Real World Gardener Recognising Historic Gardens

April 26th, 2018


There are a lot of heritage items in Australia that get commemorated by a plaque but how many gardens get the same recognition?



Probably only a handful and these are not even well known. 

So the Garden History Society started to take note of some historic gardens and with a local council in Sydney, are recognizing that it’s not just built spaces that make up the fabric of history.

Let’s find out about some of these.

I'm talking with Stuart Read, Garden Historian and committee member of the Australian Garden History Society. 




These 'garden plaques' celebrate famous gardeners and notable gardens. 

 Does your local council have a garden plaques program?

If so let us know so we can give them a shout out. 

The Australian Garden History Society has branches in all states and the A.C.T. which arrange local activities and act as advocates for issues which are of interest to the society. 

For further information contact


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


Real World Gardener Australia’s Oldest Garden in Garden History

March 16th, 2018


Camden Park Estate

Have you ever wondered how gardens became established during colonial times?

You might be surprised that there were even catalogs of plants that grew in many large colonial gardens.

It’s a real treasure and rare to discover that a historical garden complete with dwelling is still around, but to find such a place that has remained with the same family is even rarer.

When you hear that growing in the garden is one of Australia’s trees, then you have an enticing combination.


Camden Park Estate Pic: Creative Commons

This estate is so interwoven into Australia’s Colonial history, that it would be unthinkable that it would be developed into blocks of apartments.

Let’s find out how this garden estate continues.

I'm talking with Stuart Read, committee member of the Garden History Society of Australia.

PLAY:Camden Park Estate_7th March 2018


Stuart mentioned that you can view the old plant nursery catalogues online.

The website is

The Hortus (which is a collection) attempts to correctly identify, describe, illustrate and provide a brief history of all the plants grown at Camden Park between c.1820 and 1861.

You can also just look up when a certain plant came into cultivation in Australia.

For example the Hoop Pine entry in the Hortus reads


Hoop Pine Araucaria cunnimghamiana

Pic: Tatters @ Flickr


“‘Grows naturally in warm temperate riverine and costal rainforest or as a pioneer in subtropical forest, on poor soils from the Macleay River in N New South Wales to Townsville and offshore islands including New Guinea, occasionally close to the seashore. Widely grown in the nineteenth century in public parks and gardens; now rarely planted in SE Australia. […] The timber, grown in rainforest plantations in N New South Wales and S Queensland, is used mostly for plywood, but also for joinery, furniture and boat-building. More recently this species has been used experimentally for agroforestry.’”


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


Real World Gardener 10th February Stunning Hong KOng Orchid Tree is Plant of the Week

February 23rd, 2018


Bauhina x blakeana: Hong Kong Orchid Tree


We love our orchids because of the spectacular showy flowers, which can seem tricky to grow.

What if they were easy to grow and you didn’t have to fuss about the growing medium or the fertiliser?


Bauhina x blakeana: Hong Kong Orchid Tree

Would you want that? Of course.

Let’s find out .how.

I'm talking with Karen Smith editor of


Bauhinia_blakeana%2Bsingle%2Bflower.jpgThe Hong Kong orchid tree was discovered by a monk in the 1800’s then propagated and grown in the Hong Kong Botanic gardens. 

The residents there thought it was such a lovely tree that it was planted out all along the coastline.

If you live in the tropical parts of Australia, say Darwin, then expect to see this tree in flower from February right through to November.

If you are planting from seed you can expect your Bauhinia to flower from a year to two from when it was a seedling.

If you have any questions about HK Orchid tree either for me or for Karen, why not write in to


Real World Gardener Sweet Williams in Talking Flowers

November 24th, 2017


Sweet William

Sweet William

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)  is a species of Dianthus native to southern Europe and parts of Asia which has become a popular ornamental garden plant.

Sweet Williams flowers are in the Caryophyllaceae family.

Sweet Williams are herbaceous biennials or short-lived perennial plants growing to 13–90 cm tall, with flowers in a dense cluster of up to 30 at the top of the stems.

Each flower is 2–3 cm diameter with five petals displaying serrated edges. 


Mercedes recommends that you strip the leaves off the stalk before putting in a vase with water only midway up the stems.

Flowers should last 6 - 10 days in the vase.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of


Real World Gardener Carnations for Love in Talking Flowers

November 9th, 2017



There are a lot of meanings for the carnation flower and each one varies with the different colours.

The scientific name of the carnation is Dianthus caryophyllus.

This translated means the "flower of love" or "flower of the gods" and one of the oldest cultivated flowers in the world.

The carnation dates back to the Roman

Carnations take up food dye very well so that the green carnations you see people wearing on St Patrick's Day is dyed that colour.

Carnations are easily grown in the home garden preferring limey  or alkaline soil.

Home grown carnations have a stronger scent than those grown in greenhouses.


All the more reason to grow your own.

I'm talking with floral therapist Mercedes Sarmini of Flowers by Mercedes


Real World Gardener Poppies for Remembrance in Talking Flowers

October 19th, 2017


Poppies for Remembrance

Poppies were given the official title of Remembrance due them growing en masse in the fields where thousands of soldiers perished in WWI

Mercedes has an interesting anecdote about how you can make your dreams come true.

All you need to do is to whisper your dreams into your hand with the poppy seeds before sowing.

When the poppies grow and flower, your dreams shall come true. Let's hope.


Some of the most widely used grown types of Poppies include the Papaver somniferum ( only by licence because that's the Opium poppy), Papaver orientale, and Eschscholzia californica or Californian poppy.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini from


Real World Gardener Australian Garden Idea in Garden History

May 25th, 2017



The Australian Garden Idea

Australians love to travel, more so now than ever before.

Often in our travels we love to see other gardens, whether in passing or on purpose.

We might fall in love with a particular plant of group of plants or we might want to copy a particular style.

In the early days of Australia, a lot of gardens were influenced by gardens overseas, particularly England and Europe, but more recently the influence has shifted to Asian gardens like Bali or Polynesia.


Australian Garden entry Chelsea Flower

Show photo M Cannon

So then you have to ask the question, what makes an Australian garden?

Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Stuart Read, Landscape Historian and on the National Management Committee of the Australian Garden History Society.


PLAY: Australia Garden Idea_17th May 2017

Australia’s amount of sunlight, type of soil and drier climate has meant that we’ve had to adapt garden design so that it can survive.

Stuart says Australians want to produce the look, but what that is, we're not quite sure of.

Does a garden have to have Australian plants to be an Australian garden? Possibly.


Australian Garden entry Chelsea Flower

Show photo M Cannon

However many European plants blend in quite well, and these days, Plant Breeders in Europe are growing new or different forms of Australian plants and shipping them back to Australia.

Minimalism has been in vogue for the last twenty years in Australia, however, Stuart points out that it was actually started in the mid 17th Century by Georgian gardens.

Of course gardens in Tasmania and Victoria can emulate the English garden reasonably easily, to the envy of northern gardeners.


If you have any questions what makes an Australian garden or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 and I’ll send you a packet of seeds.


Real World Gardener NEW Garden History an Introduction

March 30th, 2017

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.


The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition. WHAT IS GARDEN HISTORY ALL ABOUT?

Introduction to the Garden History Society

Many people might consider that Australia is too young a country to have historic gardens.

I daresay that's true when compared with England where there are beautiful gardens as featured in this photo, which I took when visiting a few years ago.


photo M Cannon

However,, there is a Historic House Trust in Australia, and with them there are historic gardens.

Some of them have fallen to neglect and some have been restored or are in the process of being restored by members of the "Garden History Society."

So it would seem that there are indeed many historic houses in Australia, and there are plenty of early 20th century houses which would look so much nicer with a complimentary garden.

There are also hidden gems in our country which aren’t normally open to the public, so how can we see them.

Let’s find out what the "Garden History Society" is and how we can see hidden gems..

I'm talking with Stuart Read, Landscape Historian and member of the national management committee of the

There are branches around Australia of the Australian Garden History Society, but you don’t have to be a member to go along to one of their talks, activities or events.

If you have any questions about the History of Australian gardens, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


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