Real World Gardener Who Was William Guillfoyle?

June 7th, 2018


William Guilfoyle

How’s your garden history knowledge?

You may have heard of Gertrude Jekyll, an Australian Garden Designer of some note, but have you heard of William Guillfoyle?


Melbourne Botanic Gardens' Volcano planting photo : Stuart Read


Possibly not, but this next segment is about to change all that.

Why are we talking about William Guillfoyle?

Because first and foremost, he had a lot to do with making Melbourne Botanic gardens the beautiful space it is today.

Let’s find out some history

I'm talking withStuart Read committee member of the Australian Garden History Society.


William Guillfoyle was not a botanist, but a horticulturalist, so had a different view of how a botanic garden should be presented to the public.

He came from a family of nurserymen/women and first worked in his parents' famous " Exotic" nursery in Double Bay.


Melbourne Botanic gardens volcano planting photo : Stuart Read

The Exotic nursery was one of the major nurseries in Sydney from the 1840's and imported thousands of Fuchsias, conifers, and ferns

. Plus it also had collections of Australian plants grown from seed collected on expeditions.

Guillfoyle was Director of Melbourne Botanic Gardens from 1873 - 1910

Plus, William was responsible for making available all those Jacaranda seedlings which now make Sydney and many regional centres so popular with Jacaranda tours in November.


If you have any questions either for me or Sotuart, 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 NEW Basil in Spice It Up

December 27th, 2017


Herb: Basil

At one stage the Greeks and Romans believed the most potent basil could only be grown if you sowed the seed while ranting and swearing. basil-lots.jpg

This custom is mirrored in the French language where semer le baslic (sowing basil) means to rant.


Try crushing a Basil leaf and think of cloves.

It should surprise you that they have similar aromatic notes because they both contain the volatile oil, Eugenol.

This means that they complement each other.

Ian suggests sprinkling a pinch of cloves into your pasta dish along with the herb Basil for a different take.

Basil can be used fresh or dried in cooking.

Basil%2Bin%2Bpots.jpgDried Basil is sold as "rubbed leaves,' and has a slightly different flavour profile to fresh Basil.

The top notes are missing but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it in coooking.

Dried Basil is used at the beginning of cooking so that the flavour can infuse, generally only taking around 10 minutes.

Growing Basil

If you live in arid or sub-tropical regions you can sow Basil in late august in a mini greenhouse or indoors, but otherwise you can sow right through to December which is the best time to sow Basil seeds. 

The seeds are best planted at soil temperatures between 18°C and 35°C

If your Basil starts to flower, pick the flowers off to prolong the life of your Basil plant.

For something different when not try sowing cinnamon Basil or Lemon Basil or even Holy Basil, that is the true sacred basil that is grown in houses, home gardens and near temples all over India.…



If you have any questions about Basil either for me or Ian, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Australian Waratah in Talking Flowers

November 17th, 2017



Telopea speciosissima

What does the botanical name mean?

Speciosissima is the superlative of the Latin adjective 'speciosus', meaning 'beautiful' or 'handsome'. Telopea means seen from afar.




Waratah (Telopea) is an Australian-endemic genus of five species of large shrubs or small trees, native to the southeastern parts of Australia (New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania). 

The one we see walking in the bush is the red flowering version and is also the NSW state emblem.

Grows to 3m tall. 

Can be tricky to keep alive in the garden.

If you've tried to grow a Waratah, make sure it has great drainage.


Dreamings about the Waratah focus upon the tragic consequences of lost love. 

Two Wonga pigeons live together in a rich, lush forest. One day the female bird notices her mate is no longer by her side, so she searches for him, calling out for him. She cannot find him, so in a panic she flies above the canopy of the forest where a hungry and ever-vigilant hawk sees her and, swooping down, grabs her and clutches her in his sharp talons. She manages to wriggle free and plummets down, finally falling onto a white Waratah blossom, her blood staining its petals to red. From then on, Waratahs are generally red; it is very rare to find one that is white.


I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of


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 The House and Garden at Glenmore Book Review

November 18th, 2016


The House and Garden at Glenmore

author Mickey Robertson.

Imagine a ramshackle set of buildings dating back to the 1850’s set way out on the outskirts of a big city.

No garden, but plenty of land.


Imagine also your partner or husband coming home and telling you that he’s just bought such a property.

What would you do?

Let’s find out ..'[m speaking with author of The House and Garden at Glenmore Robertson

Glenmore House was once a dairy farm and when Mickey's husband came across it 28 years ago, it was a collection of once dilapidated buildings.

These buildings took time to restore and in the book, Mickey describes the long process.

Mickey wrote the book in 1 month, working every day fro 10 hours.

Being an inveterate compiler of lists she was able to draw on them for the names of plant material and order of things.



Ideas for the garden came from notable famous gardens like Sissinghurst in England but the garden isn't entirely English.






Not only does Mickey provide heaps of plant information in this book but there are gardening tips along with 30 seasonal recipes, including that recipe for cumquat Ice-cream.

Next time there’s an open day at Glenmore, we should make an effort to go and visit. You won’t be disappointed.

You can catch up that segment by listening to the podcast

If you have any questions Glenmore house, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW



Real World Gardener Grains of Paradise in cooking in Spice It Up

October 13th, 2016

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. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website


grains-of-paradise.jpgQuite a few hundred years ago pepper wasn’t so available so it was really expensive.

So what did spice merchants do to get the most out of this rare commodity?

They adulterated it with this Grains of Paradise, a particular spice that was considered inferior to pepper.

Now the tables have turned and this spice is the rare commodity and  it definitely isn’t used to bulk up your pepper corns.

Let’s find how to use it.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, owner of and author of the Herb and Spice bible.

The Grains of Paradise plant looks just like a Cardamom plant with those mid green strappy leaves. The main difference is that the flower stems are  hidden down inside the leaves.


Grains of Paradise plant

Grains of Paradise is still wild harvested and no commercial way of growing the plant has been formulated.

Although Ian recommends using Grains of Paradise in slow cooking, there are recipes on the web which suggest you can rub the ground grains onto your steaks, kebabs and fish before throwing them on the Barbie.

There’s even recipes which include the grains in marinades for vegetables, fish and chicken or in a lemon vinaigrette.

If you have any questions about Grains of Paradise or have some recipes to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Update Your Garden With Different Shapes of Plants in Design Elements

August 19th, 2016

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

The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.


Updating Your Garden with Different Shaped Plants.

Have you updated the flower colour in your garden yet?  Or are you considering putting in some grasses, or strappy leaved plants with coloured foliage?

Are you thinking about moving some plants for a fresh new look?


Here’s something you mightn’t know or realise, and that is: a single species can have different leaf shapes over the life of the plant.

In fact, some can have different leaf shapes on the plant at the same time.

Mt Tomah Botanic Garden photo M Cannon

For example, gum trees have different adult and juvenile foliage. That’s complicated enough, but what about the shape of the plant itself?

Good garden design takes the shapes of plants into account.

Did you know that you can update your plants using just the shape of the plant?

What does that mean?

 Let’s find out….I'm talking with Garden Designer Louise McDaid.

Blenheim Palace garden, England. photo M Cannon

As Louise said, if one of your garden beds could look a bit better, think about introducing a different shaped plant, one with perhaps a vertical shape, like the ornamental pear, or a lollipop on a stick.P

erhaps a fountain shaped plant will fit the bill, like a weeping grass with stripey foliage- such as variegated Miscanthus.

Lots to ponder when thinking about updating your garden.


Real World Gardener Inspired Red Borders for Gardens-in Design Elements

February 5th, 2016

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.


Hidcots UK Red Border. photo M Cannon

People like to visit gardens to overseas because without looking down our noses at Australian gardens, some of these gardens are really really big, and really really old.

The size of gardens in England for example that I saw this year, was mind boggling, even awesome. But what can visitors get out of these gardens, because they seem to be just too big, with too much to take in.

Well, you can take inspiration from these gardens if you just select one part of them.

This month, Louise and I have been undertaking a trip to a few of these gardens for inspiration.

Listen to the podcast. I'm talking with Garden Designer Louise McDaid

The red border at Hidcote was one fairly small part of the overall garden.

Hidcote in the Cotswalds in England which has a famous Red border , two long wide borders flanking a stretch of lawn – backdrop of tall green clipped hedge behind each border.

 The Hidcote borders have red foliage and red flower plants combined with green.

Structure and height is given by small trees – red leaf Japanese Maples – lovely shape and delicate leaf texture.

In Australia Acer palmatum Osakazuki has brilliant autumn colour – to around 4m tall.

Acer palmatum Sango Kaku (coral bark maple) know for bright red stems so attractive when not in leaf. 

Hidcote Red Borders Photo M Cannon

The border is made up of shrubs, strappy leaf plants and grasses – many of them with red leaves – and perennials with red flowers such as dahlias (which can have red leaves too!)

But it was a section that could easily be re-created in any garden, even a native garden. What did you think of the plant choices? Are you inspired to plant out a few more red plants-red leaved plants that is in your garden.

Not bright red, but the deep reds of maples and some of the strappy leaved plants.


Real World Gardener Inspired Gardens-Scampston in Design Elements

January 23rd, 2016

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.


According to the Telegraph in the UK, Piet Oudulf is the most influential garden designer of the past 25 years.
Not just one of them, but THE one!
The article goes on to say that Piet has redefined what’s meant by the term ‘Naturalism” in planting.

Naturalism’s the exact opposite of clipped hedges and neat structured rows of planting.

Prior to Piet’s designs, Naturalism also tended to mean looking a bit wild, in the way of a wild meadow that you might come across somewhere in the UK.

Scampston UK Photo: M. Cannon

Not terribly wild by Australian standards.

No wonder the owner of Scampston Manor employed him to restore their garden which had been in the family for 900 years.

What an inspirational garden.

I'm talking with Garden Designer Louise McDaid

Naturalistic planting can be appealing, and look quite tidy, if not hard to photograph.

Just follow the type of plants that Piet Oudulf recommends, and also the ones that Louise suggested to substitute, because we can’t get them all here in Australia.

In the Perennial Meadow Piet Oudolf uses his technique of naturalised planting which gives a long season of interest. The form of each plant, leaf, flower head and stem is equally important, as well as the colour and shape.

Scampston, swathes of Molinia grass. photo M. Cannon

The perennial beds have plants that are not higher than a metre – they’re planted in groups that might cover an area around anything from 1m x 1m to 2m x 2m roughly. So that an area of flower might sit beside an area of grass with seed heads, beside an area of foliage plant – the textural combinations are really important, with height differentiations between the areas – it’s mass planting without space in between.

The colour palette is lots of purples, blues, burgundies with green foliage as well as silvery hints, bronzed seed pods – there are low seats in the centre of the garden to view have been specially chosen from this area in the centre of the garden.

Some of the plants were:

Nepeta Walkers Low,

Eryngium tripartitum,

Achillea “summer Wine, and A. “Walter Funke.’


Baptisia australis,





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