Real World Gardener Powder Puff Tree is Plant of the Week

March 16th, 2018


 Calliandra heamatocephala 

If someone told you that the flowers on a particular tree were like a powder puff, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that it was from a lily pilly.

Lily Pillies don’t hold the whole ball of wax on staminous flowers.

In fact if you think about it, gum trees have staminous flowers: that is, flowers that are made up of stamens but no petals.


Calliandra tweedii, Pom Pom bush

Today though, it’s another family that has this trait and it’s one to look out for.

Let’s find more.

I'm talking with Karen Smith of



Calliandra tweedii is also known as the Mexican Flame bush because of its fiery red flowers. 


Calliandra tweedii: Mixican Flame Bush photo: Magnus Manske


Real World Gardener Useful and Beautiful Hedges in Design Elements

March 16th, 2018


Useful and Beautiful Hedges


The “useful and beautiful” series is up to hedges.

You’re probably thinking that we’re going to be talking about Murraya paniculata, or just Murray or the colder growing version, Choisya ternata.

Perhaps you even thought we would talk Buxus or Lilly Pilly?

But no, we’ve chosen something completely different, after all, it has to be useful and beautiful.

Let’s find out what they are.


Choisya ternata, Mexican Orange Blossom

I'm talking with Peter Nixon Director of

PLAY: Useful & Beautiful Bulbs_28th February 2018

Peter mentioned shrub roses like Miss Lowes Rose, Bengal Crimson and Rosa sanguinea.

For more scent choose Rosa chinensis 1,000 lights.


Rosa sanguinea photo: T. Kiya from Japan

If you have any questions about hedges , either for me or for Peter or have some information to share, why not drop us a line to 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 All About Snapdragons in Talking Flowers

March 10th, 2018



Family: PlantaginaceaeAntirrhinum majus

Where did it get its scientific name?

Not from a botanist this time. Derived from the Greek words "anti," meaning like, and "rhin," meaning nose, antirrhinum, because the snapdragon's botanical name reminded the botanist of a snout or nose.

When the flower is gently squeezed, it apparently makes the flower look like a dragon’s head.

A bit of a mystery exactly where this flower originated but most likely originally wildflowers in Spain and Italy.

Flower colours: Colour range is pastel to bright colours including pink, orange, yellow, peach, purple, white, red and bicolour.

In the studio is floral therapist Mercedes Sarmini of Snapdragons.JPG


Real World Gardener 10th February NEW Tibouchinas are Plant of the Week

March 10th, 2018


Tibouchina cultivars

Ever heard of a plant godfather? 

There surely is one, and he’s the godfather of these next plants because one, he discovered how to pollinate them, and two, he bred smaller more compact and cold tolerant varieties with outstanding colours . All of this meant that gardeners suddenly had a plant that was manageable in size and could be grown in areas of Australia where it hadn’t been known before.

Let’s find out all about it

I'm talking with  Karen Smith editor of Hort Journal mamagzine


Tibouchina "Cool Baby" Image courtesy of Plants Management Australia



The newer varieties of Tibouchina were

Groovy Baby with vivid purple flowers that grows to 40 cm.

Peace baby with white flowers and deep purple stamens that grows to 60 cm and Cool Baby has white and pink flowers on the same bush and grows to 45 cm.

If you have any questions about groundcovers, either for me or for Karen or have some information to share, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Useful and Beautiful Bulbs in Design Elements

March 10th, 2018

Design Elements

Bulbs that are "Uuseful and Beautiful."

You could consider bulbs as ground covers, well some bulbs anyway because there is a pretty good range of different sizes when it comes to the actual resulting plant.

You may even think that most bulbs are useful and beautiful, but there’s some that perhaps stand out from the crowd.

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



Hippeastrum papilio




Peter mentioned several cultivars of Hippeastrum which incidentally means Knight’s Lily Star.

Strangely though , no-ones sure exactly why William Herbert called it that.

Peter mentioned Hippeastrum aulicum, Hippeastrum papilio, Hippeastrum psittiacinum which is very ornamental.

Most of these are for the semi-shaded garden. 

You may want to try "selfing" or hand pollination to get new varieties between two different cultivars, that is, grow them from the resultant seed.

Also Drimmyopsis maculata which puts up with dry shade and makes a nice clump with its spotted leaves.

For full sun try Jacobean lily or Sprekelia.

If you have any questions about groundcovers, either for me or for Peter or have some information to share, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Baby’s Breath or Gypsophila in Talking Flowers

March 1st, 2018


Gypsophila paniculata: Baby's Breath: Soapwort

Easy to grow perennial.

The name is derived from the fact that all the flowers in this family grow well on soil high in gypsum, a mineral that makes the soil too thick and heavy for many other types of plants.

Will grow in sandy dry soil.

Etymology:The genus name is from the Greek gypsos ("gypsum") and philios ("loving")

These bright white dots symbolize

 Floral meaning:


Gypsophila sets off other flowers


Everlasting and undying love, including family, platonic, and romantic bonds-used in wedding bouquets and centrepieces.

Pureness and freedom from outside influences or corruption


Easily grown from seed.

 Grow it in full sun or partial shade in alkaline soil.

  • Well suited to xeriscaping.
  • Makes a low-maintenance addition to the perennial garden.
  • Like lavender or catmint, baby’s breath creates a charming, soft look in the garden.
  • Because the plant blooms from early summer toAutumn it’s an excellent filler for hiding other perennials after they’re done flowering.
  • Pair it with delphinium, iris, columbine, poppies, yarrow and other cottage garden flowers.

I’m talking with Mercedes Sarmini of


Real World Gardener Groundcovers for a Cool Climate in Design Elements

March 1st, 2018


Useful and Beautiful:Plants that won't let you down.

We’re still doing ground covers but we’re now talking cold climates or cool temperate.

Sometimes these districts have rather harsh winters so you need a utility planting that withstand these conditions.


Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

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



Peter mentioned Ceratostigma plumbaginoides which commonly called Plumbago but it’s not the common plumbago.

Ruscus aeculiatus or Butcher’s Broom which can be cut with hedge shears into a shape.

If you have any questions about groundcovers, either for me or for Peter or have some information to share, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener File Powder and Gumbo in Spice It Up

March 1st, 2018


File' Powder

(Pronounced feelay)

Ever heard of a spice from the leaf of a tree?

The tree is Sassafras albidum and it originates in America.

File' powder is used a lot in Southern American cooking.


Sassafras albidum: Native to America


Ever heard of gumbo? 

It’s not something you chew but a dish from America’s south and in fact this spice s main attribute is to thicken the dish. I'ts a type of fish soup, very delicious I'm told.

Think New Orleans, Louisiana and Cajun cooking.

Let’s find out about it.



File powder is made from leaves of the sassafras tree. 

When ground, file powder smells like eucalyptus or juicy fruit gum.

File powder is a necessary ingredient for Cajun cuisine, especially Gumbo.

File' powder adds a sort of gummy consistency to the dish but it doesn't thicken in the way that cornflour thickens a dish.

File' powder has a similar effect to Okra, which in itself has no substitute.

Not only does it add an unusual flavor, the powder also acts as a thickener when added to liquid. 

You can use any ingredient you have to hand, not just fish. Chicken would be a good substitute.



Did you know that long before the use of file powder for Creole and Cajun cooking, Choctaw Indians pounded sassafras leaves into powder and added them to soups and stews.


If you have any questions about File' powder, either for me or for Ian, or have some information to share, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Roses floral meaning and vase life in Talking Flowers

February 23rd, 2018


Roses are Red......

 “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” 


But did you know that  the Latin expression "sub rosa"(literally, "under the rose") means something told in secret, and in ancient Rome, a wild rose was placed on the door to a room where confidential matters were being discussed?


Floral meanings of each colour:

  • Each colour offers a distinct meaning:
  • red, the lover's rose, signifies enduring passion; white, humility and innocence;
  • yellow, expressing friendship and joy;
  • pink, gratitude, appreciation and admiration;
  • orange, enthusiasm and desire;
  • white lilac and purple roses represent enchantment and love at first sight. 

Botanical Bite

All roses have a flower head that is round in shape and symmetrical across its face and down its vertical axis

The fruit of a rose is called a rose hip. The berry-like hip are usually red in colour, but can sometimes be dark purple or black.

The sharp spikes on the stem of a rose bush are usually called “thorns”.

However, these are actually technically prickles.


I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of


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