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


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 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 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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