Real World Gardener Sharpen Your Garden Secateurs in Tool Time

June 16th, 2019


Sharpen Those Secateurs

What’s the state of your gardening secateurs?

Do they open easily, are the blades sharp? You know they’re sharp if they make a clean cut through a plant’s stem without leaving a little tear behind.

Almost as if you only cut through part of the stem and then pulled off the remaining part.


Secateurs and garden snips photo M Cannon

If they’re not sharp, those cuts that you make on your plants will end up with bruising and tearing on the stems leading to dieback and fungal disease problems.

Let’s find out some tips about sharpening those precious garden tools.

I'm talking with Tony Mattson, General Manager of





  • Clean your tools at the end of the day, even if it's just a wipe over with a rag or cloth.
  • What you should be doing is give them a wash with warm water and two teaspoons of dish soap to scrub away sap and dirt from the  blades with a stiff brush
  • This is to prevent that gunk build up on the blades which can harbour disease.
  • Rub some vegetable oil onto the blades before putting them away to prevent the blades from rusting.


To quote a long time gardening presenter on Gippsland FM Community radio, 

"The jobs not done until the tools are put away."




Real World Gardener NEW Sacred Bamboo in Plant of the Week

June 16th, 2019


Nandina domestica spp.

Best known for it’s hardiness and loved by local councils who seem to plant it willy-nilly, this next plant has morphed into somewhat finer forms.

Which is a good thing because it’s one

of those old fashioned plants that gardeners would screw up their noses at.

Perhaps we can change your mind?Nandina%2Bfilamentosa.jpg

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of

Jeremy mentioned Nandina filamentosa with superfine leaves. Use it as a filler plant.

  1. citylights-dwarf-60cm also.


N Lemlim-new foliage is green instead of red.

Real World Gardener Plants for Wet Tropics in Design Elements

June 16th, 2019


Old Fashioned Plants for the Wet Tropics


What is wet tropics? Is it your zone?

High humidity, but not too much over 35 degrees C perhaps? 

In Australia, we would say that Cairns, Babinda, 'cyclone alley' but not the Atherton tablelands, would fit the bill.

Darwin also, although, the Summer's are much hotter.

So what are the plants that would love that?

Let’s find out

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer and project manager of Paradisus garden design

Peter mentioned: 

Pisonia umbeliffera-bird lime tree.

Mussaenda philippica or M. erythrophylla-showy bracts-large shrub with pink or white bracts.

Warszewiczia coccinea-Pride of Trinidad-bract type red flower.2m sprawly shrub.

Plumeria spp-P obtusa, P.rubra, P. caracasana, P. pudica- but not hybrids like P acuminata who get rust in this zone.

Plumeria rubra photo M Cannon


Perennials, and sub-shrubs:

Pseuderanthemum laxiflorum-purple Prince, open habit, 1m, purple flowers all year.

Heliconia rostrata-red and yellow

Dichorisandra thyrsiflora-Blue ginger.

Persian Shield

Rhinacanthus nasutus,, commonly known as snake jasmine, white butterfly flowers.-Low groundcover

ForShade: try these

Crossandra spp. Firecracker Flower-apricot flower, 400m

Crossandra infundibuliformis- Firecracker flower, (another form)

Strobilanthes dyerianus-Persian shield 
Xanthostemon youngii
-red penda, brushlike

If you have any questions either for me or for Peter, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville  


Real World Gardener Bells of Ireland in Talking Flowers

June 6th, 2019


Bells of Ireland: Molucella laevis:

Native to Syria and Turkey and not as Carol Linnaeus thought, native to the Molucca Islands of Indonesia.

  • Is it grown for the foliage or the flowers?

Not actually a flower, but instead are amplified calyxes that grow into a flowering plant. Calyxes (or bells) are leaves or sepals that develop into a protective house for the quite small and slightly fragrant, white or pink flowers.

The prominent part is actually the calyx.

Best grown in light sandy soil, the molucella plant also requires a good, openly sunny spot. Flower right through spring, summer and into autumn, Bells of Ireland offer interest.

Can grow to 1 metre tall.


  • Mercedes says that "slip on the heels" if you want to use the stems in a flower arrangement. That means of course that you need to cut the bottom of the stem on a diagonal.
  • Easily grown from seed but cold stratification will help with germination.

How to cold stratify

You can expose them to cold by sowing them outdoors in the Autumn, or by refrigerating them for a week before starting them indoors.

  • Don't just place the seed packet in the refrigerator.
  • Sandwich seeds between moist coffee filters or paper towels in the refrigerator, followed by planting in soil. 
  • Experts say this moist stratification results in a higher germination rate than simply exposing dry seeds to cold temperatures.

I'm talking with floral therapist, Mercedes Sarmini, of

Real World Gardener Plants for a Warm Temperate or Coastal Climate in Design Elements

June 6th, 2019


Old Fashioned Shrubs: Warm Temperate Coastal and Inland Mediterranean zones.

This includes Adelaide, even Melbourne, and Alice Springs with temps in the 40’s in the Summer and rain in the winter.

What is on offer for the hot dry sub-tropics. Let’s find out. 

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden Designer & project Manager from Paradisus Garden design.

Temperate coastal and inland mediterranean are zones that would suit many a location around 

Australia as long

Peter mentioned these plants

Shrubs and small trees: 

  • Carpentaria californica-white flowers.
  • Alyogyne heugeli-mauve flower, also in white.
  • Nerium oleander-cut them any which way and they respond.
  • Arbutus unedo-Irish strawberry tree.


Romeya coulteri photo M Cannon


Perennials & sub-shrubs: that are easy in that climate

  • Perlagoniums, peltatum, sidioides, Sims carnations, hate humidity
  • Salvia spathaceae-pinky red flowers
  • Monarda didyma-heaps of hybrids
  • Phlomis italicum-sage like in appearance
  • Romneya coulteri with very large poppy like flowers.
  • Mimulus or Diplacus, both are monkey flowers-semi-shade location.
  • Acca sellowiana-fejoa, prefers low humidity.
  • Caeselpina ferrai-Leopard tree
  • Iochrama-violet tube flowers
  • Artemisia arborescens-wormwood.

Real World Gardener Pretty Varied Triller in Wildlife in Focus

June 6th, 2019


Varied Triller: Lalage leucomela

Today it’s a pretty looking bird that is Australian but with a French sounding scientific name.

Varied Triller's have a wide-ranging diet, about anything from fruits, to nectar, and insects.

Don’t be alarmed though, they go for the fruits of native figs and not your fruit trees in you backyard or orchard.


Varied Triller

Let’s find out more.

 I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons from

The varied triller is a small to medium, about the size of a noisy miner and weigh around 35grams.

The male is black on top, with white eyebrows and grey barring on the chest. The Females are similar to the males, but with a little bit more brown in their feathers.


Lalage leucomela

Their call is a softish churring sound. Rather pleasant to listen to.

The Varied Triller builds a beautiful cup shaped nest held together with spider’s web and placed in the fork of a tree.

Sorry Tassie and Victoria, you miss out, but maybe when you’re travelling to other parts of Australia, you can listen out for them.


If you have any questions either for me or for Holly, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Blue Butterfly Bush n Plant of the Week

May 30th, 2019


Clerodendron Ugandense: Butterfly Bush

There are plenty of shrubs that are called by the common name of Butterfly Bush so it can be confusing if you want a particular one but don’t know the botanical name.

Some are called butterfly bush because they attract butterflies in that they have heaps of nectar and a landing pad for the butterflies to rest on while they’re having a drink.

Others are called butterfly bush because the flowers look like little butterflies.

But first, let’s find out about this plant.



I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

We mentioned several different varieties namely

  • Clerodendron thomsonii, the white flowered climber, 
  • Clerodendron schmidtii _white flowered shrub 
  • Clerodendron ugandense-the blue flowered shrub

  If you have any questions about growing this particular butterfly bush either for me or for any of the plant panel, then why not write in to 


Real World Gardener Old Fashioned Plants for Hot Sub-Tropics in Design Elements

May 30th, 2019


Old Fashioned Plants for the Hot Sub-Tropics


What to plant in those parts of Australia which have no rain for months, and then never ending rain in others?

What if they don’t get rain for 12 months like in Madagascar?


You need plants that can store water but look good.

What is on offer for the hot dry sub-tropics. Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden Designer & project Manager from Paradisus Garden design.

Cool sub-tropics is not a zone you would normally think of but there it is.


Peter mentioned these plants

  • Cussonia paniculata-the Mountain Cabbage tree from Sth Africa
  • Brachychiton bidwillii-exceeds 10m over a long time.
  • Brachychiton rupestris-Qld Bottle tree
  • Pachypodoium geayi or P lamerei -similar white flowers to Frangipani
  • Gardenia aubreyi-white flower- a small gardenia like tree
  • Adenium obesum-the Desert Rose- with a swollen base or caudex and fleuro coloured flowers.
  • Zamiocalcus zamiifolia-ZZ plant, no water in winter for semi-shade.
  • Ephipyllum oxypetalum-queen of the night.
  • E. anguliger and Epiphyllum 'Curly Sue' Guatemalense Monstrose.

Real World Gardener Taking Care of Brassicas on the Good Earth

May 30th, 2019


Caring For Brassicas

Brassicas are a large family of plants which include not just white cauliflowers and green broccoli, but all manner of purple caulis, purple sprouting broccoli and purple or green cabbages just to mention a few.


Lovely cabbages Photo: Margaret Mossakowska

There’s even a veg that’s a cross between brussel sprouts and kale, called Brukale. Whatever next?

So what’s needed to grow the best brassicas? Let’s find out more. 

I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska from Moss House.

LIVE: Growing Brassicas_22nd_ May 2019

TIPS: Don't overdo high nitrogen fertilisers for the heading brassicas such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflowers. That means blood 'n' bone, and chook poo pellets.

Too much nitrogen will result in smaller heads.

  • Be careful what you use to control pests on your brassicas, so that you don’t kill ladybird, hoverfly and lacewing larvae which are all beneficial insects.
  • Margaret's tip is to use upturned wire baskets that you may have seen in offices from days gone by.
  • These may be obtained from recycle stores or from the $2 shop.
  • When the cabbages or other brassicas have outgrown these baskets, you can then cover them with exclusion netting.


Exclusion netting photo: Margaret Mossakowska

If you have any questions either for me or for Margaret, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener How to Make Beeswax Wraps In The Good Earth

May 23rd, 2019


 Beeswax wraps.

Plastic is back in the media as being bad for the environment, so much so, that some countries have banned the use of plastic bags.

Soft plastics such as what you use for wrapping your sandwiches are just as much of a problem as the bags because, it doesn’t break down ever.

So what else can you wrap your sandwiches in other than putting it in a plastic container?

So let’s find out.


Beeswax wraps for food storage

I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska, Director of and course coordinator for Permaculture North in Sydney.


PLAY: Beeswax wraps_15th May 2019 (rpt 14th June 2017)

You can spend the dollars and buy the ready-made beeswax wraps, or you can do it yourself quite cheaply. 

How to Make Beeswax wraps

12 grams Beeswax

40 x 40 cm piece of cotton. Quilting cotton density.

Jojoba oil in a spray bottle.

So go on, kick the plastic habit and make some beeswax wraps yourself

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