Real World Gardener NSW Christmas Bush in Talking Flowers

December 31st, 2017


Christmas Bush: Ceratopetalum gummiferum


Ceratopetalum....from Greek ceras, a horn and petalon, a petal, referring to the petal shape of one species.

gummiferum....producing a gum.

In the home garden, I would regard this plant as a large shrub in people’s gardens rather than a small tree because it rarely grows to more the 4-5 metres.

That’s equivalent to Coastal Tee-tree.


The leaves are up to 3-7cm long and are divided into three leaflets or trifoliate, which are finely serrated and the new growth is often pink or bronze coloured. 

Leaves are opposite each other.

I grew these plants as part of a trial when I was studying for my Hort Diploma at Tafe some years ago.

Testing a variety of fertilisers for growth factors. 

Definitely one plant that doesn’t tolerate Phosphorus in the fertilizer. 

Native fertilisers only.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener New Agapanthus in Plant of the Week

December 31st, 2017




The old varieties of this tough as old boots flowers, are often seen in neglected gardens but did you know its Greek name means love flower?

Love flower sounds much more romantic than the German Schmucklilie which translated means jewel lily.



This plant with its lily like flower grows almost everywhere except where it’s extremely hot or extremely cold.

Let’ s find out what it is. 'm talking with the plant panel: Jeremy Critchley of and Karen Smith, editor of



photo courtesy plants

In some areas they are used as a fire retardant plant because of their fleshy green leaves and also for holding banks and stopping erosion with their large and tangled root system.

In the norther hemisphere, Agapanthus, other than in their native South Africa need to be moved into unheated greenhouses in winter.

So don’t underestimate the humble Aggie, plus breeders are always looking for new colourways, so that you won’t be disappointed if you seek them out.

Some newer varieties to watch out for Australia

Agapanthus Black Pantha

Agapanthus Cascade Diamond

Agapanthus Snowball

Agapanthus Golden Drop with variegated foliage.

Real World Gardener Make Your Soil Wet Again in Plant Doctor

December 31st, 2017


Watering The Garden and Hydrophobic Soils

Water is a scarce enough commodity in Australia, so gardeners would like to think that they are watering efficiently.


We all know the best times to water but what you may not know is that if you scratch the surface of your soil, you may find that the water hasn’t even penetrated.

There are many causes of soil that is water repellent or hydrophobic.

Why’s that you may ask?

Let’s find out. 'm talking with General Manager of


Water repellence can be due to the waxy substances that come from plant material being not properly decomposed. These in turn coat the soil particles. The smaller the soil particle, as in sandy soils,the great chance of the waxy substances clinging to them.


Through no fault of your own, the soil in your garden may be prone to being water repellent.

This means you may need to have routine distribution of a wetting agent, either wetting granules or the spray on kind.

The liquid form of wetting agent also comes in a hose on so it does seem an easy way to do a large area.



Wetting granules though are no more difficult to apply than spreading organic fertiliser around your garden.

When choosing a soil wetter one thing to note is that some are based on petroleum derivatives and alcohol, making them unsuited to organic gardens. 

Others contain only naturally occurring substances that readily biodegrade and cause no ill effects to the soil or plants. 

To help choose a suitable wetting agent check the ingredients. 

For organic gardeners, eco-Hydrate contains polysaccharides (natural humectants that can suck moisture from the air), soil surfactants (which aid in moisture penetration) and soil conditioners (including fulvic acid and seaweed extract).  


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

Real World Gardener Delphiniums in Talking Flowers

December 27th, 2017



In the Buttercup or Ranunculaceae, Delphiniums are also called Larkspur.

The delphinium name is derived from the Greek word for dolphin.

If you pick a single bloom from the tall spike on the plant, you’ll notice it looks like a leaping dolphin from the side.

The Delphinium flower’s message is protect yourself from the dangers of life so nothing stands in the way of your success.

If you want to grow your own Delphiniums, here are some tips.

Propagation Seeds – like to be chilled in-ground before germinating.

Root division (cutting root ball)

Mercedes has some zany tips for keeping the Delphinium stalks hydrated from when you buy them to when you pop them into the vase.

Tip 1: Fill the hollow stalks with water, then plug them up with cotton wool.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Amazing Garvinea Gerberas in Plant of the Week

December 27th, 2017


Gerbera Garvinea

When I worked for a large seed and gardening supply company, I was often asked why Gerbera seed was so expensive, or Rudbeckia seed?

The reason was that some seed has to be hand collected and hand packed because it’s too large and irregular for seed packing machines.



Another reason is that seed is hard to come by of a particular species, or perhaps that year, it was contaminated by weevils, or the seed grower’s crop experienced fungal problems and failed.

Whatever the reason, the plant that’s featured today isn’t sold by seed anyway, because it’s a relatively new release and a fantastic variety of flower (Gerbera.)

I'm talking with the plant panel, Jeremy Critchley of and Karen Smith, editor of


Florist Holland, a Gerbera breeding company started the breeding program over ten years ago.

Their aim was to improve the plant and it seems that they’ve done a marvellous job because Garvineas are winning awards around the world.



This new variety of Gerbera is nothing like the old school Gerbera, with it's multiple stems and long flowering period.

It’s always fun to try something new and buy a plant that you don’t know much about.

Can’t wait to get my hands on some Garvinea Gerberas as I’m sure some of you are too.

If you have any questions about Garvinea, or Jeremy or Karen why not write in to


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 What Makes A Prizewinning Garden

December 15th, 2017

Feature Interview

Prize Winning Garden in the Large Garden category of Ryde Spring Garden Competition.

Have you ever wonder what makes a prize winning garden?




Recently I was master of ceremonies for the gala awards night for a spring garden competition and boy, there were plenty of prize winning gardens.

However, I was invited to one to take a stroll.

Let’s listen in to the conversation.


PLAY: Anne Johnson's garden winner of Best Large Garden in Ryde Spring Garden competition.


That was Anne Johnsons’ garden which won best large garden in the Ryde Spring Garden competition. Anne is of course an avid gardener.




As you can see from the photos, the garden is really stuffed with plants that are lovingly tended.


Begonia metallica is a standout feature in Anne's garden.

 Begonias are easy care and Anne religiously gives them a hard prune every Autumn to achieve such a magnificent shape of Begonia metallica.

Anne has added personal touches everywhere with whimsical pot features and ornaments.



If you have any questions about Anne’s garden either for me or Anne why not write in to


Real World Gardener King Protea in Talking Flowers

December 15th, 2017


King Protea  Protea cynaroides

Protea flowers are native to the southern hemisphere, primarily Australia and South Africa, but can also be found in Central Africa, Central and South America, and southeast Asia.

Protea is a genus of flowers from the Proteaceae family. One of the oldest families on earth dating back 300 million years.



Why the cynaroides? Because the centre of the flower looks like an artichoke. Artichokes belong to the genus Cynara.

Protea whas named after Proteus, son of the Greek God Poseidon, was known for his wisdom, but he was not always eager to share his thoughts and knowledge. It seems Proteus preferred to while away the day sleeping in the summer sun. To avoid detection, he changed his appearance and shape frequently. The Protea flower was named after Proteus due its many shapes and colours.

Some Growing Tips

Tip: Prune only the flowered stems of proteas – un-flowered stems are next season’s blooms.

Mulch: Proteas dislike root disturbance, so don’t dig around them. Apply a leaf or bark mulch around the drip line (away from the trunk) and pull out any weeds by hand.

I'm talking with floral therapist Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Best Scented Roses in Design Elements

December 15th, 2017


Scented Roses That Don't Fail

Have you hankered after roses for your garden but think they’re too much work?

All that spraying, pruning and fertilising.



But gee, whizz, it still would be nice to have one or two?

You may have even discounted have a rose because of the climate you live in.

The modern hyrbid teas are martyrs to high humidity which brings with it all manner of diseases such as the dreaded powdery mildew.

we're moving away from the long stemmed roses that you might see on Valentine's Day.


Instead, we're suggesting some more old fashioned types that have parentage from China and Vietnam.

Here’s a selection to suit different climates.

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Peter Nixon of Paradisus Design


Peter mentioned R. (sanguinea) chinensis ‘Miss Lowe’s Variety’ or Bengal Crimson

R. chinensis mutabilis 
R. chinensis ‘One Thousand Lights’


Rosa General Schablikine

Lady Hillingdon, Monsieur Tillier, General Schablikine, General Gallieni, Mrs Dudley Cross, Duchesse de Brabant, Mrs. BR Cant, Niphetos, Jean Ducher, Lady Roberts, Papa Gontier, Safrano Alister Clark Rosa ‘Lorraine Lee’, Squatters Dream


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

Real World Gardener Perfect Peony in Talking Flowers

December 8th, 2017



There are a couple of types of Peony.

There are many species and cultivated varieties of peonies but they are broadly divided into two groups in the garden:


  • tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa Hybrids), which are shrubby plants not trees that do not die down below ground in winter
  • herbaceous peonies (Paeonia lactiflora), smaller growing plants that do die down to below ground in winter and reshoot in spring.

Mercedes is talking about the herbaceous peonies in this segment.
All peonies need cool climates and are best grown only in the colder parts of Australia including mountain districts, parts of Victoria and Tasmania.

  • Peony roses are strong growing perennials that flower late spring to early summer. They make beautiful cut flowers and last well in a vase. Prefers a well drained position in full sunlight. Plants will die down over Winter and re-grow each year forming a leafy clump. Spread lime towards the end of flowering to improve root development and improve flowers for the following year.

The best time to buy Peonies is when they're supplied as bare rooted plants.

Meaning of Peony.
One legend has it that the peony is named after Paeon, a physician to the gods, who received the flower on Mount Olympus from the mother of Apollo. And another tells the story of that same physician who was "saved" from the fate of dying as other mortals by being turned into the flower we know today as the peony.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

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