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

Real World Gardener Gardening in Tight Spaces part 2

May 31st, 2018


Gardening in Tight Spaces part 2

Keeping Your Plants Warm.

Last segment was all about how to keep the heat off your pots, but now we’re in the depths of Autumn, soon to be Winter so we want that warmth. 


For every avid gardener, we want to use all the spaces we have to grow plants.

But what do we do with the cold to protect out plants especially if your space gets little sun?

Let’s find out. 


I'm talking with Diane Watkin, Principle founder and member of Bioydnamics Sydney.


The same technique of keeping the sun off your pots is used to keep your plants warm.

the main difference is that you want the warmth during the day, so you are mostly reversing what you did in summer to keep the sun off.

Erect some sort of cover for your pots and put this on at night, but take it off during the day so the plant can enjoy the sun's rays.

You may have a glass cloche, but most likely you'll have to rig something up using sticks, twigs, shade-cloth, or other material.

TIP: Using diamotaceous earth, put a handful in a bucket of water, mix it up and then spray onto the soil. The silica in the diamotaceous earth will raise the temperature of the soil by 1-2 degrees, which may just make the difference.

If you have any questions either for me or Diane you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Sweet Peas in Talking Flowers

May 24th, 2018


Lathyrus odorota: Sweet Pea: 

Queen of annuals: Sweet pea's history can be traced back to 17th century Italy, when a Sicilian monk, Franciscus Cupani, sent its seeds to England. 


Sweet peas come in over 250 varieties. Annual varieties prefer full sun, regular watering and soil with plenty of humus.

Perennial sweet peas survive in average soils with moderate watering.

Sweet peas are wonderfully fragrant and were originally grown in the fields of Sicily.

Most types grow from 1-5' tall, though some may reach 2m+

Sweet peas are climbing plants that do well on supporting structures.



Growing Sweet PeasT

here are few pests or problems associated with sweet peas, but they are sensitive to too much heat. According to superstition, seeds sown before sunrise on Saint Patrick's day will have larger and more fragrant blossoms. Unlike their edible relatives, sweet peas can be toxic in large quantities.


I'm talking with florist Mercedes Sarmini of 

Real World Gardener Plants That Suppress Weeds in Design Elements

May 24th, 2018


Plants That Suppress Weeds


We all lead busy lives and want a garden that not so much low maintenance, after all I’m not sure that exists, but want a garden that doesn’t need so much work.


Cyanotis somaliensis


Garden designer Peter Nixon suggests it’s all in the choice of our plants, but our heart often rules over our head and we end up buying plants that need plenty of maintenance.

So what can we do to make gardening tasks easier?

I'm talking withPeter Nixon Garden Designer and Director of Paradisus Garden Design.

Let’s find out.



Peter mentioned Diclipetera suberecta

Dicliptera sub-erecta syn. sericea – with sage green leaves and orange trumpet flowers;this plant takes sun or shade so it can grow in the hot west or the southern side of the house.

Cyanotis somaliensis-you may have heard it called furry kittens or pussy ears.

Polia cristata - Commelina relative


If you have a question either for me or Peter, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Gardening in Tight Spaces Part 1

May 24th, 2018


Gardening in Tight Spaces.

More and more gardeners across Australia have downsized and only have only a very small patch of dirt, or just a balcony.


You might only have a window ledge or a couple of steps but you still want some sort of garden.

Pity that apartments weren’t designed to follow the sun, can you imagine if they did?

You might have a beautiful sunny balcony in warm weather but it's dark, and cold in the cooler months. The reverse is true of course.

So what can the hungry gardener do to grow a few plants on their balcony?

Let’s find out. I'm talking with Diane Watkin, Principle founder and member of Bioydnamics Sydney.



Balcony%2Bgarden.jpgDiane shifts her pots from one side of the garden to the other every 6 months so she can catch 4-5 hours of sunlight to grow her herbs and veggies in pots.


It’s up to you really as to whether or not you choose plastic pots, some garden centres do accept plastic pots, but I’m not sure what they do with them. 

To keep the heat off your terracotta pots, before planting them up, soak them in water for about twenty minutes.

After potting, wrap an old tea towel or piece of hessian that you have wetted.

Spray the outer material every day when it has dried to keep up the moisture.


Diane has a particular recipe for filling garden pots, however, this may not be feasible, and too heavy for your particular situation. 


Remember, find out the weight bearing load of your balcony before you start filling tip with terracotta pots and garden soil. 


If you have any questions either for me or Diane you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Chrysanthemum is in Talking Flowers

May 17th, 2018



Greek prefix "chrys-" meaning golden (its original colour) and "-anthemion," meaning flower,

Chrysanthemum flower is one of the most popular flower in the world, next only to Rose.

 There are 10 different flower types which are defined by the way in which the ray and disk florets are arranged.

Pom pom, Anemone (a-nem-mon-ee), spider, single. Semi-doubles,


Chrysanthemum flowers photo M Cannon

intermediate curve, irregular incurve-giant flowers, reflex-florets curve downwards, decorative, spoon, quill, Bush, exotic. 

Botanical Bite

Chrysanthemum flowers are composed of many individual flowers (florets), each one capable of producing a seed.

The disk florets are in the centre of the bloom head, and the ray florets are on the perimeter. 

The ray florets are considered imperfect flowers, as they only possess the female productive organs, while the disk florets are considered perfect flowers, as they possess both male and female reproductive organs.


I'm speaking with florist Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Useful and Beautiful Climbers in Design Elements

May 17th, 2018


Useful and Beautiful Climbers to Hide That Fence.


Anything you can do to hide that fence in your garden has an expansive effect on your garden and who wouldn’t want their garden not to look bigger.

I can’t hear people saying “ My garden looks too big.”


Stephanotis Floribund photo M Cannon

They say instead, “ I’ve only got a small garden” then give out a sigh of lost hope.

Let’s find out about them.

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


Peter mentioned 

  • Dalechampia dioscoreifolia or the Costa Rican Bow Tie vine. 
  • Hibiscus geraniodes, with mauve flowers. 
  • Manettia bicolour or cigar vine and Manettia cordifolia John Ellerslee. 
  • Also for the perfume garden Stephanotis floribunda.


The one pictured is growing happily in a tall pot.


Both of these will suit the smaller garden, but don’t let that stop you planting it in a larger garden.

If you have a question either for me or Peter, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Little Corella is \Wildlife in Focus

May 17th, 2018


Little Corella

Some people love them some people hate these mostly white birds that arrive in huge numbers.

They're one of those birds that like to skid to rooves of silos, or swing around telegraph wires or the blades of a windmill.



When you see them in flight they do look like a few other similar birds.

Can you tell the difference between a Little Corella, and a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo?

Let’s find out about these naughty birds. 

I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons Manager of

The Corellas are still a biggish bird, measuring around 42cm long and weighing just under 500 grams.

The distinction is the long beak and the pale pink section between the eye and the beak called the "laws."

The also have a bluey coloured eye ring.

The West Australian newspaper writes

“White corellas will soon outnumber seagulls and will be one of the State's most serious animal pests, causing damage to homes and many businesses, according to wildlife experts.

Department of Environment and Conservation chief zoologist Peter Mawson said the rapidly expanding numbers of the Eastern States native, introduced in WA after pets were released into the wild, more than doubled in the Perth area each year and would continue to do so.”

Rather dramatic and perhaps overstated.

The beak is the dead giveaway if you’re looking up at a flock.

If you have any questions either for me or Holly, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Gardenias in Talking Flowers

May 10th, 2018



Gardenia is named in honour of Scottish born Alexander Garden (1730-1791) who moved to Charleston, South Carolina in the 1750’s and was a botanist, zoologist, and physician,

The Gardenia is a group that is made up of 142 species.

The most popular cultivated Gardenia species is Gardenia Jasminoides (also called Gardenia Augusta, Gardenia Grandiflora, Gardenia Schlechteri or Gardenia Florida), commonly known as Common Gardenia .



These are great flowering plants and they are actually going to be found mainly in tropical and subtropical climates.

The gardenia is actually an evergreen shrub, and is one of the most aromatic of garden flowers. The flowers are a waxy creamy white that contrasts with the dark green glossy leaves.

They love heat and are native to the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa, southern Asia, Australasia and Oceania.


BUT, they’re not the easiest shrubs to grow with “ my gardenia has yellow leaves” being one of the most asked questions on gardening talkback radio.

They grow best in frost free areas north of Sydney and Perth but will grow in Adelaide and Melbourne in a warm spot. 

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

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