Real World Gardener Crazy Ajuga or Carpet Bugle is Plant of the Week

April 30th, 2019


Carpet Bugle:Ajuga reptans


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-tricolour.jpgI'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith editor of

Let’s find out. more.

Spoiler alert, there’s a new variety out now called Ajuga Princess Nadia. Lookout for it in your nearest garden centre.

Not only does Carpet Bugle cope with shade but it copes with sun as long as it gets sufficient watering.

Nobody knows why it’s really called Bugle flower , it’s one of botany’s mysteries.

Real World Gardener Lovely Vanilla in Spice it Up part 1

April 30th, 2019


Vanilla planifolia and cvs

Have you ever wondered how and when the spice trade started?

Maybe not but did you know that nutmeg was once worth more by weight than gold?

Also that in the 16th century, London dockworkers were paid their bonuses in cloves?

There was so much to tell with the story of this spice that I had to split it up into two parts.

Here's part 1.


To produce the green bean, each vanilla flower needs to be hand pollinated.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

Vanilla_beans.jpgThe vanilla bean is  a long green bean. When it's mature the beans are put on curing racks during the day, then wrapped up in woollen blankets at night. 

this is done everyday for 15 - 28 days.

It's up to the head curer to judge the readiness of this stage.

After the 28 days have been reached, the beans are then wrapped for a further 2 months. 

Vanilla bean curing is very labour intensive and so far hasn't been mechanised successfully enough to give the complexity of aromas reached by the manual method.

Thanks to Ian’s encylopeadic knowledge of the spice trade we can look forward to part 2 of the vanilla bean story next week.

There’ll be plenty of tips on how best to use vanilla in cooking plus a surprise tip that will just delight you. We’ll also re-cap a little tiny bit of the story.

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

Real World Gardener Old Fashioned Shrubs Part 1 in Design Elements

April 30th, 2019


 Old Fashioned Shrubs: Introduction of 5 part series.

Gone are the days when you had lots of variety in garden centres to choose from.
Now you only get the familiar plants like Murrayas, lilly pillies, star jasmine, viburnum odoratissium, with a spattering of smaller sub-shrubs like Osteospermum with a kaleidoscope of colour.

Lilac: Syringia vulgaris

Thanks for that. Gardeners need colour.

But what happened to the shrubs of old?
Have they just disappeared or can we still get them and which ones suit where?
Let’s find out with this new series on old fashioned shrubs
I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden Designer and project Manager from Paradisus Garden design.
PLAY: Old Fashioned Shrubs intro_24th April 2019 

What could be nicer than a lilac bush ( for colder climates), May bush (most climates) or even a Daphne or two?

You can visit Peter’s garden Sea-Changer’ which is opening Sat 4th May no gate, 10am to 2pm at 21 Lavinia Street Forresters Beach 1 hr from Wahroonga Pacific Motorway on ramp. 
For a day out of the city, lunch at Bamboo Buddha Holgate and BURSTING with freshness & flowers. WHAT could be nicer?

Real World Gardener Stunning Hydrangeas in Plant of the Week

April 23rd, 2019


Hydrangea  macrophylla: Mophead Hydrangeas; Lacecap Hydrangeas.

Family: Hydrangeaceae

Hydrangeas have a long history and during the period when plant hunters searched the globe for fame and fortune is when the flowers we know today were brought back from China

Let’s find out what else they have to offer.


Hydrangea macrophylla 'Ayesha'

The large heads of pink, blue or white flowers are very attractive as a cut flower also.

I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley from


  • Did you know that around 1879 the famous English nursery Veitch , sent the plant hunter Charles Maries to China and Japan?
  • So what did he come back with? 
  • Two different plants, a Hydrangea with flat flowers (lacecap) he called H.macrophylla 'Mariesii' and a spherical type , he called Hydrangea macrophylla ' Rosea' . 

Jeremy's tip: Cut back to a few centimetres above the ground to rejuvenate old and young plants alike.

Marianne's Tip. The pink or blue flowers depend on the soil pH in which they grow. 

pH of 5.0 to 5.5 for blue flowers; pH of 6.0 to 6.5 for pink flowers.

If you want to change colour of your hydrangea flowers, do it in winter by applying either aluminium sulphate for blue flowers or several cups of garden lime around the plant for pink flowers.

Real World Gardener Toolbox for the Advanced Gardener in Tool Time

April 15th, 2019


Tools for the Advanced and Mature Gardener

Over the years, gardeners accumulate quite a number of tools that they regard as essential and wouldn’t be without.

Last week we talked about what you might need if you were a beginner or slightly more advanced gardener.


Cut Above Tools

So now we’re going for tools with more oomph and powered by more than your muscle power.

The reason is that it’s the experienced and the mature gardener that’s getting a look in.

Let’s find out what the experts recommend.

I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of



What do you think, do you agree with Tony’s advanced gardener’s tool kit or would you have chosen something else?



If you haven’t already, it’s probably time to buy a pair of ratchet secateurs (sek-a terrs) to add to your toolbox. Ratchet secateurs are great for pruning shrubs.

Mature gardeners might want gear action loppers

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

Real World Gardener Why Preserve Trees in Design Elements

April 15th, 2019


Preserving Trees: Why We Should


Today is the final in the series about the stewardship of trees.

On the menu is why we need to preserve our trees because in the long run, if you damage trees, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice.



Let’s find out about why we need to preserve trees.

I'm talking with Glenice Buck, Arboriculture Consultant and Garden Designer.


PLAY: Tree Preservation/Management_9th December 2015


Did you know that three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent?

Shade from trees slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns. Most newly planted trees need only 55 litres of water a week. 



As trees transpire, they increase atmospheric moisture.

If you have any questions about what arborists do, consulting or otherwise or have a suggestion either for me or for Glenice, why not write in or email me at

Real World Gardener Beautiful Banksias in Plant of the Week

April 15th, 2019


Banskia Spinulosa


This next plant is a native but is often overlooked because people go for the more colourful and show Grevilleas.

They may come in limited colourways, but their flowers are much more substantial and spectacular, particular if you have several cultivars planted or grouped together.


Banksia spinulosa

Plus they provide nectar for wildlife during the colder months of the year.

Let’s find out about them

I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith editor of

PLAY: Banksia spinulosa_11th July 2018


Banksia spinulosa isn’t slow growing at all and within a couple of years, if grown from seed, will have reached over one metre tall and wide, plus provide a least 8 flower spikes.


Banskia flower spikes you can either cut for the vase, or just leave on the bush for the native wildlife to enjoy.


As cut flowers, Banksias can last for months.


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 Beginner Garden Toolbox part 1 in Tool time

April 15th, 2019


Garden Toolboxes for the Beginner and Semi-Advanced Gardener

Over the years, gardeners accumulate quite a number of tools that they regard as essential and wouldn’t be without.



I’m not talking about anything that is powered, wither by petrol or electricity, but hand tools.

Quite often we even have several of the same too.

If you knew someone who was just starting out in gardening, what would you recommend they have as an essential part of their gardening tool kit?

Limit it to three and see how you go.

Let’s find out what the experts recommend.

I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of

PLAY: Toolbox part 1-11th July 2018


What do you think, do you agree with Tony’s essential beginner’s tool kit or would you have chosen something else?




For the most part, I’m sure listeners would have said a pair of secateurs would be the bare minimum, but one pair of secateurs doesn’t make a kit, you need two more things.

What are yours? If you have any questions either for me or Tony, you can email us


Real World Gardener French Provincial Style Gardens in Design Elements

April 11th, 2019


French Provincial Style Gardens

If someone asked you to describe a French Provincial garden what would you say?

What would be the key elements of such a garden?

Would it be quirky frenchy nic nacs, and include a trompe l’oeil or a parterre?

Would it include plants that are French?

Let’s find out. 

I'm talking with Danielle Collier from Artistic Horticulture.


  • Favourite garden plants: for a French garden might include architectural plants. Agapanthus. Canna. 
  • Mediterranean Plants. Acanthus mollis, bear's britches. Iris. 
  • Perennials. Aquilegias. Dahlias. Grasses. Phormium Tenax. 
  • Shrubs and Hedging Plants. Roses. Garden Bulbs and corms. Alliums. 
  • Climbing Plants. Bougainvillea. 
  • Trees. Acacia dealbata, Toon chinensi or Chinese cedar. 

If you have any questions either for me Danielle why not write in to

Real World Gardener Parsley as Herbal in Plant of the Week

April 11th, 2019



Parsley (Petroselinum hortense and Petroselinum crispum) is an herb that originated in the Mediterranean region of southern Italy.

Parsley is used a lot by some gardeners to feed the winter possums that are looking for something to eat.

It’s used a lot in cooking and much better to grow your own and only harvest as much as you need without needing to store it in the fridge.

Let’s find out what else parsley has to offer.1-1-1-HOM_5335.JPG

I'm talking with Simone Jeffries, naturopath and herbalist.

PLAY: Parsley_ 3rd April 2019

Grows as a biennial in temperate climates or annual in subtropical & tropical areas.

Grows a taproots used as a food store over winter.

Others grow parsley and let it go to seed to attract the benny’s which means the beneficial insects.

Really nice in a potato salad.

The secret is to cut it up very finely because it’s quite coarse so it doesn’t get stuck in your throat when you eat it.

Juice it with apple and celery so it doesn’t taste so medicinal.

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