Real World Gardener Where Do Insects Go Over Winter?

June 27th, 2019


Where Do Insects Go Over Winter?


Have you ever thought what happens to insects in winter?

In particular insect pests, we don’t see as many pests but come Spring, they seem to emerge in their hundreds from somewhere.

How are they managing to hang on, especially in those districts where temperatures fall below zero.

You’ll be surprised to find out the methods that insects use .

So let’s find out.

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from


Insects seem to manage to hang on in one form or and how they do this seems to vary quite a bit because they’re so adaptive.


Is it really winter? Monarch Butterfly

Did you know that the shorted daylight lengths of Autumn trigger insects to enter something called diapause.

What’s that? 

Well, diapause (and also the definition of an evening spent watching TV) is "an inactive state of arrested development."

Diapause insects sees their metabolic rate drop to one tenth of what it is normally so it can use stored body fat to survive winter.

If you have any questions about insects, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Cool Pilea pep is Plant of the Week

June 27th, 2019


Pilea peperomioides: Pilea pep

This plant has a really interesting backstory.

  • It’s common name is Chinese Money plant or Friendship plant, but I think there’s a few plants around with those same common names.

So as I always say, you need to know the scientific name to avoid confusion if that’s the case.

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley,

Pilea peperomioides or Pilea pip,as it’s called in Jeremy’s nursery, was discovered and grown years before scientists ever got a hold of it.

It never occurred to anyone, that it was a new species until a member of the public want to know it’s real name.

How good is that?Pilea%2Bpep.jpeg

Easily grown indoors or on a warm verandah because it doesn’t like to be below 15 degrees C much

  • Hot Tip: healthy Pilea peperomioides plants produce baby plants both from their roots and their stems.
  • Keep it away from direct sunlight. 
  • Likes to be kept moist but not overly wet.
  • Although it can be kept outside in warmer regions, Pilea peperomioides is only suitable as a houseplant in most locations. It doesn’t appreciate temperatures below 10 °C and should be protected from sudden temperature swings.
  • Pilea peperomioides will produce little plantlets growing in the soil next to the mother plant a. Once these have grown to a size of around 5-7 cm they are large enough to separate.
  • Cut away the plantlet with a sharp, clean knife. They should already have their own root system and can simply be potted up.

Real World Gardener Creating Stone Paths part 2 in Design Elements

June 27th, 2019


Garden Path Series:Stone Paths


Garden paths are essential in anyone’s back or front yard but are you happy with your garden path or would you like one that is a bit less work to maintain?

Last week we mentioned the pros and cons of a gravel path which was the easiest to install and also the cheapest, but what about local stone in a path?


Local stone can be sandstone, granite, slate bluestone or even limestone.

But what do you need to do to make this path?

Let’s find out

I'm talking with Landscape Designer, and, Director of Urban Meadows Jason Cornish.

There’s a few things to think about when putting in a stone path, chiefly the minimum size of stone which will prevent any trip or twisting injury. 

You need to be able to stand on the stone without thinking you'll overbalance.

The stones should also be placed so that it fits your walking gait.

You can use any local stone from your area, sandstone, granite, bluestone etc, which can look very nice in an informal setting more so than a formal setting.

There are a few pitfalls with putting in gravel or decomposed granite between the stones, so not advised to have it leading to your front door.

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

Real World Gardener Heliconias in Talking Flowers

June 20th, 2019



Common Names: Imposter bird of paradise, false bird of paradise, wild plantains and lobster claws.

  • Heliconia flower is not actually a flower but highly modified leaves and bracts.
  • A bract is a leaf structure at the base of a flower.heliconia-bihai.jpg

The trick about growing Heliconias outdoors is that the climate must be tropical.

  1. The far north of Australia is perfect because it's hotter and the more north, the hotter it gets. 
  • They are also really thirsty; give them roughly 120 ml of water a day. ;
  • Mulch is really important.: cut the leaves off and put them under the plant to help with water retention.". 

 Some of the commonly grown Heliconia species include 

Heliconia lennartiana; 

Heliconia Augusta, 

Heliconia bihai, (pictured right)

Heliconia brasiliensis, 

Heliconia caribaea, 

Heliconia latispatha, 

Heliconia pendula, 

Heliconia psittacorum, 

Heliconia rostrata, 

Heliconia schiediana, and Heliconia wagneriana. 

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Environment in Garden History

June 20th, 2019


Environmental History

Does history play a part in all manner of things, or is it just built structures , gardens and events?

What about environment history is there such a thing?

There is a definition which goes, “Environmental history is the study of human interaction with the natural world over time, emphasising the active role nature plays in influencing human affairs and vice versa.”


Australian Landscape: photo Edward Dalmuder

You can even study that subject at University so there must be something in it.

Let’s find out. I'm talking with Stuart Read,a garden historian and a member of the Management Committee of the Australian Garden History Society.

Change tends to come from the bottom up.

Did you know the first public parks in England didn’t eventuate until the early 1800’s.

In Australia it was 1850 when Paramatta Park in Sydney was allocated.

Documenting say land clearing and land use over time, but not just land, water use it’s a great tool for understanding what we are doing right or wrong.

If you have any questions for Stuart or for me, you know what to do.

Real World Gardener Garden Paths in Gravel in Design Elements

June 20th, 2019


Garden Paths Series Part 1: Gravel Paths

Garden paths serve an obvious function but they can also be aesthetically pleasing.

This next series in Design Elements, is all about garden paths that work and that you can do yourself.

Over the next 4 weeks, landscape designer, Jason Cornish, and I, will delve into 4 different types of paths and things you need to now before you put them in.

Let’s find out the first one is:Gravel

I'm talking with Landscape Designer, and, Director of Urban Meadows Jason Cornish.


Gravel Path: Hear The Crunch When You Walk



There’s a few things to think about when putting in the cheapest path option. The stone's colour can be used to tie into the scheme of the garden.

Limitations are when walking with a wheelbarrow or wheelie bin whose wheels can sink into the gravel making it hard going.

On the other hand, if it's too thin a layer of gravel, weeds can take over making it a chore to maintain.

Weedmat underneath the gravel is good for a time, but as the leaf litter builds up on the surface of the gravel, weeds will still find a foothold.

Then again, it might suit your location or garden, or maybe just the thing before you decide on one of the more expensive options. 

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

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

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