Real World Gardener Indoor Plants for Warm Climates in Design Elements

August 28th, 2019


Indoor Plants for Warm Climates

The most important elements required for healthy houseplants include light, water, temperature and humidity.

If any or all of these factors aren’t properly met, your houseplants will inevitably suffer.

You might be sweltering under the fans in the heat of a subtropical summer but what about your indoor plants?



Can they cope or is this the climate where they thrive the best?

So let’s find out more in this new series on indoor plants.

I'm talking with Julia Levitt, Landscape Designer and Director of

The good news is that tropical plants usually enjoy warmer conditions and don’t perform well once indoor temperatures fall below 13-16 C.

Plus they like a lot of humidity, that means at least 50%, but better at 70% or more.

Most of the tropical, ornamental indoor plants with attractive foliage & colourful leaf patterns are suitable for hot & humid climates.

For example Dieffenbachia or Dumb Cane, Dracaena, house ferns of many kinds, Tricolor plant, snake plant, Philodendron, Money plant, Syngonium etc

Real World Gardener Alocasia in Plant of The Week

August 28th, 2019


Alocasia species

For an instant tropical feel, plants with large leaves are one of the main choices.

Some of these belong in the Alocasia family originating from a bulb or rhizome. 


Alocasia amazonica

But will they grow in your district.

Let’s find out

That was Jeremy Critchley

PLAY: Alocasia 21st August 2019

Jeremy mentioned these varieties of Alocasi to watch out for.

Alocasia macrorrhiza, Alocasia zebrina and Alocasia amazonica, are all outstanding cultivars.

The latter has very dark green leaves with prominent veins, edged in white, while the back of the leaf is purple.

Slow growing but hates the cold.

Jeremy thinks that it looks a bit like an African mask.

Don’t be like me and forgot they die down in winter.

Luckily I didn’t throw it out.

Real World Gardener Jacky Winter in Wildlife in Focus

August 28th, 2019


Jacky Winter:Microeca fascinans

If someone asked you what bird sings loudly from high trees that sounds like a whistling call "chwit-chwit-chwit-queeter-queeter-queeter", would you hazard a guess or be completely in the dark? 
This bird happens to be Jacky Winter and is almost sparrow like in its appearance, weighing only 15 grams.

Jacky Winter

Let’s find out more? 
I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons from 

Native to Australia, Jacky Winter is widespread in open woodland , preferring bare ground, rural towns and peri-urban areas.

An insect eating bird that dars out from its perch onto open ground but then flies back to that same perch or perhaps another nearby.
Very acrobat in the way they chase their insect prey.
Jacky Winter builds a cup shaped nest which is often positioned on a dead branch so it blends in better.
Bird Calls:
Bird call recognition can be tricky, especially if there’s no chance of seeing the bird, but have no fear. 
There are apps for your mobile phone which allows you to record the call and it will identify it for you. 
There’s even one called Shazam. 
 If you have any questions for me or for Holly email us at 
you can write in to 2RRR PO Box 644, Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Indoor Plants are Fab Again in Design Elements

August 21st, 2019


Indoor Plants:  Introduction

Did you know that NASA has carried out a Clean air Study to figure out which plants help to clean the air in our homes and offices?


Selection of indoor plants about to be potted up. photo: M Cannon

These plants are best at cleaning the air to eliminate toxins.

Toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene.

So let’s find out more in this new series on indoor plants.

I'm talking with Julia Levitt, Landscape Designer and Director of

Indoor plants not only look attractive, brighten up gloomy areas and generally improve our moods, but they also have an added benefit of cleaning the air.

Those chemicals that I mentioned are all common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are emitted into the air in our homes by everyday items such as furniture, carpets and common household appliances as well as air fresheners, hair products and nail polish. Wow!

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

Real World Gardener Peppermint as Herbal in Plant of the Week

August 21st, 2019


Mint:Piperita officinalis-Peppermint: Mentha spicata-Common Mint or Spearmint

Even non gardeners would be familiar with the mint herb and many would have imbibed peppermint tea, and perhaps even eaten after dinner mints.

But which mint helps you sleep and which mint helps with a sore stomach?

Let’s find out

I'm talking with was Simone Jefferies, naturopath and herbalist of 


A herb that grows well where it is a bit damp and shady.peppermint-tea.jpg

Simone says, "mint has a sense of humour, because in Simone's garden, it pops up almost anywhere, including cracks in the pavement. "

You can easily buy peppermint plants as well as the many other different varieties of mint.

There are many types of mint: eau de cologne mint, mojito mint, ginger mint, and banana mint.

Banana mint sounded quite delicious and may be an ideal addition to ice cold water on a warm summer’s day.

Benefits of Mint

Peppermint Mint is a calming and soothing herb that has been used for thousands of years to aid with upset stomach or indigestion.

Mint is a mild sedative and can be used just before going to sleep as a calmative.

Cooking with Mint

Mint Sauce-handful of mint, add some sugar, vinegar and boiling water.

Add to steamed peas.

Tabbouleh: 1/3 mint; 2/3 parsley, cracked wheat, spring onions, cucumber  (if desired.)

If you have any questions for me or for Simone, please write in to

Real World Gardener Why Seeds Fail in Plant Doctor

August 21st, 2019

Plant Doctor

Why Seeds Fail.

Some say that rules are meant to be broken but in the instance of seed sowing, I say these rules are meant to be adhered to.



Seeds photo M Cammpm

Are you the type of gardener that breaks rules such as the first rule?

The first rule when it comes to sowing seed, is to sow at the correct times of the year for your district. 

But there are plenty of other reasons why seeds fail.

Let’s find out why? I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from

There are quite a few good reasons why seeds can fail for example, some seeds are more sensitive to temperatures and refuse to budge if it’s not within their preferred range. 


Seeds that are old or have been stored incorrectly, say in your garden shed which heats up to over 30 Celsius in summer. 

Seeds drying out if planted too shallowly, or running out of energy because they’re planted to deeply.

Some seeds need darkness to germinate, like pansies, but others need light to germinate. Lettuce need light, for success with these seeds, just press the seeds into the soil surface.

Good drainage for great success, eg cactus and lithop seeds need excellent drainage.

This can mean if they’re sitting in the soil longer, there’s more chance of them rotting off.

So apart from old seeds, the main reasons belong in the environmental category.

If you have any questions for me or for Steve email us at


Real World Gardener Best Garden Seating in Design Elements

August 15th, 2019


Garden Seating Sorted

What’s the last word in garden seating for you?

Perhaps you can’t be bothered with garden benches, tables and chairs and an old milk crate or just perching on a step will do.




Or you’ve got the good ole’ cast iron table and 2 chair setting which is terribly cold on the bottom, not to mention hard.

Things have moved on considerably in the last thirty of forty years though.

Let’s find out what’s Peter’s last word in garden seating.

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, principle of Paradisus Garden Design

Seating and lighting go together so rather than the awful floodlight stuck on the side of the garage, why not think about 12V lighting to compliment night time seating with your friends and family?

Real World Gardener Weeping Fig in Plant of the Week

August 15th, 2019


Weeping Fig: Ficus benjamina.

Some plants are vital to many layers in tropical rainforests and some Old World trees(stranglers, such as the weeping fig (F. benjamina)), develop aerial roots from their branches and send them straight down through the air.

Let’s find out

That was Jeremy Critchley

The actual definition of a keystone species is a plant or animal that plays a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions.

Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.


  • But back in suburbia, there’s not that much to worry about . except don’t plant that fig in your garden.
  • Because when the aerial root from the branches reach the ground, these roots grow into the soil, thicken, and become additional "trunks." 

In this way stranglers grow outward to become large patches of fig forest that consist of a single plant with many interconnected trunks. In this way stranglers grow outward to become large patches of fig forest that consist of a single plant with many interconnected trunks.


Real World Gardener Real Tamarind in Spice It Up

August 15th, 2019


Tamarindus indica: Tamarind

You've probably heard of tamarind, but can you describe what it is, exactly? 

A bean... maybe? A spice... or something?

Spices and herbs aren’t always used in the way you would think.

For example, this next spice you soak then throw away the spice and use the water.

Sounds strange but what’s even more strange, is that even though it has a sour note, you can make lollies out of it.


Tamarind pod

Let’s find out more.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from


The tamarind tree, Tamarindus indica is perhaps not for suburban backyards because of it’s massive height. 18 - 20 m.

Ian recalls driving through a part of India where the Tamarind trees lined the road for over 30km!

Tamarindus%2Bindica.jpgTamarind pods look like pods from the Australian Black Bean tree. (Castanospermum australe.)

Inside the pods is a sticky mass of pulp with seeds and fibre.

Be careful though when purchasing Tamarind for use in cooking because there are 3 types.

  • Asian cooking: use tamarind paste which is flesh mixed with salt and water. DON'T USE for Indian cooking.
  • Indian cooking-use the dried out tamarind pulp, soak that in water and macerate. Drain off the acidulated water and use in your Indian dishes, but throw away the pulp.
  • You can also buy Tamarind concentrate which is the tamarind mixed with water, then boild down to a substance as thick as black molasses. Just use 1/2 teaspoon in your Indian dishes.

Fun Fact:Ever heard of chef Yotam Ottolenghi -- pretty much the "it" chef for all things vegetarian. 
Ottolenghi uses tamarind paste in everything; it's one of his "secret" ingredients.

If that's not reason enough to get to know tamarind, we don't know what is.

Just get the dried pulp to use in cooking but be wary of using tamarind paste for Indian dishes.

If you have any questions for me or for Ian, email us at

Or you can write in to 2RRR PO Box 644, Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Wind Flowers or Anemones in Talking Flowers

August 8th, 2019


Anemone coronaria: Wind Flower, Anemone.        

This flower is a member of the Ranunculaceae family and is native to the Mediterranean region.


  • The name Anemone comes from Greek and roughly means wind flower, which signifies that the wind that blows the petal open will also, eventually, blow the dead petals away.
  • Coronaria means used for garlands.

Tubers, corns or bulbs?

  • Bulbs have a tunic, corms have a basal plate, tubers have multiple growing points or eyes.
  • Anemone tubers are usually planted in early autumn, March until May.
  • Before planting, the tubers are recommended to be dipped in lukewarm water for 2-4 hours or overnight.
  • Planting Depth: Plant Anemones with the pointy end facing down at a depth of 3 to 5cm. Soak well each week until shoots appear.

anemone-.jpg This windflower is an upright perennial that grows from rhizomatous tubers. 

Leaves are medium green, with basal leaves being biternate and involucral (a whorl or rosette of bracts surrounding an inflorescence (especially a capitulum) or at the base of an umbel..) Leaves are deeply divided.

Flowering time: late winter, spring.

I'm talking with floral therapist, Mercedes Sarmini.

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