Real World Gardener Sea Urchin Hakea in Plant of the Week

November 29th, 2019


Hakea petiolaris; Sea Urchin  Hakea

There are many reasons to like a particular plant which affects our choices.

For some it’s the flowers or the perfume, for others it’s the colour of the leaves.

But for something completely different, others like a plant because of the sound the wind makes through the leaves of that particular plant.


Hakea petiolaris flower

So what will appeal with this plant?

I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Let’s find out.


For grey leaves, and spectacular flowers, the hakea is something to think about if you want a native small tree.

Medium tree 5 to 11 m high. Leaves are pale grey, broadly  obovate in shape and range from 5-15cm long by 2.3-6cm wide. 

Endemic to the south west of Australia, occurring at the coastal plain, jarrah forest and wheatbelt regions, often at the ancient granite outcrops of Western Australia. 

The only thing to watch for is high humidity can make them short lived.

Still, if you collect the seeds, then grow some more from seed and you’ll have another tree quite quickly.


If you have any questions for me or for Adrian, please contact us or write in.

Real World Gardener Pruning Evergreen vs Deciduous part 3 in Design Elements

November 29th, 2019


  • Pruning 101: Deciduous vs Evergreen.

Deciduous and evergreen plants have different pruning needs.

Have you ever had a shrub, say philadelphus that you thought wasn’t performing-no flowers for several years, so you transplanted it or pulled it out?

Perhaps you weren’t timing it right? Philadelphus_coronarius_Sweet_Mock_Orang

I'm talking with Jason Cornish from

Let’s find out.


Marianne's Tips on Pruning

Pruning group

Pruning method

Time of pruning

Examples of plants

Flower on current season’s growth

Old wood thing. New growth shortened.

Winter/early spring

Roses, abelia, buddleia. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Flowers on previous season’s growth

Immediately after flowering


Spiraea, Rondeletia,Prunus glandulosa, Acacia, Callistemon, Grevillea

Flowering on older wood and spurs

Maintain tidy shape

After flowering

Prunus cerasifera & other prunus species

For showy fruits

Cut away most of leaders

 After fruiting if needed

Cotoneaster, pyracantha, Berberis spp.

For showy foliage

Prune 50% of growth’ feed and water

Winter to spring

Abutilon, Aucuba japonica-gold dust plant. Buxus.  Hebe, Euonymus.

Non flowering evergreen

Do not prune back beyond green foliage into older wood

Late winter


If you don’t know what shrub or tree that you’ve got, the best advice is to wait until it flowers or sets fruit, and then prune after that.

  • In the case of philadelphus, as soon as the shrub had finished flowering, cut out all of the stems which have just flowered.
  • Prune them back to around a third of their length. They will soon start to produce new stems which will provide the flowering stems for next year. Don’t just prune little bits off the end 

If you have any questions for me or for Jason, please write in to realworldgardener@gmail.comtr5555

Real World Gardener Cinnamon Vs Cassia part 1 in Spice It Up

November 29th, 2019


  • Cinnamon and Cassia part 1

Most if not all, cooks or chefs would’ve used cinnamon in their cooking at some time or other.

However, most likely the powdered form was used mainly.

What about the cinnamon sticks? 


Cinnamomum zeylanicum


Is that where the powdered from comes from? 


If it's the bark of a tree, how does cinnamon get harvested?

Who rolls those sticks, is it by machine or by hand?

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

  • There are two types of cinnamon, Sri  Lankan cinnamon or Cinnamomum zeylanicum, (pictured) and Cinnamomum cassia or just 'cassia."
  • They come from different trees and are grown in different countries.Cassia cinnamon is grown in China,  Japan and Vietnam.
  • Can you imagine all those cinnamon sticks that are from Sri Lanka, are all hand rolled by ‘cinnamon rollers.’

You will know be able to tell the difference between cinnamon and cassia.

  • The cinnamon scrolls have more rolls than cassia, and the cassia powder has quite a strong almost bitey flavour compared to the sweeter milder flavor or real cinnamon, if you test the powder on your tongue. 

  If you have any questions for me or for Ian, why not write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville 1675

Real World Gardener Bluebells in Talking Flowers

November 21st, 2019

TALKING FLOWERSbluebells.jpg


There are English (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and spanish bluebells. (Hyacinthoides hispanica).

  • Family: Asparagaceae

Flowering in Spring, the bluebell is blue.  but, there are also bluebells that have a creamy colour or an off white hue and even pink.

It might not look like it but bluebells has six petals.  These petals are all fused up together forming a narrow bell shape.

The main differences between a Spanish bluebell and  English bluebell 

English bluebells flower on one side, Spanish bluebells flower on both sides of the stem.

English bluebell is stronger scented. Spanish bluebell has only a very slight scent.

Spanish bluebell grows well in full sun but English bluebells prefers at least partial shade.

Spanish bluebell flowers lift their heads towards the sun. English bluebells never do.


Bluebells is a tool used for calling fairies.

“Ring” the bluebells like you would a normal bell and the fairies would come. But the downside is - if you actually hear it ring, it’s a superstition that someone that holds dear to your heart will die.

  •  In a vase.

Cut the bluebell stem straight across the base and place in shallow water in the vase. Any more water and the stems will soften and fall over.

Replace the water in the vase daily.

I'm talking with florist Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Pruning 101, When to Prune in Design Elements

November 21st, 2019

When To Prune

pruning%2Bhedge.jpgPruning is one of those jobs that eventually every gardener that grows anything will undertake.

Now that you’re committed to pruning that tree or shrub or hedge, what is the most important consideration do you think?

Do you know the name of the species of plant?

Do you know when it’s about to flower or set fruit?

So when should you prune it?


Well, today it’s about when’s the best time to prune.

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Jason Cornish from

Jason's tip is to wait until after flowering before commencing pruning as a general rule.

Pruning hedges is different because the flowers are not the feature, but the neatness is.

Depending on what the plant species is, for hedging, pruning occurs 2-3 times a year.

fore example, viburnum hedges.

For vigorous hedges such as Plumbago, you will need to prune 4-5 times per year.

  • TIP:If you don’t know what shrub or tree that you’ve got, the best advice is to wait until it flowers or sets fruit, and then prune after that.
  • Jason's General Rule Nr 2 : Jason’s strategy is lightly and often.

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

Real World Gardener NEW Pruning Saws in Tool Time

November 21st, 2019


There comes a point in your pruning when secateurs, and loppers just won’t do the job.

Do you strain, grit your teeth and pull faces when cutting large branches in your garden that your garden loppers can’t handle?

Let’s face it, the size of the branch is too big but not big enough to call an arborist, so what do you do?     

Get a pruning saw and here’s why.

Let’s find out. 

I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of


There are two main types of pruning saws and both have different purposes for different types of cutting.

  • Folding saw is typically straight and limited in length of blade-usually up to 200mm
  • Fix pruning saw is curved and used for branches that are greater in diameter than 200mm.

 The pruning saw blade is made as a metal blank and the teeth are then machined into the metal.

The metal is then hardened so they don't wear and chrome plated so they don't rust.

Chrome plating will wear off eventually, ( faster on cheaper blades,) so it's important to clean the blade after use and oil the blade with light machine oil.

Tony prefers not to use vegetable oil because it leaves a sticky residue.



Did you know that pruning saws have less teeth than most woodsaws?

The other difference is that the teeth on pruning saws are larger and sharper, making the job of cutting tree branches easier.


Tony’s Rule: the length of the pruning saw blade determines how big a branch you can cut. Half the length of the blade, is the maximum size of branch that you can cut.

Tony also recommends that , if the chrome coating has worn off, oil your blade after you have used and cleaned it.

If you have any questions for me or for Tony, why not write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Keeping Bees part 2

November 16th, 2019


Last week part 1 of this two-part series about bee-keeping went to air, so I’ll revise a little of that in the interview.

If you are considering keeping bees, don’t just get a bee hive and hope for the best.

Don’t be like some people that have put Flow Hives in the backyard and not put any bees in and wondered why they don't get any honey.


Would you be game enough to collect a wild swarm of bees?


Or others that have put just one queen bee in a Flow Hive [without a colony]."

Be informed and do the right thing.

Let’s find out about things you need to know about keeping bees in part 2 of this 2 part segment.

I'm talking with John Scot from

Tip: using a smoker calms the bees quite a bit because it gives the bees a cue that something is going to happen.

You will also need to replace you queen bee after 3-4 years because she will have become less productive and your beehive colony will go into decline in as little as 6 - 8 months.

That is because the queen bee is unable to lay sufficient worker bee eggs.

Buying a queen bee can be done online and the best time to buy in Australia is from October until the end of autumn.

For a current list of queen bee producers refer to the Australasian Beekeeper (, or the Australian Honey Bee News.



photo Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

Just remember, one of the most important things you need to do if you want to keep bees is to register with your state’s DPI.

If there's an outbreak of disease in the bee population that could threaten Australia's crops and environment, the department needs to keep beekeepers informed.

Registration allows the DPI to identify owners of beehives and know where the hives are located and communicate with them if there's ever an outbreak of disease outside of Australia,

If you have any questions for me or for John, why not write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Rock Isotoma in Plant of the Week

November 16th, 2019


Rock Isotoma: Isotoma axillaris

Family: Lobeliaceae

Fancy a shrubby ground cover plant with purple starry flowers that’s a real standout?

Of course, we all want those in our garden because they fit into any bare spot.

Let’s find out why we should grow it.


Isotoma axillaris

I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Rock isotoma is a flowering perennial that grow up to 40cm high x 40cm wide.

Upright stems are often a purplish colour and covered with short, soft hairs quickly becoming smooth.

The leaves are about 1.5–15 cm long and 0.5–5 mm wide with deep, toothed, linear lobes sharply pointed at the apex.

Rock Isotoma grows naturally in sandstone rock crevices in bushland, but don’t let that stop you from growing it in your garden.

Treat it as a biennial plant, but as it self seeds that’s not really a problem.

You may see if for sale in your local nursery Isotoma ‘Blue Star’

It’s a terrific plant with multibranched stems, that grows into a great mound of lilac-coloured, star-like flowers

If you have any questions either for me or Adrian, why not write in to

Real World Gardener Pruning 101 part 1 in Design Elements

November 16th, 2019


  • Series: Pruning 101

Pruning is one of those jobs that eventually every gardener that grows anything will undertake.

Except of course if you’ve only got a lawn and nothing else, but those gardeners are probably not listening to the radio show or reading this blog.



So over the next 4 weeks, Jason and I will be talking about various pruning jobs and methods.

Today it’s an introduction into what pruning is and different levels of pruning.

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Jason Cornish from

  • There's several types of pruning.

Tip pruning: removing just the tip of the branches or stems to encourage bushy growth. Using your thumb and middle finger, it's easy to nip out the top couple of leaves at a point just above the next set of leaves lower down. This will stimulate two pairs of leaves to grow from that point.

Light pruning: to remove just the outer leaves without cutting into the semi hardwood or hardwood.

Medium pruning: not a hard prune, but somewhere between  a light prune and removing 30% of growth.

Hard prune: chopping the shrub or tree almost to the ground. A risky undertaking and may result in death of the plant. Some plants such as callistemons and lilly pillies will reshoot from being pruned in this way.

Real World Gardener Bee Keeping part 1

November 12th, 2019


Thinking about keeping bees but didn’t know where to start?

Is keeping bees a lot of hard work?


Marianne & John Scott

Are you wondering why keep them in the first place?

Well there’s the pollination of flowers, both ornamental and on vegetables in your garden as well as neighbouring gardens, plus the reward of honey by the kilo, not to mention the hive byproduct of beeswax.

Let’s find out about things you need to know about keeping bees in part 1 of this 2 part segment.

I'm talking with John Scot from



Langstroth Hive: Image-CSIRO

NOTE:  If you are keen on keeping bees, then you must register with the Department of Primary Industries.

  • A hive is made up of a bottom board, a box and a lid. When you expand a put another box on top, this box is called a 'super.'

    What type of hives are out there?


Flow Hive

Langstroth: the traditional hive with wooden frames.

  • There are two sizes, an 8 or 10 frame box.
  • Each frame has hexagonal wax moulds that the bees can then use to build their own comb on top of. 

Flow HiveThe bees fill the honey cells and cap them off. When you insert the Flow Key and turn it,  the hone cells are split so that honey flows into the trough, through a tube and into your jar.


We all know what honey is but did you know that that bees make it by gathering nectar from plants and processing it in their stomachs?

They keep the honey in cells, adding an enzyme to ripen it.

It's stored as a food reserve for the colony in winter but, since they make more than they need, beekeepers can collect the surplus.

If you have any questions for me or for John, why not write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

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