Real World Gardener Billy Buttons in Plant of the Week

December 22nd, 2019


Pycnosurus globusus: Billy Buttons

Do you like the sound of a plant that has flowers like buttons the size of your thumb but on stalks, with grey strappy leaves?billy%2Bbuttons%2Bflower.jpg

What if I tell you it’s an Australian native, a perennial and loves dry weather, would you be interested then?

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

Let’s find out about it

Billy buttons is a dense groundcover that spreads around 50cm in width.

Supported by an underground rhizome which allows it spread.

Grow it from seed, grow it from division, but just grow this sturdy groundcover like plant with yellow buttons made up of thousands of tiny flowers on tall stalks.

  • Botanical Bite: The flower is a pseudanthium consisting of between three and eight florets surrounded by bracts.
  • The petals are joined to form a small tube and the florets with their surrounding bracts are yellow or golden-yellow.
  • each flower head may contain over a thousand individual flowers.

Best is less humid climates, although it can be grown in temperate regions of the east coast.

Short lived perennial, 3-4 years.


Real World Gardener So You Think You Need a Landscaper part 2 in Design Elements

December 22nd, 2019


So You Think You Need A Landscaper part 2

You may have seen two- dimensional garden designs and wanted something similar for your garden, but is that kind of thing totally necessary?

Could a free hand sketch be just as good as long as it was to scale?

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Peter Nixon Project manager and landscape designer for Paradisus garden design.

Peter advises to choose a landscape or garden designer that provides availability lists and photos of the plants that are in the design.

To many people, plant names, whether common or scientific, just don't mean

But, if they are provided with a photo of what the plant can look like in a particular situation, say a screening hedge of Magnolia grandiflora St Mary's, then they will have a better idea.

If you want more than just new garden beds and new plants, you may just want a garden designer.

But if you want more doing than just plants, you’ll need project manager who is also a garden or landscape designer.

Real World Gardener Allspice vs Cloves on Spice It Up

December 22nd, 2019


Allspice vs Cloves

How well do you know your spices?

Would you think for instance, that allspice and mixed spice are the same?


Pimenta doica_allspice tree with berries.

Would cloves be a good substitute to save you running to the store, if you ran out?

Let’s find out.  I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from 

Even the Spaniards were confused with the allspice berry when they invaded Jamaica, thinking it was a type of pepper.  Probably why the allspice tree is Pimento doica.


  • The allspice berries  are picked when they're green and put out to dry in the sun.




Allspice and cloves

The heat of the sun activates the enzyme which turns the berries dark brown.

At night, the berries are heaped into a pile and covered with a tarpaulin.

The next day they are spread out in the sun again. 

This process is repeated over three to four days, by the end of which time, a volatile oil develops called eugenol.

It turns out that allspice and basil, also have a lot in common, because both contain the essential oil eugenol. 

That means both are perfect partners in tomato dishes.

  • But it also turns out you can use allspice instead of mixedspice but at 1/3 of the quantity because it’s much stronger. 
  • The clove tree is Syzygium aromaticum. The unopened flower bud is the clove.

If you have any questions, please write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Dandelions in Grow Your Gealth

December 12th, 2019


Dandelion: Taraxacum officinale

I’ve talked about weeds on this program, not just controlling weeds but eating weeds.

It’s not something that I’ve got my head around yet, but one weed that is being showcased today has been used in herbal medicine and nutrtition for quite a while.

Apparently it’s good for your liver.



Let’s find out what it is.

I'm talking with Simone Jeffries, naturopath, nutritionist and wellness coach of


The leaf has a serrated edge forming a basal rosette, with a strong taproot.

Dandelion flowers have only ray florets, and no disc florets, therefore no centre.

Milky sap comes from the stem.

It’s good though that dandelion coffee or tea has the same health benefits. 

  • Simone recommends eating the leaf because they are bitter. 
  • Bitterness is good for us, because it stimulates the appetite.

Dandelion leaves are best when young because they become more bitter with age.

Add to a salad, incorporate into a pesto or mix it in with a juice.

The dandelion root is beneficial also, being made into tea or dandelion coffee.

Contains high amounts of iron and calcium.

You can slow bake the root until its brittle, then you can grind it up to make your own tea or coffee.

  • As always, make sure you can identify the weed correctly before consuming it.
  • Also don’t collect the weeds on roadsides or nature strips, because you don’t know what animal has left its message on them or if they have been sprayed with herbicide. 

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


Real World Gardener Swamp Banksia in Plant of the Week

December 6th, 2019


Banksia robur: Swamp Banksia

Here we have a small tree that’s gnarly and twisted but its scientific name suggests that it will grow into a strong upright tree, possibly an English oak.

Regardless of the fact that the tree is nothing like an English oak, even though it is robust, the botanical name still remains.


Banksia robur photo Adrian O'Malley


Which is strange, because botanists seem to like to change scientific names on a regular basis.


Let’s find out about it


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

The flower spikes appear in autumn and winter, perfect for providing food for nectar feeding birds when food is scarce.

Not grey leaves this time, but they’re really large, up to 30cm in length and quite leathery, with wonderful bluish green flowers.


As Adrian says, if you buy a small Banksia robur expecting it to grow into a shrub, it may just start going sideways and there’s no pruning that will make it go upwards.




Banksia robur photo Adrian O'Malley

Real World Gardener Pruning 101 Aftercare in Design Elements

December 6th, 2019


Pruning 101 After Care

You’ve pruned the branches on that tree so you can walk underneath it, but what do you need to be careful of?

Are there trees that don’t really need much pruning at all?

What care should be taken when you finished all that pruning?

All these questions answered and more.

I'm talking with Jason Cornish from

Let’s find out.


For grafted trees, or shrubs, this includes roses, if there is a shoot below the graft, called a sucker, that must come off because it belongs to the vigorous understock.

If left there, this shoot will take over from the upper part of the tree or shrub, which may actually die off if you don’t remove the sucker.


Pruning a peach tree

Pruning fruiting trees is best carried out when buds have begun to swell but not fully open, if you want to do formative pruning.

Remove about one -third of growth each year, keeping in mind that peach trees fruit on one your old wood.

Unlike other fruit trees, peach trees need to be opened up in the centre so that the branches form a vase shape.

Removal of crossing or dead twigs or branches can be done at anytime, as seen in the photo.


Real World Gardener Cassia vs Cinnamon part 2 in Spice It Up

December 6th, 2019


Cassia vs Cinnamon part 2

Last week in part 1 of this segment about cinnamon and cassia, Ian the herb and spice expert talked mainly about where and how, each of these spices are produced.

  • One thing to note: in America, Cassia Cinnamon is just called cinnamon and Sri Lankan cinnamon is called Mexican cinnamon.  

Keep this in mind when reading recipes on the internet or in American cookbooks.

Also, how to tell them apart just by looking at the cinnamon sticks, or feeling and tasting the power.

This time, we’re delving a bit deeper and giving out some recipe ideas also.

I'm talking with was Ian Hemphill from

Let’s find out.


PLAY: Cinnamon and Cassia part 2_ 27th November 2019

There were some tricks of the spice trade to trap unwary customers.

Cassia is from a different tree mianly grown in China, Japan and Vietnam. 


Cassia on the left: Cinnamon on the  right

All of the bark is taken from the tree to make cassia quills. These look deceptively like the more expensive cinnamon quills but here's the difference.

  • Cinnamon quills have many concentric layers
  • Cassia quills only have one concentric layer.

If you want to make Chai tea, think twice before using cassia cinnamon.

This type of cinnamon is too strong, but the true cinnamon, or what I regard as true cinnamon from Sri Lanka, is milder and sweet.

  • Think cheap spice, is it really worth it?

Remember unless that cinnamon powder that you bought feels smooth with any any grittiness, it’s probably been adulterated with cinnamon outer bark. 

Mulled wine jelly




Rind of 1 orange

Rind of 1 lemon

2 cinnamon quills

6 cloves

1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped

100ml vodka

10 gold-strength gelatine leaves

200ml port

2 cups (500ml) red wine

2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar

300ml thickened cream

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Herbies Mulled Wine spices can be susbtituted for the cinnamon, cloves and vanilla bean.



Place rinds, cinnamon quills, cloves, vanilla pod and seeds and vodka in a bowl.

Stand, covered at room temperature for 4 hours or overnight to infuse.

Once citrus mix is ready, soak gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer citrus mixture to a pan.

Add the port, wine and sugar, then place over low heat and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves (don't let it boil).

Squeeze gelatine to remove any excess water, then add the leaves to the pan and stir to dissolve.

Cool slightly.

Strain the mulled wine into a jug, then pour into a 1-litre jelly mould.

Cover and chill overnight until set.

When ready to serve, whip cream then fold in ground cinnamon.

Unmould the jelly, then serve with cinnamon cream

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



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