Real World Gardener Creating a Bird Friendly Garden in Design Elements

April 23rd, 2020


Building A Bird Friendly Garden

Wildlife in Australia has taken a massive hit with bushfires, then torrential rain that in some cases resulted in flooding. 
Are you wondering where have all the birds gone in your garden ?

Or perhaps you have some of the more aggressive birds like Indian Mynah or Currawongs and want to know how to attract those smaller birds.
How can you help the birdlife in your garden?

Superb Fairy Wren

Perhaps start by thinking about creating an oasis, but there’s some essential steps that need to be observed first. 
Let’s find out . 
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, consulting arborist and landscape designer 
PLAY: Building a bird friendly garden_8th April 2020 

If you provide your birds in your local area with a source of food, shelter and water, and that should help with not only supporting them, but letting you enjoy more of their presence. 

  • Glenice points out that you need to plant in layers.
  • This includes the canopy layer or larger trees, the shrub layer, then groundcovers and finally the leaf litter layer.
You may have noticed when you are walking in your district, where the smaller birds congregate.
This will give you some idea of the kind of habitat that they prefer.
You don't necessarily have to plant the same as in the bushland are nature reserves, because some might be weeds.

Grevillea Scarlet Sprite
For example, fairy wrens love to dart in and out of lantana bushes that are growing along a path under the Gladesville bridge in Sydney.
Instead, plant the type of style of bushes that these birds prefer; a shrub with dense foliage to the ground, such as Grevillea 'Scarlet Sprite,' or "Firesprite.' There's also a range of Callistemons or bottlebrushes that attract a variety including fairy wrens.
  • Think about plants that flower at different times of the year so that you've got a food source all year round in your garden.

If you have any questions of course, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Black Bean Tree in Plant of the Week

April 8th, 2020


Common Name: Black Bean Tree: 
Scientific name: Castanospermum australe
Family: Fabaceae
Native distribution: east coast of Australia in Queensland and New South Wales, and to the Pacific islands of Vanuatu, New Caledonia
Over the last few weeks in this segment, we’ve been talking about big, big trees, and today’s offering is no exception, but perhaps not as big as the Kauri Pine. 
This tree, although very range with amazing huge boat like seed pods, is in the same family as peas, beans and broadbeans.

Castanospermum australe

The Black Bean tree makes an interesting pot specimen. 

Lovely red and yellow pea like flowers, typical of the legume family.
I'm talking with Adrian O”Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert. 
So let’s find out more. 

PLAY: Castanospermum austral_18th March 2020 

  • Black bean tree is an attractive Australian rainforest tree with dark glossy leaves and masses of yellow and red flowers during summer. 
  • Flowers attract lorikeets and other nectar feeders.
Sometimes used as street trees as long as they’re not under power lines. 
DO NOT plant in the garden, because it has invasive roots.
Certainly bird attracting when in flower and has a spreading canopy when it matures. 
If you want to grow it from the large bean like seed, sow the seed so that half of it is inserted into the seed raising mix.

Attractive pea like flowers of Castanospermum australe
Sometimes sold as a novelty plant with 6-10 seeds in a small pot, sort of like a bonsai plant but with many stems.
Unless you have a large garden, we recommend that you can plant this one successfully in a pot for many years. 
  • The beans of Castanospermum austral or black bean tree or toxic to everyone. 
Sydney Botanic gardens have a couple of these trees and various suburbs such as Hunters Hill, have the occasional Black Bean tree as a street tree.
seed pods of Black Bean tree.

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

Real World Gardener Insect Deterrent Planting in Design Elements

April 8th, 2020


Planting to Deter Mosquitos
The warmer months of the year can become the bane of a gardeners life, or in fact anyone who likes the outdoors, if hordes of insects invade your personal space. 
I’m talking mainly mosquitos,  because they bite, but flies can just be just as annoying if your relaxing in your garden, or having friends and family over for a bbq. 
So what can we do to deter them?

Pelargonium graveolens: scented geranium

I'm talking with Glenice Buck, consulting arborist and landscape designer 

There are plenty of foliage plants that have a particular fragrance which deter insects, but you have to plant a lot of them, not just one or two.

Brushing the foliage releases the scents, so plant them close to where you entertain.
Most successful plants are what you think of as herbs: mint, basil, lemon scented verbena, sage.
Catnip, lavenders, scented geraniums, bee balm (Monarda spp.)
The biggest tip is not to expect the lone rosemary shrub or Tea tree Mozzie Blocker (Leptospermum liversidgei) , to do that heavy lifting in terms of fragrance. 

Mozzie Blocker tea tree.
Plant them right around the area where you sit and enjoy your garden so they act as a buffer zone between you and the insects.
  • You need an armarment of plants between you and the invading hordes.

If you want to know more or if you have any questions about plants to deter mosquitos, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener NEW African Daisies in Plant of the Week

April 3rd, 2020


African Daisy: Osteospermum sp

The daisy plant family (Asteraceae) is one of the biggest in the world. 
In fact it includes 32,000 species and 1,900 genera and 13 sub-families. 
The seeds of the osteospermums are quite hard. 

All are classified as sub-shrubs with green leaves and 90% of Osteospermums that you see for sale are from the same species.
Botanical Bite:
The daisy flower contains outer sterile ray florets (what look like petals) and the inner part of the daisy, or the 'eye' contains hundreds of tube like flowers and are referred to as disc florets.

Osteospermum sp.
We all know what daisy flowers look like, but what are modern day breeders doing with the colours and shapes? 


Is the centre of Osteospermums always a blue eye?
So let’s find out . 
I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley, horticulturist and owner of the Green Gallery nursery. 
PLAY: Osteospermum family_25th March 2020 
  • What about those daisies that have no centre?

With the fully double flowers, the disc florets that contain the sexual organs, have been genetically replaced  with petals making the flower fully double. These varieties cannot close at night, unlike the singles. 

  • Most Osteospermum's have a blue 'eye.' Any other colour?
There are two cultivars that Jeremy grows with different coloured centres:
Voltage Yellow has a yellow centre.

Osteospermum 3
White Lightning, creamy white with a cream white centre.
The doubles cannot close at night because of the amount of petals in the centre.
There's a range called the 3D's which include yellows, reds, oranges and many shades of pink.

3D's have names like Violet  Berry, Banana Shake-usually with two tone colours.Jeremy mentioned that he used to grow 80 different colours of African daisies. Can you think of 80 different colours? 

  • Jeremy'sTop Tip:
Osteo's love food, or fertiliser. The more food, the more flowers.
  • Can you think of 80 different colours?Nope? 


Well, Jeremy now only grows 30 different colours and I bet you would be hard pressed to think of more than 7. 
  • Funnily enough the classic white petals with blue centres are still the best sellers.

Real World Gardener Why Trees Fail in Design Elements

April 3rd, 2020


Why Trees Fail/Fall?

When a large, mature falls in your garden, it can be very disheartening, especially if it’s a special or favourite tree.

Kurrajong tree photo Glenice Buck

You may be left wondering what happened to cause it to fail after 20 or 30 years. 

Sometimes it’s obvious why a tree may fall in your garden, but what are the underlying factors? 
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, consulting arborist and landscape designer. 
Let’s find out . 

PLAY: Why Trees Fall_25th March 2020 
There are many reasons why trees fail or fall.


  • Trees need to be growing in well drained soil. 
  • If the soil holds onto too much moisture, this results in no oxygen in the soil, leading to tree roots rotting, making the tree unstable.
Trees will also fail or fall over in extreme weather events if they're susceptible.
Heavy rain inundation together with strong winds undermine the soil that the tree is growing in, particularly if the soil is shallow.
Glenice talks about the force of the wind, where the canopy of the tree acts like a lever, causing it to topple.
Sometimes the tree can be rescued by giving it a hard prune and winching it up, but that is the exception rather than the rule. 
  • Trees not planted correctly is another factor.
  • The planting hole needs to be wide enough so there there is enough room for the roots to spread . The hole should have more of vase shape, and loosen the soil so there is no soil 'glazing.'
  • Don't plant the tree too low in the ground.
  • If the tree is planted into a tight narrow space, not giving it enough room for the roots to develop to support the canopy.
If you want to know more or if you have any questions about why trees, fail, next week’s episode is about assessing trees for failure with Glenice. 

If you have any questions of course, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.



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