South African Bulbs for a Harsh Western Aspect in Design Elements

July 24th, 2021

Warm Bulbs pt. 2-Harsh Western Aspect 

Every garden has an aspect that’s hard to plant out because it’s either too shady or too harsh and dry or even spot that receives hot western sun .
Today I’m focusing on bulbs that can give you a long display in the warmer months but have evolved to withstand hot and dry months.

Haemanthus coccineus photo M Cannon

These bulbs originate where they are not exposed to very cold winters but have evolved to withstand hot dry conditions.

The bulbs in this group are in the Amaryllidaceae family which consists of mainly bulbs with long strappy leaves. The flowers are usually in an umbel-like cluster on a short or long scape.

Quite a few are known to have large showy flowers.
Haemanthus coccineus or 'blood lily likes an exposed location. 
It will refuse to flowers if in a shady, lush location. 
Don’t be like me and put the blood lily in too much shelter so the leaves grow long and the flower season trigger is missed.
  • A dead give-away is if the leaves are quite long and extended, then the bulb is in too much shade.

If you live in Adelaide, say a couple of streets back from the beach such as in Brighton, then expect your 'blood lily' to take off like mad. The low humidity and winter rains are a perfect climate for this bulb.

You can also look for the interspecific hybrid of Haemanthus albifloss x H. coccineus
If you love the shape of tulip flowers, then plant a row of these bulbs which will flower summer to autumn.
Brunsvigia greagaria 
Brunsvigia gregaria which has agapanthus like flower on steroids in a crimson coloured bloom.
Or even the combined genus of brunsvigia and amaryllis ending up with Amarygia.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast with Peter Nixon
 from Paradisus garden design.

Warm Bulbs for Bright Semi-Shade in Design Elements

July 23rd, 2021


Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.

  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
    Scadoxus multiflorus var. katarineae photo P. Nixon
  • The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.

We're starting of this 4 part series with 'bulbs for bright semi-shade.'

  • The first group are Scadoxus species, some of which evergreen.
  • This group DO NOT like low light levels, and poor  drainage.
  • If growing under a tree, the canopy must be well above so the bulbs are not shaded.
  • Even morning sun would be good.
  • Bulbs are the size of an onion.
  • DO NOT bury the bulbs as you would a tulip are narcissus. The neck of these bulbs MUST be half-emerged.

Peter mentions these:

Scadoxus multiflorus var. katarinaea - Fireball Lily (but also grows in Southern Highlands equating to higher altitude South Africa). 

Scadoxus membranaceus -entirely staminate and surrounded with pale bracts.

I have some of these warm bulbs-namely two varieties of Haemanthus.

One flowers easily, and the other, I’ve yet to discover where it prefers to grow so it puts out the red paintbrush flower.

PLAY: Bulbs -bright semi-shade_16th June 2021

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden 

Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to or

Snails and Dahlias in Plant Doctor

July 22nd, 2021


What's Wrong With My Dahlias?

Dahlias are collectible in that once you start growing them, it's hard to not to want more every time you look at a plant catalogue.

If you want more proof, then look no further than the dahlia societies which exist in four states, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.


But dahlias need some looking after if you want perfect show quality blooms.

One horror is holes in leaves of your precious plants.
What could cause that?
One culprit could be caterpillars or grasshoppers.
Another is one of the worst marauders appear in just about every garden,  and every gardener wants them to be gone.
  • Snails is what I’m talking about, those slimy leaf munching pests that multiply rapidly and even climb shrubs and trees.
  • Did you know that inside a snail's mouth there is a file-like 'radula' that scrapes the leaves and flowers.
  • Snails are also hermaphrodite, meaning that after mating, each of them can go off and lay eggs, up to 100!

Snail Patrol or Control:

So, what do you do to try and reduce their numbers?
The big tip is to be vigilant and control their numbers before they outnumber your plants.
Copper sprays are good to control those small snails that have climbed up into the foliage.
Coffee sprays are also known to control snails.
General prevention or control-bit of a mixed bag as to their effectiveness.
  1. Classic beer trap
  2. Diatomaceous earth
  3. Ring of ash.
  4. Crushed eggshells
  • Thin copper tape is better to control snails climbing up into pots or into trees.
One thing we forgot to mention is that natural predators like ducks or blue tongue lizards are a great help.

You may not want ducks, but you can think about creating a blue tongue lizard friendly garden.
That’s in another segment.
let’s find out.

PLAY: Snails & dahlias_16th June 2021

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni of

If you want more information about snails or have some feedback why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Two Best Banksias are Plant of the Week

June 11th, 2021


Banksia ericifolia and Banksia spinulosa: what's the difference?

Scientific Name: Banksia spinulosa

Common Name: Hairpin BanksiaBanksia%2Bspinulosa.jpg

Family: Proteaceae

Plant height: Mostly a multi-stemmed lignotuberous shrub. Varies greatly in height 1 -3 m 

Position: Full sun, frost hardy including Canberra winter frosts.

Leaves:long and narrow, 3-8 cm long by 2-7 mm wide, and variably toothed. Leaf margins often recurved which is an adaptation to dry environments.

Flowering:The flower spikes range from 10-20 cm in length. A spike may contain hundreds or thousands of individual flowers, each of which consists of a tubular perianth made up of four united tepals, and one long wiry style.

Position: Prefers to grow in the open where it makes a nice rounded shrubs.

Shade makes it spindly.

Banksias are an import source of nectar during autumn and winter when flowers are scarce.

Scientific Name: Banksia ericifolia

Common Name: Heath Banksia

Family: Proteaceae

Plant height: Mostly a multi-stemmed shrub. Varies greatly in height 3-6 m

Position: Full sun, frost hardy including Canberra winter frosts.

Leaves: The linear dark green leaves are small and narrow, 9–20 mm long and up to 1 mm wide, generally with two small teeth at the tips. 

The leaves are crowded and alternately arranged on the branches..Banksia%2Bericifolia.jpg

Flowers: cylindrical flower spikes are quite large at 4-6 cm wide and up to 30 cm long

Differences: Banksia ericifolia has much narrower leaves and is fire-sensitive in that it does not have a lignotuber for vegetative regeneration after bushfires. The species relies on seed for regeneration - seeds are retained in the cones for many years and are released by the heat of a fire.


People are afraid to prune Banksias because they think of them as being a bit tricky.
If you’re not sure what type of Banksia you have, then only light pruning.
If you know your Banksia has a woody rootstock (lignotuber) then it can be heavily pruned.

  •  Only low phosphorus fertilisers should be used if at all. I’d recommend Blood n Bone.

Here's an interesting tidbit: Historically B. ericifolia is supposed to be the first specimen collected by Sir Joseph Banks at Botany Bay in 1770. 

For some reason, Banks did not describe this new discovery however and it was left to Carl Linnaeus who later named the genus Banksia in honour of Banks in 1782.

Have a listen to the podcast.

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


Real World GardenerWinter Flowering Grevillieas are Plant of the Week

June 11th, 2021


Winter flowering Grevilleas

Scientific Name: Grevilliea

Common Name: Grevillea

Family: Proteaceae

There’s a lot to choose from but before you run out to the nursery to buy up all the winter flowering ones for your garden. Let’s look at what conditions Grevilleas need to thrive.

Red soil is too heavy for many grevilleas. So if you live in Moree, you may not be able to grow many grevilleas  because of the heavy soil.

Grevilleas like air in the soil, so a light sandy soil is preferable,but you could easily just plant them on a bit of mound mixed with good compost and some light potting mix in it so they  can get established first..

Once they are older they don't seem to mind the heavier soil, but  drainage is a must.

  1. superb. 1.5 x 1.5m. Red to yellow flowers, Yellow tips on the stamens. Tolerates frost to -30C Bird attracting.
  2. coconut ice2 x 1.5m. Reddish pink flowers through out the year. Dense semi-spreading habit. Not like coconut ice confection atl all. Tolerates frost to -40C
Grevillea Coconut Ice : photo M Cannon

G Honey Gem, an old favourite although rather big. 4 x3m Large leaves which are deeply lobed, dark green above silver reverse. The flowers cylindrical and bright orange which drip with sweet nectar. Bird attracting. Tolerates frost to -30 C

Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream' grows to 1.5m x2m. with cream flowers which change to pink as they age. Flowers all year.

Have a listen to the podcast.

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

Real World Gardener Lilac Hibiscus is Plant of the Week

June 11th, 2021


Scientific name: Alyogyne heugeli

Common Name:Blue Hibiscus or Lilac Hibiscus

Family: Malvaceae

Flowering: late spring to summer

Position: Full sun to part shade.

Fertiliser; low phosphorus (P) or native fertiliser only.

As in all Hibiscus, the flowers open in the morning and last one day.  

  1. huegilii is a prolific flowerer-lots of flowers from late spring until the end of summer.

I’ve seen it grown at the back of the border, amongst exotics like May Bush, Loropetalum, and in front of Princess Lillies, and I must say, I regret having pulled mine out because the flowers are really lovely.

This plant blends so well with any other plant on the planet.

  • The original A. heugelii needs to be pruned to promote lower growth and this one grows to about 2 ½ metres tall. 
  • Although, you can keep it down to 1 ½ metres because it sends out fast-growing shoots from old wood.

There are new select forms that are more compact and lower growing.

Alyogyne heugelii Karana-a medium shrub 1.5m by 1.5m wide

Alyogyne heugelii Misty-a medium shrub 1.5m by 1.5m wide; also frost tolerant.

Have a listen to the podcast.

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

Real World Gardener Correas are Plant of the Week

June 11th, 2021


Correa glabra and other correas.

Scientific name: Correa species- Correa Glabra, Correa reflexa, Correa alba, Correa nummularifolia
Common name: Native Fuchsia
Family: Rutaceae
Distribution: Mainly eastern Australia  from southeast South Australia, through Victoria to eastern New South Wales and continues into south-east Queensland; it includes eastern Tasmania and Kangaroo Island off South Australia.

Australia has many small shrubs that are equivalent to if not better than some northern hemisphere plants and this one is no exception.
Plant breeders love this plant so much that there are now many hybridised forms with bigger flowers or flowers on a plant that can take full sun.

  • correa-canberra-bells.jpg
    Correa Canberra bells

    Did you know that there is a correa study group?

  • Or that Correas makes great small bird habitat and also are a food source for insects and small birds.
  • Correas are also great for those dry shady spots, so think about planting one soon.
Correas are generally easy to grow. 
  • Correa alba and C. glabra varieties are the hardiest withstanding heavy frost and severe droughts. Correa glabra varieties have fragrant leaves.
  • Correa lawrenceana is the largest of the correas. These need to be grown in the shade and do best in an understorey habitat.; attractive to birds for both nectar and nest sites and are ideally planted in a thicket.
  • Correa pulchella varieties produce the most beautiful coloured bells ranging from pale pink to deep orange to carmine. They need to be grown in part shade and watered regularly.
  • Correa reflexa varieties range in colour from green to deep red: these also need to be grown in a partly shaded position and watered regularly.
Correa reflexa nummularifolia

You need to know which species of correa you have so that you know their particular requirements.

  • Some of the more modern hybrids can take sun but others need morning sun and/or dappled all day shade.

To grow correa at its best, a light sandy soil with good drainage and a position protected from wind, with broken or morning sunlight, is desirable. 

Groups of three to five offer added protection and enhance visual appeal.

That was Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and avid native plant expert.

Real World Gardener Preserving Tomatoes part 1 on the Good Earth

May 29th, 2021

 Preserving tomatoes part 1

Pretty much everyone, from beginner gardeners to the experienced, just love growing tomatoes.
It's easy to see why, they are so rewarding and easy to grow, practically jumping out of the ground as soon as you sow them.
Despite all the problems that can beset your tomato crop, we still grow them year after year, because nothing beats the taste of a home grown tomato.


Fruit Fly?

If you have had tomatoes but they were affected by fruit fly, then use exclusion bags, or net the whole tomato bed.
  • So you might be wondering, but what about pollination?
Tomatoes are mostly self-pollinated, so the pollen drops from the anthers to the tip of the pistil in each flower
Wind helps this to happen by vibrating the flowers, ensuring the pollen loosens and falls.
  • But if you've covered the bed with netting, it's still easy to pollinate the flowers.

Just whack the stems with a stick to release the pollen, or use an electric toothbrush into the flower to move the pollen from the stamens to the pistil.

So now you planted, fertilised and then harvested, what next?
There's been a bumper season of tomatoes but what do you do with them all?

Tomato types and can they be preserved?

Salad tomatoes-not suitable for drying but can be made into passata.
Beefsteak tomatoes-large and fleshy, good for grilling, dehydrating and making passata. Margaret's favourite is Cherokee Purple.
Roma tomatoes-the most commonly used to make a sauce or passata.

Grape or cherry tomatoes- great if you don't want to bother with fruit fly exclusion netting. Not for drying, but eating fresh mainly. Good for beginner gardeners.

The was Margaret Mossakowska director of and sometimes a guest on Gardening Australia TV

Real World Gardener Design Principles part 2 in Design Elements

May 27th, 2021

Design Principles part 2

Site Analysis
Are you all set to re-design your garden to give it a new lease of life?
  • Perhaps just one area needs re-doing.
  • Autumn is the best time to think about that but first there are a few basics to consider.


Things to Consider
You first need to consider the factors that cannot be changed, these are:
climatic zone 
soil texture/type 
soil pH 
site hydrology or drainage 
the views into and out of the site 
water availability 
  • Having time to observe some of these factors can also work to your advantage as you can then see the difference in these elements through all the seasons.
  • The majority of gardening problems are caused by gardeners not understanding the climatic needs of their plants. It's important to note that Australia has a warmer climate than the countries of origin of most of our introduced plants. 

I'm talking with Glenice Buck of

Top tips:

  • Firstly, get to know your soil, the soil’s pH and how well does it drain, ie hydrology.
  • You can also look up soil texture test on the internet.
  • Consider water availability, particularly if you don’t have access to town water.
  • Then what views have you got and which need hiding.
Elements you can change.
  • Plants-move them if possible if they don't suit their location.
  • Look at lifespan of the existing trees or shrubs. Have they past their use by date? Have some sort of succession plan in place for these plants.
  • Decking or paving can be changed but think about re-using the material in the garden, or selling on a local buy, swap and sell, rather than throwing them into landfill.
Draw up a Mudmap
Now is the time to draw a rough map of you garden and house, including the boundary lines.
Mark structures that are going to stay, such as taps, clothesline, pathways, driveways.
Good to have this in your pocket to show to nursery staff to get ideas about plant quantities.
IMPORTANT: Mark out North on your map

Real World Gardener Marjoram vs Oregano in Spice it Up

May 27th, 2021


Oregano vs Marjoram: What's the Difference?

How well do you know your herbs?
You may have a herb garden so are pretty much used to telling the difference between one herb and another, but there are some herbs that look really similar.

  • Have you ever asked one of your household to go and get something like say sage leaves from your garden, and they came back with some catmint or something else?
  • Or perhaps you’ve planted one of these similar looking herbs and have forgotten which is which?
Can you tell which of the herbs pictured below is oregano and which is marjoram?


It’s time to have a closer look and write up a label.
Marjoram and oregano are very close relatives.
Even more confusing because the latin name for marjoram genus is Origanum
Scientific name: Oregano majorana
Common name: marjoram
Family: Lamiaceae or mint family
Scientific name: Oreganum vulgare
Common name: oregano
Family: Lamiaceae or mint family

How to tell the difference at a glance

  • Marjoram leaf will generally be a little bit smaller and rounder whereas the oregano leaf tends to be elongated and slightly larger..
  • Oregano leaf will be slightly fuzzy looking in appearance.
  • Oregano grows vigorously throughout the year and is considered a tough herb.
  • Marjoram is likely to die off in colder weather.
  • Marjoram has a milder flavour than oregano.
  • Oregano has a slightly peppery note to it.

Varieties of marjoram
Pot marjoram: Origanum onites

Winter  or wild marjoram: Origanum heraclesticum
Varieties of oregano.
Greek oregano: Origanum vulgare hirtum
Mexican oregano: Poliomentha longiflora 
Poliomentha is not to be confused with  another herb also called Mexican oregano and a member of the verbena family, namely, Lippia graveolens.
  • As always, common names will trap the unwary.
Let’s find out a bit more about these herbs and how they can be used in cooking.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from
PLAY: Oregano vs Marjoram_31st March 2021
If you have any questions about herbs, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

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