Real World Gardener Sweet Violets in Talking Flowers

July 25th, 2019


Sweet Violet: Viola odorata and Viola banksia (syn Viola hederacea)

Family: Violaceae

Also known as wood violet sweet violet, English violet, common violet, florist's violet, or garden violet.

Leaves are edible, good for salads.viola%2Bodorata.jpg

  • ·         In temperate climates, sweet violets (Viola odorata, ht 8cm) begin flowering in winter and continue into early spring.
  • ·         They are rhizomatous perennials which originated in Western and Southern Europe. 

They spread  via seed and runners to form a green groundcover of heart-shaped leaves, often coming up in unexpected places in the garden. 

Violets flower best in part-sun, but will grow in full sun or full shade and prefer moist soil.

Bunches of violets great winter posies.

Cut them in the morning or evening; dipping the bunch of flowers head down into a large bowl of water to soak for a while will extend their vase life, as will spraying a fine mist of water over the flowers when they are in their vase.

  • Sugared Violets
  • The flowers can also be turned into sugared violets for cake decorations, by painting the petals with egg white and dipping them into caster sugar!

Native violets, Viola banksia, have no scent, but flower in a similar fashion.

Flowers are edible.

Grows and spreads by rhizomes. Full sun or part shade.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini, floral therapist

Real World Gardener Winter Roses in Talking Flowers

July 4th, 2019


Winter Roses: Helleborus orientalis, Helleborus niger, Helleborus x hybridus

Family: Ranunculaceae along with buttercups and ranunculus.

Hellebore_purple.jpegThe common name is winter rose or Lenten rose because if flowers in winter. Looks rose-like don't you think?

Floral meaning: Floral Meaning: said to provide protection and a vase of hellebore, brought into 

a room will drive away an unpleasant atmosphere and replace it with tranquility.

  • ·         Hellebores grow best in part shade, with moist but well-drained soils. They will, however, tolerate most soils as long as not waterlogged.
  • ·         Slow to get established, and can be left alone for years.
  • ·         Don’t like being disturbed as this sets them back.
  • ·         If you do want to divide, or need to transplant, autumn is best. 
  • ·         Dig the whole plant, wash off soil, then divide with a sharp knife between growth buds.  Leave at least 3 buds on each division.  
  • Mercedes' Tip: · Make excellent cut flowers, that last up to 5 days. To extend their shelf life, plunging the stems, up to their necks in boiling water, before placing them in a vase.

I'm speaking with Mercedes Sarmini, floral therapist of

Real World Gardener Heliconias in Talking Flowers

June 20th, 2019



Common Names: Imposter bird of paradise, false bird of paradise, wild plantains and lobster claws.

  • Heliconia flower is not actually a flower but highly modified leaves and bracts.
  • A bract is a leaf structure at the base of a flower.heliconia-bihai.jpg

The trick about growing Heliconias outdoors is that the climate must be tropical.

  1. The far north of Australia is perfect because it's hotter and the more north, the hotter it gets. 
  • They are also really thirsty; give them roughly 120 ml of water a day. ;
  • Mulch is really important.: cut the leaves off and put them under the plant to help with water retention.". 

 Some of the commonly grown Heliconia species include 

Heliconia lennartiana; 

Heliconia Augusta, 

Heliconia bihai, (pictured right)

Heliconia brasiliensis, 

Heliconia caribaea, 

Heliconia latispatha, 

Heliconia pendula, 

Heliconia psittacorum, 

Heliconia rostrata, 

Heliconia schiediana, and Heliconia wagneriana. 

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Bells of Ireland in Talking Flowers

June 6th, 2019


Bells of Ireland: Molucella laevis:

Native to Syria and Turkey and not as Carol Linnaeus thought, native to the Molucca Islands of Indonesia.

  • Is it grown for the foliage or the flowers?

Not actually a flower, but instead are amplified calyxes that grow into a flowering plant. Calyxes (or bells) are leaves or sepals that develop into a protective house for the quite small and slightly fragrant, white or pink flowers.

The prominent part is actually the calyx.

Best grown in light sandy soil, the molucella plant also requires a good, openly sunny spot. Flower right through spring, summer and into autumn, Bells of Ireland offer interest.

Can grow to 1 metre tall.


  • Mercedes says that "slip on the heels" if you want to use the stems in a flower arrangement. That means of course that you need to cut the bottom of the stem on a diagonal.
  • Easily grown from seed but cold stratification will help with germination.

How to cold stratify

You can expose them to cold by sowing them outdoors in the Autumn, or by refrigerating them for a week before starting them indoors.

  • Don't just place the seed packet in the refrigerator.
  • Sandwich seeds between moist coffee filters or paper towels in the refrigerator, followed by planting in soil. 
  • Experts say this moist stratification results in a higher germination rate than simply exposing dry seeds to cold temperatures.

I'm talking with floral therapist, Mercedes Sarmini, of

Real World Gardener Glorious Marigolds in Talking Flowers

May 20th, 2019


Marigolds: Tagetes erect: Tagetes patula

Native to North and South America

  • Sowing: They take off easily from seed, either grown indoors during the winter months or sown directly into the soil when it’s warmer out.
  • Good companion plant because they attract pollinators and improve soil quality.
  •  Be mindful not to water marigolds from the top. If their blooms get too wet, they will often turn into a mushy brown mess.

Did you know that one variety of the flower is even fed to chickens so that egg yolks have a more perfect yellow colour?

Myth or Fact?

Legend has it that Mother Mary of the Christian tradition was robbed by bandits, but when they cut open her purse all that fell out were yellow flowers, something that would one day by named “marigold” (Mary’s gold) in her honour.

Or was it because early Christians placed flowers instead of coins on Mary’s altar as offerings?

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Lovely Anthuriums in Talking Flowers

April 4th, 2019


Anthurium andreanumAnthuriums

Common names:Anthurium Flamingo Flower, Boy Flower, Painted Tongue and Painter's Palette

The anthurium flower derives its name from two Greek words: oura, meaning tail and anthos, meaning flower. Translated the phrase means tail flower.

Anthuriums are evergreen subtropical plants with heart shaped leaves. Similar flowers to the Madonna or Peace lily.

Botanical Bite:


These flowers are really modified bracts, called spathes.

The actual flower of the anthurium plant are tiny blooms that line the fleshy inner spike called a spadix.

In their natural environment, Anthuriums grow on rocks or trees and in the home or garden need perfect drainage around their roots.

An ideal mix is equal parts of premium potting mix and decomposed sugarcane and plants in a terracotta pot.

 Too much water in winter suffocates the roots and causes them to rot, so let plants go dry in between each drink.

Flower vase life is up to 8 weeks if you look after them properly!

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Gorgeous Geraniums in Talking Flowers

March 28th, 2019


Geraniums: Pelargonium hybrids


Common geraniums belong to the genus Pelargonium(280 spp), while true geraniums belong to the genus Geranium. (422 species).

Family Geraniaceae.

The name geranium comes from a Greek work geranos, which basically means crane.

True Geraniums are called Cranesbills because of the shape of the fruit capsule?

Most geraniums are native to southern Africa, but some species originated in Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East


While both genera were originally classified as geraniums, in 1789 the two genus were separated.


Confused? The common name geranium is used to describe Pelargoniums and Geraniums.

Geranium flowers have five very similar petals, and are thus radially symmetrical (actinomorphic), whereas Pelargonium flowers have two upper petals which are different from the three lower petals, so the flowers have a single plane of symmetry.


These types of Geraniums are really Pelargoniums

When we think of Geraniums, window boxes, and potted gardens comes first to mind.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini from

Real World Gardener Lovely Hypericum in Talking Flowers

March 22nd, 2019


 Hypericum perforatum: St John's Wort

Hypericum, is derived from a Greek word meaning "over an apparition."

 Did you know that the Anglo-Saxon word "wort" means "medicinal herb." ?


Common St. John's Worts are a creeping rhizome that spread quickly.

Grow to 1 metre high with translucent leaves. Small oil glands are present in leaves, making them appear perforated.,


  • Hypericum berries are used as a filler in cut flower arrangements to add contrast. Be sure to ask for some if they take your fancy.
  • Ms Hypericum is a waterholic because of the woody stem, so make sure the water stays topped up in the vase.
  • Lasts for up to 8 days in the vase.
  • The entire plant, particularly its round black seeds gives off a slight turpentine-like odour.

This flower is often associated with cheerfulness and inspiration. 

Hypericum may also be given to those starting new paths in their life.


I'm talking with florist Mercedes Sarmini from flowers

Real World Gardener Beautiful Banksia in Talking Flowers

March 12th, 2019


Banksia species

Australia isn't overwhelmed with different types of Banksias.

Banksia is a genus of only around 173 species in the plant family Proteaceae.

All but one occur naturally only in Australia.

Breeders have hybridised many more, think Banksia 'Birthday Candles.'



The flower heads are made up of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of tiny individual flowers grouped together in pairs. 

The colour of the flower heads appear very similar across many species. 

Think a honey coloured brown with some red.

Banksias are great for nectar feeding birds because they flower over autumn and winter when food is scarce for them.

The fruits of banksias (called follicles) are hard and woody and are often grouped together to resemble cones. they're not cones of course because Bankias aren't conifers.

In many species the fruits won't open until they have been burnt or completely dried out.

  • An easy way to release seed is to place the 'cone' in an oven at 120°­140° C for about an hour. 
  • The follicles then open and the seeds can be removed with tweezers. Two black winged seeds are usually found in each follicle.

Real World Gardener Gorgeous Lisianthus in Talking Flowers

March 7th, 2019


Lisianthus: Eustoma grandiflorum (syn Lisianthus russelianus)

Praire Gentian is one of its common names.

How to grow 


Seeds are as fine as dust particles, and the need light to germinate.

When you sprinkle this dust onto the seed raising mix, barely press them into the soil.

Then just cove them with a fine layer of vermiculite and mist with water from a spray bottle.

Preferred temperature range for germination is (21-24°C).

It takes 5 months from seed sowing to flowering.

Once plants are growing keep the soil most. Plants get stressed at temperatures over 29°C

Grows well in pots and prefer full sun.

Prairie Gentians are heat loving plants that flower best where nights are warm.

If you live in a climate with rainy, humid summers., then grow something else, because you'll have difficulty keeping these flowers going in your garden.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini from about how best to keep the vase life of Lisianthus going.

Mercedes mentions tips about how to choose the best lissies from your florist or flower seller.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Play this podcast on Podbean App