Real World Gardener Butterfly Gardening part 1

March 20th, 2021

 BUTTERFLY GARDENING

Part 1: First Things First-what plants and how do they know which to land on?

Are you bemoaning the lack of butterflies in your garden?

Would you love to have more butterflies visit your garden, no matter how small or big it is?
Did you know that butterflies look for specific food plants or that they have a preferred temperature to flit about in?

The Monarch butterfly (pictured below)  was in my garden on buddleia bush 'Black Knight'  
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Steve mentions a good read  on the subject of butterflies is a book co-authored by Helen Schwencke, 

Create More Butterflies: a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants for south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Some plant suggestions to get those winged beauties into your garden are:
  • Native senna cultivars are high on the list of plants that attract butterflies.
  • Blunt-leaf Senna there (Senna gaudichaudii), but there’s also the corky milk vine (Secamone elliptica) and emu foot, (Cullen tenax) a trailing native plea vine.
  • Think also about the native finger lime, great for container planting.
  • A lot of native butterflies will be drawn to your garden if you have the right flowers for them at the right time of the year.
The further you go south, the butterfly visits will be more seasonal.
  • Migrating butterflies are driven by the season's, wind direction and amount of rainfall.
Their preferred temperature range is between 23-27 degrees Centigrade.
How  do they find what they need?
 
The  antenna (mainly on males) is used to detect what food is available and if other male butterflies are present.
Females, however, can also use their feet. Chemoreceptors on their legs help them to choose their food plants.
 

Let’s find out more
I'm talking with  Steve McGrane, horticulturist, ecological agriculturist and garden writer.

Real World Gardener Tonka Beans in Spice it Up

March 19th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP

Tonka Bean

If you have thought that vanilla was a flavour all on its own, you would be wrong. Here is another bean that not only qualifies as a substitute for vanilla, but also for nutmeg.

Common Name: Tonka Bean, sometimes known as Brazilian teak.
Scientific NameDipteryx odorata
Family: Fabaceae
Fruit:The highly fragrant bean from a flowering tree in the pea family
Height: 25-30 metres. Grey outerbark with inner red wood.

Qualities: the presence of coumarin in the beans give the seed its odour or perfume.

Flavour: Marzipan like
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Like a lot of members of the pea family that are trees, tonka beans starts as a pod on a tree. 
The pod contains a single bean which is dried like so many other spices.
It’s used in the same dishes that you used vanilla or nutmeg for, like shortbread biscuits, custards, cream brulee' and so on.
 
To harvest the pods, they are picked when fully mature and have fallen to the ground.  Then they are broken open with a hammer to reveal a wrinkled oblong 2.5cm seed.
When this bean is cut in half lengthwise, it has a creamy white centre.
  • These beans are placed in the sun to dry, activating the enzymes within the bean.
  • But did you know this bean has been banned in America since 1954 because of the coumarin present? Coumarin is also present in cinnamon and that's not banned!

Tonka beans may be grated like nutmeg before adding to a recipe or soaked in warm water or milk to infuse the flavour.

  • Tonka is a strong spice, so only use in similar proportions to nutmeg.

I you wish to grow the tree yourself, it's a very pretty flowering tree suited to the tropics and sub-tropics. Not a tree for frost prone areas. The plant itself is not available for sale, but you can buy the seeds from overseas sellers.

 
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I am talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au
Let’s find out more

If you have any questions either for me or for Ian you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

 

Real World Gardener Flannel Flowers in Plant of the Week

March 19th, 2021

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Flannel Flowers: Actinotus helianthi
Here’s one for the lover of all things flowers, this little sub-shrub is in flower for most of the year.
The flannel flower is one of the most recognisable Australian native flowers and Adrian says it's a very tactile plant because of the soft woolly feel of the grey-green foliage.
The creamy-white flowers occur in clusters, and the entire plant has a soft woolly feel because of soft white hairs.
Looking like a daisy, but it’s not in the daisy family, instead it’s in the same family as the carrot, dill, celery and parsley.

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Scientific name: Actinotus helianthi
Common name:Flannel Flowers

Family: Apiaceae
Flowers: a simple daisy flower flower with cream to white petals (bracts) tipped green. Flower size varies depending on soil conditions in which it grows but can be 3-8cm. Peak flower is Spring, with spot flowering throughout the year.
Leaves: Grey green and woolly to the touch because of the soft hairs.
Hardiness: tolerates light frost, dislikes wet feet. Avoid watering the leaves to prevent fungal problems. Grows naturally in sandstone country where soil is a bare couple of cms.
Maintenance: Tip pruning will give you more side branching and more flowers. Cut off spent flowers with snips or secateurs. Tidy up the plant by cutting off dead or yellowing foliage.
Height: up to 1.5m but in the natural habitat,  Adrian has only seen flannel flowers growing to only around 80 cm.
Flowering occurs mainly in spring to early summer (September to December) and is followed by fluffy seeds in a globular head.
But how did it get its strange name common name?
Botanists associated the flower to the soft woolly feel of er flannel.
Let’s find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Real World Gardener Australian Paper Daisies in Plant of the Week

March 19th, 2021

Rhodanthe chlorocephala
Paper daisies
Some people call them paper daisies, some call them everlastings but as we say on Real World Gardener, don’t be fooled with common names because they are most often applied to an array of plants.
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Scientific name: Rhodanthe chlorocephala
Common name: pink & white everlasting
Family: Asteraceae
Flowers: from winter to spring, daisy like flowers 1-6cm in diameter, composed of white or pink papery bracts. Heads normally appear singly, but tip pruning will encourage branching to produce multiple flower heads.
Position: full sun in well drained, even sandy soils. easily propagated from seed. Best sown in late autumn or early winter.  If conditions are right, they will self-seed, otherwise collect the seed when the flowers turns into a fluffy head.Store the seed head in a paper bag until next season.

Whatever you call them, it’s something even beginner gardeners can grow to pretty up their patch.

Australia's version of meadow planting can be easily achieved with these paper daisies or
everlastings. All you need to do is scatter 1 gm of seeds per square metre and rake gently into the soil. The seeds will germinate in 7-10 days if kept moist. Expect a carpet of flowers as you would see in Western Australia.
Rhodanthe chlorocephala subspecies rosea is the most widely grown subspecies and is commonly known as “Pink and White Everlasting”, “Rosy Sunray”, “Pink Paper-daisy” and “Rosy Everlasting.”
The flowers can be dried like other native daisies and used in floral arrangements for months.

Let’s find out more, I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Real World Gardener Billy Buttons are in Plant of the Week

March 19th, 2021

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Some plants you just love their flowers, some just have fabulous leaves, but here’s a plant, even though on the small side, packs a punch with bright golden flowers and grey leaves that would fit into any style garden.

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Scientific name:Craspedia globosus syn. Pycnosorus

Common name:Billy buttons, drumsticks.
Flowers:  golden-yellow tennis ball like spheres made up of tiny flowers on long stalks 80cm-100cm
Leaves: a rosette of grey green leaves above an underground rhizome.  
Interesting fact: Billy Buttons were part of the flower arrangement that were presented to medal winners of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Hardiness: tolerates light frost and extended periods of dry weather. Don't like wet weet.
Billy Buttons are very famous for being very long lasting cut flowers, their bright yellow spherical flowers can be dried like other native daisies and used in floral arrangements for months.
 
In areas with high humidity, treat them as an annual as they will succumb to fungal problems. Easily grown from seed but use wildflower seed starter to break the dormancy of the seed. 
Let’s find out more
I'm talking with was Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Real World Gardener Blueberry Ash in Plant of the Week

December 31st, 2020

 PLANT OF THE WEEK : 

Blueberry Ash

 

Common Name:Blueberry Ash
Scientific name: Eleaocarpus reticulatus
Family:Elaeocarpacea
Etymology:Elaeocarpus - From the Greek elaia meaning 'olive' and karpos meaning 'fruit';
reticulatus - Latin word meaning 'net-like' referring to the leaf venation.
Tree Height: 6-15m (various cultivars Prima Donna 8-10m)
Flowering:April - October
Origin: Australian rainforests along the east coast.

This is a beautiful tree with sculptural leathery leaves that show off a 'bloom' much like you see on some eucalypt leaves. 
Leaves are medium sized (12cm) with a drip tip apex and serrated edges. 
Starting off as mid to dark green the leaves age to a bright red which contrasts well, being opposite on the colour wheel.
The flowers are also quite a feature resembling clutches of lily of the valley flowers in either pink or cream all over the tree.

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The fruits are small blue berries, hence the common name. The fruits are liked by many birds including currawongs, parrots, cockatoos and native pigeons.
Fruits can persist on the tree until the next flowering.

Although the height can grow to 15m you can keep it to as small a height as you would like even 2-3m if preferred.
  • Adrian says they shed foliage 12 months of the years so don't plant them near your gutters.
I'm talking with Adrian O'Malley, native plant expert.

Real World Gardener A Special Garden Waraburra Nura

October 31st, 2020

 Warraburra Nura Native Garden

In Conversation with Alice McAuliffe Creative Producer

You may not know of garden in on the 6th floor of a building that you the public can visit. 

From the website, “Waraburra Nura is a public medicinal plant garden at the University of Technoly (UTS) Sydney, developed by UTS ART in partnership with Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research (JIIER). Established in 2018, the garden is located on level 6 of the UTS Tower. 

'Nura' is a local word meaning country or the place that you are from.
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Let’s find out more.
I’ve being talking with Alice McAuliffe who is a creative producer .
  • Alice recalled that Waraburra Nura didn't start so much as a garden but as a way of creating a third dimension for artworks by various aboriginal and torres strait islander artists.
  • Alice put forward a proposal the idea to put in a few boxes with plants initially but the idea grew.
  • The process to create the garden involved designer Nicole Monk. Garden boxes were sent up from Melbourne.
  • Garden soil had to be light so that the weight would not be too heavy for the balcony plus a possible 100 people. Aunty Fran Bodkin  (Dharawal Senior and botanist) advised that the soil should contain pumice.
  • Plants were chosen because they had medicinal properties, and together created associations which increased their medicinal properties.
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This garden is open to the public on weekdays during student hours 

'About the garden' section on the website states that “Waraburra Nura (Happy Wanderer’s Place) is a space for visitors to connect to Country in an urban environment. The garden utilises combination planting, an Indigenous agricultural practice which enhances the rich medicinal value of each plant. 

All of the plants in Waraburra Nura are native to Wa’ran (Sydney) and have been cultivated by Darug, D’harawal and Gadigal peoples for generations. 

If you have any questions about Waraburra Nura, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Dockrillia Orchids in Plant of the Week

October 31st, 2020

DOCKRILLIAS EP 4

I’m sad to say this is the final in the series about native orchids. 
If by now your interest in growing native orchids hasn’t been piqued, I would be very surprised. 
Like most avid gardeners, as soon as someone in the know starts spouting information about a particular plant that has fabulous attributes, you will want one. 
So it is with dockrillias.?

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Let’s find out more. 
I’m talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and orchidophile 
Adrian mentioned a primary hybrid between dockrillia schoenina x dockrillia teretifolia.

The most commonly available dockrillias are:

Dockrillia teretifolia, 
Dockrillia fairfaxii, 
Dockrillia linguiformis, 
Dockrillia cucumerina,
Dockrillia striolata, 
Dockrillia. pugioniformis, which are all cool-growing orchids. 

Dockrillia rigida and Dockrillia calamiformis, grow in tropical Australia, but do well in intermediate conditions, that is somewhere between tropical and cool. 

If you have any questions about native orchids, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Dendrobium Cultivation and Care in Plant of the Week

October 8th, 2020

DENDROBIUMS Part 3

Cultivation and care

If you been listening to the series on dendrobium orchids you might now be wondering how best to look after them? 
You might even be asking do I need a greenhouse or shadehouse like Adrian has for his 200 or so orchids, or can you grow just one or two without too much fuss somewhere in the garden?

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Let’s find out.. 
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant and orchid expert. 
 
The three most important things for care of your dendrobiums are location, watering and fertilising. 
Adrian’s tips is let them completely dry out in winter, but if temperatures are in the high 40’s, you may need to mist them several times a day. 

If they look pinched they need watering.

  • Fertilising
Adrian has an inline fertilising system which is attached to a hose but before the tap. He then places a rock mineral fertiliser in that inline system which leaches a very small amount into the water each time he waters the orchids.
Adrian also recommends using two types of additional fertilisers depending on the time of year.
Fertilisers high in potash to promote spring flowering, and fertilisers high in nitrogen to promote growth.
Tip: Add a handful of dolomite lime over the bark mix every couple of years to counteract the acidity of the media as it breaks down.
If you have any questions about Australian orchids, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Hybrid Dendrobium Orchids of the Week

October 8th, 2020

Dendrobium sp. episode 2

Dendrobium hybrids

Australia has 50 native species of dendrobiums and dockrillias and most of these grow mainly somewhere along the east coast of Australia. 
The ones that grow in Qld, in quite warm temperature to tropical areas, don’t grow so well further south and one might need a greenhouse to grow some of these.

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But those that originate in Victoria or NSW don’t do so well in the tropics. 
This is where hybrid dendrobiums of these native orchids come in 
Let’s find out.. 
I'm talking to native plant expert and orchidophile, Adrian O’Malley 

Hybrid dendrobiums are numerous and as an example can be crosses of Dendrobium speciosum and Dendrobium kingianum. 
This particular cross gives you Dendrobium x delicatum which can have either with or pink flowers and even perfume. 
A famous one that Adrian mentioned is Dendrobium Hilda Poxon (pictured above).
This is a cross between Dendrobium speciosum x Dendrobium tetragonum

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