Real World Gardener Australian Kauri Pine in Plant of the Week

March 28th, 2020


Kauri Pine: Agathis robusta-an Australian native

Over the last few weeks in this segment, we’ve been talking about big, big trees, and today’s offering is no exception. 

Kauri pine, like it's name states, is a conifer in the Araucariaceae family.
Also considered a dinosaur tree because it evolved millions of years ago when Australia was largely subtropical all over and not just in Queensland.

Kauri pine: Agathis robusta

So let’s find out more. 
I'm talking with Adrian O”Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert. 
PLAY: Agathis Robusta_11th March 2020 

Big trees in pots: 
  • The Kauri pine is quite happy in pots if you have limited space.
  • Just need to be root pruned every couple of years, but no more than 10% all round.
Being an ancient conifer it comes from an era when the world was much wetter and rainforest covered all of Australia.
The tree has  big wide, leathery leaves with parallel veins. Leaves are in opposite pairs and 5-12cm long. The bark is smoothish, grey or a sort of grey brown.

Leaves of kauri pine, no mid-rib.
The lower part of the trunk is free of branches, having dropped off as it grows.
The pine cones come in to shapes. Male cones are long and narrow, but female cones are rounded, 8-13cm in diameter.

Agathis robuasta female cones

  • The Queensland Kauri is a little known but magnificent specimen, that dates back to the mid-Jurassic period.

Agathis or Qld Kauri can live for centuries, but did you know that they were logged for their straight timber too much so by 1922, the Forestry Branch reported: ‘Of kauri pine the southern resource is utterly gone.’ 

The wood was used to cabinetry, floorboards, kitchen sinks, and boat building during the 1920's and 30's. 
  • Geelong Botanic Gardens have an avenue of Kauri pine trees planted around the 1860's.
  • Sydney Botanic gardens have one large specimen not far from the kiosk and close to the giant Dragon's Blood tree.

If you want to hug these large mature trees, you'll find that the girth is massive and it's more likely that 4-5 people with arms outstretched might make it being 150cm or so in circumference.

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

Real World Gardener Henley Green Community Garden Update

September 22nd, 2019

Henley  Green Community Garden Update

There are many reasons to join a community garden: learn a new skill, teach your kids where food comes from, save money, help the environment, have a reason to get outside regularly and share with others.


Chickens at Henley Green Community garden

These reasons — and many more keep the people who grow food at a community garden.

Let’s catch up with what’s happening in the local community garden at Henley.

I'm speaking with Nicole Miranda from the Happy Hens Community garden in Henley.

If you are interested in joining the community garden at Henley you need to first register your interest by filling in a form from their website

If you have any questions for me or for Nicole, please write in to

Real World Gardener Peppermint as Herbal in Plant of the Week

August 21st, 2019


Mint:Piperita officinalis-Peppermint: Mentha spicata-Common Mint or Spearmint

Even non gardeners would be familiar with the mint herb and many would have imbibed peppermint tea, and perhaps even eaten after dinner mints.

But which mint helps you sleep and which mint helps with a sore stomach?

Let’s find out

I'm talking with was Simone Jefferies, naturopath and herbalist of 


A herb that grows well where it is a bit damp and shady.peppermint-tea.jpg

Simone says, "mint has a sense of humour, because in Simone's garden, it pops up almost anywhere, including cracks in the pavement. "

You can easily buy peppermint plants as well as the many other different varieties of mint.

There are many types of mint: eau de cologne mint, mojito mint, ginger mint, and banana mint.

Banana mint sounded quite delicious and may be an ideal addition to ice cold water on a warm summer’s day.

Benefits of Mint

Peppermint Mint is a calming and soothing herb that has been used for thousands of years to aid with upset stomach or indigestion.

Mint is a mild sedative and can be used just before going to sleep as a calmative.

Cooking with Mint

Mint Sauce-handful of mint, add some sugar, vinegar and boiling water.

Add to steamed peas.

Tabbouleh: 1/3 mint; 2/3 parsley, cracked wheat, spring onions, cucumber  (if desired.)

If you have any questions for me or for Simone, please write in to

Real World Gardener Wind Flowers or Anemones in Talking Flowers

August 8th, 2019


Anemone coronaria: Wind Flower, Anemone.        

This flower is a member of the Ranunculaceae family and is native to the Mediterranean region.


  • The name Anemone comes from Greek and roughly means wind flower, which signifies that the wind that blows the petal open will also, eventually, blow the dead petals away.
  • Coronaria means used for garlands.

Tubers, corns or bulbs?

  • Bulbs have a tunic, corms have a basal plate, tubers have multiple growing points or eyes.
  • Anemone tubers are usually planted in early autumn, March until May.
  • Before planting, the tubers are recommended to be dipped in lukewarm water for 2-4 hours or overnight.
  • Planting Depth: Plant Anemones with the pointy end facing down at a depth of 3 to 5cm. Soak well each week until shoots appear.

anemone-.jpg This windflower is an upright perennial that grows from rhizomatous tubers. 

Leaves are medium green, with basal leaves being biternate and involucral (a whorl or rosette of bracts surrounding an inflorescence (especially a capitulum) or at the base of an umbel..) Leaves are deeply divided.

Flowering time: late winter, spring.

I'm talking with floral therapist, Mercedes Sarmini.

Real World Gardener Join A Garden Club

August 8th, 2019



Plant Cuttings

Why Join A Garden Club?

Joining a garden club may sound a bit off topic for the tool time segment.

However, General Manager of cut above tools, Tony Mattson has given his fair share of gardening talks and has some insights to share about what the benefits are of joining.

Let’s find out. I'm talking with Tony Mattson, general manager of


Great reasons to join a garden club include

  • Share your gardening knowledge or gain knowledge from plant experts that may be in the club.
  • Pruning tips for your area.
  • Swap seedlings
  • Cutting table and plants for sale, usually for a few dollars each.
  • Homemade refreshments at the end of the night.
  • Excursions to gardens or gardening events such as Floriade or MIFGS (Melbourne Internation Flower Show.)


    Sei-Sei Tei Show Garden MIFGS

If you look up garden clubs of Australia website,

you will find your nearest garden club.

For example I looked up what garden club was near TANK fm in Kempsey. Turns out there’s a garden club very close, South West Rocks and District Garden Club Inc, that meets every 2nd Monday 10am.

Very few of the garden clubs have a website but there’s always a phone number, so go on, give it a go. You’ve got nothing to lose and plenty to gain.

If you have any questions for me or for Tony, email us at

Or you can write in to 2RRR PO Box 644, Gladesville NSW

Real World Gardener Visit New Zealand in Garden History

July 18th, 2019


National Conference

If you’ve never been to NZ, then perhaps you could tag along to the Australia Garden History Society’s 40th National Conference which is being held in Wellington.

But what happens at a National Conference and why should you go?

I'm talking with Stuart Read, committee member of the Australian Garden History Society.

Let’s find out..



Greenhaugh Garden New Zealand


Going to the conference?

Register at to book for the conference.

There’s also a post conference tour alternative of the South Island.

The tour begins in Christchurch and ends in Queenstown.

If you have any questions for me or for Stuart write in to

Real World Gardener NEW Allspice in Spice it Up

July 9th, 2019

Allspice: Pimento doica

Have you ever put the wrong ingredient into something you’ve cooked? 
Perhaps it was just the wrong spice and the flavour wasn’t so good which left you wondering “what went wrong?”


Allspice can cause confusion, so let’s clear it up now. 
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from 

Now you know not to mix up Allspice with Mixed Spice or even pimento. 

Allspice is an individual spice whereas mixed spice is a combination of spices mainly for sweet dishes.

Pimento doica
  • The actual spice is a berry from the allspice tree.
  • Ian tried to grow it on the north coast of NSW but was unsuccessful. Winters were too cold.
  • You can try to grow it but I would recommend erecting a 3-sided shelter out of heavy-duty shade cloth, to surround the young tree.
Allspice has a fruity background note, but it has an aroma that is similar to Basil because both have the volatile oil eugenol present in them.

  • Basil is the tomato herb, and allspice is the tomato spice.

The leaf has an extract taken from it and used in an astringent called 'bay rum." It has nothing to do with the drink called rum, but is used after shaving in a barber shop.

If you have any questions either for me or for Ian, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Environment in Garden History

June 20th, 2019


Environmental History

Does history play a part in all manner of things, or is it just built structures , gardens and events?

What about environment history is there such a thing?

There is a definition which goes, “Environmental history is the study of human interaction with the natural world over time, emphasising the active role nature plays in influencing human affairs and vice versa.”


Australian Landscape: photo Edward Dalmuder

You can even study that subject at University so there must be something in it.

Let’s find out. I'm talking with Stuart Read,a garden historian and a member of the Management Committee of the Australian Garden History Society.

Change tends to come from the bottom up.

Did you know the first public parks in England didn’t eventuate until the early 1800’s.

In Australia it was 1850 when Paramatta Park in Sydney was allocated.

Documenting say land clearing and land use over time, but not just land, water use it’s a great tool for understanding what we are doing right or wrong.

If you have any questions for Stuart or for me, you know what to do.

Real World Gardener Old Fashioned Shrubs for Cool Temperate Gardens in Design Elements

May 15th, 2019

Old Fashioned Shrubs and Trees for Cool Climate Gardens

Last week I mentioned that gone are the days when you had lots of variety in garden centres to choose from.

So this series is all about what were those old fashioned shrubs.

But we’re not just doing a blanket five but going through each climate zone in Australia, including some of Peter Nixon’s zoning.

Some of these other zones might suit your area as well even though they’re classified as say arid or sub-tropical.

It all depends on whether or not you’ve got a micro-climate in your garden that will suit.

Let’s find out what old fashioned shrubs suit cool temperate areas.

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden Designer and project Manager from Paradisus Garden design.


Tabebuia chrysostricha

  • Cool temperate can mean highlands and alpine regions and areas where you get a hoar frost..
  • Bauhinia acuminata-small tree less than 4m.
  • Syringas-lilacs
  • Michelia doltsopa or Michelia Maudii small tree with white scented foliage and dark green leaves.
  • Camellias japonica C.sasanqua, C. reticulata or C.vernalis.
  • Peter suggested the ‘girl’ series sasanquas from Paradise nursery.
  • Tabebuia chrysostricha-intense yellow trumpet flowers.
  • Daphne odorata, kniphofia, and peonies 

Real World Gardener French Provincial Style Gardens in Design Elements

April 11th, 2019


French Provincial Style Gardens

If someone asked you to describe a French Provincial garden what would you say?

What would be the key elements of such a garden?

Would it be quirky frenchy nic nacs, and include a trompe l’oeil or a parterre?

Would it include plants that are French?

Let’s find out. 

I'm talking with Danielle Collier from Artistic Horticulture.


  • Favourite garden plants: for a French garden might include architectural plants. Agapanthus. Canna. 
  • Mediterranean Plants. Acanthus mollis, bear's britches. Iris. 
  • Perennials. Aquilegias. Dahlias. Grasses. Phormium Tenax. 
  • Shrubs and Hedging Plants. Roses. Garden Bulbs and corms. Alliums. 
  • Climbing Plants. Bougainvillea. 
  • Trees. Acacia dealbata, Toon chinensi or Chinese cedar. 

If you have any questions either for me Danielle why not write in to

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