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

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 Formal Garden Style in Design Elements

April 4th, 2019


Formal gardens have a long history.

Did you know that the style of a formal garden started in the Persian Gardens in Iran, such as the Monastery Gardens from the Late Middle Ages?


This style was sort of carried over into the Italian Gardens from the Renaissance that’s the 1400’s and was further refined into the formal French Gardens from the Baroque period which was around 1650.

Let’s find out what this style has to offer.

I'm talking with Danielle Collier from Artistic Horticulture.

Formal style is all about straight lines, no clutter, repeated plantings with as much symmetry as you can stuff into your garden.

Add a water feature or two and some espalier or topiary, and voila’ you have a formal garden.

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 What Is A Modern Garden in Design Elements

March 28th, 2019


The Modern Garden Style

Modern garden style is not a new phenomena and is in fact nearly a hundred years old.

The word ‘modern’ gives us the wrong idea because modern is used to describe something that’s recent.

Perhaps the landscapers association or group should consider changing the style that it represents.

Any ideas?

Let’s find out what this style has to offer.

I'm talking with Danielle Collier from Artistic Horticulture.

Perhaps you’ve inherited a modern garden with wide concrete paths and river pebbles in the garden beds.

Most likely though the modern house of post world war II is becoming a thing of the past.

Still the principles of the modern garden are useful, sticking to primary colours and architectural plants. 


In the photo Cycads provide the architectural plants and kangaroo paws add the primary colours.

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

Real World Gardener Introduction to Garden Styles in Design Elements

March 12th, 2019


Garden Styles: Introduction to Federation, Modern, Formal and French ProvincialStyles of Gardens.


How well do you know your garden history in Australia?

For example when did the Federation garden style begin and end and when did the Modern garden style begin and end?

What were the components of the Federation style?

Let’s find out a little bit about each style.

I'm talking with Danielle Collier from Artistic Horticulture


Garden styles have a long history, much longer that we might think.

Formal gardens for example have their origins in Persia all those centuries ago.

What does it mean for us gardeners?

Well we can embrace a style for our gardens which will in the end give us immense satisfaction.


For Federation gardens, built features such as fountains and gazebos were important. (Pictured)


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

Real World Gardener New Zealand plants in Australia

November 30th, 2018


New Zealand Plants in Australia

You may not know that Australia was once joined to New Zealand.

Does this explain some plants that are similar because they were left when the continents drifted apart ever so slowly?

Or was it the fashion of the day to bring over plants from other countries when the colonials started setting up their ornamental gardens?

Let’s find out why NZ plants have made their mark.

I'm talking with Stuart Read who’s a member of the National Management Committee of the Australian Garden History Society.PLAY : NZ Plants History_21stNovember 2018

 New Zealand plants it turns out, mostly came across to Australia in the 1800's.

nz-christmas%2Bbush.jpgPhormium tenax, or New Zealand flax plant is one example; this plant remains fashionable today because of its sculptural qualities that fit into modernist homes.

Apart from failing to learn the techniques of rope making using flax, gardeners even today, use this plant far and wide, not just in Australia.

 Cordyline australis or palm lily is another example, called Torquay palm in England because they think it's theirs.

The australis part of the scientific name reflects that it is from Australia, but in this case means "of the south" in a general sense.

Cabbage tree or palm lily has an exotic look and the buds of which were cut off and used as boiled cabbage.

Having more than one growth bud, it didn't kill off the plant.

Stuart remembers how the streets were lined with NZ Christmas bush where he grew up.

Plants in the myrtle family have many similarities, for example, Pohutakawa or NZ Christmas bush has the same type of flowers as our lilly pillies and bottle brush.


If you have any questions, either for me or for Stuart, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener English Garden Designers in Garden History

July 5th, 2018


English Landscapes and How They Changed Australian Gardens.


Why did the first settlers try and emulate the English garden in such different conditions is easy enough to answer?


Stowe, England photo M. Cannon

They wanted a home away from home, much like peoples from other nations choosing to have quite different gardens.

In Today’s garden history segment we look at those first English influences and why they’re still relevant today.

I'm talking with Stuart Read, committee member of the National Garden History Society of Australia., which you can join or attend one of their meetings by the way.

David Jaques has written a book on English landscapes that Stuart recommends.

When Australia was being settled the "beautiful" or English "landscape" style was dominating garden design as it had started to do from the 1700's.

This was basically faked up landscapes that were intended to look like the real thing.

Funnily enough, 220 years later, they do look like the r"real thing," because the trees have grown into what the landscaper had intended.

Landscapers like Capability Brown started this revolution in garden design as seen in the photographs of Stowe, where he first started the trend.


Stowe, England, photo M Cannon

The most famous landscapers of that time were Capability Brown, along with Charles Bridgeman, William Kent, and later Humphrey Repton.

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

Real World Gardener Recognising Historic Gardens

April 26th, 2018


There are a lot of heritage items in Australia that get commemorated by a plaque but how many gardens get the same recognition?



Probably only a handful and these are not even well known. 

So the Garden History Society started to take note of some historic gardens and with a local council in Sydney, are recognizing that it’s not just built spaces that make up the fabric of history.

Let’s find out about some of these.

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




These 'garden plaques' celebrate famous gardeners and notable gardens. 

 Does your local council have a garden plaques program?

If so let us know so we can give them a shout out. 

The Australian Garden History Society has branches in all states and the A.C.T. which arrange local activities and act as advocates for issues which are of interest to the society. 

For further information contact


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

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App