Real World Gardener Avenues of Honour in Garden History

October 24th, 2019

Garden History

Avenues of Honour

How do Australians remember the fallen or returned from wars?

Is it just built structures such as memorials or is there another way such as an avenue of honour?

In this garden history segment you will discover that there a many other ways to remember those who served in wars, and that these commemorations shall we say, are not confined to capital cities.

Let’s find out what avenues of honor are all about.



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

Avenues of honour were usually trees, but sometimes shrubs. 

They were to remember service men and women also nurser who did not return from various wars.

In Australia, there are hundreds of these avenues, particularly in Victoria, but other states also.

Smaller populations in country towns felt that loss more than in bigger cities with figures indicating that 1 in 6 never returned from war.

Often they were on main arterial roads leading into town  or in the main town park or showground.

The "Avenue of Honour," in Ballarat is the longest, measuring 23 miles.

It was started by the girls of the town's textile factory, EL Lucas & Co. in remembrance of husbands and boyfriends that never returned from war.

The first 1000 trees were planted on June 3, 1917 and the last 4000 trees on August 16, 1919.

Trees were often exotic, beeches, oaks and elms at first but later native trees were used.

Roma, in Queensland has an avenue of bottle trees, (Brachychiton rupestris.)

You can search for avenues of honour through just type in what you’re looking for in the search box.

Or and click on the advocacy tab or just search avenues, the list will pop up.

If you have any questions for me or for Stuart, why not write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Lovely Vanilla in Spice it Up part 1

April 30th, 2019


Vanilla planifolia and cvs

Have you ever wondered how and when the spice trade started?

Maybe not but did you know that nutmeg was once worth more by weight than gold?

Also that in the 16th century, London dockworkers were paid their bonuses in cloves?

There was so much to tell with the story of this spice that I had to split it up into two parts.

Here's part 1.


To produce the green bean, each vanilla flower needs to be hand pollinated.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

Vanilla_beans.jpgThe vanilla bean is  a long green bean. When it's mature the beans are put on curing racks during the day, then wrapped up in woollen blankets at night. 

this is done everyday for 15 - 28 days.

It's up to the head curer to judge the readiness of this stage.

After the 28 days have been reached, the beans are then wrapped for a further 2 months. 

Vanilla bean curing is very labour intensive and so far hasn't been mechanised successfully enough to give the complexity of aromas reached by the manual method.

Thanks to Ian’s encylopeadic knowledge of the spice trade we can look forward to part 2 of the vanilla bean story next week.

There’ll be plenty of tips on how best to use vanilla in cooking plus a surprise tip that will just delight you. We’ll also re-cap a little tiny bit of the story.

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 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 Federation Style Gardens in Design Elements

March 22nd, 2019


Federation Style Gardens.

Federation architecture is the architectural style in Australia that was mostly seen from around 1890 to 1915.

Most listeners would know that the name refers to the Federation of Australia on 1 January 1901, when the Australian colonies collectively became the Commonwealth of Australia.


Gardens used to be much bigger than they are today and during the evolution of the Federation garden, there were probably more plants available to buy than there are today.

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

I'm talking with Danielle Collier from Artistic Horticulture.


PLAY: Federation Style Gardens_13th February 2019


Federation architecture embraced Australiana themes and of course the verandah.

Features might include stylised images of the waratah, flannel flower or Queensland Firewheel tree.

Popular Federation Garden plants were:

  • Aspidistra Agapanthus, Buxus hedges, Fruit trees, Hellebores, Hydrangeas, Ivy,
  • Palms, Pelargoniums, Quince, Roses, Succulents and cactiWisteria.
  • Gardens also included themes such as succulent, cacti or orchid gardens.

In the garden also there was a change from evergreen to deciduous trees such as jacaranda, flowering plum and peppercorn.

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 Who Was William Guillfoyle?

June 7th, 2018


William Guilfoyle

How’s your garden history knowledge?

You may have heard of Gertrude Jekyll, an Australian Garden Designer of some note, but have you heard of William Guillfoyle?


Melbourne Botanic Gardens' Volcano planting photo : Stuart Read


Possibly not, but this next segment is about to change all that.

Why are we talking about William Guillfoyle?

Because first and foremost, he had a lot to do with making Melbourne Botanic gardens the beautiful space it is today.

Let’s find out some history

I'm talking withStuart Read committee member of the Australian Garden History Society.


William Guillfoyle was not a botanist, but a horticulturalist, so had a different view of how a botanic garden should be presented to the public.

He came from a family of nurserymen/women and first worked in his parents' famous " Exotic" nursery in Double Bay.


Melbourne Botanic gardens volcano planting photo : Stuart Read

The Exotic nursery was one of the major nurseries in Sydney from the 1840's and imported thousands of Fuchsias, conifers, and ferns

. Plus it also had collections of Australian plants grown from seed collected on expeditions.

Guillfoyle was Director of Melbourne Botanic Gardens from 1873 - 1910

Plus, William was responsible for making available all those Jacaranda seedlings which now make Sydney and many regional centres so popular with Jacaranda tours in November.


If you have any questions either for me or Sotuart, 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.

Real World Gardener NEW Basil in Spice It Up

December 27th, 2017


Herb: Basil

At one stage the Greeks and Romans believed the most potent basil could only be grown if you sowed the seed while ranting and swearing. basil-lots.jpg

This custom is mirrored in the French language where semer le baslic (sowing basil) means to rant.


Try crushing a Basil leaf and think of cloves.

It should surprise you that they have similar aromatic notes because they both contain the volatile oil, Eugenol.

This means that they complement each other.

Ian suggests sprinkling a pinch of cloves into your pasta dish along with the herb Basil for a different take.

Basil can be used fresh or dried in cooking.

Basil%2Bin%2Bpots.jpgDried Basil is sold as "rubbed leaves,' and has a slightly different flavour profile to fresh Basil.

The top notes are missing but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it in coooking.

Dried Basil is used at the beginning of cooking so that the flavour can infuse, generally only taking around 10 minutes.

Growing Basil

If you live in arid or sub-tropical regions you can sow Basil in late august in a mini greenhouse or indoors, but otherwise you can sow right through to December which is the best time to sow Basil seeds. 

The seeds are best planted at soil temperatures between 18°C and 35°C

If your Basil starts to flower, pick the flowers off to prolong the life of your Basil plant.

For something different when not try sowing cinnamon Basil or Lemon Basil or even Holy Basil, that is the true sacred basil that is grown in houses, home gardens and near temples all over India.…



If you have any questions about Basil either for me or Ian, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Australian Waratah in Talking Flowers

November 17th, 2017



Telopea speciosissima

What does the botanical name mean?

Speciosissima is the superlative of the Latin adjective 'speciosus', meaning 'beautiful' or 'handsome'. Telopea means seen from afar.




Waratah (Telopea) is an Australian-endemic genus of five species of large shrubs or small trees, native to the southeastern parts of Australia (New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania). 

The one we see walking in the bush is the red flowering version and is also the NSW state emblem.

Grows to 3m tall. 

Can be tricky to keep alive in the garden.

If you've tried to grow a Waratah, make sure it has great drainage.


Dreamings about the Waratah focus upon the tragic consequences of lost love. 

Two Wonga pigeons live together in a rich, lush forest. One day the female bird notices her mate is no longer by her side, so she searches for him, calling out for him. She cannot find him, so in a panic she flies above the canopy of the forest where a hungry and ever-vigilant hawk sees her and, swooping down, grabs her and clutches her in his sharp talons. She manages to wriggle free and plummets down, finally falling onto a white Waratah blossom, her blood staining its petals to red. From then on, Waratahs are generally red; it is very rare to find one that is white.


I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of


Real World Gardener Australian Garden Idea in Garden History

May 25th, 2017



The Australian Garden Idea

Australians love to travel, more so now than ever before.

Often in our travels we love to see other gardens, whether in passing or on purpose.

We might fall in love with a particular plant of group of plants or we might want to copy a particular style.

In the early days of Australia, a lot of gardens were influenced by gardens overseas, particularly England and Europe, but more recently the influence has shifted to Asian gardens like Bali or Polynesia.


Australian Garden entry Chelsea Flower

Show photo M Cannon

So then you have to ask the question, what makes an Australian garden?

Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Stuart Read, Landscape Historian and on the National Management Committee of the Australian Garden History Society.


PLAY: Australia Garden Idea_17th May 2017

Australia’s amount of sunlight, type of soil and drier climate has meant that we’ve had to adapt garden design so that it can survive.

Stuart says Australians want to produce the look, but what that is, we're not quite sure of.

Does a garden have to have Australian plants to be an Australian garden? Possibly.


Australian Garden entry Chelsea Flower

Show photo M Cannon

However many European plants blend in quite well, and these days, Plant Breeders in Europe are growing new or different forms of Australian plants and shipping them back to Australia.

Minimalism has been in vogue for the last twenty years in Australia, however, Stuart points out that it was actually started in the mid 17th Century by Georgian gardens.

Of course gardens in Tasmania and Victoria can emulate the English garden reasonably easily, to the envy of northern gardeners.


If you have any questions what makes an Australian garden or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 and I’ll send you a packet of seeds.


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