Pruning Australian Native Plants on Real World Gardener

June 20th, 2022

PLANT DOCTOR

Pruning Native Plants

For some reason, many gardeners have been reluctant to prune their native plants, thinking that if they did, those plants might never recover or worse, just drop dead.

 
Then there’s the gardener that’s reluctant to prune something that they’ve just planted because after all, they paid good money for that plant, so why should I cut off the top third as soon as I plant it? 
Seems counter intuitive doesn’t it?

If we look back at when native gardens first started to be in vogue in the 70's, this might have been true of many of the cultivars that were grown back then.

 
Plus, there was the theory that native gardens should be somewhat wild and untamed, much like they are in the bush. 

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Grevillea 'Lollipops' photo M Cannon
All this did was result in a messy looking 'wild' garden which fell out of favour rather quickly, although not quick enough for some.
 
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Grevillea 'Superb' photo M Cannon

Fast forward to the 21st century, and by now, many native plants have been selectively bred or hybridised to produce much healthier, stronger native plants that not only can be pruned but should be pruned to look their best.

So how should we prune our native plants?

Steve and I are not saying that you need to clip everything into a ball to make it look like a formal garden.

Not at all, but you do need to clip plants to reign them in so you have some control over their growth.

General rule: Prune after flowering

A good tip for plants that have a specific flower time such as Golden Penda.
Plants that flower for most of the year like Grevillea 'Robyn Gordon' or 'Grevillea Ned Kelly,' or Peaches and Cream.  
 
In these cases, leave the flowers during the winter months when food is scarce for nectar feeders such as birds and possums. Prune off one-third of growth at the end of winter.
 
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Steve's tip: As soon as you get your plant home, give it a light prune or even a tip prune depending on the size of the plants. Do this often, every 6 or so weeks to make the plant more bush.

 
Marianne's tip: Some plants respond to constant tip pruning and become more like a shrub than a tree with a straight bole of around 2 metres, for example, Ivory Curl tree or Buckinghamia celsissima.
It might seem risky, but if you only prune lightly, then you’ll be rewarded with a much better looking plant.
 
Some native plants respond to being pruned close to the ground such as Callistemon (although not too often), Melaleuca 'Claret Tops,' and Breynia cernua.
Look for varieties that suit hedging.
 
To find out more, listen to the podcast.
I'm talking with Steve McGrane, Horticulturist and agriculturist.

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

Climber Shrubs Explained on Real World Gardener

May 22nd, 2022

Climber Shrubs

This design series that covers everything from mixed shrub borders, sub-shrubs, climbers, hero trees to best garden bromeliads but use plants that are non-general lines.

I have to say, Peter Nixon, RWG’s contributor for this series, focuses largely on what he calls cool sub-tropical garden or ‘cool sub-trops’ which he refers to often.

Don’t be put off if you live in a different climate because often plants adapt to a variety of climatic conditions and are worth a try.

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Hibiscus geranioides

Climber shrubs-what are they and how could I use them as 'garden fixes’ in my cool subtrops garden ?

In fact if you were search for the term climber-shrub, you would be hard pressed to find it on the internet.

Seems like a contradiction because climbers need support to climb whilst shrubs are free standing. But what about those plants that climb over themselves to form a sort of mounding shrub?

Some of these types of shrubs are self-striking which might be called suckering.

Insta examples from Peter Nixon

 Juanaloa aurantiaca -  or commonly called Golden Fingers because the flowers look like a little bunch of lady finger bananas.  Minimum winter overnight 6-7 degrees C

Gmelina philipensis - 'Parrot Beak'. A deciduous shrub with unusual yellow flowers that resemble a parrot beak.

Hibiscus geranoides-native to Australia. Loves a 'La Nina' type of weather. Interesting foliage texture

Bauhinia tomentosa-sulphur flowering semi-deciduous  shrub to 3m with a cascading habit.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast. Marianne (host of Real World Gardener radio show ) is talking with Peter Nixon of Paradisus garden design. www.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au

Best Climbing Plants on Real World Gardener

May 22nd, 2022

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Climber Heroes

This design series is about plants that are categorised as non-general lines.

Every week I’ve been saying that were talking about plants that you won’t necessarily find in your big box store or possibly even in your nursery so you may have to search for them.

These plants are so worthwhile that because they provide year round interest with their foliage colour, texture and contrast, not just their flowers.

Today perhaps some climbers fit the bill

Peter refers to cool sub-tropical garden or ‘cool sub-trops’ which means that overnight winter temperatures are down to about 5 degrees.

Don’t be put off if you live in a different climate because often plants adapt to a variety of climatic conditions and are worth a try.

Peter mentioned these climbers

  • Hoya%20carnosa.jpg
    Hoya carnosa

    Conomorpha fragrans often called climbing frangipani although it has nothing to do with the frangipani genus-Plumeria. The flower does look similar to the frangipani flower and are highly scented.

    • vigorous habit requiring a solid support
    • in cooler areas plant against a north facing wide. Deciduous in cold areas.
  •  
  • Dombeya ianthotrycha (tropical garden society of Sydney)-a winter flowering climber with large paper thin leaves. Flower colour is a muted red with a hint of orange. Can be trained as an espalier or a bun shaped shrub.
  •  
  • Hoya carnosa or wax flower, better in pots with specialised potting mix. If planting in the ground, must have well drained soil.
    • TIP: don't cut those flowering spurs off -  this 
 

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast. Marianne (host of Real World Gardener radio show ) is talking with Peter Nixon of Paradisus garden design. www.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au

Mixed Shrub Borders are in again on Real World Gardener

May 20th, 2022

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

This is a series about foliage colour and contrast and textural contrast  for year round interest. The focus is also on non-general lines instead of production grown planting. In other words, plants that may not necessarily be easy to find but so worth the effort. We kick off the series with mixed shrub borders.

  1. MIXED SHRUB BORDER

 Are they a thing of the past or a living process that still has relevance for the modern smaller garden?

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Hibiscus capitolia 'Apricot Sport'

This kind of design style has been used for hundreds of years because it has great garden appeal.  There is no reason for it be considered irrelevant or 'old hat,' simply because it is so adaptable. It can be either formal or informal, full of colour and contrast or not, annuals, perennials and shrubs.

Today though, it's all about the shrubs and is a start of the design series that covers everything from mixed shrub borders, sub-shrubs, climbers, hero trees to best garden bromeliads.

I have to say, Peter Nixon  and Real World Gardener's contributor for this series, focuses largely on what he calls cool sub-tropical garden or ‘cool sub-trops’ which he refers to often.

Don’t be put off if you live in a different climate because often plants adapt to a variety of climatic conditions and are worth a try.

Peter mentions the following shrubs as his 'best.'

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Posoqueria longiflora
  • Tibouchina multifida-not more than 1.5m in height.
  • Hibiscus capitolio  'apricot sport'-double flowering hibiscus, slightly pendulous. 2.5m in height.
  • Posoqueria longiflora-commonly called Japanese Needle flower. Has perfumed flowers with a long white tube, height to 3m in semi-shade.
  • Brunsfelsia macrantha, 
  • Acokanthera oblongifolia - Bushmans Poison, 
  • Gardenia grandiflora ’Star’, 
  •  Rosa sanguineus, 
  • R. chinensis ’Ten Thousand Lights'
 

Let’s find out more, I'm talking with  Peter Nixon of Paradisus garden design. www.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au,

Grafting Ctirus a Technique in The Good Earth

November 25th, 2021

 THE GOOD EARTH

Grafting Techniques part 1 & 2

If you’ve ever grown a tree from it’s seed, such as an orange lemon or avocado, you probably were disappointed by the result. 
I daresay, that firstly, it took a long time for it to fruit, and when it did, it was nothing like the fruit that the seed came from. 
After all apart from the novelty factor of  being able to grow a tree from a tiny seed, the time involved isn't really worth the effort. So what to do instead?
lemon%2Btree.jpg
Lemon tree
  • Switch to grafting methods.
Grafting is a method that would vastly improve the result all round but the word itself sounds terrifying if not complicated! 
There is after all the possibility that you'll end up slicing of the tip of your finger with the super sharp budding knife, or at the very least drawn blood from the deep wound that resulted from a slip of the wrist. 
I confess to having done that.

 

Practice makes perfect and I would recommend wearing gloves before attempting to do any type of grafting.

So What is Grafting?

drawing%2Bscion_rootstock.jpgGrafting is a swag of techniques that involves having a root stock that is happily growing in the ground or in a pot, whose upper part you will cut off completely.
Next, you attach a scion, a piece of plant whose features you really like, such as fruit size and flavour.
  • The scion has to be a particular size and be related botanically speaking to the rootstock. That means you can't graft an apple onto citrus rootstock, because apples are in the family 'rosaceae' and citrus are in the plant family 'rutaceae.'
 
There are of course plenty of other reasons why you want to try your hand at grafting.
Some of these are to improve disease resistance such as for roses or fruit trees or dwarfing.
Dwarf  trees are the result of grafting a scion from a tree of full size fruit onto dwarfing root stock.
 
 
celft%2Bgraft%2Bw%2Bscion.jpg
  • Margaret describes cleft grafting where the scion's base is cut as a 'V' and inserted into the same length slit into the rootstock. The cambium (green wood) of each must be aligned.

TIP:If you’ve never tried grafting, make sure you get the right tools before you start.

You’ll also need the correct root stock.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast. I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of www.mosshouse.com.au

 

Appleberry is Plant of the Week

November 6th, 2021

PLANT OF THE WEEK Number 5

Scientific Name: Billardiera scandens

Common Name: Appleberry
Family: Pittosporaceae
Native Habitat: found mainly along the east coast in a variety of commnityes such as coastal heath and sclerophyll forest.
Description:A twining climber or groundcover.. Pale lance shaped green leaves have wavy margins.
Height-Width: 1.5 x3 m
Flowering: September to December. Pendulous bell-shaped flowers on branch tips, similar to correa flowers.
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Appleberry flowers. photo courtesy David Midgley
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Appleberry fruit
Fruiting: Oblong berries appear on the bush in summer while the plant continues to flower. At first green to purple that turn yellow when ripe. Taste is similar to green kiwi fruit. Size is similar to sultana grapes. (Those that are elongated having been treated with gibberelins.)
Position: Full sun or part shade. Will become more sparse in shade.
Attributes: Long flowering and fruiting period. Requires watering and regular pruning in cultivation.
  • Suitable for container growing. Regular tip pruning in this situation will result in a small shrubby plant.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been focussing on bush tucker plants, some of which you may not have heard of before.
The appleberry is no exception because even though it can be found in national parks, most people would walk by and not realise that it’s a bush tucker plant.

For Sydneysiders, it can be found in Lane Cove National Park.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.

I’m talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant officianado and expert.

There are many bush tucker plant nurseries that supply these plants online and are able to post out to most areas of Australia.

If you have any questions or feedback or have some information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 and I’ll send you a packet of seeds.

Old Man Saltbush in Plant of the Week

November 6th, 2021

PLANT OF THE WEEK Number 2

Scientific Name: Atriplex nummularia

Common Name:Old Man Saltbush
Family: Chenopodiaceae
Native Habitat: found in semi-arid and arid areas of Australia.
Description:-grey-green leaves on a somewhat woody shrub. Dioecious-separate male and female plants.
Height-Width: 3 x 2-5 m
Flowering: small white flowers occur throughout most of the year.
Fruiting:rounded fruits.
Position: Full sun and tolerant of some shade. 
Attributes: Dry tolerant once established due to the extensive deep root system that extends to 5m deep and 10m across.
  • The leaves impart a salty flavour if your dry and crumble them and sprinkle on food.

Possibly, listeners would be familiar with the term ‘old man saltbush’ or even have seen this plant growing somewhere.

But I daresay, you would not have heards that parts of this plant are considered bush tucker.
There are many bush tucker plants that are not that well known and this is another one of them.

  • The Department of Primary Industries NSW recommends the following for farmland. 

"Shrubs are grown in hedgerows as block or alley plantings across the farm to provide high-protein green feed during periods of feed shortage."

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Old Man Saltbush: Photo courtesy DPI NSW

"Shrubs are grown in hedgerows as block or alley plantings across the farm to provide high-protein green feed during periods of feed shortage.Not recommended for areas with less than 300 mm average annual rainfall, or more than 600 mm average annual rainfall." 

In the home garden, if you’re first planting out old man saltbush, don’t expect it to survive without any water at the start. After the first warm season, then it’s good to go on just what falls out of the sky in rainfall.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast with Adrian O' Malley horticulturist and native plant expert. 

Dealing with a Tough Garden Bed part 3 in Design Elements

September 27th, 2021

Part 3: The final Countdown

 

In the last 5 years Glenice and husband Phil, have made so many improvements to the soil .

A very difficult spot that experiences 40 degrees C  temperatures in summer and winter temparatures below 0  and even minus 5 degrees C at times.
A hard clay soil that had been compacted by heavy vehicles driving over part of it for many years.
The planting also included these very tough and hardy plants.
  • Teucrium fruiticans- also known as Germander, is a very hardy small evergreen bush in the mint family with grey stems and undersides of the leaves. 1.2m
  • Phillyrea angustifolia . Drought, heat, frost and salt tolerant. Phillyrea are olive related which explains their toughness-dark green glossy leaf with serrated edge, making a contrast to the other silvers in the bed. Height to 2.5m, slow growing. Alternative to English box. can be kept to under 1m in height
  • Aloes
  • Other succulents
  • Beschoneria yuccoides-Mexican lily, is a perennial succulent with a rosette of slender strap-like leaves that can grow to 1m in length. 
  • Rhagodia spinescens Salt bush-Small, native shrub with silvery, grey triangular foliage growing to approximately 1.5m. Tolerates all soil types and coastal conditions
  • Atriplex nummularia, commonly called Old Man Saltbush, a large grey shrub to 2 m tall and to 4-5 m wide, with brittle woody branches
 
Glenice said in her post that
She said of the garden that;
We used a rotary hoe to break up the soil before planting.
Spread/dug through gypsum and watered in liquid gypsum
Dug through premium garden soil and compost.
Mulched the area with fine grade pine bark, sugar cane mulch, straw and tea tree mulch.
Continued fertilising any new plants with composted animal manure pellets and liquid fertilisers every 2 to 3 months.Continued to give any plants in the area a deep slow water by hand to ensure they receive a good amount of water closest their roots.

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Garden at the Berkshires-photo Glenice Buck


  • Selected plants that will cope with the tough conditions that area hot and dry conditions.
  • Over planted the slope- I planted out all the plants with closer spacing than recommended as they will help protect and buffer each other in this tough location. They will grow, settle in and get established more quickly together.
  • When you're dealing with tough locations like this you also need to have patience and give the garden soil time to take in all these improvements. Soil preparation is very important and you should try to hold off planting before the soil is ready - haha! try telling a gardener to do that when there is open soil / spare space in the garden. I didn't wait!

I'm talking with Glenice Buck Landscape designer and Arboriculture consultant.

www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au 

Tackling a Tough Garden Bed part 2 in Design Elements

September 27th, 2021

Part2 Tough Garden Bed
In the last 5 years Glenice and husband Phil, have made so many improvements to the soil .
  • We used a rotary hoe to break up the soil before planting.
  • Spread/dug through gypsum and watered in liquid gypsum
  • Dug through premium garden soil and compost.
  • Mulched the area with fine grade pine bark, sugar cane mulch, straw and tea tree mulch.
  • Continued fertilising any new plants with composted animal manure pellets and liquid fertilisers every 2 to 3 months.

She said of the garden that they did this process listed above ,every year for 5 years but it wasn't until the 3 year mark that there was a turn around in plants being able to survive.

Without those years of soil preparation, the plants would not have been able to thrive.

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Miscanthus transmorrisonensis

Planting Palette Glenice used for this area - lots of silvers!

  • Miscanthus transmorrisonensis-Evergreen Feather grass, evergreen leaves to 80cm tall by 100cm wide fountain-like mounds
  • Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ or Blue Switch grass is special for its dramatic, metallic blue foliage and for its strong upright habit to around 140cm.
  • Senecio viravira- a beautiful rounded evergreen shrub with silver-white dissected leaves topped by soft lemon flowers. One of the best silvers. Sun loving and drought tolerant. 80cm x 100cm.
  • Artemisia Powis Castle- a hardy, bushy, low growing shrub that has very attractive, soft, silvery grey, deeply divided foliage
  • Olea europaea 'Piccolo' suits really tough conditions - drought, frost, poor soil, no irrigation. Grows to 2m
  • Teucrium fruiticans- also known as Germander, is a very hardy small evergreen bush in the mint family with grey stems and undersides of the leaves. 1.2m
  • Philorea
  • Aloes
  • Other succulents
  • Beschoneria yuccoides-Mexican lily, is a perennial succulent with a rosette of slender strap-like leaves that can grow to 1m in length. 
  • Salt bush
  • Atriplex nummularia, commonly called Old Man Saltbush, a large grey shrub to 2 m tall and to 4-5 m wide, with brittle woody branches
I'm talking with Glenice Buck Landscape design and Arboriculture consultant.

Woolly Tea Tree in Plant of the Week

August 30th, 2021

Scientific name: Leptospermum lanigerum

Common Name: Woolly tea tree
Family: Myrtaceae
Etymologyleptos, meaning slender, and sperma, meaning seed.

lanigerum, is named using the Latin word for wool-bearing, describing the silky hairy leaves and hairy buds, shoots and young capsules.

Height: 3m by 3m wide
 
Location: any soil in sun and will tolerate heavy shade. Frost hardy to -7C
 Description: Dense shrub to small erect tree with persistent fibrous bark on larger stems, smaller stems shedding in stringy strips.
Leptospermum%2Blanigerum.jpg
  • Not all tea trees have green leaves, and this one has pewter grey or silver tiny leaves with typical 5 petalled tea tree flowers.
  • May be limbed into a small tree. Light summer water though very drought adapted. Excellent background shrub or screen or large informal hedge. 
Takes well to pruning as the leaves are tiny and the more you prune the bush will become more dense. 
 
Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado

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