Aussie Salt Bush is Plant of the Week

August 30th, 2021

pt 2 Silver leafed plants

Scientific name:Rhagodia spinescens

Common Name: Aussie flat bush; spiny saltbush

Family: Chenopodiaceae
Height: 0.5-1.5m  tall by 1.5-4metres wide.
Flowers:January -April, tiny cream panicles, fairly insignificant.
Conditions: frost and mildly drought tolerant, best suited for temperate and semi-arid regions.
Location: tolerant of soil types and will grow in full sun or dry shade.

Uses: prune to shape as a hedge or leave to make a groundcover. 

Quite a vigorous grower and hugs the ground so makes great habitat for native reptiles and small birds.

Ozbreed has a compact form makes a great ground cover and performs better if it is pruned annually or more often if a manicured look is desired.  30-50cm x 1m wide

Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado

Two Silver leafed Eucalypts in Plant of the Week

August 30th, 2021


All About Australian Native Plants with Silver Leaves.

Plants with grey or silver leaves are adapted to a drier environment because the colour of the leaf better reflects the sun than green leaves regardless of the size of the leaf
This in turn means the plant uses less water for its functions. 
There's usually more to the story as is the case with eucalypt trees having a thick waxy coating that makes the leaves look silver or grey in the first place. This waxy coating is added protection from the sun's rays.

Eucalyptus perriniana
Mature leaves are often different from juvenile leaves not only in shape and size but orientation.
Mature eucalypt leaves hang vertically to reduce exposure to high levels of radiation and water loss. 
Silver leaves don’t just have to be about small shrubs and ground covers, there’s some beaut examples of silver leafed gums.

pt1 A Couple of Eucalypts with Silver Leaves.

  • Two great silver leafed  gums were our picks:Eucalyptus perriniana and Eucalyptus cinerea

Silver leaves can be so attractive in the garden, in the vase or just in the landscape.
The add texture and structure to a garden. But they also can brighten a dark spot in a garden where dark green would just disappear in the gloom.

Eucalyptus cinerea

Other fabulous silver leafed eucalypts

  • You could also try Eucalyptus pulverulenta, known as the Silver-leaved Mountain Gum.
  • There’s a dwarf form of this one called Baby Blue which only grows to 3m.
  • The Silver-leaved Mountain Gum is an unusual Eucalypt (especially for eastern Australia) because it hangs onto juvenile foliage into maturity. Plants rarely produce adult leaves.
Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado

Edna Walling’s Garden Design and Bickleigh Vale part 2

August 24th, 2021

Edna Walling and Bickleigh Vale part 2

Last week, I introduced you to Edna Walling was one of Australia’s most influential garden designers of the 20th century.


The people that live in the village of about 20 homes, are all in love with Edna's design principles.

In spring, the gardens are like fairlyland, with flowering wisterias, crabapples, flowering cherries, birches, hornbeams. hawthorns, plums, apricots, oaks and elms . 
"Edna Walling had a free and easy attitude to garden maintenance and she believed that every window of a house should have a view of the garden, to create the effect of bringing the garden into the house."

Edna Walling came to appreciate Australian flora more and more and started to incorporate many native species in her designs even early on.
I talk again with Trisha Dixon, garden author and photographer.

Let’s find out more

Edna Walling, Garden Designer and Bickleigh Vale Village part 1

August 24th, 2021


Part 1 

Edna Walling was one of Australia’s most influential garden designers of the 20th century but I daresay, not too many people have heard of her.

Edna was Walling was born in 1896, in Yorkshire and grew up in the village of Bickleigh  Devon, England but came to Australia at 17 years of age.
Edna was influenced by her father and studied landscape design at Burnley Horticultural College in Melbourne. 
Walling was awarded her government certificate in horticulture in December 1917, and after some years jobbing as a gardener she commenced her own landscape design practice in the 1920s.
Her plans from the 1920s and 1930s show a strong architectural framework with 'low stone walls, wide pergolas and paths – always softened with a mantle of greenery'.
While doing some garden research I happened on one of her most famous creations called Bickleigh Vale in the Melbourne suburb of Mooroolbark in the foothills of the Dandenongs.
  • She just happened on some land while out bushwalking and convinced a bank manager to lend her money to buy the land and build her first house 'Sonning.'
Trisha%2BDixon%2Bin%2Bgarden.jpgWho better to talk about them is someone who has researched Edna Walling for the last 40 years.
I'll be talking with Trisha Dixon, garden author and photographer and sometime tour leader of gardens.
Trisha mentions that she found that actual village that this was modelled on, the real 'Bickleigh Vale ; in Devon, in England.
Listen to parts 1 & 2 of the podcast below. 
A quote from

 is this quote
 In the early 1920s Edna Walling acquired land at Mooroolbark where she built a house for herself - 'Sonning'. Here she lived and worked, establishing her nursery and gathering around her a group of like-minded people for whom she designed picturesque 'English' cottages and gardens. She named the area Bickleigh Vale village.
The houses and outbuildings that were designed or approved by Edna Walling in what she termed 'the English style' include her own home 'Sonning' which was rebuilt in 1936 following the destruction of 'Sonning I' in a fire,

Bickleigh Vale Village

Have a listen to part 1, a bit of Edna’s history and a bit about Bickley Vale.
We’ll continue next with more about the actual village and also more about Edna’s vision in creating beautiful gardens.
If you have any feedback email or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

What’s The Difference: Garden Snips vs Hand Pruners or Secateurs

August 19th, 2021

Garden Snips vs Secateurs

You would think that gardening tools would have all the same name pretty much all around the world.
What else would you call a spade ?
Perhaps a trowel may have a few different names, but what about secateurs and garden snips?
Are they the same thing?

  • Secateurs are sometimes called  pruning shears or hand pruners .

    My Toolkit: Felco No8 secateurs 
  • Secateurs can be bypass style, where the cutting blade passes a curved non-cutting 'anvil.'
  • Secateurs can also be anvil style where the cutting blade cuts into a 'anvil.'
  • Good quality secateurs will cut easily, feel comfortable to hold and spare parts are able to be purchased.
  • Secateurs are used for the  'green' wood on plants cutting easily up to the diameter of a person's fingers.

Garden snips ( bottom of picture) are closer in appearance to scissors, with two cutting blades. Unlike scissors, they have a spring to make repeated cutting of plant material easier.

  • Garden snips are best used for trimming off spent flowers on plants such as calibroachoa, petunias, and other annuals and perennials. Light trimming of soft 'green' plant material is OK as long as the stems or branches are not too thick. Garden snips don't have the cutting power of secateurs.

Let’s find out more

I'm talking with Tony Mattson, general manager of

PLAY: snips vs secateurs_18th August 2021

Like me, a lot of gardeners would have both types of secateurs-anvil and bypass as well as a pair of snips.
After all, not everything can be pruned with the one tool.

If you have any feedback email or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

What’s The Difference: Dibbler vs Bulb Planter

August 19th, 2021


What's the Difference?

Dibbler or dibber vs bulbs planter

Ever wondered if there’s a difference between two garden products, tools or ways of doing something? Tool time will look at some of these differences over the next few months.

  • Today, it’s about the difference between a tool that’s used to mainly plant bulbs.
  • Planting bulbs is a lot of fun, but can quickly turn into a chore if you have quite a few different bulbs that need to go into the garden.
  • Just imagine planting out the scene pictured, at Keukenhoff in the Netherlands.
  • Every type of bulb will have a preferred depth and spacing so to get it right you will need a special tool.
  • This is where those bulb planters of plant dibbers come in handy.

Dibbers are those carrot shaped bits of wood with a pointy end, that are used to poke holes in soil.

They will have graduated markings showing depth and sometimes have a metal tip.

Some come with a T-shaped handle, others just a rounded knob at the top.

Dibbers are great for quickly planting up lots of small bulbs, seeds and transplanting seedlings.

Bulb planters are mainly for bulbs, big ones and little ones, but especially big ones.

  • This is a heavy duty implement that acts much like an apple corer with either a short or long handle. Bulb planters have the ability to push through hard soil because of their serrated edge and also have a spring-loaded handle that dumps the ‘core’ of soil you pushed through. 
  • This also makes it a handy tool for digging out bulbous weeds such as oxalis and onion weed, and it can be used to planting small seedlings and tubestock, too.
  • Depth markings are along the side taking the guesswork out of planting.  

High quality carbon steel ones will keep their edges sharp and not get coated with rust if you are forgetful about cleaning your garden tools.

Let’s find out more: I'm talking with Tony Mattson, General Manager from


Warm Bulbs for a Sheltered Northern Aspect in Design Elements

July 24th, 2021


Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.

  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
  • The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.
Thunia marshalliana photo P Nixon

Warm Bulbs part 3-Northern Aspect with Shelter

So what do you plant in your shady area perhaps under trees where there’s usually dry shade?
As long as it’s not gloomy, such as really dense shade.

These bulbs are not for the harsh western aspect of exposed to harsh winds.
Thunia marshalliana from northern Thailand. 
Expect to see a cycle where it dies down before fresh new leaves come through in spring, with flowers appearing in summer. 
The leaves remind me somewhat of a crucifix orchid in the shape and configuration. 
The flowers are a standout white with a slight fragrance and grow atop long arching canes.
You could grow these in a large hanging basket so you could see the flowers from below.
  • When in growth, apply plenty of orchid fertiliser.
  • Propagation is super easy; just like for the keikis (baby plantlets) at the ends of canes, and cut of and pot up.
Worsleya procera commonly known as the Red fox orchid  or  lavender hippeastrum.

Worsleya procera

One of the world's rarest bulbs originating from Rio de Janeiro.

Flowering can take  up to 7 years !
Leaves are deep green that have an unusual curvature giving them a sculptural look.
Listen to the podcast, it's rather long but very interesting.

Species Hippeastrum: Not your ordinary hippies!

Don't go past species Hippeastrum that originate for the most part, in south America.

  • All of course are in Amaryllidaceae family.
Hippeastrum papilio
You won't find much information about these hippeastrums in general so take note.
Some of these can grow as epiphytes in their natural environment!
  • In the ground, they need superb drainage but not under trees unless the canopy is quite high, say 2-3 metres above the bulb.
Start your collection with the Hippeastrum papilio 
or  green Hippeastrum calyptratumHippeastrum%2Bcalyptratum-green%2Bhippi.jpg
Peter outlines quite a few of the species hippeastrums so have a listen to the podcast.

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden design.     


Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to or

Warm Bulbs pt. 4-

South African Bulbs for a Harsh Western Aspect in Design Elements

July 24th, 2021

Warm Bulbs pt. 2-Harsh Western Aspect 

Every garden has an aspect that’s hard to plant out because it’s either too shady or too harsh and dry or even spot that receives hot western sun .
Today I’m focusing on bulbs that can give you a long display in the warmer months but have evolved to withstand hot and dry months.

Haemanthus coccineus photo M Cannon

These bulbs originate where they are not exposed to very cold winters but have evolved to withstand hot dry conditions.

The bulbs in this group are in the Amaryllidaceae family which consists of mainly bulbs with long strappy leaves. The flowers are usually in an umbel-like cluster on a short or long scape.

Quite a few are known to have large showy flowers.
Haemanthus coccineus or 'blood lily likes an exposed location. 
It will refuse to flowers if in a shady, lush location. 
Don’t be like me and put the blood lily in too much shelter so the leaves grow long and the flower season trigger is missed.
  • A dead give-away is if the leaves are quite long and extended, then the bulb is in too much shade.

If you live in Adelaide, say a couple of streets back from the beach such as in Brighton, then expect your 'blood lily' to take off like mad. The low humidity and winter rains are a perfect climate for this bulb.

You can also look for the interspecific hybrid of Haemanthus albifloss x H. coccineus
If you love the shape of tulip flowers, then plant a row of these bulbs which will flower summer to autumn.
Brunsvigia greagaria 
Brunsvigia gregaria which has agapanthus like flower on steroids in a crimson coloured bloom.
Or even the combined genus of brunsvigia and amaryllis ending up with Amarygia.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast with Peter Nixon
 from Paradisus garden design.

Real World Gardener Plants for Shady Side Passage in Design Elements

June 11th, 2021


Plants for a Shady Side Passage
Often there's one side of the house which is quite neglected because it's cold and not much light gets there, and and as much as you've tried, no plants have survived.
It's time to re-look at that side passage, usually the south side of the house, and give it another red hot go.
Steve thinks these are 'little gems.'


Treated in the right way, this could be a turned into a special place.
One suggestion is stone flagging with border plants.
What about some narrow plants?
Viburnum Dense Fence and 
Nandina domestica or sacred bamboo.; there are many varieties of this old favourite.
Some trees will fit.
Blueberry ash , (Eleaocarpus reticulatus)
Steve likes the idea of Japanese maples, (Acer palmatum.) Being deciduous it can take the extra cold in winter especially if there's no light.
Let’s find more of what will grow there?
I'm talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturalist and horticulturist.

Real World Gardener Plants for Shade Under Trees in Design Elements

June 11th, 2021


What to plant under the shade of trees.

Shade trees are great, but what can you plant under them that can cope with the root competition and low levels of sunlight throughout the year.


You want something attractive of course and not just a bare area.
In one of my shady spots 

I've attached a birds nest fern (pictured) to the trunk of a silk oak (Grevillea robusta).

In the same space are many cliveas, which is a bit of  a standout with evergreen foliage and available in more colours than just bright orange, pastel colours such as creams, yellows and white.
Neomarica gracilis or walking iris, are another perfect suggestion.
Shade in gardens that is provided by trees has a much bigger cooling effect that say shade soils or umbrellas.
Other suggestions this time  for cool climate gardens are Huechera species.  

This shady garden series is not so much what makes the best shade trees, but what can grow in various types of shade, whether it’s a shady side passage, a shady balcony, or just a shady part of the garden.

Let’s find out more ? I'm talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturalist and horticulturist.

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