Real World Gardener Butterfly Gardening part 2

March 20th, 2021

Butterfly Gardening

 part 2:

So you've listened to part 1 where we talked about what plants butterflies prefer, and in particular, what type of plants the caterpillars of these butterflies like to eat.

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Butterfly House Blenheim Palace, England, photo M Cannon

  • But what else do butterflies like and what should you be wary of using in your garden if you want to keep those butterflies and bees coming to visit?

What do butterflies need to survive?

WATER: Butterflies are like bees, they don't like to land on a large body of water. They want to land where their mouthpieces can take up the water. A dish of water with a stone in it will provide their water needs.
SHADE: When they're eating or laying eggs, butterflies prefer semi-shade, one of the  reasons is that they camouflage themselves better.
FOOD FOR CATERPILLARS: Don't go overboard with worry about a few eaten leaves on your citrus,, or other plants because of the odd caterpillar here and there.  Remember, that caterpillar on your citrus or some other plant, may not be doing as much damage as you think. Not all caterpillars are as destructive as say the white cabbage moth caterpillar. Identify it first, then decide to leave it alone or feed it to the chooks.
  • DON'T USE PESTICIDES, THESE ARE HARMFUL TO ALL BUTTERFLIES

Remember, the butterfly lifecycle is quite short, a mere two weeks before they pupate.

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Butterflies pupating, butterfly house, Blenheim Palace, England. photo M Cannon
Let’s find out more
I'm talking with  Steve McGrane, horticulturist, ecological agriculturist and garden writer.
 
If you have any questions either for me or for Steve you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

 

Real World Gardener Butterfly Gardening part 1

March 20th, 2021

 BUTTERFLY GARDENING

Part 1: First Things First-what plants and how do they know which to land on?

Are you bemoaning the lack of butterflies in your garden?

Would you love to have more butterflies visit your garden, no matter how small or big it is?
Did you know that butterflies look for specific food plants or that they have a preferred temperature to flit about in?

The Monarch butterfly (pictured below)  was in my garden on buddleia bush 'Black Knight'  
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Steve mentions a good read  on the subject of butterflies is a book co-authored by Helen Schwencke, 

Create More Butterflies: a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants for south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Some plant suggestions to get those winged beauties into your garden are:
  • Native senna cultivars are high on the list of plants that attract butterflies.
  • Blunt-leaf Senna there (Senna gaudichaudii), but there’s also the corky milk vine (Secamone elliptica) and emu foot, (Cullen tenax) a trailing native plea vine.
  • Think also about the native finger lime, great for container planting.
  • A lot of native butterflies will be drawn to your garden if you have the right flowers for them at the right time of the year.
The further you go south, the butterfly visits will be more seasonal.
  • Migrating butterflies are driven by the season's, wind direction and amount of rainfall.
Their preferred temperature range is between 23-27 degrees Centigrade.
How  do they find what they need?
 
The  antenna (mainly on males) is used to detect what food is available and if other male butterflies are present.
Females, however, can also use their feet. Chemoreceptors on their legs help them to choose their food plants.
 

Let’s find out more
I'm talking with  Steve McGrane, horticulturist, ecological agriculturist and garden writer.

Real World Gardener Kangaroo Paws in Plant of the Week

March 19th, 2021

Kangaroo Paw: Anigozanthos spp

This next plant is the floral emblem of Western Australia where it has grown for millions of years.
The flowers, which bloom mostly in the spring and summer, are covered with a very thick, soft fuzz, making them look almost like velvet.
It’s also bird attracting and once a favourite of gardeners.

Common Name: Kangaroo Paw

Anigozanthos_Flavidus_%2528222634523%2529.jpeg

 

Scientific name: Anigozanthos flavidus
Family: Haemdoraceae
Flowers: spring and summer are main flowering times. Fine coloured hairs cover the flower giving it, its flower colour. Flowers are a distinct shape which can only be described as that of a kangaroo's paw! Cultivars known as 'Bush Gems" come in all colours of the rainbow.
Hardiness:Develop a blackening of the leaves in humid climates, known as inkspot disease. Cut it down to ankle height with clean secateurs to renew the growth if this occurs.
Uses: Mass planted in borders, in cottage gardens, native gardens, rockeries and containers.
Make sure you find a good colour form as it is great bird attracting garden plant that can be a feature at the back of beds.

Remove the dead flower stems and their associated foliage after flowering.

Let’s find out more
I am talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Real World Gardener Dendrobium Cultivation and Care in Plant of the Week

October 8th, 2020

DENDROBIUMS Part 3

Cultivation and care

If you been listening to the series on dendrobium orchids you might now be wondering how best to look after them? 
You might even be asking do I need a greenhouse or shadehouse like Adrian has for his 200 or so orchids, or can you grow just one or two without too much fuss somewhere in the garden?

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Let’s find out.. 
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant and orchid expert. 
 
The three most important things for care of your dendrobiums are location, watering and fertilising. 
Adrian’s tips is let them completely dry out in winter, but if temperatures are in the high 40’s, you may need to mist them several times a day. 

If they look pinched they need watering.

  • Fertilising
Adrian has an inline fertilising system which is attached to a hose but before the tap. He then places a rock mineral fertiliser in that inline system which leaches a very small amount into the water each time he waters the orchids.
Adrian also recommends using two types of additional fertilisers depending on the time of year.
Fertilisers high in potash to promote spring flowering, and fertilisers high in nitrogen to promote growth.
Tip: Add a handful of dolomite lime over the bark mix every couple of years to counteract the acidity of the media as it breaks down.
If you have any questions about Australian orchids, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Hybrid Dendrobium Orchids of the Week

October 8th, 2020

Dendrobium sp. episode 2

Dendrobium hybrids

Australia has 50 native species of dendrobiums and dockrillias and most of these grow mainly somewhere along the east coast of Australia. 
The ones that grow in Qld, in quite warm temperature to tropical areas, don’t grow so well further south and one might need a greenhouse to grow some of these.

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But those that originate in Victoria or NSW don’t do so well in the tropics. 
This is where hybrid dendrobiums of these native orchids come in 
Let’s find out.. 
I'm talking to native plant expert and orchidophile, Adrian O’Malley 

Hybrid dendrobiums are numerous and as an example can be crosses of Dendrobium speciosum and Dendrobium kingianum. 
This particular cross gives you Dendrobium x delicatum which can have either with or pink flowers and even perfume. 
A famous one that Adrian mentioned is Dendrobium Hilda Poxon (pictured above).
This is a cross between Dendrobium speciosum x Dendrobium tetragonum

Real World Gardener Dendrobium orchid in Plant of the Week

October 8th, 2020

 PLANT OF THE WEEK

Dendrobiums sp. Episode 1

Scientific Name:Dendrobium speciosum
Common Name: Rock Orchid, Sydney Rock Orchid
Native Habitat: growing on granite cliff faces or boulders.
Plant type: Lithophyte
Description: consisting of pseudobulbs or canes that can be up to 45cm long. Large leathery leaves than can last up to 12 years on the plant. Flowering August to September.
Flowering:Arching racemes that can have up to 100 fragrant flowers per stem.
Climate zone: Outdoors in tropical to temperate climates, but shadehouses in colder areas.
 
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Some gardeners think that growing orchids can be a bit tricky or only for the orchid afficionado. 

They may have experienced one or two failures that has tainted their perception of orchids for life. 
But I think, give orchids another go, because there’s ones out there that are hard to kill. 
This one’s no exception. 
Let’s find out what it is. 
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and native orchid afficionado. 

One of the most spectacular Australian orchids and one of the easiest to grow.

  • When establishing your new orchid, you can attach it with coated wire or plastic rope to a tree, or boulder in your garden.

Adrian has his own orchid house in his backyard where he grows about 200 different types of orchids and yes, they are all types of Australian native orchids. 
Be like Adrian, and grow some yourself. 
If you have any questions about Australian orchids, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

 

Real World Gardener Midgen Berry in Plant of the Week

September 27th, 2020

PLANT OF THE WEEK 2

Scientific name:Austromyrtus dulcis
Common name: Midgen berry
Flowers: white with 5 petals, in spring and summer. Later in cooler districts.
Leaves: variable 9-30mm with noticeable oil glands. New growth is covered with silky hairs.
Site: part shade to full sun
Uses: bush tucker food

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Cultivars: Austromyrtus  'Copper Tops." ( A hybrid between A. dulcis and A. tenuifolia.)

Here’s a shrub that has not only green leaves but berries that you can actually eat.

Let’s find out more…I'm talking with Adrian O’Mally, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert. 
The white berries have pale purple spots and a reputedly crunchy with a similar taste to blackberries.
I never found that thinking they were more pasty albeit sweet tasting. 
The preferred soil is will drained.
  • Midgen berry hedges is a great alternative to murraya hedges. Plant that closer together than the recommendation on the plant tag. Usually half the distance is best.
  • In it's native environment it may grow as a spreading shrub up to 2 m tall. Usually found in sandy soils in heath, scrub or open forests and occasionally on the margins of rainforests. 
  • In the home garden 40cm x 1.4m wide
  • Midgen berry copper tops has coppery coloured new growth.

Real World Gardener Rock Thryptomene in Plant of the Week

September 27th, 2020

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Thryptomene sp and Thryptomene saxicola F.C.Payne

There are some plants that can be forgiven for not doing much for most of the year, then, when they come into flower, they become the star of the garden.
In a way, they behave like a spring or summer bulbs, because they’re practically invisible until they pop out and flower their heads off.

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So what is this Thryptomene which I have been alluding to? 
Let’s find out more… 
I'm talking with Adrian O’Mally, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert.
PLAY:Thryptomene NEW_26th August 2020 

Rock thryptomene is as close to a common name as you'll get for this plant.
Growth is as for a sub-shrub 0.75 – 1.5m tall by 1 – 1.5 wide.

  • Adrian came across seven thryptomene planted along a bank with a south-east aspect.
  • They had grown leggy so to keep your shrub bushy, keep up the formative pruning in the early stages.
  • Doing this you will able to keep the shrub to 60cm in height.
Thryptomene is evergreen with a slightly weeping habit and  aromatic small leaves are small.
You may find it as a filler in bouquets because the tiny 5-petalled flowers blend well with larger flowers of any kind.
Thryptomene saxicola (pictured below)
 
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Thryptomene paynei, then newly introduced to New Zealand was "raised by FC Payne of Adelaide".
F.C. Payne was the owner of "The Sanctuary" plant nursery in Ashton, in the Adelaide hills of South Australia who promoted the use of Australian native plants in local gardens.
By 1967 the cultivar had become a "garden favourite" in Australia and was featured in a gardening guide for native plants in The Australian Women's Weekly.

Bird and insect attracting plants always make a lovely addition to your garden. 
Look out for the different cultivars of thryptomene in your nursery or big box store this spring, because there won’t be many, and they’ll be snapped up quick smart. If you have any questions about anything gardening, why not email us realworldgardener@gmail.com
 

Real World Gardener Creating Habitat for Native Bees in The Good Earth

August 26th, 2020

THE GOOD EARTH

Building Habitat for Native Bees

This year, gardening has been taken up by many people who have never gardened before.
But that’s not all, worm farming, keeping chickens and bee-keeping have become more popular because people are spending more time at home. 
You probably know there are honey bees and Australian native bees. 
But which type of bees pollinate your crops better or is there no difference?
Let’s find out.. 
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of www.mosshouse.com.au 

Margaret suggests build habitat for the native bees because they are so much better at pollinating your flowers, in particular veggies in the tomato family, than honey bees. 

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  • Building native bee habitat can be bricks made from clay, or wood and other materials.

Margaret's Clay Bricks Recipe

Mix clay with water then 2 or 3 parts of sand.
Margaret then pours the mix into moulds. One litre milk containers say from rice milk.
When dry she drills various size holes into these 'clay' bricks and places them strategically around the garden.
  • For 'blue banded bees,'  or even 'teddy bear bees,' drill holes 6mm in size and 6cm deep. The bees will excavate the holes further.
  • Bees will also next in bricks where the mortar has worn out. 

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Most native bees are dormant or die during the Australian winters.

Flower are important from spring onwards.
Plant flowering trees with small flowers such as melaleucas or paperbarks.
  • Borage is also an excellent plant for bees because it has a high percentage of protein and sugar in the pollen and nectar.

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  • Perennial basil is also fantastic for not only attracting bees but hover flies and other beneficial insects to the garden.
  • Why not also let some parsley or coriander go to seed.
  • Provide some water for the bees-not deep, and include some pebbles so the bees don't drown. Plant saucers are ideal for this purpose.
  If you have questions for Margaret about keeping native bees, or have information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com

Real World Gardener Sweet Boronia is Plant of the Week

August 19th, 2020

PLANT OF THE WEEK Nr 3

Common Name: Boronia
Scientific Name: Boronia megastigma; Boronia spp.
Family: Rutaceae
Distribution: in most states
Flowering: winter to spring; flowers are 4-petalled either star shaped or bell-shaped; flower colour is mainly pink or brown, also yellow and green.
Foliage: many have highly aromatic leaves.
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Spring usually is bursts on the scene with flowers galore and abundance of heady scent from many different plants.

If you wanted the queen of scented plants though, you can’t go past this smell native shrub, the boronia, that offers a scent way above its class in size. 
Sounds lovely doesn’t it and it’s endemic to Australia. 
Let’s find out more… 
I'm talking withAdrian O’Mally, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert. 
PLAY: Boronias NEW_19th August 2020 
  • Butterfly and insect attracting, boronia always make a lovely addition to your garden. 
  • Plant it where you can enjoy the scent the most, somewhere near the back door, or your outside eating area would be idea.
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Most perfumed cultivars:
  • Brown Boronia:Boronia megastigma
  • Red Boronia (B. heterophylla),
  • Pale-pink Boronia (B. floribunda),
  • the green-flowered, Bremer Boronia (B. clavata),
  • Winter Boronia (B. purdiana),
  • Yellow Boronia (B. tetrandra) 
  • Native Rose (B. serrulata). 
Look out for these different cultivars of boroniasin your nursery, not just the brown boronia. 

If you have any questions about anything gardening, why not email us realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

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