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.

How to Get Longer Lasting Flowers on Real World Gardener

June 20th, 2022

 TALKING FLOWERS

Tips For Longer Lasting Flowers in the Vase

Flowers are so uplifting and whilst they’re lovely in the garden, in the home, you’ve got them to enjoy for longer.
After all, you’re not watching your flowers that are in the garden for very long.

  • bouquet-white-rose-flowers-roses-lush-pink-celebration-bloom-birthday-bouquet.jpg

    There are plenty of 'old wives tales', and just plain outright myths about  what to do to your flowers to make them last past 3 days in the vase. 

  • Ever heard of putting a copper penny in the vase water? Well it's sounds like it could work but in reality, it doesn't do anything for the flowers.
  • What about dissolving an aspirin in the water? That's sheer nonsense.
  • So how can you make the most of your cut flowers?

I'm talking with Nadine Brown, florist, floral designer and educator of www.wildflorastudio.com.au

who shares her tried and true tips from over thirty years of experience in the flower business.
  • Some of those tips you may have heard before on my Real World Gardener program and one of them is that flowers are ethylene sensitive.
  • That means flower sellers on the roadside are not just selling your flowers, but a whole bunch of ethylene laden flowers that have been covered by exhaust fumes. 
  • That also means that your fruit bowl of bananas, apples and pears are also emitting ethylene which hasten the demise of your precious flowers if they're nearby.
1-Birthday%20flowers.jpg

 

Nadine recommends that 

  • The best place to buy your flowers is from the grower or from a florist.
  • The next best tip is clean fresh water every couple of days is the next best thing for your flowers.  
    • If you recut the stems on an angle as you do that, then you're increasing the vase life of your flowers. Doing this under water prevents air bubbles from blocking any uptake or food or water too.
    • Filtered water isn't totally necessary.
  • Coming second those first tips is a spoonful of vodka!!
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Is scalding the stems a myth or fact?

You probably have heard of scalding hydrangea stems by placing those woody stems in boiling hot water for 30 seconds to a minute, then straight into cold water.?
Perhaps you thought that was a bit of fuss over nothing?

The truth is this works for woody stems such as hydrangeas and roses, plus a few others like lavender and poppies. Not all flowers though.

Using boiling water or scalding, expels air bubbles or trapped air from the stems, which as before, blocks uptake of water and nutrients.

For more tips listen to the podcast and watch the tutorial that Nadine has generously provided on 'Care and Condition for your flowers.

The link for the Care and Conditioning tutorial is just one of over 50 tutorials in Nadine’s membership library,

https://vimeo.com/485281174/2ac20b9565

So let’s listen to the podcast.
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.

Hibiscus%20geranioides.jpg
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

Planting for Bright Shade in Garden Design

May 20th, 2022

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Bright Shade Planting

This design series is about plants that are categorised as non-general lines, in other words, plants that are not production grown that then become available in several different sized pots. This series is also about year round interest in the garden even when plants are not in flower. Imagine opening the back door to look at a sea of just green with no distinguishing features! A tad boring don't you think?

Instead, think of plants with different sized and shaped leaves, that might also have contrasting colours.

Plants we mention in this series, 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.

 

So you’ve got some shady areas that’s under trees. This spot is usually thick with the roots of the trees so will be difficult to plant anything there that will survive the root competition, or will it?
This is where you have to think outside the square and look at plants that don't need to grow in too much soil.

 

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Cryptostephanos vansonii

What are you going to grow in these root ridden shady areas?

Peter mentioned

 

  • Calanthe sylvatica-a ground orchid-good for moist shade
  • Philodendron marshalliana-has storage stems and not a climber.

 

  • Syningia bullata and S. Canescens and S. cardinalis other syningia sp-small cordex that can regrow from.
  • Cryptostephanos vansoni

 

 

I say every week that 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.
I'm talking with Peter Nixon of Paradisus garden design. www.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au

Have a listen to the podcast.

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.'

Posoqueria%20longiflora%201.jpg
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,

Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants

March 19th, 2022

 PLANT HEALTH

Plant Nutrition Deficiencies: Macro Nutrient Nitrogen

The 'Plant health' segment was created for my radio show "Real World Gardener,' as a division of the 'Plant doctor' segment, because I felt that it’s important to focus on what can go wrong with plants that isn’t a pest or a disease.
In the following audio podcasts, you will hear about what to look for in plants that have deficiencies of one of the macro nutrients: Nitrogen:Phosphorus:Potassium; in other words NPK or the macro nutrients.

Gardeners can often see problems appearing first in the colour of the leaves, but this can also be followed closely by lack of vigour, stunted growth and general unthriftiness of the plant.
 
The key to diagnosing problems, however isn't just looking at the colour of the leaves but it's knowing your soil type and soil pH.
Yes, I know, we do go on about soil pH but that often underlies the reason behind your plants' problems.
The other underlying problem may be insufficient drainage which causes waterlogging of the soil.
 
That said, we  will assume that you soil pH is around 6.5 - 7 but your still seeing issues that are showing up in the leaves. So what next?

Macro Nutrient Nitrogen

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Nitrogen is one of the three big nutrients or macro nutrients that plants need.
Nitrogen is responsible for leaf growth and blossom formation.
 
First Symptoms: Oldest leaves start to appear pale first, yellowing at the leaf tips then eventually the whole leaf will turn yellow.
Quick Fix: Soluble fertiliser high in nitrogen. 
Results should appear in a few days.
Long term fix: Blood  n' Bone and/or controlled release fertilisers.
 
Nitrogen on it’s own can be useful for quick greening of lawns and leafy plants like ferns in pots when the potting mix is depleted of any nutrients.
Listen to the podcast: I'm talking with Kylie Last horticulturist and tafe teacher.

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

Rose Geranium Based Drinks in the Kitchen Garden

December 24th, 2021

KITCHEN GARDEN

Rose Geranium 

Scientific name: Pelargonium graveolens

Family: Geraniaceae

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Rose geranium leaves (photo Corinne Mossati)

 

Personally I’m a fan of scented plants whether it’s the flowers or the leaves.
I just love to inhale their perfume either by sniffing the flowers or touching the leaves.

This next plant, the rose geranium, is not just your ordinary scented geranium because of its many uses.

Sure you can get by just inhaling the perfume after crushing the leaves but why not think about it’s culinary uses, especially in festive drinks. 

First let's talk about the plant.

Rose geraniums are quick growing especially in the warmest months of the year.

Expect this to be a small bush of 1-2-1.5meters with leaves that are soft to the touch, slight hairy and deeply incised as pictured on the right. 

Rose geraniums grow best in full sun but can tolerate part shade. Also frost and drought tolerant.

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Rose Geranium spritzer (photo Corinne Mossati)  

Keep pruning the leaves to make your rose geranium plant into a tidy compact form, otherwise it will tend to flop over and sprawl a bit.

Don't throw away the cuttings or prunings as all geraniums root easily and quickly. 

Just cut a piece or stem of about 5cm long, first removing the bottom two-thirds of leaves. Pop this piece into seed raising mix in a small pot or you can even place cuttings in water.

Rooted cuttings soon grow into plants that make great gifts to give to friends.

But don't waste those leaves, because what better way to use them, than making a rose geranium syrup to pour over ice-cream or a rose geranium spritzer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start off with making a rose geranium syrup.

All you need is 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of chopped rose geranium leaves.

I'm talking with Corinne Mossati, founder and editor of Gourmantic Garden and Cocktails and Bars  Corinne has provided the links to the recipes below.

Rose Geranium Syrup recipe http://www.cocktailsandbars.com/rose-geranium-syrup-recipe/

Rose Geranium Spritzer http://www.cocktailsandbars.com/rose-geranium-spritzer/

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Festive Drinks with Pineapple Sage in the Kitchen Garden

December 18th, 2021

 KITCHEN GARDEN

Festive Drinks with Pineapple Sage

I talk with Corinne Mossati about this wonderful culinary sage that is so useful in festive drinks.

You may be growing some lovely salvias in your garden but not realise that one of them in particular, can make a luscious and revitalising drink, just right for the festive season. 

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is in the Lamiaceae or mint family.

Found growing naturally in forests quite high up but does well along the east coast of Australia.

A fast growing small shrub to 1.5m, that suits most regions of Australia with large leaves that are, distinctly veined and a bright lime-green in colour.

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Salvia elegans-pineapple sage

Grow it in reasonably rich soil that has a good water holding capacity to keep it moving along during the warmest months of the year. Best in full sun.

Tip prune whenever you pass to keep your pineapple sage more compact and lush.

Flowers occur mainly in winter but will spot flower most of the year.

Let’s find out.

PLAY: Festive drinks with pineapple sage_8th December 202

That was Corinne Mossati founder and editor of the gourmantic garden and cocktails and bars websites.

Not only the leaves, but the flowers can be used to make drinks or flavour honey.

For a small 200ml jar, fill it up with pineapple sage flowers and then pour in the honey. Leave it to steep for one month and give it a give it a little stir every so often.

You can also use the flowers as garnish in salad, and because they have a pineapple flavour, they’ll make a fantastic addition to fruit salads, and sorbets.

Corinne's Tip:When you are working with aromatic plants, place the leaf on your palm, give it a little slap to release the volatile oils, before you garnish your cocktail, then inhale the aroma as you sip your drink.

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Corinne's Pineapple Sage Cocktail

Here are the links to the recipes Corinne mentions in the podcast:

 The Sage Cuban: Pineapple Sage Cocktail: http://www.cocktailsandbars.com/the-sage-cuban-pineapple-sage-cocktail/

Pineapple Sage Flower Honey: http://www.thegourmanticgarden.com/pineapple-sage-flower-honey/

Simple Syrup: http://www.cocktailsandbars.com/how-to-make-simple-syrup/

If you have any feedback why not write in or email www.realworldgardener.com

Dill versus Fennel: What‘s the Difference in Spice it Up

December 18th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP

Dill versus Fennel

How well do you know your herbs?
Have you ever used fresh dill in any recipes?
Perhaps a dill sauce, with smoked salmon or in a potato salad, but what about fennel.?
Those feathery fronds of dill, have a similar smell to fennel, so can they be used interchangeably? Dill is pictured here but it looks similar to the feather fronds of fennel doesn't it?

So how can you tell the difference between dill and fennel fronds?

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Fennel bulb and frond

Dill fronds are slightly finer and a darker green than fennel fronds.

Dill has a higher anise or licorice note when you crush the leaf.

Fennel has the same level of anethol (active enzyme) but tends to be sweeter.

  • Seeds or both dill and fennel are used in cooking and are referred to as a spice.
  • Seed flavour profiles differ from the fresh plant. 
  • Dill fronds are sometimes referred to as 'dill weed' in recipes.

    Dill seeds are used a lot in pickles, but don’t have magical properties.

    Ian’s great tip was when using fennel seeds, dry roast them which by the way gives satay sauce that special flavour.

    • My favourite use of fennel seeds is in home-made sausage rolls.  

    I mix 150 grams of beef mince with 300gms of pork mince, 1 grated carrot, 1 grated potato (raw), w teaspoons of chopped sage leaves, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds,  salt and pepper to season. Divide mixture onto puff pastry sheets and roll up with join side down onto baking trays. Bake for 15 minutes at 220 C until golden.

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Dill or Fennel flowers?

Let’s find out by listening to the podcast.

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au 

If you have any feedback email 

realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

 

 

Grafting Techniques part 2 on The Good Earth

November 25th, 2021

GRAFTING TECHNIQUES Part 2

side%2Bgraft%2Bcitrus.jpg
Approach grafting is an alternative method for citrus.

In part 1 of grafting techniques Margaret Mossakowska and I talked about how growing from a tree such as an orange or lemon from seed isn’t all that successful unless you graft it onto hardy rootstock.

In this segment, we refresh some of those points and take you onto more grafting techniques.

There are many types of grafting that are available to be used, some more complex or more exacting than others.

My Take On Grafting

Cleft grafting I find is quite straight forward and easy to get right. 

I've tried grafting Camellia reticulata scions onto Camellia sasanqua rootstock with a 100% success rate.  Camellia reticulata has huge flowers, a feature I wanted growing in my garden.

Camellia 'Red Crystal' is a cross between C.reticulata ‘Crimson Robe’ and C. japonica ‘Wildfire,’ however, both are slow growing. and don't grow so fast in temperate Sydney.

I find this is a faster alternative, plus Camellia sasanquas are very hardy and less prone to root rot.

Camellia%2BRed%2BCrystal.jpg
Camellia 'Red Crystal'

 

  • Grafting citrus is essential in Australia because the table citrus that we love to eat are not native to Australia, and so are prone to many diseases. 

The grafted union in most cases needs to be above the ground. There is one exception and that is with lilacs(Syringia vulgaris.). Lilacs tend to sucker if grown on their own rootstock so they are grafted onto privet rootstocks.

 

Things to Watch Out For.

Once you've successfully grafted your desired planted, whether it's a citrus or camellia or some other favourite, there's still room for failure.
  • At first the graft union may seem all fine and dandy, but  if you see shoots from below the graft union, you may have a problem Houston.
  • Shoots from below the graft union could signal failure of the graft and the rootstock is trying to take over.
  • Keep on rubbing off these shoots and hopefully it's only a minor abberration.
  • If this persists, you may find the top part or scion is slowly dying, so time to start all over.
Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast. I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of www.mosshouse.com.au
If you’ve never tried grafting, make sure you get the right tools before you start.

You’ll also need the correct root stock.

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

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