Real World Gardener Pruning 101, When to Prune in Design Elements

November 21st, 2019

When To Prune

pruning%2Bhedge.jpgPruning is one of those jobs that eventually every gardener that grows anything will undertake.

Now that you’re committed to pruning that tree or shrub or hedge, what is the most important consideration do you think?

Do you know the name of the species of plant?

Do you know when it’s about to flower or set fruit?

So when should you prune it?


Well, today it’s about when’s the best time to prune.

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Jason Cornish from

Jason's tip is to wait until after flowering before commencing pruning as a general rule.

Pruning hedges is different because the flowers are not the feature, but the neatness is.

Depending on what the plant species is, for hedging, pruning occurs 2-3 times a year.

fore example, viburnum hedges.

For vigorous hedges such as Plumbago, you will need to prune 4-5 times per year.

  • TIP:If you don’t know what shrub or tree that you’ve got, the best advice is to wait until it flowers or sets fruit, and then prune after that.
  • Jason's General Rule Nr 2 : Jason’s strategy is lightly and often.

If you have any questions for me or for Jason, please write in to

Real World Gardener Rock Isotoma in Plant of the Week

November 16th, 2019


Rock Isotoma: Isotoma axillaris

Family: Lobeliaceae

Fancy a shrubby ground cover plant with purple starry flowers that’s a real standout?

Of course, we all want those in our garden because they fit into any bare spot.

Let’s find out why we should grow it.


Isotoma axillaris

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

Rock isotoma is a flowering perennial that grow up to 40cm high x 40cm wide.

Upright stems are often a purplish colour and covered with short, soft hairs quickly becoming smooth.

The leaves are about 1.5–15 cm long and 0.5–5 mm wide with deep, toothed, linear lobes sharply pointed at the apex.

Rock Isotoma grows naturally in sandstone rock crevices in bushland, but don’t let that stop you from growing it in your garden.

Treat it as a biennial plant, but as it self seeds that’s not really a problem.

You may see if for sale in your local nursery Isotoma ‘Blue Star’

It’s a terrific plant with multibranched stems, that grows into a great mound of lilac-coloured, star-like flowers

If you have any questions either for me or Adrian, why not write in to

Real World Gardener Pruning 101 part 1 in Design Elements

November 16th, 2019


  • Series: Pruning 101

Pruning is one of those jobs that eventually every gardener that grows anything will undertake.

Except of course if you’ve only got a lawn and nothing else, but those gardeners are probably not listening to the radio show or reading this blog.



So over the next 4 weeks, Jason and I will be talking about various pruning jobs and methods.

Today it’s an introduction into what pruning is and different levels of pruning.

Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Jason Cornish from

  • There's several types of pruning.

Tip pruning: removing just the tip of the branches or stems to encourage bushy growth. Using your thumb and middle finger, it's easy to nip out the top couple of leaves at a point just above the next set of leaves lower down. This will stimulate two pairs of leaves to grow from that point.

Light pruning: to remove just the outer leaves without cutting into the semi hardwood or hardwood.

Medium pruning: not a hard prune, but somewhere between  a light prune and removing 30% of growth.

Hard prune: chopping the shrub or tree almost to the ground. A risky undertaking and may result in death of the plant. Some plants such as callistemons and lilly pillies will reshoot from being pruned in this way.

Real World Gardener Australian Dwarf Apple in Plant of the Week

November 12th, 2019


Angophora hispida: Dwarf Apple

Here’s a much smaller relative of one of Australia’s native giant trees, Angophora costata.

The genus name is the same but this tree fits into a small garden and with the profusion of flowers in summer that will attract all manner of bees and nectar feeding birds.

  • How do angophoras differ from eucalypts?

Angophoras have leaves that are opposite always, but in eucalypts and corymbias, the leaves are for the most part alternate except for juvenile leaves.

The seed capsules of angophoras have ribbing on the outside.



Angophora hispida flower

 Let’s find out why we should grow it. I'm talking with Adrian O'Malley, native plant expert and horticulturist.

Angophora hispida has an extremely small distribution but worth growing because of the many features. Growing naturally in heath and open woodland as a smallish gnarly looking tree, however it will grow in a variety of soil types including clay.


  • Height is a maximum of 6m.

Plus,if it grows in Orange in central west NSW, one of the coldest places in the state where it generally snows in winter, it will cope with frost. 

Protection from frost is only need when the tree is still young.

The tree's habit is a single trunk but if you prune right down to the ground, it will resprout from a lignotuber with multiple trunks.

If you have any questions either for me or Adrian, why not write in to

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 Holly Leaved Fuchsia in Plant of the Week

October 18th, 2019


Holly Leaved Fuchsia:Graptophyllum ilicifolium

There are those gardeners who think that native plants look straggly or messy and won’t plant them in the garden. 

No mixing up of plants for them.

Perhaps the holly leaved fuchsia will have them changing their minds because it looks more like something from the northern hemisphere.

A medium shrub 3-5m high found in fairly dry rainforest areas or along creek bank.

Actually occurring only in a small pocket west of Mackay in Queensland.

Moderately fast grower in warm climates, but slower in cool temperate areas.

WatchLet’s find out more. I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.


PLAY: Holly Leaved Fuchsia_9th October_2019

Graptophyllum ilicifolium, or holly leaved fuchsia is quite unusual, and may just suit your garden.

Leaves look like those of a holly bush so very useful for Christmas decorations perhaps?

The flowers are fuchsia like, but obviously this plant is tougher than your regular fuchsia because of the tougher leaves.

The flowers appear in spring and summer along the stems.



Graptophyllum ilicifolium: holly leaved fuchsia

If you have any questions for me or for Adrian, please write in to

Real World Gardener Silver Shield in Plant of The Week

September 22nd, 2019


Plectranthus argentatus: Silver Shield

This week we have a native plant that has velvety leaves, sage green foliage and blue flowers.

It’s in the mint family, so it’s got square stems.

I’m not sure why some people think that only exotics come from the mint family.

Australia has quite a few members that fit into this category.

Let’s find out what’s good about this one.I'm speaking with new contributor, Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

  • “Plectranthus” is a combination of 2 Greek words that mean “spur” (plectron) and “flower” (anthos).
  • Argentatus is Latin for silver.

Plectranthus argentatus or Silver Shield prefers partial shade but will grow in full sun as long as the soil’s not too poor.



Can also grow in full shade and tolerate light frosts, that’s down to -2 C.

Excellent in dry shade.

The best spot for it though is in well drained soil near trees, also a great plant for containers.

If you have any questions for me or for Adrian or would like some seeds of the Snow Wood tree, please write in to

Real World Gardener Wattles or Acacia in Talking Flowers

September 6th, 2019


Wattles:Acacia species.

Family: Mimosaceae, 1, 000 species out of 1350 worldwide originate originate in Australia.

Australia's Acacias have a huge range of flower and leaf shape. Some have fern like foliage, others have leaves like they should belong on a gum tree. 

Flower colour is mainly yellow, followed by cream, but one outstanding cultivar has red flowers.

Acacia leprosa "Scarlet Blaze." Acacia_leprosa_%2527Scarlet_Blaze%2527_f

Most of the species flower during the end of winter or the beginning of spring. The most common Acacia, the Golden Wattle (Arcacias pycnantha) is found in the South Eastern parts of Australia, and the hotter and drier climates.

Acacia pycnantha or Golden Wattle tree, is a shrub of about 4-8 metres. 

Vase life:4-6 days.

I'm talking with Floral therapist Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Albany Woolly Bush In Plant of the Week

August 1st, 2019


Albany Woolly Bush : Adenanthos sericeus

Are you a fan of Western Australian plants?

They grow so many wildflowers, banksias, and Eucalypts with huge inflorescences or inflo’s as those in the now like to call them.

But how do they do in other parts of Australia, particularly if they’re grey and fluffy and have been used mostly as a Christmas tree? 


I'm talking with Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Let’s find out …


The greyness and upright growth of the Albany woolly bush makes it look sort of snow covered making it the perfect choice if you want a real Australian Christmas tree.

  • If you want to grow this well, choose a rocky sandy spot in your garden because that’s the kind of environment it comes from.
  • Otherwise grow it in a pot 

Real World Gardener Choosing The Right Plants in Design Elements

July 25th, 2019


Plant It

The series called ‘dig, plant, grow’ continues and it’s all about what you need to do to the soil before planting anything.

Of course you assessed the soil you have in the garden after listening to last week’s segment didn’t you?

So what next, are you happy to choose just plants that you love or do you need to be a bit more discerning?

Let’s find out ? I'm talking with Glenice Buck of Glenice Buck Designs.

Digging some more in the garden is also involved when it comes to planting, but don’t just plonk the plant into a hole you’ve dug, fill it, and water in, then hope for the best.

Preparation is the key to success.


Preparation before planting

It may take a bit longer but you’ll have years of rewarded effort you did on the day.

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