Real World Gardener Allergy and Cut Flowers in Talking Flowers

June 10th, 2020


Allergy and Cut Flowers

Cut flowers bring surprise and admiration for the giver but if they trigger itchy eyes and runny noses, chances are you have an allergy to those particular flowers.

Pollen allergies can trigger hayfever type reactions so flowers with lots of pollen should be avoided.

But how to tell?

Botanical Bite

Only male flowers produce pollen. 

  •  Dioecious plants have either only male or either female flowers on any one individual plant. These plants rely on mainly the wind, rarely insects to carry pollen from a male plant to a female plant to reproduce.
  • Monoecious plants, contain both male and female flowers on the same plant, meaning that pollen must travel from flower to flower but not from plant to plant. Some monoecious plants contain male and female parts in the same flower. They’re often called “perfect flowers” and don't need any pollen to be transferred at all, as a single flower can reproduce on its own.

Top 10 allergy-heavy plants

The most obvious flowers and plants to steer away from are those that are wind pollinated. Believe it or not, grasses have flowers, but they're not so obvious or showy. All grass flowers are wind pollinated, these include your lawn grass.Value%2Bfor%2Bmoney%2Bflowers4.jpg

  1. Baby's breath  (Gypsophila sp.) is popular in many florist bouquets and are planted in cottage gardens because they're easy to grow from seed. Although the flowers are small, they carry heaps of pollen of pollen. There are singles and doubles so opt for the double flowering types because they have less pollen. More petals equals less pollen, plus as the double flowers are hybrids they have a low level of pollen anyway. It also helps that all those petals prevent the pollen from flying off.
  2. Daisy Family-Asteraceae.  That includes white daises, pink daisies, yellow daisies, in fact any daisies. Daisies are very high in pollen count but even though they are not wind pollinated, allergy sufferers should avoid getting too close. Let the bees and other insects do the work.
  3. Dahlias-still in the daisy family, especially the single flowering dahlias.
  4. Sunflowers-(Helianthus anuum)still in the daisy family, but did you know you can buy seed for pollenless sunflowers?
  5. Gerberas-of course, still in the daisy family. One of the most showy of Asteraceae, but plenty of pollen.
  6. Chamomile-small daisy like flowers that look innocuous but have plenty of pollen, including the ones you pick to make chamomile tea.
  7. Amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus)-have flowers that are referred to as catkins with a high pollen count.
  8. Chrysanthemum-there are plenty of fully double chrysanthemums you could choose to lessen the impact of the high pollen count.
  9. Bottlebrush-(Callistemon sp.) although they're visited by bees and other insects for the nectar, they still have enough pollen to be blown about by the wind.
  10. Jasmine species-not only pollen but high fragrance can irritate allergy sufferers.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of



  • What to choose instead in your bouquet or vase for the home.

Begonia, cactus, clematis, columbine, crocus, daffodil and geranium are some of the most allergy-friendly plants and flowers. Hosta, hydrangea, iris, lily, periwinkle, rose, tulip, zinnia are also known for being good choices.

Real World Gardener Dandelions in Grow Your Gealth

December 12th, 2019


Dandelion: Taraxacum officinale

I’ve talked about weeds on this program, not just controlling weeds but eating weeds.

It’s not something that I’ve got my head around yet, but one weed that is being showcased today has been used in herbal medicine and nutrtition for quite a while.

Apparently it’s good for your liver.



Let’s find out what it is.

I'm talking with Simone Jeffries, naturopath, nutritionist and wellness coach of


The leaf has a serrated edge forming a basal rosette, with a strong taproot.

Dandelion flowers have only ray florets, and no disc florets, therefore no centre.

Milky sap comes from the stem.

It’s good though that dandelion coffee or tea has the same health benefits. 

  • Simone recommends eating the leaf because they are bitter. 
  • Bitterness is good for us, because it stimulates the appetite.

Dandelion leaves are best when young because they become more bitter with age.

Add to a salad, incorporate into a pesto or mix it in with a juice.

The dandelion root is beneficial also, being made into tea or dandelion coffee.

Contains high amounts of iron and calcium.

You can slow bake the root until its brittle, then you can grind it up to make your own tea or coffee.

  • As always, make sure you can identify the weed correctly before consuming it.
  • Also don’t collect the weeds on roadsides or nature strips, because you don’t know what animal has left its message on them or if they have been sprayed with herbicide. 

If you have any questions for me or for Simone please contact us or write in.


Real World Gardener Beginner Garden Toolbox part 1 in Tool time

April 15th, 2019


Garden Toolboxes for the Beginner and Semi-Advanced Gardener

Over the years, gardeners accumulate quite a number of tools that they regard as essential and wouldn’t be without.



I’m not talking about anything that is powered, wither by petrol or electricity, but hand tools.

Quite often we even have several of the same too.

If you knew someone who was just starting out in gardening, what would you recommend they have as an essential part of their gardening tool kit?

Limit it to three and see how you go.

Let’s find out what the experts recommend.

I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of

PLAY: Toolbox part 1-11th July 2018


What do you think, do you agree with Tony’s essential beginner’s tool kit or would you have chosen something else?




For the most part, I’m sure listeners would have said a pair of secateurs would be the bare minimum, but one pair of secateurs doesn’t make a kit, you need two more things.

What are yours? If you have any questions either for me or Tony, you can email us


Real World Gardener Red Rocket Bottlebrush in Plant of the Week

June 21st, 2018


Callistemon x citrinus "Red Rocket"

Bottlebrush "Red Rocket"

Segment produced and presented by Lewis Beere and Hugh Mandalidis.




Callistemon Red Rocket has bright red new growth and only grows to 1.5 metres high and 1.5 metres wide.

Perfect for pots and low borders. Like all Callistemons, they suit sun or part shade and cope with all types of soils.

Once established, (give it at least a year), it will tolerate dry conditions and light frost.

Bottlebrushes are also not bothered by too many pests and diseases.


If you are after low maintenance then this is one of those plants.


Start of fertilising it with a slow release low phosphorus fertiliser to help first establish the plant. 


Although it can cope without too much fertiliser, if you want lush foliage, it's best to follow up with the occasional reapplication of fertiliser.


Mulching around the base of the plant will help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Plant Breeder: Ian Shimmen




Real World Gardener Calla Lily in Talking Flowers

April 13th, 2018


CALLA LILY Zantedeschia aethiopica  

Family: Araceaea

Known as arum lily but not a lily at all, instead an aroid.

Aroid because it’s a member of the 3,300 strong arum family and most have flowers that consist of a spathe (floral bract) surrounding the central pale yellow spadix (floral spike) bearing tiny flowers.

Image result for calla lily

Think Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum,  Anthurium and Philodendron.

Zantedeschia aethiopica is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant, evergreen where there's plenty of  rainfall and moderate temperatures but deciduous where there is a dry season. Its preferred habitat is in streams and ponds or on the banks.

The plant actually contains calcium oxalate making it poisonous to animals or people that may attempt to eat the plant raw.

This is basically a protection mechanism for the plant so that it can survive in the wild.

Apart from that, these flowers look fabulous in the vase ,just don't let kitty nibble on the leaves.

I'm talking with  florist, floral therapist, and floraholic, Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Vegetable Gardens part 3 in Design Elements

December 28th, 2016

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.


The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.


 Vegetable Garden Series part 3-the planting stage.

Living in a particular place in Australia means that you have a particular climate and also means that if you’re into gardening that you need to know which climatatic zone you are in.

Some books suggest different zones to what you think you are in and in can be a bit confusing .

But it’s important to newbie gardeners to know what climate zone they’re in because it determines the type of garden you’ll have and the plants that you’ll grow.

We’re going through a few basics in this next segments so let’s find out.


Private vegetable garden of Lyn Woods in Ulverston Tasmania

I'm talking with Glenice Buck, landscape designer and consulting arborist.

PLAY: Vegetable Gardens pt3_21st December_2016


If you’re new to gardening then concentrate on what does well in your area.

Check the Bureau of Meteorology, local gardening groups and local newspapers to build a better picture of your local area.

In Australia we have 4 very broad climatic zones …

Hot tropics/subntropics

Cool Temperate

Arid areas

Hot Temperate

Very broad zones and then within these zones there are microclimates dependent on elevation and proximity to the coast. 

The higher you are the cooler the temperatures and the coast will keep temps more moderate – not as extreme.

These do get broken down into semi arid/arid climates, dry temperate and so on .

Of course every garden has its own microclimate depending if you live in a valley or on a hilltop.

How are vegetable classified or divided up?

Vegetables are basically divided into warm season and cool season

Warm season crops grow best when average temperatures 20 degrees

Cool season crops – best grown below 20 degrees

What are some examples?

Warm season

Tomatoes, sweet corn, French and runner beans capsicum, eggplant, cucumber,

 Cool season

Cabbage broccoli fennel cauliflower, asparagus, Brussels sprouts spinach, and peas.

If you have any questions about designing a veggie garden, write in to reLyn_Woods_Vegie_Garden1.jpg


Real World Gardener Scented Leaves to Brush By in Design Elements

December 2nd, 2016


Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.

The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.




Scented Leaves to "Brush By."

Continuing the series on scented plants and scented leaves.



Lavandula sp. photo M Cannon

1-DSC_0071.JPGWas it a term coined by Peter? It seems likely but until Peter mentioned the term, “brush by” I had never come across it.

In fact if you did a search on the internet for “brush by plants” you get a selection of Bottle Brush plants.

That’s not it. If you put in just “brush by”, you guessed it, a selection of definitions on brushing and websites selling hairbrushes.

So what does it mean? 

Let’s find out..

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer and project Manager of Paradisus Garden Design.





Scented leaves on Geraniums, Lavenders, licorice scented leaves of Agastache, and Bee Balm or Bergamot. Just some of the plants to choose from for your brush by garden.



Real World Gardener Ruby Red Amaranthus is Plant of the Week

November 24th, 2016

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.


The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.


Amaranth caudatus_Love Lies Beeding

Described as have brilliant red seed heads that dangle like rubies, the tassles of this flower can reach up to 30cm long.
That means that if you want to display them in a vase, the vase has to be quite tall.
So let’s find out what it is.
I'm talking with the plant panel:Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Did you know that Love-Lies-Bleeding grew in many Victorian English gardens and in the language of flowers, it represents hopeless love.
Tiny blood red petal-less flowers that bloom in narrow, drooping, tassel-like, panicles throughout the growing season.
The tassels contain thousands of tiny flowers and hang straight down to 30cm (occasionally 60 cm) long and look like velvet cords.
Did you know that the red colour of the inflorescences is due to a high content of betacyanins?
This plant grows best in full sun and well drained soil.
It tolerates dry conditions and poor soil, but can’t grow in the shade.
If you have any questions about growing  Amaranthus or Love Lies Bleeding, why not write in to

Real World Gardener GROW Soft Tree Ferns in Plant of the Week

August 12th, 2016

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.

The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.


SOFT TREE FERN Dicksonia antartctica

DSC_3280.JPGDicksonia Antarctica is a statement tree which will create a dramatic sense to any garden.

Easily established and maintained, this evergreen tree is guaranteed to intensify your garden.

Let’s find out. I'm talking with the plant panel, Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.


Soft tree ferns live in moist areas with high water content in wet sclerophyll forests, along creek beds, in gullies and occasionally at high altitudes in cloud forests


Dicksonia tree ferns can grow up to 15m in height; it has large dark green roughly textured fronds in a spreading canopy of up to 6m in diameter.


They have an erect rhizome forming a trunk. They are very hairy at the base of the stipe. (trunk). The "trunk" of this fern is the decaying remains of earlier growth of the plant and forms a medium through which the roots grow

Fast Fact:







Did you know that the soft tree fern doesn’t reach maturity until it’s 23 years old?


A lot of places just name this tree fern but you mightn’t want the taller growing coin spot tree fern.

Look for Soft tree fern or Dicksonia Antarctica on the label.

Real World Gardener Staghorn Fern is Plant of the Week

January 15th, 2016

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.


The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition


Staghorn Fern Platycerium superbum

Staghorn Fern

They make a nice plant for your balcony, verandah or just somewhere perhaps on a tree in the garden and are very easy to care for. 
They can be grown year-round outdoors in areas protected from frost and freezing. In their natural habitat they can be seen growing high up in the crowns of trees.

Staghorn ferns are native to tropical central Africa including Madagascar, southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and Australia. 
One species is native to the Andes mountains of Peru.

Platycerium superbum has greyish green fronds that lay flat over the root system which is attached to a support.

This fern has two distinct leaf forms.

Flattened sterile shield fronds protect the anchoring root structure and take up water and nutrients. This ‘nest’ frond is designed to collect falling leaves and insects and funnels it to the feeding roots.

This is the place gardeners usually throw in banana peels for the same reason.

Platycerium superbum

These give the fern a valuable source of potassium and calcium, nutrients required for the production of their large fronds.

It's from this frond that the fern attaches itself to the host tree.

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