Success with Germinating Australian Native Seeds on Real World Gardener

June 20th, 2022

 PLANT DOCTOR    

Germinating Native Seed

Australian plants have evolved over thousands of years to respond to a variety of climatic extremes, from fires, to droughts to floods as well as being grazed by native animals.

 
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Wattle seeds need boiling water treatment

Such a long, long time  for plants to evolve as well as being isolated from the rest of the world has meant that a high diversity of flora abounds, so that it would be unusual to think that everything grows the same way.

Australian plants have developed various  adaptations so that the seeds of which can grow in the most suitable environment for that species of plant to survive. 

A suitable environment often means seeds don't germinate until a bushfire removes competing plants giving the seeds more access to sunlight and nutrients.
Then they only have a short window to germinate. 
The hard seed coat is therefore a protective layer that allows the seed to stay dormant for great lengths of time, even years before germination.
 
So how do plants keep germinating and what tricks have native seeds to keep them alive until conditions are right?
 
There are specific requirements for some seeds and in fact a wide range of native seeds require you, the gardener to break their dormancy before they germinate. Some are more difficult than others.

So what are some of the treatments to break native seed dormancy?

Boiling water or hot water treatment is recommended for hard-coated seeds such as Acacia (wattle)and Hardenbergia  species .
This involves boiling some water and waiting for a minute so it's just off the boil,  then soaking the seeds for a few to eight hours. The time varies depending on the seed.
 
Smoke chemical treatment or smoke treatment to break the dormancy of native seeds.
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Wildflower seed starter granules or similar, are vermiculite or another bio material that contains the smoke chemicals from the burning of bush materials.

The way you use it is to sprinkle some on top of the potting mix after sowing the seeds, and on the first watering, the smoke chemicals are released over the seeds.
 
You can also put some of these seed starter granules in the soaking water of the seeds in the hot water treatment method.
  • Not all seeds need smoke chemical treatment, but there's a few that benefit from using it, in fact are difficult to germinate without it. 
    • Sturt Desert peas comes to mind, also Dianella, Philotheca, Xanthorrhoea, Actinotus, Callistemon and Banksia.
 
As a general rule, sowing and smoking should be done when you would expect the seeds to germinate in nature.
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Flannel flowers

 

Both these methods basically speeds up what often takes months or even years in nature to get seeds to germinate.
 
TIP: Be aware of the germination temperature that seeds need to germinate.
But what other tricks are there?
Steve talks about germinating Davidson plum seeds using the hot water treatment in the podcast.  

So let’s find out more.

I'm talking with Steve McGrane, horticulturist and agriculturist.
I hope that’s given you some idea about perhaps why some of the native seeds are more difficult to germinate than regular seeds.

In fact not everything germinates the same way, and here lies the problem.

That’s why a bit of research into the seed type you’re trying to germinate goes a long way.

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

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.
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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.

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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

Best Climbing Plants on Real World Gardener

May 22nd, 2022

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Climber Heroes

This design series is about plants that are categorised as non-general lines.

Every week I’ve been saying that were talking about plants that 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.

Today perhaps some climbers fit the bill

Peter refers to cool sub-tropical garden or ‘cool sub-trops’ which means that overnight winter temperatures are down to about 5 degrees.

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 mentioned these climbers

  • Hoya%20carnosa.jpg
    Hoya carnosa

    Conomorpha fragrans often called climbing frangipani although it has nothing to do with the frangipani genus-Plumeria. The flower does look similar to the frangipani flower and are highly scented.

    • vigorous habit requiring a solid support
    • in cooler areas plant against a north facing wide. Deciduous in cold areas.
  •  
  • Dombeya ianthotrycha (tropical garden society of Sydney)-a winter flowering climber with large paper thin leaves. Flower colour is a muted red with a hint of orange. Can be trained as an espalier or a bun shaped shrub.
  •  
  • Hoya carnosa or wax flower, better in pots with specialised potting mix. If planting in the ground, must have well drained soil.
    • TIP: don't cut those flowering spurs off -  this 
 

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.'

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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,

Lemon Verbena in the Kitchen Garden

March 31st, 2022

KITCHEN GARDEN  

LEMON VERBENA

Did you think that herbs were just for making tea?

Maybe not, but some herbs have endless uses, and this week I’m featuring the herb lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora) that’s larger than you would expect to find in a herb garden so probably could fit into the back of a border but in a sunny location.

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Lemon verbena photo M Cannon
  • How would I describe the scent of lemon verbena?
I would say that lemon verbena has a bright, slightly sweet flavour with a strong hint of lemon.
The strong lemon scent of this herb is far less overpowering than the lemon flavor and fragrance of lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemon mint, and lemongrass.

What does it look like?

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Lemon verbena is a vigorous growing deciduous shrub to 3 metres tall by 3 metres wide. 
The leaves are a lime green and lanceolate, and flowers appear in late spring until the end of summer almost. 
The flowers are white, quite small and appear in a panicle.
  • My plant is quite an old plant that I prune each winter to about 1 metre off the ground.

How to use lemon verbena?

  • As a flavouring in kombucha
  • Add leaves to a sorbet or ice-cream when making
  • Poach stone fruit in a sugar syrup with lemon verbena leaves
  • Infuse lemon verbena leaves in olive oil or vinegar-250 ml of olive oil with 6 leaves or to taste
  • Fish en papiotte with lemon verbena leaves

Corinne's Top Tip: 

Why not try  a gin and sonic with muddled lemon verbena. Made with half soda water and half tonic so less calories. 

Listen to the podcast.
Marianne is talking  Corinne Mossati, founder of  www.thegourmanticgarden.com
Gourmantic garden website. You can also follow Corinne for more delightful ideas on Instagram.

What is Mixed Spice in Spice it Up

March 31st, 2022

 SPICE IT UP

MIXED SPICE

The name 'mixed spice,' sounds 'oldie worldie' to me because it's not something that comes up in too many recipes these days. 

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Perhaps if your flicking through an old  Woman's Weekly recipe book, or the cookbook you used at school in home economics class, you might find it in the cakes and buns section.

 

What is mixed spice?

Mixed Spice is a sweet spice blend and is used in a variety of cakes, puddings, pies, breads and buns, biscuits, pancakes, cupcakes, gingerbreads, and even fruit salads.

Mixed spice has actually the following ground spices.

  • Cinnamon-two types, Sri Lankan cinnamon and cassia cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger-to add brightness and freshness
  • Cloves-a very small amount.
  • Allspice-a spice all on its own which is actually a berry.
  • Coriander seeds, ground of course. Coriander is an amalgamating spice.

But what do you use if you can find it on the supermarket shelves?

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Melting Moment biscuits

Mixed spice quick alternative:

  • Cinnamon 1 tablespoon
  • Nutmeg     1 teaspoon
  • Ginger       1 teaspoon
  • Cloves       1/2 cloves
  • Coriander  2 teaspoons
 
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With the predominant flavor of cinnamon, it also makes a nice change to substitute this spice blend for anything calling for cinnamon for an added flavour boost.
Marianne is talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au
If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Phosphorus and Potassium Deficiency in Plants Solved

March 20th, 2022

Plant Nutrition Deficiencies:Phosporus and Potassium

We have talked bout the role nitrogen played in played health and what to look for if a plant was deficient in one of the major nutrients, being Nitrogen.
  • In fact there are three major nutrients which are classified as NPK ratio on the back of all fertilisers. So in this part of the blog, we carry on with the two other major or macro nutrients.

Let's look at phosphorus deficiency

Phosphorus is responsible for the development of flowers and fruits and roots.
  • Phosporus is known as a mobile nutrient which can move around the plant to where it's needed.
  • Phosphorus deficiency happens more often in cold weather or gardens receive high rainfall, or a combination of both.
  • Often affects heavily fruiting plants such as citrus.
  • N..B. native plants are highly sensitive to phosphorus, so avoid spreading phosphate fertilisers near these plants.
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First Symptoms: Older leaves become quite a dark green then develop a purplish tinge.
 
Tips will then dry off. Not to be confused with lack of watering especially in pot plants where leaves can also develop dry tips.
Overall growth is affected in the long term resulting in smaller leaves and stunted growth.
 
Quick Fix: Fertiliser high in phosphate either solid or liquid.
Long term fix: Blood  n' Bone and/or controlled release fertilisers. 

Let's look at potassium deficiency

Potassium is responsible for thickening of cell walls, and also responsible for plant growth. Potassium deficiency are more evident in flowering or ornamental plants. Potassium deficiency often is a pH issue in the soil.

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First Symptoms: Older leaves become brown and dry on the upper surface, with leaf edges puckering slightly. 
As the deficiency progresses, the leaves darken in colour between the veins.
Flower stalks become thin and spindly and may be quite short.
Fruits may fail to develop full colour and flavour.
 
Quick Fix: Fertiliser high in potassium either solid or liquid, such as sulphate of potash.
Long term fix: Blood  n' Bone and/or controlled release fertilisers. 
 
Listen to the podcast: I'm talking with Kylie Last horticulturist and tafe teacher.

I would recommend becoming familiar with the NPK ration on fertilisers, whether organic or not to see if you’re applying the right sort for your plants.

For example, fertilisers that promote flowering and fruiting have higher ratios of potassium than those that are just for general purpose fertilising.
If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

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