Rarity Is Commoner Than You Think

I own a critically endangered plant. It comes from Madagascar, an island degraded by human activity and peppered with endangered species. When I discovered the news that my Gerold’s Thornless Crown of Thorns was on the brink of extinction, I had a flashback to planning the Rare & Endangered Plants Garden for the Royal Botanic…

In Production Today: August 2014

Here’s my subtropical food garden’s winter menu: Edible roots Arrowroot, Canna edulis Carrot, Daucus carota ‘Paris Market’ Cassava, Manihot esculenta Cassava, Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’ Cocoyam, Xanthosoma saggitifolia Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus ‘Dwarf Sunray’ Radish, Raphanus sativus ‘Sparkler’ Edible leaves Basil, Greek, Ocimum minimum Basil, sacred, Ocimum tenuiflorum Cassava, Manihot esculenta Cabbage, Chinese, Brassica rapa var. pekinensis…

Succulents: Chlorophyll With Character

My first flower memory is of a cactus. I was about three years old and peering up into a huge, red Epiphyllum flower. It sprouted from an old, much-loved plant belonging to my Grandmother. My sister still grows a cutting from the plant Nan acquired during the Great Depression (around 1929). It’s been in my…

Open Day At Bellis, August 2014

FULL DETAILS SEE: http://www.opengarden.org.au Leave Brisbane’s suburbs behind as you visit 813 square metres of rural Wynnum. Check out my award-winning, thrifty sustainable garden: blue bananas, stingless bees, home grown bath sponges, and turf mostly mowed by guinea pigs. See how a decade of organic gardening has converted uncompromising acid sulphate soil into a wonderful,…

Stingless Bees: Factory Farming With A Future

Sugarbag bees are fun. Young kids are always surprised to discover some Australian bees are both tiny and without a sting. Once they understand these bees are safe company, they can’t resist taking a closer look and become absorbed by the antics of these industrious mini-bees.

Hibiscus Leaves Helped Save Australian Lives

I’ve just found a letter written years ago in response to an article I wrote about edible members of the Hibiscus family (the Malvaceae). This refers to rosella leaves (Hibiscus sabdariffa), an icon of Australian backyards, and also peasant food or famine food in Bangladesh, Thailand and Burma. Rosella leaves helped Australian prisoners survive the…

In Production Today, March 2014

The most widespread recorded drought in Queensland’s history has meant most of my gardening effort continues to be spent on watering and soil improvement. At least I’m able to keep fruit trees productive and perennials alive. Beds which would normally be filled with seasonal annuals can remain dug, mulched and bare until useful rain arrives. But…

Love Cycads

Q: “What’s a cycad?” A: “Just over 300 species of cycad survive, many are only known as fossils. Think Tolkein, think Middle Earth, think  dinosaur food. Wonderful plants, the kind you want to have with you always.”

Memories of Alpine Flowers

This Will’s cigarette card collection is a hundred years old. I photographed it this morning, in between radio interviews…