Auntie Sheila. My alternative mother figure and counsellor, there for me when I needed one most. A thoughtful, academic, independent thinker who taught me how to reason and who’s sound second opinion was always available during the period when my family life was on shifting sands.
In recent years, families who garden together have become the most prominent visitors to my annual Open Day. It’s delightful seeing these gardening families, because that was how I started life: in an English family that gardened and holidayed together. Planning, harvesting, saving seed, cooking, bottling, gathering materials for gardening were activities we did together.
Thuan’s market garden: 1,500 sq m of alluvial, sandy loam in a flood plain of the Perfume River catchment, Hue, Vietnam. Fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, flowers, poultry – and incense – in a prolifically productive, wet, inland subtropical climate.
An East Coast Low weather system, delivering force 8 wind gusts, is rattling my windows. Australia’s east coast can experience around ten of these weather systems during the cool seasons. Today’s gales are causing minor delays to some flights leaving Brisbane, and major delays to filming with the ABC’s ‘Gardening Australia’ show. Close to the…
Dear Sister, If you’re with Auntie Sheila when you get this message, remind her that for Xmas 1976 she bought me this book about woodland insects.
Sheila encouraged me to pursue my interest in nature, saying that a knowledge of pollinators is as important as a knowledge of fruit trees, and that knowing both is the perfect marriage.
I am so glad I decided to use the heat, winds and drought of Brisbane’s spring and sprummer to my advantage: it’s ideal for producing a seed crop! As my Queen of the Night buds, 2014 is firming up to be the world’s hottest ever year on record. Brisbane’s fifth season, ‘sprummer’, has intensified into…
In London in 1975, my maternal grandmother, Dorothy Connor, had her best ever crop of cabbages, despite record-breaking drought. From then on, she always grew Landcress (Barbarea vulgaris) amongst her brassicas. Thirty nine years later, Nan’s recommendation has been backed by scientific research at the University of Queensland.
If ever there was a plant perfectly suited to the sets of the Wizard of Oz, it’s Hippeastrum. These flamboyant flowers are dead easy to grow and Australia is fortunate to have the likes of Mick Maguire, a dedicated hybridist and grower.
Spring is over in my garden. Winter crops are flowering – my garden is transitioning into its seed saving phase.
This is a fictional letter. My father, John, who had been living for some years with Alzheimer’s, died shortly after I emigrated to Australia. My sister and I looked after Dad at home for several years until he required full time professional care. During the period when his mind was failing, remembering our family and things…
Food security alert: Neonicotinoid pesticides, like Confidor, are creating a dangerous world where caterpillars are becoming poison bird bait, where bees and migratory birds ‘forget’ how to navigate and bees and other pollinators are becoming suicide junkies.