Gardening Together As A Family: People, Plants, Place, Community.

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 the Market Gardener

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.

Thoughtful Christmas Gifts Influence Lives

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…

In Production Today: November 2014

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…

Hippeastrum: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

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.

Father’s Day 2014: Concerning Seaweed And Quadratic Equations

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…

Nicotine And Old Roses

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.