Breathe Magic Into Your Rainforest Garden

“There is one rainforest plant from northern Australia every coastal garden should grow: Phaleria clerodendron, the scented daphne. This compact tree can be grown as far south as Sydney and it will fill a garden with fragrant flowers up to three times as year…unless Australians discover and grow this magical plant, who else will?”

Footpath Gardening: To Boldly Garden Where No One Has Gardened Before…

Nature strip gardening can beautify streets capes, improving the retail sale prices of real estate. Reseach has proven nature strips provide valuable social and environmental services.

Public safety is vital. Plants in nature strips should not be spiny, caustic, toxic or allowed to overgrow, or cause trip hazards, impede wheelchairs, or block lines of sight. The effect should not be overgrown, full of litter or claustrophobic, it should be park-like.

Barcaldine In Bloom: Get Gardening! Expo 2015

Two years without rain is a long time between drinks in the garden town of Barcaldine, but it’s not out of place in western Queensland’s desert uplands. With a population of under 1,400, Barcaldine’s Get Gardening Expo attracted 600 locals and tourists to celebrate the region’s best food, wine, art, plants, gardens and gardeners. Not bad for a region where even desert cacti need shade, occasional watering, and have been known to explode in summer.

Remembering Turfculture At The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Vale, John Morgan of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney: greenkeeper, gardener, ranger, friend since 1992. I’m reminiscing about the Turfculture team, a vital service, where John Morgan began his career in my department. Together, from 1992 to 2003, our team transitioned the lawns from conventional horticultural management to almost organic standards. When I moved to Brisbane,…

In Production Today: My Subtropical Harvest Festival, May 2015

With 100 square metres of good soil you can feed a person all year round. That’s what my ‘Dig for Victory’ grandparents taught me when I was a teenager in London. Here in sunny subtropical Brisbane you also need a minimum of 7,000 litres of stored water, ideally 10,000 litres, to sustain that production through…

Bunya: Prehistoric Plant, Ancient Australian Food Tradition

“Young Australians need to be educated about what a Bunya tree looks like, what the sound of snapping cones and breaking branches sound like, and to avoid lingering underneath them in high summer. When I was at primary school, we had a Bunya in the schoolyard. We knew what to do, how to harvest them, and no one was ever hurt.”

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…

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…

Hedge on the Edge: Is This The Ultimate Hibiscus?

I have been instructed by Denise Horchner of the Perennial Poppies Garden Club to write about my Phillip Island Hibiscus, Hibiscus insularis. This Australian species could be described as the ultimate hibiscus. As far as I’m aware, I’m the only person who uses this critically endangered wildflower as a flowering hedge. Planted to welcome visitors and to shelter my front garden from desiccating wind, birds and people love its blooms. I make jam and a soothing tea from a species that has become my signature plant.