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.

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…

Cocoyam Recipes – Winter Open Day At Bellis, 2014

If you attended this winter open day, congratulations, you were part of gardening history. A record breaking number of guests visited Brisbane’s thrifty sustainable house and garden. And what a jolly, generous, patient and enthusiastic bunch you proved to be. The very best Queensland has to offer. Best of all, there were more young gardeners…

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,…

In Production Today: June 2014

Today a cool change has arrived, a reminder that June weather is supposed to be about winter, not the continuation of autumn as it has been. Will there be another winter?

Ecofest, Gladstone

Interest in conservation and sustainability has never been stronger in Gladstone. Ecofest, an annual event marking World Environment Day, has grown up. It’s now one of Australia’s leading environmental events for sharing information, celebrating conservation initiatives, Australian technology and pooling resources.

In Production Today, May 2014

May 2014 was the 351st consecutive month of above average global temperatures. Or put another way, any gardener under 30 years old will never have experienced normal growing conditions. This month’s weather has been surprisingly sunny, dry and so warm my ‘Java Blue’ and ‘Pisang Ceylan’ bananas and Sugar palm – tropical plants – are…

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…