Thursday, January 22, 2015

Naked Ladies OR How To Have a Pink Garden in Summer

My garden has suddenly turned pink. Blushing from all this sunshine with pink hollyhocks, a rose generosa bush rose and the most amazing flower grown from bulb, Naked Ladies.

Naked Ladies flower just before Autumn, and are also known as Amaryllis (Amaryllis Belladonna) or even Lady Belladonna.

Amaryllis are sometimes mistakenly called Easter Lilies.

They are special because the leaves and the flowers do not appear together at the same time.

And their fragrance is really something else. Its one of those aromas that leave you curious as to whether you like it or not. Some even say it is apricot like. I remember talc powders given to me as child in the 1980s that smelt just like these flowers. It is completely reminiscent.

Amaryllis love hot and dry conditions, just perfect for the South Australian climate. These bulbs are the true survivors. No bad seasons ever seem to knock them off!

Plant the bulbs in early summer time when the bulb is dormant, just before flowering. The bulbs have a habit of clumping over the years.

The first year or two they may not flower after being transplanted as they have a reputation for being a little temperamental. Once established, they come back year after year.

They also reproduce through the flowers. After each flowering season they go to seed which then expel small juicy round bulbs that scatter themselves a little further a field in the garden. They do sprout well in the next leafy season, although much smaller than the established larger bulbs.

I have never found them to be invasive in my garden. I like to plant them in sections of my garden that go bare over summer. Even mulch doesn't keep them down. They love to pop up when they are ready, to give your garden a pink make-over.

Guillot Rosa Generosa Bush Rose

Pink Hollyhock

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jigsaw: Adelaide Botanic Gardens ground cover

preview150 pieceGround Cover Garden Try my latest jigsaw. Adelaide Botanic Gardens ground cover. 150 pieces.

Lotus Pond at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens

In January, under the summer sun the Nelbumbo Pond at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens springs to life with the most beautiful lotus flowers.

These beautiful flowering plants are commonly known as Sacred Lotus, or by its botanical name of Nelbumo nucifera.

According to the Botanic Gardens of South Australia
The sacred lotus has an amazing ability to regulate the temperature of its flowers, similar to humans and other warm-blooded animals. His team discovered that the lotus flowers maintained a temperature of 30-35°C, even when the air temperature dropped to 10°C. The belief is that this occurs so the lotus can attract coldblooded insect for pollination.

The sacred lotus is the national flower of India and Vietnam and different parts of the plant are used in cooking throughout Asia. As well as being used in teas, garnishes, soups and herbal medicines, lotus seed paste is also a key ingredient in mooncake, the famous Chinese sweet treat.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Diggers Garden Shop - Adelaide Botanic Gardens

If you love the idea of planting heirloom seeds then the Diggers Garden Shop in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens is going to absolutely thrill you.

You probably know about Diggers seeds from Australian gardening magazines or by their online store for seed banking heirloom varieties. What often puts me off from purchasing is usually the postage costs, but now that's one less thing to worry about with their Adelaide store.

The shop is located at the Schomburgk Pavilion which is tucked in behind the Museum of Economic Botany; newly built to also include a cafe. Its within a stones throw of the Botanic Gardens Restaurant. All conveniently centrally located in the gardens near the lake.

I have been promising myself a trip to Diggers since last year, and I am so glad I finally made the trip during the school holidays with my family. Nobody was bored.

They stock a range of seedlings, seeds of seasonal vegetables, fruits and flowers as well as bulbs, books and an array of garden hardware that you may not find anywhere else.

Looking for elusive Rock Dust Minerals, they have it!
Diotomaceaous Earth, yes.
Obelisks, yes.
Decent watering cans, yes.
Snail traps, yes.
Turn your drink bottle into a mini watering can with a screw on watering head, yes.
Trugs, knee pads, glove, yes.
Slate markers with chalk, yes.
Books about chickens. YES!!!

Packets of seeds on average were about $4 or $5. Seedlings varied in price, most of the plants I chose were around $7 each.

It does work out to be good value when you consider that most of the plant varieties sold are hard to come by elsewhere.

Heirloom varieties date back decades and have not become hybrid versions, which means you can let your crop go to seed and use those seeds for your next crop safely.

Every seed packet that is available in store is growable in our climate and ready for planting right now.

Did you know that the Diggers Garden Shop stock 3 dozen different types of tomato seed alone? Seeds are sectioned to be found easily at a glance. Even wild flower mixes are available.

Become a Diggers Club Member and enjoy extra benefits: discounts, magazines, workshops and free goodies. (There are even seedlings plants exclusive to Club Members only!)

Join up in store or online.


Check out the Botanic Gardens for Diggers' heirloom plants growing in the grounds. Just North out from the Bicentennial Conservatory (#5 on the map) you will find the garden (#4), near the fountain.

 Diggers Garden Shop is open every day, except Good Friday and 24 and 25 December, between 9am and 5pm, closing at 4:30pm in June and July.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Growing Giant Poppies

Is this legal? I caught myself asking. Can I really grow giant poppies in my garden without a drugs squad raiding my yard? All these things raced through my head when a friend of mine gave me my first ever giant poppy seeds late last year. I got my chance to sow them in Spring this year.

To say I was surprised was a little bit understated, as I was actually expecting giant DOUBLE poppies, but got the equally spectacular singles.

Yes, it is perfectly legal. In fact my neighbour up the road decided to plant the very same thing, but that lucky-duck had the doubles that I was so hoping for. Don't worry, I have my desired seeds on their way, I have been assured.

How easy are they to grow?
You may have seen poppy fields of the middle east on the news and documentaries. Rain much over there? There's your answer. They are the easiest and most drought tolerant plant I have ever grown. Perfect for South Australian dry conditions. Minimal watering, thrives on neglect for an amazing bloom. I still watered them via the weeper hose.

How should giant poppies be sown?
Directly onto the worked soil where you want the crop to be is best.
No need to cover with soil although a light dusting of sand to hold them down from being blown away can help. Water in and that is all.

Don't sow them too thickly, but that can easily get out of control due to the size of the tiny seeds.

How big do they grow?
These hardy annuals grow to a height of 2-4 feet (up to 120cm)
My whole crop was at least 4ft.

Do they have a fragrance?
No discernible fragrance but bees are highly attracted to these poppy flowers.

How long do the blooms last for?
A very short period of time. Rapid flowering of only a couples of days.
When the heads are about to open, the green heads go from a limp to an upright position and then flower the next day.

What happens after they lose their petals?
The seed capsule then ripens. With the petals gone, you will see a gorgeous flat pattern on top of the seed capsule.

When will the seeds be ready to harvest?
Little vents appear just underneath the flat pattern on top. When that separation occurs the seeds are ready to be harvested VERY CAREFULLY. If roughly handled or tipped upside-down at this stage, the seeds will empty back onto the ground ready to reseed themselves. The foliage will also start to dry off around the time of harvesting. So cutting down the stalks at the same time as harvesting the seeds is ideal.

Why grow Giant Poppies?
They are a spectacular addition to the garden, a real statement piece for Spring. They add height to the garden as well as needed colour and texture interest. They also encourage bees to the yard for cross-pollination which every garden needs to survive.

If you love flower arranging, the petal-less seed capsules can look beautiful in an arrangement. Even once the seeds have been shaken out, the pods are still usable for dried arrangements.

I can't wait to try the double giant poppies next year!
Right now, I'm swimming in giant poppy seeds to give away for Christmas.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Paper Craft Gardening

I have crafty kids who always ask me for paper craft ideas. Since plants brighten up any room, here's some inspiration to bring out your inner artist. I love these tutorials and shops, so I just had to share them with you.

DIY Craft


HoneyNFizz Cardboard Cactus Tutorial

Craft Berry Bush - Paper Succulent Tutorial

Honestly WTF - DIY Flower Crown Tutorial (crepe paper)

Sonia Poli on - Vegetal Gradiant

InspirationAve - Paper Flower Tutorial

SHOP (and inspiration)

TreasuresOfTerranora on Etsy

TaylorStonePrints on Etsy

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Netting the Garden

image via
Cabbage moths and caterpillars of all descriptions, snails and chickens are my top garden pests. Keeping them off of my leafy greens is a constant chore. So I began to use a vegetable netting that enables airflow, but is thick enough to keep out cabbage moths (if applied to the garden bed properly).

But then comes the summer fruit season, and another group of pests ravage my trees. The rainbow parrots, galahs and cockatoos do the worst damage, striping the fruit even before its had a chance to ripen.

So last year, I started to net my fruit trees with anti-bird netting. I make a specific point of mentioning this because not all netting is good (safe) for birds as they can become entangled in the wrong type of netting. And I could not use the same type of garden bed netting as it would prevent the bees and other beneficial insects from visiting those trees. Always make sure you ask for anti-bird netting at your local hardware store or nursery that is wildlife friendly.

Keeping it closed

When erecting any netting its really important that it is fully covered and the base is enclosed as much as possible to prevent any sneak attacks.

Using twisty ties or t-shirt material 'string' is the best way to attach netting at the base of the canopy of a tree, around the trunk. If you find it difficult to close up all the gathers effectively, attach Christmas bells that ring as soon as bird brushes against it acting as a bird scarer.

If birds attempt to peck at the fruit through the netting, use silver reflective objects such as disposable pie tins or old CDs attached to the tree or netting to scare the birds.

Some trees, such as apricots can be netted slightly differently.
Rather than covering the whole tree, use organza jewellery gift pouches that have draw strings or fleece fruit bags which are available from selected stores. Individual fruit is then covered until they ripen. They will still be small enough to take out of the bags when fully ripened.

Remember to remove the netting before fruit tree pruning season and only re-net once the fruit has begun to set. Leaving the netting on means that branches will grow through and new fruit will not be covered.

For netting vegetables, some gardeners like to use pvc piping or bamboo sticks as the frame work so as not to crush the plants. Sealing the netting is a little more tricky. Rocks and bricks are commonly used to hold down the edge of the netting, but also wire U-stakes or inserting a pvc pipe into a sewn pocket in the netting can also work.

But if rabbits and other wild life are more the problem, then tighter chicken/aviary wire might be the solution rather than just netting.


There are so many products available now to make netting your plants even easier from these Australian stores.

Individual Netting Bags

Comnet 25 x 43cm Netting Bags from Bunnings ($3.49)

Organza Jewellery/Gift Bags with draw strings on eBay

Vegetable Garden Netting

Veggie Saver Garden Net from ($63)

Easy Net Tunnel from ($40-60)

Fruit Tree Netting

Pro Choice 4 x 4m 5mm Aperture Anti Bird Netting from Bunnings ($12.68)

Mini Fruit Saver Net from ($46)

Fruit Saver Nets from