Edible figs

Home grown figs are so mind-blowingly sweet and delicious. It’s a fruit tree that loves hot dry Mediterranean style summers… so in the subtropics, it tends to prefer dry inland areas to wet humid coastal zones… but despite the challenges, there are still plenty of dedicated backyard fig growers enjoying good crops on the coast, which makes their efforts even more worthwhile. Continue reading

Late fall in New England

In New England we’ve been given a reprieve with the weather. We’ve had a number of 60 degree days (15 degrees C) at least by noontime, and that’s made time for me to get out, and cleaning up in my garden. I don’t often have that pleasure as a landscape designer, as I’m usually working so hard I don’t have that luxury of time in my own garden. But here it is, late November after Thanksgiving and we’re having these beautiful warm days. Continue reading

Ancient Parisian acacia has a crise d’identité

Well at last I’m really ‘talking plants’. As regular readers know, Talking Plants (http://talkingplants.blogspot.com) is a blog devoted to plants and gardens, with an eye for the quirky or scientific, or both. Its first home was the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia, but early this year Talking Plants migrated with my wife Lynda (who adds expertise in French, botany and more) and me to Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in London, UK. Continue reading

War of the weeds

Helping out during a working-bee at my little girls school I found myself on my hands-and-knees pulling weeds. Whilst in this rather awkward pose pondering the meaning of life I was blind-sided by a realisation, it rocketed in unseen, uninvited and was quite unexpected. As a gardener this realisation is one that leads me to a rather guilty admission – I’m in awe of weeds. Continue reading


When I said in my last blog that I couldn’t wait to get started, that turned out to be literally true! As the months dragged by after our handshake agreement purchase of the block, and the council and government departments all shut down for Christmas, I realised pretty quickly that it’d be ages before anything happened. Continue reading

The perpetual salad

I love fresh salad and lettuces, but no matter how many bags of ready to eat mixed leaves, crispy icebergs or cos lettuce hearts I buy, I inevitably end up eating some, while the rest to turn to slime in the crisper. I loathe wasting anything (even though slimy lettuce will still be passed on to one of our many scrap eating animals or the compost). Continue reading

Loulou de la Falaise at Château de Chaumont

Last week I came across a familiar name in the obituary pages of the paper, Loulou de la Falaise. It’s not the sort of name that you could forget easily. It was quite a brief entry. It mentioned that in the 1960s she was a wild child and fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar and that she then became a model in New York where she got to know all the famous photographers and artists of that time. Continue reading

That’s for remembrance

It’s mid-November, which means that Sydney’s suburbs are once again covered with a haze of purple, as all the jacaranda trees reach their flowering peak. I know that Grafton has its wonderful Jacaranda Festival and that they grow well all up the eastern coast, but as you drive around Sydney now, you can see how well-loved this tree is here too. Continue reading

Scented favourites

I must say, I do feel deeply sorry for people who suffer from allergies and intolerance to fragrant plants. For me, it’s such a joy to catch a surprise whiff of a scented flower in bloom. Continue reading

A can of worms

My sister – who is a very good gardener, much better than I am – peered into my compost bin. It was full of rotting vegetable peelings and dried leaves and a bit of newspaper and sawdust & all that other stuff that you are meant to put in compost. But the four black inside walls were slimy and dripping and they were encrusted with wriggling pink worms of all shapes and sizes. Some of them separate, some all knotted together. Continue reading

Kangaroo paws

Mid November is one of my favourite times in my native garden because that’s when my tall kangaroo paws are just starting to flower. There’s all the excitement of spring and the wonderful spring-flowering of the shrubs and herbaceous plants but at this time of year, my garden is a sea of red, orange, gold and yellow from tall kangaroo paws. Continue reading