Renting a rotavator, or rotary hoe

If you’ve got a new garden bed to dig especially in very heavy soil, or an existing bed that needs extra cultivating or new soil additives incorporated into the soil, then using a rotavator, also called a rotary hoe or tiller can do a week’s back-breaking work in a few hours. Continue reading

A new garden on a steep slope

The property we landscaped is a ‘French villa’ estate on one of the inlets into the Hartebeespoort Dam on the south-eastern side. The dam is situated north of Johannesburg and to the west of Pretoria. Water from all the small rivers in this region run into this huge dam which is quite a sight when it overflows. The climate around the dam is very different from where I live in Johannesburg, even though it is only 45km. It’s a few degrees warmer and they get very little frost and it is quite humid with all that water around them. The hillside behind is covered with natural vegetation. There are still baboons running around up there! Continue reading

Tea with designer Phillip Johnson

There was a time when he was told that his designs would never be in demand. But Phillip Johnson, a gold-medal winning designer and the man behind this year’s Australian Garden at Chelsea 2013 has proven them wrong. Over an afternoon tea down by the Yarra River (and punctuated by a few passing trams) Phillip and I discussed how he got his start in horticulture and landscaping, his ‘natural system’ style of design including billabongs and water filtration, as well as how he intends to build and plant out his ambitious Chelsea Flower Show design. And how much he loves to hand water…. Continue reading


BeetBox is a simple instrument that allows users to play drum beats by touching actual beets. It is powered by a Raspberry Pi with a capacitive touch sensor and an audio amplifier in a handmade wooden enclosure. This could quickly replace my Deep Purple air guitar in the kitchen during dinner cooking.

BeetBox from Scott Garner on Vimeo.

Growing passionfruit

Plant a passionfruit – or two! I talk with horticulturist Sabina Fielding-Smith about passionfruit, including Panama Red, Panama Gold, Nellie Kelly and Banana passionfruit. Almost every garden has space for one passionfruit vine, so try to find a suitable spot against a sunny fence or wall. Continue reading

Mushroom’s labours are in the dark

In truth, I had no idea how tricky landing those chlorophyll deprived fungi on your dinner plate were. I spent my childhood tirelessly searching for an elf under them, only always to fall short. So I set about, being the fun-guy I am, to delve into the enormous challenges that face the mushroom grower and put pay to 30 odd years of naivety. Continue reading

Well, they’ll be damned

dam building in india

Dam building projects in the Indian Himalayas will threaten forests & biodiversity, says a research group at the National Uni of Singapore. India’s rapidly growing economy requires huge amounts of power & the research team’s modelling showed that 90% of Himalayan valleys will be affected, submerging 170,000ha of forests & contributing to 22 plant extinctions. And then there’s the human cost……

Australian Garden – Stage 2. Hmmm….

Late last year the Royal Botanic Gardens here in Victoria opened the second stage of their much-lauded Australian Garden in Cranbourne. Until now I have been busy finishing up jobs before beginning anew, but I finally made time to go and see the second stage of the garden last weekend. Continue reading

My cousin’s garden in the snow, Cove, Scotland

Elspeth & Peter's Cove garden

My cousin lives at Cove, on the coast east of Edinburgh, and this her garden today. So beautiful – it reminds of those lines from Keats:

Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors