Early spring bulbs add much needed color

It happened this morning. I noticed it. Blue tones of black, white, and a range of grey. Textured shapes of sky, clouds and evergreen trees softly back-lit by the sun rising below the trees. Fleeting beauty framed by my bedroom window. Engrossed, I just watched. And then, the thinking crept in. I realized that I had not appreciated a predawn sunrise in a long time—a time so long I couldn’t count it in days or weeks. Continue reading

Flashes of red – scarlet runner beans

Twining along wires around my water tank are two tattered Scarlet Runner Beans. They were the only ones of a marked-down punnet of six seedlings to survive and are suffering from a combination of wind, drought and slugs. Notwithstanding their many challenges they have produced several brown, roughly textured pods. I have not picked the 150mm long green pods, as I want seeds for planting next season. I had decided this before I really understood their table and growth qualities, so I undertook some retrospective investigation. Continue reading

New .bio for organics

A new .bio domain name is being released for those who grow, promote and sell organic produce. Sunrise registrations are open for trademark holders from May 9, and others can register after July 1, 2014. Continue reading

Autumn lawn care for year-round results

Contrary to popular opinion, late autumn and winter are important times for lawn maintenance. Did you know in warmer climates like Australia, the cooler months are the most important time to fertilise? And if you need to install a lawn over the next few months, do you know which turf types will work best if laid in winter and what techniques you can use to help your lawn establish? There’s also a new, safer lawn grub control product that’s best applied in late winter. Continue reading

Review: What Shrub is That? (‘new’ 2014)

Stirling Macoboy’s seminal work What Shrub is That? first appeared 1989 and has been reprinted several times since, most recently in 2009. This ‘new’ publishing by New Holland is dated 2014, so you’d rightly expect that the book had been thoroughly revised and updated, as it suggests in the media release. Disappointingly, this is not the case. Continue reading

Remembering Shakespeare

The Great Bard turns 450 today, April 23 (allegedly, as only his baptism on 26 April is recorded) and, with Bard-like symmetry, it was also the day of his death in 1616. More than any other poet or playwright of his time, Shakespeare used plants, gardens and gardening in his works, to set the scene and create hundreds of metaphors that still enrich our language and our lives. Continue reading

Growing hydrangea – a Master Class

I am sure my love for hydrangeas is part of my genetic make up, even though they are disparaged by some as ‘nanna plants’, and others see them as water wasters. I don’t agree with either view, although my Nanna was responsible for my love of these fabulous summer-flowering shrubs. I’ve also discovered that hydrangeas are facing a very 21st century problem (read on for more on this!). Continue reading