Are you also a plant whisperer?

I love gardening, but once September comes to my Zone 4 garden, I admit I’m ready to start packing things up and settling in for winter when I can get back to other things I enjoy, like reading. That being the case, I tend to get an early start on doing things like tossing spent annuals and vegetables in the compost bin. While I’m doing that, I try to give away plants I’ve got too many of or don’t like anymore—I finally gave away that dreadful Vanilla Strawberry hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Renhy’) I’ve been complaining about forever. Honestly, it’s a gorgeous plant in many ways, but the huge flower heads spend most of their time hanging down like the noggins of pouting children. Not. For. Me. Continue reading

I kept my promise: garden skills to give independence in Vietnam

It was almost a month later when I arrived back in Melbourne, and well into September although the icy fingers of winter still hung on. Only 24 hours earlier I was travelling to DaNang airport in Vietnam with a tropical storm brewing in the South China Sea. A fierce wind bent over trees along the roadside and a warm rain slammed horizontally against the taxi windscreen. My flight was delayed a few hours while the storm past to the east. Continue reading

A balance between garden pests & beneficial insects

Early one morning I was shooting a video of cabbage aphids (Brevicoryne brassicae) and their primary wasp parasite (Diaeretiella rapae) on a broccoli plant – as you do – when along came a very different wasp. The cabbage aphid parasite (Diaeretiella rapae) is a tiny little thing about 3 mm in length, but these other wasps were three times that length. They were obviously attracted to the aphids and ‘appeared’ to be stinging them. But were they really? Continue reading

Garden travel – how do you temper your desire?

Garden travel starts with desire…you want all the beautiful gardens and exotic locations, delicious new foods and intriguing local culture. But after 10 years of leading garden tours, I know that this desire will be best satisfied when its balanced by restraint, as that’s what will give you the most holiday pleasure. Continue reading

Making my garden mosaic masterpieces

There are some things in life that are polarising. You love them or hate them. Anchovies, brussel sprouts and avocados all instantly spring to mind. Mmmm, I love all three. But I’ve come to the conclusion that mosaic garden art is also one of these things. People are either drawn to it or they’re not. I love the colour mosaics add to my coastal garden and the whole new level of recycling that they can bring to an old and tired object. Continue reading