Review: Influential Australian Garden People: Their Stories

For a book about garden people, rather than gardens, to succeed and hold interest, they need to be exceptional people with stories that are relevant to and resonate with everyday gardeners. Dr Anne Vale’s list is impressive, covering garden communicators and educators in print, radio and television, as well as a range of garden designers from around Australia. Continue reading

Celebrating the kangaroo paw at Cranbourne Gardens

After 35 years breeding and growing kangaroo paws I was delighted to be invited by Rodger Elliot on behalf of the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne to help plan and be involved with a unique event titled the Kangaroo Paw Celebration. The event is a month-long exploration of the Kangaroo Paw family, Haemodoraceae that also includes the cottonheads (Conostylis species) and blood roots (Haemodorum species) amongst others. Continue reading

A road trip with a botanical garden difference

Like so many other baby boomers, my husband Peter and I love to travel. We enjoy experiencing other cultures and are particularly attracted to remote places with wide open spaces where people are few and the countryside reveals its natural beauty. Peter, a geophysicist, is seriously into rocks and I am seriously into plants. We both like animals, but unlike plants and rocks, they rarely stand still so getting a good look at them on a road trip is often more frustrating than satisfying! Continue reading

Plant dazzling dahlias for a summer of colour

We did a roaring trade in dahlia tubers at our local flower show at Sheffield in Tasmania in October. Club president Paul Robinson arrived with a picture of a burgundy and white Collarette dahlia and a rubbish bin full of damp compost and sprouting dahlia tubers. They were the result of lifting and dividing several clumps from his garden. Continue reading

How to identify a mystery plant

I’m asked all the time to help people identify plants. Even though many of them grow in places way outside my climate zone, I’ve become a pretty good botanical and horticultural sleuth. Recently Keren in Bermuda sent me some photos of a shrub she was trying to name, without success. And I’ve also been thinking about my experiences earlier this year running from one gorgeous wildflower to the next in Yunnan, China, trying to understand what I was seeing. So what sort of characteristics do you need to look at when you’re trying to identify a mystery plant? Continue reading