Behold! The MASSIVE Shōgoin Daikon!! 聖護院大根

Last week I was casually doing a little snack shopping at my local Kyoto supermarket when I unexpectedly came across WHOPPER of a vegetable! It was round with slightly translucent skin like a radish, but I’ve never seen radishes that big, so I assumed it must be a big-ass old turnip. I wish I had weighed it too, because as you can see in the video, it was actually hard to lift with one hand!
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Open Gardens Australia lives on in a garden

OGA spade by Geoff Farquhar Still

The much-loved, now missed but not forgotten organisation Open Gardens Australia (which folded in 2015) is being remembered in a new garden, the OGA Celebration Garden on the Events Terrace at the National Arboretum in Canberra. It’s been a long time coming but the new garden is finally taking shape. Continue reading

Joseph Hooker at Kew Gardens

Joseph Hooker, 19th century botanical emperor, tireless traveller and ‘King of Kew’ is the subject of a new exhibition at Kew Gardens from March to September 2017, featuring botanical illustration, specimens, art and Hooker’s own personal possessions. Continue reading

Bhutan: The Land of The Thunder Dragon

Recently in a travel article, there was listed the ’10 safest destinations that aren’t involved in conflict’. Not a bad list but Bhutan was overlooked (possibly unheard of!) but, in my view, should have been top of the pile. Anyway – it’s a hidden gem and hopefully you will get a feel for one of my favourite countries when you read on. Continue reading

The exotic gardens and culture of Spain

On my first visit to Spain, I ran around madly photographing Mediterranean herbs and flowers I’d seen in gardens but not in nature, stunning garden landscapes, and everything washed in that sunlight that has besotted so many artists over the years. What a place! I can’t wait to return to Spain in May next year to lead Australians Studying Abroad’s Gardens in Spanish Culture tour. Continue reading

Roscoea: unusual flowers cast a lemon glow in a dark spot

I am currently between houses – but I’m not unhappy about this state of affairs as I have the privilege of staying in a little cabin owned by friends. I have enjoyed the (KonMari style) downscaling … but the cabin is also in the midst of fabulous Rhododendron gardens (more on the gardens’ genesis and the original plant-hunting owners in future posts). Not only do I wake to a multi-coloured vista of maples, copper beaches and other rare trees, I walk twice daily in the grounds to make ‘discoveries’. Continue reading

How to brine black olives

A few months ago a friend gave me a wonderful gift of about fifteen kilos of olives…. and not just any olives. Peter Taverna had picked them but was too busy to brine them – would I care to do the honours? You bet I would! When he arrived with a food grade 20L bucket and the olives, I was gobsmacked. The fruit were enormous, way bigger than the giant Greek kalamatas we occasionally see in shops. Most fruit measured 50-55 mm in length, with some even bigger. Continue reading

Eden Unearthed: Sydney’s first ‘garden as gallery’ festival

I was delighted to be invited to launch Unearthed, the first ever garden festival at Eden Gardens in Sydney. It’s amazing to think that it was only 4 months ago that Simon Ainsworth first contacted me with an idea for a festival of sculpture at Eden Gardens along the lines of the International Garden Festival at Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. An ambitious goal, as the Chaumont-sur-Loire festival has been running for almost 25 years and attracts over 400,000 visitors! Continue reading

Women in horticulture: award-winning Sonja Cameron

Late last month, Sonja Cameron from Cameron’s Nursery at Arcadia in New South Wales accepted the Nursery and Garden Industry NSW and ACT’s Environmental award. Sonja Cameron is no stranger to awards, she wins them consistently for her strong commitment to sustainability and she is happy to share her story with other growers and gardeners. Some 300 plus visitors come to the nursery each year to look at its sustainable infrastructure. Continue reading