Catherine Stewart

About Catherine Stewart

Award-winning garden journalist, blogger and photographer; writer for garden magazines and co-author of 'Waterwise Gardening'; landscape designer turned landscape design judge and critic; compulsive networker and lover of generally putting fingers in lots of pies. Particularly mud pies. Creator, curator and editor of GardenDrum. Sydney, NSW.

Commonly grown garden plants to HATE

In any country you will find natural vegetation invaded by weeds, from rampaging vines to promiscuous and prolifically self-seeding annuals, and even trees that envelop all below them. But as a recent arrival in a new/old garden, I am astonished at how many plants are still grown and sold as acceptable ornamental garden plants that are a nightmare for anyone living over the other side of the fence. Continue reading

Grow green flowers and learn from the florists

Green. We love it as the colour that symbolises life, and also the feelings of freshness, vitality and renewal that it inspires. In gardens, we love it in foliage and healthy stems but strangely have an aversion to it in flowers. Floral artists who are, I think, much more inventive when it comes to combining foliage and flowers than most garden designers, (OK Christo Lloyd excluded) started using green flowers in their arrangements and bouquets several years ago. Continue reading

Melbourne Flower Show matters – or does it?

In late March 2017 I, and many of Australia’s horticultural media, landscape designers, landscapers, horticulturists and garden lovers, made our annual pilgrimage of to the autumn Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS). With nine big display gardens, five boutique gardens and 12 small student-built achievable gardens on show, I was eager to see what was on offer at MIFGS in 2017 and who had won what. Continue reading

Review: ‘Dream Gardens’ on ABC TV

When I first heard that someone was going to make a new Australian TV show about gardening, I was amazed. Then excited. Then cynicism started to creep in. Would it be another quickie makeover show? A dumbed-down ‘reality’ show filled with manufactured drama? Then I heard Michael McCoy was the presenter and I breathed a great sigh of relief because I knew he wouldn’t have anything to do with either of those. Continue reading

How do I say ‘goodbye’ to my garden?

We’re moving. It’s something I want to do but I’ve gardened here for nearly 18 years and I’d be lying if I said it was going to be easy to walk away from so much thought, love and toil. Over the past five years of reading GardenDrum many of you have seen my garden develop – its painstakingly-built gabion walls; its reused concrete retaining walls; its grey, weathered deck; its Link Edge garden edging: and many of its best plants, particularly my beloved pentas. How can I tear myself away? Continue reading

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

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

Why have we fallen out of love with conifers?

For some years there’s been an autumn National Conifer Week in the UK, celebrating the diversity and adaptability of this handsome, but now under-appreciated group of plants. Do we need a World-Wide Conifer Week? Why have we fallen out of love with this handsome, versatile, adaptable and tough group of plants? Continue reading

Review: The Florilegium – Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

I knew about this book a long time before it was published, having seen some of the beautiful art produced for the Florilegium Society at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. I imagined some sort of coffee-table picture book – nice but something you’d leaf through fairly quickly, just looking at the lovely pictures. I wasn’t expecting something you would have so much enjoyment reading.★★★★½ Continue reading