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; selector for Open Gardens Australia; compulsive networker and lover of generally putting fingers in lots of pies. Particularly mud pies. Creator, curator and editor of GardenDrum. Sydney, NSW.

Quietude MIFGS 2015. Design Cycas Landscape Design and Lisa Ellis Gardens. Photo patrick redmond photography 3 Melbourne’s Best in Show 2015?

‘Quietude’, a design collaboration, won Best in Show at the 2015 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. But was it really the best?

It’s not common for designers to work together on a show garden and especially for it to also win a Gold Medal and Best in Show. Lisa Ellis (Lisa Elilis Gardens) and Mark Browning (Cycas Landscape Design) came together to create ‘Quietude‘, with Mark taking on the hard landscaping, and Lisa using her magic on the planting design. Where the dividing line was in the overall design, I’m not sure. Continue reading

Devastation from NSW 10/50 clearing laws

Stop the Chop - Before and After tree clearing

The devastation of Sydney’s tree canopy lumbers on with hundreds of trees being felled every month because of flawed State laws. The tree clearing is supposed to mitigate bushfire risk but is usually more about not wanting leaf litter mess, misplaced fear, and creating views. The property above removed 10 trees and adjoining properties removed a further 15 trees. Continue reading

MONA - unsigned - and tennis court Review: MONA – it lost me at the gate

As we left the internationally acclaimed Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, Tasmania, Tony said “Well that’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back“. What went wrong? I’d arrived at MONA with high expectations (in truth, more than he had) and recommendations from friends who had loved their visit. But I think that MONA has some serious flaws, starting with site layout, signage and landscape design. Continue reading

Is microwaved water harmful to plants?


Can watering plants with water that’s been microwave-boiled, then cooled, kill them? I was recently alerted to this silly myth doing the rounds on the internet when explaining to a young acquaintance why I prefer to microwave-cook my vegies. So it seems it’s still duping people with its apparent ‘scientific’ evidence, so here’s a bit of my own debunking. Continue reading

Outhouse Designs, Sydney courtyard3 3 tiny courtyard makeovers

What do you do with a tiny courtyard that’s only a few paces in each direction? Although there’s every reason to despair that you can have something that is truly useful as well as gorgeous, when you put the design in the hands of a professional, it’s quite amazing what wonders can be achieved. Here I’m profiling 3 very different solutions to tiny, walled spaces in Sydney, London, and Perth. Continue reading

Tip pruning Pentas The 7 best pieces of garden advice I’ve had

I first started gardening a few decades ago now, but there are seven pieces of gardening advice that stick with me, every day. They keep me going when problems seem insurmountable, they remind me of going back to basics when things go wrong, they help me understand exactly what I’m growing and they keep me enjoying my garden. Now I’m going to share them – and reveal the some of the sages who gave them to me. Continue reading


Singapore Botanic Gardens drips orchids. Almost literally, as they hang from trees, spill from rocks and dance among colourful foliage. Everywhere you look, there’s another spectacular display, with every flower at its peak. Continue reading

a-fig-at-the-gate-2 Book Review: ‘A Fig at the Gate’

‘A Fig at the Gate’ by Kate Llewellyn
‏Allen and Unwin 2014, RRP $29.99AUD, ‏ISBN 9781760110888
‏’The joys of friendship, gardening and the gaining of wisdom

‏This is a lovely book. It can shock at times too, with a brutal reality or painful memory that surfaces because of the author’s current circumstances. It reads like a diary but one that’s been reworked to give more depth and texture. Either that, or Kate Llewellyn is a lot more articulate, poetic and downright eloquent than I ever am in my private thoughts. Continue reading

Fabric-Deakinlock-garden-Fresh-Gardens-at-Chelsea-2014 Designing fresh and pretty gardens

I rather like a ‘girly’ garden. Fresh. Pretty. Flowers. Stuff. (Even pink). I rarely admit to it as, design-wise, such a garden always seems to be deeply unfashionable, even condescendingly referred to as ‘twee’. Which is a pity as more potential gardeners might engage with the whole notion of growing things if they felt comfortable giving them a decorative and pretty home. Continue reading