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.

YEMEN Japan’s rock star plant collector takes it all back

Our gardening stories of the past 150 years are full of Europeans plant hunting in the treasure troves of eastern Asia, including Japan, returning with cherry blossom and exquisite conifers, bamboo and buddleja, and lush cool-climate ferns. In the 21st century, modern-day plant hunter extraordinaire Seijun Nishihata from Japan turns the tables, scouring the world to bring back the wonderful, the wild and the downright weird to his home country, from succulents and epiphytes to full sized trees, including mature bottle trees from Australia. Continue reading

El Nino comparison 1997 and 2015 copy South and east Australia: be ‘Godzilla’ El Niño ready!

It’s official – weather agencies on both sides of the Pacific agree that a new El Niño weather event is forming**. And it looks like it could be as bad as 1997, with NASA climate scientist Bill Patzert dubbing it a “Godzilla’ El Niño”. For those of us in south-eastern Australia, that means a long, hot, dry-as-chips summer. Although we’ve had several summers in Sydney that have been cooler than normal, we always knew that the next El Niño was lurking out in the Pacific somewhere – a bit like the proverbial Kraken coming to wreak havoc on our gardens. Continue reading

We are such stuff as dreams are made of Nine garden design problems and how to fix them

Most gardens have an awkward or difficult part, where the aspect, size, shape or levels just don’t work the way you’d like, or deliver what you need. Sometimes its caused by the shape of modern housing subdivisions and not-so-clever siting of the house of on the block. Or other times it’s new buildings around you that have suddenly created gloomy shade, or being overlooked by neighbours. Here are some of the most common garden design problems and a range of possible solutions. Continue reading

The Goldfish at FAV 2015 by Julien Plessis and Claire Dusonchet FAV 2015, Montpellier

The Festival des Architectures Vives each June in Montpellier, France, features the work of young architects, landscape architects and urban planners displayed throughout the Montpellier and nearby La Grande Motte. Of the 20 works on display in the FAV 2015 10th Edition, some were in open, public spaces, while others were tucked away inside usually private courtyard spaces, waiting to be discovered. Continue reading

Women in horticulture Where are Australia’s women gardening stars?

More promotional material has crossed my desk for another Australian garden show and yet again I see with disappointment an almost exclusively all-male lineup of gardening ‘stars’ being promoted as the headline presenters for the show. I mean no disrespect to any of these extremely knowledgeable and very nice men, but is there really such a paucity of female gardening talent in this country that of the nine “key industry figures” only two are women, and they’re both known as foodies rather than gardeners? Continue reading

pestsdiseases-and-ailments-of-australian-plants Review: Pests & Diseases of Australian Plants

Pests, Diseases, Ailments and Allies of Australian Plants‘ by David Jones, Rodger Elliot and Sandra Jones is a must-have book for anyone gardening in Australia, whether you grow Australian plants or exotics. Within the first 14 pages, I had sticky-noted six really significant bits of information that I hadn’t known before which will help me grow any plant in my garden more successfully. Considering that I’ve been studying horticulture in one way of another for 23 years, that’s really something. Continue reading

The end of Open Gardens Australia

Open Gardens Australia Garden for National Arboretum, Canberra. Design Neil Hobbs

20,000 open gardens, 10,000 volunteers and over $6 million raised for charity, plus more for community garden grants, over a wonderful 27 years. From these Open Gardens Australia ‘big things’, a little thing will grow, with the National Arboretum in Canberra hosting a new commemorative garden as OGA closes. Continue reading