Matthew Popplewell

About Matthew Popplewell

Horticulturist, agronomist and freelance journalist, plant breeder, owner of Villa Flora, a small pot bedding company. Noosa, Queensland

Captain Cook’s ivy a worthy sailor

“Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.” A quote by Captain James Cook in reference to him digging for potatoes in his garden? Perhaps unlikely, but the great explorer may have had a greener upbringing than his sea blue finale. It wasn’t my sole reason for heading to Melbourne, but along with the restful Fitzroy Gardens, the ever changing observatory and the house and gardens of the Cook family, the area remains a focal point of horticultural attraction in the heart of the Victorian capital. Continue reading

Queensland spring garden expos

For those that flocked to the Gold Coast for the annual NGIQ Spring Expo, they were treated for the first time to a dual bonus, as the Landscape Australia Expo Queensland was held alongside the Nursery and Garden Industry Association of Queensland’s annual Spring Green Expo. Both events were designed to cater for the professional nursery and landscaping industries, expanding the range of products and services available in the one location to create a one-stop shop for professionals who are looking for products and services to use in their business and future projects. Continue reading

Grafted grevilleas are Grafted Tough

Nick Hansa of Fairhill Native Plants describes their new Grafting Grevilleas onto Silky Oak root stock as a fantastic point of difference that has enabled many types that simply wouldn’t grow in Queensland soil to thrive. Grafting grevilleas is, of course, hardly a new concept as they have been grafted for many years in order to bring plants from other niches that struggle to grow in eastern Australian soil with their own root system. Continue reading

Smooth as a baby’s bottom

As soon as the baby arrives and begins this wonderful journey called life, it is medically suggested that nature has left the baby short of its needs. Vitamin K is now strongly recommended at birth and eight weeks later in the form of an injection or as an oral form for the baby. The reason is a possible haemorrhage that has life threatening consequences. I’m not wanting to pooh pooh the methods of science but to suggest that do babies having just experienced their dramatic arrival really need an invasive needle? Surely Vitamin K has to found in a natural form in a high dose? In steps our friend and new fashion icon; Kale. Continue reading

Raspberry tea makes me a midwife

We are all familiar with the fruit, the Raspberry (Rubus idaeus). What we are perhaps less familiar with is its extraordinary ability to dramatically shorten the average labour period and turn a confident journalist into a quivering wreck of a make-shift mid-wife. Last Friday, my little Claudia entered the world as a budding horticulturist in the back of a Hyundai by the side of the road. Continue reading

Mushroom’s labours are in the dark

In truth, I had no idea how tricky landing those chlorophyll deprived fungi on your dinner plate were. I spent my childhood tirelessly searching for an elf under them, only always to fall short. So I set about, being the fun-guy I am, to delve into the enormous challenges that face the mushroom grower and put pay to 30 odd years of naivety. Continue reading

Nature’s leaf rainbow

Having returned from a whirlwind tour of the UK, few places could have left a more lasting impression than the wondrous colourful transition of the leaves and progression into a deep winter’s sleep than that of the trees at Westonbirt Arboretum, on the west coast of England. Continue reading

Soil nutrient balance & poultry waste

As growers up and down the land strive for the soil nutrient balance, be it on a small or large scale, it seems a new product that has all the answers arrives every week. As the world seeks food production equality on a planet of shrinking space and greater demand, along with the public mindset to conserve what it is chewing up, the words sustainability and organic are rarely far from our thoughts. With many simply feeling we will continue to pay a huge price in using synthetic fertilisers, the drive for the ultimate organic fertiliser continues. Continue reading

Bring a buzz to your avocados

I guess you could describe avocado as one of the least economical fruits in the vegies section of the supermarket. But it sure is a healthy meal all in one nicely rolled inside a swag of leathery peel with such a large seed that dominates the fruit and leaves us feeling we have all been robbed by Coles et al. Continue reading

Retail creatures no longer

One of my first blogs was to touch on the changing trends in retail horticulture and well, I’ve recovered the soap box from the dog that used it over winter to keep warm, and I’m back on it again. In seeking the common trends and current picture in the ever evolving and challenging market that is retail horticulture, it is clear that as in the words of the great Bob Dylan “The times they are a changing”. Continue reading

Ginger bred men of Queensland

Perhaps I was destined to live in Queensland for its warm hospitality in hosting a rather large family. A family that is often responsible for sweet things. A family that gave me spice to my life. A family that brought a beer to the world without a headache the following day. It was fair to say that my first love was a gingerbread woman. Continue reading

A fruity story at Hinterland Feijoas

Having lived and work in New Zealand for many a year, there was one particular fruit that I miss more than anything now my gum boots trudge through Queensland. I would describe it when sliced down the middle as the most beautifully looking fruit on the planet (that being its internal  Continue reading