Stephen Ryan

About Stephen Ryan

Stephen Ryan grew up and still lives at Mt. Macedon in Victoria where he has run his nursery Dicksonia Rare Plants since 1980. He was for 3 years host of Gardening Australia on ABC TV and is a regular on Melbourne’s 3CR. Sunday garden program. He has written 4 books and innumerable articles for magazines both in Australia and abroad and is also a sought-after speaker at garden clubs.

The Art of Botanical Illustration

From 25 October to 9 November 2014, the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne are holding their 12th biennial exhibition of recent works, called The Art of Botanical Illustration, at Domain House in Dallas Brooks Drive just down from the Herbarium. It is open from 10am to 4pm during the week and till 6pm on weekends and you get in for a gold coin donation. It must be about the best value around! Continue reading

Coping with plant name changes (or not)

People have long complained about botanical plant names, that they are too hard to say, spell and remember. You all know all these excuses and have probably used them! But this isn’t the reason I am tapping away on my computer as I have long accepted the need for them and have even learnt to use quite a few! It is about the frightening amount of name changes that we are being confronted with. Continue reading

Pretty poisonous

I don’t know how often I’m asked if a given plant is poisonous by customers in my nursery and I feel like pointing out that virtually no plant is poisonous unless you eat it! In fact if these some people were to know just how many plants are potentially toxic it would be enough to stop them gardening altogether. Continue reading

Garden travel to broaden your mind

I am about to jump on a plane and head off to France to lead a tour of gardens and châteaux of Normandy and the Loire Valley and if you haven’t booked it’s a bit late now! But the idea of travelling across the world to see gardens and gardening that I may well have little hope of emulating started me thinking. Is it just horticultural eye candy or is there more to it than that? Continue reading

Bizarrely appealing

Small children and children at heart (I include myself in this category!) are often attracted to flowers and plants that could hardly be said to be classically beautiful. These plants are often truly bizarre and it is this very thing that can be appealing. Continue reading

Bronze medallists

Coloured foliage can certainly make a statement but like anything in the garden that isn’t green it can be overdone. Too many gold leaves can be glaring in strong sun light and could even create the look of a bed full of sick underfed plants. Variegated foliage overused can create a hectic look that has the eye flitting disconcertedly all over the place. Large swathes of silver foliage may well glitter in the English light but for me it can look dry and Mallee scrubbish in our hot weather and harsh sunlight, a look I’m not usually in favour of! Continue reading

Flower with fruity fragrances

Most of us like perfume in the garden and the world is full of sweetly scented possibilities so that we must all be able to have some in our own plots. I have to say though that it is plants with off beat and unusual fragrances that I have a particular soft spot for. I do naturally want a daphne and of course a winter sweet (Chimonanthus praecox), one of my all time favourites, but one can have hours of harmless fun discussing weird scents and what they smell like and no two people seem to have the same olfactory senses so will almost always disagree with you. Continue reading

Under siege

My blog about those who make the decisions on what will be declared weedy and that they weren’t doing the science created quite a lot of comments from you gardeners out there.
I had those who stood up for Oxalis and those who suggested that I should scientifically prove my stand on the subject. The fact that the N.S.W. government changed the legislation when I pointed out that native species would be banned I think proves the point that the science wasn’t done and any of you in said state that are growing Oxalis tuberosa (New Zealand Yam) are probably criminals! Continue reading

Flowers on Crete

The reason you haven’t heard from me for a while is that I’ve been travelling around the island of Crete for four weeks! (Well someone has to do it!) and what a fabulous place it was to visit.
The scenery was breath taking (particularly at the top of the tallest Mountain on the island, Mt. Psiloritis at 2456m), the people were friendly, the food delicious and the plant life to die for. Continue reading

Eye candy for autumn

One of the multitude of good things about gardening a cool to cold climate like the one I live in is the season change that it creates and for me one of the greatest seasons is the autumn. The weather is usually stable and calm so that it is by far the best time to be out in the garden (mosquitoes are usually less as well!). The days are getting shorter and the sun is at a lower level in the sky making for interesting light changes in the garden and of course deciduous trees and shrubs are turning brilliant colours to warm the cockles before the winter cold sets in and the starker beauty of winter prevails. Continue reading

The ugliest plant in the world

As you all probably know I’m a mad keen plant collector and within the constraints of climate and the size of my garden I want to grow as many different plants as I can manage. Having said this I also wish to make my garden an attractive landscape (at least to my eyes) and not just a collection. Continue reading

Making a pig of yourself!

Everyone knows the large growing Cyclamen persicum that you can buy throughout winter in almost any florist shop or nursery. Many of you have probably been given or bought one to sit on the dining room table and have then watched it slowly die. Any wonder that the genus has a bit of a bad name! Just as well we no longer call them “Sow Bread” as they were centuries ago, or giving them for Mother’s Day could take on a whole new meaning! Continue reading