Pursuing the perfect palak paneer…

In the subtropics, winter is a great time to grow many cool climate vegetables.  The emphasis in my vegetable garden is always on fresh greens. Unless I buy them at a farmer’s market, I‘m not impressed by the freshness and diversity of shop bought greens. Many of my favourite winter greens such as corn salad, golden purslane, ice plant, tender butter lettuces, blanched moss-curled endives, raddichio and ice plants simply aren’t available commercially. Continue reading

Growing wild foods in your garden

I have written here before about my miserable efforts to grow vegetables. Nothing has changed. I am however growing more and more food in my garden. My family eat numerous subtropical edibles and lots of weeds. Not so many carrots and zucchini but plenty of highly nutritious greens. Continue reading

Morocco – land of kasbahs and palm oases

The land of the Berbers is a dramatic interplay of gorges, mountains, desert plains and valleys dotted with date palm oases. Amongst these, where there is water, rise ancient kasbahs* in various states of ruin or rejuvenation. Some kasbahs have been bought by foreigners, often French, who have renovated and re-designed them often as guest accommodation, usually with gardens attached – either surrounding the building or as an internal courtyard. Continue reading

He’s bloomin’ 90!

There must have been something in the water in 1927. It was a year that bred long-lived gardeners no matter where they were born. April 1 was garden icon Peter Cundall’s 90th birthday. Later in the year will see other leading Australian gardeners turn 90: my own mother, Shirley Stackhouse; mycologist, author and botanical expert Dr Peter Valder; and Ben Swane, nurseryman, rose grower and gardening expert. And, there are probably many others. Continue reading

Say hello to the Redlove apple

There’s a new apple in the Aussie backyard. With their firm crimson skin and unique red flesh, these “revolutionary” beauties from Switzerland have already taken root across Europe, the UK and North America. And now, in 2017, they’re available for the first time throughout Australia. Continue reading

Extending the harvest (or avoiding the glut!)

Prolific vegetables – such as zucchini – produce more fruit each season than you know what to do with, but others bear for a short time only. Successive planting of vegetable crops is a reliable way of spreading the harvest through the season, but other tricks are less well-known. Read on for practical tips if, like me, you don’t religiously sow a line of seed every three weeks! Continue reading

The Hawaiian lei that wasn’t

Every morning at around 9.30am at our beautiful Waikiki hotel, a large white box would arrive and be secreted beside the valet and entry area. I loved this box, as I knew inside were hundreds of fresh dendrobium orchid leis which would be placed around the necks of weary but smiling guests of the hotel. Continue reading

Berber home and garden, Morocco

East of Marrakech, over Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, a desert landscape riddled with spectacular gorges and valleys presides. At the time of my visit in November, snow-capped peaks rendered this ancient land of Berbers even more panoramic. In their pink and red-hued villages, built so clearly from the earth right there, dwell a truly hospitable people. I had the good fortune to visit the home and garden of one Berber family. Continue reading

Behold! The MASSIVE Shōgoin Daikon!! 聖護院大根

Last week I was casually doing a little snack shopping at my local Kyoto supermarket when I unexpectedly came across WHOPPER of a vegetable! It was round with slightly translucent skin like a radish, but I’ve never seen radishes that big, so I assumed it must be a big-ass old turnip. I wish I had weighed it too, because as you can see in the video, it was actually hard to lift with one hand!
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Grow herbs for a healthy and gourmet garden

Gardening has always played an important part in my life; as one of six children when growing up, money was fairly tight and my parents grew almost everything we ate in their abundant, chemical free fruit and vegetable garden. We were encouraged to have our very own plot of soil and right from our early childhood days gardening became an exciting adventure that seemed to have so many rewards. Continue reading

Camellias that could be just your cup of tea

There’s always been something almost mystical about camellias which makes people fall under their spell. And, like rhododendron and Japanese maple lovers; enthusiasts go all starry-eyed and wistful at the very mention of their name. Perhaps it’s their exotic Far East pedigree that captivates hearts, but originating in a corner of the world loosely strung out between Nepal, Vietnam, Japan and Korea – they grow in a very unglamorous climate. With Britain’s four distinct seasons – much the same as large chunks of Europe – they suffer sun, rain and snow, much as we do, and that is why they are so perfectly at home here. Continue reading