How to choose, clean and sharpen your secateurs

Secateurs are one of your most important gardening tools and will get used most times you go out into the garden. Thats why, if you’re a new gardener, you should invest in a good pair. Most long-time gardeners have a favourite pair they’ve been using for years but tragedy can strike and those long-loved secateurs are lost or damaged. Here’s a handy three part guide about how you should choose, clean and sharpen your secateurs. Continue reading

How to find and use cheap landscaping stone

With its unique natural beauty, stone is a favourite of gardeners everywhere. Whether used as steps, paving, retaining walls or buildings, this most original and durable of landscaping materials settles into its surroundings, ageing gracefully with a natural patina that appeals to our primitive aesthetic instincts in the same way as do forests and oceans. Continue reading

Book Review: Good Soil by Tina Råman

I think I can safely say that Good Soil is the only book I possess that has both ‘Pee‘ and ‘Poo‘ as chapter headings. Those chapter headings give you a clue to what sort of book this is: mostly, it is about how to nourish the soil with the macro- and micronutrients plants need to thrive (many of which abound in pee and poo), and it takes a chatty, no-nonsense approach to the subject. Continue reading

Review: ‘She Sheds – a room of your own’

If I hadn’t read the introduction to this book by the author, Erika Kotite, I would have been disappointed with its contents. To me a shed has something to do with gardening rather than just being a building in a garden. Erika explains that a ‘she shed’ is a woman’s private space to escape the pressures of everyday life, a place to relax or undertake creative pursuits. Continue reading

Giving two rooms their view

It rains a lot in the west of Scotland. It’s often too soggy to be out in the garden, so it’s important to have something attractive to look at from inside the house. We spend most of our indoor time in our kitchen and adjoining living room/dining room, which are both west-facing. Continue reading

We need to talk about concrete

Did you know that the environmental impacts of concrete are out of control and that the worldwide consumption of concrete is on its way to being four times greater in 2050 than it was in 1990? Did you also know that concrete is the most widely used material on earth? Continue reading

Review: ‘Dream Gardens’ on ABC TV

When I first heard that someone was going to make a new Australian TV show about gardening, I was amazed. Then excited. Then cynicism started to creep in. Would it be another quickie makeover show? A dumbed-down ‘reality’ show filled with manufactured drama? Then I heard Michael McCoy was the presenter and I breathed a great sigh of relief because I knew he wouldn’t have anything to do with either of those. Continue reading

Eden Unearthed: Sydney’s first ‘garden as gallery’ festival

I was delighted to be invited to launch Unearthed, the first ever garden festival at Eden Gardens in Sydney. It’s amazing to think that it was only 4 months ago that Simon Ainsworth first contacted me with an idea for a festival of sculpture at Eden Gardens along the lines of the International Garden Festival at Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. An ambitious goal, as the Chaumont-sur-Loire festival has been running for almost 25 years and attracts over 400,000 visitors! Continue reading

Women in horticulture: award-winning Sonja Cameron

Late last month, Sonja Cameron from Cameron’s Nursery at Arcadia in New South Wales accepted the Nursery and Garden Industry NSW and ACT’s Environmental award. Sonja Cameron is no stranger to awards, she wins them consistently for her strong commitment to sustainability and she is happy to share her story with other growers and gardeners. Some 300 plus visitors come to the nursery each year to look at its sustainable infrastructure. Continue reading

Book review – Planting Dreams: Shaping Australian Gardens

“A garden should be just a little too big to keep the whole cultivated. Then it gives it a chance to go a little wild in spots”.

Edna Walling’s charming observation, featured on the back cover of Richard Aitken’s Planting Dreams: Shaping Australian Gardens is a fitting analogy for the scope of this handsome new book, published to coincide with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney’s 200th birthday celebrations. Not that Aitken’s book focusses particularly on the RBGS. In fact it’s somewhat challenging to pin down the purpose of this intriguing work. Continue reading