Terracing: the gardener’s response to gravity and gradient, then and now

Terraces, terraces everywhere on the Cinque Terre’s vertiginous slopes. (And believe me for yours truly they are sickeningly vertiginous.) Sick, but impressive, as lines of terracing snake along the contours around the hills dropping away into an azure sea. The terraces allow crops of grapevines, vegetables, olive and fruit trees to be grown on slopes that would otherwise be far too steep for cultivation. The stone walls that comprise the terraces date back to the BC when Roman soldiers were rewarded with land to farm as a pension for their service to the conquering generals who happened to make Rome great as they built their political careers on conquests. Continue reading

Bringing the outdoors in: why you need plants inside too

Indoor plants have become a fast growing trend for many good reasons. However, with so many different plant species available it can be a bit intimidating for the first-timer or even experienced gardeners to know what plants are best suited for the home. I purchased my first indoor plant two years ago and I’ve never looked back! Indoor plants have become a whole new obsession of mine. Continue reading

Designer gardens at Garden World’s Spring festival 2016

Each year Garden World in Gauteng, to the west of Johannesburg, has its Spring Festival. This year there are more than 20 designer gardens on display until 4 September 2016. Many of these designer gardens are different from your usual show garden as some of them are revamps of the previous year’s garden and some are makeovers of a much older garden. This is good because it makes the designer see the show garden more like designing for a residential client where there are always things to keep as well as places for new ideas. Continue reading

What’s eating my lilly pilly?

All down the east coast of Australia, gardeners with lilly pilly hedges have been noticing lots of chewed and damaged foliage. While it used to be pimple psyllid that most affected lilly pillies, causing those ugly pimply bumps all over the leaves followed by lots of sooty mould, there’s now a relatively new insect pest that’s doing as much, if not more, damage on Syzygium australe and its cultivars – a native green leaf-eating beetle called Paropsides calypso**. Continue reading

Review: The Calyx reveals its Sweet Addiction at Sydney RBG

Newly opened at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, The Calyx is the purpose-built exhibition space that the Gardens has needed and wanted for some years. On the outside it’s an architectural and very beautiful structure occupying the site of the old glass square pyramid Tropical Centre and built on to the Ken Woolley-designed quarter-circle ‘Arc’ glasshouse which survived demolition. I like the way its stark and severe white ribs around the circular open courtyard area contrast with its green and leafy garden background, and also the wonderful shadow patterns they throw on the internal courtyard space. But what’s inside? Continue reading

Review: Link Edge metal garden edging

We’ve used DIY aluminium Link Edge metal garden edging in several places in our garden – edging the front lawn, between gravel paths and gardens, and alongside rendered walls. It’s easy to cut and join, it makes smooth curves and circles and crisp straight lines, and it can even be shaped underneath to curve down a slope too. A good-looking, very versatile and high performance product. It’s 2 years on now and it still looks fabulous. ★★★★★ Continue reading