A road trip with a botanical garden difference

Like so many other baby boomers, my husband Peter and I love to travel. We enjoy experiencing other cultures and are particularly attracted to remote places with wide open spaces where people are few and the countryside reveals its natural beauty. Peter, a geophysicist, is seriously into rocks and I am seriously into plants. We both like animals, but unlike plants and rocks, they rarely stand still so getting a good look at them on a road trip is often more frustrating than satisfying! Continue reading

Plant dazzling dahlias for a summer of colour

We did a roaring trade in dahlia tubers at our local flower show at Sheffield in Tasmania in October. Club president Paul Robinson arrived with a picture of a burgundy and white Collarette dahlia and a rubbish bin full of damp compost and sprouting dahlia tubers. They were the result of lifting and dividing several clumps from his garden. Continue reading

How to identify a mystery plant

I’m asked all the time to help people identify plants. Even though many of them grow in places way outside my climate zone, I’ve become a pretty good botanical and horticultural sleuth. Recently Keren in Bermuda sent me some photos of a shrub she was trying to name, without success. And I’ve also been thinking about my experiences earlier this year running from one gorgeous wildflower to the next in Yunnan, China, trying to understand what I was seeing. So what sort of characteristics do you need to look at when you’re trying to identify a mystery plant? Continue reading

Two Madrid garden masterpieces

In Spain’s capital, two impressive garden works caught my eye and considerably enhanced my ‘art experience’. In a city justifiably renowned for three great art museums, these outdoor living works offer their own distinctive appeal and artistry. Continue reading

Review: Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Rare Plant Fair 2016

Spring in Melbourne this year has been dramatic and changeable to say the least. This past weekend, despite the erratic and blustery conditions, the passionate plant aficionados were all a twitter as they turned up to the RBG. It was the occasion of the first Botanic and Rare Plant Fair at the RBG (Melbourne). This has been set up as a collaboration between the usually highly anticipated Friends of RBG Plants Sale (normally held twice annually), Diggers Seeds and the RBG. Continue reading

Have I got a deal for you!

A phone rings. It is answered.

Hello.
G’day Trev. You are ‘the’ Trevor Nottle aren’t you Trev?
Yes.
Well Trev, have I got a deal for you. Can you meet me at the airport coffee bar so I can tell you about it?
Who are you?
Sorry, Trev, mate, should have said. I’m Tom from Gotta Go Travel but every one calls me Gabby because I talk so much. Just call me Gabby Trev. Yeah, I’ll be coming through Adelaide next Thursday morning could we meet I have an idea to discuss with you.

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If you want a lively-looking garden, it’s time to see red

As a colour, red has a serious fan club. Red shoes (to die for), red cars (go faster), red lipstick (no comment) and red roses. Which brings us to red in the garden. Red is the perfect foil to green, which is probably why we often paint the front door red. Or line the path with evergreen topiary balls growing in red-glazed planters. Or tie oversized red bows into the shrubbery come Christmas time. What follows is a quick look at some brilliant plants that pack a nice red punch… Continue reading

Why have we fallen out of love with conifers?

For some years there’s been an autumn National Conifer Week in the UK, celebrating the diversity and adaptability of this handsome, but now under-appreciated group of plants. Do we need a World-Wide Conifer Week? Why have we fallen out of love with this handsome, versatile, adaptable and tough group of plants? Continue reading