Book review: A Beekeeper’s Year by Janet Luke

A Beekeeper’s Year: a practical guide to caring for bees and beehives is a beautiful book. The front cover picture made me want to read this book, and the photography throughout was beautiful, engaging and very helpful. I am not a bee keeper, nor do I really intend to be although I like the idea of it. In spite of that I really enjoyed this book. It is interesting, highly readable and I learnt a lot about bees. Continue reading

Book review: House of Plants

This charmingly idiosyncratic book seeks to enthuse its readers about the humble houseplant. Its arrival on my desk was perfect timing: as a landscape historian and fervently keen gardener, I have increasingly been wondering why my house is not full of beautiful, healthy plants. Some potted herbs in the kitchen and a dusty gloxinia upstairs are about all I can currently muster. So I was delighted to dip into this passionate, personal account of the wonders of indoor gardening. 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

Review: Influential Australian Garden People: Their Stories

For a book about garden people, rather than gardens, to succeed and hold interest, they need to be exceptional people with stories that are relevant to and resonate with everyday gardeners. Dr Anne Vale’s list is impressive, covering garden communicators and educators in print, radio and television, as well as a range of garden designers from around Australia. Continue reading

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

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

Review: ‘Disobedient Gardens’ by Michael Cooke & Brigid Arnott

I first became aware of Michael Cooke in the 1990s when I was an occasional customer at his plant nursery on Sydney’s northern fringe. Belrose Nursery was, then, one of the last ‘proper’ retail plant businesses that grew and sold exciting and hard to get plants. Gardeners and landscapers would battle the intolerable Sydney traffic just to seek out his interesting range of perennials and other ornamentals. Continue reading

Plant Lovers Fair 2016 – a Very Official Review

We arrived early at the Plant Lovers Fair, mindful that ‘all the good stuff goes in the first ten minutes’, as they say. This was to be my premier visit to this event and I had been very…assertive with my mother and our friend Sharon about the necessity of leaving Sydney early – 7.30am for the 9am gate opening in Kariong was perhaps a little over the top. But we had arrived late to the Collectors’ Plant Fair in April so it seemed VITALLY IMPORTANT that we made it this time! Continue reading

Book Review: ‘1,000 Butterflies’ by Adrian Hoskins

Who doesn’t love seeing a butterfly fluttering through the garden? Adrian Hoskins must because he has spent the last 35 years studying and photographing them in various parts of the world. The study and conservation of butterflies has been a lifelong passion for Hoskins, a passion that began when he was a boy. Hoskins spent many years working voluntarily for Butterfly Conservation in England, as well as leading many butterfly watching tours, and entomological expeditions. Continue reading

Book review: The Bee Friendly Garden

My claim to fame is that I love books, and I have a (novice’s) garden. So this review is coming to you from a beginner gardener, veggie eater, flower lover and book reader who took this book as I take most garden information – an opportunity to learn something that might help me keep my plants happy. And wow, did “The Bee Friendly Garden” help me learn! Continue reading