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

How do I say ‘goodbye’ to my garden?

We’re moving. It’s something I want to do but I’ve gardened here for nearly 18 years and I’d be lying if I said it was going to be easy to walk away from so much thought, love and toil. Over the past five years of reading GardenDrum many of you have seen my garden develop – its painstakingly-built gabion walls; its reused concrete retaining walls; its grey, weathered deck; its Link Edge garden edging: and many of its best plants, particularly my beloved pentas. How can I tear myself away? 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

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

A garden built on harmony and trust

Every garden tells a story, and this one in southern Sydney tells one of trust and collaboration that has created magic. When Joan Zande retired, her dream was to redesign her 40-year old garden. Yet finding a designer who embraced the site proved challenging. Against a rocky sandstone escarpment, a 10º slope, drainage problems and nowhere to sit, the site just seemed too hard. Continue reading

Illawarra Grevillea Park: a plant lover’s paradise

The Illawarra Grevillea Park is arguably the best of its kind in Australia. It was established in the 1980s to house the Australian Plant Society’s wild grevillea collection. Since then the park has evolved and now has a broader range of Australian natives. Many of the plants are rare and endangered and have been grafted to enable them to grow in our more humid climate on the NSW east coast. Continue reading

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