Where are Australia’s women gardening stars?

More promotional material has crossed my desk for another Australian garden show and yet again I see with disappointment an almost exclusively all-male lineup of gardening ‘stars’ being promoted as the headline presenters for the show. I mean no disrespect to any of these extremely knowledgeable and very nice men, but is there really such a paucity of female gardening talent in this country that of the nine “key industry figures” only two are women, and they’re both known as foodies rather than gardeners? Continue reading

Aglaonema, the Tropic’s luckiest plant

I’m not superstitious by any means but there are many who will adopt curious strategies in an endeavour to improve their luck. Mind you, good fortune is always welcome so I guess embracing the odd cultural idiosyncrasy couldn’t hurt. Aglaonema or the ‘Lucky Plant’ has for centuries been cultivated in China and other Asian countries as an indoor ornamental foliage plant and considered a bringer of fortune. Continue reading

North Portugal: Scotland with more sun

A June trip to the Serra d’Arga mountain region in northern Portugal, just south of the border with Spain, reminded me of one of the many pearls of wisdom to be found in Catherine Stewart’s blog postings for GardenDrum. The one I have in mind was about the importance of pH (point number 3 in The 7 best pieces of garden advice I’ve had): “Other than drainage, it [pH] is usually the reason as to why something is not thriving”. The flip side of that, of course, is that pH may also be the reason why something is thriving. Continue reading

Watch the monarch butterfly pupate

So many magical things happen when caterpillars turn into butterflies. Recently, our neighbors Dale Hammerschmidt and Mary Arneson managed to get some great pictures of the monarch butterflies they often raise indoors to help protect them from predators. They said it was okay to share them, so here you are. Thanks Dale and Mary! Continue reading

Burnley’s Secret Botanic Garden Part 3

In the post WWII years the tradition of past students and lecturers supporting the development of the gardens at Burnley continued. Ellis Stones, Kath Deery, Robert Boyle and James Hitchmough all created unique landscapes with Australian plants around the outskirts of the heritage core. Continue reading

How to maintain ornamental grasses

It’s July in our garden in Scotsburn, near Ballarat in Victoria and it’s time to attack and cut down all the decorative grasses, including lots of Miscanthus and a big swathe of Pennisetum around the front on the embankment. Over the years we worked out the fastest and easiest way to cut them back. Continue reading