Marianne Cannon

About Marianne Cannon

Marianne Cannon has been broadcasting as Real World Gardener on radio 2RRR 88.5fm in Sydney, since September 2009, and the program is now syndicated to radio stations around Australia. It's about growing your own, the abc of plants, and how to create sustainable gardens to fit into today's environment. Not just a show about plants; it has a strong green and ecological bent, with co-presenters addressing issues such as native animals and plants, water conservation, composting, reducing waste, protecting native species and more.

Growing food in the shade

What can you grow in a permaculture food garden that’s mostly shaded? An important permaculture principle is to plant things where they are going to do their best. Although most vegetables are usually grown in full sun, listen while I find out from permaculturists Lucinda Coates and Margaret Mossakowska about a range of edible plants that will grow in the shade, like leafy vegetables, bush tucker plants and shade-loving herbs like the many types of mint. Continue reading

Designing with grasses

Grasses should be part of every designer’s palette but many people find it difficult to use them to best effect. I’m talking with landscape designer Christopher Owen about the many ways to use grasses in garden design, such as block planting, using a planting matrix, specimen grasses in pots, or even planting them as a hedge. Continue reading

All about frog ponds

Today I’m talking with ecologist Katie Oxenham about frogs, how to make a frog pond and why we need frogs and ponds in our gardens. Frogs control lots of insects pests like mosquitos but also a range of other insects including cockroaches. People often worry that stagnant water in a pond will encourage too many mosquitos but if you keep the water occasionally circulating with a small pump, you shouldn’t have more mozzies than the frogs can handle. Continue reading

How to grow cloves

I hadn’t really thought about cloves being dried flower buds until researching this story. And did you know that cloves, Syzygium aromaticum, are closely related to lillypilly and eucalypts? I’m talking with spice expert, Ian Hemphill from Herbies, about the fascinating history of cloves and their part in the fortunes of the Dutch East India Company, as well as their origins in ‘The Spice Islands’ a handful of tropical Indonesian islands in the Banda Sea.  Continue reading

How to grow red hot green wasabi

Have you ever tried that dob of green paste that comes with sushi and sashimi? Did you know that the green paste sold as wasabi in the supermarket is actually horseradish that’s been dyed green? Yes it’s got plenty of bite but it’s not wasabi, which is sweeter tasting. While you only need ¼ of a teaspoon of the stuff to get steam coming out of your ears, water running out of your eyes, and the feeling that your nose is going to lift off into space, true wasabi doesn’t have the lingering super-hot after-burn of the inferior substitute. Continue reading

How to grow your own coffee

Coffee beans grow on the Coffea arabica plant which is related to gardenia, ixora and coprosma. It’s a beautiful small tree to about 5m (15ft) high with glossy green leaves and jasmine-scented white flowers that appear along the stems in summer-autumn. As the fruit develops along the stem, it starts off green and then changes to a bright red cherry-like fruit, finally maturing to a dark brown. Although coffee is a small tree, you can prune it to a 2m (7ft) shrub, which is how they’re kept in coffee plantations. This pruning also encourages lateral branching and more flowering and fruiting. Continue reading

How to grow nutmeg and mace

Did you know that nutmeg produces not one spice, but two? And that right up until the 19th century, the only place that nutmeg grew was on the isolated Banda Islands in Indonesia? With cloves, it also provided the huge wealth of the Dutch East India Company and was even involved in the most amazing land-deal swap in history between the English and the Dutch – a handful of Indonesian islands for Manhattan Island. Continue reading

4 new Australian native shrubs

Four new Australian plants – Leptospermum ‘Lemon, Lime n Bitters’, Banksia ‘Sentinel’, and Westringia ‘Aussie Box’ and ‘Grey Box’ are interesting new cultivars that are all dwarf forms of their parent plants, making them ideal for smaller gardens, pots and narrow spaces. I talk with horticulturist Sabina Fielding Smith about the growth habits and cultivation of these shrubs. Continue reading

How to grow Swedes, or rutabaga: a most dangerous vegetable

Did you know that a Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhin in 1620, found this vegetable growing wild in Sweden? So yes, Swedes do come from Sweden, including Swede the vegetable. Another interesting fact about this vegetable is it doesn’t seem to have a long history, well unless you consider dating back to the1600s not long, which it isn’t compared to some vegetables. Brassica napus variety (var.) napobrassica, is called rutabaga in the USA, but never referred to as turnip. Rutabaga is a corruption of the Swedish for turnip-cabbage. Continue reading

Growing proteas

I talk with horticulturist Sabina Fielding Smith about growing proteas, such as Protea neriifolia (the oleander-leafed protea) which comes from South Africa, and how the first thing you need is an open, sunny position with good drainage. They do well in poor soils, and many don’t mind salty, coastal areas but humidity will knock them around. Continue reading

Deliciously pretty edible flowers

Why are some top restaurants demanding flowers of violas, fennel, coriander, peas, rocket and borage? Is there something that you eat that’s a tad boring that needs an extra bit of zing and colour? The history of edible flowers can be traced back thousands of years. Romans used edible flowers such as mallows, roses and violets in a lot of their dishes. Continue reading