Phillip Johnson landscapes

Article by Penny Woodward
Phillip Johnson and his team have returned triumphant having won Best in Show and Gold for his garden design at the centenary Chelsea Flower Show. It has been a long process full of hard work, friendship and great joy. But many probably don’t realise (I didn’t) that all of the work done at the show was voluntary. No-one got paid. Phillip has returned but has found that everyone assumes first of all that he would be too busy to do any designs, and secondly the price will have gone up. Neither is true. While he has several big projects that are in the planning stage, Phillip says they have plenty of time to do other smaller jobs. As Phillip says, ‘We design, build and maintain sustainable habitats that help to heal the earth, feel magical to live amongst, and create spaces where you can completely unwind. Our mandate is to create landscapes that will last for generations to come and celebrate our country’s enviable natural beauty. Havens where wildlife can flourish and children can reconnect with nature, jumping across granite stepping-stones to secret unchartered pockets’.

So now is your chance. You’ve always wanted a frog pond, a sustainable garden, somewhere that native animals, birds, frogs and lizards feel welcome. Why not ask Phillip to do a design for you and  turn small or large areas into productive spaces. Read more


I have been trialing Eco-oil from Eco-organic Gardening. Although I like to make my own sprays when necessary, I also recognise that sometimes we don’t have time to do this, so having a bottle of certified organic spray on hand is a good idea. Eco-oil is registered for use against mites in particular but also as a general pesticide. It will help to control scale, aphids, whitefly and citrus leafminer. It works by smothering the pest so won’t hurt bees or ladybird beetles, as long as you don’t spray them. And there is no withholding period so fruit and vegies are safe to harvest. I love the fact that this company is Australian owned and operated, so by buying this product you are supporting Australian workers and an Australian company.
The new Eco-oil spray has been enhanced with organic compounds (they call it HIPPO enhanced) from plants that will attract beneficial insects. As Steve Falconi from Eco-organic says a 3 year research project with Charles Sturt University,’ Investigated the natural defence mechanisms of plants, in particular the way plants produce volatile organic compounds when being attacked by pests.  These compounds act as SOS messages to beneficial insects letting them know that tasty snacks are on nearby plants! A whole range of beneficial insects are attracted including ladybeetles, lacewings, hoverflies and parasitoids. ‘

I have used it against mites on my bay tree where it has been very effective, and have been testing it on aphids on roses. With these strangely warm winter days the aphids have already appeared. It works really well. I will still start by squashing my aphids but if they get away from me I will spray with this great new product (after checking that the ladybird larvae have not already moved in). Highly recommended. To buy it online go to the Eco-organic website

(The Eco-oil spray was given to me to trial by Eco-organic Gardening)

Lavender ‘Monet’ and prostrate rosemary

Article and photos by Penny Woodward

French lavender in flower

Dwarf French lavender Monet

Blue-flowered prostrate rosemary

Prostrate rosemary hangs over the side

A hedge of Lavandula detata Monet

Monet lavender hedge at Diggers, Dromana

Typically mediterranean plants, lavenders and rosemaries love well-drained, sandy soils and lots of sun, but hate humidity. More are killed by overwatering or planting into heavy soils, than for any other reason. Once planted in the right position the only care needed is regular pruning. French lavenders (Lavandula dentata) are great because they flower for most of the year, have a lovely mentholy lavender scent and provide nectar for bees, butterflies and beneficial insects.

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Chilean guava

Article and photograph by Gail Thomas

Chilean guava fruit

Chilean guava or Tazzieberries

They’re aromatic, packed with flavour and are a great addition to both the edible or ornamental garden. Ugni molinae aka Tazziberries, ugni berries or Chilean guavas are now being grown commercially in Tasmania and Victoria. The Tasmanian growers started in the mid 1990′s and as a marketing ploy similar to kiwi fruit (Chinese gooseberries), called them Tazziberries as they believed it sounded better than Ugni molinae. These delicious pea sized berries boast a spicy strawberry/pineapple taste and an aromatic perfume that fills the autumn air. Sporting a deep burgundy hue with a creamy blush when ripe they lend themselves to both sweet and savoury applications, extending even liqueur or wine! Read more

Heliotrope or cherry pie

Article and photos by Penny Woodward

Vanilla cherry scented heliotrope flowers

Vanilla cherry scented heliotrope flowers

Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) is also known as cherry pie because of its sweetly scented mauve and white flowers that are particularly beautiful in my garden right now.  It is a woody perennial with small, rough, oval leaves and flat heads of small white to mauve flowers with a delicious vanilla/cherry scent. There are many modern varieties including ‘Alba’ a white flowered form and  ‘Lord Roberts’ which has dark purple flowers and dark metallic-purple leaves.  All types attract insects and butterflies to the flowers to feed on the abundant nectar.

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Article and photos by Penny Woodward

Knobbly red oca tubers

Knobbly red oca tubers

Oca (Oxalis tuberosum), is also know as New Zealand Yam. Around this time of year you will begin to see them in lists from seed suppliers (although they are not grown from seed but from their tubers) and you might want to think about buying some to grow. You can get types that are any colour from a creamy pink right through to bright magenta and purple. In Australia we don’t yet have distinct cultivars available (as in the US and UK), but they all taste good so it doesn’t really matter.  I grow a bright magenta coloured type that looks good combined with other foods and just lifts your spirits when you harvest them. Read more

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