Berry Bounty

Berry Bounty, How to grow traditional and unusual berries, from strawberries and blueberries to feijoas, mangosteens and tamarillos.

I’ve never quite mastered the art of growing berries but I’m hoping this book will make the difference. Allen Gilbert is a well-known and very experienced garden writer who has grown most of the berries described in the book. He is very much a hands-on gardener with books on citrus, tomatoes, nuts, apples and espalier already published. He starts this one by defining berries. Many plants that we think of as berries (strawberries and blackberries for instance) are not technically berries. While plants such as guavas, magosteens and persimmons are berries (botanically speaking). So the first part of the book covers those plants that are generally believed to be berries, namely blueberries, brambleberries, cranberries, currants, elderberries, gooseberries, jostaberries, mulberries, raspberries and strawberries. The second half looks at botanically true berries that are not included in the above list. Cape gooseberries, Chilean guava, feijoas, goji berries, guavas, jaboticabas, kiwi fruit, mangosteens, passionfruit, pawpaws, pepinos, pepperberries, persimmons, pomegranates and tamarillos. It is a great mixture of common and unusual fruits and covers everything from how to propagate, grow and harvest, to pests and diseases and how to deal with them organically, as well as some well-chosen recipes showing how to use the fruit when ripe. Read more

Organic Fruit Growing

Organic Fruit Growing - Annette McFarlaneI have hundreds of gardening books in my library but only 20 or so on the ‘can’t manage without’ shelf. Organic Fruit Growing is going straight onto that shelf (Annette’s earlier book Organic Vegetable Gardening is already there). There are sections on getting started, easy fruits to start with and preparation, planting, pruning, pests, pollination and propagation. Then the A-Z with all the common fruit but also babaco, carambola, chocolate pudding fruit (tantalising?), granadilla, ice-cream bean, native limes, longan, pepino and vitamin C tree. How can you resist? Many of those I’ve just listed do best in regions with warm wet summers, but with strange things happening to our climate, who knows what we may soon be able to grow further south. I love Annette’s books because there is so much original material, written from personal experience. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced garden, this is a must have gardening book. Borrow it from your library, buy it from your local independent bookshop or go to Annette’s website to link to other Australian websites that sell the book.

Organic Fruit Growing by Annette McFarlane, ABC Books, HarperCollins, Softcover, 223pages, $35

Healing garden finalist for award

Horticultural therapist and garden designer Steven Wells has a passion for connecting people with plants for their health and well being. He has successfully blended this passion and his careers to positively impact the lives of those within healthcare settings. Steven combines these careers within Austin Health, having established and now coordinating the Horticultural Therapy Program, alongside his nursing career and also designing and implementing the successful therapeutic gardens. Now one of his gardens has been short listed for an award in America.

Healing garden at Royal Talbot, Kew (photo Steven Wells)

Another garden room

Another garden room (photo by Steven Wells)

The Healthcare Design Magazine Remodel/Renovation Competition in America invited submissions for recently constructed Emergency Departments and Respite Areas. ‘The Garden Rooms’ at the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre, Melbourne, is a finalist in the ‘Respite Area’ category. The design intent of this garden was to create intimate spaces for patients and their families to foster ‘normalizing’ moments for them during their hospitalization and to provide staff with places of respite too.  Staff, patients and families were informally involved during the design stage. Patients, staff and volunteers helped to plant the garden, with various plants having been propagated by patients in the horticultural therapy program.

It would be wonderful if this inspirational garden won this prestigious award. You can help by voting.
To vote for the garden, use the link below. You’ll need to vote for PART 1 first, which is the Emergency Department Area, and after submitting your selection you will be automatically directed to PART 2 of the voting process: Respite Areas. Comments can also be added.

To vote click here.

Spring is sprouting

The spring garden at Buda, Castlemaine

I have just spent a wonderful weekend at Castlemaine in rural Victoria, talking to and learning from gardeners from all over Victoria. Budafest was held to raise money for the historic home and garden, Buda, but also to connect with and inform gardeners about growing communities. We found out about public gardens and the greening of public spaces, gardening for produce and pleasure, community gardening and heritage gardens. I learnt things like: Average Australian houses are bigger than any other houses in the world (even 10% bigger than American houses); that we are having more 1 in 100 year weather events; that we need to preserve our public spaces and how important they are to our well-being; that landscapes are designed for people so we need to understand how people relate to them and that there is such a thing as Nature Deficit Disorder. All of this and more, just from the talk given by John Raynor from the University of Melbourne.
Read more

The Australian Garden at Chelsea has won gold!

Part of The Australian Garden at the Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne Victoria

Australian Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens, Cranboune

I know this is not about edible or useful plants but I think it’s really exciting. Although Australian designers have entered gardens in previous years, this year is the first time that Australia will have a display garden in Main Avenue. Quite a coup considering there are only eight gardens in this avenue.
The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show is arguably the world’s most famous garden show. For almost 100 years this event has been showcasing plants and gardens in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, London. This year it takes place form 24th to 28th of May. Most of us will not be able to be there in person but we can follow the hard work and excitement of the the garden’s construction on their blog. The Australian Garden at Chelsea. This Australian entry is based on the multi-award winning Australian Garden at the Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne, Victoria, the second stage of which will open in 2012. The show garden at Chelsea has been created by renowned designer Jim Fogarty and tells the story of water as it journeys from the outback to the coast. The display garden will contain more than 2000 Australian native plants and works by Australian sculptors. Even the lawn is a native grass. So over the next three weeks, keep an eye on their blog and follow the construction of the garden. This is the culmination of more than a year of work and planning. Lets hope Australia wins another gold, or even best in show! — PW

The great news is that the garden has won a gold medal, one of only a handful. Huge congratulations to everyone involved!  Go to their site to see the finished garden and link to the RHS site to see all the other winners.

Bay Trees – medicinal, culinary, pest repellent herb


bay, trees, hedge, clipped, herb, heronswood, house

Bay trees make wonderful slow-growing hedges or clipped specimen plants. Heronswood, Dromana

Sweet bay (Laurus nobilis ) was seen by the old herbalists as a virtuous tree which “resisteth witchcraft very potently”. The Greeks dedicated it to Apollo, the sun god. The Delphic priestesses, oracles of Apollo, held bay leaves between their lips as they made prophesies. In Greek and Roman cultures victors, heroes, academics and artistic figures were rewarded with a wreath or crown of bay leaves. This gave rise to the terms ‘baccalaureate’ and ‘poet laureate’. Read more

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