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Garden Radio Round Up August 20 - 21

The first signs of spring are gracing my front garden right now.

The snowdrops have looked splendid now for a few weeks. Paint brush lily, Scadoxis coccinea, began their climb skywards last week and are now opening beautifully.

What I hadn't realised until now is how well these flowers complement the glossy red tones of the cane begonias planted near by.


Snow drops leading up the garden path. Photo - Sandra Ross


Paint brush lily, Scadoxis coccinea,. Photo - Sandra Ross


Cane Begonias. Photo - Sandra Ross


Spring will be upon us soon, and in Sydney that means jacarandas in all their glory. I so look forward to this years jacaranda cruises that we're running all through spring this year, as we do every year. If you would like to join me on the harbour this year there are seats still available so call Ross Tours on 1300 233 200 to reserve your place


It's Time To

Feed your magnolias after flowering

Mix up some of my fab 'Magic Magnolia Mulch' to feed those magnolias and reward them for bringing such beauty to your garden.

The application of this nutrient rich mulch will give your magnolia the food and energy it needs to produce excellent flowers. This magic mulch recipe should be mixed together before being laid, 10cm deep, around the base to the drip line of the tree, right out to the drip line. Apply at least once - after flowering - but if you can manage it repeat the mulch in autumn too with a few added autumn leaves! The first application should be after flowering in spring and the second in autumn.

5 bags cow manure (don’t substitute chicken manure which will burn the shallow roots)

1 cup Blood and bone

1 cup Sulphate of Potash

3 cups Dolomite


Care for the roses


Prevention is better than a cure! When it comes to roses this is the golden rule. Once insects and diseases are established, they can be difficult to control so one of your best tools is a good sprayer and a raft of Eco-garden products.

Try combining the following ingredients:

10L water

1/4 cup of Eco-oil 

1/4 cup Eco-fungicide

1 teaspoon of Eco-seaweed

20ml Eco-neem

50ml Eco-aminogrow

This is particularly useful to control common pest and diseases in one spray rather than separate sprays. Choose a battery operated hand sprayer if you can’t handle the pump action ones. Depending on how many roses you have this is a life changing purchase! Truly making spraying a pleasure.

Mix up a rose maintenance spray in a dedicated sprayer that you can reuse every month.


Monthly spraying with this recipe will help your roses stay healthy and flowering beautifully. Photo - Luisa Brimble


The Bush Garden

Brown Begonia

I just love the seductively scented brown boronia that begins its flowering in winter. 'Heaven Scent' is an improved variety of Boronia megastigma that I recommend. While all boronias have fragrant foliage and flowers, not all share the sweet scent of the brown boronia.


Bell-shaped buds of the brown boronia, (Boronia megastigma) just opening in late winter are seductively fragrant.


Want to know more? check out Libby Cameron's article on the Brown Boronia on the How To Grow page.




Aphids can be pale-green, pink, yellow, black or grey, or even white and fluffy as is the case with woolly aphids, depending on the species. They swarm on new shoots and buds. Symptoms include sticky honeydew, appearance of sooty mould, distortion of young leaves and flower buds, flower bud drop, presence of ants.

These tiny sap-sucking insects can be a problem on a wide range of plants. A few aphids can be tolerated, but severe infestations will deform new buds, damage flowers and may cause the plant to defoliate. They have a short life-cycle. Numbers can build up quickly as aphids are fertilised at birth, then they in turn reproduce.


A few aphids can be tolerated, but severe infestations will damage your plants. Here, ladybirds and Lacewing are eating the aphids as they hatch. Photo - Dimijana / shutterstock


The problem with insecticide sprays, even low-toxic, pyrethrum-based sprays, is two-fold. These sprays do not distinguish between beneficial insects such as lady-birds, lacewings and wasps and other harmless insects, and the culprit aphid. Aphids have an exceedingly short generation time, and effective control requires frequent spraying, which could result in the aphid developing resistance to the sprays.

The best method of control for aphids, one that is the most environmentally friendly, is a natural biological control. One predator of the aphid is the ladybird and its larvae, which you can buy mail-order from OCP. Most gardeners recognise the adult form of the ladybird, but few people are familiar with the larvae, ravenous devourers of aphids. Ladybird larvae eat more aphids than adult ladybirds. Lacewings, hoverflies and parasitic wasps will reduce the number of aphids too, as will small birds. These natural biological controls may take a while to be effective.

Read more about controlling Aphids and other l'il suckers in this article from Dan Wheatley in the Bugwatch section of the website.


Garden News

New release 'Lollipop' tomato

Want more fruit and better disease resistance? This new release from Young plants will give you just that and more.


Lollipop tomato. Photo - Young Plants

A great little performer, Lollipop is a premium commercial variety with a shrubby habit growing 1.5 to 2 meters. Incredibly flavourful, lollipop cherry tomatoes are perfect for snacking. The plants produce very well and have an abundance of fruit. Pink-ish rather than red, it has a unique sweet and savoury taste, both more savoury and sweeter than a regular tomato. Staking is essential to prevent the plant from rambling and to ensure you have a larger crop. Lollipop will perform best on a trellis or teepee and at that height your grandkids will love to eat them straight from the vine.

Plant in a full sun position and protect from strong winds. Water regularly in the morning to reduce the chance of disease.

Best of all, Lollipop was produced with premium commercial genetics and so is more disease resistant than the older, open pollinated genetics.

You can get your hands on this new tomato when you renew or extend your Garden Clinic membership at Platinum level this weekend. We will send you a beautiful Lollipop tomato plus lots, lots more. Just click on the Join today link here.


Potted Garden

Spring Bulbs

There are few gems in the garden as reliably dazzling as bulbs.

Buy now, plant soon and in spring your reward, for barely any effort at all, is a garden bejewelled with colour. And all this sparkle comes for less than the cost of a bunch of flowers from the florist.


Tulips really are one of my favourite spring bulbs. Here i am at Colbett Park in Bowral, which comes alive with spring colour every year.


So which treasures will you bury this season? Freesias, tulips and hyacinths are some of my favourites. But there are so many more to choose from.

Check out 4 bulbs that make a longer lasting spring display and get your spring garden flowering for longer.

Come away with us

Michael McCoy brings you Garden Marlborough

New Zealand’s gardens are amongst the best anywhere on earth. Throw in a warm kiwi welcome and Garden Marlborough, we have the perfect excuse to visit this beautiful region of the south island when the peony and wisteria are just heavenly.

Join Michael McCoy and see the best of New Zealand including: Christchurch Botanic Garden, Linton Giant House & Artists Garden, East Coast Garden tour, Urban Tour, Queen Charlotte Sound Cruise, Hortensia House, Hans Herzog Winery


Gorgeous white wisteria will be in full flower in Marlborough this year.


NSW Spring Festivals

A plant lover’s delight as we follow the trail of flower festivals across NSW meeting friendly gardeners along the way. We start in Southern Highlands for Tulip Time, then Canberra for Floriade, then Cowra to catch the Cherry Blossom and finally to the Leura Gardens Festival.


We visit the beautiful Glenmore House on the NSW Spring tour.


Join the team at our 2017 Programme Launch

Come along, meet our tour leaders and see some of our new destination itineraries, including Mexico & Cuba. 11am, 12th September 2016 at Lion Gate Lodge, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

To book your place at the 2017 Programme Launch, or to enquire about any of our tours contact Royce or Roslyn on 1300 233 200, email us at, or visit