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Garden Radio Round Up August 27 - 28

Here comes the sun, and here comes spring.

At the helm this weekend Linda Ross is steering the good ship Garden Clinic through the last week of winter and into warmer waters

There is a whole lot happening in the garden from the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers to the Sweet Addiction exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. We'll be talking about the beautiful, bird-attracting grevillea, what to do about bush turkeys, how to grow great cucumbers, and lots more. So lets get into it!


The lovely Pieris japonica. Photo - Zigzag Mountain Art


It's time to

Get your tickets for Better Homes & Gardens Live

It's time once again to step into the ultimate day of inspiration and shopping, Better homes and gardens live. Don't miss out. Sydney 16-18 September at Sydney Olympic Park, and Melbourne 14-16 October at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Best of all, get a 30% discount as a Garden Clinic member!

To purchase tickets or for more info visit


Cut some seasonal flowers for the table

I just adore the Pieris japonica flowers I have arranged on the table, welcoming spring to the house. It's a beautiful cool climate shrub from Japan aptly named 'Temple Bells'. We used to call them 'Andromeda' and they love the same conditions that azaleas do.


'Temple Bells' formerly known as 'Andromeda'. Photo - godric/


Check out the Sweet Addiction exhibition at The Calyx

Learn all about the fascinating history of Chocolate, and see the remarkable Calyx, built to mark the bi-centenary of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.


The Bush Garden

Boongala Native Garden open days

One of my favourite native gardens, Boongala has some of the best grevilleas, including 'Golden Lyre', which has iridescent gold flowers that are a real hit with native birds.

Boongala will be open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays all through September at 76 Pitt Town Road, Kenthurst.


Grevillea 'Golden Lyre' at Boongala



What to do about Scrub Turkey

Not necessarily a bug, but if like me you get the odd Scrub Turkey visiting your garden you will know just how much they can bug a gardener!


The humble scrub turkey. Photo Jaquie Martin


Turkeys are expert composters and can turn a garden into a mound of compost in minutes. And they are very hard working and difficult to distract. Once they start it can be difficult to dissuade them. So it is essential to take action early before the scrub turkey starts to develop some pride in his work.

If you have stockpiles of mulch in the garden try spreading a heavy tarpaulin over the mound and weighing it down, to prevent the bird from working. Or divert the bird's attention to a less attractive or valuable area of your garden, by building a household compost mound. Ideally, this compost mound should be sited next to at least one large tree providing 80 to 95 per cent shade. The brush turkey may be attracted towards the area, and may eventually take over the compost mound as its nesting mound.

For severe problems try laying chicken wire down after planting and peg to the ground. This will prevent the birds scratching


In the Veggie Patch


Cucumbers are such a versatile vegetable with so many uses - sliced, grated, in salads and soups. At the peak of summer last year we were harvesting 20 cucumbers every day! It's not rocket science. They just need a few basic things to keep them happy and healthy.


We love growing a range of white cucumbers 'White Spine' and 'Long White'. Photo - Linda Ross


Good preparation is the key. Set up a trellis or teepee for them to grow on. Keeping the vine off the ground will encourage flowers, increase pollination and reduce the occurrence of fungal disease.

Plant seeds in Spring when soil temperatures start to increase, your garden bed should be well prepared with a good feed mixture of manure, blood and bone, and good beneficial bacteria like Go Go Juice from Neutrog.

Select a position with well drained soil which receives sun for most of the day. And before you know it there will be baskets full of cucumbers all summer long.


Garden News

Robin Powell talks about how cacao pods become chocolate

My dear friend and colleague, Robin Powell joined me on the line to talk about her trip to Hawaii where she spent some time turning cacao beans into delicious chocolate.

As I suspected, it's a little bit like coffee. That is, it first has to be roasted and ground before its useful.

Robin told us that the beans are first wrapped in banana leaves and left to ferment. It's the yeast in the banana leaves that aids this process. Once dried the beans are roasted and the roasting process, like with coffee, determines the richness of the chocolate flavor.

The roasted beans are then ground up into a paste. The beans need to be ground quite fine to achieve that velvet-like mouth feel we all love. Robin was grinding this paste by hand in the tropical heat of Maui, and it sounded like really hard work. A little hot water will help, and a little cinnamon, sugar and even black pepper are the perfect seasoning for delicious home-made chocolate.

Want to know more? Why not head down to the Calyx at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and check out Sweet Addiction, the history of chocolate.


Cacao pods, Theobroma cacao, on the inside


Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

Since its inception in 1949, the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers has thrived. It's now recognised as one of Australia’s best garden events.


Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers has been running since 1949.


Local Councillor, Geoff McDonald joined me on the line today to talk about this long-running festival in Queensland's garden city.

The brainchild of Essex Tait and the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce, Carnival was introduced as a way for the city to use their “Garden City” reputation to promote increased economic activity following the recent hardships of war.

On October 21, 1950 the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers commenced with a street procession that stretched three miles in length. Led by a bullock team and watched by a crowd estimated to be 50,000 strong, the Parade was a resounding success. The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers subsequently became firmly cemented as an annual event in the region’s community calendar.

Last years parade attracted record numbers to the show. Councillor McDonald estimated the crowd to around 120,000 people. This year there are 130 plus home gardens open, which is a record number for the festival.

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers won the 2013 Queensland Tourism Award for Festivals and Events and went on to win the Gold for the Festivals & Events category at the Australian Tourism Awards held in April 2015.

For more details of this fantastic regional garden festival visit their website,

Come away with us

Gardens of China

Journey back in time to the Middle Kingdom, a place where child emperors ruled, wonders of the world were built and the exquisite peony was the flower of royalty.


Lingering Garden, Suzhou.


Berry Garden Festival tour

Take a short scenic drive to the unspoilt showpiece of the Shoalhaven, Berry. We love this sophisticated yet rustic town surrounded by rolling green hills, filled with heritage buildings, country charm and friendly gardeners. The fabulous Berry Garden Festival will be in full Spring swing.


Floral arrangement at Arthur Boyd's Bundanon


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