Toggle navigation

Garden Radio Round Up December 17 - 18

The weather is clearing and its looking like another glorious summers day.

After the rain is a great time to give your garden a good feed Why not get out there in the cool of the morning and spread the love. Let's get started.


It'll be hot out there today. Don't forget to take a break!


Its time to


In the temperate zone you can plant a second crop of summer vegetables now. For a family of four add a tomato, one cucumber, two beans, one eggplant, sweet corn, and one zucchini to extend the bounty into autumn.

Plant some autumn lilies. For a sunny spot we like nerines, belladonna lilies, autumn crocus and blood lily. Two tough lilies that thrive in shaded areas, under trees, and with root competition are clivea and the renga renga lily, which is a NZ native with sprays of white flowers.


Tidy up

Trim bottlebrush 5cm behind finished flowers to encourage an autumn flush.

Cut untidy leaves from subtropical plants.



When infestations of scale, mites and mealy bugs occur during very hot weather spray Pest oil in the early evening to smother the insects, then wash off the oil in the morning to prevent burning of the leaves.



A good soak is the most effective watering: bucket out the bath and shower if things get desperate.

Unmulched plants dry out four times faster than mulched plants: top up thin areas with pre-soaked mulch.

Citrus can be watered with bath water as long as soap is marked ‘garden friendly’.

A pvc-pipe angled to the root system of citrus and tomatoes will deliver water where it’s needed.

Tidy up finished flowers, trim hedges, cut tatty leaves.


Bush Garden

Hollows for Homes

Powerful Owls are carnivore’s eating mainly tree-dwelling mammals, in metropolitan areas, possums, ringtails to be exact. They’ll also feed on rabbits or small marsupials. In other parts of the country they eat Flying Foxes and Sugar Gliders, all part of the Web of Life.

They are quite territorial and will defend their tree and their range of feeding tree canopy.

This range might cover 400 ha but if tree canopy is thinned the tree canopy range required to cover maybe 4000 ha’s is then needed. Can you imagine the exhausting energy needed to forage and feed over 4,000ha?.

They used to be common in farmlands but less so today. They have been forced to retreat back into suburbia where the all-important tree canopy remains in invaluable islands but most importantly where a meal can be had. The most adapted creature in suburbia since 1788 is the possum, totally adaptive to living with us in our gardens, in fact in the rooves of our homes. They provide a ready source of food but there’s a catch, always a catch.

The Powerful Owl now lives in open forests and woodlands and along sheltered gullies often with dense understories. Like Byles Creek Valley. Not Lane Cove National Park, but Byles Creek Valley in the north west of Sydney a precious piece of land granted to the community by one of Australia’s legendary woman, Marie Byles. It was granted in perpetuity. Wolli Creek in the St George area was another Powerful Owl breeding colony until the small remnant forest was recently destroyed to build a temporary car park for transport developments, against the current environmental protection legislation as it stands in NSW.

But the Powerful Owl needs more, a vertical hollow in a gum tree, occasionally a She Oak or Turpentine, to set up home for 30 years. And not just any old gum tree, a really old one, yes at least 150 years old minimum, to be precise.

The four local Patron Trees planted since we lost the 140 year old White Mahogany in our Garden Clinic office backyard as the result of a corrupted decision by Hornsby Shire Council through a decision by the Joint Regional Planning Panel, have all grown beautifully, dare I say powering along but they won’t be ready to accept Power Owl habitation until 2165.

There are now councils in association with qualified arborists creating artificial hollows for homes in big gum trees with great results.

Before you remove an old gum tree consider it may already be the home or could have future hollows for birdlife homes.


Hollows are vital for some of our favourite, and most precious native birds. Photos - Trish Brown



Much of what people describe on the radio, or bring for us to look at during garden shows, or describe on the Garden Clinic Club Helpline, we believe looks similar to the photograph below - that is, burnt brown leaves around the edges, appearing quite dead.

Leaf tip and leaf margin showing signs of distinct damage but no chewing or pieces missing.


The browning of these leaves is most likely the result of heat stress.


The plant in the image is a Camellia sinensis, the Tea Camellia, and 40% of the old leaves are either dead or dying.

This can also be a common appearance of plants in pots and is generally a sign of heat stress or a day or two with moisture stress, soil drying out.

In this case I recommended watering with Harvest, Nitrosol, Charlie Carp, Eco Seaweed or Seasol and Powerfeed.

Within weeks new growth appeared, damaged roots were repaired and the plant recovered. But the gardener unnecessary continued to be worried by the old damaged leaves. They will eventually drop with old age.

Once new growth has appeared it's a good idea to then fertilise the plant. In this case with something like Kahoona for acid loving plants.

Importantly this damage was not the result of a disease or insect so spraying was not necessary.


Garden News

I was humbled recently to receive a gift of appreciation from Michael Bianchino and Georgia Cameron, co-authurs of the book 'Mikey the Powerful Owl - Saving Byles Creek Valley'.


Graham with Michael Bianchino and Georgia Cameron.


Come away with us

WA Wildflowers with Angus Stewart

Let Australian plant lover Angus Stewart introduce you to the diverse natural wonders of southern Western Australia. Meet milkmaids, honeypots, green kangaroo paws and mountain bells in the wild, and catch the extravaganza of the Kings Park Wildflower Festival.


Fields of Mulla Mulla on the WA Wildflower tour.


Give a Jacaranda Cruise for Christmas

Our annual Jacaranda Cruises have become so popular that this year they all sold out before many of you were able to book. So popular in fact that we have decided to release 2017 tickets just in time for Christmas. Why not give a beautiful Jacaranda Cruise to the keen gardener in your life?


A great partnership. Sydney Harbour and the Jacaranda. Photo - Hamilton Lund


Join us on the WA wildflower tour or a glorious Jacaranda Cruise in 2017. Book now by calling Roslyn or Royce at Ross Tours on 1300 233 200, or visit the Ross Tours website.