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Garden Radio Round Up February 4 - 5

With light rain and cooler temps on the way we'll be getting out in the garden.

It's time to plant something special and get ready for autumn. Lets get things started


Linda busy planting.


It's time to: Plant now

In the Temperate zones

Sow seeds of calendula, delphinium, pansy, viola, poppy, primula and stock for display in late winter/spring.

Fuchsias are reliable in semi-shaded gardens or in pots. Newer varieties are long flowering and more compact.

Swap stressed or poorly performing potted plants for heat-loving succulents. The wide range of colours and textures offers myriad creative combinations.

Add delicious summer fragrance to the garden: choose from frangipani, gardenia, orange jessamine, star jasmine or stephanotis.


In the Subtropics

Try amaranthus (Chinese spinach) and basella (Malabar spinach). These plants thrive over the warm, wet summer months. Sow seeds direct and thin as they mature, or plant seedlings. Amaranthus quickly grows to one metre. Harvest young shoots regularly to develop a bush. Malabar spinach can be treated as a ground cover or grown up a trellis.

Reduce the risk of fungal problems by growing cherry and currant tomato varieties over the summer months. The thicker skins of the fruit make them less prone to fruit fly too. Provide plants with a frame or trellis on which to grow.

Check you’re not cooking your vegetables - before you harvest them! Raised garden beds, particularly those with metal sides, can heat the soil, and hinder productive plant growth. To reduce the risk plant groundcover plants around the planter edge to insulate and shade sides from the sun. Try sweet potato cuttings, or sambung (Molluccan, longevity) spinach.

Plant trees for shade, shelter and screening. Plan before you plant as poor decisions can be costly. Consider the desirable height and width; evergreen or semi-deciduous leaf habit; flowering or perfume. Research some options and talk them over with knowledgeable nursery staff or horticulturists.


Want more info on late summer jobs to do in the garden right now? Head to the article: In The Subtropical Garden: February, and It's Time To: Temperate Gardens in February.


Ixora. Photo - Arno King


Bush Garden

Many of the native plants we talk about in the Bush Garden segment each weekend in the radio are sadly no longer readily available in garden centres.

Ordering them in from your local nursery would be an ideal way to source these beautiful plants. When we research the industry and often discover wholesale nurseries, those producing the volume of plants for retail garden centres, are growing our selections they are being propagated but not always picked up by garden centres. So we recommend you ask your local garden centre to get them in for you. It builds relationships between customer and retailer.


Stunning and unusual. White Hardenbergia. Photo - Linda Ross



I had a call from a gentleman last week describing a mass of black beetles staining outdoor furniture, and enquiring about an insecticide that could help. I was certain at the time that this was army beetle. My advice was to leave them and they disappear on their own.

What will not go away by itself is fungal disease. Hot, humid weather is when it takes hold and when your plants are most suseptible to it. Spray plants, especially vine crops like zucchini, cucumber, squash and melons with a safe, organic control like Eco-fungicide. Don't forget to re-apply after rain.



What's new

Big flowers and fragrance

Big flowers and big fragrance on a compact form is the allure of ‘Jupiter’, a new gardenia from Paradise Plants. Super-dense, with deep green foliage and tidy growth to just 1-1.5m high, it’s great for low hedges and large tubs. The highly scented flowers are perfect for picking.


Jupiter from Paradise Plants


New book from designer and plantsman, Michael Cooke

Landscape designer and plantsman Michael Cooke creates beautiful gardens that feature elements of wildness balanced by order, inspiring the title of his new book, Disobedient Gardens, with photographer Brigid Arnott. Five gardens that have matured to develop character and depth are presented, including Michael’s own. Murdoch Books, $60.


Disobedient Gardens by Michael Cooke, with Brigid Arnott. Cover courtesy of Murdock Books


Start your list: Collectors Plant Fair tickets on sale now

Collectors Plant Fair moves into Hawkesbury Racecourse at Clarendon on April 8 and 9. Once again more than 70 specialist nurseries will be selling the plants you can't get anywhere else, and sharing all the information you need to grow them. Put the date in your new diary, tell your friends to do the same so you can meet up for coffee and cake, and start making a list of what you need, and what you'd love.

Get your Collectors Plant Fair tickets now and beat the que on the day. Go to or email for group bookings.


A treasure to be found around every corner at the Collectors Plant Fair. Photo - Daniel Shipp 


Come away with us

2017 Tours Morning Tea

Join the Ross Family on Thursday 9 February at 10am for morning tea and a talk on our 2017 tours, at the Garden Clinic Clubhouse; 83 Beecroft Rd, Beecroft (5 mins walk from the railway station). Our 2017 tours include:

Scotland & Wales & the Hampton Court Flower Show in July,

This new tour includes public and private, grand and intimate, walled and wooded gardens in Northern England, Wales and Scotland. High summer brings exhuberant borders, a flourish of roses and spectacular weather for sightseeing.

Gardens of Canada in July,

From vibrant Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island in the west to Quebec in the east, this grand tour across Canada is timed for high summer when flower borders reach their peak and snow melt swells the rivers. Stay in Vancouver, Victoria, Montreal, Toronto, Niagara Falls and Quebec City. Spectacular scenery!

Gardens of Italy in September

Renaissance and Baroque Italian gardens are extravagant exercises in philosophy, mythology, allegory, mathematics and theatre. Put them alongside Italy’s cities, art and gelato, add the unique camaraderie of a Ross tour and you have an unforgettable experience! Stay in Rome, Florence, Venice and Stresa.

and Mexico & Cuba in November.

Home of the frangipani, dahlia and chocolate! Delve into ancient pyramids of Aztec & Mayan civilisations, experience traditional foods & share the colour of Mexican life. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City & the Yucatan. Enjoy Hemmingway’s Cuba, Havana and Vinales.

Check out the full 2017 programme of tours on the Ross Garden Tours International website.

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


The stunning gardens of Isola Bella, on Lake Maggiore, Italy