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Garden Radio Round Up NYE 2016

Relief from the heat is on the way for Sydney, Brisbane may have to wait a little longer.

We're welcoming the new year in the garden and nursing our delicate plants through to the forcast rain on the way.


Little green frogs come out to play in Linda's summer garden. Photo - Linda Ross


Its time to


Azaleas need a trim after flowering to promote compact, disease-free growth. Remove tall, irregular, sucker-like growth that can cause the shrub to become leggy.

Cut back may bush (spiraea), removing the oldest canes at ground level to encourage arching waterfalls of new growth.


Hydrangea and agapanthus give a cool look to the Christmas table. To make hydrangea last longer, pick early in the morning and submerge the flower heads in water for an hour before draining and arranging.


How are the hoses? Fittings need replacing? When not in use roll the hose into a neat coil to avoid trip hazards and preserve the hose. Retractable hoses make the job easier.

Last chance

Mulch the garden before the summer scorchers arrive.


Bush Garden

Backhousia citriodora Lemon-scented Myrtle, Lemon Ironwood, Sweet Verbena Tree

Native to the coastal forests of south-eastern Queensland and northern NSW.

An ideal tree for a garden or courtyard as it has narrow upright habit to 6-8m on a short clear trunk. Canopy can be up to 2-3m wide. Occasionally seen as a tall shrub.


Backhousia hedge in coastal NSW. Photo - Graham Ross


Suitable for Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, the Top End to the Tropics and all protected areas in between.

Leaves are a dark green and filled with translucent oil glands possessing a strong lemon scent when bruised or when rain falls.

Flowers in between November and February during summer, in a large inflorescence, or flower head, filled with whitish-cream petals and stamens and a sweet honey perfume. The flowers are very attractive to insects and birds.

Insect and disease free.

Named after Englishman, James Backhouse, a nurseryman, plant collector and Quaker missionary.

Today all Australia native trees are being investigated or re-investigated for their pharmaceutical and medicinal properties.

Scientists at Charles Sturt University NSW discovered what aboriginal communities have known for thousands of years and that is the Backhousia has excellent antibacterial properties and very efficient anti-fungal activity. Far greater than the well-known Melaleuca Tea Tree.


Backhousia in full flower. Photo - Graham Ross


This research began over a hundred years ago in Dresden Germany when it was noted that lemon scented leaf oil of Backhousia was a very high 90-97% citral content.

A company around Eumundi, north of Nambour in Queensland distilled oil from the leaves in the early 1900’s and exported it to the USA and it was used by troops in the Pacific as a replacement for lemon essence.

The Backhousia leaf oil also has strong germicidal qualities, found to be double the benefit in killing salmonella than Eucalyptus citriodora, the Lemon Scented Gum.

In scientific tests the Backhousia has a co-efficent rating of 16 where Lemon Scented Gum scores 8.

Amazingly the germicidal properties of Lemon Myrtle is found to be 19.5 times the power of the disinfectant Phenol.

At a time where natural therapies are being researched and given greater respect then before the oil of the Backhousia is being used in foodstuffs, perfumes, food flavourings, confectionary and aromatherapy. The leaves are used in cooking, or infused and made into a tea.

Today it is recognised as an antiseptic, anti-viral, calmative, sedative and corrective. A virtual therapeutic powerhouse, but the oil should be kept in the dark or refrigerated and never heated.



The Garden Good-guys

The best bug watchers you can have at your place, and a reliable indicator of a toxin-free garden, are native frogs and lizards.We have created the perfect environment for them and continue to garden with native frog and lizard habitat first and foremost in our minds. The results are very rewarding.


A very pregnant skink in our Sydney garden. Photo - Graham Ross


In our garden big skinks (and yes, she's pregnant) feed on large insects and keep the numbers of native frogs under control by feeding on tadpoles. The frogs fill all the available water-wells in the garden feeding on mosquito larvae. And then there is the big daddy of them all - an old blue tongue lizard, devouring the slugs and snails.

This is our garden year round - no snails, slugs or insects at ground level and next to no ground spiders. A chorus of frog song on summer nights rivalling Kakadu, and very happy lizards everywhere controlling pests for free, and without the need for chemicals.


The big daddy of them all - an old blue tongue lizard

In the veggie patch

Another bumper summer crop of cucumber, tomatoes, and climbing beans this year in the veggie patch. What's the secret of our success? the summer tunnel.


It's cheap and easy. Graham ties the fencing mesh to the dried bamboo arched over the pathway between two garden beds. Photo - Luisa Brimble


Cucumbers, tomatoes and beans all need to be protected from fungal spores in the soil over summer. By encouraging these plants over the tunnel we give them maximum sunlight whilst keeping the foliage off the ground away from the humidity and the fungus within. The elevated mesh provides ventilation and makes it easier for pollinators to get in and out of more flowers meaning more fruit.


Come away with us

Gardens of China & National Peony Festival

On the 2017 Gardens of China tour you will 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.


The Temple of Heaven - Day 5 on your China tour 2017


China is one of our longest-running international tours, and full of incredible highlights from the birthplace of modern horticulture.

The 2017 tour includes the National Peony Festival on day 7 where you can snap photos of thousands of divine ruffled petals of peony flowers on show. The peony, huawang, is the floral symbol of China – breathtaking!

Come along with us in April 2017 and join our tour leader and expert horticulturist, Paul Urquhart on the China tour. Book now by calling Roslyn or Royce at Ross Tours on 1300 233 200, or visit the Ross Tours website.