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Radio Round Up July 2 - 3

After a late night watching the news we all need a bit of winter sunshine in the great out doors.

It's time to move the garden rabble-rousers on. So find a new home for your garden misfits and water with seaweed solution to encourage new roots.

And speaking of misfits, a pink hibiscus in full flower in the middle of winter isn’t what you would expect in a Sydney garden. But that’s exactly what is happening.


Hibiscus in full flower in mid winter? Photo - Graham Ross


It's time to do your July jobs.


Hellebores are classic woodland plants under deciduous trees such as maples and magnolias. They enjoy winter sun and shade in summer and are terrific in pots.

For easy-care, brilliant winter flowers try aloes in sun-drenched gardens or pots on patios. Birds and bees just love the long-lasting candelabra flowers.

Almost Australia-wide there’ll be wattle flowering now, bursting with glowing yellow blooms to brighten the dullest winter. Check nurseries for the best local selections.


Mid-winter is prime pruning time for plants that have finished flowering, such as summer hydrangeas and buddleia. Leave spring-flowering shrubs and trees alone until after their spring fling!

Unless you live in a cool area, remove half of the growth on repeat-blooming roses. Wait until August if you garden in the cold. Spray with lime sulfur after pruning to clean up insect pests, mites and fungal diseases. Leave the pruning of spring-only bloomers and climbing roses until late-summer.


Make hardwood cuttings from prunings of deciduous shrubs, climbers and roses. Use pencil-thick pieces, 15-20 cm long. Dip ends into hormone gel and insert into moist seed-raising mix.


Mossy lawns are a sign of soil compaction. Aerate the lawn with the tines of a fork or a hired lawn aerator for larger areas and follow with an application of liquid lime to ‘sweeten’ soil by reducing soil acidity and improve the uptake of nutrients.

Want more winter jobs to do in your garden? check out more here, It's Time To: July


Bush Garden

Eremophila, The Emu Bush

Eremophilas are a huge group on native shrubs commonly known as Emu Bushes or Poverty Bushes with all but one of the 206 species native to Australia but one found in New Zealand.

We see them on our Outback Safaris and Wildflower Tours in hot arid regions of Australia. We have always believed they had considerable potential in the home garden and those 80 or so species that have migrated to domestic landscapes have proved to be very popular.


Graham with the Emu Bush, Eremophila nivea


In the bush the leaves are either covered with millions of hairs, like E. nivea, or smooth, waxy and glossy, like E. denticulate, to cope with the harsh sunshine and exposed conditions.

In recent years nurserymen and plant enthusiasts have been grafting the various species onto Myoporum rootstocks or understocks to enable the plants to cope with the humid conditions and moist soils on the coast.

Eremophila nivea

Growing E. nivea successfully in the garden will require well-drained soil in a sunny location. It doesn’t take well to shade. In an ideal spot it will grow 2 m tall and 1-1.5m wide that, in time, can become open and loose in habit.

To keep the plant bushy and compact it is recommended to lightly prune the bush after flowering but never prune below where there are leaves.

Grafted plants are preferred for longevity in cultivation up to twelve years with the first six years being the best flowering.

The soft, hairy silver-grey leaves are an outstanding contrast in the garden or in a pot.

In late winter and throughout spring tubular mauve purple flowers appear adding to display.

There are many floral colour forms available with slight differences in the blue mauve colour shade. A white form is also available.

There are several excellent hybrid cultivars with E. nivea as one of the parents  including E. x ‘Eyre Princess’ which has dark grey-green leaves and masses of lilac-blue flowers, E. nivea x E. christophorii which is upright to 2.5m tall and wide with grey-green leaves and covered with lilac flowers. Grafted specimens have tolerated the heavier clay soils in the Sydney basin, and E. x ‘Beryl’s Blue’, with silvery grey short leaves and smaller lilac flowers than the species. It is also hardy in sandy to clay soils in full sun. Many experts believe this hybrid has great garden potential as it flowers later and longer than the species.

These photographs were taken at The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, NSW, and Austplant Nursery and Garden, 249 Purves Road, Arthurs Seat, Victoria, (03) 5989 6120. A segment filmed in this garden will appear on Better Homes & Gardens TV on Friday 15th July 2016.

For further reading on this very ornamental native plant group refer to “Australia’s Eremophilas – Changing gardens for a changing climate” by Norma Boschen, Maree Goods and Russell Wait, publisher Blooming Books 2008.



Citrus gall-wasp

Citrus gall-wasp is an insect pest becoming common from Cape York to Mornington. Where once it was predominately a pest of Queensland and NSW it arrived in Victoria following the eleven year drought. The insect attacks all citrus including lemons. oranges, mandarins and grapefruit and native finger limes by laying eggs inside the soft stems and branches.


Citrus gall wasp must be pruned off to control the pest effectively. Photo – Graham Ross



This photograph shows that the insect pupae or grubs are still inside the swollen gall housing the infestation. If there were holes on the enlarged stem section it would be an indication the adult insects have already flown off and escaped to infest other nearby citrus. This is common in late winter and spring.



There is no insecticide to control leaf-gall.

Pruning and removing all the galls and destroying them is the only effective method. Other than burning the stems you could place them inside a plastic bag and leave in the sun for a few months to allow insects to escape and die in the bag.

It is important to remove all galls even in this means severely reducing the trees branching. A recent campaign was launched in Victoria called Save Our Citrus. They are encouraging Melbourne residents to ‘Prune in June’, a very effective way to remind gardeners to rid their citrus of this insect.

Always fertilise and water the tree well after removing galls to encourage healthy regrowth.


In the Veggie Patch

Watch out for cabbage white moth, although I haven’t noticed too many in my garden this year. I have used nets on top of the bamboo arches constructed over the veggie beds, solar powered moth decoys are great too.

Feed your cauliflowers, and don’t forget to feed the leaves by watering with an organic liquid feeds.

Use a low-nitrogen fertiliser like Yates liquid potash for your peas to help with the development of pods.

But try and keep the big pests off your peas – the Grand Kids, that is…


Not too many peas making it to the kitchen these days. Photo - Luisa Brimble


Garden News

Arno King, why are so many things flowering out of season?

Best known for his articles in Subtropical Gardening Magazine, Gardening Australia and Garden Drum, Arno King is a Brisbane based registered landscape architect and registered horticulturist. He works on a varied range of landscape projects and teaches horticulture and landscape design in both Australia and overseas. Arno’s passion is planting design and the innovative use of plants in subtropical gardens.

Arno joined me on air this weekend and I asked him why so many of our plants are doing things quite uncharacteristic of the season. In Brisbane Arno believes perhaps the dry summer, and then bountiful winter rain falling recently has played a big part. Plants haven’t put on the usual summer growth, and were then triggered into growth late by the winter rain. Hippeastrums, eucaris lillies, etc, are all guilty of this unusual out-of-season behavior.

And this is part of a cycle Arno has witnessed over the years. You get these years in Brisbane, and it’s the temperate climate loving plants that thrive when it does.

Arno has recorded flowering of plants over the past 23years. He has noticed flowering 1 -2 weeks earlier than when the list began. Arno believes this effect is caused by the urban heat island effect and perhaps climate change.

We thank Arno for joining us on the Garden Clinic this weekend. Arno will be at the QLD garden Expo in Nambour next week, as will I. If you will be at Nambour for this year’s expo come and say hello at the Garden Clinic stand.


Come away with us

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.


For more information on this incredible tour go to the Ross Tours website, or call Royce or Roslyn at Ross Tours to reserve your place on 1300 233 200 for more details on the tour.