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Radio Round Up March 19 - 20

The rain has returned, summer is gone and Autumn has arrived. Showers are clearing down here in Melbourne and we’re looking forward to another great day at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show today

And it's not too late to come down to Melbourne this weekend. Why not head down to the Beautiful Carlton Gardens and enjoy this world class garden show. Otherwise, with the rain likely to be back tomorrow, it’s the perfect time to get out in the garden and get into autumn planting. So let’s get started.


A Melbourne tram pulls up outside the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.


It’s time to:


Autumn’s delicate bulbs, such as golden lycoris, pink or white belladonna lilies and storm lilies (autumn crocus, Zephyranthes) are reliable friends in the garden.


Green up

Spread fertiliser evenly over the lawn for a green boost through autumn.



Pot up a container of spring-flowering tulips, or, for a longer display, combine Dutch iris and freesias.

Have you discovered the ‘Mystic’ dwarf dahlias with dark plum-coloured leaves? We love them planted up with dwarf salvias.

Plant punnets of winter-flowering annuals for colour in the cool season. In dappled shade try cineraria, pansy and viola; in full sun go for poppies; and in pots choose polyanthus.



Treat the entire garden to a topping of organic fertiliser to revitalise soil and add essential elements and good bacteria.



Love-in-a-mist, foxglove, petunia and paper daisy and spring flowers easily grown from seed sown in situ now.



Trim geranium and pelargonium by cutting stems back by one-third.



Offer support to taller growing dahlias.



Break up clay soils by adding gypsum and clay breaker to hard clay areas. Additional cow manure will help attract worms to do some of the hard work and speed the process.


Last chance

Dig and divide clumps of tall bearded iris. This will revitalise them and encourage more flowers. Plant with rhizome on top of soil.


The Bush Garden:

One of my favourite native shrubs is the Willow Myrtle. I was reminded just how much I love it when our nursery partners here in Melbourne, Gardenworld Braeside, constructed a display for the Garden Clinic stall at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show this week. It has some of the varigated Willow Myrtle (Agonis flexuosa 'Variegata') looking great next to the burgundy Loropetalum 'Plum Gorgeous'. But it's not the only one. Willow Myrtle 'Lemon and Lime', and 'Burgundy' are also stunning.

The Willow Myrtle 'Verigata' is a very elegant native tree with weeping fine golden variegated foliage. Small white flowers grow on the branches in spring and summer. A fantastic specimen feature tree. A good native alternative to a Willow Tree


Agonis flexuosa 'Variegata' WA Variegated Willow Myrtle


The very dark purple foliage makes Agonis flexuosa 'Burgundy' an outstanding contrast plant in the garden. A reasonably tough and vigorous plant that makes a great feature or screen plant. It responds well to pruning, so can be clipped to shape. Best in a sunny spot in well drained soil. Feed with a good native fertiliser, like Bush Tucker from Neutrog, due for release later this autumn.


Agonis flexuosa ‘Burgundy’


Striking lemon-yellow foliage ageing to lime-green on a dense weeping small tree are the outstanding attributes of this adaptable form of Agonis flexuosa 'Lemon n Lime'. It makes a great street or feature tree to provide foliage colour-contrast and is particularly good for coastal areas. It is also virtually maintenance-free apart from the occasional removal of dead or dying branches.


Agonis flexuosa 'Lemon n Lime'



Look out for scale in your garden now. Scale are very common garden pests resembling tiny shell-like raised spots that stick to the stems of small trees and shrubs and feed by sucking sap. Scale species are as numerous as plant species and there is a scale for almost every plant. When in large numbers they can have a drastic affect the health of your plants. If they’re not controlled it won’t be long before the plant suffers and the black sooty mold begins to take hold as well.

But there is hope. A good combination of controls applied early to a little scale problem will knock them off before they become a big problem.

Check out the 'Backyard Buddies' from OCP. These are a range of beneficial insects, such as green lace wing and ladybirds, that you can purchase mail-order and release into your garden to control pests like scale naturally. Combine this with a regular spraying of pest oil or eco oil (But not white oil) at the first signs of scale and you can get the upper hand early. 


There is a scale insect for nearly every plant. Get on top of them early before this little pest becomes a big problem.


In the Veggie Patch:

We have pulled out the remaining summer crop from the veggie patch, we've been getting those beds fed up and ready to start planting. Now is the perfect time to get those winter veggies planted.

Why not plant some kale to enjoy this winter? There are so many different kale varieties now available, and you can often often get them in the same punnet. Best of all, if you plant it now it will still be producing next year.


Come away with us:

From Victoria to the Top End Ross Tours really has Australia covered this year.  Come join our Tours Talk on Wednesday the 20th April at the Garden Clinic Clubhouse Beecroft. Join Sandra for morning tea and learn about our Spring tours in Australia & New Zealand, NSW, SA, VIC and the Top End. Come and see why so many of our guests come back and travel with us again and again.

Our Victorian tour showcases Victoria’s finest gardens, at the best time of year with the best garden guide in the business. We’ll take you through the garden gate to meet the gardeners behind each masterpiece. See old favourites and exciting new creations plus Paul Bangay’s Stonefields and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s Cruden Farm.

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.


Paul Banguay’s Stonefields


Garden News:

Big win for gardening, Queensland and for Australia

It has just been announced in Vancouver Canada that the Australian submission to bring the 2020 international garden festival,

Australis, to Queensland, has been approved. This 6 month festival will dwarf the Sydney Olympics in terms of benefit to Australia. I'll be bringing you more information about Australis as it comes to hand.


A chat with Kim Earl

Kim had very big shoes to fill. Her garden at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show very nearly didn’t happen. The creator of ‘The Retreat’, noted English garden designer and plantsman, Paul Harvey-Brookes, had to pull out half way through the project after his partner became seriously ill. But rather than walk away from the project Kim Earl continued as a tribute to Paul’s vision. I interviewed Kim at the show on Friday and replayed our chat on the show.

Kim created the garden from Paul's initial perspective drawings. There was very little detail, only the overall vision, so Kim needed to make numerous adaptations. These included the coppiced eucalyptus planters in front of the timber 'Retreat' structure.

The cottage garden planting is spectacular incorporating natives that give the garden a dusty sun-kissed appearance. The perfect marriage of northern hemisphere design with Australian style.

I congratulate Kim on a job very well done under difficult circumstances.


Paul Harvey-Brooks designed garden 'The Retreat', was completed by Kim Earl and is on display at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show 2016.


Aussie Chelsea Champ to defend his title

Phillip Johnson is recognised as an Australian sustainable landscape pioneer. In 2013 Phillip’s design of the ‘Trailfinders’ Australian Garden, presented by Flemings, was unanimously awarded the highest possible honour at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show - Gold and Best In Show, making Phillip the only Australian to receive that honour.

After this achievement Phillip used a small portion of crochet poppies from the 5000 Poppies Project as part of Phillip Johnson’s poignant tribute garden at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show in March 2015.

Phillip’s collaboration with 5000 Poppies at the 2015 Melbourne Flower and Garden Show “Reedy Creek” was a spectacularly moving tribute to his great grandfather who was KIA in the Somme in 1914.

Phillip will be taking a similar design over to Chelsea this year, and it was a pleasure to talk to him about it on the show.


Phillip’s collaboration with 5000 Poppies at the 2015 Melbourne Flower and Garden Show “Reedy Creek”


The 5000 Poppies Project began as a small personal tribute by two Australian women to their fathers. It has become a nationwide outpouring of respect and remembrance to those who have served in conflict everywhere. The initial plan was to crochet a humble 120 poppies to “plant” around the 14/32nd Battalion’s tree in the Avenue of Honour at the Shrine of remembrance in Melbourne for Remembrance Day in 2013. By Remembrance Day 2013 more than 5,000 poppies had been contributed.

Phillip's new garden will incorporate the Royal Chelsea Hospital, which is inside the grounds of the gardens, and will include thousands of crochet poppies flowing through the garden. In fact, Phillip expects to have access to the 300,000 poppies that are held throughout Australia and New Zealand, commemorating local community sacrifice, taking the total to in excess of 500,000 poppies.

We wish Phillip all the best at the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show, and i personally look forward to be there and see Phillip's latest masterpiece first hand.


The poppies went on display en masse in Melbourne, Australia on ANZAC Day. Over 800 square metres of poppies were laid in Melbourne’s Federation Square.