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Gardening Australia

Gardening Australia December 2019

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Australia’s number one monthly gardening resource, ABC Gardening Australia magazine is packed with step-by-step advice and stunning design ideas from its popular team of experts. Whether you are a novice gardener or have a green thumb and years of experience, you’ll find the advice you need.

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2 min

Last Christmas, I was given a potted gardenia – a beautiful, large-flowered ‘Magnifica’. Problem is, while it was in flower when I received it, and had a gazillion buds raring to go, the summer was hot and humid, and the buds never opened. The flowers basically cooked on the plant, despite it being in the prime gardenia-growing position in my garden. On the other hand, the smaller-flowered ‘Florida’ did perfectly well in the pot it has sat in for a number of years. So, I was very interested to read our expert’s tips for growing potted gardenias (page 18). Number one tip: grow ‘Florida’. If you want the big, flashy ones, put them in the ground. And how true is it that they’re “greedy pigs”? Feed them like you’re a Greek…

1 min

Add some romance to your small courtyard or balcony garden with the classic scent of gardenia. Suitable for containers, the recently released Gardenia augusta ‘Buttons’ is a compact variety that produces semi-double white flowers over glossy, dark green foliage in spring and summer. The shrub is self-shaping and low-growing (up to 1.5m high by 1m wide), making it great as a low hedge or fragrant border, too. paradiseplants.com.au New for home gardeners, the a-okay plum is PlantNet’s first release in its Backyard Boosters range. It contains even higher levels of the antioxidant anthocyanin than the commercially grown Queen Garnet plum. The health benefits of this pigment, which gives purple fruit and vegies their colour, are currently being tested. The a-okay plum is available as a potted plant, either as a grafted tree…

2 min
on the shelf books

A HOLLOW IS A HOME Abbie Mitchell, with illustrations by Astred Hicks CSIRO Publishing This is a visually appealing and informative children’s book about the world of tree hollows and the 340-plus species of Australian animals that live inside them. Graphics and close-up photographs accompany facts about the birds, frogs, mammals and reptiles that rest, nest or hide in hollows. Included is information about how hollows are created, and why they are threatened, plus guidance on encouraging habitats for hollow-dependent animals. There is also a section about how scientists locate hollows and collect data on the creatures that use these spaces. The book is aimed at children of primary school age, to teach them about the flora and fauna in their environments while inspiring them to help reduce biodiversity loss. MISTLETOES OF SOUTHERN…

2 min
what’s on it december

VICTORIA Daily Plants for Your Place 11am or on demand (except Christmas Day, when the gardens are closed). Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Cranbourne Gardens, cnr Ballarto Rd & Botanic Dr, Cranbourne. (03) 5990 2200. $8. Guided walk with plenty of expert tips to help you find Australian native plants that are suitable to grow in your garden. rbg.vic.gov.au 1 ST Melrose Open Garden 10am–4.30pm. 33 Clowes St, Malmsbury. 0472 997 880. $8. Mediterranean-style garden (pictured) created by Deborah Hambleton around an 1860s bluestone cottage in central Victoria. The overall design is a harmonious blend of formal, symmetrical, romantic and wild elements, incorporating ornamental and productive plants, local recycled materials and artefacts from overseas. opengardensvictoria.org.au 10 TH The Botanist and the Distiller 5pm–6.30pm. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens, Birdwood Ave, South Yarra. (03) 9252 2429. $30.…

3 min
not simply red

Every December, pots of poinsettias appear for sale in florist shops, garden centres and chain stores, and are featured among the tinsel and glittering decorations in retail outlets. With its vibrant red blooms, the poinsettia has become the universal flower of Christmas, and therefore big business for the nursery industry. But there’s more to the poinsettia’s hold on Christmas than the traditional red colour of its flowers. Native to Mexico, poinsettias bloom in winter, which is when Christmas falls in the Northern Hemisphere. But they also check another box, which makes them such a darling for nurseries: poinsettias flower in response to short day length. While the shortening of daylight hours (and lengthening of nights) happens naturally in the lead-up to winter, it can also be brought about artificially to control…

4 min
white christmas

We’ve all been seduced by a well-grown gardenia at the garden centre, and figured it would make the perfect potted addition to our home. Who doesn’t have a spot that wouldn’t benefit from a potted gardenia, such as at the front door to welcome guests, on the back patio where its perfume can be enjoyed on lazy summer days, or in troughs as an informal hedge? However, the reality for many is that it doesn’t take long for the gardenia to yellow, drop leaves and curl up its toes. Gardenias in pots can be difficult, but if you follow my no-nonsense tips, you’ll have glossy green foliage and fragrant flowers all summer. 1. Size really does matter A potted gardenia needs room to develop a decent-sized root ball. In a small pot, the…