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Gardening Australia

Gardening Australia November 2020

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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

One of the best alarm clocks in the world would have to be the chatter of birds outside the window. When I moved into my current home a few years ago, it was rainbow lorikeets in the water gum on the verge that woke me the morning after moving day. They were absolutely shrieking – whether it was partying or squabbling, I couldn’t tell, but it was impossible to sleep through. I didn’t mind too much. If this was the soundtrack of my new street, I was digging the groove. Birds still squawk and play in my neighbourhood and garden, but I admit I wouldn’t mind seeing a more diverse line-up. While I love the lorikeets and magpies and honeyeaters, I feel stupidly delighted when the superb fairy-wrens fly in. Small…

2 min
on the shelf plants

If you need to hide an ugly fence or other eyesore quickly, new Viburnum odoratissimum ‘Quick Fence’ lives up to its name. The fastest-growing viburnum, it has mid-green leaves, reaches 4m high by 2.5m wide with bushy growth, and is ideal for narrow spaces. It likes a spot in full sun to semi-shade and tolerates light frost once established. For hedging, position each plant 1–2m apart. Sweetly perfumed white flowers appear in late spring. ozbreed.com.au These two new sunflower varieties are ideal for cut flowers or indoor displays, as they are pollen free and won’t make a mess in the house. Sunflower Supernova F1 is a tall, robust variety with single stems that reach 1.6m, while Sunflower Lemon Bling F1 has multiple lemon-yellow blooms and grows to a compact 45cm high…

2 min
on the shelf books

ADELAIDE HILLS GARDENS Christine McCabe Photography by Simon Griffiths Thames & Hudson Australia Twenty diverse gardens in the Adelaide Hills are featured in this book through exquisite images accompanied by introductory text. Most early gardens created in the region were based on memories of the owners’ European homelands. Over time, they have evolved to include vegetable patches, free-range chickens, sheep, and more climate-compatible native trees and plants. The stories are inspirational, and the photographs of the gardens in different seasons and at different times of the day or evening are mesmerising. GARDENING WITH DROUGHT›FRIENDLY PLANTS Tony Hall Kew Publishing This beautifully illustrated guide profiles more than 200 waterwise plant species and cultivars. Tony Hall from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the UK, draws on his 20-plus years’ experience working with drought-friendly and Mediterranean plants…

7 min
fresh as a daisy

Looking at a daisy flower, it’s easy to see its centre as the sun, and its petals as rays. Although it looks simple, the daisy is a latecomer in terms of plant evolution. In fact, it’s a complex flower in two parts. The outer petals, or ray florets, are designed to attract pollinating insects to the flower’s fertile centre. Called the disc floret, the centre is the business section – where bees and butterflies feed on nectar and carry pollen, and where seeds are formed Daisies are part of the huge Asteraceae family, formerly classified as Compositae, which includes about 1600 genera and more than 24,000 species. As well as being unified by their floral style, daisies all need sun or semi-shade, well-drained soil, and shelter from very cold conditions. Most daisies…

3 min
walking with dinosaurs

My favourite encounter with cycads in the wild was during a drive through Braidwood in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. Hundreds of them were sitting stout and proud under the dappled light of a eucalypt forest. Large, graceful, glossy fronds gently overlapped to form a lush, verdant understorey. With little water and zero attention – aside from awe-struck car passengers – they were thriving. It’s little wonder these elegant beauties have been adopted into our gardens. Cycads have been around for more than 250 million years. That says something about their tenacity, and is a testament to their ability to withstand the elements. Their striking architectural foliage and intriguing growth habits suit most garden styles, and even if your garden doesn’t tend towards a certain design, these plants just…

1 min
problem solver

Cycads are generally fuss-free plants. However, if the plant becomes stressed, sap-sucking pests such as mealy bug and scale can cause leaves to yellow and distort. Both insects can be managed by spraying with horticultural oil, or by dabbing the pests with methylated spirits in the case of a small infestation. If you have a sago palm (Cycas revoluta), be on the lookout for the larvae of the cycad blue butterfly, as the caterpillars chew on flushes of new growth, causing the edges of the leaves to become tattered and straw-like. To reduce damage, spray new growth with Dipel as soon as it appears. Poor-draining soil eventually leads to root rot, so amend this before planting (see 'Cultivation & care’ above). If the leaves are blackening or yellowing after heavy rain, root…