Check out the latest nursery and gardening news, trends and new products in the Australian Nursery and Gardening industry from experts, nurseries, garden centres, manufacturers and associations on Top4 News.
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Clever gardening hacks you need to try!

Clever gardening hacks you need to try! | Gardening |

What other tips do you have for your fellow green thumbs?

Bicarb soda can make home-grown tomatoes taste sweeter

Nothing beats homegrown tomatoes. They’re always full of flavour and sweeter than the store bought ones. By simply adding a small sprinkle of bicarb soda to the soil around your tomato plants you will lower the acidity levels in the soil, resulting in sweeter tomatoes. But be careful to not sprinkle any directly on the actual plant.

Need an impromptu watering can? Make one out of a milk bottle

Ever had a nasty crack in the bottom of your watering can and needed a substitute fast? An empty milk bottle is a great fix as lids are generally easy to pierce. Take a sharp object like a knife, pen or scissors, place the lid on a breadboard and poke a few holes in it. Then fill up the bottle, lid on and off you go!

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Lush gardening: getting green in the subtropics

Lush gardening: getting green in the subtropics | Gardening |

My thumb is not very green. I appreciate lovely gardens, but struggle to create them. With the passing of each season, I admire competent gardeners more; yet I am no further progressed with learning botanical names or the care needs of plants.

My surprising saviour has been moving states. I have discovered, to my delight, that gardening in the subtropical band that spans from Sydney to Brisbane suits my limited talents much better than temperate Melbourne.

I love gardening in the lush subtropics for four reasons:

Nature over nurture: Subtropical gardens are sturdy and robust. Plants tend to look after themselves. Indeed, what they need is containment. This suits me, because I can do the hackwork of gardening – I can weed, mulch and cut back growth. In summer, when mowing is needed every two weeks, I’m less keen. But for the rest of the year, the garden can be attacked when I have the time and inspiration. This suits me so much better than Melbourne gardening, which is all about nurturing. I am no good at raising fledgling plants or tending to fragile shoots, especially in an environment where a few days of missed watering can lead to kissing even established plants goodbye, and where the focus needed to raise new plants is akin to having a new pet.

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Gardening: grow your own pineapple with a bit of patience

Gardening: grow your own pineapple with a bit of patience | Gardening |

Pineapples are easy to grow in Sydney gardens, they just require some patience.

The rough end of the pineapple is Aussie slang for a raw deal, but for gardeners the rough end of the pineapple is a bonus as it promises more pineapples.

Pineapples are members of the extended bromeliad clan, and the fruit forms atop a red and purple flower spike. To grow them you only need to cut the top off, strip the lower leaves, let the cutting harden off for a few days, then plant into a pot filled with potting mix. Keep the soil moist until the cutting is well established and a couple of handspans tall, then move it to garden bed or large pot.

This ease of propagation is the reason hybrid pineapples, bred for extra sweetness and low acid, are sold with their tops cut off. They are grown under license and removing their tops before distribution prevents unauthorised growing.

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David Eng planted his feet and his vegetables

David Eng planted his feet and his vegetables | Gardening |

David Eng has lived in Glen Waverley for 45 years and has made the home, and particularly the garden, his own.

Forty-five years ago I bought a house in suburban Glen Waverley for $30,000. All that could be seen looking north from High Street Road towards Burwood Highway was vacant land dotted by pine and gum trees.

There was a rural feel about it. In the intervening years, this has become my home, my place. The only thing that has changed about my place over the years is my backyard. 

Once it was lawn for my young children to play on. Now it is a big vegetable garden. It is the body and soul of my place in all seasons.

During the warmer nine months of the year, the vegetables I plant increase in variety and by January they are in full bloom. I like planting sweetcorns because they look like small picturesque trees reaching for the sky.

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Last word: Losing the plot in the garden

Last word: Losing the plot in the garden | Gardening |

I GREW up in suburban Tasmania when everyone had a couple of fruit trees, a few chooks and a veggie plot. Even my dad Charlie Sr would muck around with some spuds, carrots and peas, though his heart was never in it.

I suspect he was really down the backyard having a quiet smoke and avoiding the old girl. To me, the proof he lacked a passion for our quarter acre of heavy Launceston soil was the fact he called it “dirt”.

On Saturday afternoons, Dad and I would go to the movies at The Star Theatre in Invermay. Back in the ’50s, westerns were all the rage and cowboys would express their contempt for cultivators who were fencing off the open range by calling them “dirt farmers”. Those cowpokes, and my Dad, really needed Launceston’s Peter Cundall to introduce them to the idea that soil wasn’t “dirt” and could indeed be “good enough to eat”.

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Nature’s bounty in uni garden

Nature’s bounty in uni garden | Gardening |

AN abundance of fresh vegetables and herbs are ready for the picking in Joondalup.

The Edith Cowan University student garden is bursting with produce, but those involved said many people did not know it existed.

The garden was established in 2013 by the student guild and Enactus ECU to create a space for students where they could plant and harvest their own food.

Student Ngaire Powell has helped manage the garden since it was built and said she enjoyed getting her hands dirty.

“It’s something people don’t always do in their day-to-day lives,” she said.

“There’s something really satisfying about planting something, watching it grow, then taking it home and eating it.”

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From Christmas plants to water iris ideas - your weekly gardening tips

From Christmas plants to water iris ideas - your weekly gardening tips | Gardening |

Water Iris

FOR gardeners with water features or ponds, summer is the season to plant or replant feature plants. Water irises are always a lovely addition, especially when you can buy them now in full flower. Our two most reliable types locally are Iris ensata, the “Japanese Iris” with predominantly blue flag flowers, and Iris pseudacorus, known as the “yellow flag”, with a wide range of yellow and golden flowers. 

Adorable abutilons

I WAS asked to plant a garden recently with flowering plants that flower all year round. So I suggested “how about lots of Abutilons?” We settled on a few, and other flowers that flowered in various seasons. Seriously though, abutilons do flower all the time, so, if your garden lacks seasonal colour, here is your solution. 

Christmas asters

THERE is a range of small white flowering perennial daisy-like plants that nurserymen call “Christmas asters”. They make compact plants with spires of flowers to 70cm tall and are dominantly white, while the lilac types, called Michaelmas daises, flower much later, in our winter. 

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The poetry of flowers, Australian natives and sketching designs are all covered in these new releases

The poetry of flowers, Australian natives and sketching designs are all covered in these new releases | Gardening |

Sometimes reading about gardening feels as good as doing it. Especially when you're on holiday and it's hot outside. Here's our pick of the best new reads for summer armchair gardeners

Television presenter, radio broadcaster and author Angus Stewart leaves no mode of communication untouched when it comes to spreading the word about Australian plants. For years he has been encouraging us to try callistemons rather than camellias and his latest book – written with previous collaborator A.B. Bishop – takes us around the country looking at how "native plants have come of age".

The two lead us through both natural landscapes and private gardens leaving no stone – or basalt boulder – unturned. Gardening for bushfire, attracting birds, caring for soils and the benefits of planting stock "much deeper in the soil than is normally considered wise" are some of the topics covered.

Matters of design are a central thread and Stewart and Bishop believe "the Australian garden" is evolving into a unique style in its own right – one that is relaxed, reminds us of where we live and contributes to the local ecology. But, as they also acknowledge, an Australian garden can mean something different to all of us, which is where the book's garden profiles prove so interesting.

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The power of floral fragrances

The power of floral fragrances | Gardening |

I RECEIVED a pleasant shock recently. I had wandered sleepily into the garden not long after sunrise — most plants were still covered in dew — and I was hit by an almost overpowering wave of sweet fragrance.

It came from a widespreading Mock Orange shrub (Philadelphus, ) growing close to our driveway.

It was covered with hundreds of drooping white flowers, the weight dragging the long, slender branches almost to the ground.

These plants are incredibly tough. A couple of years ago ours had spread so widely it was blocking half the driveway. I was forced to get stuck into it with secateurs. But, as this proved too tedious, I did the brutal thing and chainsawed off the lot, just above soil level.

After carting away half a truckload of debris, the area looked devastated, though nowhere near as devastated as the look on my wife’s face when she saw what I had done.

The renewed vigour of the plant and masses of new growth helped repair some of the physical and emotional damage. Now it’s flowering better than ever and is still dense enough to suppress all weeds.

This is a frost-hardy plant that looks great and, in most cool districts, never needs feeding or even watering. Mock Orange plants are so easily propagated from cuttings (each about half the length of a knitting needle and taken at any time of year) that great bundles can be shoved into the ground and almost all form roots within weeks.

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Create a tropical garden at home

Create a tropical garden at home | Gardening |

If you’ve ever yearned to laze away your weekends in a lush tropical garden of vibrance and greenery, don’t give up on the idea. You can do it right here in Melbourne, well, almost.

You might not be able to experience quite the same balmy winter temperatures as Noosa or Port Douglas but with clever planning and planting you can soon be sipping on a Pina Colada while enjoying your own similar ‘tropical’ paradise.

It’s all about setup and good selection, choosing tropical-look plants with bold colours and lush evergreen foliage. And there are a surprising number of these plants to do the job in our climate.

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Summer garden guide

Summer garden guide | Gardening |

Sabrina Hahn shares her top 10 tips to help your garden beat the heat.

We have certainly had a taste of summer already this year, and it’s a gentle reminder to get the garden into survival mode while we still have time.

Hot easterly winds, hours of burning sun and dry soil put the whole garden under stress, including native plants. Luckily there are a few strategies to put in place to ensure your garden endures the next four months.

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Butterfly gardening

Butterfly gardening | Gardening |

As the weather warms, some of the delights of my garden, aside from the wonderful plants themselves, are the birds, bees and the butterflies. For many gardeners in urban settings, they feel that there are far less of these than there were when they were children, especially when it comes to butterflies. While this may possibly due to the fact that they were more observant when they were a child, there are many factors that have contributed to an overall decline in butterflies. The use of chemical pesticides and herbicides has a big impact on butterflies and it is ironic that gardeners love butterflies and yet often hate caterpillars. They forget that you cannot have butterflies without caterpillars, and if you want to attract butterflies back into their gardens it is necessary to accept some leaf chewing and damage for a greater benefit.

Butterflies add beauty and delight, and can be encouraged to be regular guests in any garden if you design it, or at least part of it, for them. Here are the basic design principles to designing a butterfly garden.

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Gardening: secrets of the hoya, fragrant fairy disco ball

Gardening: secrets of the hoya, fragrant fairy disco ball | Gardening |

Make the most of this fragrant fairy disco ball with a few expert tips.

Hoya kerrii 'Sweetheart' is a favourite for baskets for its distinctly heart shaped leaves. It also has pale pink flowers and "flowers its guts out", according to Wes. 'Hoya Bella' has pointy foliage and pink-starred, white fragrant flowers. In its native North India it cascades from the crooks of trees, and looks stunning hanging from a pot.

Hoyas are mostly epiphytic (they grow harmlessly on other plants) and like growing in a tight spot. They should only be potted up when totally root bound, and then only into a pot the next size up. They don't need much water, and only in the growing season, not in winter. A warm season regular feed of weak foliar fertiliser promotes growth and flowers, but the real trick to encourage flowers is enough light. They prefer morning sun and the dappled light under trees. You can often find them, not always named, at Bunnings and at garden centres, but it's better to buy from the experts.

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Flower ideas for your summer garden, lettuce growing and pond health

Flower ideas for your summer garden, lettuce growing and pond health | Gardening |


CLEMATIS has a reputation for being cold climate climbers with stunning summer flowers. While they certainly thrive in our cooler hills climate, they can be the perfect fill-in plant on the plains too. Especially when planted in semi-shade so that they can climb to flower in a sunny aspect through trees. Most are deciduous and I find a slab of slate at their base provides the necessary cool root run and moisture conservation to see them thrive.

Tomato dusting

I SEE so many folk who grow tomatoes, only to have them succumb at this time of year to tomato russet mite (TRM). The reality is, unless you are prepared to dust weekly with a tomato dust, which is mostly fine sulphur, better not grow them at all! The tell tale signs of TRM are dying lower leaves and yellowing of the fruits, which are tasteless. St the most advanced stage the fruits form into solid scabby totally inedible balls.

Small Garden Ideas's curator insight, January 12, 2016 3:39 AM
Great tips to try out for summer gardening
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Nature-strip vege garden plan to bloom

Nature-strip vege garden plan to bloom | Gardening |

The ACT government plans to change the rules in the coming months to encourage people to grow food on their nature strips, but has not released details on how it would work.

Currently, anyone wanting to plant out the nature strip must provide a detailed sketch plan, to scale and including trees, watering systems, landscape features, common and botanical plant names and locations, types of mulch and other materials. Trees are only approved if they match the character of the street.

Plants must be no higher than 2 metres above footpaths, and foliage must not cause a line-of-sight problem for vehicles or pedestrians using driveways, intersections or footpaths.

In bushfire ember zones and other areas vulnerable to bushfire, the rules ban broadscale mulch, trees with stringy or fibrous bark and tussock grasses. And despite what you might see all around you in the suburbs, it is illegal to park any vehicle or trailer on a nature strip.

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Heide's walking tour, a biodynamic workshop and the launch of a national gardening council

Heide's walking tour, a biodynamic workshop and the launch of a national gardening council | Gardening |

Australia's first nationally recognised body for gardening, the Australian Garden Council, was launched in Canberra in November with the aim of improving the status of gardening as both a hobby and a profession. The council's founder, gardener Graham Ross, says he wants the outfit to "reinstate gardening on to the national agenda" by promoting gardening, gardening tourism and gardening education.

He would like to see more gardening apprentices, more comprehensive educational training standards, better career planning and more co-ordination between amateur and professional gardening groups.

The council has a board of 15 people, including David Glenn from Lambley Nursery, Tim Entwisle from the Royal Botanic Gardens and gardening writer Trevor Nottle.

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IN THE GARDEN: How to grow tomatoes

IN THE GARDEN: How to grow tomatoes | Gardening |

Growing tomatoes in our climate seems to be getting more and more difficult. Every second person you speak to has a tale of watching their once lovely tomato plants shrivelling before their eyes, even before they have had a chance for a single tomato to pass their lips. 

That has to be seriously disappointing and would make you think twice about ever growing your own tomatoes again. So what is happening? 

In my opinion we are living in a particularly disease-prone area and our soil preparation isn't always particular enough, although this is 'key' to success.

Tomato bushes are gross feeders and respond best to a constant supply of nutrients and moisture. Well composted animal manure should be incorporated into the planting area a good six weeks prior to planting and moisture levels must be kept even, although often we let our tomato bushes run out of moisture and get the droops before we turn on the hose and flood them.

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Gardening: Eat Your History looks at Australia's edible past, from 1788 to the 1950s

Gardening: Eat Your History looks at Australia's edible past, from 1788 to the 1950s | Gardening |

From mutant peaches to wild hibiscus tea, a new book delves into Australia's edible history.

Sydney's colonial-era summers were awash with peaches. They were so plentiful, "growing spontaneously in every situation", as William Charles Wentworth put it, that they were heaped into piles and used as pig feed. The pigs especially enjoyed them fermented. The locals fermented them too, converting peaches into gallons and gallons of good times.

So how did peaches go from being the "most abundant and useful fruit in the colony" to a fruit rarely seen in a Sydney backyard? This is one mystery food historian Jacqui Newling is yet to solve. Newling is the resident gastronomer at Sydney's Living Museums and knows an awful lot about what people here have grown, cooked and eaten over the years. The fate of the backyard peach is so far unsolved, though she does have a theory about all that peach cider. She reckons mutant fruit, caused by incomplete pollination, was tossed into the ferment barrels. Most peaches are self-fertile and will fruit without help, but pollination is much better with bees. Honeybees weren't successfully established in the colony until the 1830s, suggesting many a mutant peach in Sydney's early, cider-swilling days.

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Gardening: kangaroo paw, our fuzzy furry friends

Gardening: kangaroo paw, our fuzzy furry friends | Gardening |

You don't have to grow certain kind of gardens to enjoy these native beauties.

Kangaroo paws are hot in California. In coastal gardens they share the sun with succulents, salvias, agapanthus and other heat and salt-hardy plants. But here at home, instead of welcoming their fuzzy furry textures, bold, long-lasting colours and towering height into any garden, we tend to categorise them as belonging in a native garden, at home with grevilleas and banksia. It's a habit that drives Angus Stewart crazy.

Stewart has been breeding kangaroo paws for more than 35 years and reckons he is finally starting to see a change in how local gardeners use them. "We've been giving our native plants this status as natives, and they've not been seen as garden plants. There's been this idea that a proper garden is English in style, and perhaps there's a bit of cultural cringe about including natives in that mix."

The English-style flower garden has always been cheerfully multicultural, featuring plants from around the world. Stewart thinks we are finally taking the same approach, making choices based on colour and form and texture and what a plant can add to our enjoyment of the garden rather than where it comes from.

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Village garden idea blooming

Village garden idea blooming | Gardening |

SUPPORT for a community garden in Chidlow is growing daily after two local teenagers planted the seed for the idea to blossom.

ABC Gardening Magazine’s Young Australian Gardener of the Year for 2014 Ana Daw (19) and 15-year-old Kieran Telfer suggested that an outdoor space to share would greatly add to village life.

Ana’s mother Emmanuelle said local people had responded positively to the proposal and the Shire of Mundaring was supportive.

“As the Chidlow Progress Association (CPA) was making plans for the village green at the time, we figured it was the right time to suggest a community garden,” Mrs Daw said.

“There is a great deal of interest from the local community and the CPA has taken the Chidlow Community Garden under their umbrella.”

Mrs Daw said Shire of Mundaring community engagement facilitator Tamara Clarkson had helped the group find a suitable location on the village green, opposite the Rosedale Road intersection on Thomas Road.

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Historic frangipanis brought back to life after Cyclone Marcia

Historic frangipanis brought back to life after Cyclone Marcia | Gardening |

A Rockhampton horticulturalist delights neighbours by lovingly bringing two frangipani trees back to life after Cyclone Marcia.

The trees, which had been growing in the front yard of Renae Richardson's Davis Street property since at least the 1940s, were uprooted when the destructive weather system ripped through the central Queensland city on February 20 this year.

Ms Richardson could do nothing but watch as her beloved trees were blown into the gutter.

"[I was] eagerly watching out the window with all the trees blowing and the only thing I was thinking about was the roof not flying off," she said.

"So when they suddenly fell over I started crying because of all the work I'd put into the garden and those trees were just looking so beautiful.

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Vibrant hues bring Christmas cheer to the garden

Vibrant hues bring Christmas cheer to the garden | Gardening |

EVEN with the warm/hot weather having arrived, I’m sure everyone will agree that this is just a wonderful time of the year.

All of our very colourful trees, shrubs and annuals are bursting into flower, proving there can be no better place on earth to celebrate the wonderful Christmas season.

Wherever you look there are flowers ranging from daisies, petunias, and nasturtiums to frangipani with their magnificently perfumed flowers, bougainvilleas, purple or pink tibouchinas and many delightful natives including kangaroo paws, ivory curl and firewheel trees and so much more.

Where else in the world can you imagine such an extraordinary range of flowers coming up to Christmas.

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Love Your Garden: Protecting your plants from the summer heat

Love Your Garden: Protecting your plants from the summer heat | Gardening |

I don’t want to be a pessimist but how hot has it been lately? And there is talk that we are in for a very hot summer. Now that’s great if you’re sitting around a pool with a cocktail in your hand reading a book but not great if you’re working in the heat or trying to get a garden established.

Heat and dry winds can knock about even the most hardy garden plants and shrubs but there are a few things we can do to limit the damage and keep the garden growing.

Mulch is the first step and the easiest way to cool your soil. It reduces evaporation and keeps the roots of our plants cooler. Even a couple of degrees could be the difference between just needing to water them and buying new plants.

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How to create a wonderland garden in a terrace house

How to create a wonderland garden in a terrace house | Gardening |

Small spaces are always testing but single-fronted-terrace back gardens really take the cake. Narrow, shady, overlooked by the neighbours, underlaid with utilities pipes – the challenges are endless. I know because I have one. So has Anne Atkins, only she had the brainwave of introducing an arched black steel frame over hers.

Almost 15 years on and her Fitzroy garden is a rampant, green version of her living room. Climbers, shrubs, perennials and annuals are layered all the way up to her second storey. Just as her house is teeming with vintage clothes, 1920s crockery and fairies, the garden is all Chilean jasmine and climbing roses tangling with honesty, nicotiana, ferns, foxgloves and silverbeet.

Only four metres wide and about 10 metres long, this garden is almost entirely composed of plants. Don't be fooled by the chandelier suspended above, this is not an outdoor-entertaining backyard but one predominantly experienced from indoors.

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Make your Christmas happy with flowers

Make your Christmas happy with flowers | Gardening |
GOOD news from Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens that 500 new native shrubs and trees have now been planted in the Whipbird Walk and Village.

This inspiring new area is also being closely watched by other botanic gardens throughout Australia to see how they could have something similar.

The Friends of MBBG, who gather to work every Tuesday morning, at this stage are hoping it will be ready for use by Easter.

AMONG the many colourful and different garden items at present is the bleeding heart vine - Clerodendrum thomsoniae, also known as Glorybower.

A delightful sub-tropical plant from West Africa, it has shiny large green leaves all-year round, then bursts forth with its lovely white flowers and scarlet corollas catching the eye.

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