Queensland Garden Expo

I had the privilege of being asked to be a guest speaker at the QGE at Nambour in July. The subtropical climate and the wonderful enthusiasm of the gardeners that attend is always inspiring.

One of the things that caught my eye there was a display by Bill Haszard of Willina Worms, based on the NSW north coast. In particular, Bill had a display of Banksia ‘Giant Candles’ that apparently was grown by one of his neighbours, my old mate Brian Parry. Now ‘Giant Candles’ is always an eye catcher thanks to its large flowers, but these blooms surpassed anything I have seen from this variety.


The secret to these big bad banksias was said to be the use of worm tea as a liquid feed. My instincts as a horticultural scientist would have been that a brew like that would be too rich in phosphorus for banksias. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say. I have always had sensational results from using the liquid from my worm farm on my kangaroo paws so will now start trialing it on banksias and grevilleas as well!

It was also great to catch up with Nick Hansa of Fairhill Native Nursery at Yandina in Queensland. This is an iconic nursery that has created many fantastic native plant cultivars over the decades such as Xanthostemon ‘Fairhill Gold’ and they have wonderful gardens as well. Pay them a visit if you are on the Sunshine  Coast.

Get started with worm farms so you can do your own natural feeding trials-

Worm farming for beginners

How to make an inground worm farm


Landscaping With Australian Plants

I am very pleased to announce that we have added a ‘Landscaping’ section to my website, look for the button on our home page in the navigation area. Having written ‘Creating An Australian Garden’ to celebrate the emerging concept of an Australian garden style, I felt it was time to add some inspiration on garden design to the website.

We will be featuring garden designers and landscapers who champion their own concepts of Australian garden style such as Kath Gadd of Mallee Design, and Russell Pearse of Ecolibrium Landscapes. Illustrations of their fabulous handywork will go up on the website in due course and I am keen to feature the work of other landscape professionals. Please let us know of people doing great Aussie garden work that you may want to share with us.

My new range of ‘Tall and Tough’ Gardening With Angus kangaroo paws has been released this year to give gardeners some long lived varieties that can be used to create stunning, colourful garden borders.

Have a read of my introduction article for the new landscaping portal- Landscape Designing With Australian Plants

Banksias and Kangaroo Paws in the Snow

I had a wonderful email from my friend Fiona Johnson from her Cloudy Hill garden near Blayney in the NSW section of the Great Dividing range near Bathurst. Fiona lives in one of the colder parts of Australia and her garden is obviously a wonderful testing ground for the ability of Australian plants to withstand frost and snow!

I was particularly interested in her comments on how her kangaroo paws perform in such a harsh environment.

To quote Fiona:

‘The late kangaroo paw flower stems which held so much promise in autumn collapsed with the first heavy frosts in June and all kangaroo paws in the open garden are now just clumps of black leaves. these I will leave until early spring when I will cut them to the ground. Hopefully they will shoot away with the warmer weather and the Eastern Spinebills and I will once again enjoy their extraordinary flowers’

Bushcare’s Major Day Out and Winter Flowers at Catherine Hill Bay

I am loving my bushwalks around Catherine Hill Bay. It is a superb region with a particular feature being the coastal heathlands which, at the moment, are lighting up with all sorts of treasures. The grass trees are absolutely going off as are the Correas.

A fire almost two years ago has completely rejuvenated many areas and it certainly has stimulated flowering in the grass trees which are alight with nectar feeding birds such as Eastern Spinebills and New Holland honey eaters. Spring is upon us, folks, so plan some nice bushwalks and enjoy the journey!

If you have not yet heard about Bushcare’s Major Day Out then have a look at their website and see if there is a site you can get involved with. The idea is to get people thinking about what they can do to keep and enhance the biodiversity of which we are custodians. Get involved!