Wishing you a fabulous festive season….

I really want to thank each and every one of you that have taken an interest in the Gardening with Angus journey. It has been a big year for me with my retirement from Gardening Australia and 25 years of gardening talkback on Sydney ABC radio, and a monumental sea/tree change to the farm in Tasmania. Whilst I have retired from the ABC, I have by no means retired from my love of bringing all things horticultural to a wider audience. The publication of my new co-authored  (with soil scientist Simon Leake) book Grow Your Own signals a new chapter of work I am doing on growing your own food, which is partly about bush foods, but also about using your own organic waste stream to create organic fertiliser to grow your own food at home, whether you are in an urban area or out on a 15 hectare farm as I now am. I am hoping you will come along for the Tasmanian journey where I will be literally growing my own as well as exploring the fabulous flora of Tasmania. For a little taste of Tasmania keep reading…..

Horticultural Therapy….

During November and early December I was busy travelling around the east coast doing events for my new book, Grow Your Own, and seeing family and friends for pre-Christmas get togethers, but it is so nice to be back on my own new little patch of soil in Tasmania again. Every day I’ve meant to get the newsletter happening, but have been feeling tired and mentally exhausted after a long year, as I can imagine many of you are also. So I’ve been spending time getting some horticultural therapy. Being in the garden or Mother Nature is a well known restorative for mind and body, so once the hectic round of Christmas festivities is done, be sure to make some time for whichever gardening or nature based is your favourite. Bush walking, creating a new garden, planting edibles to feed your family, admiring other people’s gardens, planting a tree for future shade/wood/fruit….there’s so many wonderful things to do to recharge your batteries! My choice last week was thistle chipping, and setting up my own growing systems for healthy home produce. More on ‘growing my own’ activities next newsletter!

The Three Capes Walk (part 1)

The second round of my therapy was a day long bush walk to Cape Raoul on the Tasman Peninsula. Many of you may have heard of the Three Capes Track on the Tasman Peninsula, which is rightly winning international tourism awards for the unique experience that it provides.

Cape Raoul Tasmania Three Capes Walk

Cape Raoul

Cape Raoul with its distinctive dolerite columns that resulted from ancient volcanic activity. It showcases three stunning capes (Hauy, Pillar and Raoul) that provide some of the most breathtaking views imaginable. The geology of the area is a fascinating mixture of volcanic dolerite pillars and sedimentary rocks such as sandstone and fossil-bearing mudstone. Plus, of course, some wonderful Tasmanian plants.

Callistemon pallidus from the Three Capes Walk tasmania

Callistemon pallidus from the Three Capes Walk

The flora varies from classic Australian eucalypt forest with an understorey of banksia, melaleuca and some more unusual plants such as the bushman’s bootlace (Pimelea nivea) and the beautifully coloured common pinkberry shown in the photo below. As you get closer to the coast you enter the low windswept heathlands where the plants are rarely above shoulder height, making for a typical ‘bonsai’ sort of landscape, dominated by twisted gnarly trunks of plants such as fringe myrtle (Calytrix tetragona) and yellow bottlebrush (Callistemon pallidus) in the photo above.

Leptecophylla juniperina from Three Capes Walk

Leptecophylla juniperina

Whilst the Three Capes Walk can be done as a 4 day/3 night bushwalking extravaganza, staying at award winning ‘eco’ cottages built by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, it is also possible to do independent day walks such as the one I did to Cape Raoul if you have less time. All up the Cape Raoul walk took my companions and I around 7 hours of reasonably strenuous walking up and down dale, but the rewards were certainly worth the effort and I would thoroughly recommend either option. We will bring you part 2 of the Three Capes Walk in our next newsletter as there is so much to talk about.

Christmas (or anytime) recipe

Lemon Myrtle Cheesecake Slice

A simple recipe for a tangy unbaked cheesecake, flavoured with my favourite lemon myrtle


10-15 sweet biscuits (depending on biscuit size)

1/2 cup of ground almonds or macadamia nuts for maximum Aussieness

90 grams melted butter


125 grams butter

3/4 cup caster sugar

250 grams cream cheese, room temperature

3 teaspoons gelatin plus 60 mls hot water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon ground lemon myrtle

grated rind of 1 lemon

Process biscuits and nuts together until crumb texture (coarse crumbs give a crumbly base, fine crumbs give a more dense base), add to melted butter, mix well and press into a square cake tin lined with baking paper, or into individual silicone cases. Refrigerate till firm.

For filling, dissolve gelatin in the hot water. Cream butter and sugar together till light and fluffy, add the cream cheese (needs to be room temperature), vanilla, lemon rind and the lemon myrtle and beat till combined. Don’t overbeat. Add gelatin and beat till fluffy and combined. Spoon onto crust, smooth top and refrigerate. Needs to be chilled for several hours. Cut into squares to serve, top with pearls of finger lime if you have them for extra zing.

Summer holiday ideas

The perennial holiday question is how to keep the kids amused. Rather than give the kids a toy that they will be soon bored with and that will go to landfill, how about heading to your local nursery and give them a plant of their own. Carefully chosen plants or seeds can be the start of a lifelong interest. And is a great antidote to the excesses of Christmas….. horticultural therapy for everyone!

I suggest not just taking them there and telling them to buy a plant, but to also give them a few ideas as to what their plant could do. A few choices-

  • an edible plant or packet of vegie seeds – perhaps with the aim of cooking their favourite dish at the end. Herbs are a quick one for pizza topping, a long term goal could be a tomato plant for spaghetti sauce, for example
  • a beautiful blooming plant – how about suggesting they paint a picture of it for mothers day? Or a packet of seeds to grow a flowering plant
  • a plant to attract wildlife – one for the future David Attenboroughs
  • a sculptural plant for those with an artistic flair –  foster a future landscaping whizz
  • a plant with scented flowers or foliage – plant their own aromatherapy area
  • your future living native Christmas tree – long term goal, but good for encouraging responsibility

….the choices are only limited by your and their imagination.  See what ideas they can come up with! If you have the space, give them their own patch to use as they want to. If you don’t have a big enough garden for their own plot, then a pot or long planter box that is their very own will also work.

We highly recommend our native plant nursery partners, who have wonderfully knowledgeable staff and great stock-

Sydney Wildflower Nursery

The Wildflower Place on the central coast

Newcastle Wildflower Nursery

Cool Country Natives in the ACT

Zanthorrea Nursery in Perth

Happy Christmas and New Year!