Category Archive: Gardenworld News

Best second year apprentice award goes to Heidi Brooks

Recently,  Swinburne University of Technology held their Apprenticeship Awards Ceremony.

Our own Heidi Brooks was nominated for Best 2nd Year Apprentice of the Year 2015 Nursery Award.

……..And we are pleased to announce she won !

Heidi has shown consistent aptitude and a willingness to learn. She has had big shoes to fill with 2 previous award winning former apprentices working at Gardenworld.

Heidi is a well respected team member and and has incredible plant knowledge for someone her age. Next time you are in the nursery, you can be confident of getting the right information and advice courtesy of our highly trained horticulturalists, including our recent award winner Heidi Brooks. Congratulations !

Proprietor James Wall, Heidi Brooks and General Manager Jason Hilborn at the awards night.

Proprietor James Wall, Heidi Brooks and General Manager Jason Hilborn at the awards night.

A Melbourne garden in March

By James Wall.

Walking around the nursery, it seems there is a lot to be done. There are a whole lot of plants that prefer to be planted at this time of year and we are determined to plant as many of these plants as we possibly can. Of course the daylight lengths are also getting shorter, so it’s time to get a wriggle on.

The list of plants that I would like to plant this month are wide and varied. Some we will eat and some we will enjoy in other ways. Like all things in nature, some plants will prosper, and some will fail. Let’s just hope more of them succeed than not. Some of the plants include:

foxglove

Foxglove – if you want them to flower in spring, now is the time to get them in. Their large leaves are lush and their tall flower spires make a spectacular backdrop. Available in punnets now.

Daffodils – once you have them growing, they will reward year after year. Available in lots of interesting creams and yellows, but the King Alfred are the all time favourites and perform well in Melbourne. Available as bulbs.

Garlic – planted now, a bulb can be broken up into around 8 cloves, each one growing into a new bulb. Multiply that again in a year and you could have 64 bulbs – what a return on your investment. Plant in March and April to get some good growth before winter and then in spring, watch them fly.

Pansies and violas – great value if planted now as they will perform strongly for many months. Pink shades are one of the best performers. Buy quality seedlings, as you will get better results from these stronger varieties. Stay away from Can Can and Giant Butterfly as these old varieties are not disease resistant.

Broccoli – it’s an Australian staple and quite easy to grow. Spray with Yates Success to control white cabbage moth larvae from chewing your leaves.

white onions and purple garlic

Onions – are one of the highest yielding crops per square metre, mainly because you can plant so close together. White onions are usually the first to be planted, but follow up with red or brown if you have the room.

Delphiniums – the vivid blue flowers in spring won’t happen if you don’t plant now. This is an old fashioned perennial garden plant and is not as readily available as it once was.

delphinium - plant seedlings now so they look like this in spring

 

 

Sweet Peas – don’t forget to sow them on St Patrick’s Day (March 17th) and follow it up with a Guinness, if that tickles you fancy.

The rewards in spring are well worth the effort. Great for climbing up posts and walls.

If planting in dry sandy soils, soak the seeds overnight in warm water. If the soil is moist, this is not necessary.

The best way to grow sweet pea is from seed. Just stick your finger in the soil and drop in 2 seeds. Plant 10cm apart.

The month old seedlings seem really slow like they are not doing much but then all of a sudden they will burst into frenzied growth and reward you with spring flowers. Truly a spectacular display when in full bloom.

Jobs in the garden for March, include feeding fruit trees, especially those you have harvested from in the last six months. Feed gardenias, and any other shrubs that look a bit faded in the leaves. This may even include native plants in which we recommend native fertiliser as it contains less phosphorus. Try the new Bush Tucker from Neutrog.

Lots to do and so little time. Throw in the Melbourne Flower Show from the 16th – 20th March and it truly is a great month for garden lovers. Ok, so we probably won’t get it all done, but then as all gardeners know, you never get it all done – there is always something to do in the garden – and that’s the way we love it.

Bulbs :

 Anenome. Daffodils, Dutch Iris, Freesia, Hyacinths, Jonquils, Tulips, Ranunculus

Flowers :

Aquilegia, Calendula, Cineraria, Delphinium, Hollyhock, Foxglove, Linaria, Nemesia, Pansy, Primula, Polyanthus, Poppy, Viola

Vegies & Herbs :

Beetroot, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Coriander, Garlic, Lettuce, Leek, Parsnip, Onions, Oregano, Radish, Turnip, Thyme

A Melbourne garden in February.

By James Wall.

It’s a celebration of flowers in the month of February. Hibiscus are blooming, as are dahlias, geraniums, sunflowers, fountain grass and even some golden oldies such as cleome and gaura. A lot of plants are at their peak, enjoying the long days of sunshine. Here is a piece about my observations this February.

Cleome - the "spider flower"

What weird summer weather we have had. The odd scorcher, and then three cool days in a row. The plants are in shock, as are some of the humans. Thank goodness I paid the neighbours teenage son to water our garden, while we were away, because quite frankly these extremes can really be a drain on any garden. The Rapid Soak wetting agent has been really effective in my sandy soil and the row of lilly pilly have really responded well to its application. They have shot up new growth all over them. I think a little bit of Troforte fertiliser may also have helped.

You can still plant now, but attention to detail on the watering is imperative. It is actually a good time to nurse a new tree through, as the consistent autumn weather will soon be upon us and a newly planted tree or shrub will thrive during this period, have time to prepare itself for winter, and then really take off in spring. I have recently put in some Acacia Limelight, and although it has been a struggle to keep them moist, they are now getting some good growth on them, and soon they will require much less care.

Pennisetum - Fountain Grass

If your wisteria is sending out berserk strands of growth, stay on top of them or they can get into the roof and be a real menace. Also prune and shape murraya, box hedge and lanky citrus branches. Perennial plants can also be shaped and undercut to keep them in their own space and let others around them thrive. I have just pruned the tips of those lilly pilly and this will encourage dense, bushy growth.

Also deadhead roses, dahlia, geraniums and any other finished flowers so as promote the development of a new flush of flowers. Even some of my African Daises are spot flowering again after doing this. If any of these plants have yellowing or faded leaves, give them a liquid feed with Seamax fish and kelp formula to give them a real kick. Pick off fully yellow leaves.

Gaura - the "butterfly flower"

Turn the compost heap to ensure the process will reward you with something to use in autumn. Flush some water through the worm farm if you have one as this will freshen it up. Check to see if the bottom compartment could be emptied onto the garden and continue the process by returning the tray to the top.

Start thinking about broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and cabbage because soon it will be their time. Sow seeds now, or get the next batch of short compact seedlings that are looking ready. Lettuce will absolutely fly if planted now, as will spring onions, carrots, silverbeet and beetroot. Even a batch of snowpeas from seed are worth getting going.

 

Pretty soon the days will get shorter and cooler. Our goal now is to get as many plants through the extremes of the tail end of summer, so they can enjoy what is soon ahead. Please come and visit us at the nursery. It is a quieter month for us, and therefore a good opportunity to pick our brains about any garden questions you may have. Yes, we know you also shop at the big chain stores – but don’t forget your local nursery – we’re here to help you !

Chris and the Australian Training Awards.

One of our apprentices, Chris Henbery, represented Victoria in Hobart last Thursday. He was a finalist in the Australian Apprentice of The Year award.

Chris flew down on the Monday and spent three days of interviews, tours and dinners. The tours included a visit to the famous Mona Art Gallery, a true Hobart must do.

The Gardenworld contingency included seven people including staff and partners. The evening was held at Princess Wharf 1, right on Hobart’s waterfront. The meals included a high proportion of Tasmanian produce which were of a particularly high standard.

Chris did not win the major award, but handled himself with absolute professionalism and maturity. We are all very proud of everything he has achieved and look forward to his continued high standard of work at Gardenworld – hopefully for many years to come. Well done Chris !

The giant agave that took 20 years to flower.

Thanks to Collector’s Corner, we have some pretty amazing agave here at Gardenworld.

One of them is this massive Agave parryi hybrid. The original variety was native to New Mexico, Arizona and northern Mexico.

Generally the flower colour will be a pale yellow, but being a hybrid, we are not quite sure what colour this one will be yet.

This huge flower stem has taken 2 months to get to this size and will take a full 12 months to flower from start to end. At one stage it looked like a giant asparagus spear. Now it looks like something invasive out of Dr Who.

The plant has taken 20 years to flower.  This one is currently higher than our flag pole and is located near the cafe. Please don’t get too close – it has massive spikes – and for that reason we don’t recommend it for a conventional home garden.

Sadly, it is a terminal flower, which means the plant will probably produce a few pups at its base, and then die.

 

 

Chris does it – Victorian Apprentice of the Year

Last night at The Crown Palladium, Gardenworld’s very own Chris Henbery was named the 2015 Victorian Apprentice Of The Year. 

Chris Henbery - Victorian Apprentice of the Year 2015

It capped off three wonderful years of combining study with work.

Mike Callaway, horticulture teacher at Swinburne University at Wantirna, praised Chris’s exceptionally high standard of work and knew he would have a great chance to win the award. “It’s a great result for Chris, but it also a great result for the horticultural industry.”

James Wall, owner of Gardenworld Nursery said,  ”We knew Chris had exceptional people skills very early on. He then worked extremely hard to build up his gardening and plant knowledge in a very short time. Tonight we are very proud of his achievement”.

Knowledge is a big part of horticulture and it is shared learning of gardening experiences that facilitate this. Thanks from Chris goes to all the staff in the nursery who have provided him with answers when needed, and for the guidance from General Manager Jason Hilborn who some 16 years ago started as an apprentice at Gardenworld himself. 

It was commented that the judging was extremely close and Chris just edged out the other three contestants which were from the carpentry, hairdressing and commercial cookery industries. 

Chris left a previous career in banking and to become a mature age apprentice which with a young family, comes with it’s own challenges. He now sources many of the quality plants found at Gardenworld and one day hopes to own his nursery – we hope he does – but is at Gardenworld for a few more seasons yet !

Come in and say g’day to our apprentice of the year. Chris is currently working Monday to Fridays, and would love to talk to you about the plants in your garden. 

James Wall (proprietor), Chris Henbery and Jason Hilborn (General Manager).

Chris Henbery a finalist for Apprentice Of The Year

Gardenworld is proud to announce that our very own apprentice Chris Henbery has made the final of The Victorian Apprentice Of The Year award. Chris has already won awards in the faculty of horticulture, but now he is up against the best of the rest.

Chris has a real passion for plants and will go out of his away to explain the key points about a particular variety. He has knowledge of a huge range of plants and now sources many of the plants for our nursery Not bad after 3 years ! We wish Chris the best and hope he is around for a few more seasons yet. You can vote for Chris in the Community Choice award here. We find out how he goes on August 28th.

The main award is given to recognise the hard work and achievements made within the vocational education and training sector. It is there to recognise outstanding achievements and contributions made through studying and in the workplace. It is open to all industries state wide, such as plumbing, electrical, carpentry, engineering, horticulture etc. All applications are assessed by a judging panel of industry experts in the first round and are scored and ranked against award criteria. The top scoring applications from all industries are selected and then assessed by a second judging panel. The top four applicants in the state are selected and are finalists for the award and attend finalist interview, which Chris was selected for. He attended a panel interview with 4 industry experts, and the winner is selected on this final part of the process. The winner is announced on 28th August at the Awards Ceremony.

The winner receives a $10,000 study fellowship and competes in the Australian Apprentice of the Year category at the Australian Training Awards in Hobart in November. As a winner, you represent the vocational training sector as an ambassador along side the Victorian Government.

 A message from Chris:

This is a career that I am extremely passionate about and love. I started a mature age apprenticeship in 2012 and have enjoyed the challenge of a new career and balancing work and study. I feel that I have been given a fantastic balance in an apprenticeship of work and school life, and the whole program has been supportive and has given me a great base for my future career. Other work and study achievements that contributed to becoming a finalist are; Bronze Medal in my student garden at MIFGS 2013, NGIV Apprentice of The Year 2013, Swinburne Outstanding Nursery Apprentice 2012, NGIV Scholarship 2012, Knox Rotary Award Finalist 2015, Swinburne Student Achiement Award 2014.

I feel privileged and honoured to be a finalist in the Victorian Apprentice of the Year, and would be proud to represent a fantastic industry in Horticulture (Nursery), one that provides great careers, but also provides something great for our customers too in products, service and the joy of growing plants.

More information:

Message from the Premier Daniel Andrews

Article about Chris from the Herald Sun website

A budding gardening celebrity is born !

By James Wall.

There she stood talking to the camera. Hands waving about like a true gardening celebrity. By goodness, it was our budding young work experience girl, who became our award winning apprentice and is now our highly respected full time horticulturist who also writes a gardening blog on the side. Introducing Bonnie Marie Hibbs.

It was with smiles on our faces that we watched an advertisement being filmed at Gardenworld last Friday. Smiles because it was our own staff member Bonnie Marie in the ad. The ad was for Grow Better, our potting mix and compost provider. The last few years have seen us sell more and more of the Grow Better products including Terracotta and Tub potting mix and Black Gold compost. Made in Ballarat, we think the Grow Better products are very good.

Look out for the ads this spring on Channel 9. They will be telecast during The Garden Gurus – Saturdays at 4.30 pm.

In 2012, Bonnie Marie was awarded the Victorian Apprentice of The Year. She currently manages the seedling department at Gardenworld and also writes a blog called The Gardener’s Notebook. A passionate gardener, we think she has a great future.

The Gardener’s Notebook

Grow Better website

A Melbourne garden in winter.

By James Wall, Gardenworld.

It’s time to get off the couch, sharpen up the secatuers and face up to winter head on. There is so much that can be achieved – and when the wind is not blowing too hard from the south, Melbourne is not really that cold at all. Later, you come back inside and feel you have really earned that cup of tea. You may even bring in a few treasures for the kitchen such as a handful of spinach leaves, a lemon or two and a big bunch of coriander. Winter is here and it’s go go go.

Shape deciduous ornamental trees and shrubs now, removing inward crossing branches and cutting back lanky bits. Apart from apricots, it is also time to prune back deciduous fruit trees so as to control their size and improve branching. This means less fruit but of bigger size. It also means netting and harvesting is easier. Don’t cut the little spurs off that jut out from the branches as fruit will form on these.

July is a very busy month at Gardenworld as we sell hundreds of bare root trees. Included are dwarf fruit trees which can be grown in pots and are much easier to net. They are the same variety of tree but are grown on dwarf root stock. They are available in apricots, apples, peaches, plums and nectarines. Also this year there is a new tree from Fleming’s called a ‘chum’. It is a cross between a cherry and a plum. We still have some good stock available.

Still some good trees available.

It is important to spray peaches and nectarines with a mixture of copper sulphate and lime. This is known as the Bordeaux mixture. Back in the 1880’s, French Botany professor Pierre Millardet of the University of Bordeaux noted that vines closest to the roads did not show mildew, while all other vines were affected. After inquiries, he found out those vines had been sprayed with a mixture of copper and lime to deter people passing by from eating the grapes, since this treatment was both visible and bitter-tasting. This led Millardet to conduct trials with this treatment and he published his findings in 1885, and recommended the mixture to combat downy mildew and other fungal diseases.

Weeds in the lawn have just sprouted. Commence your plan of attack now and you will be rewarded with a weed free lawn in summer. I like manually removing them, but it is tedious work and I am glad I have my Back-Joy Kneeler, my best friend while performing this task. There are also some good selective herbicides that will kill the weeds but not your grass. You will however need to use a different one for buffalo grass.

Hydrangea quercifolia is a favourite plant of mine. Known as the oakleaf hydrangea its leaves have just turned orangey red before falling and will reward you with creamy white spring flowers. It is best grown in a more shaded part of the garden. Prune traditional hydrangeas now, if you haven’t already done so. Also prune canna lilies almost to the ground and tidy up other perennials.

In the vegie patch, plant more of the fast growing leafy greens as the older batches will be getting towards the end of their tether. Go for broccoli, onions, broad beans, leek, spinach and silverbeet in particular. If you love your Asian recipes, go crazy with coriander, which you can direct seed into the soil. Sprinkle 20 odd seeds per hole.

It really is a great month for deciduous plants. Look at a plants structure while it has no leaves. There is an element of beauty, especially at the first sign of new shoots. Now that we are past the shortest day ,the days will only become longer, the plants will respond and it will be great to see just how alive this world really is.

May in a Melbourne Garden.

By James Wall

We have been watching the citrus trees with great interest lately. There are lots of orange and yellow fruit starting to ripen. There are mandarins, oranges and lemons aplenty. The Japanese seedless mandarin hasn’t fruited this year, but the Imperial has done well. The important thing right now is that the trees do not dry out as this will affect the quality of fruit. Also, if they look hungry, feed with something like Thrive fruit and flower. This will help fatten up the later fruit. Fresh orange juice here we come!

 

Plectranthus Mona Lavender

For flower power, the Plectranthus Mona Lavender is looking sensational at the moment. It takes a shady spot and rewards with masses of lavender coloured flowers.

There are leaves starting to fall, but I see this as a positive. The trees are shedding some baggage so as to better survive the winter. Its loss is our gain, because leaves make a wonderful mulch. To speed up the process, you can run the mower over them just to break them up a bit. In a month or so, add some chicken pallets or blood and bone to really speed up the whole compost process. By late spring, this stuff will be like black gold.

Our worm farm got a makeover the other day. We took out the lower tray, picked out some of the worms to put in the newly added top tray and then packed the castings around the base of some fruit trees. The juice was diluted and watered onto plants. This was all long overdue, and I couldn’t believe the weight of the tray. I guess every night’s vegie scraps have been going in there religiously – it just amazes me how much these worms churn through. In this day and age, there is really no excuse for adding this stuff to general waste – we have enough of that as there is.

I am going to feed a section my lawn this week and will be using fast acting Troforte Rejuev8tor. Our big Wolfhound called ‘Wolfie’ has worn out a few patches this last year, so Iam using this fast acting fertiliser that adds live microbes which will assist in making more nutrients available to the grass. The little balls are not coated which is why they will act quickly. I am careful not to use my hands, as moisture on them may trigger off the remaining microbes in the pack. Once watered in, these microbes will start acting immediately.

 

Perfume Princess

One of the exciting new plants coming out this year is Daphne Perfume Princess. It has large pink springtime flowers that clothe the stems of this robust shrub and fill the garden with an exquisite perfume. ‘Perfume Princess’ is well worth the wait, forming a medium sized shrub with an attractive rounded habit. We have had a few batches in, but they are selling fast. 

Also look out for a Corydalis Blue Line – a really nice little blue flowering shrub. It has interesting foliage and is one of those rarer plants that has a blue flower.

 

 

 

Grampas Weeder

Weeds have become a bit of a nuisance all of a sudden. There are some less toxic sprays around, including some with salt and vinegar and some with pine oil. It is good to use these rather than just the glysophate based weed killers all the time. Glysophate is the chemical in Zero and Roundup. If we use this everywhere all the time, you can be sure that some weeds will evolve and become resistant to the chemical. What do we do then? All chemicals should be used sparingly and carefully so as to keep your family healthy, and keep the environment healthy. Also try using the famous Grandpa’s Weeder – its perfect for flat weeds like dandelions.

I’ve just cut back a few scrappy perennials, liquid fed the garlic and planted some more spinach and Italian parsley. There are a few beetroot to harvest and some big chunky broad bean seeds to take their place. The baby banana plants I cut off the sides of the big plants are potted up  and look like they may survive. Life rolls on in the garden and I am enjoying this moment.

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