Category Archive: Gardenworld News

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.

A new florist to welcome in Mother’s Day.

It is with absolute pleasure that we introduce our new florist Blair Edwards to Gardenworld.

Blair has a passion for flowers and has been putting together beautiful bouquets here since January. Prior to that he had a florist in Chelsea, so is well know by some of our regulars.

He studied under Dot Humphris and has also featured works in The Melbourne Flower Show and has done wedding, funeral and corporate work. You can also buy simple bunches and arrangements at good value prices. There is also a range of vases, soft toys, cards and works by featured artists on display.

So if it is a big bunch of flowers you are after, Gardenworld Designer Florist is now open at Gardenworld. Open every day between now and Mother’s Day.

Hours after Mothers Day: 9am – 5pm Thursday to Monday. Although closed Tuesday and Wednesday, bunches will still be available for purchase from the nursery.

A major revolution in mulch is here.

Here is a new mulch that was developed by the proud 4th generation farmer and agronomist Sarah Curry. It was back in 2009 and she was pregnant with her first child at the time and was thinking how messy and time consuming mulching can be. Those bales can also be very dusty – what else could she use – the mind started ticking……..Major's MulchIntroducing lucerne mulching pellets.

They are heat treated to sterilise any weed seeds and compressed into a pellet for easy application. Once wet they swell to 3 times their size and settle around plants and don’t blow away like traditional mulch can. These mulching pellets also act as a soil conditioner adding organic nutrients to the soil in addition to conserving moisture.

Because the lucerne hay is compressed into a small smooth pellet, there is no harmful dust or spores.

100% Lucerne Mulching Pellets are simply 100% organic plant material, which will break down over several months, releasing mineralised nutrients into the soil, enriching natural organic soil nutrient levels used by plants to produce flowers and fruit.

Adding organic nutrients to your soil is recycling the way nature intended

The products are packaged in 10kg recycled paper bags (multi-walled with a plastic internal layer) that has a wax coating to repel moisture. They need to be stored under cover but can handle some moisture. Less plastic means less waste.

Mulching Pellets are also available in 3kg Balcony Bags that have a carry handle which are ideal for small area gardens or mulching a few pots.


Simply spread over the soil surface so the pellets are just touching, one layer thick, and thoroughly wet to saturation point. Over a few hours the Mulching Pellets will swell to 3 times their size and crumble to form a beautiful fluffy thick layer over the ensuing days. Replenish as required.

Major’s Mulch also make a Complete Compost which is a rich blend of sheep manure, lucerne hay and small amount of wheat straw composted for 4 years. Its is pure organic matter ready to boost any garden soil. 

About the farm:

Majors Mulch is sustainably produced on our family farm “Major’s Point” on The Bland, near Quandialla in South West NSW. If you’ve ever driven from Melbourne to Brisbane, you would have driven quite near it while going through West Wyalong.

The Bland is an area of rich fertile sedimentary flood plain country where the Burrangong and the Bland Creeks meet (and occasionally & spectacularly spread out!)

 Local legend has it, that Major Mitchell whilst surveying “The Levels”, as he called it, became trapped by rising flood water and was stranded on a small rise now known as “Majors Point”, our home.

For more information, have a look at the very beautiful website………

Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fibre, and land reclamation.

Velociraptor carves out a home at Gardenworld

By James Wall

Brandon Kroon is not your average young man. Although he is an artist, his paint brush is a chainsaw. Although he creates beautiful sculptures from wood, it is not obtained without the noise and drama of a Stihl chainsaw.

We have just loaded his latest carving on to the Gardenworld truck and head in for a coffee at the The ‘The Storehouse’ in Mount Evelyn. This part of the world is famous for its local nurseries, including native plant nursery Kuranga. The Storehouse sells all sorts of local produce, nuts and spices and features local artists. It also does a damn good coffee.

Brandon has been displaying some his carvings there for the last few months. Some of his other carvings, the rest of the world never actually sees, as quite often he is asked to come out to a property and work on a piece of wood that a client has saved for such an occasion.

We talk a bit more about wood, including cypress pine. A lot of them are suffering from dieback which I explain to him is from a canker caused by fungal spores. These are carried by the wind, water droplets or insects. It affects a large range of species. Ironically, this has actually kept Brandon incredibly busy, as a lot of these old dieing trees on farms still have very usable wood and the cypress wood is great for chainsaw carving.

It was in the National championships in January this year where our giant raptor was created. With contestants from all over the world, the standard was high. Although Brandon didn’t win the event, he is considered by many in the industry as an up and coming young gun.  The log he drew did have a bit of rot in it, which he had to work around. Obviously, the width of the wood limits design extremes. Of course it’s not just done with a chainsaw. A lot of the finer details are finished on tools like Dremels, and other wood working gadgets. To me the highlight is the eggs  that the raptor stands above. They add a bit of drama, and remind us that these bird related dinosaurs were hatched from eggs.

Once tied down in securely in the truck, it was back to the nursery. A couple of staff commented on the smell of the wood. They picked it was cypress. It was something I hadn’t noticed until now, but that unique woody smell was definately there.

Velociraptors existed some 75 million years ago. They grew to about 2 metres high, the same sight as this wonderful wood carving that has found a new home and is now on display with the rest of the dinosaurs at Gardenworld. Clive Palmer, eat your heart out !


Brandon Kroon

The Storehouse Facebook Page

We Love Indoor Plants

By James Wall

We love indoor plants, or any sort of plant that can in any way be grown inside a house, for both pleasure, and to clean air. 

One of our more creative staff members, Greg, has just planted out 10 classic indoor plants in 10 classic pots. 

Pansy flowers perfect as a garnish.

If the food in The Gardenworld Cafe was not already delicious by itself, today it was beautifully garnished by our chefs. They have used freshly picked pansies – plants from the viola family. Pansy flowers are actually edible and are sometimes seen in salads,along with other edible flowers such as nasturtiums and calendula. This time they have combined them with sprigs of rosemary, to make the perfect garnish. It is a simple idea for your next dinner party.

The cafe is open 9 to 5, seven days a week and has a huge range of both sweet and savoury dishes, The sausage rolls and gourmet pies are baked in house, along with most of the main meals. The selection of cakes includes an amazingly tasty vanilla slice !

Pansies also make great pressed flowers which can be used on gift cards. Of course the big old phone books used to be perfect for this, but you ca also buy a flower press.

Pansies are in full flower right now, but you won’t find that many for sale in the nursery because the little seedlings are best planted the autumn and winter to be flowering at their best right now. You can buy them in advanced pots for some instant colour.

Update: In 2015 edible flowers are a growing industry and much of the demand is being driven by high end restaurants such as The Fat Duck while it is here in Australia. Read about a successful edible flower grower on the ABC website.


Local Tip: Get to the cafe before 12.15 for lunch and you are almost guaranteed a seat. For large groups, bookings are advised. Call Dani on 9769 1019.


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