Category Archive: People

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

Green micro-breaks’ could boost work productivity.

Forget siestas, ‘green micro-breaks’ could boost work productivity

Kate Lee, University of Melbourne; Katherine Johnson, University of Melbourne; Kathryn Williams, University of Melbourne; Leisa Sargent, University of Melbourne, and Nicholas Williams, University of Melbourne

Most of us know firsthand that spending time in nature can make us feel better. This isn’t just a placebo effect: decades of research show that seeing vegetation, water, light, and animals is linked with many psychological benefits.

Evidence suggests that viewing nature can also help improve attention spans. Being able to maintain our attention to concentrate on tasks and ignore distractions is important for everyday life. At work, better concentration helps us stay on track, attend to important information, block out distracting email alerts and chatting colleagues, work more efficiently, and maintain performance across the day.

For employees, taking scheduled breaks throughout the day is important for attention, well-being and productivity. Sometimes, however, the lunch break seems too far away. How then, do you provide your brain with a little pick me up so you can keep going? Our new research suggests a “green micro-break” may provide just the boost you and your work-weary brain need.

Testing ‘micro-breaks’

We set out to uncover whether a short 40-second break viewing a city green roof could boost attention. Green roofs are an increasingly common way of introducing more nature into cities and normally consist of low-growing plants in lightweight, thin soil-like mixes that sit over drainage layers on a building rooftop.

Our experiment used a neuropsychology test called the “Sustained Attention to Response Task” (SART). Participants had to work at a computer and respond correctly to numbers flashing up on the screen. Each time a number flashed up, they had to press a key unless, that is, that number was “3”. For the number “3”, participants had to refrain from pressing a key. The test is not very hard, but it is boring, and you have to really pay attention to perform well.

Once the 150 participants became tired from the SART, we gave them a 40 second micro-break. During the micro-break each participant saw a city scene on the computer. The scene was a view from a city high rise but with one difference: half the participants saw a normal concrete roof, while the other half saw a flowering meadow green roof. After the micro-break, participants performed the SART again and we compared the performance between the two groups.

 The city scene with a concrete roof

 After the break participants who saw the green roof performed better than those who saw the concrete roof. That is, they made fewer errors on the task and showed steadier response patterns towards the flashing numbers.

 The city scene with a meadow green roof

 Observing steadier responses in participants who saw the green roof is quite important. Changes in attention can be analysed by breaking down each person’s response patterns into two parts: “quick changes” in responding and “gradual changes” in responding. Steadier quick changes in responding suggests fewer brief attention “slips” during the task and better attention control. Steadier gradual changes in responding suggests consistent levels of alertness across the task.

In our study, participants who saw the green roof showed fewer attention slips and as a result, better attention control. Compared with their concrete roof counterparts, they also showed more consistent alertness after the green roof micro-break.

Healthier workplaces and cities

For decades researchers have wondered whether brief glimpses of nature could boost attention. Until now though, they have only found these benefits in studies where participants were exposed to nature for longer periods of time – at least minutes, and often hours.

Our multidisciplinary team used theory and methods from environmental psychology, neuropsychology, organisational psychology, and horticulture to uncover new insights on the benefits of urban nature. As a result we uncovered attention benefits after a 40 second micro-break with a flowering meadow green roof view. For office workers, this suggests that “green micro-breaks” can provide a simple and effective strategy for boosting attention between longer breaks.

Importantly, our study shows attention benefits after seeing a city green roof. Most research on the benefits of nature has used lush and tall nature, particularly forests, woodlands, and parks. The green roof we showed participants was realistic, using low growing plants that could survive on an irrigated roof.

Our research demonstrates that even a modest area of flowering meadow can boost attention. For urban planners and developers, our results are yet another incentive to add more plants into our cities and workplaces, to provide real benefits for people by creating healthy, productive and liveable spaces. Green roofs are a practical solution for high density cities.

The Conversation

Kate Lee is Research fellow at University of Melbourne.
Katherine Johnson is Senior Lecturer in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at University of Melbourne.
Kathryn Williams is Associate Professor in environmental psychology and Director, Office for Environmental Programs at University of Melbourne.
Leisa Sargent is Professor, Head of Department Management and Marketing at University of Melbourne.
Nicholas Williams is Senior Lecturer in Urban Ecology and Urban Horticulture at University of Melbourne.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Australian designer awarded medal at Chelsea.

For those without pay television, you may never have heard of Charlie Albone. He is a Sydney based Landscape Designer who is also one of the hosts of a TV show called Selling Houses Australia. Basically they do up a house, and his job is to fix up the garden – on a budget.

This time in real life however, this garden was on a different kind of budget! Charlie went to the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show and created a stunning little garden called, ‘The Time In Between’. His design as a space to tell his late father about his life since his passing. It is a space to reflect, contemplate, celebrate and enjoy life. His father died when he was 17.

The garden was awarded a Silver Gilt medal which is just one down from a gold. As you can see by these photos from the Royal Horticultural Society, the standard of workmanship and quality of plants in this garden were absolutely top quality and reinforces the exceptional standards that Australians set when they enter The Chelsea Flower Show.

The first section of the garden celebrates life with beautiful and romantic planting; the water feature in the next section reflects the emotions felt at the loss of someone close, as it can empty in a matter of seconds; and the rear of the garden is an intimate space to sit, connect and communicate with loved ones. The flowers include white aquilegia, purple iris and purple balls of allium or a flowering type of onion which look magnificent.

Although Charlie is an aussie now (we’ll claim him after this for sure) he actually was born in Hong Kong, Charlie and then moved to the UK when he was 12 years old. It was here that he developed a keen interest in landscapes and gardens. On leaving school, he landed a job maintaining the grounds of an English country manor. With no formal qualifications, he learnt on the job and worked for many UK landscaping companies before coming to Australia on a working holiday 12 years ago. He fell in love with the country and decided to further his education by gaining a Diploma In Horticulture And Landscape Design.

Congratulations Charlie. See his garden at the Chelsea website, or his own website Charlie at Chelsea.

photo copyright by kuva

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.

Application:

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……… www.majorsmulch.com.au

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

Resonate

By James Wall.

It was with admiration for the level of participation in the creation of  what was standing before me. There were five days until the Garden Show started and lots of people were involved in getting it ready. These included the lads from Avoca Landscape Construction who were halfway through the mock bridge (I say mock bridge because there was to be no water under it, but Dichondra repens planted to look like water). A Semken staffer was pushing a wheelbarrow almost ‘walking the plank’ to get from one high point to another, and there were plants ready to be positioned in the space beside us. Carolyn Blackman from Vivid Design was forging on and all was good because apparently we were ahead of schedule; but who really knew what lay ahead…..These are the thoughts that go through your mind when building a show garden. By the time it is built, you clearly see all of its imperfections. You are intimate with it, and sometimes it can be your little place in heaven, but other times your nightmare. Everything you ever planned leading up to this project, is now being tested to the hilt. There are still a few magic tricks up your sleeve, but there is also reality.

……and the reality is, that some of the general public may say “it does nothing for me” whereas others and hopefully the majority say, “it’s beautiful, job well done”. None of them see it like you do, missing at least some of the imperfections that you deep down in your heart know are there, and must admit that are there cause if you don’t, a smart judge will tell you why you lost marks…..

It’s the first day of a 5 day show and already you have had to do some maintenance, just when your media commitments are kicking in. Mmmm great timing, but alas, there is one other thing you know for sure, and that is by 5pm Sunday, your show garden will no longer exist. Hope you got some good photos, cause it will be over.So I guess however it turns out, you are best to enjoy your little garden. Its a very small window of time, so let your garden be what it was, a manicured fantasy, a miniscule piece of paradise, a love of plants, a good design. Be at peace with your garden, cause now it is gone

Student gardens at the 2015 Melbourne Flower Show

By James Wall.

Avenue Of Achievable Gardens.

You can always find a little bit of inspiration in the student gardens and this year the standard was set very high. Never have I seen so much creation, new school thinking and good use of plants. One day some of these horticultural and design students will be the industry trend setters. One of them may be a true gem.

After talking to a couple of the students I realised that they are just as motivated and excited about the industry as I hope I was at that age.

Here are some of the best of the 2015 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show student gardens. Thanks go to the major sponsor Debco.

Grounding - Benjamin Taylor - University Of Melbourne

Rousseau's Jungle - Heather Forward University Of Melbourne

Urban Oasis - Veronica Bosque, Clare Mesenberg, Jo Zorzi - Holmesglen Institute

Nicola Muston - Holmesglen Institiute

The Pollinator Partner - Rebecca Bennett - Swinburne Universty Of Technology

Green Haven - Andrew Genovese - Melbourne Polytechnic

The Crossroads - Ben Newell - Swinburne University of Technology

The Wilde Side - Sonja Van Nieuwenhoven, Elise Northover, Katya Hamniuk, Ellen Davies

Gardenworld at 2015 Melbourne Flower Show

By James Wall

We are proud to once again be involved in the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show which starts today and goes until Sunday.

Here are some of the things Gardenworld have been up to:

Candeo Design – The Bronzed Brolga

Brent Reid – Candeo Design. Brent runs his company out of the Design Studio here at Gardenworld. He has been commissioned by the Northern Territitory Government to build a site to promote Tourism NT. The garden is called ‘The Bronzed Brolga’ and includes an amazing pond and a beautiful stone wall. Construction is by Semken Landscaping and the plant list includes 5 Phoenix roebelenii palms borrowed from Gardenworld Nursery. These wonderous specimens are over 30 years old and were grown in Brisbane and shipped down to the nursery. Very rare plants indeed. Brent’s garden received a Bronze Medal.

Phillip Withers Landscape Design – ‘Food Forest’

Phillip Withers Landscape Design – ‘Food Forest’ – Phillip also runs his business out of the design studio at Gardenworld. This quirky design celebrates the fusion of food plants and style in a home garden. There is something here for everyone. There is a fully fruiting persimmon tree that many visitors to the show will never have seen growing before. Phillip’s garden received a Silver medal and also took out the Honda Sustainabilty award for the second year running. Special thanks must go to Semken Landscaping for construction and Outdeco garden screens which looked sensational painted in Phil’s latest colour palette. These screens are available to buy at Lotus Watergardens at Gardenworld.

LocalNurseries.com.au – ‘Resonate’

LocalNurseries .com.au – ‘Resonate’
Designed by Vivid Design and construction by Semken Landscaping
A retro styled garden with dramatic undulations. This garden was awarded a Gold Medal.

Gardenworld Nursery is proud to be a member of the Local Nurseries group. We are retail nurseries based in Melbourne and Geelong that work together in sourcing the best plants and aim to have the best garden centres we can. If you want your local nursery to be around in 20 years, don’t just go to the big chain stores – come and meet the horticultural experts who love their plants and care about your garden.

 Competition – Guess the weight of this pumpkin

Gardenworld is offering a $150 gift voucher for whoever guesses the correct weight of this giant Atlantic pumpkin. The pumpkin is on display at the Royal Horticultural Society and their Great Hanging Basket Competition. Just look for the hundreds of hanging baskets. We believe this pumpkin may weigh over 200 kg !

Thankyou to the efforts of hundrerds of people, including Gardenworld staff and suppliers, without which this show would not be possible.

A modern Highett garden.

By James Wall

Was lucky enough to visit two gardens in the 2014 Garden Design Fest and this garden in a Melbourne suburb called Highett was one of them.

It was designed by Stephen Read. I found it to be a very refreshing garden and it reinforced some old ideas and introduced some new.

The use of bollards might be an old idea, but it was executed with perfection. The curve of the structures and the simplicity of the planting of Bearberry Cotoneaster dammeri that surround the solitary Cypress, and common plant in this suburbia. The house seems protected yet at the same time open to the world around it.

But what really hits you in the face as you walk in is this stunning wall of Boston Ivy intertwined with Chinese Star Jasmine. In this spring November garden, it was peaking.

This Chinese Star Jasmine by itself looked pretty good too ! And further in behind the bollards was a nice sitting area surrounder by a ‘wonderful’ Pomegranate hedge with Feather reed grass. Hmmm what a good idea. I could imagine mum out here on the ipad, just getting away for a bit of wireless online shopping.

Another fence covered spectacularly but this time with Boston Ivy and Silver Vein Creeper, another one of the Parthenocissus species and another stunning blending of varieties.

Heading down the side of the house, note the red bricks drawing you along what is a very narrow path, but which allows for a nice wide vegetable garden, sensibly designed on the north side of the block. Incorporating terracotta pots into the actual garden, creates a really nice effect, especially with some blue lobelia added for colour.

At this point you reach the backyard. In between the paving is three poignant olive trees and pencil pines adorn the main bed. They are surround by Salvia and Rudbeckia. There appear to be more pomegranate along the back fence, but this is still a young planting and the garden hasn’t yet fully pronounced its full coming.

From there, the things that really impressed me were the differing levels of the ground and the way decking and garden had been incorporated. Nothing was too overdone, but there was just so much there to take in. I am sure the proud owners spend hours siting out there with a paper, occasionally peering up to watch it grow.

A fig tree which will one day shade the house and provide food for the family in just a month or so’s time. A great place to end this little tour. I hope you enjoyed this garden as much as i did. Its simplicity in the front, flowed through to a more complex back yard, that in about 5 years time would have me really curious in seeing. I left this garden content. I wanted to go around each next corner….yes it really dragged me in. It is a privilege for both the designer and owner to let us see it. Next time you hear about an open garden, why don’t you just drop by for a little bit of inspiration….and a little bit of joy. 

Stephen Read Landscape Design website.

Garden Design Fest website.

A coastal Mt Eliza garden.

By Milli Wall.

Yesterday I visited a beautiful open garden in Mount Eliza called Earimil Gardens, a privately owned and independently displayed coastal garden rambling over 3 hectares located on a steep cliff block. Many mature trees protect the gardens exposed position and provide shade in a mostly sun drenched space. Admire sweeping views of surrounding land from a jutting viewing platform – once a helicopter landing pad.

Elaine, the owner of the property at in Mount Eliza, invites the public into her gardens for a $10 entry fee going to charity (children free) When I arrive I find Elaine talking to a group of visitors. She is obviously enjoying the experience of sharing her wonderful gardens. I can see she and her helpers have taken care to put on a terrific day, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, an acoustic guitarist plays to several groups enjoying picnic lunches on the lawns. Many inspired noises can be heard from people as they make notes to apply to their own gardens.

My kids enjoy finding all the Australian wildlife sculptures tucked away in the gardens but to me the flower beds are the highlight of this garden; providing the visitor with delightful layers of prolific colour. Thought has been put into the smallest details, from nasturtiums and erigeron encouraged to grow randomly through a fence to grand bay views framed through magnificent cascading rose and clematis vines in full bloom. Breath taking, a delightful chaotic wildness is tempered by someone’s loving attention to detail, not a weed or a dead flower to be found.

When Elaine decides to open her delightful garden again I highly recommend a visit.

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