Category Archive: Plants

Cup Day at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

By James Wall.

What do you tell your children on your day off that you want to walk around the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne ?

You tell them we are going on a photographic assignment of course. One child gets the camera for half an hour and then the other child gets its for the next half an hour. When we get home, we have a slide show and see just what sort of pictures we have taken.

Yep, they liked the idea, so before they could change there mind we were in the car and on our way.

The weather was perfect and it was mid morning so there was still parking. The gardens had a real buzz about it. It reminded me of the first spring day at Central Park in New York. People were just bursting with energy to get out there. With Melbourne Cup on, there were somewhat annoying helicopters buzzing about the air like giant blow flies, but even these could not destroy the subtle euphoria that was in the air. It was a day to bump into an old friend out of the blue. It was a day to appreciate nature.

At some stage during the photography, a kids flick of the camera dial accidentally took 4 photos of everything, but with 3 of the photos being altered with special effects. I guess some of the greatest human creations were made by accident. Below are some of the results to our day out at the Botanic Gardens.

By the way, the cafe was excellent, the kids area was rocking with little boats running down the creek, the trees were ever majestic, so if you haven’t been to this wonderful place in a while, like I hadn’t, make sure you get down there soon – cause photos can never tell the full story.



Vintage spring planter pot.

Now that spring has officially sprung it is a great time to get outside and get creative in the garden! Here is a short DIY video where I show you how to create a fun and colourful pot by upcycling an old cast iron pot. There are many fantastic ways to create eye-catching displays in the garden, and repurposing old objects is an easy way to do so. If you have any old pots that might be lying around the garden have a go at turning them in to a colourful display!

By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs – Gardeners Notebook

Euphorbia – a gardener’s favourite.

By Kevin Mankey.

Favourite Families: EUPHORBIACEAE.

The question frequently pops up when you work in the nursery industry…”Do you have a favourite plant?” My answer would be not one individual favourite but more like a favourite family. The Euphorbias are one of the largest plant families with over two thousand members from all over the world. Some of the most interesting varieties come from the desert regions of South Africa, and the inhospitable island of Madagascar. Fortunately, in their wisdom our growers concentrate on producing only some of the best forms, otherwise there would be no room for anything else in the nursery!

Euphorbia wulfenii

Euphorbia wulfenii

Also known as spurge (from the old French word “espurge” meaning to purge which refers to the use of the sap as a purgative in olden times) the Euphorbia family is made up of annual and perennial plants, woody shrubs and trees. Their form ranges from feathery leaved ground covers, to lush woody stemmed flowering shrubs, to stark, sculptured trees which look almost alien in all but a desert landscape. There are even some which have developed thick fleshy stems which were once mistaken as cactus species although Euphorbias are not in any way related to cacti.

Euphorbia craigieburn

You may have guessed by now that Euphorbias are some of the toughest garden shrubs available, being hardy to frost and long periods of dryness. They are also coastal tolerant and will thrive even in poor quality soils as long as there is reasonably good drainage. They adapt very well to our Melbourne climate with its extremes of long hot summers and cold winters.

Euphorbia lambii underplanted with wulfenii

One of the most recognizable species is the ever popular Christmas poinsettia E. pulcherrima with its traditional red bracts (white and pink forms now exist) which are used as table decorations at Christmas time. However, the majority of varieties currently being grown are popular with garden designers and enthusiasts due to their compact bushy form and their diverse foliage colours ranging from grey greens, to purple, to limey- gold, and even white splashed variegated foliage. As for flowers, the majority of Euphorbias carry clusters of sulphur yellow to russet coloured composite flower heads mainly during the latter part of winter and on into spring.

What I like best about them is that they are adaptable to so many garden styles from cottage to traditional to contemporary and even arid. Most of the varieties currently on the market grow to less than one meter high by one meter wide so they will fit almost any space in any garden. Like many structural plants they work really well in group plantings where they have high visual impact and bring a brilliant textural element to a garden design.

Euphorbia rigida

One word of caution with this family of plants is that they all exude a sticky milky sap when cut which is toxic if ingested and can be an irritant to the skin and eyes. The simple precaution of wearing gloves and avoiding rubbing the eyes when handling them is recommended. With this in mind the euphorbia family is well worth consideration for a range of garden situations. Pictured are some of the varieties currently on offer in the nursery along with a few collectable varieties which may be slightly harder to find. Note the diversity of forms shapes and foliage colours which is what makes Euphorbia a fascinating and versatile family of plants. Drop in soon and feel free to ask our recommendations for a Euphorbia to suit your garden.

Euphorbia wulfenii flower

The mystique of growing blueberries.

Last month, it was a privileged journey for me as I headed past Pakenham, turned off at Moe and drove about an hour up into the hills to visit my friend Joel, an organic blueberry farmer. Being winter, to some people these mostly leafless plants just look like big woody bushes, ranging from 3 foot to 6 foot high. A closer inspection however showed that they had been pruned meticulously, many of them every year for over 15 years. The grower, his wife and first hand man had done most of the pruning, as no contract worker could be trusted to do this process quite as well as those that lived and breathed these plants almost every day of their lives. These plants were to these people what a dairy herd might be to a farmer. They were part of their extended family.

Joel and his beloved plants.

To prune a blueberry plant requires two processes: firstly remove the weak wood – thin twiggy bits that will never thicken up, but will still suck energy from the rest of the plant. You also follow the basic principles of pruning like cutting out inward growing branches, although sometimes At one stage, Joel left a branch growing into another branch, as next year it would be a main branch and the other older one in its way removed. That is because secondly, you remove some of the old wood. It will be three to five years old and will be grey in colour and have formed bark on its trunk. Removing some of this will help the plant renew itself with new whips forming. The best fruiting wood will be in that two to three year age bracket. These plants will live for twenty five years and more, so to renew the plant is important. Some of the big 6 foot plants were taking Joel over twenty minutes to prune just one plant, such is the dedication to a perfect wine glass like figure.

Here is a brief video showing just a snippet of the secrets of pruning a blueberry bush.

Pruning doesn’t feel as natural to me as say on an apple tree. I think this is because the blueberry plant is quite a messy looking plant with a rather twisted and knarled structure. If you like things to look neat and tidy, this plant may not be for you.

A beautiful plant structure

You have to admire someone who makes the decision to produce fruit organically. There are no weed killing sprays you can use and so all you can do is compost around the plants to smother the formation of weeds and then hand weed around the plants to be rid of the worst of them. Between the rows you need to mow regularly so as to stop the weeds from seeding. It’s a case of learning to live with the weeds.

Magnolia in the front and Legacy at the backFeeding organically is done twice in autumn and twice in spring using liquid seaweed and fish emulsion. Organic growing is more about building up beneficial micro-organisms in the soil. They break down the compost and turn this into nutritional food for the plants. It’s all about finding the balance and not upsetting it by adding ‘made to measure’ dosages of chemical fertilisers. The results achieved from this crop speaks for itself – up to 8kg of berries per plant which is twice the amount of most commercial crops.

If you would like to grow some of these wonderful blueberry varieties, we now have some for sale. By nature, blueberry plants are hard to propagate and most of them go to the commercial growers, so you won’t find these plants commonly available. We also sell organic Charlie Carp – a fish emulsion that also benefits our rivers because of the removal of thousands of carp every year.

When planting out blueberries, Joel recommends teasing out the roots and having them almost horizontal when planting.

Plant them on a small mound in the bottom of the hole, just to angle the roots downward slightly.

This does not feel normal to me as I am not a big teaser of roots unless a plant in a pot is root-bound.

Joel’s dad has however spent many years analysing plantings and swears by this process. In fact he dug up some earlier plantings and teased the roots and then re-planted the plants with great success.

Here is a picture of the teased out roots.

Varieties we have for sale:

Magnolia: Evergreen bush that grows to approximately 1.6m tall, will bush out to 1.2m wide has a large berry, great flavour & heavy yield.

Reveille: Evergreen bush that grows to approximately 2m to 2.2m tall, very upright plant that will only bush out to 0.8m to 1m, great for along fences. Medium berry with great flavour & medium yield.

Legacy: Evergreen bush that grows to approximately 1.8m to 2m tall , will bush out to approximately 1.2m wide, has a large berry, good flavour & heavy yield.

James and a pruned reveille variety



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

Hanging baskets at the 2015 Melbourne Flower Show

Once again the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) held their hanging basket competition at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show. This event is not really about winning, it’s more about participation and creativity. Gardeners start with a basket which they pick up at their local nursery. Gardenworld alone had some 30 entrants. They each have about 3 months to turn theirs into their own backyard masterpiece. Getting it right for the event is all part of the challenge.

The RHS members are all volunteers and without them, this event would simply not exist. Thankyou wonderful people, for all that you do, especially all that work in netting the plants each night to keep the possums at bay !

Here are some of our favourites, in no particular order:

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. – ‘Resonate’

LocalNurseries – ‘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.

The heathlands of Anglesea

It was a nature walk in search of the Rufous Bristlebird, an inconspicuous bird, but with a loud melodic call. The path took me towards Point Addis, a landmark some eight kilometres east of Anglesea, a little town on Victoria’s west coast.

The sign called it heathlands and raved about its masses of spring wildflowers – alas it was summer, and most of its flowers were long gone.

The rest of the sign, courtesy of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee said:

“Coastal heathlands are classified as depleted in the Otway region as a result of land clearing for housing and agriculture.

Remnant areas such as this are further threatened by weed invasion and recreational pressures.

Heathland communities contain a vast array of indigenous plants including many rare orchids, and support a variety of native wildlife.”

It also told me that the tough wiry stems and prickly foliage of heathland communities provide protection, food and nesting sites for native wildlife.

These wildlife include the Southern Brown Bandicoot and the White Footed Dunnart – a small nocturnal carnivorous marsupial the size of a mouse. Along with the Rufous Bristlebird, these are all species of State or National significance.

I managed to see a lizard, a grasshopper and a very fast bird, whom was too fast for me to see if it was Rufous. It didn’t sound like him.

It was a rather desolate place this sort of plateau on the edge of crumbling cliffs by the side of the sea. Plants were arched from prevailing winds and must be regularly coated in salt laden spray. These impoverished soils and low summer rainfall contribute to a low growing or stunted landscape.What initially looked quite barren, suddenly was thriving. Sit there for a while, and you see that it is quite alive; and free.

Beyond the heathlands were some low growing gum trees and a rather steep hill. The climb rewarded me with this view to the west. It reminded me how lucky I was to have wandered through this little heathland on this very day; and still that Rufous Bristlebird, remains a mystery to me.

Touch of Class plants for 2015

By James Wall

At this time of the year, some of our growers show some of the new plants that are in the system. One such company is Touch of Class plants, located about an hour out of Melbourne, in Tynong.

They propagate plants and sell them to growers all over Australia. Nurseries like ourselves get to see what’s coming up for future gardeners – and we all have different opinions, and here is mine:

Hebe Grace Kelly

Hebe Grace Kelly:

Ok, it’s just a hebe, but this aptly named plant has a classic antique look that is not at all modern. I shouldn’t actually like this plant, but its somewhat dated old school look would actually be stunning in the right pot. Hebe’s also make very good filler plants as they are hardy and need little water once established. This one might just end up a classic.

Heuchera by Terra Nova


These come from a US breeder called Terra Nova who are famous for this range of plants. I just love the lushy leaf growth more so than the flowers. They become vivid in winter and will take a dappled light situation. Pictured above is Lime Marmalade and Black Taffeta. Below is Coco and then Sugar Plum.

Heuchera Sugar Plum

Agapanthus Barley Blue

Agapanthus Barley Blue:

There were quite a few nice agapanthus, but this one pictured above was my favourite. It was a lovely shade of blue and quite compact. Next to it is Phormium Back in Black, a comapct dark coloured flax that makes a great coastal plant.

Eucomis by Terra Nova: 

These young plants look quite special. Alas, they will grow into a bigger hardy clumping plant. Apparently they have little pineapple like flowers on them. Pictured above is Dark Star and below is Freckles

Buddleia Blue and Pink Compact:

These two buddleia are compact forms and only grow 50-60cm tall. They are long flowering, and require no dead heading. They are a much more controllable plant and pictured above is Blue Chip Jr, and below is Micro Pink Chip. These are sure to be cottage garden favourites and would be right at home in a mixed salvia garden.

Some of these plants will be released, some may not. It is pleasing to see some exciting plants in the pipeline and I will looking forward to offering them in our nursery in 2015.

Touch Of Class Plants website.

Terra Nova Website.

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