« January 2022 | Main | March 2022 »

February 2022

Let's Try Bonsai

I find out once and for all - are Bonsai a torturous way to display trees? 
Once the preserve of the retired and lifelong dedicated masters, Bonsai is enjoying a surge in interest and popularity as more people from all walks of life and ages are taking up this fascinating artistic pursuit. The weekend of the 5th and 6th March saw the long awaited ‘Bonsai Open’ held at the Mingara Recreation Club with over 100 trees on display, about 500 items available for purchase and three of Australia’s leading Bonsai experts Huge Grant, Jarryd Bailey and Andrew Edge demonstrating. It always promises to an event not to missed if you are at all interested in the art of crafting miniature trees. Hugh Grant BonsaiHugh Grant of Tree Makers

I spoke with Steve Reeve, President of the Central Coast Club which began in the mid 1970s and has currently over 100 active members about the history of Bonsai. “Bonsai is a Japanese word, but the art actually started in China around 1,500 years ago. Not long after that it emerged in Japan and then eventually made its way to the West with the GIs after the Second World War.” On the practice of Bonsai Steve added, “People often say that Bonsai is a cruel art, that it tortures trees, but you can see still living azalea trees in China that are over 1,200 years old and I can guarantee an azalea living in a suburban garden is not going to live over 1,000 years. Bonsai increases the longevity of trees and it’s certainly not cruel.” Steve also noted the sense of satisfaction one gets from learning to promote this longevity while enjoying the ability to put your own creative twist to the creation of a Bonsai. Perhaps in these polarising times, these are reasons why this living art form is rising again popularity. Bonsai asks us to slow down, to focus on growth, care, and design. It is an extremely mindful horticultural experience as a grower as well as viewer.

Bonsai Open demonstrator and judge, Australian Bonsai expert Hugh Grant commenced his bonsai journey at the Central Coast Bonsai Club when he was about 12 years old. His many years of bonsai study and experience are complemented by his Fine Arts degree, and he is now a fulltime bonsai practitioner, owning ‘Tree Makers’, located in the upper Blue Mountains of NSW. Whilst his business offers a large range of material, Hugh has a passion and preference for specialising in Australian Native trees and plants. He attributes his skill development to being a part of the bonsai community, constantly attending meetings, lectures and demonstrations and just generally hanging out with other bonsai enthusiasts. “For the most part, Bonsai centres around design and architecture as a practice, using horticulture as a technical application to produce the product, which is the bonsai tree. Going into it, (at 12 years of age), I just thought it looked cool. I guess my mind was focused on the design aspect, not knowing that I needed the technical ability to keep that plant alive. This is the problem most beginners face.” Once simple horticultural information about bonsai is obtained and followed it really is not a hard activity at all.

How to Start a Bonsai
Bonsai 2

After chatting with Steve and Huge my advice for beginners is to get to a nearby Bonsai club and immerse yourself or at least read a reliable book. It’s not a hard technique but it does require dedication and patience. Like your larger gardening endeavours, you need to consider the fact that every plant and situation does vary. Here is a simple rundown on the basics.

  1. Firstly, choose a tree you feel some affinity with. Have a look at the way this tree may look as a Bonsai as well to help with this decision. Starting from seed may mean a longer journey with your Bonsai so perhaps a seedling may be more to your liking. There is also the option to start with a young Bonsai and these are easy to obtain.
  2. Find a suitable pot and choose a style that you will create. Again, there are so many resources out there to help in your selection and most enthusiasts believe that the pot forms part of the art of bonsai so chose with that in mind. Bonsai pots have additional holes to enable the root ball to be wired to the pot for stability.
  3. Premixed general bonsai soils are available, and you can make your own but for the best results, you should be creating or obtaining a mix that suits your actual tree type.
  4. Roots are perhaps pruned at this point and depending on the size and maturity of your seedling or immature bonsai you most likely will need to need it to wire it to your pot.
  5. Looking at your style and depending on the season, you may wire branches to begin shaping your bonsai.
  6. Water the tree and place it in a suitable location for its type.
  7. Look after it! Bonsai need constant care, they are not ‘set and forget’ houseplants at all, in fact they are not really suited to indoor living. While some will cope, you need to remember they are trees, and so like most trees, they need direct sunlight and an outdoors aspect to thrive.

Central Coast Bonsai Club
Monthly meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month (except January) from 7.30pm until 9.30pm in the Tasman Function Room at Mingara Recreation Club. These meetings typically involve a guest speaker/demonstrator describing a different aspect of bonsai.nCommunity members are welcome to come and enjoy your first meetings without needing to be a member. We welcome people at all skill levels – be they absolute beginners through to advanced -and welcome all ages. We run 6 weeks bonsai courses at Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels. We also run full day guest Demonstration and Workshop days on weekends. centralcoastbonsai.com.au

Bonsai Resources

centralcoastbonsai.com.au

treemakers.com.au

edgebonsaistudio.com.au

montanebonsai.com


GARDENING BOOK REVIEW

The Ultimate Bonsai Handbook, The Complete Guide for Beginners
By Yukio Hirose

Bonsai book

Berkeley Books, 2020, ISBN: 9784805315026, 256 pages
I searched high and low for a foundation book on Bonsai that I felt confident in recommending, especially to those wanting to begin and this one made the top of the list. There are over 1,000 photos to inspire and inform with in-depth exploration of the many types of bonsai as well as tutorials focusing on their care. Great advice on selecting and displaying bonsai as well. Other topics include basic tree shapes and how to display them, tools, soils, and containers; transplanting, root trimming, watering, and fertilising along with propagation, pruning, wiring and support. The author, Yukio Hirose fell in love with Bonsai at the Osaka World Expo in 1970 and has been devoted to growing, selling, and teaching about bonsai ever since. He is the owner of Yamatoen Bonsai Garden in Kanagawa prefecture and is one of Japan's leading Shohin bonsai artists. An active instructor, Hirose offers workshops throughout Japan. He is an award-winning organizer of bonsai exhibitions and has served as the chair of the All-Japan Shohin Bonsai Association. This book is perfect for the absolute beginner but I’m sure that with its comprehensive nature, it would be a handy reference for the more experienced.

Planting Guide for Temperate regions early March
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsnip, peas, salsify, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, swede, spinach, turnips, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, carnation, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, larkspur, nigella, pansy, polyanthus, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, wallflower

Next Week: Growing Your Own Garlic

HAVE YOU GOT A GARDEN OR GARDENING TOPIC TO SHARE?

Down in the Garden is looking for Central Coast gardeners who would like to share their garden with us.

We are particularly looking for: Seed Saving, Evergreens, Tulips, Spring Bulbs, Water Feature Gardens, School/Children Gardeners, Commercial Kitchen Gardens, Medicinal Plant Gardeners, and Community Gardens but all gardens and gardeners are welcome contact: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden coordinator and along with

Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963. She is also co-host of @MostlyAboutPlants a weekly botanical history & gardening podcast with Victoria White.

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com
IMG_9859

This article first appeared in Central Coast Newspapers ( The Coast News and The Chronicle) week beginning 28th February 2022


How to Create Your Own Home Nursery Business

Many of us have turned to our gardens in these times for peace but a few have also found prosperity out amongst the green leaves and petals as a booming botanical industry opens new opportunities.
Ninh of Umina Little SunshineNinh of Umina Little Sunshine

If you venture online, you can find plants and plant related merchandise increasingly sold by home businesses. Go to any weekend market and you are bound to find someone selling plants and more and more are creating thriving online garden centres. The most successful of these home-based plant people are discovering what the marketplace of any field already knows, specialising is the key to attracting customers. This week we meet two Central Coast locals who have used their green thumbs and plant passion to create income streams, but first, let’s explore what you need to consider if you wish to create a successful home nursery at your place.

How to Begin
It starts with you. What do you currently have in time and resources? Begin with this and then build up. I’ve met many home gardening-related business people and all of the successful ones began with either nothing or a very small foundation that they built upon. They gave themselves the opportunity to pace and meet the market. Going in hard and big, spending up on infrastructure and resources before you even know if you are on the right track is usually a big gamble that unfortunately leads many to disaster. What you can see is popular now, most likely will not be by the time you have established yourself in the marketplace. By starting small and building your business, you can find your niche without losing vast sums of money and time in the process. 

What Will You Grow
Most successful ventures start with a defined passion, and I believe this is because you are much more likely to give your all to something you truly believe in and want to be around every day. Even Bill Gates was just a guy who saw an opportunity in his love for computers. Which plant or group of plants do you really have the most interest in? If you can’t answer that question, then start researching and with your feet. Go and look at other gardens, find out all you can about plants that take your eye. Look at the current market and while acknowledging what is currently trending, look for similar plants or ones that could be a part of the current story that you feel drawn to but have the potential for longevity. Most importantly, what do you have the resources for? Let’s explore that.
Space
How much space do you have available and more importantly how much sun/shade and growing capacity do you have? Will you be planting seeds and selling seedlings or creating cuttings or will you be growing larger plants? Do you need racks, shelves, a greenhouse, shade house or garden beds?
Soil
You might be growing your plants in beds, the ground or in pots but either way, there needs to be consideration about what soil you have and from where you will get more. If you are going to be selling seedlings or potted plants, storage of soil will also need to be factored into your plant plans. Buying anything in bulk is cheaper, including soil but you need to know where you will keep it.
Water
I volunteer at my local community garden and one of the other gardeners, Graeme, has a wonderful saying, “Most people don’t have problems with their plants, they have problems with their water” and he is right. Water is seldom factored into gardening plans, and it’s not just how much water you need but where is it coming from? Taps that are inaccessible to areas of the garden make it hard to be consistent with your watering so you may need to invest in additional plumbing or at least heavy-duty longer hoses. A water tank is one outlay that you should be undertaking early in your nursery at home business plan.
Additional considerations
The legalities are rather simple. As long you are not employing anyone, you can have a home nursery, but you must not be blocking access to other houses or the street when you sell. Signage will need to be discussed with the council as well. I would suggest business and public liability insurance as a must. Selling will involve you finding ways to collect money and give receipts to your customers, and both can be handled by using services like Apple Pay, PayPal etc. It is also relatively easy to obtain apps and card readers to accept payments. If you decide to accept cash, be mindful that you will need to have a float for change.

Ninh of Umina Little Sunshine 2
Ninh of Umina Little Sunshine

What began as a gardening hobby in her childhood has developed into an amazing business for Umina resident Ninh after she discovered her talent for breeding rare houseplants. A few years ago, she made the move from Sydney to the Central Coast as her home nursery outgrew her available space. Ninh started collecting rare houseplants as she loved their beauty and after two years, decided that by propagating cuttings from her plants she could sell them then have funds to purchase more rare plants for her collection. She finds the process of creating a new plant from cuttings incredibly interesting and is passionate about crossbreeding and the chance of coming up with a new plant. Ninh sells her plants and cuttings to her established rare plant fanbase via Ebay: https://www.ebay.com.au/usr/ninluon_0 and you can follow her on Instagram as well as see more of her stunning plants: www.instagram.com/aroids_de_skyla I’m sure many houseplant enthusiasts will be swooning over the breathtaking and incredibly beautiful rare plants that Ninh has procured and breeds.

The Kariong Succulents
The Kariong Succulents

Alét and Rowena of The Kariong Succulents
This is another story of a passion gone wild. Rowena loves plants. She loves succulents. She loves them too much. In fact, her adoration of these juicy little gems outgrew their garden and home and so her husband Alét created a home nursery to claim back his living areas. Open most weekends and with a thriving Facebook page: www.facebook.com/succulenthills The Kariong Succulents attracts buyers from all over the state at times. Alét is responsible for the physical infrastructure of their nursery. He has built and maintains shelving and gardening hardware while Rowena busies herself with propagation and general gardening. I’m amazed at how well this business has grown in such a relatively small space. Nurses by weekday, plant nursery people in their spare time, they have the most delightful and sometimes rare plants.

GARDENING BOOK REVIEW
Book review
RHS Gardening School, Everything You Need to Know to Garden Like a Professional

By: Simon Akeroyd and Ross Bayton
Octopus Publishing February 2022 ISBN: 9781784728106

I am a Royal Horticultural Society book addict. Though they are written in the Northern Hemisphere, the knowledge shared does translate well for the most part. This book is a revised and updated edition and one I recommend to new gardeners particularly. From developing a complete understanding of plants and basic botany through to everyday garden care and problem solving, this book also contains inspiration for garden design. Gorgeous photography along with helpful and plentiful illustrations and an explanation of techniques in an easy to comprehend manner. A must for all gardeners from new to advanced but I would particularly recommend RHS Gardening School to those who want a gardening core education in a handy book.


GARDENING GUIDE FOR TEMPERATE AREA GARDENERS MID SUMMER
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, beans, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, marrow, mustard, onions (spring), parsnip, potato tubers, radish, rhubarb crowns, salsify, silverbeet, swede, sweetcorn, turnips, zucchinis, ageratum, alyssum, boronia, begonia, calendula, cleome, cyclamen, forget-me-not, nasturtium, pansy, poppy (Iceland), stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

Next Week: Growing in a Hanging Basket

HAVE YOU GOT A GARDEN TO SHARE?
Down in the Garden is looking for Central Coast gardeners who would like to share their garden with us.
We are particularly looking for: Home Nursery Businesses, Hanging Basket Gardens, Water Feature Gardens, School/Children Gardeners, Commercial Kitchen Gardens, Medicinal Plant Gardeners but all gardens and gardeners are welcome to have a chat with Cheralyn: 0408105864 

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden coordinator and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963. She is also co-host of @MostlyAboutPlants a weekly botanical history & gardening podcast with Victoria White.

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com
IMG_9860

Article first published in Central Coast Newspapers - The Coast News and The Chronicle 


Say it with Flowers

Red roses for love, yellow ones for friendship and daisy to wish happiness but did you know that all flowers have meanings, and they are not all that hard to find? You may be growing them, or plan to or maybe just want to grab a bunch to share or enjoy so this week, let’s explore the fascinating Language of Flowers.
Cut
People of the Victorian period (1837-1901) made the 'language' of flowers extremely popular. Blooms were used for secret messages between friends and lovers, and even between enemies. It was a time when communication between each other was dictated by social standing and the expected morals of the day played a huge part. The Language of Flowers was used as a code, to pass these messages on to each other. Flowers were also used in their jewellery, furnishings, artworks, textiles, and in gardens and floral displays. Not many not many people of the Victorian era would dream of organising a dinner centrepiece without careful consideration of the meanings of each blossom.

In Victorian times it was that fascination with the connection of science and nature, along with the arts that helped them explore these meanings, which had related to herbalism for centuries. The way a flower and its plant looked, smelt, tasted, its medicinal properties, all of these things lead to defined ‘meanings’. In the past the meanings of flowers were commonly known because people lived within nature but these days, unfortunately, the closest that many come to, for example, a chamomile flower will be chopped up in a tea blend.

The messages of flowers or even just their presence is comforting in times of grief and stress. Personally, I had a really hard time when my grandmother passed away as we were very close. Coincidently I was making a military house move of my own at the time and the new home had a horribly barren backyard, except for one plant. It was a gardenia, her favourite flower. So, whether a coincidence or just that my heart was looking for comfort, seeing that divine white flower in this rather empty garden was such a huge comfort to me.

When it comes to love, picking flowers that express your admiration for someone, longing and passion would naturally entail flowers that were precious, perhaps rare, red of colour to indicate passion, sweet smelling to swoon the recipient and the meanings that the accepted ‘language of flowers’ of your era and area had already bestowed would make it a lot easier to get it right. Important if you were wooing the person of your dreams and didn’t have the skills of the written word or might upset the etiquette of the time.

How to Buy Flowers
When choosing a bunch of blooms for someone else, it is important to think of them for a minute before walking into a florist's shop. A problem with most people is they choose what they like, not what would suit the other person’s taste or needs. A simple way to get this right is to look towards the recipient's personality. If they have a bright and happy personality or they are feeling sick or a bit down, maybe a bunch of sunflowers would be fantastic. They mean power, strength, happiness, and good health. Now you could google this or look it up in a book but just look at them! They look like big bright happy suns and that’s exactly what they mean.
Flowers 4
Although you may want to say I love you this week, this handy reference guide will help you connect with other flowers and their meanings. You can give them to others, buy or even better, grow them for yourself.

New Job - Delphiniums mean new opportunities, possibilities and even leadership, so they are good to use as gifts or decoration when seeking a new job as well as celebrating landing one.

Get Well - Sunflowers are wonderful flowers for those who are unwell or facing health challenges. They mean strength, happiness, confidence and generally "get well soon".

Birthday - Gerberas are the perfect birthday flower. They mean happiness, celebration, appreciation and wishes for a happy life.

New Home - Cornflowers are wonderful to add to an occasion celebrating a new home because they speak of protection, new home blessings and new friendships.

Funeral - These are very personal occasions, but should you wish to give flowers which offer support then heartsease are a compassionate way to say that you are thinking of those affected and that you are there for them.

Wedding - If you would like to give flowers to someone to celebrate news of a wedding then you might consider a flowering cactus. They mean love which will always endure.

The Meanings of a Few Popular Flowers

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus): get well, strength, happiness, confidence

Red Rose (Rosa):  love, courage, respect, passion, lust, relationship, beauty

White Rose (Rosa): truth, honesty, purity, protection

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus): victory, support, vitality, independence

Dahlia (Dahlia): encouragement, dignity, generosity, faith, resiliency

Violet (Viola): faithfulness, answers within, subconscious, modesty

Pink Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus): love, encouragement, gratitude

Daffodil ((Narcissus pseudonarcissus): hope, inspiration, respect, renewal

Red Tulip (Tulipa): desire, passion, declaration of love, belief

Peony (Paeonia officinalis): happy marriage, honour, wealth, health, nobility

The Language of Australian Flowers

While the traditional Victorian Language of Flowers focuses on blossoms that were popular in the Northern Hemisphere, a close study of the botanical history of the plant and ethnobotany, (the uses humans have made of plants) can reveal to us the meanings of any flower and plant, including our Australian Natives. For example, a bright bunch of Billy Buttons (Pycnosorus globosus), are the perfect way to say sorry. A pathway lined with Bottlebrush is perfect for busy families to walk through before coming into the home to leave the troubles of the day behind them. 

J0r05w0ben

Banksia (Banksia spp.) “I love being with you”, “Congratulations”

Boronia (Boronia spp.) “Good luck in your exams”, “Can we work this out?”

Billy Buttons (Pycnosorus globosus) “I’m sorry”, “I want to begin again”

Everlasting Daisy (Rhodanthe spp.) “I’d like to be your friend”, “I hope this last forever”

Flannel Flower (Atinotus helianthin) “I love you”, “I trust you”

Flowering Gum (Eucalyptus spp.) “Get well soon”, “I will not do it again”

Geraldton Wax (Chamelaucium spp.) “You can do this”, “Be mine” 

Grevillea (Grevillea spp.) “Good luck”, “I wish you well in the future”

Gymea Lily (Doryanthes excelsa) “I believe in you”, “I’m proud of you”

Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos spp.) “Please forgive me”, “I forgive you”

Mulla Mulla (Ptilotus spp.)”Bon voyage”, “I wish you well in the future”

Waratah (Telopea spp.) “I wish you strength”, “I am by your side” 

Wattle (Acacia spp.) “Congratulations”, “You make me happy”

You & Your Garden
How Do I Make My Cut Flowers Last?

How-to-make-cut-flowers-last-longer-2-copyWendy of Long Jetty asked me this week via social media and whether they are cut from your garden or bought from one of our lovely florists, we all want the love to last as long as possible. As soon as you receive your flowers, remove all foliage from the stems that will sit below the waterline in a vase. Rinse the stems and cut on an angle. Place away from full, direct sunlight and heat and away from drafts. Change water every second day, remove any dead flowers and recut stems that look dried.

GARDENING GUIDE FOR TEMPERATE AREA GARDENERS LATE SUMMER
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, beans, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, marrow, mustard, onions (spring), parsnip, potato tubers, radish, rhubarb crowns, salsify, silverbeet, swede, sweetcorn, turnips, zucchinis, ageratum, alyssum, boronia, begonia, calendula, cleome, cyclamen, forget-me-not, nasturtium, pansy, poppy (Iceland), stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

HAVE YOU GOT A GARDEN TO SHARE?
Down in the Garden is looking for Central Coast gardeners who would like to share their garden with us.We are particularly looking for: Home Nursery Businesses, Hanging Basket Gardens, Water Feature Gardens, School/Children Gardeners, Commercial Kitchen Gardens, Medicinal Plant Gardeners but all gardens and gardeners are welcome to have a chat with Cheralyn: 0408105864

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden coordinator and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963. She is also co-host of @MostlyAboutPlants a weekly botanical history & gardening podcast with Victoria White.

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

IMG_9862

Article first published in Central Coast Newspapers - The Coast News and The Chronicle