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Cover up with Screening Plants

Plant screens 3
If you can’t stand living with that heat reflecting metal panel fence, the windows of your neighbours blinking into your home or the view of the local shops, then screening plants are here to save the day. Some can even make alternatives to fences, and all will cool down your garden, provide a wind break and enrich your home in some way as well as giving you privacy. What’s the difference between a hedge and a screen? Hedges are dense and completely block out the view while screens break up the view. Screening growth lets airflow and dappled light through, and they can often look a little more natural. Privacy screening growth is somewhere in between. It will block the view to provide privacy, but will still be a little looser in growth than hedges to allow some airflow and light in.

Plant screens 2
Types of Plants
Evergreen trees and shrubs are going to be the choice for many as they provide year-round screening and although any plant could be trained to become a screen, including well trained vines, here are a few I recommend. Mock Orange aka Orange Jessamine (Murraya paniculata)
Mur
is one of the most popular hedging and screening plants. With its divine orange/jasmine perfumed flowers along with glossy green foliage it’s easy to see why. They can reach up to four meters in height and require a spacing of between 75 to 100cm to create a screening effect. They need regular feeding, a very well-drained rich soil and do prefer part-shade.
Viburnums are not known as ‘the hedges friend’ for nothing! They grow incredibly quickly and so can do the job of providing a screen fast and without the garden intrusiveness issues something like bamboo can pose. There are many varieties of this plant, and each have varying needs, so look for one that suits your light and soil position. Personally, I have a Sweet Viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum)
Verb
screen along one of my front fences, planted to make the area a little more private from the street. Sweet Viburnum likes full sun to part shade, moderately rich and very well-drained soil and loves to be well-mulched, kept watered but not overly wet. It will grow up to nine meters in height and in ultra-fast time but pruning to keep it in check. Bottle Brush (Callistemon spp.)
Bottle
is often overlooked as a screening plant and one I am currently cultivating in another area of my garden. Not only do you end up with a hardy, beautiful looking native screen but also gorgeous flowers for you and the native birds and bees! There are many varieties that grow in all sorts of shapes and sizes and have lots of different foliage and leaves. Have a chat to a friendly local nursery person to find one to suit you.

Vicki of Narara Valley Nursey agreed, and I asked her for other suggestions. She said, “Hands down I think Lilli Pilli (Syzygium smithii)
Acmena-smithii-new-growth1a
is one of the best choices as well as it is a native, fast growing and you get edible berries from most types.” She said that they can get to an impressive five metres in height so are perfect to block out that towering thing you no longer want to see but smaller varieties are available as well. Spacing to create a screen should be around 75cm and they like a very free-draining, rich spoil structure that is kept moist.
“There are so many varieties and look out for psyllids resistant types because that can be a problem in your area” she advised.
Plant screens 1

Planting and Growing Tips
Get your spacing right to begin with. Roots can easily overcrowd and contribute to disease or death of your plants in a too closely planted screen or create a dense hedge that may not suit you. Too far apart may not afford the look or privacy that you are after. Don’t just use the recommended spacing on the plant label, check the recommended spacing for planting a privacy screen using that plant.
Scale is important to the overall look of your garden so think of the final size of your screen. Large and high screens/hedges look better with larger leaves while more compact ones suit smaller leaves. Prune and trim your screen regularly to encourage and maintain the shape you are looking for and when you do, make sure you feed your plants as you are reducing their available food-making structure. Water as suggested for your plants and reduce as they attain full size.
This article first appeared in  Coast Newspapers 


How to Save Your Seeds

Although it may seem a simple enough task, to be effective a little planning, preparation and commitment is needed to save seeds from your garden. You can just shake, squeeze, and scrape those plants and collect all the seeds, but to ensure they have the best chance of being viable (being about to sprout), and will grow you a healthy, strong crop next time around, I’ve gathered a few tips and tricks for you to follow.
Seeds 2
Seeds are the embryonic stage of a plant, created after fertilisation and there are many reasons to collect your own. Firstly, money! While a packet of seeds may only be a few dollars, that adds up over a garden. By saving seeds you get plants for nothing and while you will never be able to plant all the seeds collected, you may consider selling them or their seedlings, swapping or giving them away. Your local community gardens will thank you too as many are now setting up Seed Libraries as a central point for swapping seeds to preserve varieties of the more successful crops or endangered plants in an area.

Commercial seed producers focus on what is standard and popular. This is not because they are being picky, it’s just a matter of logistics. No one company, or even bunch of companies, could ever be able to satisfy everyone’s seed desires. By saving your own seeds you are adding to the diversity of plant types available and keeping alive a genetic legacy. One great Aussie institution that was founded on this principle is The Diggers Club. Created in 1978 by Clive and Penny Blazey to stop the disappearance of many plants including heirlooms and to have them available to the public. Members not only benefit from being able to purchase seeds but many assist in the preservation of seeds as well. diggers.com.au

Other reasons to save seeds include the opportunity to preserve the genetic material of the cream of your crop and because you need to let plants fully mature to collect their seeds, you will be helping our bee population but providing more flowers in the environment. My favourite reason is the opportunity to keep my personal garden legacy alive for my friends, family and to take that into the future. Being able to replant and even share the seeds of the plants I have loved, along with their memories is a beautiful thing and yet nothing new. The Ancient Egyptians believed that by telling a plant your hopes, dreams and plans that they would carry on through the eons long after you yourself had departed the earth. So, let’s get started saving those seeds for the future!

Seed Saving Planning
A possible problem with ducking out to the garden right now and collecting seeds is that they may be hybrids. Some may be hybrids that you have planted, and these won’t always produce the same plant from their seed. Also, pollinators, e.g., bees, have hopped from flower to flower in your garden and crossbreeding has occurred. While this can be exciting as it is how new varieties have been found in the past, if you are after a plant that is a true offspring of your original then you will need to ensure it is ‘open-pollinated’. Some plants self-pollinate like lettuce, tomatoes, beans, and peas and are considered open pollinated, but others can be protected by planting with space or barriers between varieties or by pollinating by hand. You also need to plant more than a few of each type to ensure genetic strength and health of your seeds. While planning be prepared for those crops that take more than one season to start producing seeds. All this in mind, there is nothing wrong with collecting the seeds you have now and giving it a go, especially if you only have one type of each plant growing in your garden.

Seed Collection Process
There are two types of seeds: wet fruited or dry fruited and they need to be harvested differently. You need to wait until the fruits of wet fruited seeds fully mature for many plants and this will mean past what is the edible stage. To do this, just leave a few of these fruits (this includes what we know as vegetables too i.e., cucumbers and eggplants) growing until they are just at the end of their life before harvesting. Seeds will need to be obtained by cutting open the fruit and then washed and sometimes soaked to remove all traces of the fruit and then dried. Seeds from dry fruited plants can be collected as soon as you notice that the seeds are hard and if they are contained within a seed pod, removed from it. Then both wet and dry fruited seeds need to be dried out. This can be done by spreading out seeds onto very fine mesh screens, filter papers or waxed papers, indoors in a cool, dry place. While they should not be touching, you will need to move them around every few days. Leave for 2 - 3 weeks. Another more modern method involves using silica gel. Easily available online, place a layer of silica gel into an airtight flat container and then cover with fine mesh. Place seeds upon the mesh, spreading out as much as possible. Place lid onto container and leave in a cool, dry place. This method takes between a week to two weeks depending on seed size. Dry fruited seeds can also be collected and dried in one easy step. Place the stem of a mature flower or flower head into a brown paper bag, head down. I clip these bags onto a line in my garage, but you can also lay the bags down if it is in a cool, dry, and dark place. Give the bags a shake every few days to release seeds. Once seeds have all fallen into the bag, remove stem, keep top open and leave in there for a few more weeks, still shaking occasionally.

Seed Storage
The longevity of seeds depends on many factors and while it is true that there have been viable seeds found hanging out in old jars that are thousands of years old it really is not the normal. The best place to store your seeds is in an airtight opaque container in your fridge or freezer where they will last for many years. Those kept in paper envelopes in cool, dry, and dark places in airtight containers will last until the next season and perhaps into the following year after that. The disappointment at seeds not germinating is caused mostly them being too old.

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. 
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This article first appeared in 'Coast News', 'Coast Chronicle' and 'The Pelican Post' Coast Newspapers 


Flooded and Soggy Garden Rescue

An overly soggy garden that dries out over a few days can be revived without too much fuss, but a flooded garden needs a deeper clean-up and a few more steps to keep you safe and get your garden back to health. If plants are left to stand in water for more than a few days, they can die from lack of oxygen supply to their roots and if they do manage to survive then fungal diseases that develop in these conditions may still be a major challenge.
Red-park-bench-2635551When flood occurs, toxic compounds can wash into your garden such as chemicals, petroleum products and raw sewage along with pathogens and unwanted weeds. Then there is silt. This is a sediment of dust sized partials that move easily in water and when the water recedes, the silt will compact and lead to increased acidity and oxygen starvation in soil. When this silt and mud is left on plants it will also stop the process of photosynthesis. Once the sun returns its gaze upon our gardens, it’s time to get into rescue mode, but not so fast! There is a right way and more importantly, a safe way to save our plants.

First Steps to Recovery
As always, safety first and if your garden was flooded then you need to wear waterproof gloves and boots and a mask is also advisable. This is to reduce the risk of you becoming infected with pathogens. If your garden flooded then you need to wash away any left behind silt and mud from plants, paths, structures, and the surface of the garden as soon as possible. Silt will harden as it dries and be difficult to remove. Get rid of all debris that has fallen or swept into your garden as soon as possible as rotting plant materials will contribute to the spread of disease and fungal activity as well as invite pests in. Let the garden dry out, don’t start planting just yet and do not eat any raw leafy greens, soft fruits, or berries as these will more than likely have absorbed dangerous levels of contaminates. Rule of thumb is to not eat produce for a month, to wash with soapy water and cook before consuming. If you suspect that your garden has been contaminated with raw sewage, then you should remove and destroy annuals and not consume from longer living plants until the following year. 

Soil Rescue
After washing, dig in any remaining silt and turn over soil well to help aerate the garden beds. Your soil will need to be treated with fungicide as well to hold back outbreaks. All that water would have also washed away nutrients and even broken down your soil structure. This needs to be repaired quickly so that your existing plants have a better chance at survival as well. Do a soil test to determine what may be needed to improve your soil and add organic matter, fertilisers, and composts to replace lost nutrients. If you can get hold of a bunch of seaweed, then mulching with this will help increase fertility of soil, break down any remaining silt and encourage the return of worms but any organic mulch will help.

Plant Rescue
You need to be tough and face the fact that some of your plants may not recover but you can help by using fungicides and pest control methods. Use seaweed solutions liberally as these promote strong root growth and are an amazing health tonic for stressed plants. Be ready for competing weeds to start showing up as they move in more easily with silt and remove as soon as you see them. If a plant seems beyond rescue, be strong and remove it as it may infect other healthier plants in your garden.

Lawn Repair
Flooded lawn areas can be saved if the remaining silt is less than about 2cm deep. Try and wash off as much as possible and go over the surface with steel rake to break up the silt surface. Hose on a seaweed solution to encourage root growth. For deep silt, you may need to start again but the trick is to get rid of the silt and to get air into the soil below.

When to Plant Again
General advice it to wait at least 60 days after flooding until you plant again. For those gardens that experienced heavy rainfall without actual flooding, test the readiness by rolling a ball of soil in your hand. If it will easily crumble when pushed with a finger and no water can be seen oozing out, then you are right to plant. If you need to wait, there is nothing stopping you planting your seeds in seed pots and trays while your garden recovers. By the time the seedlings are ready, your garden will have had time to rest, repair and rejuvenate.

FLOOD-PROOF GARDEN
I’m not too sure there is such a thing, but here are a few ways that may help reduce the risk of flood and help water drain more easily from your garden. Create a slope to your garden, even 2 degrees can be enough, so that water runs off more easily and make sure it slopes away from buildings. The installation of drains and even the clever French Drain will help immensely. These are also known as ditch drains, French ditch, sub-surface drains and land drains and they not only help save your garden but will pull water away from the foundation of your home as well. They work by collecting overflowing water and filtering it through gravel or rocks. Selection of plants is always important so considering planting more natives as these will generally be more adaptable to conditions and to recovery as well as helping stop possible soil erosion. To direct water away from your house and to store for later use, install a water tank and consider rain barrels under your down pipes. Collected water in these can be used for the garden later.

YOU AND YOUR GARDEN
Soil to Plate with Youth Connections and SWAMP
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Sustainable Wetlands Agricultural Makers Project (SWAMP) at the Central Coast Wetlands is facilitating an amazing project with Youth Connections of Tuggerah. Created with the support of Central Coast Council and delivered by the enthusiastic volunteers of SWAMP, it is a grass roots pilot program aiming to deliver a nature, gardening, cultural and educational program for the young clients of Youth Connections. In the spirit of ‘soil to plate’ the project will see the creation of a ‘pizza garden’ and then the cooking of pizzas to share with family and friends. In the first week Youth Connections participants travelled to Narara Valley Nursery to begin the preparation and decision making around what will be needed to create the pizza garden. The youth engaged with decisions about which soil, what seeds or seedlings they might like in their garden, as well as the smells and sounds of a bustling nursery with a wide variety of plants. In the following weeks an above ground garden was established at the SWAMP community garden site by the group for the selection of herbs and vegetables that will eventually find their way into on to the pizzas. Other activities included kitchen apron making and a joyful visit to Grace Springs Farm in Kulnura which enabled all to experience agriculture on a larger scale.

Thank you to Syl Marie Photography.

youthconnections.com.au 
swampcentralcoast.com.au

GARDENING GUIDE FOR COAST GARDENERS THIS WEEK
With all this rain, again hold off on planting anything directly in the garden but you can plant out seeds in sheltered spots. 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: Start Seed Saving

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: 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. Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog:  www.florasphere.com

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


Growing Your Own Garlic


Garlic
Fresh garlic, straight from the garden is a divine experience and it is also the way to ensure you get the maximum health benefits possible. It is garlic planting time on The Coast and across temperate areas of Australia right now. Good news is, they are one of the easiest plants to grow and home-grown means more flavour and nutrients. This wonderful veggie can be planted in pots and garden beds and can be used fresh or stored for use all year-round. Garlic (Allium sativum), probably originated in the western areas of Asia, but it is such a long-cultivated plant that we cannot be completely sure. The Ancient peoples of Egypt, China and India, all have recorded histories of growing and using garlic as a medicinal and culinary plant with some even attributing mystical properties to it. Most commercial garlic is treated with a chemical to render it sterile, so you won’t be able to use those bulbs for propagation and it’s handy to know that there are two types of garlic, ‘hard-neck’ which has flowers and ‘soft-neck’ which does not. Soft-neck garlic will store for longer than it’s hard-neck friend, but I do like the flowers which are also edible, and the spikes make amazing, dried foliage material. Another factor you will need to consider is that you probably won’t end up with as large a bulb size as you find in the shops, but you will have leaves and you can eat those as well. Types to consider: Dynamite Purple, Spanish Roja, White Crookneck, Giant Russian, Melbourne Market.


Grow Your Own Garlic
Soil must be open, free-draining and well-prepared with compost. pH level sitting between 6.5 and 7.5 is best and whether you decide to grow in the garden or in pots, find a sunny spot. Garlic can be planted by seed but is mostly cultivated via bulbs. To do this, gently separate the bulb into individual cloves and only use the larger ones. Plant directly in their final designation into the soil with the tips just below the surface and firm down.
Garlic is not a fan of weeds so keep it tidy and water should be consistent but don’t drown your plant. They just don’t like to get soggy feet or humidity. Water seedlings a few times a week until they are a couple of months old and then back off to once or twice a week. Feed every second week with a seaweed-based fertiliser, as they love it and mulch with your usual veggie garden mulch medium but ensure you don’t crowd the plants as air flow and low humidly are important.
Harvest most varieties at around the five-month mark but this will depend greatly on type. You will know they are ready as the leaves will begin to wilt and yellow around this time. Lift gently, keep the leaves intact and hang to dry for a few weeks in a warm, sheltered spot to cure before storing in a cool, dry, dark place. The leaves are left on during the curing process so that all additional nutrients are pulled down into the bulb. Don’t forget to save some of those bulbs for next year’s planting. You can find garlic to grow at your local nursery or online: diggers.com.au or theseedgarlicshop.com.au and Giant Russian Garlic: naglesfallsfarm.com.au

Garlic Uses in the Garden & Beyond
Along with growing garlic, make this spray from it to combat pests in your garden. Blend together 4 cloves of garlic with 1 cup of water and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid (not antibacterial), strain into 500ml spray bottle and top with water. Spray onto plants to deter pests. Test on a few leaves first.  Garlic is a brilliant companion plant for beetroot, carrots, strawberries, lettuce, and roses and provides a fair amount of protection from various pests, but it should never be planted alongside beans or peas as it will stunt their growth and production. For medical use garlic has been used as both an antiseptic and an antibacterial agent for over 3,000 years. Garlic is still used for these reasons in herbal medicine today along with treatments for digestive issues, respiratory diseases and for circulatory benefits as well.

Garlic Folklore
Firstly, don’t go giving garlic flowers to those you love because in the Language of Flowers and Plants, it means ‘Go away you evil one.’ Could be handy at other times though, so hold that thought. As much as we in Western cultures would like to believe that garlic has always been considered the great protector and many points throughout history support this, it’s just not always the case. While you will find that along with traditions, such as the roasting and sharing of garlic cloves on Midsummer’s Eve in France to use as protective amulets, garlic was forbidden in many cultures at times. It was looked upon as ‘unclean’ by religions including Hinduism, Islam and some sectors of Buddhism and Christianity at different times. The Ancient Greeks thought that garlic-breath was an offence in their some of their temples and so consumption was banned before worship.

The protection myths though are very plentiful and are probably related to the obvious health benefits that garlic shares. It’s not just Dracula and other vampires that are said to fear this plant but all demons and evil spirits. The Sanskrit name for garlic, ‘Ishunm’ translates to ‘slayer of monsters’ and it is thought throughout many folklores around the world that sleeping with a clove under your pillow will indeed protect you from such evil-doers while sleeping and from nightmares.

LOCAL GARLIC GROWING WORKSHOP 12th March 2022
Peter Donnelly of Coachwood Nursery, Somersby

Peter Donnelly  Coachwood Nursery
Getting along to a workshop at a nursery is the perfect way to experience growing anything in action as well as having the opportunity to ask questions. Another thing is this, you are not going to find local knowledge, tips, tricks and yes, secrets, online or in books. You will when visiting your local nurseries and especially when attending any dedicated workshop.  Central Coast local nursery Coachwood Organics & Coachwood Nursery has

a brilliant workshop coming up to help to help you Learn everything about growing Garlic successfully & organically. Join Peter Donnelly of Coachwood for his Growing Garlic Workshop. $29 at 3pm, 12 March 2022. Take home a range of different garlic varieties. Demonstration and guided tour. Bring a drink bottle, hat, and sturdy shoes. Students aged 12-18 welcome to join the class. Enquiries 0491 147448 or online www.coachwoodnursery.com

GARDENING BOOK REVIEW
Gardening for Everyone, Growing Vegetables, Herbs and More at Home
by Julia Watkins, Little Brown Publishers, 2022. 304 pages, ISBN: 9781472146922

Gardening-for-everyone

This gardening book is big on planning and in my book? That makes it a winner straight off the block. Julie Watkins focuses strongly on sustainability and very much on long term goals. Her advice is peppered with personal accounts of her mistakes and lessons and that makes gardening more accessible for those wondering about their own past challenges or current aptitude. The book is encouraging and to beginners and I feel expansive enough for more experienced gardeners looking for sustainability gardening practice information and inspiration. Big on beautiful photographs to light that spark in us all and a clever section called ‘Play’ that brings fun and creative ways you can add joy and usefulness in your garden spaces. My only little gripe here is that the title is not a good fit and being an author myself, I know this is usually a publishing house issue, not necessarily an author one. The contents and advice miss the mark with many gardeners as it focuses primarily outdoors and for those with no limitations. Other than that, a good and rather lovely sustainable gardening book.

GARDENING GUIDE FOR COAST GARDENERS THIS WEEK
(for temperate regions early autumn)
If your soil is still waterlogged from the recent rains then hold off direct planting but you can plant in seedling pots now and transplant later. 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: Rain and Flood Garden Rescue  

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

Garlic newspaper
This article first appeared in Coast Newspapers the week of 7th March 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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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. 

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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

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



Beautiful Australian Native Orchids

With over 800 species and around ten new plants discovered each year, there will be an Aussie Native Orchid I’m sure you will fall in love with! For cultural and showing purposes, Australian Native Orchids are placed into one of two groups. The first being the most popular with home gardeners and collectors for their relative ease of care. Accounting for around 25% of the native orchid population, this group is known as the ‘Epiphyte Orchids’. These grow upon trees and rocks. In botanical terms, a plant growing upon rock void of soil is further classified as a ‘Lithophyte’.
Orchids 1

The second group, the ‘Terrestrial Orchids’ makes up the rest of the population, which is 75% and although this group is much larger, it isn’t always as well represented in collections as they can be a lot more difficult to cultivate, and many are extremely rare to begin with. As their name suggests, they grow upon the ground.

Central Coast Native Orchids
What’s even more exciting is discovering and growing our own local orchids. These will be easier to care for and the success rate of cultivation will also be higher in general because they are at home here. Still, you will need to be mindful of their ‘micro-environmental’ needs. Just because it is a plant that is native to this area, doesn’t mean it can grow as happily in a shaded mountain-area as it will on the windswept full-sun coast.

Here are a few locals you might like to try growing at your place:

Tree Spider Orchid (Dendrobium tetragonum) grows naturally in trees and upon rocks along small, shaded waterways. In your garden, you will need a semi-shaded, sheltered moist spot. Expect the highly fragrant, spider-like flowers to appear in the springtime.  You will need good air circulation, and although it can be grown in a pot, does a lot better when mounted in a tree or upon a board. Keep moist throughout the year but a lot drier in the winter months.

Ironbark Orchid (Dendrobium aemulum) likes to grow on Eucalyptus trees but if you are growing in pots, use a course, loose bark and make sure that you keep the roots covered. Flowers are a brilliant white that turn pink as they are spent. It’s a late winter through to early spring bloomer which delights with a divine soft fragrance. They are happy in the heat, prefer some humidity but also need very good airflow. Ironbark orchids prefer full sun but will tolerant some shade. Ensure the medium is kept moist but be aware that they don’t like to be overwatered at all. A free-flowing growing medium is super important with this orchid.

Rock Orchid (Dendrobium speciosum) would have to be my favourite orchid. It grows as both an epiphyte and a terrestrial and is rather drought and heat tolerant. They must have good air-circulation and you should give them semi-shade, but they will enjoy full sun from late autumn and then throughout the winter. Rock Orchid likes to grow in a course bark, pine bark is recommended, and watering should be monitored because they easily fall victim to root rot if water is left to pool. As a general guide: water every 3 to 4 days in summer, decreasing to once every week or 10 days in the colder months.

How to Grow Epiphytes & Lithophytes
First, find a tree! No tree or desire to grow your orchid in a tree? That’s ok, you can simply use old branches, sticks and even rocks artfully placed in pots. Under this structure, you will need a medium and that is not going to be soil. Your epiphytes will recoil in horror if you plant them in dirt so fill your pot with a chunky medium like bark chips, gravel or charcoal. There are specialty orchid growing mediums which are made up of these things and having a look at them will give you the idea or a solution.

This is rather general advice so make sure you seek out individual care tips for your species. Feed your orchid with a specialised orchid fertiliser but at half strength, (because this is a native plant), from mid spring until mid-autumn. You will find that most of this type of orchid need daily watering through the hottest summer months then a couple of times a week in mild weather, to once a fortnight through the winter months.

Got a tree? Maybe a big rock in the garden? Just tie your orchid to it. Follow the rest of the instructions I have given but also make sure the position suits the species you have chosen. One tip I will share with you, don’t tie that orchid to a Paperbark Tree or other bark shedder.

How to Grow Terrestrial Orchids
For the strong of heart and the patient, these orchids will give you a challenge. I like to enjoy them out there in the bush, but if you want to give them a go, a good starting point is the Donkey Orchid species (Duris spp.) of which there are many, but all have a pair of distinctive ear-like petals. These are an easier than most terrestrial orchid to grow. All terrestrial orchids will need a situation on par with most native plants and if growing in a pot, use 3 parts Australian Native Potting Mix to one part perlite to increase drainage. Many terrestrial orchids are deciduous and will die back to their underground tubers in summer and flower from very early spring. Water well during the growing period but most need you to stop completely when they die back.

Looking for More Native Orchid Adventures?
Go for a walk in our natural bushland and see if you can spot some Aussie Natives but only take photos, not flowers or plants. Not only is it illegal, but you will also be contributing to the extinction of our flora. If you are interested in exploring more about legally collecting and growing these beauties of the bush, get in touch with a local Native Orchid group. One that services the Central Coast is: the Australasian Native Orchid Society, Central Coast and they meet on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the Narara Valley Community Centre. www.anoscentralcoast.com for more information. Also check out the umbrella Australasian Native Orchid Society Website: www.anos.org.au The Australasian Native Orchid Society is dedicated to ‘promoting the understanding and appreciation of orchids growing naturally not only in Australia, but also neighbouring New Zealand, New Guinea and the adjacent western Pacific.’ The society members enjoy a type of plant-fellowship that includes breeding of species and sub-species, shows, culture, education, and field work.

GARDENING BOOK REVIEW
Guide to Native Orchids of NSW and ACT

By Lachlan M. Copeland, Gary N. Backhouse
ISBN: 9781486313686 Published by CSIRO January 2022
Orchid book
Even if you never grow an orchid in your life, this book is for all the plant curious out there. With 582 species along with over 600 stunning photographs to discover within its pages this is an invaluable field guide to an often-overlooked plant out there in the Australian wilds. As a garden writer, I can attest to the fact that many are not familiar with the native orchids of our land and don’t recognise what they may come across. Come and explore these beauties from all environments, even the mysterious underground orchids. Personally, I think every home should have this guide and I might be right as it seems to be selling out quickly!

GARDENING GUIDE FOR TEMPERATE 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

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
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This article first appeared in Central Coast Newspapers ( The Coast News and The Chronicle)


...and I'm are back! To blogging!

Hello! 
I hope this finds you happy and well and that you have spent at least some time with a plant, in the garden and maybe even getting your hands dirty. 

Personal Things...

I honestly haven't had the time to fit blogging in for so long as obligations and a bit of craziness has consumed so much of my time. 
Living in the Greater Sydney region has meant 4 long months of lockdown but luckily I have been an essential worker (journalist) and so have had some measure of freedom to do my work. 
I was able to go to the radio station to produce and present my weekly live program and to interview people over the phone from there. Lucky as well to live in a very large LGA (Local Government Area), The Central Coast, and be able to go to the beach, the park and the forest for recreation. Not so lucky that I had another nasty fall and completely torn my medial meniscus. With no elective surgery due to restrictions it has meant terrible pain and immobility but I'll be getting it fixed soon. 

Publishing Things...
Other than that? I'm busy completing a large gardening book and putting the finishing touches on a new series that will appeal to the arty gardeners out there. It's always plants from me so it won't take too much to guess. The large book will appear early 2023 and the series, (yes it is one for my Flora Flowers friends!) will kick off in March 2022. Exciting times and busy ones at that. 
My Flora friends?  Thanks for hanging in there with me. I am happy with where she is headed and the additional few years of development have really helped me to craft a strong backstory and foundation. It's a very good lesson for other authors and illustrators to not be so quick to rush to market with concepts before they are ripe. There is no way Flora would be as well developed or be able to hold up to the breath of plans I have created. There is lots of room for organic growth but it will always make sense to the reader as the roots are strong. 
If you want to keep up with Flora, she has her own website now: The Flora Journals

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Gardening Things...
The garden is looking as wonderful as it always does this time of year here, Down Under. It's late Spring and the vegetables are sweet, the flowers plentiful and the bees are doing their thing. The thing that has been sad is not being able to go to my community garden with friends and fellow community gardeners because of lockdown. We have managed to keep SWAMP (Sustainable Wetlands Agricultural Makers Project) alive and steady with rotating rosters ensuring only one of us (or family group) was there at a time. Right now our core team is back on deck and we are looking forward to opening to the public again early next year (maybe December!) 
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Radio Things...
If you had of told me a few years ago, or even last year, that I would be a trained radio producer, presenter, panel operator in 2022 and would also be efficient with the 'Zetta' operating system and learning audio editing I would of told you to stop drinking the hard stuff! Here I am though doing all this at COASTFM. This is mostly due to necessity as it is a Community Radio Station and we all pitch in to help out where we can. I've loved the training and with my keen interest in IT, I've found it rather exciting. The thing about this station is that it is situated on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia and this is a place where a to of Sydney people retire to. So we have a stunning amount of talented, (and very well known) entertainment industry legends on hand. No true creative ever really retires and so our station is stacked with mentors almost on tap, as long as you are willing to do the work! If you are not hearing stories of 'The Golden Age of Radio and Advertising' then you are picking up tiny tips and helpful insights all day every day. The best thing though is really connecting with the community and making a real difference by sharing what you are passionate about directly. I'm able to craft a program that speaks straight to local gardeners and plant people that is for them, about them and including them. 
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Newspaper Things...
My Coast News Gardening page is now syndicated to another weekly newspaper and found online. After a one week absence a couple of weeks ago due to a miscommunication, we all know how popular it is! It's delightful to hear how much people like my column which follows that gardening show I write. I also now get to review gardening books so if you have suggestions for gardening/plant related books that I could give my 'leaf rating' to, let me know! Oh and let's not forget the gardening questions!! I answer way more than appear in the article each week with about 20 coming in every seven days. Again, it's lovely to see and feel that I'm helping out.

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I think that's enough things to catch up on to get me back behind the blogging wheelbarrow! 

bunches of love, 
Cheralyn 


Your Autumn Garden Planner - The Gardening

Copy of Booster - Podcast Posts-7

🌿 Our topic is 'Autumn Gardening' and along with Cheralyn's suggestions, we will be chatting with greenskeeper Craig Parks for the inside dirt on keeping lawns looking lush.
🌿Our regular GangSTARS join us... Vicki from
Narara Valley Nursery with 'What's Hot around the Nurseries', Doreen will give us the Market report that matters with 'Around the Markets this Weekend' and Lachlan of McDonald Partners our insider agent with his 'Property Report'. Listen out for our new a new segment from
MC Microbe! He is our community reporter and presenter with a lot of brilliant tips to lay down for us as well!
Listen for the 🔔 as that is your cue to call us with your gardening questions for Cheralyn's 'Gangster Gardening School'!
🌿 Make sure you PM us your news and events ASAP so we can include them in the show.
🌿 'At Home with the Gardening Gang'
COAST FM 963 is live every Saturday morning on your dial or streamed 8am - 10am Sydney, Australia time.
🌿The episode is then Podcasted the following Sunday morning sans music wherever you get your podcasts. Search: 'At Home with the Garden Gang'