It’s about to get freaky up in here.
How does your garden grow? If you fancy yourself a bit of a “green thumb” you can get expert advice when Australia’s largest sub-tropical garden event – the 2015 Queensland Garden Expo – returns to the Sunshine Coast next month.
Staged at Nambour Showgrounds, from Friday, July 10 until Sunday, July 12 from 8am daily, the expo will showcase presenters such as renowned gardening experts Angus Stewart, Annette McFarlane, Claire Bickle, Jerry Coleby-Williams, Noel Burdette and Phil Dudman. And you can be out and proud with your enthusiasm for the three-day event, garden lovers, for it’s set to attract 35,000 people from across Australia and beyond, says spokesman Marion Beazley.
“We’ve been busily locking in our speaker program over the past few months and are pleased to say the expo is shaping up to be one of our biggest and best yet,” Ms Beazley says.
“A number of New Zealand garden enthusiasts have already taken advantage of the recently introduced Auckland to Sunshine Coast flights and purchased their tickets to this year’s event. It’s been really exciting to see the expo’s reputation growing internationally.”
And while last year’s 30th anniversary event will undoubtedly be a hard act to follow, Ms Beazley says participants at this year’s event can enjoy 300 exhibitors and more than 55 nurseries selling in excess of 40,000 plants.
“We’ll also have more than 100 lectures and demonstrations taking place, providing attendees with a wealth of information on everything from creating a thriving veggie garden and rearing chickens, right through to getting kids involved in the backyard fun and cooking with fresh herbs,” she says.
Some of the expo’s most popular areas and events would make making a comeback in 2015 include the Giant Organic Kitchen Garden and Living Backyard feature areas and some of Queensland’s most talented green thumbs battling it out in the hotly contested landscape garden competition.
“The landscape garden displays have become one of the most visited areas of the expo in recent years,” Ms Beazley says. “Last year’s competitors upped the ante by creating a cold-climate garden display in the Sunshine Coast’s sub-tropical weather, and recycling old shower heads as part of an inspired water landscape.”
“The competition really encourages landscapers to pull out all the stops and show off their creative flair and we find expo attendees always walk away feeling inspired and motivated to transform their own backyards.”
And younger generation green thumbs don’t miss out – with kids’ workshops and a children’s play area being set up in one area of the grounds.
Tickets are $18 adults and children under 15 are free with an accompanying adult. To purchase tickets, or find out more about the event and accommodation packages on offer, visit www.qldgardenexpo.com.au.
One of the cheapest and most rewarding ways to grow a cactus is from a cutting. Plus, they make awesome gifts for people, especially if you’re on a tight budget. All you need is a little knowledge and you can have a beautiful plant at a fraction of the cost of a nursery variety.
Getting cactus to grow isn’t as hard as some people anticipate and it’s quite therapeutic. Also, many varieties are almost indestructible. The best place to get cuttings is from relatives, friends, or even walking down the street. This is great if you aren’t sure what will grow in your area as an established plant is living proof it can be done.
Now, growing plants from cuttings can be an art, so it’s best to start simple – hearty cactus are great for beginners. Even if you don’t have green fingers follow these guidelines and you should be successful!
- The key to successful growth is in the selection of the cutting. Choose a small piece that is growing off one of the main stems, rather than trying to establish something bigger – a small piece will root and grow much faster. Ideally, choose a piece that is no longer that 10-15cm in length.
- Now that you’ve identified an ideal piece, gently pry the cutting away from the main stem. It will have a notch like attachment, so doing it gently with your hands is much better than using snips or scissors.
- When you have your precious cutting, place it in a clear glass with enough water to keep it wet and to promote roots. Cactus’ can’t be drowned – which is just as unusual as the fact that they can grow without much water. Choosing a clear glass will allow you to see the roots form and continue to grow.
- Place the glass on a window sill or somewhere well lit. Change the water regularly and remember to keep it wet. The cactus will begin to get roots and predominately grow downward, not upward, so don’t expect much height change.
- How long you leave the plant to produce roots depends on many variables like climate and light. Some people have cactus plants in vases around their home, as many varieties thrive in water alone. The root system gets very intricate and it can be quite a stunning display – a great alternative to a bunch of flowers because it lasts for years, not days or weeks.
- If you’d prefer to grow a larger specimen in soil, select an appropriate pot size and potting mix. Take a picture of the plant and ask your local nursery to advise you of the best pot and soil type. Growing a thriving plant is heavily dependent upon the soil. So, if you’re a beginner, spend a bit more on some decent soil rather than creating your own mix, or earth directly from the garden.
That’s it! Your cactus will need a little water initially after planting, but usually within 2-4 weeks the cactus will generally look after itself.
Tip: With cactus your biggest threat of killing your plant is giving it too much attention after it’s established. If they need water the leaves will droop, and if they are receiving too much water, the leaves may begin to shed.
Good luck and happy planting!
Image via ehow.com
If you’ve spent the winter months gazing out of the window dreaming of spring, now’s the time to plan your perfect garden. You should always be realistic, and create a garden that you’ll be able to manage. You don’t want to design an environment that means constant hard work, leaving you little time to unwind and enjoy your little version of Eden.
1. Carry out some research
If you don’t really know much about plants, soil conditions and gardens in general, then the magazine Country Life suggests that you call on the services of an expert to help you design your perfect garden. A professional gardener may stop you making expensive mistakes and will be able to help you create a garden that’s perfect for your gardening needs and skills. For ideas about flowers, and plants to stock your new flowerbeds, then click here for inspiration.
2. Remember to create an area for sitting
Once you’ve planned your garden and know the types of plants that you want to stock, then an article in The Daily Mirror suggests that you also reserve an area for sitting and enjoying your outside space. Once you’ve dug the flowerbeds, turn your attention to designing an outdoors seating area with decking, or paving that you can use in the summer. Make sure that this area benefits from the sun so plan accordingly. You can always erect a pergola over this space, and use jasmine or other climbing plants for beautiful scented shade.
3. What do you use your garden for?
For some people the perfect garden will resemble the splendours of Sissinghurst, or Hever Castle, but if you don’t have an army of gardeners to hand, or you have a young boisterous family, then this effect will be difficult to maintain. If you love flowers but don’t want to go to the trouble of maintaining herbaceous borders, then hanging baskets and decorative pots might be a useful option. The kids can still play on the grass, and you can enjoy your blooms.
4. Create a wildlife habitat
If you want to encourage birds, butterflies and bees to visit your garden, then make sure you include plenty of flowers in your design. Bees love flowers that are rich in pollen, these include forget-me-nots, herb flowers and the blossom from any fruit trees. A wilder, less manicured garden is easy to maintain, and will allow you to enjoy a constant stream of pollinators throughout the spring and summer months. Wild grasses also look great in this type of garden, as do wild herbs, including chamomile.
5. Gardens do change
Once your flowers are in bloom and you are satisfied with the overall effect of your garden, remember that you can always add different plants to your initial plan. Nature is never static, and your garden shouldn’t be either. You could try a mix of formal borders and have a wild area at the rear of your garden. Alternatively, you could just fill your space with shrubs and trees and have some raised beds for vegetables. Perfection is very personal; so try to stamp as much of your individuality on your garden as possible.
Don’t give your gardener yet another plant! We’ve done the homework for you, hunted through cyberspace and come up with 5 top picks for your gardening guru. They are guaranteed to suit any budget and are highly recommended by people who genuinely love gardening!
Tubtrugs and colanders
Most gardeners have ditched their old buckets for Tubtrugs. They are so versatile, tough and convenient that there really are hundreds of uses for them around the home and garden. If you are looking for a highly versatile gift that fits most budgets, this is it. They come in heaps of colors and sizes.
Luckily, someone has used their noggin and come up with a way to make it even better by adding a colander. It’s basically a giant strainer. It’s great if you want to wash freshly picked produce, garden tools, pots, whatever!
End-of-hose flow controller
There are so many different attachments for hoses, but anyone who uses one will love you for this little beauty. It provides users the control of the tap, but it’s conveniently located right where you need to use it, at the end of the hose. Once it’s attached, users turn the tap on and never need to touch it again. For under $10, this is possibly the best gardening gift you will ever buy. It saves time, energy, water, money and the possibility of getting soaked when changing nozzles.
As land becomes more precious, gardens are growing up instead of out. That’s why these are becoming a massive trend world wide. Even people without a green thumb are able to manage a vertical garden with a few favorite herbs for their kitchen.
They are excellent for small spaces, like inner city apartments to large country farms. They require minimal care for maximum effect and labor output, plus there are varieties for all budgets; starting at under $10 and going up to the thousands.
Good gardening gloves
Boring right? Now, being a gardener I can tell you that not all gloves are created equal. There isn’t a gardener alive who wouldn’t love a pair of decent sweat-free, second skin gardening gloves. You know, the type which you can actually feel what you’re doing, pick up a drink while you’re working and can be thrown in the wash after a hard day’s work.
Yeah, I know it’s asking a lot out of a pair of humble gloves, but there are some great ones out there. They aren’t going to break the bank, so you can either wrap them up alone or team them up with some other ideas.
Growing fruit and veggies is back in gardening trends in a big way, so these little things are a must have for anyone who grows strawberries. Instead of the birds hoeing into their nurtured fruit, these rocks deter them by changing their behavior.
When the strawberry rocks are placed around the plants as they grow, the birds peck at them thinking they are nice and ripe. They aren’t of course. They are hard rocks. Birds will try pecking a few more times and then give up, knowing that if they peck at them they will hurt their beaks. By the time the real strawberries are ripe, they won’t bother touching them. Violá! Cute, mini strawberry protectors.
Now, they can be a bit tricky to buy. They aren’t usually available at major garden retailers, so check on-line. Alternately, what a great gift idea for the kids to make for the grandparents. It’s cheap, easy and will keep them entertained for ages!
Images via presenciapr.com, pinterest.com,1001gardens.org, gardeners.com and telegraph.co.uk
There are a lot of people who have great intentions when they bring a plant into the house, only to watch it slowly die. Even people with the greenest thumbs outside can kill off indoor varieties. Rather than watch your cash wilt away or murder a totally savable life, there are some ways to assess what’s going on and turn your plants life around.
There are a few plausible reasons your plant is dying. Too much water, not enough water, poor positioning, not enough light, or too much light are all possibilities. So how do you tell what’s the problem with your plant?
Leaves reveal a lot about the health of the plant. A common problem is when leaves turn brown or yellow and fall off. In some cases, this is a natural occurrence in the life of the plant. However, there are several fatal reasons why this is happening. Where and how it is occurring can be a key indicator of why this is happening. For example:
- Lower leaves or leaves on one side of the plant turning brown and falling off indicates lack of light.
- Wilting leaves which curl, turn brown and then fall off, indicate too much heat and possible lack of water. Also try to increase airflow to reduce heat stress.
- Wilting leaves which turn brown and fall off, usually starting from the bottom and working their way up, indicate lack of water.
- Brown leaf tips or black spots on leaves indicates lack of humidity. Many house plants are tropical varieties and require a degree of humidity. If you move the plant into the bathroom, it will probably thrive.
If any of these things are happening to the leaves on your plant, correcting the conditions should improve the life of the plant. It won’t happen overnight, so give your plant time to heal. Apart from these indicators, there are a few other factors which could identify poor health of your plant which will eventually lead to its death. These include: the plant being oversized for the pot, the pot sitting in water, diseases, pests and fungus.
If the plant has outgrown the pot, it will be unable to retain water. The best solution is to upsize the pot or if possible, separate the plant and place it into different pots. For pots sitting in water, place some stones or pebbles under the pot to lift it away from the water run off. This will reduce the chance of root rot, which will effect your plant.
Disease, pests or fungus will require more work and some further research. As each problem differs, take a photo of an affected area and either take it to a nursery or search for it on the internet to identify the problem. There will be a particular care plan, including a specific spray or home remedy for each issue.
Remember that plants need food as well as water, so don’t forget to fertilize. Be careful to place your plant in an appropriate area and be aware of temperature differences due to heating and cooling, inside the home.
The last essential tip is to follow care instructions on the purchasing tag and keep it for reference should illness strikes your plant. With a little care most plants can bounce back to life and will thrive in correct conditions.
By Kim Chartres
Sick of a sweaty, smelly gym? Can?t stand the queues for the treadmill? Well ? it?s time to grab a rake, some SPF 20 and hit the garden. It might seem a surprise but doing some gardening can actually burn calories and definitely burn away any pent up stress. Gardening is just a hobby but it really is also an excellent way to stay physically fit. Now you don?t have to climb Palm Trees to remove dead fronds or dig a trench either, the moderate physical activities (pruning, digging, weeding) that are involved in gardening will burn calories faster than you think. Also for most people just being outdoors will help to reduce stress levels and increase your general mood.
We were really quite amazed at how many calories you can burn. Have a look at the following guide for an approximate calorie guide on how much you can burn in a 30 minute gardening session:
- Digging ? 200 cals
- Planting trees ? 180 cals
- Pruning shrubs ? 180 cals
- Raking ? 160 cals
- Turning compost ? 250 cals
- Weeding ? 180 cals
Start with easy tasks, such as pruning and wedding. Gradually build up to digging and raking.
Getting fit in the garden is a lot like working out in the gym. Vary your activities so you don?t get bored or so it doesn?t become repetitive. Include a variety of actions such as digging, weeding, pruning then digging again. Alternate them every 5 mins so you are working different parts of your body.
Make sure you protect your back so always bend from the knees when you rake or hose the garden. When you are lifting bags of compost or large pot plants make sure you definitely bend your knees. If you have a bag of compost ? do some arm lifts while you?re at it.
Remember to let your arms and legs do the work when you?re mowing, raking etc. Don?t forget to hold your stomach in as well.
Learn to pace yourself. Garden for around 15 minutes then do some stretches then start again.
Always have a bottle of water around and keep drinking as you would with any other type of physical activity.
Don?t get obsessed and spend a whole day gardening. Always space out the work that needs to be done in the garden. You will get the best out of it if you do two to three shorter sessions every week.
One of the best tips for relief after a day of gardening is to take a cool down walk or lie on the grass and do some stretches.