The smell of Gardenia’s


Recently I have had many people asking me so many questions about Gardenias and my Gardenias suffer from the same problems as everyone else’s at this time of the year. Yellowing of the leaves is a common problem at the height of the flowering season. I have them planted under my bedroom window and the perfume at night is magical. These shrubs give a romantic feel to the garden or pergola area and are worth growing for evergreen looks and fragrance. Gardenias need a specific food and they really love a good slow release fertiliser like Yates Camellia Azalea food. When they are trying to flower and they are a bit hungary and they will sacrifice the old leaves by turning yellow and dropping. Simple to fix; just feed them. Generally a slow release fertiliser will release with temperatures above 25 degrees being the optimum and if it gets too hot they can release so quickly that the tiny balls of fertiliser burst and can burn surface roots and foliage low to the ground. Something to be aware of and you can avoid this by feeding in early spring and autumn for the best results and prevent the hungry look in the first place. Gardenias are renowned for throwing flowers spasmodically throughout the year so it’s a good idea just to get into the regular routine of twice a year feeds.

Interesting enough Gardenias have some friends who like the same treatments and fertiliser. Use your Camellia Azalea food to feed Gardenias, Camellias, Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Daphne plants and you will keep them very happy and healthy.

There are quite a few different species and varieties out there to choose from and you can purchase them as standards, bush or groundcovers. My favourites are Gardenia augusta ‘Magnifica’ which has a large flower and gives a great floral show with beautiful perfume. I also really like the variety G. ‘Professor Pucci ‘and the groundcover Gardenia, G. radicans. The ground cover has small cute flowers the same pure white as all the other Gardenias and are still highly scented.

Gardenias like a good loamy composted soil in a semi shaded aspect and they don’t like the frost too much or drying out so don’t forget to water these babies. They also prefer a slightly acid soil with a PH of 6-7. Easy to test your soil before planting with a simple do it yourself PH soil testing kit you can purchase form a Hardware store or Nursery. IF you need to raise your PH level because it is too acidic just add some lime or if you need to lower it if it is too alkaline add some sulphur. Most plants respond well to a PH of 6-7 and this is the zone where all the nutrients are available to plants we should only play with it when we are trying to manipulate the soil PH for specific plant requirements or where our soil is extreme either side of the scale and nutrients therefore become unavailable.

The most common pest problem I have seen on these plants is scale, small half shelled insects that suck goodness from the leaves and stems. A simple application of pest oil will get rid of these tiny critters and stops other issues like black sooty mould which grows off the sugar secretions of the scale.

I prefer pest oil to white oil it’s more environmentally friendly and not so harsh on the plant in hot weather. Good luck and get planting!



Let the Festive season begin.

christmas ladder

Sharing a bit of Christmas cheer, not everyone sees Christmas this way and it can be a difficult time for some people to face for many reasons. All I can say is we have all year to spend with the people we love and want to be around why do we need to force people into a confined space that don’t want to be together and why are there so many people not with the people they actually want to be with on Christmas day?

Anyway as hard as it is, I have three beautiful kids and we will do our best to be festive. Our traditional Christmas tree is a little quirky and gave the kids a laugh for the first time last year to do something completely different and start a new tradition together. I was doing it tough and didn’t have a tree so I borrowed and old antique wooden ladder complete with a step being held together with duct tape and turned it into an amazing Christmas ladder. It’s the little things that count and just being together makes it special with the ones we love including the furr babies.

If you’re thinking plants I have some Christmas ideas, now is a great time to revamp your outdoor areas with hanging baskets filled with Petunias in red and white blooms for the hot spots and red and white impatiens for the shady spots, lots of flowers and lots of colour. In the garden there is always a place for the NSW Christmas Bush, Ceratopetalum gummiferum. It’s gorgeous and in full bloom now. This is an evergreen large shrub growing to 4-5 meters but very easy to shape and keep trimmed at a smaller size. It’s tough and hardy built for the northern hemispheres dry conditions. It looks spectacular in the garden and it’s great for picking the floral bracts to bring inside and use for flower arranging. This is one of our Australian beauties as the flowers are actually white and as they are pollinated the flowers drop away to reveal the sepals underneath the flowers which turn red and create a magic Christmas display, looks like flowers but they are not. Australian natives never cease to surprise me with their amazing unique qualities.

Berry delightful are the raspberries at the moment and nothing says Christmas season like being able to pick your own berries! Raspberries are easy to grow and just need some pruning and shaping in the winter to encourage long lengthy branches which can be tied to fencing or rose hoops for ease of picking fruit. Training them to be the shape and size you want is the key and not disturbing the roots is another key as they will sprout from the roots in the ground when disturbed and can get out of control. Anything with thorns can end up being a curse later on if you don’t maintain its growth. But on the upside they are tough and hardy and don’t mind a little bit of afternoon shelter in the hot months. Pick fruit daily to encourage more fruit to develop and feed them in spring with organic fertilizers like Dynamic lifter, cow manure and fresh compost. Try the new yellow species of golden raspberries to mix it up. Doesn’t a bit of raspberry ice-cream sound festive to you!

Merry festive season!

NSW christmas bush