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The noise on the nursery. Garden chat with Chook, from Greenbourne Nursery

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

✦ As I write this, a cold snap is coming up from the south west. Winter is on its way. While a cold winter may sound like an annoyance to many, it is something our area needs here on the mid north coast.

I have had numerous discussions with locals about the abundance of garden pests and diseases that have burdened our plants for the last 18 months or so. The last two winters have been quite mild in regard to minimum temperatures and hence have allowed breeding cycles to continue and various pests to survive the winter period.

Stopping the birds from pinching the ripening fruit, Greenbourne Nursery as featured in Brilliant-Online
Stopping the birds from pinching the ripening fruit

A cold winter will hopefully disrupt this pattern and allow for a more successful spring period. It will also help to sweeten up our citrus and put a richer red pigment into anyone growing blood oranges.

Speaking of citrus, we can always tell when the sweet, tangy fruit begins to ripen - we start selling bird netting like crazy! Many are flocking in (pardon the pun) and purchasing the netting to stop the birds from pinching the ripening fruit. Bowerbirds, rainbow lorikeets and currawongs to name a few, however the most frustrating are the white cockatoos.

Many customers are telling me the familiar story of how the cockies will pick a fruit, take a single bite and then discard it on the ground beneath the tree. Some say they are just bored and some say they are searching for seed inside the fruit. One of our lovely regulars swears that the cockies are doing it to spite us, getting a little back for knocking down too many trees… maybe he’s right.

Apart from talking to plenty of folk here at the nursery, we have been working on our first batch of bare rooted roses. A true sign that winter approaches. The roses this season have obviously enjoyed the extra water this year as they are thick and strong with a great root system. Now that the rain is starting to let up a little, it is a great time to prepare the garden beds and either add to your rose collection or begin one.

I have found a way to do a little bit of garden catch up thanks to a lovely couple who drop in to the nursery all the time. With the excess rain that occurred a few weeks ago we all have tales of missed opportunities in the garden. The daylight length is getting shorter and many of us are not home until it is dark. The delightful couple I was chatting to were in a situation just like this, they told me the solution was simple - just garden at night!

They ran me through a few ideas that they had and used successfully. So, based on their recommendation I dropped into the hardware a few days later and picked up a 20 metre extension cord and a type of spot light that is mounted to a tripod. The setup allows me to move around the garden and find even the most hidden little nooks. The wife and kids laughed at and mocked me from the verandah as I began setting up… but I loved it. It was such a peaceful experience. Please give it a go and catch up on some gardening.

Ornamental Plant Recommendation

Jungle Warrior (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Jungle Warrior (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Commonly called the ZZ plant. This spectacular specimen is a well-bred offspring of the very popular Zanzibar Gem. The original Zanzibar Gem has been an incredible indoor favourite for many years. Now you can compliment the rich green colours of the original with the rich dark chocolate colours of the Jungle Warrior.

This plant is sure to become a collector’s treasure. It performs well in medium to low light areas. It is quite comfortable in rooms with no natural light. Requires minimal water (too much water will make it sick). Only requires a liquid fertilizer every second month. A great low maintenance plant for your home or for a delightful gift for someone who likes beautiful things but may not be overly confident with indoor plants. Get into your nursery and have a look at one soon.

Culinary Herb Recommendation

Perennial coriander (Eryngium foetidum)

Perennial coriander (Eryngium foetidum)

Let’s face facts. There are coriander lovers and there are coriander haters - there is nothing in between. Personally, I am in the first category. I love coriander. It is great fresh, used in salads and in cooking, however it can be a difficult herb to grow and have supply of regularly. Common leaf coriander is very sensitive to altering weather, in particular seasonal change. It has the tendency to bolt to seed and is quite expensive to continually buy fresh in stores. So, you can imagine my delight when someone handed me a pot of the perennial coriander… absolute happiness.

I still have the very same plant to this day. It goes by many other names: Mexican coriander, long coriander and saw tooth coriander. Saw tooth coriander gives the best description of how the plant looks. It has a flat broad leaf with a saw-like edge. It is actually a little sharp to touch on the plant but softens immediately in cooking. It thrives in full sun to part shade and clumps at the base. Over the years I have plucked off new plants from the base of the original one and placed them all around the garden. I have used them in various edging situations just so I can smell the aroma when the whipper snipper brushes by the overhanging leaves. It is truly a herb plant I could not be without.

Fruit tree recommendation

Babaco (Carica pentagona)

This is an herbaceous plant that is closely related to the paw paw. The fruit has a pentagon shape (hence its botanical name pentagona). As a small tree it grows quite upright, just as paw paw trees do, and the fruit clumps out from the stem below the top foliage. The fruit is incredibly unique in flavour. Many will tell you it has the flavour combination of strawberry, paw paw, pineapple and kiwi fruit, quite a delicious combination.

With my rare experience of eating one I would describe it like lemon sherbet. Sweet and tangy at once. They are hard to find but if you can grab one you will not be disappointed. We have managed to secure a small supply of them here at Greenbourne nursery after a long and patient search for them.

I look forward to my young plant delivering me similar memories of the experience I had many years ago. They do best in nice raised, free draining soils and prefer subtropical areas. They can tolerate light frosts but certainly perform best in the warmer zones. I have heard of them growing well in, and north of, Sydney.

While they do enjoy the heat it is best to keep them out of the direct sun heat of the day - a dappled canopy of trees is a perfect situation form midday to 2pm, for example. They have a strange characteristic where after fruiting the main stem is best to be pruned back close to the bottom of the plant. From here a new shoot is then selected to become dominate stem until the next fruiting period. Hopefully you can find one like we have.

Now winter is here, get out into your nurseries and see all the exiting new seasonal plants that arrive at this time of year

Enquire with the helpful staff about what deciduous plants will work best in your area - and don’t forget to set up your spotlight in your garden! Also be sure to catch up on all the little garden jobs you were unable to do due to the big wet.

Please feel free to drop into the nursery here at Greenbourne for some good advice or just a friendly chat.

Happy Gardening - Daniel “Chook” Fowler


Greenbourne Nursery

Ph: 02 65 85 2117


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