When my eldest daughter Sarah became engaged, one of her requests for her wedding was that she wanted Australian flowers, and particularly ones that I had bred. Of course I was delighted to put my hand up to bring such a lovely personal touch to the event. The only issue that confronted me was that the wedding was going to be in North Carolina in the USA. Never one to pass up a challenge I worked out that I could source a lot of the flowers from friends of mine in California who specialize in Australian plants for the US cut flower trade.
Over a period of three decades I have been sending my kangaroo paws as well as various other Australian plants to Californian growers. Kangaroo paws are particularly popular over there and so they were always destined to be the feature flower for the wedding. I was delighted when Sarah chose yellow as the colour for the bridesmaid’s dresses and also requested lots of colour for the flower arrangements as well. So we decked the halls with bunches of yellow, red and orange kangaroo paws. Being the middle of summer in the US, we also had big bunches of NSW Christmas Bush that is sold in California as ‘Festival Bush’ (although I reckon they should start a ‘Christmas In July Bush’ concept).
The tables for the wedding reception were decorated with swirls of a dozen different Eucalyptus species laid flat on the tables. These species included pulverulenta, macrocarpa, rhodantha, forrestiana, pyriformis, albida and polyanthemos. A host of other interesting Australian plants were added to the mix for some special touches including Grevilleas Moonlight, Honey Gem and Sylvia; Callistemon; Banksias of various species such as robur, menziesii and baxterii.
I would like to thank my friends in California, Danny and Dana Meyer of Kangaroo Ranch, and Mel Resendiz and Diana Roy of Resendiz Brothers Flowers in southern California for their very kind assistance in making it all happen. And thanks also to the bridesmaids Daisy, Emma and Annabel Stewart for their skills in helping arrange all the flowers.
The best part of gardening for me is in creating new gardens, so I am in my element on my new property in Tasmania. If all goes well I am going to be converting an old dairy into a beautiful cottage that will be designed in conjunction with a couple of acres of garden to frame the stunning views of Norfolk Bay that the property looks out on. I hope to l rent out the cottage as farmstay accommodation. As well as having a kitchen garden I will be running my own research program on sustainable and organic horticulture as part of the property and I hope to share my adventures with you through our newsletter and the website. I firmly believe that every gardener can make a difference in getting huge amounts of carbon into our soils where it belongs, to retain maximum amounts of water and nutrients.
At the moment I am madly propagating and collecting plants for the new gardens. Genetic diversity will be the theme in creating an arboretum of species that I hope will be a way of conserving biodiversity for future generations. I will also be experimenting with as many new ideas and technologies as I can get my hands on and sharing it with you on video and as podcasts. Watch this space!
A new book
I am thrilled to tell you that my next book has just gone to the printer. It will be available in November. This one is a collaboration with my great friend and colleague in horticulture, soil scientist extraordinaire Simon Leake. Simon and I both graduated from Sydney University in Agricultural Science in the early 80’s and have collaborated on a variety of projects over the years and have been talking about writing a book for a long time. The book is about urban farming and how to do it in all sorts of small (as well as larger) spaces in the most sustainable way. Our aim was to bring our readers a very practical book that shows you how to grow food in the city in the most cost effective and horticulturally efficient way. We will have a special offer for our loyal newsletter readers if you are interested in a copy, which I’ll bring you closer to the release date.
We are very pleased that many of you are taking advantage of our increased plant offering on the shop, with the new 50mm small tube range. We will continue to bring you an ever changing monthly offering that will be featuring new and exciting new plant releases as well as tried and trusted old favourites. We have started off small over winter, but will have a good range for spring.
We are also offering a special on The Australian Native Garden to run out our remaining stock to make way for the new book that we have mentioned above. You can now get a copy for $40 which includes postage and handling, while stocks last!