Autumn Is Coming Fast! - Feb 09, 2024

Dear gardening friends

Do you remember The Passionfruit House?
I wrote a story about this house in Manly, that has a Passionfruit vine that's growing so profusely, it's actually grown through the open windows, and into the bedroom. It's become living curtains.

The vine is so successful, you can see the fruit hanging down from the vine inside the house.
The bees have flown in through the open windows to pollinate the flowers.

I met the owner recently, he was sitting on the step, he looked like a hip happening guy, almost a model.

He was sitting on the step, surrounded by foliage. "I love your Passionfruit Vine".
Was my opening.
"Cheers, thanks mate" he replied.

I kept walking, but I really wanted to interview him.

How much do you really love Passionate fruit?
Is this a modern day Jack and the bean stalk story?

Did you plant it?
Or did it just pop up?
Are you just going to let it keep growing?
Is this an experiment?
Can I have a Passionfruit?
Did you use Tim's FAST FOOD?
Is it a Tim's Big Black Passionfruit?
P.S It's time to plant Passionfruit vines.
We have them from $9.99.

I've been watching these trees growing in the new housing estate in Menangle. They are Ivory Curl Trees. I wasn't sure if they would survive winter here, but they have. They have burst into bloom.

Menangle is famous for The Rotolactor, which is no longer there. More recently it's become famous for its Cape Chestnut trees which have the most amazing pink blooms.

I'm wondering if it might become famous for its Ivory Curl Trees, once these become established. I noticed that one of the new homeowners has planted one in their garden too and it's thriving.

These trees will actually grow better when they are planted in gardens near houses. Why would that be?

They are native rainforest trees from far North Queensland, so we weren't expecting them to grow in South Western Sydney, where it's freezing cold in winter.

But when they are planted in these tiny gardens they get warmth from the concrete and brick walls, it heats up during the day, and creates a micro climate where tropical plants can grow. It's frightening, we can grow Mango trees now.

The only way to cool these suburbs down is to plant more trees. Isn't that ironic. The older parts of Menangle have beautiful trees. The blocks are bigger, so homeowners had room to plant shade trees.

New Menangle has room to plant trees too, they just have to be trees that don't grow so big. The gardens here might look small but they are still so much bigger than the gardens in Paddington, and they have trees growing everywhere.

We just have to get over the mind set where everybody wants neat and tidy. Leaves are dirty things that blow everywhere. Leaves are part of nature, they cool our houses, they cool the air, they make our houses liveable. They attract nature. They improve our mental health.

Everyone loves trees as long as they are in other peoples gardens, but not next door. Maybe down the street a bit or across the road. Yes I love trees, but from a distance. It's so sad it's scary.

This beautiful tree has a story. It's a Magnolia "Teddy Bear" and it's growing in the city. I took this photo last January and it was looking spectacular after all the rain we had in spring.

But a couple of weeks ago I walked past and the tree looked terrible. When you're a tree lover like me, you notice things as you walk. I could see that the tree wasn't getting enough water just by looking at it.

The next day I walked past and a lady was watering the tree. "I'm so glad you're watering that tree" I told her. "Yes" she said, "it's got a disease, the leaves have black spots all over it, it's a fungus disease."

"Those spots are caused by stress" I told her.
"You're tree hasn't been getting enough water, when Magnolia's get dry the leaves turn spotty"

"Well" she replied, "that's interesting, we've been away for a few months, we rented out our house and the irrigation system hasn't been working."

I told her to run her sprinkler under the tree for an hour to get to soil wet again, deep down. Hand watering just doesn't work like a sprinkler.

You wouldn't believe how quickly this tree recovered. A week later it was sprouting new growth. Within a month it will look like this tree in the photo.

Magnolia Teddy Bear and Magnolia "Little Gem" both need lots of water, especially in summer, when it's hot and dry. You also have to remember that as they grow bigger, you need to give them more water.

If you've got an irrigation system, you need to adjust it, as your garden grows.

I made a friend by stopping and talking to this lady. She'd been told to spray her tree with a Fungicide. It's brought on by stress, take away the stress, and the tree recovers without chemicals. Isn't that interesting. Plants are like people.

If you love this tree. We have some beauties here right now.

If you're a lover of native plants, then you've probably got to make room for this one. It's called Grevillea "Purple Haze". Every time this plant arrives, it sells out so quickly. It's a popular plant for Grevillea collectors.

Grevillea "Purple Haze" has these beautiful purple flowers that appear on a long stem which makes them wobble in the wind. The flowers are smaller and the colour and form makes it unique.

It's grafted onto Grevillea Robusta so rub off any shoots that appear below the graft. You have to keep an eye out for this. If it wasn't grafted it would be almost impossible to grow in our clay based soils.

The shrub has an unusual habit. It grows about 1.5ms high and it spills out and down. The foliage is amazing too.

This Grevillea can take a while to flower, which frustrates gardeners who expect Grevilleas to flower straight away. This one could take a couple of years to reach maturity.

We have about 10 plants only in the nursery.
They are priced from $49.99.
We also have a few super advanced plants that are around two years old. These cost more, but they could be the answer for impatient people.

If you buy one of these Grevilleas dunk them in a bucket of water before planting. Don't leave it to plant later, it might dry out and die before you get time to plant it.

Native plants are promoted as drought proof, but they are not drought proof while in pots, and if you don't water them daily the leaves turn brown, drop off, and then the plant dies.

Even when you do plant them they need daily watering for a couple of months before the roots spread to find water.

To help all your plants survive planting in summer, dunk before you plant. Wait until the bubbles stop, then plant it, and water again. Mulch will stop up to 80% of the water from evaporating.

Someone's going to ask me if you can grow this Grevillea in a pot? Well you can grow anything in a pot, but it has to be a big pot, use native potting mix, and water it daily in summer. If it dies you didn't water it enough.

The weather is starting to cool. You may have noticed there's a chill in the air? Autumn is coming, it's only 3 weeks away. I'm excited.
It's time to prepare your vegetable garden for autumn planting. Pull everything out if it's looking bedraggled. Wow, I love that word.

Add Tim's Cow manure and Tim's Chicken manure to your soil, then turn it over with a shovel.

Fertilse with Tim's FAST FOOD. Cover with Sugar Cane, water, then let your soil rest.

Happy gardening