Monday, 29 September 2014

Open Gardens Australia folds after 27 years. Why? | GardenDrum

An explanation on why this 'scheme' has to be folded.

Open Gardens Australia folds after 27 years. Why? | GardenDrum

Landcare Australia 2014 Awards | GardenDrum

The winner of the Bob Hawk Landcare Award went to Colin Seis from the Central Tablelands, north of Gulgong in NSW.

Colin, who has been involved in the Landcare movement since its inception is a firm believer that Landcare is not just about going out and planting heaps of trees but introducing regenerative farming practices. Colin believes that this allows the Landcare movement to move forward and work towards principles that enhance not only pasture/land farming management, but the fundamental elements in looking after the major resource of our farming land. Pasture cropping is now internationally recognised by leading crop scientists as being one way towards this outcome.

Landcare Australia 2014 Awards | GardenDrum

Thursday, 25 September 2014

CHGC Members Visiting Some Spring Garden Competition Winners

The weather looked a bit dicey however, we didn't get wet at all. Meeting at the Botanic Garden is always a pleasurable experience and today was no exception, we set off in convoy to Loaders Lane under the grey sky.

The second placed garden in the up to 600 square metres and also the winner of the Best Garden Feature - Gavin's Balinese Pavilion was our first call today.

Coralie kicking back in Gavin's Pavilion
Michael and his beautiful hanging pots.

This garden is looking pristine and well deserving of their placing in the competition.

The first placed garden in the same category was a riot of colour in the back and a white, green and grey palette in the front.

Members from the CHGC looking at the riot of colour with blue highlights in the back garden of this winner.

Next on our agenda was to see some beautiful gardens at Green Gardens Villas. Just stunning to see so many lovely gardens.

one of the frontages in Gundagai Place

Our last stop was for lunch - what a gorgeous place, with amazing views to the north, south and west

 The Entrance Hall

View to the south west towards the hills

The view to the north towards the islands                                    

              And the view towards the city and Jetty
Our number may have been a bit light on however, it was a most enjoyable day and the chatter around the dining table was deafening at times!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Spring Gardens in the 2014 Comp

The Photos in this post have all been supplied by the Residential Judge, Diana Harden. Thank you Diana for permission for their use. 

This is a representational selection of some of the gardens in the competition.

(This post has been added to over the past week - please scroll down to see further inclusions.)

This second placed garden in Home garden block size up to 600 square metres was one of the hotly contested categories in this year's competition. 

Comment from Diana Harden Competition Residential Judge:

'The winning gardens have strong themes in the planting and associated hard landscaping.'

Beautiful subtropical feel to this Category 3 garden block size from 601 to 10000 square metres at Boambee East. The block had a very steep slope which had been terraced.

Diana's comments on this category:

'Again the gardens in this category were of high quality and of a wide variety of styles. Ranging from formal white and green gardens, tropical gardens and one case a clever combination of both, created with an understanding of the site’s various microclimate.'

The jasmine was a very heady inclusion to this garden, it was just out at the right time for the competition.

Second in the 601 to 1000 square metres this block was quite steep with terracing and steps leading down through the subtropical canopy.

This clivia knew when it had to put on a show! Looking special indeed.

Many interesting plants and foliages to be found here. I loved the maiden hair fern on the back patio - it reminded me of my much loved Aunt Flo.

This garden is a real hidden retreat up on the headland at Woolgoolga with the sound of the ocean as a constant background. 

Tall trees form a windbreak from the constant salt laden sea breezes. Wide expanses of lawn enhance the 'Retreat' feel to this large property.

Extensive plantings of Australian flora have been used to form the framework to this lovely garden.

What a delightfully beautiful and charming space has been created on this rented property in Toormina. Mary has planted punnet upon punnet of seedlings and established a kaleidoscope of gorgeous colour with many quirky elements.

Comments from Diana:

'This was a difficult category to judge as the entries were of such high standard and/or just inspirational. The gardeners in this category show much passion and have a clear idea about what they want to achieve, 
be it cheerful, colourful garden beds, impressive vegetable gardens, use of recycled materials to embellish etc. Or the clearing of weeds to reveal a lost garden. The innovative ideas to combat native critters eating the seedlings and vegetable gardens was a revelation.'

The category for home garden, caravan or mobile/relocatable home was very diverse. Relocatable homes don't necessary mean that they have small pocket hankerchief-sized patches of garden to the front. In this competition there was a 'double block' in Darlington Park which was just lovely. A difficult site to manage as a garden, due to tidal/heavy weather events affecting this site, so it floods quite badly periodically. Julia has come up with some wonderful strategies to counteract these 'mercy to the elements' happenings. To the rear of her block there is a debris chocked stream which is tidal with king tides and if this occurs with major rain the block floods. Julia has put in place sturdy hard landscape - in the form of rocks with gaps which allow the water to recede without taking all her plants and soil away with it, very clever. There are also quite robust plantings in this area for example, clivias.

This lovely relocatable site at The Pines, Woolgoolga although smaller comparatively speaking, Melinda has made use of every bit of her available area. There was clever landscape, especially to the rear of the site and a beautiful private area to the front.

A quiet space at Woolgoolga

Courtyard/Patio and some over 75 gardens

The courtyard/patio, disabled and over 75 categories were very hotly contested and very diverse. Comments from Diana:

'It is very encouraging to have so many entries in these categories. There were examples of neighbours at Marion Grove, working together to create a unified space to be shared and enjoyed by all. Of special mention is the Brook Eden Project at St Joseph's where accessible raised garden beds have been built for the residents, to plant herbs and flowers. What started out as a project to get plants out of pots and reduce trip hazards, has proved to be so beneficial, popular and successful, that the project has moved into the next courtyard, with a succulent garden, water feature and vertical garden. 

For the courtyard/patio there were many excellent entries, making this a very challenging task to choose the winners. Such a diverse group with clever use of existing hard landscapes to create beautiful spaces for enjoyment.  Brick terracing was used often to elevate pots which had varied plantings of colourful, textured foliages and flowers. The use of mesh to provide climber and espaliered plants a support, making use of a vertical space and backdrop, very pleasing. The use of pots with herbs and small vegetables offering a practical incorporation to the gardens. 

The winner of the disabled category has planted his plants in decorative pots sitting on pebble mulch. Drought tolerant and hardy plants have been selected. There was also spectacular Kangaroo Paw growing above a retaining wall, where it was obviously very happy with its hot, well drained position.'

Comments from Diana:
'There were many excellent entries in category 1 - home garden, owner/occupier of strata/community title dwelling, making it very difficult to choose. Winners were chosen for their plant selection (suited to the microclimate), pleasing leaf colours, shape and textures and colour scheme of flowers, high level of maintenance and well mulched beds.'

These gardens are in Gundagai Place, which took out first prize for Category 10 - whole garden of complex operating under a Body Corporate structure.

Category 16 - New home, new garden. This year was really exciting as there were fantastic entries within the Coffs Harbour Council area.

From Diana: 
'Many high quality entries and a wide variety of styles. The winner was chosen as the new landscaping, garden beds, steps and paths were well suited to the architecture of the house and the sloping site. The owner is a quilter and has designed her planting with a quilter’s eye for colour and texture.

This garden is going to look stunning as it matures. There is a delightful deck overlooking the back garden and a hidden shaded nook underneath to 'take a spell' in the shade on hot days.

A garden full of wonderful annual colour and some of my all time favourites - sweet peas!

All the gardens in this category are extraordinary in that they were all very recent gardens but looked so well established. A credit to their owners on a job well done!

A totally different approach to this new garden with sculptural, modern plantings with hard landscaping that will not require too much maintenance.

Vegie Gardens

A top garden which has some beautifully prepared beds with on-going crops to support a growing family. 

From Diana:
'Many high quality entries. The winning entry was an immaculately maintained, mulched, organic garden with companion plants and innovative use of recycled gutter fixed to a wall planted with strawberries. This garden was screened for protection. 

The other excellent entry in the large vegetable garden category uses crop rotation and has an impressive hot house for tomatoes. Once again his gardens are netted for protection.'

Mary's productive embellished garden in Toormina which took out the small vegie garden award.

Best Garden Feature

This Balinese Pavilion took out the first prize in the Best Garden Feature. 

From Diana:

'This category had a very large number of entries. The winning entries were chosen because they well executed and were well integrated into their setting.'

This entrance and arbour was chosen for a prize because it reflected the architecture and colour palette of the house it leads to. 

The winner of the First Time Entrant compost bin prize was Sandra & Peter Vereyard, it looks as though it has gone to a very good home. 

Garden Clubs of Australia Annual Photo Competition


The Garden Clubs of Australia (GCA) run an annual photo competition. Entries for this close 17 October 2014 and the winning entries will be announced in 'Our Gardens' Issue 64.

There are five categories: 
  • Garden Scenes, 
  • Garden Visitors (birds, bees, bugs, animals), 
  • Abstract close-ups of flowers or foliage, 
  • Realistic close-ups of flowers or foliage (photographed in situ in the garden) and 
  • Realistic close-ups of flowers or foliage (as studio portraits).
Conditions of entry:
  • Entrant must be a member of an affiliated garden club or a subscriber to 'Our Gardens'.
  • Limit of four photos per member or subscriber in total across the five categories.
  • Subjects to be garden related: flowers, plants, gardens or garden visitors (as above).
  • Photographs to be recent (2013-14).
  • Digital images to be printed postcard size or approx. 15cm x 10cm and posted (NOT emailed).
  • Name and telephone contact to be printed on back of each photograph.
  • A stamped, self-addressed envelope to be enclosed if photos are to be returned.
  • Entries close 17 October 2014.
  • Judge's decision is final.
Entry form see the GCA website:

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Masonic Village Spring Garden Competition Judging

Pat, with a sharpened pencil commences to judge the gardens from the Masonic Village. They conduct this competition each year in the spring and the competition was hotly contested once again with some beautiful, colourful, well maintained gardens.

The winner will be announced at a presentation in the Community Centre in October.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Reserve Champion - Woolgoolga Gardener

Congratulations to Peg who has taken out Reserve Champion in the 2014 Spring Garden Competition.

Garden Photos from the Spring Garden Competition

To see a selection of gardens from the 2014 Spring Garden Competition and comments from the Residential Judge please click here

Two Consecutive Wins for Champion Garden

Champion Garden of  Gaye & Bob Tarry - they also had the Champion Garden last year

This garden also took out the Waterwise B, Home garden over 1000 square metres and most attractive front garden categories.
Comments from Diana Harden, Judge 2014:
'The gardens in the block size from 1001 to 4000 square metres were of high quality and of a wide variety of styles. Some of the gardens have been lovingly worked on for many years, with a mix of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals surrounding lawn areas. It was inspiring to see so many vegetable gardens and fruit trees not just in this category, but in many of the categories.'

Reserve Champion garden of Peg Willmott at Woolgoolga

Peg's garden was also awarded 1st in the Home garden over 4000 square metres category and Peg wears the crown for the best over 75 years gardener category (we have it on good authority that Peg hasn't seen 75 for quite a while!) Peg believes a walk in the garden every morning is better than taking a pill.
Comments from Diana Harden:
'The gardens in this category were very diverse. The gardeners have used the garden room concept by dividing the large space into smaller spaces, defined by garden beds planted with trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. The Highly Commended garden has terraces to a large sloping site and mass planted with a variety of species. A waterfall and paved seating area has been hand dug by the owner over some years, an impressive effort. There are paths meandering through the garden. In this category the gardens often made use of the borrowed landscape.'

This second placed Home garden with a block size over 4000 square metres is a wonderful mix of edible fruits and vegetables planted all around this garden. (This property was missed out of the listing in the Advocate) - it can be found at 
34 Stockmans Drive, Moonee Beach
See Diana Harden's comments on this category above.

The Judge's Encouragement award was presented to Fiona Simmonds. 
Comments from Diana Harden:  'The worthy winner of the Garden Mania Judge's Encouragement Award would be Fiona Simmonds. Fiona is creating a garden out of a weed-infested site, and her enthusiasm is evident at finding a lost garden under the weeds. Fiona's garden has artful elements using found and recycled objects. Her protective cover for her vegetable garden is very innovative.'

Judy Luckie's beautiful garden took out the 
Waterwise A category as well as the Home garden block sized between 601 - 1000 square metres.
Comments from Diana Harden:
'There were three exceptional entries in this block size category. The gardens placed 1st and 2nd have strong themes in the planting and associated hard landscaping.'

There will be more award winning garden photos posted over the coming months

Monday, 15 September 2014

Bees and the Vegie Patch

Image - Mick Shaw Photography

Without bees in our gardens many of our vegetables and fruit would never get to the harvest stage. You may have known of folk who have had to manually pollinate members of the pumpkin family because there haven't been any bees available to do the job. These all have separate male and female flowers and, unless the pollen gets carried from the male to the female, there is no chance that the cucumber, pumpkin or zucchini will ever develop. 

A sure fire way of getting this pollination happening is to introduce flowers to your vegie patch to attract the bees. The bees are not really interested in helping the flowers - they are selfish in that they are just wanting the nectar that the flowers produce, therefore pollination is really just incidental.

Apart from attracting bees into our vegie patches the flowers add a visual enhancement as well. Some really good bee-attracting flowers that can be incorporated are coloured yellow, purple, blue or white. Red doesn't do it for bees, this is the colour for attracting birds.

Nasturtiums are really terrific as they attract the bees and both the leaves and flowers can be included in salads. A fast-growing annual, with pale green, umbrella-shaped leaves and long stems. The flowers are produced in summer and autumn and come in all sorts of shades of orange, red and yellow. There are trailing and busy types with single, semi-double or double flowers so there should be one to suit your vegie patch.

Alyssum is a gorgeous frothy inclusion with its profusion of fragrant white flowers. Its hardiness and versatility makes it just right for vegie gardens as it can spill over the sides of raised beds. Alyssum will thrive in either sun or semi-shade and germination is faster and more uniform if seed is only barely covered, so broadcast thinly into the garden position, firm down and moisten.

If you have a little corner where you can plant a salvia, especially any blue flowering ones these are real bee magnets.There are many different types of blue salvias, you might prefer to plant one that doesn't take up too much room in your vegie garden.


Sometimes it might be a good idea to allow some of your salad vegies/herbs run to flower. Basil will flower quickly here on the Coffs Coast in summer and there are many different coloured flowers - white, pink and mauve.

Rocket is a real ripper of a salad leaf and also its flower is fantastic for attracting bees.

If you wish to attract native bees good plants to encourage them to stay in your garden could be (not necessarily your vegie patch as they are generally too big are):

Abelia grandiflora, Angophora, Baeckea, Buddleja davidii, Callistemon, Eucalyptus, Grevillea hybrids, Hardenbergia violacea, Lavandula, Leptospermum, Melaleuca and Westringia.

Native bees do the job of pollinating just as well as the honey bee, so it might be worthwhile to encourage them to stay in your garden.