National Tree Day

National Tree Day is held on the last Sunday in July. Schools Tree Day is coming up on Friday 27th July 2018 and National Tree Day is on Sunday 29th July 2018.

Last year over 312 000 people at 3 500 sites dug deep to improve their natural surroundings. Tree Day shows children how easy and fun it is to help our environment.

In March 2017, Planet Ark commissioned an independent study,* sponsored by Toyota

Australia, to investigate childhood interaction with nature and how this interaction is changing.

The research shows that there has been a dramatic shift in childhood activity from outdoor play to indoor activity in the space of one generation.

73% of respondents played outdoors more often than indoors when they were young, compared to only 13% of their children and 72% of respondents played outside every day as kids compared to only 35% of their children. Even more scary was that 1 in 10 children today play outside once a week or less.

64% of respondents said they climbed trees as kids but less than 20% of their children participate in this activity.

If you’d like to plant a fruit tree in your yard that’s also suitable for climbing, consider a pecan, mango or avocado for larger gardens, or macadamia, persimmon and olives for smaller backyards. Happy days!

The report, Climbing Trees: Getting AussieKids Back Outside is available at


Aboriginal Cycles and the Blooming of the Gymea Lily

I’m sorry we don’t all know these stories better. Let’s hope we can Learn.Share.Grow this Reconcilliation Week

Mia Dalby-Ball's Blog

Grandmother Parisha Mia Dalby-Ball The Season of Marraigang

Bana’marrai’yungwet, becoming cooler

The D’harawal are some of the First People in what’s now called Australia. D’harawal are one of the Peoples of the greater Sydney area. D’harawal and any other Aboriginal Peoples (Koories NSW Aboriginal Peoples) recognize the seasonal changes in the local environment as having 6 types (seasons) – rather than the 4 European seasons ( which really don’t fit –Australia. Not only that but its upside down with people sending E-cards with snow men on them in the middle of Summer –the Australian Christmas.

But things are changing. Many People in Australia – and World Wide – are expressing their strong desire to know more of the Spirit and Heart Connection to Place to Earth.

We are so fortunate to have those who safeguarded the knowledge through the last 200 years of ignorance and barbarity from the colonial governments to more…

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Scenic Sculptures in the Blue Mountains

Last week I ventured out to see the final day of Sculptures at Scenic World. I was reminded again of how beautiful this gully is. The tangle of lianas snaking their way up giant trees, the lumps of stone fallen from the cliffs centuries before stacked like a creation cairn, ferns filling the gullies and towering gums.

Amongst this enchanted forest were dotted the sculptures, created by various artists, each telling a story of the forest in their own unique way.

Nicole de Mestre‘s creative reinterpretation of household fans into ancient single celled sea organisms felt particularly at home here, given the old coal seams had formed such a critical role historically in shaping this place.

It was originally, of course, a coal mine, and the steepest railway in the world, now used to ferry passengers, had been designed to cart this fossil fuel of from the shafts and onwards to the cliff top, where it fired up the steam trains in the mountains.

The amoebic spheres rolled down the hill like they were floating in the sea that would have been here so many millions of years earlier.

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Lessons from the locals – living from the land.

Peter and Elma from Karrke (which means western bower bird in Arrente language) treated us to a demonstration that included seeing seeds and grains ground with a hard round stone and flat stone and have water added to make a dough that when cooked in the coals, made a seed cake or biscuit.

Women’s Work – the grinding stones, head ring and coolamon

We also saw a range of fruits including desert passion fruit, desert orange, desert raisin, desert tomato, desert banana and desert plum.

The biggest thrill was having a lesson in finding witchetty grubs or maku in the Mulga or ilykuwara or witchetty bush (Acacia kempeana) that they like to feed on. The mulga imparts a delightful nutty flavour to the grubs.  The roots can have grubs every 15cm along the root and a swollen section indicates their presence.

Cooked in the coals, the grubs taste a bit like buttery popcorn crossed with scrambled eggs.

Palya (thank you) Elma, the traditional owner of Wanmarra, for sharing your home and knowledge of the land with us.

Gangsta Gardener

Meeting Ron Finley at the Melbourne Food and Wine festival was a once in a lifetime chance to meet the well known ‘Gangsta Gardener’ from Los Angeles.  The renegade fashion designer turned guerrilla gardener took to the streets in south central LA if an effort to rediscover  home grown ‘street food’, and has been leading the verge revolution ever since.

I caught up with Ron for breakfast, to ‘dig the dirt’ on his work and dreams, and got more than I had imagined as this pimped up plantsman explained his ethos…the perfect post for World Naked Gardening Day and International Compost Awareness Week all in one interview.  Enjoy!

Listen to our chat here


As Easy as ABC

417ECCD7-A9D2-4EBB-BFCC-A8E62B41C8E9.jpegLooking down through the ABC building you get glimpses of this garden on level three. The Dot Strong Terrace at the ABC’s Ultimo office was named after the last official tea-lady that worked at the ABC.

We recently put in a wicking bed, and the lettuce and chard growing there has taken off.   The last meeting we built a homemade bamboo trellis and climbing peas have just gone into and the shoots have just started germinating.

In fact, it’s bursting with leafy greens, so get ready for a huge feed.  Dot Strong  Salad will be on the menu…the secret ingredients of which will only be revealed to those who grace the trestle tables, but suffice to say silver beet and rainbow chard can be served raw as well as cooked!


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Roots and All

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Image from Harvest (published by Murdoch Books). 

Who doesn’t love a good root? They come in all shapes and sizes. They are wonderful for winter soups, put through a mandolin and eaten raw in salads, or baked into the perfect accompaniment for the family roast.

Now is a great time to plant carrots (sow seeds direct) radish, kohl rabi seedlings, swedes and turnips, beets, onion seeds and garlic bulbs.

Plant root crops in well dug over soil. Avoid over feeding the soil – they are the last plants to go in in a crop rotation system – unless your growing spuds. Potatoes love being fertilised.



Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

This years MIFGS was a smorgasbord of colours and flavours…and even animals in the “Pink Flamingo” themed indoor room which showcased styling indoor plants perfectly.

Nowhere more than in the flower pavilion was this more apparent where a range of fruity arrangements, such as this one featuring hypericum berries with heliconias and watermelon wedges, was one of the offerings.Best in show was the Eckersley designed homage to the Australian backyard. It naturally featured the Hills Hoist, but incorporated way more than that, with a waving mass of Miscanthus punctuated by red hot pokers and Sedum. A patio, outdoor fire and lawn area for cricket mad it the perfect place for all ages to play.Making there mark for the first time where mid north coast contenders Gerard Everson and Sam Kay from Octopus Design, who created a stunning small courtyard from French mid century concrete pots and verdigris copper planters filled with an eclectic range of plants.

However it was this small “achievable garden” that took my eye with the interesting play of plants against a timber shingle backdrop. Their dynamic qualities where emphasised by the swing – invited a playful feel to the bijou scene.

Flora and Fauna in Exquisite Timber Marquetry


The Retter-Mitchell exhibition at the Wood Works Gallery Bungendore is an extraordinary collaboration between the two woodworkers – the first an inlay artist and the second a cabinet maker.

The exhibition focus primarily on Australian Native Flora, with stunning panels featuring snowgums, banksia, waratahs.   Some exotics, such as fuchsia and cherry blossom, crafted in marquetry by Michael Retter, have been turned into hall tables by Scott Mitchell.


A series of insect tables by Scott Mitchell compliment the panels delightfully, anddig to the whimsy. They are crafted from wood with a highly decorative grain, mimicking the shimmering shells that many bugs have.


Michael Retter is famous for the panels on display at Parliment House, Canberra which he created with Adelaide artist. Tony Bishop.

In this exhibition Retter successfully departs from the literal and explores some abstract interpretations of snow gums using some dyed veneers alongside natural wood tones.


The exhibtion is on until 27th February, 2018 at WoodWorks Gallery,Kings Highway, Bungendore.

P. 02 6238 1682 e.