Monday, December 27, 2010

Goodness me!

Onion buds

Shungiku, edible chrysanthemum.

It seems that this blog has been viewed 999 times ( I'll conveniently forget that every time I look at it to do some editing that counts as a view) and I find that hard to believe!

So in true internet style, I'm going to give the 1000th person to have a gander at this, providing they can get to the Tas Farm Gate market in Hobart on the second or 4th Sunday of the month, a little thank-you box of plants. I will have no way of knowing who the 1000th person is, so if you are the very next person to leave a comment, (and maybe the person after that too as 1001 is a fine looking number) I'll put together a few little treats for you.

It is hard to believe that people read my musings, but you have, and I thank you for that!! This blog is a way for me to promote my business, share my philosophies and methods, but most of all it's a way for me to sort my thoughts out. I sit down to write something and then I have to make those ideas into something cohesive with practical applications. And I have to research what I write as well, so while I'm ranting, I'm also learning. And when people share their thoughts I learn even more!

Brooty, our Pea Combed, Rhode Island Red mother hen, due on 13th of January

So thank you interweb-land people, and I hope your Christmas was merry and that your New Year is joyous and bountiful! See you in 2011!!

Comfrey flowers. See that little hole at the top of the flower tube? That is how a bumble bee takes a shortcut. I worry about the effect these flower bullies will have on pollination, ripping flowers apart like this to get the nectar instead of crawling in as they are meant to and spreading pollen as they go.
Blushing red currants
Blushing strawberries
Roman chamomile

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holy wasabi! Oh, and Merry Christmas

Banksia marginata
My wasabi has been getting a right seeing to from caterpillars. I'm not sure if it's the cabbage white, or a little brown moth that lurks in our brassicas. The critter in question bungy jumps from the  foliage when disturbed, which seems to me a silly strategy as they are easily seen and squished whilst dangling in the air. So I haven't been bringing my plants to market as they are so ugly! But I've given them a little spray with Dipel,  an organically acceptable bacteria which infects only caterpillars that ingest it, which then become paralysed. It would be best used early in the season to prevent the build up in numbers of dubious garden guests. Even though it's ok to use in organic systems I still use this as a last resort and prefer to put up with a little damage and grow my main crops of brassicas in Winter when these greedy creatures aren't about. Anyhow, I'm bring a few slightly nibbled plants to the market this Sunday, they will look wonderful again soon, so get in early if you want one!

And I've fallen victim to the Christmas dilemma. I'm not huge on the commercial side of Christmas, (I LOVE the family and food!) but one important part of being a sustainable business is to be financially sustainable, along with fulfilling environmental and social responsibilities, and people will be buying gifts, and why shouldn't they be lovely plants? So.....

Christmas 6 packs from Provenance Growers!

Not beer, (sadly not my abs!) but lovely combinations of 6 useful plants!

I've put together the following Christmas packs for your loved one's pleasure this year. Stock of some varieties is limited so get in touch if there's something you especially fancy and I'll put it aside for you. I'll be tucking 6 plants from each list into a little box, or make up your own combination from the list on our last post.

Bush tucker combo, Sagg, Lomandra longifolia, edible leaf bases. Flax lily, Dianella revoluta, edible blue berries. Samphire,  Sarcocornia quinqueflora, edible stems. Sea celery, Apium prostratum, edible foliage, similar to parlsey. Warrigal greens, Tetragonia tetraginoides, edible leaves, Pigface, Carpobrotus rossii, edible fruit and foliage. Native pepper, Tasmannia lanceolata, leaves used as a flavouring, spicy when raw, becoming milder with slow cooking, berries used as a seasoning borne only on female plants (our peppers are seed grown so you may get a male or female). Native Bluebell, Wahlenbergia sp, edible flowers. Have a look at this wonderful article for more on some of these plants.

Feast on flowers, Dianthus, borage, chives, Roman chamomile, globe artichoke - French purple, Nasturtium and variegated society garlic.

Tassie native mix, A hardy blend of plants suitable for an average sized garden. Spicy Everlasting, Ozothamnus obcordatus, Myrtle Wattle, Acacia myrtifolia, Bluebottle daisy, Lagenophora stipitata, Silver Banksia, Banksia marginata, Paper Daisy, Xerochrysum spp, White Flag Iris, Diplarrena moraea.

Garlic chives
Tea, Roman chamomile, peppermint, Mexican tarragon, sage, thyme, Moroccan mint.

Unusual herbs, Variegated society garlic, white borage, salad burnett, Angelica archangelica, curly golden oregano, orange peel thyme.

Mints, Peppermint, Moroccan spearmint, variegated pineapple mint, variegated ginger mint, apple mint, common mint, spearmint.

Classic herbs, Italian parsley, garlic chives, thyme, oregano, chives, sage.
Asian mix, Laksa leaves/Vietnamese mint, mitsuba, red shiso, garlic chives, perennial spring onions.

So drop me a line at if you'd like something tucked away with your name on it,  or come down to the biggest market ever, from 9-1, with your green bags, a good appetite (think awesome sushi, cupcakes and real Tassie flour!!) and have some fun with us. And a merry Christmas to you and yours this year!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What's growing on?

White Flag Iris, a hardy and beautiful Tasmanian plant.

Borage flowers, ready to head out to dinner!
I really need to list what I'm growing and get some kind of catalogue together. But, when the sun is shining (or even when it's not) I really want to be outside. And when I'm working inside I'd rather spend my time thinking through some aspect of growing plants that might be interesting to the people who find themselves reading this. But, a new plant seems to be ready to sell each week, and so I've decided to start a list of the plants we're growing for sale. When I've got more inside time I'll start with descriptions, cultivation requirements and uses, until then you'll have to find a good book, ask Google or come to the market for a chat with us! These are the ones that will be for sale at Tas Farm Gate market this Sunday.

Food plants:
Red and black currants
Warrigal greens
Lemon thyme
Alpine strawberries
Salad burnett
This thyme is growing in a washing machine spinner and is plenty for our family.

Garlic chives
Roman chamomile
Dianthus, edible petals
Italian parsley
Wild rocket
Lemon balm, variegated form
French sorrel
Red shiso
Ginger mint
Laksa/Vietnamese mint
Pineapple mint
Morrocan spearmint
Globe artichoke, French Purple
Society garlic, variegated form
Pineapple sage
Heirloom tomatoes 
Potted strawberries, (with fruit on if I can keep the kids away!)

Wow! That's a lot of plants, and there are still dozens in the works, and more planned for next year.

Tassie plants:
This list is on the cusp of being bigger. Those Hobart plants are on the way, but it is staying cool, so they're taking their time. But while you're waiting.......
Lemon bottle brush  Calistemon pallidus
White dogwood Pomaderris apetala
Bluebottle daisy Lagenophora stipitata
White flag iris Diplarrena moraea
Blanket leaf Bedfordia salicina
Creeping everlasting Helichrysum scorpioides
Silver Banksia Banksia marginata

When I cleared a mass of weeds yesterday I found this thing in the photo below, but what on earth is it? Fungi, plant?? If you have any idea, please let us know.

Isn't it beautiful? About 1cm high, and those 'seeds' were stacked neatly inside the cone. Please tell me if you know!

Saturday, November 27, 2010



Pretty artichokes. We have green globes ready to eat and French purple ready to plant. A stunning, hardy thing to have in the garden and scrumptious in the kitchen!

French sorrel, green globe artichokes and big garden fairy!

Come and see us tomorrow, Sunday the 28th on November, in the Melville St outdoor carpark from 9 to 1 at the Tas Farm Gate Market.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pot-luck tomatoes


I've been a terrible nursery person. I rant and rave about provenance, about knowing the what, how, who of everything, and now I've blown it. I have two trays of lovely, healthy, sturdy, heirloom tomato plants, without labels! Oh no, the shame and horror of it, I won't be able to raise my head among my nursery friends again.  I've raised these lovely babies, but can't, in good conscience, take a stab in the dark and sell them as one thing when they may well be another. If I had enough cultivated ground I'd plant them here, but 50+ tomato plants already in the ground is enough for me to stake, prune, talk to and harvest, not to mention all the other goodies that are waiting for their spot in the garden. So, if I bring them down to the market on Sunday will anyone be game enough to buy them (at a generous discount of course!) and see what becomes of them? C'mon, take a gamble, tasty tomatoes will come of it whatever happens, but will they be black, cream, pink red or stripey, large, small or plum tomatoes? Only one way to find out!

I also have some lovely labelled tomato plants for those who know what they want, they are looking great, and right now is a perfect time to get them in. The varieties I'll have are:

BLACK ZEBRA   Heirloom. Purple mahogany coloured fruit to 4cm across with green-orange vertical stripes. Dark, firm flesh, with rich, smoky sweet flavour.

BRANDYWINE American Amish heirloom. Large, pink skinned, flattened, globular fruit. Reputed to have the best flavour.

DEBARAO  Small, red, egg shaped fruit with smooth skin to 4cm across and excellent flavour.

LEICESTER JONES  Bred in Tassie 25 years ago. Large pink, ridged fruit. Excellent flavour, good for Tassie conditions.

SNOW WHITE   Ivory fruit ripening to a pale yellow/cream, low acid.

SOLDACKI   Polish heirloom dating prior to 1900. Large, dark pink, flattened fruit with thin skin to 500g. Flesh is firm, deliciously sweet & low in acid.
STUPICE  Czechoslavakian heirloom, cold tolerant, with abundant sweet 2-3inch red fruit. Hardy, delicious and productive. *Our most productive here so far, early and cold tolerant.

THAI PINK EGG  Originating from Thailand & is today the most widely produced tomato in Thailand. Small, pink coloured, 'cherry' type fruit; 3-5cm long, or size of bantam egg. Changes from milky white with slight pink colour when young to darker pink as it matures. Plant 60-90cm. Hardy, disease resistant & resistant to cracking.

Bush variety - GEORGE (I don't know its real name, but George deserves a plant named after him!)
Fat, scrumptious field type, from George the market gardener near Margate, seed scavenged from a sauce tomato. 

And then, tomatillos!!!

Tomatillo, green variety, still ripening in June last year!
Have you ever come across tomatillos? I had a vague notion that they existed, but until growing them last Summer I had no idea of how wonderful they were. They are related to tomatoes, but the fruit are wrapped in a papery husk, or calyx. The variety I grew last year were green when ripe, but I'm also growing a purple variety this year. And they are brilliant, a completely new food for me, that was delicious and moorish from first bite. I guarantee that once you've tried them you'll be wanting some every year. We used them to make a green, lightly spiced sauce that we poached chicken in, and finished with toasted pumpkin seeds (see the recipe here). Raw they make a great salsa and I know that's only the tip of the iceberg. Due to an incident with a brushcutter last season, we went from having four plants to one in seconds, but the survivor yielded at lest 5 kg of fruit! A few market customers have shared their great ideas on how to utilise this wonderful fruit, it seems to be a bit of a club, tomatillo eaters, and the rest of the human species. So come and join the clique. I'll have plants of both green and purple varieties at the market this Sunday, and fruit at the market for your kitchen, when the weather decides it's time.....maybe mid-January? And if we're really in luck the South American culantro will be the new discovery for me this year and we can make a truly authentic salsa, or at least a Tasmanian approximation of one.

Tomatillo seedling, I can't wait!

Pretty flower, pity about the slug damage.


While I was wandering the internet looking for interesting tomatillo facts I read this unintended ad for chemical free farming:
Plants of P. ixocarpa were grown in the greenhouse in 1986 with seeds from a single fruit. Seeds were germinated in petri plates with wet filter paper. The plantlets were transferred to 7.5 cm pots and placed in the greenhouse. When plants reached 4 or 5 leaves (4 weeks), they were transplanted to the field. The field was ploughed twice at 25-30 cm deep, fertilized with 50 kg/ha 15-15-15 (NPK) and covered with black plastic mulch before transplanting. Rows were 120 cm apart with 60 cm between plants. Tomatillo plants were transplanted to the field on June 6, June 25, July 15, and August 1. Insecticide was applied at 15 day intervals. The first harvest was made after 6 weeks and harvesting continued at 10 day intervals for a total of seven harvests during the plant cycle. The estimated yield was 13,450 kg/ha. There was variation between plants in size, leaf shape, fruit size and shape, and yield. Fruit damage by lepidopterous insects was severe, probably reducing the yield by 20 to 30%. No major diseases were observed.

Yuck, that's no way to grow food! Black plastic, fake fertiliser and  pesitcides. Nope, what they needed was diversity. The little critters below are hoverflies whose babies devour pests like aphids, and then grow up to be dainty, efficient, little pollinators. In this picture they are pollinating my rat tailed radishes, for which I am very grateful!


We germinated our seeds in composted pinebark mixed with sand, and grown in a re-used -plastic covered rabbit  hutch, before planting into a garden bed enriched with our compost, a lick of chook poo and mulching with mushroom compost. Our garden is a mix of different things, the bed the tomatillos were in also boasted some lovely Mexican marigolds for herbal teas, Winter and Summer savoury, tuberous chervil, wild rocket and rainbow chard. This diversity helps to prevent the type of infestation the plants in the trial seemed to suffer from. Pests can build up in phenomenal numbers when given a banquet of their favourite foods, with out the presence of other plants and animals that may keep the pests in check. And contact pesticides aren't that effective at killing animals that complete much of their lifecycle safely hidden inside fruit.  But they will kill beneficial creatures like our friends the hoverflies. And besides, who cares about a few caterpillars? (Unless it's half a one sticking out of your bitten salad sanger!) If all things are in balance on your plot you should be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour with minimal out breaks of pests and grub holes, and who would be without butterflies?

So come on down to the Tas Farm Gate this Sunday from 9 til 1 and see what's on offer! Broad beans and strawberries are on my shopping list.

This has nothing to do with food plants, but isn't it delightful! The Sky Lily Herpolirion novae-zelandie is usually found in high country where it forms dense mats covered in these amazing sky-coloured flowers every Spring. Here it is in a pot outside my back door where it makes me smile every morning!! See my friends at Plants of Tasmania Nursery if you fancy one for your place.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oh my, that's pretty, but what is it?

NEWSFLASH: Sadly, due to a wet weather forecast, this trip is postponed until January. I'll let you know when the new date is settled upon. Until then, take photos, press flowers, and save up your questions for the day!

 This Saturday the Kingborough and Huon councils are hosting a native plant identification field trip to Cockle Creek for their residents. I am going along to chat about all of the treasures we find there and share some tips on how to identify them for yourself. It is a great place to go plant hunting, plants of the rainforest and the seaside cohabiting in a most fetching manner. So if you're a resident of one of those council areas and fancy coming along to learn, heckle or enjoy the Spring wildflowers see the flier below.

Hi Folks

Have you ever wondered “What is that beautiful flower/plant”?

There will be a Native Plant identification walk at Cockle Creek on Saturday November 27th to inspire and teach any interested people about local native plants.

Transport will be provided with pick up from Kingston at 8.15pm outside the Kingborough Council Offices.  The bus will then travel to Huonville for pick up at Huon Valley Council (rear car park) at 9.00am. 
It is expected that the bus will return to Huonville at around 3.30pm and to Kingston at 4.15pm.

Seats on the bus must be booked though Jocelyn Scopes (contact details below).  People are welcome to bring their own transport if all spots on the bus are booked up. Please meet the bus at the places above.

Please RSVP to Jocelyn at Huon Valley Council on or 6264 0365 as soon as possible.

Lunch and soft drinks will be provided on the day.


Thankyou to John Cox for the lovely photo of Melaleuca squamea.

Bridget Jupe | Bushcare Officer | Kingborough Council

(03) 6211 8299 | Mobile 0429 011 920 | Fax  
Address Works Depot, 182 Channel Hwy Kingston TAS 7050
Email | Web


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Monday, November 15, 2010

To market, to market.

I just flicked on the computer as we were about to prepare lunch, when a lovely distraction popped onto my screen. One of the delightful cup cake ladies from the market wrote about her post-market feast, and that is also for me, one of the best things about the market. 

Drive home, cuddle the family, unload the car, water the plants, then.......aaah. Flop onto the couch and give the biggest garden fairy her first ever fresh oyster, and a few for us, along with a couple of slices of amazing bread, and a hunk of robust cheese. Although sometimes I am guilty of coming home with quite a full belly, what with blueberry cheesecakes, cannoli and the hamper my Mum turns up with.

But, Michelle's post was so in sync with what Elsie and I were about to have for lunch I just had to share. I am no photographer, and Elsie is 5 and snaffled the camera when she got wind that I was taking pictures of lunch. See if you can guess which pictures were taken by the 5 year old!


Her lunch is a little more 'garden' than market, but she loves Companion spelt toast soldiers!

She collected her own eggs, carrots and miners lettuce, chose the elephant ensemble and then scoffed the lot!

Then there was mine. Olive oil from a couple I have chatted with during the market, with juicy, wet Campania garlic softened in it, before adding this morning's eggs, some wild rocket (which is from our garden, but I do take plants and cut greens to market for those of you who like some kick in your lunch) and some of the Bruny cheese we didn't polish off the night before.

First of the season! Wet garlic dancing in Penna Valley olive oil, waiting for some eggs.

And lovely, young (Masterchef) Jack has two of my rhubarb plants in his garden now, how can a fellow of such great taste fail! Go Tassie!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Feast on flowers!

Ready for market

I believe that if we can make eating a celebration, a ritual of enjoying family, friends, produce and the comforting sensation of a full belly, that good health and happiness will follow. Sitting down together to enjoy something prepared with love, (which is sadly never in the recipe, but is THE most important seasoning) will create a feeling of satisfaction that can never be found in a microwaved thingumy scoffed in front of the tv. And thus satisfied, we may find that the allure of the chips and chocolate lurking in the pantry is lessened, that our kiddies learn to talk with us, have respect for food that will lead to healthier eating habits, and to use  their cutlery, (well I'm still hoping for that one....).

For us, part of that celebration of food is to let the garden fairies help gather and prepare what they are to eat, and to make food look as good as it tastes, because we all taste with our eyes, before our mouths. And flowers are not only a delight to the eye, but each flower has its own unique flavour and texture.

So today we have fossicked about in the garden and put together some of our favourite dinner decorations for tomorrow's market. And, without further ado, here they are!

Pretty in purple

Shungiku and mustard flowers

We are also bringing down our ever growing selection of herb and edible plant seedlings, tomato seedlings and those of the wonderful tomatillo, as well as some lovely Tasmanian native plants and many other delights for your garden or kitchen. Bring your brolly to the 'gate from 9am til 1 this Sunday, the 14th of November, and come and say hi!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Breaking new ground

Dolly bush, Cassinia acueleata. A wonderful Tasmanian plant that is pretty,
fast growing and a great food source for beneficial insects.
Our 'patch'. It was, perhaps a hundred years ago, dry sclerophyll bushland. I like to imagine it was full of old White Peppermints with big clumps of Sagg underneath, and seasonal treasures, like Dolly Bush, Blackeyed Susan and Spreading Wattle popping up with their brilliant finery to herald a change in the seasons.

After someone cleared the 'scrub' it was then a cow paddock, and probably not a great one with its poorly draining, easily compacted soil. Its most recent history is as a chook paddock that has frustrated my attempts to grow food, due to hungry wildlife and short hoses in hot Summers. But now it's fenced, has water nearby and has been cultivated. Things are going well! 

The fuzz
But (and isn't there always a 'but') now 100 years worth of paddock weeds are thanking us for our tilling and the Spring rain, and germinating like hairs on a brushtails tail. And being the noble organic gardeners we are, there will be no quick spray to brown this green fuzz, nor will we take the Utopian path and let the weeds and our crops co-exist, as our little carrot seedlings won't stand a chance against these brutal colonisers. Hoeing is proving detrimental to my spinal column, and this is also made more difficult by the fact that it won't stop raining, and hoeing wet soil is not only difficult but it can ruin the structure of your soil. Like over-mixing a sponge cake batter, the soil will collapse and become compacted. And the no-dig method, great for a small plot, would cost us thousands in manure. But we will not be defeated, and inspired by Barbara Kingsolver (what a book!) and Mr H (writer, gatherer, gardener and vegetable eater, on my favourite blog) we will use a combination of all of the chemical free options available to us, and we shall feed ourselves, and hopefully you as well!
The spuds
The tomatoes have been planted in the hothouse, potatoes are planted everywhere. The girls have started their 'kiddy garden' (lots of sunflowers there I think!) and we will soon cultivate some ground to grow some fabulous, nutritious, curious and, most of all, delicious food plants. And, adjacent to all of this productive land, we will foster the landscape of my imagining.

I've collected seed and cuttings from the remnant 'scrub' we have on our block, and hope to plant out an echo of what was once here. This will have far more advantages than just that of feeding my romantic notions of one-ness with Nature. Diverse plantings can host a huge number of beneficial organisms. Ants will live among the gum trees and venture out to collect root feeding grubs, and leaf eating caterpillars. Flowering plants will attract hover flies and native wasps that cunningly lay their eggs on aphid babies, then the eggs hatch and the larvae devour the undesirable garden guest. Thick, prickly scrub and tussocks will provide homes for wrens and their feathered kin who feast on insects and boost the spirit of a weary gardener. I've even heard a theory that dense vegetation, especially Banksias, favours ringtail possums who do far less damage that their brushtailed friends. The trees I put in will absorb a teensy portion of the carbon emissions I create on the way to market, and most of all my family and I will feel as though we're trying to do right by the land that is supporting and sheltering us.

Fruit salad sage and Mount Wellington. What a brilliant work place!

Good weeds. For the first time ever we saw an Australian Admiral butterfly here
whose caterpillars feed on Nettles. What a great 'weed'!
And it is also a wonderful thing in the kitchen.

We'll be at the Tas Farm Gate market next Sunday, the 14th of November, where we will have loads of tomato plants, herb seedlings and Tassie treasures, including the beautiful and hardy White Flag Iris. So come on down, taste some wonderful oysters, scoff an amazing cannoli with chocolate custard and say hi!

Friday, October 29, 2010


Common teatree/Manuka Leptospermum scoparium
There aren't many Hobartians who aren't able to walk out of their door and be in amongst the gum trees within 20 minutes or so, even if some of you have a massive Forest Road (or similar) stitch by the time you do! This proximity brings with it, blessings, trials and responsibilities.

White peppermint,
Eucalyptus pulchella
Blessings: Please forgive the religious tone of this verb, but blessed we are! If you've been reading this blog, and at the risk of sounding like a raging hippy, you'd have picked up on my veneration of Nature. And Hobart is wrapped right up in it. Knocklofty, Wellington Park, Waterworks, the Queen's Domain, Lambert Park.... the list goes on! Before my conversion to the green side, nothing healed my spirit and my lungs, after a long day breathing bleach and perming solution, like a stroll with my dog through Knocklofty or Wellington Park. Clean air, a parade of flowers and seeds through the seasons, and exchanging friendly nods with others seeking the same 'forest time'.

These walks offer a great demonstration of diversity. Mudstone, sandstone, dolerite. North, East, South and West facing slopes. Silver, white and black peppermint gums and their kin Stringybarks, White Gums, Blue Gums. Whoa! Better stop there before I get to listing everything and run out of room here. But you get the picture! In a relatively small area, Hobart has some wonderful, diverse forest for us to enjoy. But sadly this is shrinking. Developments, with smaller blocks and bigger houses doesn't leave much room for the local non-human inhabitants to make their homes. But here at Provenance Growers we've hatched a plan to help you bring Nature back down those slopes and into your gardens. This last few weeks I have been potting up little, tiny seedlings, grown here, from seed collected with permits, from Knocklofty, Lambert Park, South Hobart and the Queen's Domain. These should be ready for your garden in a couple of months. (See the list below.)

Trials: There are some things that make living near the bush a little less wonderful. These are, for me at least, furry and slithery animals and fire.

White peppermint, Eucalyptus pulchella, flower buds
Furry animals are a mixed blessing. Who isn't enchanted by the cute face, and fluffy charm of the brushtail possum (okay, I know there are a few who aren't...)? And wallabies and pademelons are so cute, that even though we're surrounded by them, the garden fairies and I are still excited when we find a little pawprint in the mud outside, and measure the length of the hops by jumping ourselves. But when they find the veggie patch, or any other plant that we're nurturing, they think nothing of helping themselves. But there are tricks that we can use to get around their thieving ways. Secure fencing, perhaps electrified or floppy topped, and protecting individual plants with wire, bags and stakes and other such devices are conventional ways of living with these creatures, but there are other tricks (never fail safe mind you) that I've discovered by chance. I've planted zucchinis and pumpkins in vulnerable areas in the past and by planting a big ring of them I've found they protect more tender plants from predation by encircling them with their prickly leaves. I've also heard of another gardener using nettles as an effective barrier, and I just found a lovely sprouting broccoli plant nestled among the borage where the other plants from that batch have all been nibbled into broccoli bonsais! There are other things like smelly spray deterrents and browse resistant plants, not to mention a tasty spaghetti Wallanaise for the hard willed gardener.

Snakes make me especially nervous. With two small garden fairies and a buffet of frogs for snakes in our garden, the odds of a close encounter are high. There's not much you can do but let the dog in the garden before the kids to frighten them away, and put the little ones in gumboots and jeans and teach them to stamp feet and open their eyes. If you scalp your land and lose the snake habitat you'll also lose out on welcome visitors like wrens, bluetongues and skinks. Apparently most negative snake encounters are with snakes moving from one place to another, removing habitat won't stop them passing through.

Prickly beauty, Pultenaea juniperina.
Pretty, hardy, great habitat,
but quite flamable, use with caution!

Fire is another thing that makes living with our landscape a challenge. In promoting native plants in the suburbs, I was reminded of my responsibility to promote fire safe gardening by the Hobart City Council's bushland fire officer. This is a hard one, all gardens can burn, and you can't have a great garden with no mulch, which can also burn. My gardening collegues and I often discuss fire safe gardening and have lots of different ideas. Come and have a chat with me at Tas Farm Gate, or my friends at Plants of Tasmania Nursery. We will all offer different ideas, and we will all tell you that these are our thoughts only, not an officially rattified way to prevent fire. There is an official document here at Tasmania Fire Service although this brochure has limited (and some, perhaps a little odd) low flamability choices.
Here we have the veggie garden to the North, the direction from which fire is most likely to come. All of the garden beds against the house are mulched with gravel. And I would always encourage gardeners in fire prone areas to avoid planting an avenue of garden beds that can lead a fire right to your house. But I dread, each summer, the ring of chainsaws and brushcutters, as animal homes are destroyed in our efforts to make our own safer. By raking up, and burning every leaf that falls, and removing all of the understorey, we end up with impoverished soil, and put local wildlife under stress. Yesterday this echidna turned up on my sisters drive in Howrah. I bet it didn't want to be on concrete, and I suspect loss of habitat has pushed this poor creature, along with countless, unseen others,  into the 'burbs , where it is unlikely to have a peaceful life.

As for responsibilities, I'll let you make up your own mind, but I can't resist a chance to mention the roaming of cats into gardens that people, like me, are gardening for wildlife and the heartache in watching the local native hens lose four of their five chicks this month to a sneaky black creature, that should live next door, not here!! And the escape of weeds and foreign native species into adjacent bushland. Last week a friend and I saw, on Strickland Avenue, at least three introduced Australian native plants that had self seeded and were marching into the bush that is quite beautiful, and probably better off, without them.

There are a number of wonderful 'care' groups and council run programs for those who want to get involved with looking after their local patch, and learning about what grows and lives in them. I have the good fortune to know Bruce from the Friends of Knocklofty Bushcare Group. He recently gave me a wonderful tour of Knocklofty, pointing out his favourite plants, his least favourite weed incursions, and talking about the fantastic work they have done in the reserve. I left this great walk even more inspired to grow a beautiful selection of local plants for you to plant in your gardens. So here they are!


                   Eucalyptus pulchella, White Peppermint
                   Banksia marginata, Silver Banksia
                   Acacia verticillata, Prickly Moses
                   Ozothamnus ferrigineus, Tree Everlasting
                   Cassinia acueleata, Dolly Bush
                   Allocasuarina littoralis, Bulloak
                   Ozothamnus obcordatus, Yellow Everlastingbush
                   Olearia viscosa, Viscid Daisybush
                   Stylidium dilitatum, Trigger Plant
                   Microlaena stipoides, Weeping Grass

Queen's Domain:
                 Allocasuarina verticillata, Drooping Sheoak
                 Stylidium dilitatum, Trigger Plant
                 Poa labillardiere, Tussock Grass
                 Themeda australis, Kangaroo Grass
South Hobart:
                 Bedfordia salicina, Blanket Leaf
                 Eucalyptus tenuiramis, Silver Peppermint
                 Leptospermum scoparium, Common Tea Tree
                 Allocasuarina monilifera, Necklace Sheoak
Sandy Bay, Lambert Park:
                  Eucalyptus pulchella, White Peppermint
                  Allocasuarina littoralis, Bulloak
                  Dodonea viscosa, Hop Bush

When these plants are ready to enter the world I'll add descriptions for each plant, and there are still more varieties germinating as we speak, I'll keep you updated!

We'll be at Salamanca this Saturday, the 30th of October and at Tas Farm Gate this Sunday, the 31st of October, then the 7th and the 21st of November. We'd love to see you there!
Prickly Moses, Acacia verticillata. Pretty, hardy and wonderful habitat.