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The Garden Telelink group gets some expert advice

07 April 2017

It’s no secret, but The Garden is one of the more difficult Vision Australia Telelink groups to be a part of.

The group is made up of a members who are passionate about all things gardening and there is currently an extensive waiting list for other green-thumbs who wish to join the weekly conversation.

While those who join will likely pick up some handy tips and tricks from the knowledgeable long-time members, there’s a good chance they’ll also hear from some of the bigger names in Australian gardening circles.

Last week The Garden was joined by Gardening Australia presenter Jane Edmanson, who shared a number of useful pieces of advice with the group about how they can get the most of their gardens.

For those who like to grow their own fruit, Jane provided some advice on how to get the most out a passionfruit vine or pomegranate tree.

Well drained soil is must for passionfruit vines is a must according Jane, while the addition of some manure is likely to help as well. For those trying to grow passionfruits in a cooler climate, they should be planted in sheltered location.

Pomegranates, which Jane said are growing in popularity, also prefer a hot and dry climate, though with a bit of care and attention they should be able to produce fruit in cooler locations too. A pomegranate tree will likely produce a limited amount of fruit around a year after planting and growers can expect a better harvest from year two onwards.

Unlike passionfruits and pomegranates there’s little hope for growing vanilla outside of warmer areas. Unless you have a greenhouse, Jane said there is almost no chance of the fragrant plant growing in cool weather.

For those who like fragrant an herbal teas, Jane suggested lemon verbena as an alternative to the more traditional lemon myrtle. To some surprise she also said that thyme makes quite a drinkable tea. She also pointed out that some plants, like azaleas, can be poisonous and reminded people to be careful before throwing anything into their teapots.

Jane also provided some tips around how and when to plant cuttings and gave those in the group a description of her garden at home.

Given that not everybody is able to participate in The Garden Telelink group, here are some bonus tips about how people from the blind and low vision community can develop a sensory garden they can enjoy.

  • Smell: Consider flowers and plants that have strong and varying perfumes such as roses, camellias, gardenias, jasmine, buddleia and fruit trees. Herbs such as lavender, basil, thyme, menthol mint, rosemary can also provide fragrant foliage.
  • Touch: Incorporate plants that have different tactile characteristics such as bottle brush, Chinese elm or banksia. Rocks, statues and garden ornaments can also be interesting tactile features.
  • Sound: Several flowers, plants and trees such as casuarinas and robinias make unique sounds in the wind. A wind-chime can provide a pleasant sound when a breeze blows through the garden. Water features can have soothing sounds.
  • Taste: Tease your tastebuds by planting fruit trees, vegetables or herbs. Try mandarin trees, passionfruit vines, lemonade trees, peas, tomatoes and carrots or parsley, mint and basil to name a few.
  • Direction: Reference points can be used to help you locate different areas within your garden, for example a statue placed in proximity to the herbs. Remember to keep paths free from obstacles and hazards.
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