Category Archives: Plant fair

Lanyon Plant Fair – 2014 Part 3

If you missed parts 1 and 2 of my blog post on the 2014 Lanyon Plant Fair you can view them here: part 1part 2.
Now, the soil talk!

Photo of fluorescent yellow and red amaranthus foliag
Bright amaranthus foliage

The second talk I went to during the plant fair was on creating healthy soils and it was fantastic. I noticed a few puzzled faces in the crowd belonging to people who weren’t familiar with some of the terminology but all in all I think most people really enjoyed the talk and learned a lot. I had previously come across most of the information in various, diverse locations but this was the first time I had seen such varied information all in the one place. Nicholas talked about bacteria to fungi ratios and the impact of these on the health of your soil as well as the plants that will naturally grow in soils with various ratios of bacteria and fungi. He talked about protozoa, soil compaction and mycorrhizas (or mycorrhizae). He also described the effects of digging on soil biology and the benefits of compost tea. The pictures he showed of successful soil improvement projects were amazing. I have never seen grass with such long roots – you would certainly have some drought hardy lawn if your grass roots could descend two metres into the soil as one of his pictures showed!

Photo of red flowering sage and fluorescent yellow and red amaranthus
The bold combination if a red flowering sage and brightly coloured amaranthus

All in all I was very glad I went along to the Lanyon Plant Fair. The soil talk was well worth the $10 entry fee and I enjoyed perusing the specialty plants that were for sale. I’ll also never feel left out now when I see that Clive is giving a talk that I can’t make. I probably won’t go back again now that I’ve been but if any of you are interested in any of the talks given at future fairs, I would say that it is probably worth a visit if only as a once off.

Lanyon Plant Fair – 2014 Part 2

If you missed part 1 of my blog post on the 2014 Lanyon Plant Fair you can view it here: Lanyon Plant Fair Part 1.

Now, the much anticipated Clive Blazely talk!
I thought that the Diggers talk would be popular, especially since Diggers don’t have a shop or garden in Canberra so most Canberrans don’t often get the opportunity to see Clive. With this in mind, I went to the tent ten minutes early to get a seat. I obviously didn’t realise just how popular Diggers has become however. The tent was full when I got there (although admittedly it wasn’t very large – roughly classroom sized) and people were spilling out into the grounds. I didn’t mind standing though so I picked a spot where I could see the screen and settled down to wait.

Photo of the trunk of the boab tree - very thick and bulbous
The trunk of the boab tree

When Clive finally took to the stand, I was disappointed. Even though he had a microphone, his quiet voice didn’t travel very well and those of us at the back really struggled to hear. For someone who gives a lot of public talks, he certainly doesn’t project his voice or speak in an engaging fashion. He also started his presentation by saying that most of us probably didn’t know the difference between heirloom, hybrid and genetically modified seeds and that he would go on to explain this. Whilst I appreciate that many people are not aware of the difference (if you’re not sure, check out this article) I was hoping that he would choose to talk about a slightly more advanced topic. By beginning his talk in that way he did nothing to engage the large number of us in the audience who did know the difference. I didn’t last much longer than that and so after struggling to hear him for a few minutes, I quietly slipped away to visit the vegetable garden and wait for him to give his tour of what he claimed was a wonderful, thriving garden full of diggers heirloom seeds. I wasn’t the first or the last to do so either.

Photo of the top, leafy part of the boab tree.
The lush top of the boab tree

Unfortunately I was again disappointed. The garden had a few interesting heirloom varieties but everything was planted in rows and small patches of monoculture – no companion planting really, though they did have some flowers around the outside of the garden. Having said that, the Marguerite daisies were putting on a good show and had attracted a large number of bees. I was also slightly envious of the chive section of the parterre garden even if it did lack any sign of companion planting – one day I will have that many chives and I can eat them every day!

A photo of the parterre garden at Lanyon homestead - a lawn of chives is very impressive
Part of the parterre garden – so many chives in the middle!

Other areas of the garden were much more interesting. The boab was a lovely specimen and the bright foliage surrounding the homestead’s main building (see part 3 of this post) was spectacular.
Stay tuned for a more positive part 3 post.

Lanyon Plant Fair – 2014

Part 1
Every year, in the south of Canberra, Australia’s capital city, the Australian Open Gardens scheme hold an open day at the historic Lanyon Homestead. This year I had the opportunity to attend and I eagerly anticipated it.

A photo of Bamboo 'Hedge' - a hardy clumping variety tolerant of temperatures down to -12°c
Bamboo ‘Hedge’ – a hardy clumping variety tolerant of temperatures down to -12°c

A variety of garden businesses attended the fair. With businesses selling anything from frost tolerant bamboos and rare begonias to compost teas and garden tools, there was something for everyone. We came away with six interesting and most importantly, frost hardy plants. And yes, I did select a frost hardy bamboo. The nursery had a couple of varieties that are supposed to tolerate temperatures down to -12°c so I thought I’d give it a go. I’m hoping for a mild winter again this year so it has a chance to settle in before we have a proper cold winter – we shall see.

If you’ve never grown bamboo because of its reputation for being highly invasive I have great news. Runner bamboos can be invasive but clumping bamboos are quite tame. They’ll spread until the clump reaches a particular diameter (‘hedge’ clumps will grow to about one metre in diameter while each cane will grow to about 4 cm in diameter) but they won’t continue to spread further. This makes them a great option if you would like to grow your own bamboo canes for plant supports and/or to screen unwanted views.

A number of talks were scheduled throughout the weekend as well. I was particularly interested in the talk on seeds by Clive Blazely, founder of the Diggers Club (a nursery specialising in heirloom seeds and plants) and the talk on soils by Nicholas Gerhard from Soil By Design.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of this blog post to find out what these gardeners talked about.