Marcelle Nankervis is a Horticulturist who has worked in the Horticultural Media for over 16 years.
She is passionate about Permaculture, Sustainability and Gardening for the Future. Marcelle regularly writes for Your Garden magazine and Better Homes and Gardens. Her first book was Plants for Australian Dry Gardens (Murdoch Books). Marcelle's second is Smart Gardening (Exisle Publishing).
Welcome to my Blog!
As a horticultural writer I often come across people, stories, tips, tricks and real gems of information that never really make their way out of my notebook. I am hoping to share a few of these insights here as well as my own gardening experiences, which includes getting my children excited about plants.
I believe that a strong connection with the garden and our landscape when we are young is vital. I am hoping that educating my children in "Green Living" and "Smart Gardening" will provide them with the fundamental building blocks necessary for them to live long and healthy lives, while also doing their bit in helping to create a sustainable and green future for all.
I was dropping my children off at school the other day when I noticed piles of sticks, twigs and dry leaves had gathered on many of the rooftops and gutters along the route I take through a leafy residential suburb.
Dry leaves and twigs on a roof.
The wild winter we have endured along with the recent spate of roaring winds has caused an unusual amount of debris to gather on roofs which may otherwise be clear.
When we think of bushfires we often think of them being in rural areas, but they could just as easily rip through a leafy residential suburb.
It is time to make your house fire ready and check your roof, gutters and garden for fire fuel sources.
Piles of dried foliage and garden clippings can be a haven for fires, so either compost, shred and mulch or discard plant waste.
Clean gutters and make sure your watering system works.
An afternoon spent cleaning up around your home could save a lifetime of memories, or even your life!
If in doubt, speak to your local CFA to make sure you are bushfire ready.
With Summer approaching, grey water will again become an important component of keeping our gardens lush and green. Even if we have had a fair amount of rain over winter and spring, it is no time to become careless or wasteful with water. We still need to make every drop count, if not for now, then for the future.
Although grey water can make a big difference in your garden (sometimes the difference between life and death), it is not recommended for edible plants such as vegies, herbs and fruit trees. It is, however, perfect for lawns and ornamentals, especially if you reduce any soaps or additives.
Using saved water from inside the home (like that collected in a bucket directly from the hot tap or shower) is easy, but if you would like to use the water from the rinse cycle of your washing machine, you should consider installing a grey water diverter at the outflow. These are inexpensive and available from hardware stores and garden centres.
If re-using grey water in the garden, use low or no sodium, phosphate and petrochemical cleaners such as:
- Back to Basics Laundry Liquid
- Biozet Phosphate free
- Bright & Fresh
- Earth Choice Laundry Liquid
- Greencare Laundry Liquid
- Home Brand Laundry Liquid
- Love n’ Care Laundry Liquid
- Lux Pure Soap Flakes
- Purity Sensitive
- Savings Laundry Liquid
- So Gentle Laundry Liquid
- Tri Nature Alpha Plus Laundry Liquid
- Tri Nature Angelica Washing Conditioner
- Triple 7 Safewash (Independently tested and published by www.lanfaxlabs.com.au)
You should always try to collect the freshest water you can, such as the cold water before the hot tap warms up. This is the cleanest type of "grey water" and the most useful.
If you are serious about re-using your grey water, you could also take a look at installing a grey water treatment system. Unfortunately they are not a set and forget type of system because they do need periodic cleaning, but they will allow grey water to be reused in the home to flush toilets and water the garden.
There are many local regulations governing the use of grey water and grey water treatment systems so be sure to contact your local council and state water authority for recommendations and advice for your area. The EPA website also has detailed specs on various grey water treatment systems, many of which are eligible for water rebates.
This morning I am off to visit a few gardens around Melbourne. This the undoubtedly one of best parts of my job. It is also an excellent way to gain new information and ideas.
Visiting other peoples gardens shows you what you can achieve in a similar sized garden, all the plants you could be growing, wonderful ideas you could be using in your garden, as well as invaluable seasonal information.
But you don't have to be a garden writer to visit other people's gardens. There are two easy ways to start exploring now:
1. The Open Garden Scheme
The Open Garden Scheme is a long established network of gardens that are open at various times throughout the year, allowing visitors to pay a small fee to explore the featured gardens. For open times it's best to purchase the Open Garden Scheme Book. It is available by visiting their website: http://www.opengarden.org.au/
2. Garden Design Fest
In Melbourne there is also another unique opportunity to visit gardens and it is coming up soon - Garden Design Fest. To be held from the 13-14 November 2010, Garden Design Fest is now in its 4th year, with over 25 gardens to explore from Melbourne to the Mornington Peninsula. One ticket covers entry to all of the gardens, many of which do not usually open to the public.
A full list of gardens and their addresses is available online at http://www.gardendesignfest.com.au/. Tickets are also available online. $25 covers entry to all gardens and includes a full colour guidebook, or you can pay $5 per garden (available at the garden gate). Gardens are open from 10am to 4.30pm with the designers present at most gardens throughout the day.
East Melbourne, Vic
Showcasing private gardens designed and professionally installed by up-and-coming designers as well as notable landscape designers including Paul Bangay, Rick Eckersley and John Patrick, it is an opportunity too good to miss. If this isn't enough, 100% of the net proceeds also go to Rotary for their Charitable work - so you can learn something and help someone in need!
So make the most of the beautiful weather we are experiencing and explore other people's wonderful gardens. You never know what tips and tricks you may pick up for your own backyard.
Smart Gardening is my new book and it is now available at all good bookstores and online outlets.
It is a handy reference with monthly activities for Cool, Temperate, Sub-Tropical and Tropical gardeners interested in growing their own produce.
With information on what to plant, what to harvest and jobs to do, whether you are a complete novice or a true green thumb, Smart Gardening will help you through every season.
Following many sustainable and permaculture practices, the first half of the book looks at using the environment to reduce your carbon footprint and save yourself money. The second half is the practical monthly guide which even includes room to pen your own seasonal notes to really personalise Smart Gardening, and make it the best reference book in your bookshelf!
The book follows my own philosophy of saving money, reducing our impact on the environment as well as improving the health and well-being of my family. So if you like the sound of that, take a look at Smart Gardening, you are bound to pick up a few tips and tricks.
Buy your copy online by clicking on the link below or visit your local bookstore.