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Garden with Jill

Hi Gardeners,  

Here I sit in my lounge room writing this article surrounded by three fans. The persistent hot summer weather continues to make not only me feel stressed, but also your gardens. The humidity we are experiencing creates fungal and insect problems - so be vigilant. 


Let’s drown out the other noises and look at a plant that has a sense of style.  Beautiful pure white flowers with glossy green leaves – have you guessed what this plant could be? Yes, it is the Gardenia. They not only embody beauty, but have the most fantastic fragrance. Ideal growing conditions require a well-drained moist acidic soil, making them very suitable for Bribie Island conditions.   

When planting these beauties, remember to dig the hole twice the size of the pot, I always dig a square not a well. This hole can be filled with either leaf litter, cow manure or compost. An even better fill is to buy the Azalea, Camellia and Gardenia Mix. Being shallow rooted, mulch is important to protect the roots and peat moss works well as it provides the acid qualities the plant needs. 

Water well, especially during the hot weather, as too little water will make your gardenia drop its buds. Lack of magnesium causes older leaves to turn yellow.  If this happens add two teaspoons of Epsom Salts to five litres of water and water your plant twice a year (i.e. April/May or June/July). Only do this twice a year giving the plant a good drenching. 

Grow your gardenia in a part-shaded position, as the hot afternoon sun can burn the leaves and the flowers.   

There are quite a few varieties to suit any growing situation. Gardenia radicans make a great ground cover, covering your garden up to a square metre. Other varieties include Florida, Amiee Yoshiba, Professor Pucci and Magnifica. 

They even do well in pots. Picture a couple of beautiful standard topiarised gardenias in two gorgeous large pots creating a stylish showpiece as an entrance to your home. Topiaries are easy to maintain if you keep removing the regrowth from the trunk and trim back leaf growth to keep a nice-shaped ball.  Fertilise regularly, as water leaches elements from the potting mix when grown in pots. Repot every two years.   

Other white plants to enjoy are Abelia, Min-a-min, Carissa Desert Star and Murrayas. 


Dating back to Roman times, Valentine’s Day on February 14 has morphed over the centuries to what we now call the most romantic day of the year. You go out of your way for the one you love. Flower-wise, Roses are usually the flower of choice, but what about a lovely Mandevilla called Giant Red Romance. A lovely climbing plant covered with bright red flowers in summer. They can be grown on a trellis or over a pergola adding shade and creating a nice area to sit and enjoy your garden. 

If you are thinking of something a bit more personal, say jewellery, Amethyst is the birthstone for February, which is the symbol of personal empowerment and inner strength. 


Oregano and Marjoram.   

These two herbs are very similar.  They both like well-drained soil and a nice sunny position. Marjoram is on the smaller side in growth. Whereas oregano is larger with a leggie habit. 

Keep the plants compact by trimming regularly and removing the flower heads.  They both can be dried and stored for use later in cooking. 

It is said that a cup of tea made from either of these herbs helps with headaches and upset stomachs. They are helpful in the garden, repelling insects which then keeps the surrounding plants happy and healthy. 

They grow well in both pots and gardens. 

They also enjoy the company of tomatoes. So, to celebrate National Pizza Day, here is a recipe to enjoy or maybe surprise a loved one on Valentine’s Day with a meal cooked by your own fair hands. 


Now you can cheat a little and buy a ready-made pizza base or to make your own, you will need:- 


2 cups of strong white bread flour 

2 teaspoons dried yeast 

1 teaspoon sugar 

½ teaspoon salt 

1 tablespoon olive oil 

175ml of hot milk and water  

Ingredients for topping 

400g can chopped tomatoes, drained 

2 garlic cloves, crushed 

2 teaspoons of oregano or marjoram 

225g mozzarella cheese, grated 

2 teaspoons of dried red chillies, crushed 

225g pepperoni, sliced 

2 tablespoons of drained capers  


Sift flour into a bowl and stir in the yeast, sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre, stir the olive oil into the milk and water. Mix forming a dough. Knead dough for 5-10 minutes. Put into a clean oiled bowl, cover and leave for 30 minutes until the dough doubles in size.  

Preheat your oven to 220° C. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a minute divide in half, roll out and place on a lightly oiled tray. 

Mix tomatoes, garlic and oregano or marjoram together and spread over the pizza leaving a margin around the edge. Add the other ingredients.  Cook for 14-20 minutes. Serve at once, sprinkling on some extra oregano or marjoram.  Enjoy! 

Happy gardening and eating.   



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