Amorphophallus titanum the Worlds LARGEST Flower!

Story and Photography by Bonnie-Marie Hibbs.

The Amorphophallus titanum was discovered in 1878 in Sumatra, Indonesia by Odoardo Beccari who was an Italian botanist. Since its discovery, many botanical gardens from all around the world have been studying and encouraging the Amorphophallus.t to flower and thus hoping to gain a better understanding of how to conserve the species. But Amorphophallus.t isn’t an easy plant to grow and is quite difficult to get a flower to form. Within botanical gardens around the world there have only been 21 flowering events recorded before 1989 and only 80 flowering events after 1990 have been recorded in botanical gardens around the world.

Amorphophallus.t‘s common name is the ‘Stink Lily’ and this is for a very good reasonOnce the flower emerges a very powerful scent is omitted for the first couple of days, which often is described as the same smell as rotting  or off meat. Unfortunately the inflorescence of the flower tends to collapse within two to three days, making it a short period of time to witness.

It is such a rare and beautiful piece of nature that many of us don’t get the chance to witness or be made aware of. But this week at the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne I went to see this very plant in flower and what a sight it was.

Standing easily at 2.5 meters, close to 8.5 feet, it is definitely a stand still moment. When you’re in the presence of such a plant you finally get to understand just how much of an honour it is to see something so beautiful and unique. It really is a once in a life time opportunity.  It is hard to comprehend just how quickly this flower forms and then dies, growing at a speed of 10cm per day which is just astonishing! I was able to talk with one of the gardeners and I found out that the tuber weighed 36kg and when you compare that to the record holder of 117kg, it’s mind blowing!

It is truly amazing what nature can do!



Arthropodium cirratum will rock your garden !

By Horticulturist Rian Harrison.

If you are looking for that ideal plant to grow in dry shade then I have the perfect suggestion for you, it’s the Arthropodium cirratum or commonly known as the New Zealand Rock Lily.

Arthropodium cirratumA native of NZ this plant is a clump forming perennial with lush green strap-like foliage. It grows approximately 85cm high x 1 metre wide and it thrives in filtered sun to part shade and very tolerant of dry conditions. The beautiful feature of this plant are the masses of delicate clusters of nodding white flowers with soft pink buds above the lovely foliage during spring.

Having my own garden that is very shaded with many well established deciduous and evergreen trees I was having challenges growing anything beneath them until I gave the Arthropodium a chance. To me it was like discovering gold, it thrived so much that most of my garden now consists of mass plantings of the Arthropodium underneath all my large trees. The impact of them when they are in flower is so impressive that passer-bys approach me to ask what the plant is called.

Once established these plants rarely need water in such a competitive environment. I fertilise them each spring and they need their old bottom leaves removed a couple of times a year. The one and only disadvantage is that the snails do love their fresh new foliage especially after rain but that is easily rectified by a sprinkling of Multicrop Snail Bait amongst the foliage. This plant will reward you unconditionally in what can at times be a difficult spot. Enjoy.

Hot pink new release Euphorbia Lipstick

Euphorbia LipstickFor years we have been selling a little hybridised  pot plant called Euphorbia Somona. The original Euphorbia of this species was from Madagascar and called Euphorbia milii. Somona was developed and bred for the European market which meant it was important that it was a compact plant as that is what growers in places like Denmark want.

They were also very popular in tropical Thailand and Taiwan, where they were called Poysean – which means Eight Saints and named after the eight saints of Chinese mythology: health, bravery, riches, beauty, art, intelligence, poetry and the ability to overcome evil. Growing one of these outside the home was considered to bring these positive attributes to those within it.

There has now been a larger variety bred, that should be perfect for the Australian market. Introducing Euphorbia Lipstick.

This new Euphorbia Lipstick has been much anticipated since its media realase last April. I guess the smaller variety we have been selling has been such a good little performer, that a bigger version would be an added bonus. You will find the smaller Somona variety in 100mm pots and they will always be tiny plants. The Lipstick will be available in a pot more than twice the size and has bigger leaves and flowers and can apparently grow up to a metre.

Lipstick on the left and Somona on the right.

These Euphorbias are succulents and have quite sharp thorns, although I believe the thorns on Lipstick are softer. These plants have also been known as the ‘crown of thorns’.

You need to grow them in a patio or protected area except maybe up north where they would probably grow in the open and outside. We find you need to a bit careful not to overwater them, although we have grown them in a hydroponics system outside the Gardenworld Cafe and they have lasted nearly a year, with very little maintenance. They were outside, but under cover and thrive there.

Euphorbia growing outside the Gardenworld Cafe

This is a plant that may not last forever, although there are stories of people having them for years. My final recommendation is the most telling – yes, even my mum can grow them and she loves them.

Laurentia Blue Star

A new seedling from Oasis.Laurentia Blue Star

Laurentia Blue Star (Laurentia axillaris hybrid) produces a mass of very pretty star shaped blooms above soft mounded foliage ideally suited for softening the edges of borders, paths and retailing walls.

Laurentia is a perennial that is often treated as an annual. It is a pretty and hardy plant originating from Australia which flowers approximately 12-14 weeks after plantingand throughout the warmer months. It grows to 30cm in height.

Plant Laurentia Blue Star in sunny garden beds, borders, rockeries and embankments, pots, window boxes or hanging baskets.

NEW Laurentia Blue Star is available in Oasis seedling punnets.

Gardening World Cup goes to Australia.

By James Wall with reference to a Jim Fogarty written article in The Age on Saturday October 22nd.

Well, the kiwis may have won the rugby world cup, but while all that was happening, there was a much more exciting World Cup of Gardening event going on in Japan. Who said gardening wasn’t a sport ? The competition was first held last year in Japan to commemorate 65 years since the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. The Brits won that one with a garden designed by 2010 Chelsea Flower Show Best in Show winner Andy Sturgeon.

The challenge with this show is that each designer has to work with a 100sq metre site and the same budget. Each designer is appointed a Japanese building contractor. So you can see that money alone can’t buy a victory in this event. You have 10 days to build the project, and all plants must be sourced during this time. Not like the exhaustive months of preparation allowed for Chelsea.

Sixteen of the world’s best garden designers, representing 12 countries were there this year, including Sarah Eberle, winner of nine gold medals and a best in show at Chelsea. Every conversation with the contractor had to be conducted through appointed translators and the theme this year was ‘peace and plants’, using horticulture as a way of unifying countries.

Jim Fogarty was invited as the Australian entrant and he designed a garden telling the story of  bushfires and there impact on the community. Jim witnessed the ‘Black Saturday’ fires of February 7th 2009, which were only an hour north east of his home. His message was that out of devastation comes new life. Every plant used was native to Australia. It obviously resonated  with the Japanese after their recent earthquake and tsunami, and it was awarded best in show. That’s right, this was a world cup that Australia won.

As stated, much of this info was the words of Jim in his article in The Age on Saturday. It was a very well told story, but Jim Fogarty was much too humble with regard to his achievement and we congratulate him on his brilliance which has once again shone through. This shows the world that Australia is up there with the best when it comes to gardening and our industry should be proud that we can create such beauty to enrich ones’ lives.

More pics can be seen at Jim Fogarty Design

Or go to the World Cup website:

Orchid Spectacular!

Last weekend the annual orchid show was held at the Springers Leisure Centre, just around the corner from Gardenworld. Folk came from all over Victoria and even interstate. Once again it was a packed weekend, and the standard of entries this year was high. The main reason being there was plenty of rain this year. In fact some orchids had 8 or more flower spikes yet were still well proportioned because of the bushiness of the plants.

In case you missed the show, here are a few photos. If you would like to see more spectacular flowering orchids, then get down to Collector’s Corner at Gardenworld as they have hundreds on show and for sale.

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New Release Loropetalum Plum Gorgeous.

Loropetalum chinense ‘Plum Gorgeous’        
Height: 1.5m           Spread: up to 2m

We have had a look at this plant for nearly six months now. The growers at PGA had told us that this is the deepest and darkest coloured foliage of any Loropetalum on the market, and retains its colour all year round. It’s interesting that this fact is seen as a greater attribute than the hot pink tasseled flowers it has through the spring and summer. Maybe foliage is the new flower when it comes to colour.

Plum Georgeous is the one on the right, with an unnamed variety on the left. Note the different leaf shape. This was not a scientific comparison, and the plant on the left has been in the garden for nearly a year. It will be interesting to see Plum Gorgeous in the same situation.

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A Melbourne Garden in August

We got some new bulbs in last week. These varieties are summer flowering and include the uncool gladioli. I say uncool, because of course Dame Edna Everidge used to grow them in Moonee Ponds – how uncool ! Smiles come to mind remembering her cuddling a big bunch like it was a baby. My wife actually grew some last year in a terracotta bowl and did they stand proud with lipstick red flowers. We found them quite easy to grow, and most rewarding.  

Other available bulbs and tubers include Canna lilies, alstromeria, bearded iris, asiatic lilies and peonies. There are also Jerusalem artichokes which are nothing like globe artichokes. They have a sunflower like flower and form a tuber, which can be harvested and cooked. They are selling well since Billy on Masterchef had to cook with them during the New York week. He had to slice them into little chips, deep fry and then poke them into the top of soup.  

If you haven’t got strawberries in, now is the time. If you plant them later, you don’t get as much foliage growth which means less fruit. GardenWorld is pleased to announce that we have secured an exclusive variety from Sunnyridge Strawberry Farm in Red Hill. These will be the tastiest strawberries you have ever grown. Plant in pots or garden beds, and when they finish fruiting, next winter cut them back and they will go again for another season. 

If you only do the vegie patch for the spring season, start weeding now. Dig the beds over to get oxygen into the soil, and fertilise with chicken manure. We recommend Attunga’s Organic Life, as it also contains fish meal and seaweed. Attunga are a local company based in Dandenong that also supply us the famous Humus Plus, a secret formula that will give every garden bed a lift. 

Pruning fruit trees is a slow process. Don’t rush it because you can’t sticky tape the branch back on ! Go for a classic wine glass shape, cutting out any weak internal branches so as to open the middle of the plant up a bit. I also like to control height, because when harvesting, the ladder only goes so high.  Even little blueberry bushes could do with a culling of the weak internal branches. 

Of course this is the month to watch and enjoy the magnolia flowers literally open befrore your eyes. Towards the end of the flowering period, fertilise big trees with a bucket of Organic Life or Dynamic Lifter and this will ensure nice dark green leaves and vigorous growth. A prune after flowering will make them bushy, but you might like to leave yours tall and lanky. Thats the other beaut thing about these trees – all, the different shapes and sizes.

Camellia Dr Clifford Parks and Magnolia doltsopa

a close-up of the same Magnolia doltsopa

Also feed azaleas, camellias, daphne and trim back evergreens lightly, including box hedges, so as to ensure the new growth takes off from nice bushy plants. Sow spring seeds of petunias, marigolds, capsicums and tomatoes. GET READY, as the frenetic spring season is almost upon us. 

Bulbs to plant this month: Dahlia, Gladioli, Canna lilies, Alstromeria, Asiatic Lilies and herbaceous Peonies. 

Foodcrops: Asparagus, Beetroot, Broad beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Coriander, Lettuce, Leek, Parsnip, Onions, Potatoes, Rhubarb, Radish, Strawberry runners, Shallots, Snowpeas

Magnolia soulangeana

Googling a few peas turns up Gregor Mendel.

As I was on google today, I noticed their logo had been turned into some pea pods. Closer investigation shows it is a man called Gregor Mendel’s 189th birthday. A bit more googling, and I realised what a significant man he was.

Mendel, this Czech-German guy did some amazing experiments on peas and then bees – what a nerd! He even created some hybridised bees that were so viscious they had to be destroyed. Later he cut down on the research to concentrate on priesthood and other religious duties.  You don’t see many CVs like this one.

Although he is referred to as the “father of modern genetics” while he was alive, no-one really agreed with or accepted his work. They were in fact the underlying principles in hereditry.

Peas would have been good to experiment because they grow very quickly and have both male and female reproductive organs and can either self pollinate themselves or cross pollinate with another plant. However, from 1856 he grew 29000 pea plants in 7 years! – And no believed what he found out until the 1930s, 36 years after his death in 1884. Its like being a famous artist.

He cross pollinated peas and came up with 7 traits:

1.    flower color is purple or white 5.    seed color is yellow or green
2. flower position is axil or terminal        6. pod shape is inflated or constricted
3. stem length is long or short 7. pod color is yellow or green
4. seed shape is round or wrinkled

Flower colours were nothing in between – only purple or white and not a blend.  But do not let me try to explain it. If you are really interested, there is an excelent website with some great diagrams at :

Excellent info about Mendel’s pea experiments.

Also wikipedia has some good general info about the man at:

Hydroponics Made Easy – the Autopot System.

New Book Release: Hydroponics Made Easy, by Jim Fah.

By James Wall.

Jim Fah is a legend here at Gardenworld. He is the inventor of a very special system called Autopot. This system has a smart valve that ensures singular plants in their individual containers dictate when they get their supply of water according to their needs.

Jim has spent well over 20 years developing and improving his system. The system is being used commercially around the world, including Malaysia where they grow these bright yellow melons (Kuning Jati) in no growing media at all. Each crop takes 65 days and they are producing 2.5 tonnes of fruit a week.

Another project included a wall of plants along the Flemington Racecourse horse track. At one stage more than 1000 Purple Craze petunias were being watered from one pump. My experiences with planting our spreading petunias around here at Gardenworld has been a maintenance free system that ensures months of spectacular blooms. It is something we are famous for over summer, and because the flowers don’t get wet by this system, they last for many months longer than an overhead watering system.

Jim has also had to contend with copy cats, including a trusted former distributor who has even copied the Autopot name. Sure there are patents and potential legal avenues, but this can come at a great cost. Jim is focussing on developing the technology further, so the copy cats will never be up with the latest design.

It is with pleasure that I have just received a copy of Jim’s latest book. It is called Hydroponics Made Easy. It is actually the 3rd edition of his original book, but the 2nd edition came out over ten years ago, and a lot a developments have been made since then. As well as providing plenty of information about the Autopot System, you will also learn a lot about Hydroponics in general. There is also an interesting chapter on starting plants from seeds and cuttings.

The colourful book is 111 pages and is on sale for just $15 at both the nursery and the Hydroponics shop here at Gardenworld. It is also available online from with a $6.95 freight charge Australia wide.

What I like about this book is that you get an honest appraisal from the author of his own system as well as a wealth of information of tried and true fertiliser requirements of various crops. Following the instructions of this book, both backyard growers and commercial producers should have bumper crops of quality fruit and vegetables.


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