Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Garden Tool Advice

At my age, and as an experienced gardener and a man who loves his tools, I think I am reasonably well qualified to give advice on what are the best garden tools to purchase.
I certainly have made mistakes in the past but have learnt from those, some have been expensive failures and some have been terrific purchases.
I do review garden products through my internet site tell anyone that sends me a product that I will be fair and honest. If you go onto my website you can see I have posted a couple of really bad reviews.
The bad reviews are of course for products I have had problems with, but it’s not only the product, sometimes it’s the company that will not exchange or even answer you when you make a complaint.
A good example was a review I did on a Stanley Wheelbarrow. Stanley has been making great tools for a long time and I thought this would be no different, how wrong I was. The wheelbarrow turned out to be a very poorly made Chinese product and when I complained to Stanley Australia they said that they had NO responsibility as they had licensed their name to the company that made the wheelbarrow. Over 2000 people have read that review, wonder how many sales they lost?
I love Fiskars products, most of my garden tools are made by Fiskars. The product I like the best is the Telescopic Tree Pruner, the ergonomic fork and spade are good along with loppers, axes and rakes. A big bonus is that they are made in Finland and are a quality product.

Garden saws, I will only use Japanese made saws. The Japanese have centuries of history making quality swords, saws ect.  I think Silky are the best brand but other Japanese brands are not far behind.
Secateurs, this is a no brainer, I only use Felco number 2, great for all type of pruning, made in Switzerland and spare blades ect are readily available.

With garden sprayers I believe that Hozelock are the best brand, they are made in the UK and are available from most hardware shops and most importantly spare parts are readily available.

Mowers, I use a Honda HR216 self propelled, always starts first time and being Honda very reliable. My ride on mower is a Husqvarna 26 hp with a rear grass catcher, again very reliable, I find the rear grass catcher to be the best as it does not clog up unlike the side chute models.

Brush Cutter, do not buy a cheap one, basically when looking for one just make sure it is made in Japan then you can be assured of quality, mine is a Shingu brand.
Blower, mine is a Hitachi with a purefire engine, a great machine that’s starts first go every time again a Japanese made machine.

Stay away from Chinese cheap imports. I bought a back pack motor sprayer; I thought it would be great for spraying/misting my fruit trees. I found that as soon as the nozzle was brought upwards the machine stopped spraying liquid. After a big fight I received a refund.
 Another cheap Chinese product I bought is a long shaft petrol hedge trimmer, I still have this machine and do use it but, I think it will fall apart very soon as it sounds a bit loose inside the motor, another cheap Chinese copy of a Honda motor.
So overall you only get what you pay for, so my advice is to pay the extra for a quality product that will last you and give you years of good service.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

November Garden News

After almost four months with little or no rain FINALLY we had some good showers, what an absolute relief for both Judy and I and our plants.

On the first night it rained I leapt out of bed at 2 am and put my raincoat over my pyjama shorts and started to fertilize the lawns, I did have lots of company doing this as the Cane Toads were also enjoying the rain.
What a joy it was to be wet.
I had two garden presentations one at Bayside Garden Club and another at Victoria Point Garden Club, this was also a good opportunity to plug our ‘Open Garden’.
Briz 31 is a community TV station with about 20,000 plus viewers, one of their shows is ‘Blooming in Brisbane’ and they came and filmed in our garden.
You can find the clip here

It was a good experience as the two girls doing the filming were both students, they filmed for half a day then went off to edit.
The finished product ended up really well with great editing, the link is here.
Then of course it was our ‘Open Garden’, this was not an opening for ‘Australia’s Open Gardens’ but to raise money for the Lions Club to purchase equipment for disabled children.
It was not great as far as numbers went, 350 passed through the gate and there were refreshments and a raffle, all this money went straight to the Lions Club.
The Lion's made  $2300, so that is a total of $5675 clear from two 'Open Gardens' raised by us this year for equipment for disabled children.
The garden looked good with the recent rain.

The rain had vastly improved the garden and the Blood Lily and Caladium displays were fantastic, overall the garden looked great.

Plant sales were reasonable with many visitors leaving with cheap and great plants plus a bag of Black Sapote fruit.
AS usual there was a nice selection of plants in flower.

At 2 pm on Sunday the heaven's opened and down came the rain and hail.

As usual both Judy and I were completely worn out afterwards and after the big clean up we headed up the coast to Mooloolaba for a few days break.

We called in to see some gardening friends and of course came home with a car load of new and rare plants to add to our collection.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

October 2013 Garden News

October, well it was the driest October on record, every spring now seems to be dry, so depressing and stressful seeing the garden burn up.
I still do not believe in climate change believing that the weather is cyclic.
There is only one absolute truth about the climate and that is that 2014 will be different to 2013 and so on.
It seems that most of my gardening time is taken up watering, trying to keep our 1000s of plants alive.
Lucky or just good planning that we have seven tanks holding 107,500 litres of rainwater.
That will soon run out.
Impatiens bicaudata
Jade Vine
I suppose there’s no use complaining as there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.
It's Day Lily time, so here's a few pictures.

I gave presentations to ‘Rose Lovers’ and ‘Stafford Garden Club’.
We had two bus trips through the garden ‘Maleny Garden Club’ and Ipswich Horticultural Society’.
November see’s two more presentations then nothing until next February.
We have started another Caladium garden, that’s three mass plantings now, should look stunning.
I am hoping for rain in the next week or so as we have our ‘Open Garden’ coming up at the end of November.

The garden will still be well worth while visiting as everyone’s garden will be in the same state as ours or even worse unless you are lucky enough to have a bore.

My Amorphophallus collection is building up to over 55 different varieties, and I am still collecting.
Amorphophallus palawanensii
Dracontium polyphyllum
Amorphophallus pranii
Pinellia pedatisecta

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

November Open Garden

 Yes, we are going to open in November but it is going to be a charity opening to raise money for disabled children through the Lions Club.
Entry will be only $5.00 and the Lions Club will be providing food and drinks at a reasonable cost.
All money raised from entry, raffle and catering go to the Lions Club.
A toilet will be available.
It's on the same weekend as the 'Tropical Foliage Festival' which is held in Cleveland, so a great gardening day if you visit us both.
Plenty of great plants will be for sale as well as fresh 'off the tree' chocolate pudding fruit.
Please come and see a great garden and support a very worthwhile cause.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

September 2013 Garden News

What a horrible month September has been.
I was virtually unable to do any gardening due to my inflamed hip, talk about getting frustrated.
Then I decided to find out why my pond level was falling every day, and after removing some of the water I found that the old PVC liner had completely rotted and when I touched it the material just disintegrated.
This was something I really did not need.

This presented a real problem as when I originally built the pond I had tucked the liner under all the rocks sleepers and paver's.
There was no way I was going to completely remove all the rocks, sleepers and waterfall, so I had to find another way of repairing the pond.
I must admit that this caused me a few sleepless nights.
Fortunately there is a specialist pond shop close by and they recommended a new rubber liner stuck onto what was left of the old liner then stuck onto the rocks. The product they recommended was a Sikka marine adhesive sealant, well 10 tubes later at over $20 a tube I had the liner in the pond space and my fingers crossed.
The pond has now been refilled and the fish are back, so far all looks good.

We went through the hottest September on record with one small shower of rain; it is so dispiriting to see the garden dry out, and having to spend so much time hand watering.
Lucky our tanks have plenty of water.
We gave presentations to ‘Clairmont Garden Club’ and ‘Asply Orchid Society’, both were well received and we will be going back to both clubs.

I am very worried that one of my shade trees (Custard Apple) in the back is on its way out, it not looking very good and I have had to rig up some temporary shade for the under-story plants.
My Amorphophallus collection is coming along with over 54 different variety's so far collected including 'Titanum'.
I am starting to feel a bit better, hate being unwell.
Our son Scott won GOLD for Australia in the World Disabled Water Ski Championships held in Milan, we are very proud of him.