In mid-August Floriade head gardener Andrew Forster told me about the Floriade Reimagined website which lists all the places on a Floriade Bloom Tulip Trail. He suggested visiting Kambah sheep, Cooleman Court in Weston or Woden Town Park for an early look. Since then 33 sites include Floriade Planted, Floriade Boxed and Floriade Potted from The Big Owl at Belconnen to Gungahlin Place, Lanyon Marketplace in Conder to City Hill. Some will be put in place next week.
The giveaway challenge
At lunch on August 22, one friend ate his last mouthful of fruit salad as another took a pre-Floriade photo - where are they? Find another Floriade site, tell me where it is and what you have eaten while admiring the blooms.
The prize is a beautiful packet of Enchanted Garden seeds from Sow 'n Sow. in Maleny, Queensland. It contains seeds of bee and butterfly attractant plants, alyssum, cosmos, dianthus and cornflowers. The packet comes with sowing instructions and a plant label. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Calyx in bloom
At the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, the vertical floral "green" wall at the Calyx has turned vivid red, marmalade and bright pink with flowers that signal to pollinators using colour, shape and scent in plant ecology. Executive director Denise Ora says the plants lift our mood and provide us with inspiration.
The design has taken the form of an impressionistic living watercolour 50m long and 5.5m high. It will be on show, regularly refreshed, for the next 10 months from 10am-4pm daily, admission by donation. The team have chosen bee and butterfly attractant plants.
Field of sunflowers giveaway
To create your own landscape in Canberra, among our favourites are sunflowers. Van Gogh's Sunflowers masterpiece (1888) is due here from March next year and, as National Gallery of Australia director, Nick Mitzevich says, "it is one of the world's most popular and widely recognised works of modern art".
Sunflower (helianthus annuus) attracts bees, chooks eat them to produce top eggs, Russians and others roast the seeds - don't eat the shells but crack them and discard and eat the kernels. As soon as your soil warms in the next few weeks, in go the seeds.
Here is the opportunity to have your own display. We have five packets of Sunflower Van Gogh's Landscape seeds from The Diggers Club to give away. These 1.5m tall single-stemmed plants take about 10 weeks to produce large golden flowers which last for six days in a vase.
To win, tell me your favourite plant or edible which attracts wildlife (bonus for humour) email: email@example.com.
A compost bin should be part of every free-standing Canberra residence, tumbling or free standing, a Bokashi bin in the kitchen and/or a worm farm. Years ago Canberra households were supplied with free Reln compost containers. I have two which are used daily and sturdy. The sides open for easy compost turning or removal. Double sided lids have a central air vent. The contents always smell sweet never sweaty (that might be the gardener).
Following the January hail storm, the lids of a friend's nine Reln bins were smashed by hail stones. They continue to be filled with household scraps but also autumn leaves from his own garden and surrounding streets in Griffith.
Once the energising yakka is completed outdoors, it's time to take advantage of falling lamb prices and enjoy lamb shanks. Let the pot simmer away while you garden. Check every 30 minutes that the liquid is simmering (not boiling), give the pot a stir, add more water if necessary. Vary ingredient quantities to suit your taste.
1 lamb shank per person
tin of chopped tomatoes with tomato paste
generous glass of red wine
2 small or one big sweet potato
3 Dutch cream potatoes
handful of fresh beans
1 medium sized head of broccoli
rosemary, stripped off the stems
piece of fresh ginger finely sliced
Saute the shanks on all sides in a large cast iron oven casserole pot until slightly browned. Add crushed garlic, tin of tomatoes and paste, red wine, chopped carrots and zucchini, peeled and sliced sweet potato, scrubbed and sliced potatoes, topped and tailed beans sliced diagonally across the centre, broccoli broken into florets, rosemary and ginger, add cold water to cover, bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about two hours.
In the final 15 minutes of cooking ad a good handful of chopped parsley.
Serve with a glass of red wine.
Note: make enough so some can be frozen as shanks are often even better when reheated.