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.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Product - Biodegradable Pots

I recently received a sample of a new style of pot called Pot'n all (because you plant it 'Pot and all'). Great for cuttings and plants that you would ultimately plant out in your garden anyway, they minimise root disturbance and are made from all natural materials which are renewable.

An Historical Perspective

The first flower pots used commercially were terracotta. While they had (and still do have) many benefits, their weight and fragility was not practical in nurseries. This lead to the popularity and widespread acceptance of plastic pots. And although plastic pots are durable, lightweight and reduce water loss, they can contribute to waste and landfill if not made from recyclable plastics or if not recycled appropriately. Even then, fossil fuels and valuable energy is still used in the recycling process. Biodegradable pots have been around for sometime but these have been largely confined to smaller propagating pots and tubes like Jiffy pots. Pot'n all are available in regular pots sizes to try to create and fill a new niche in commercial growing.

Pot'n all is made from coconut fibre which is torn from the husk of the coconut. It is then washed, teased and sundried. The material is compressed into long sheet and sprayed with a natural latex rubber. It is allowed to dry before being cut into sheets and pressed into pot shapes using high pressure moulding. (No fossil fuels are used in this process.)

Ramm Botanicals have been trialling the pots for two years and say that the above ground results are identical between these and traditional plastic pots. However, it is below ground where these coconut pots have all the benefits with no root disturbance, quicker planting and no rubbish or clean up. 

While trials still continue, I can certainly see many benefits and I hope that further studies reveal that this process is not only better for the environment, but also the nursery and landscape industries. 

Did you know?

Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to use pots to move plants from one location to another. (REF:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kids - Yates Sunflower Challenge

The Yates/Junior Landcare Sunflower challenge is now open for registration!

Yates and Junior Landcare are encouraging children under 16 years of age to grow giant sunflowers this summer.

All you need to do is register before the 22nd October 2010 and then Yates will send out the sunflower seeds before the end of the month. 

Not only is this a fun activity, it is also a great way for kids to learn about gardening, sustainability and the environment.

“We are delighted to be able to provide encouragement and support to all young budding gardeners out there and to help educate them on the importance of growing produce and the environmental benefits achievable from sustainable gardening practices,” said Heather Campbell, CEO Landcare Australia.

Judy Horton, Communications Manager, Yates added: “The previous challenges we have run in conjunction with Junior Landcare have been hugely successful and we hope with this challenge we will continue to encourage and foster a new generation of junior gardeners. We also hope the participants will enjoy discovering their green fingers and seeing the results of their labour.”

The Yates Junior Landcare Sunflower Challenge follows on from last year’s hugely successful Yates Junior Landcare Pumpkin Challenge which saw almost 20,000 children taking part in a competition to grow the largest pumpkin. The group winner was the McGrath family from Toowoomba, Queensland, with a 175kg whopper, while the individual winner was Boyd Wales from Walcha in rural NSW with an impressive 94kg pumpkin.

To register click on the link below and get your kids involved in one of the most sustainable hobbies ever - gardening! You can also win some great prizes!

Aussie Native - Sturts Desert Pea

I remember getting five seeds of Sturts Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa) to grow as an assignment while studying horticulture at university. We all got them to germinate but only a few people nurtured them until they flowered. Sadly, I was not one of them.

On a recent trip to Alice Springs I was happily reminded of this unusual native annual, or short lived perennial, as it was mass planted in the garden beds at the front of our hotel.

The floral emblem of South Australia, this plant has undergone several name changes, even since I was at university ... which admittedly was a few years ago now! Formerly Clianthus formosus and Willdampia formosa, it is now referred to as Swainsona formosa, or at least it was when I wrote this. More often than not Horticulturists scoff at common names preferring the reliability of Botanical Nomenclature - in this case, it is the common name that has withstood the test of time.

This photo was taken in July, the middle of winter, and as you can see, they are in full flower. Alice Springs and the surrounding area had had some of the coolest weather for some time (even colder than Melbourne!) and plenty of water. In fact, the Todd River was flooded for much of our stay.

To grow your own, soak seeds overnight in warm water so that they swell to around the size of a matchhead. They will then be ready to plant. Seeds should germinate easily but coaching plants through to flowering is the trick. Sturts Desert Pea has a long tap root, needs free-draining soil and minimal root disturbance. Over-watering is a killer, so plant in pots to assist with adequate drainage. Naturally occuring in arid areas throughout Central Australia, water only when necessary and sparingly.

Sow seed in winter in Tropical and Sub-Tropical areas and spring in temperate and cooler zones. Flowering should occur within 12 weeks. Beautiful potted plants which make an impressive gift, try growing them as a Christmas present for the green thumb in your life.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Say No to Junk Mail!

I love my junk mail!

I love to sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and flick through the specials. I work out where I will shop and what bargains I will get. But the impact of these catalogues on our environment is huge.

According to, there are around 8,000,000,000 (8 billion) catalogues delivered around Australia each year, for around 23 million people. That is a lot of printed paper!

The resources required to produce these catalogues is enormous. Just consider:
- the number of trees used to produce the paper
- the amount of water used
- the fuel & energy required for production and distribution
- the chemicals used in the printing process
- the CO2 that is released into the atmosphere
- the amount of paper rubbish that ends up in landfill.

It seems like it is definitely time to read our "Junk Mail" online.

Click on the link below and reduce your environmental footprint. I have!
Regards Marcelle
Say No to Junk Mail - Its easy to get involved

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Herbs - Passionate about Parsley

I love parsley. It is undoubtedly one of the easiest herbs to grow, you rarely need to manually resow it as it self-sows every year (if you let it) and it is packed with Iron.

My love affair with parsley probably started when I had my first child in hospital. I had complications during the birth which left me weak and pale. The nursing staff ordered pineapple juice with parsley and I drank it for several days. Some days it was blended together; others it was rough chopped. I can't be sure how much it helped because I was also put on stronger Iron related products, but even now I use parsley whenever I can. We use parsley in freshly squeezed juice, spaghetti bolognese and salads, to name a few. Reportedly good for bad breath, I prefers it's nutritional boost and antioxidant qualities.

My children love picking it and subsequently, they love to eat it … even raw!

The other wonderful thing about parsley is that it can make anyone look like they have a green thumb! It is lush and green when other plants are anything but glamorous. Grown in pots, planters or garden beds, parsley is one of the best entry level herbs available - not only because it looks good and is easy to grow, but because you can admire it and then eat it!

Right now, my parsley is bulging from its garden beds, providing my family, our rabbits as well as our chooks, with plenty of crisp greens. I grow both Curly-leafed parsley (Petroselinum crispum) and Flat-leafed parsley (Petroselinum neapolitanum). More for the different foliage textures in salads than for any believed flavour comparisons. They are beginning to blend together in the garden, but I don't mind as long as they are growing happily together.

Fabulous edging plants, parsley prefers full sun and a well prepared, free-draining soil. A biennial that is commonly grown as an annual, I continually harvest it, picking the outer leaves first. While it is easy to grow, it can be difficult to germinate, sometimes taking several weeks. Patience is required. The other option is to purchase seedlings. These will get you started straight away and then you can leave some plants to go to seed. At the end of summer after my parsley has bolted, I throw a couple of handfuls of good topsoil over the area to protect the seeds. They will then germinate when the conditions are right.

Buy a pot today and start your own romance with this versatile herb.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

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.
They may not have been suitable for the story or were just not timely.
I am hoping to share a few of these insights here as well as my own gardening experiences. This includes creating my dream garden (which will happen in the next 6 months), as well as getting my children involved in gardening.
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. Something we can all become more involved in.
Happy Gardening!