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!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

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!