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!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Enjoy a Spring Garden Party!


The Victorian nursery industry has just announced the launch of its Spring Garden Parties, to be held across the state commencing September 1st.
The Garden Party campaign is aimed at inspiring Victorians back into their gardens this Spring! Gardeners of all persuasions and abilities will find that their local garden centre will be the bustling centre of activities designed to re-ignite Victorian’s love for gardening.

Garden Centres in every community across Victoria are ready to add colour and enjoyment to home gardens. The industry’s message is that there are many great reasons for families and friends to enjoy their outdoor spaces.

Gardening is Victorian’s most popular recreation and working in the garden is an ideal exercise, something that many Victorians are already well aware of. Now is the perfect time to jump on the Grow Your Own bandwagon – one that you can use to bring the kids along. Get them active in the garden; the benefits will speak for themselves. Healthier outcomes for everyone, no matter how young, no matter how old!

• Local nurseries and garden centres are right behind the Spring Garden Party and gardeners.
• The Garden Party is all about having fun with your family and friends.
• It is aimed at inspiring Victorians back into their gardens this Spring!
• Garden Parties will be held at Garden Centres right across Victoria and will include heaps of activities, fun for the kids and even cooking demonstrations.
• And what a great place for a quiet drink at the end of a busy day. Outside, in your own garden having a drink with friends and family, it doesn’t get any better than that.
• Did you know that improving our gardens can have a powerful effect on reducing energy consumption in the home?
• By improving home gardens Victorians can have a terrific investment not just in their health, but their home value too.

Have your own Garden Party to kick off Spring.

DID YOU KNOW? The Victorian nursery industry supports over 11,500 jobs and generates well over 1.5 Billion dollars a year. It is a noted exporter into other states and is regarded as the best in Australia. Staff are typically trained professionals and retail customers in particular will always find knowledgeable and helpful people to assist them whenever they visit their local garden centre.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yates Kids Challenge is on again!

Yates and Junior Landcare will again be inviting Australian kids to take part in a growing challenge in spring and summer, but this year they'll be growing watermelons from seeds donated by Yates.

As part of the Yates Junior Landcare Watermelon Challenge, a free packet of Yates Candy Red Watermelon seeds will be sent to everyone who registers on the challenge website by Sunday, September 25th. The challenge is open to all children under 16 living in Australia, and includes a category for schools and youth groups, and one for individuals and families. The free seeds will be sent out in October and can be planted anytime from October through to December.

Yates Candy Red Watermelon seeds are regarded as one of the fastest growing and largest watermelon varieties. Kids can grow their watermelons at home or at school and will need to care for their plants during the hot summer weather. Once their watermelon has reached maturity, they will have to log onto the Yates Junior Landcare Watermelon Challenge website to upload the weight of their melon and their favourite watermelon photograph. There will also be a creative photo category as part of the challenge, so everyone can be in with a chance of winning a prize!

Judy Horton, Yates Communications Manager, understands the importance of encouraging young people’s interest in gardening: “The challenges that we run with Junior Landcare have become increasingly successful each year, and we hope that this challenge will continue to encourage a new generation of junior gardeners. We look forward to seeing the enthusiasm of the participants as they discover the amazing results they can achieve with their watermelons,” she said.

In 2010 the Yates Junior Landcare Sunflower Challenge was incredibly successful with over 66,000 children around Australia taking part in a competition to grow the tallest sunflower and the sunflower with the widest head. 8 year old Lachlan Hillas from Wodonga, Victoria won the tallest sunflower prize in the individual and family category with his 270cm giant. The widest sunflower head was grown by Sam McVilly, aged 6, of Wy Yung, Victoria, and his sister Tess, aged 10, with a very impressive head width of 46cm.

Register for your free seeds and participate in the Yates Junior Landcare Watermelon Challenge. Simply go to Monday, July 4th. Registrations close on Sunday, September 25th, and the winners will be announced on March 5th 2012.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ladybirds - wolves in sheep's clothing

Here is a recent article by the CSIRO on ladybirds. It may surprise some people to find out that they are not all sunshine and roses ... however they are excellent natural exterminators.

CSIRO research has revealed that the tremendous diversity of ladybird beetle species is linked to their ability to produce larvae which, with impunity, poach members of 'herds' of tiny, soft-bodied scale insects from under the noses of the aggressive ants that tend them.

Reconstructing the evolutionary history of ladybird beetles (family Coccinellidae), the researchers found that the ladybirds' first major evolutionary shift was from feeding on hard-bodied ("armoured") scale insects to soft-bodied scale insects.

"Soft-bodied scales are easier to eat, but present a whole new challenge," says Dr Ainsley Seago, a researcher with the CSIRO's Australian National Insect Collection.

"These soft-bodied sap-feeding insects are tended by ants, which guard the defenceless scales and collect a 'reward' of sugary honeydew. The ant tenders aggressively defend their scale insect 'livestock' and are always ready to attack any predator that threatens their herd."

Therein lay the evolutionary problem confronting ladybird beetles, whose larvae were highly vulnerable to ant attack.

To avoid being killed as they poach the ant's scales, ladybird larvae evolved to produce two anti-ant defences: an impregnable woolly coat of wax filaments, and glands which produce defensive chemicals. Most of the ladybird family's 6,000 species are found in lineages with one or both of these defences.

"We found that most of ladybird species' richness is concentrated in groups with these special larval defences," Dr Seago said.

"These groups are more successful than any other lineage of ladybird beetle. Furthermore, these defences have been 'lost' in the few species that have abandoned soft-scale poaching in favour of eating pollen or plant leaves.

"This is an unusual way for diversity to arise in an insect group.
"In most previous research, insect species richness has been linked to co-evolution or adaptive 'arms races' with plants."

This research helps to place Australia's ladybirds in the evolutionary tree of life for insects, and helps us to understand the complex system of mechanisms by which beetle diversity has arisen.