You can never really anticipate when orchids will bloom, but when they do they'll take your breath away.
You can never really anticipate when orchids will bloom, but when they do they'll take your breath away. Helen Hawkes

The thrill of the bloom

SURPRISE is an element of any good garden. Or rather, anticipation and then thrill.

I am convinced this is one of the major reasons people grow orchids. The magnificence of the blooms can never fully be anticipated but, when they appear, they knock your socks off.

Having flowering plants in the garden ticks this box and one of my favourites is the very easy-to-grow hoya.

You can grow hoyas indoors or out, but I like to wind them around a trellis - although it's best to give them a little shade or you will get burn on the leaves.

They look great in hanging basket - in fact you should hang hoyas high and let them drop and twist.

There are a huge number of hoya varieties but the wax flower or hoya carnosa is probably the most common of the hoyas with flowers that are usually a delicate pink.

Like all plants, they love a good potting mix - don't skimp on quality if you want healthy plants and plenty of flowers. A bit of potash applied seasonally will also encourage blooms.

Apparently the milky fluid from cut stems can cause irritation to the skin so wear gloves when handling the plant.

Ceylon spinach
Ceylon spinach. nipapornnan

TOP PICK: Ceylon spinach

IN THIS heat, a hardy vegetable like ceylon spinach is welcome in the garden.

It's so easy to grow. Just plant it, water regularly, pick for dinner, and watch it mushroom.

This vegetable will benefit from regular fertilising, too - try fish emulsion.

To keep the plant producing new shoots you can eat, you should also pick flowers as soon as they form.

Tell us about your eco-friendly solutions

FORTUNATELY we live in an area where most people do care about the environment.

We have thriving Landcare groups and plenty of enthusiastic gardeners.

The use of chemical sprays, however, including glyphosate, is still widespread, including by some of our councils.

Whatever you can do to spray less, or to spray with eco-friendly solutions, will help to keep the environment clean and reduce the amount of chemicals and toxins that, ultimately, you ingest or breathe in.

So if you are doing this, share your methods with neighbours, friends and family who are also garden-proud and, if you see someone spraying great dollops of chemicals near your patch, go up and have a word.

Of course we all know plastics are also a problem in the environment so congratulations to Bangalow Newsagency for discontinuing its use of plastic bags permanently.

The store has also become an agent for Planet Ark, which means the Bangalow community can recycle anything that comes from the inside of their copier or inkjet printer.

Not only that but unsold newspapers are available to customers for free and make great garden mulch.

If you know of any great environment initiatives, or you have an eco-friendly way of dealing with pests, we'd love to hear about it. Email