May 262013

The annual Cancer Council Morning Tea fundraiser was conducted with lots of sweet treats last Thursday. The BAAG team were joined by a group who spent the first part of the day enjoying the Little Bolin Reserve (they knew how to cope with the impending calorie festival!) a cuppa and snack with us and then went on to look at the art works throughout the nursery. We really enjoyed their company and also that of the other folk who popped in – thanks for coming. This year we had two prizes, one for the sweet dish and one for the savoury. The votes were close in both categories. For the sweet dish honourable mention goes to Lach and his chocolate and nut slice, Reece with his chocolate teddy bear cars and Joe’s pear cake. Mmmmmm, however the sweet dish was won by Claire who made a chocolate cheesecake brownie. The savoury prize was won by Beck who made savoury muffins that were scrumptious. In total we raised $510 for the Cancer Council – Nice one!

May 232013

Sensing the Season of Spring
The sound of squawking magpies; the scent of blossoms on the wind; the sight of new leaf buds; the explosion of flower blooms! The calendar tells us its Spring but it’s our senses that really tells us when the season is changing!

Join us in Little Bolin Nature Reserve as we focus in on what is happening in nature right now and then follow us into the nursery at BAAG to learn how what you have seen, smelt, felt and heard can guide you in the garden.

This workshop is the second in a series of workshops hosted by BAAG that aims to strengthen connections to nature for wellbeing and sustainability.

Presented by Erica Gurner
Wellbeing and Sustainability Facilitator at HumaNature Connect

Erica has worked in the community and education sectors for over thirteen years with a focus on facilitating nature based and adventure experiences She passionately believes that for the sake of our future, every human being both adults and children must be given the opportunity to experience, remember and reconnect with the natural world that they are a part of.

On behalf of the wombats, chocolate lilies, powerful owls and a zillion creepy crawlies we would like to thank you all so much for joining us on our Connecting with Nature Adventure last Sunday.

The weather was definitely on our side and we hope you enjoyed the experience. We successfully planted close to 400 indigenous tubes, which was an awesome effort by all and critically important for our future. If you loved your volunteering experience, Glen Mansfield, our locally native plant expert is on the look out for some helpers on a Thursday in the Parks area we walked along. Glen is committed to engaging people in the natural environment so you are sure to learn a lot about local plants, animals and eco systems. If you would like more information about volunteering on a more regular basis drop an email to
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May 062013

Who feels like a bit of origami? Here’s a video I have uploaded to YouTube which gives you some step-by-step instructions on making your own seedling pots from recycled newspaper. The best thing about these is they can be planted straight into the ground once the seeds have sprouted. Enjoy!

May 052013

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Mints (Mentha) are deliciously aromatic perennial plants that are widely grown and distributed around the world. There are believed to be over 30 species of mint, but there are probably many more because of their tendency to interbreed.

The more commonly known and used varieties include:

Spearmint (Most common mint grown commercially)
Peppermint (Most commonly used for oil production)
Common mint (pictured above)
Corsican mint
Vietnamese mint (picture 2 below)

Less known are:

Apple mint
Ginger mint
Chocolate mint (picture 3 below)
Moroccan mint
Curly mint
Egyptian mint
Eau de cologne mint

There is also an Australian native mint (River Mint).

Nutritionally, mint is rich in A and C and small amounts of B2. The mint leaf, fresh or dried has many uses. Mint has a warm, fresh, aromatic sweet flavour with a cool aftertaste, and is used in teas, beverages, jellies, sauces and confectionary.

Mint leaves contain menthol, the volatile oil which is used in toothpastes, breath fresheners, chewing gum, perfumes and cosmetics.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

In the garden, mint oil can be used to spray and kill pests such as wasps and cockroaches and act as a deterrent for rats and mice.

Mint is notoriously weedy in the open garden so it is recommended that it be grown in pots. To grow mint successfully, use pots that are at least 30cm high and 30cm deep. Use half of a premium potting mix to 1/4 organic compost and 1/4 fowl manure. Place pots in a morning sun, afternoon shade aspect. Mints like moist soil so water regularly. Cut back in the late winter and top up with fowl manure for fresh spring growth. Cut back regularly to keep growth fresh.

This really is a tough little plant, however it is prone to mint rust fungus. Small orange pustules spread on the leaves causing them to turn brown and die. No fungicide will treat rust but using a propane gas burner or burning a layer of dry straw on the top of the pot, in late winter will generally kill off the fungus.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

May 022013

An exhibition by The Eastern Studio Potters – May 3rd to June 2nd

This is an exhibition which will be held in a nursery over mother’s day, so this group of expert studio potters have decided to turn their hands to making works which represent, or would be appreciated by, Mums who love the garden. More info and pics at

May 012013

BAAG has been working to improve habitat, protect local ecosystems and plant species in the Little Bolin Parkland adjoining our garden centre for the past 16 years in partnership with:

* Friends of Yarra Valley Parks
* Parks Victoria
* The Local Community
* Melbourne Water
* Wally the wombat, his family and friends

Friends of the Yarra Valley Parks
The FYVP believe that the Yarra Valley Parklands has the potential to become one of the great urban conservation parks. Their activities include plant propagation, planting and weed removal. They work with Parks Victoria rangers and focus our efforts in parks along the Yarra River from Burke Rd Ivanhoe upstream to Warrandyte. There are also loads of other conservation groups in the Yarra Valley to choose from. Give one a go today!
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May 012013

I have been lucky to have been able to spend much of my working life surrounded by plants; studying and working in the natural environment, in local gardens and in garden centres. Like many of us, I love the opportunity to get out of the city and into the wilderness, regrettably these days it doesn’t happen quite as often as I would like. Fortunately Melbourne has been gifted with an amazing combination of parks and reserves that provide us relief from our increasingly busy lives and a sanctuary for many native species that share our city and surrounds.
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Apr 282013

A question which regularly gets asked at the nursery is “what do I do with my soil now I have removed the concrete?”

The issues that arise with soil under large areas of concrete include compaction, hydrophobic soil, lack of organic material and pH. Depending on the degree of compaction, you may need to hire equipment to do some of the initial breaking up of the soil. If it isn’t too bad, then a sturdy garden fork and muscles will do the trick.
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Apr 272013

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Paving cleaners – manmade paving (bricks or concrete pavers)

HCl acid is the best substance to use when removing excess grout from brick or concrete pavers, and will leave a good clean finish.

To avoid damaging your clients’ plants or grass, try to wash into a drain and not onto garden beds or areas of lawn. Mix roughly ten parts water to one part acid (until the mixture fizzes) – always add the acid to the water, never do it the other way around.

And NEVER use it on natural stone pavers.

Paving cleaners – natural stone pavers

Once again, NEVER use HCl acid on natural stone pavers. Instead, use a specialised product to remove light mortar or grouting haze.

Miteq Masonry Cleaner 304 is safe to use on terracotta, natural stone and cement-based pavers and grouts. It is also great for removing the efflorescence (white bloom) you see on both terracotta and glazed pots. And while it won’t repair their cracks and chips, it will help give them a new lease on life by also cleaning off mould, mildew and dirt stains.

Miteq Masonry Cleaner 306 is particularly good at removing organic based stains (such as timber and rust stains) from clay bricks and pavers, terracotta, ceramic tiles, concrete, natural stone and cement-based pavers. It’s also really handy for cleaning the shower!

Miteq Masonry Cleaner 301 is the best thing to use when cleaning paved driveways that have accumulated grease and rubber marks and are generally soiled. It is also a great product for removing rubber marks and grease from terracotta, natural stone, cement based pavers and grouts. These surfaces all come up a treat, but especially so when it is used with a pressure washer.

Paving Sealers

Paving sealers are a great way of making sure that most soils, greases and general food stains don’t become ingrained. They keep stains from penetrating deeply, especially into newly laid surfaces, and make cleaning and the removal of contaminants much easier. There are two types: penetrating sealers and surface sealers.

The first type of penetrating sealer is water-based. This sits just below the surface and gives a good “natural” look – it doesn’t change the appearance of the paver – while also acting as a waterproofing agent. It allows the pavers to “breathe” and can be painted if needed. Miteq Sealer 102 is especially good around pools and other damp areas.

The second type of penetrating sealer is solvent-based, and is used to give a higher level of protection to dense surfaces (granite, bluestone etc) and in heavily trafficked areas (driveways, patios, bathrooms, etc). Miteq Sealer 103 is ideal for these surfaces and areas.

Surface sealers, such as Miteq sealer 201, are used to achieve a high-gloss “wet” look. They sit on the surface of the paver and don’t allow it to “breathe”. While generally glossy, they can have a matt finish. They can often be slippery, and so some varieties can have an anti-slip agent added to them. Some can also be used as an anti-graffiti protectant.

Apr 142013

Jerusalem Artichokes (Helianthus tuberous) can also be known as Sunchokes. It is curious that they are neither true artichokes… nor are they from Jerusalem! They are in fact a member of the sunflower family originating in eastern North America.

The plant is a hardy, tall, herbaceous perennial growing up to 2m tall. It features attractive yellow flowers, however it is recommended that the lower buds be pinched out to increase the yield of the edible tubers underground. The tubers are used a bit like a potato, and they are similar to a ginger root in appearance. Jerusalem Artichokes have a unique, creamy, smokey flavour.

Jerusalem Artichokes are easy to grow, but can run wild in the garden. Contained garden beds or large crates are ideal growing spaces to keep them in check. It is essential to dig up all the bigger tubers and replant the small ones each year so the quality and taste does not deteriorate.

Avoid feeding them with too much nitrogen, but use a good supply of potassium such as Sulphate of Potassium and chicken manure, otherwise the top green growth will grow at the expense of good fleshy tubers.

The tubers can be harvested 4-6 weeks after flowering. Jerusalem Artichokes contain Inulin which makes them low in calories as well as promoting good gut bacteria. Their delicious taste is opposed to the flatulence they can cause in their digestion (just a polite warning). After the tubers are harvested, well washed and peeled they can be mashed, baked or chipped. They also give a delicious creamy, smokey texture to soups.

Handy tip: An old method of lessening the flatulence is to boil up the peeled tubers and toss out the water. Repeat the process twice more before eating.

Apr 022013

You know the seats… you’ve probably all sat on one them at one time or another. The beautiful tiled concrete seats along Brunswick Street were made a few years back by our very own giftshop guru Guiseppe Raneri. Bruce (BAAG’s co-owner for the past few decades) was very proud of himself for working out how to use the camera in his flash new smartphone. The German tourists pictured here were very patient as Bruce pressed quite a few buttons in order to grab this great shot.

Apr 012013

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden
Sceptics say that you can’t have a garden with chooks. They dig up plants, they make a mess of mulch, they leave droppings around, but this could be said of many pets. My experience is that a garden just isn’t one without them. To see them strutting around the lawn, or lying down and stretching out their wings to soak up the sunshine brings colour and movement to a backyard like nothing else. Even though many of the varieties don’t necessarily make cuddly pets, hens have a lot more to offer than just their good looks and amusing antics. They do know whose hand it is that feeds them.

Click the pic to book into our Backyard Chooks for Beginners class… or keep reading for more great chook info.
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Mar 282013

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

When you’re working with sleepers, it’s important to use the right ones for the right job. It doesn’t matter if you’re building a retaining wall or a vegie bed or a fence, or laying garden edging or playground borders – the key to doing the job properly is knowing which sleepers are best for the work at hand. To do the job right and to make sure that health and safety standards are met, it pays to do your research before you jump in.

Luckily, we’ve done that bit for you. Read on for more info on the different kinds of sleepers we stock here are at BAAG, as well as explanations of which job each type is suitable for.
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Mar 252013

The Banyule Arty Farty Festival was on again last Sunday the 24th March 2013. BAAG was there again and a great day was had by all.

This is a fantastic, creative, hands on festival for children. We had a float in the Grand Parade down Burgundy Street at 10am and we also ran an environmental art activity in the environment section of the festival. Kids were able to make a collage using ‘found’ natural objects.

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