Kitchen Garden: Blooming good fun in spring | The Canberra Times

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The spring equinox is a joyful time for gardeners. Our mystery photo of the first flowers of Floriade Reimagined and the last mouthful of fruit salad (Kitchen Garden, September 1) stumped readers. Floriade head gardener Andrew Forster knew it where it was as he helped plant that display with staff from the National Portrait Gallery. Deirdre Ward, of Campbell, first thought it was at The Lawns in Manuka, where rows of pansies and tulips are planted in the raised bed where a plane tree fell some months ago. She and husband Lionel had been eating at Typica, the cafe formerly known as ONA. Then they went to the National Portrait Gallery. Solved. In the Wards’ home garden bees are supping on the purple flowers of Hardenbergia. See the three ribbons of flowers at the NPG then swing in to the Pub Rock exhibition or at Floriade NightFeast on October 2 when Broadbean Catering is among two dozen venues celebrating food for Floriade Reimagined. Their exclusive event features pub rock food and music (bookings essential). Our Diggers Van Gogh’s Landscape sunflowers giveaway resulted in a haiku from Len Leason, of Griffith. A reader admired poppies and tulips outside the Peter Yorke Building (entry to John James Hospital). Walk to EQ Cafe and Bakehouse in Kent Street for a croissant with housemade strawberry jam or a lamington with a syringe filled with the jam. Pansies bloom outside the IGA on Giles Street in Kingston. After lunch at Pomegranate Restaurant nearby, order their special Turkish ice cream. Head chef and owner Erkin Esen says it contains the ingredient salep powder. It takes 1000 orchid roots to make 1kg salep consequently, Esen says, the orchids are endangered. Enjoy the treat while you can. At Kingston Foreshore a thousand poppies are fluttering in shades of orange, yellow and white in a breeze off the lake. Sit at tables in the sunshine with a takeaway healthy combo salad from Local Press Wholefoods, one block up Giles Street. They sell reusable cloth face masks. The three-layer cotton designs with fruit and avocados sold out quickly so you will have to email BigBiteEco, owned since 2017 by creative Australian designer Seonaidh. (Masks must not have gaps so add aluminium flashing or a pipe cleaner to the bit over the bridge of the nose if necessary. Gardeners should use a mask when working with compost, potting mix or perlite, and some mulches.) Floriade boxed plantings outside the National Library, the Yamba Drive emergency entry to the Canberra hospital, Gungahlin Place and Dickson Town Centre have a secret. Look into poppy plantings where the foliage of tulips awaits their turn to bloom. There are Floriade potted plantings in Bruce, Calwell and Woden and community Floriade plantings in other suburbs. At Hughes shops, near the outdoor eating area of Home Ground cafe (try their sweet potato and date slice), are pots with baby olive trees and tulips. A reader says children from Hughes Primary kindergarten are taken there to water the pots and sing as they do it. Minh Chu, of Ainslie, is a plot holder at the Betty Cornhill Canberra Organic Growers Society gardens in Curtin. She has sent us a photo taken last week of a blossoming peach tree, grown from seed by the late Betty Cornhill, which still bears lots of fruit. Minh is also involved in a community garden project at Dickson shops. Minh grew borage from seed and white borage, a great self-seeding plant, “set and forget”, is starting to pop up elsewhere in her Betty Cornhill plot. It attracts more bees than comfrey and can be used as a green manure. Minh grows sunflowers every year for bees and birds and finds the stalks are good to improve water retention in the soil. We met Chris Boswell, of Duffy, at a biodynamic compost building day in the garden of Petra Cram. That led to me visiting the Weston Creek orchard in December 2016 where he leads a working group. The orchard was planted in the late 1980s by the CIT horticulture section and was abandoned when they moved to Bruce in 2009. Working with the ACT Government, the Canberra Biodynamic Group was offered care and maintenance of the orchard with ACT for Bees. Funding for recent plantings came from the ACT Government’s Adopt a Park and sponsorship by Southern ACT Catchment Group. Working bees have planted more than 120 native plants along the fence, and some beds of Floriade pansies, daisies, bulbs and herbs including rosemary to bring the bees. The aim is to help build habitat and ecology. Chris Boswell says sunflowers will add colour to the orchard in summer – if the parrots don’t find the plants.

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