Brian Roach, a member of APS North Shore Group, runs Westleigh nursery from his home and has an open garden and plant sales twice a year. Brian wrote this article after the Gardening Australia team visited and filmed in 2018. The segment aired on 1 November 2019.
It would be fair to say that most gardeners, including those with a particular focus on our native plants, would watch the long-running ABC TV show, Gardening Australia. I’ve been fortunate (I think) to have been invited to participate in segments on two occasions; once in 2006 and again last year in 2018.
With Angus Stewart in 2006
On the first occasion, Angus Stewart came to our home and nursery at Westleigh, Sydney with his crew. The filming, which occupied most of the day for a 5 or 6 minute on-air segment, was about the propagation of native plants. We finished the day with Angus demonstrating how to propagate a Banksia ‘Giant Candles’ with an air-laying technique. This involved… now just what did it involve? When I got to this point, I thought I’d check with Doctor Google so I typed in ‘Laying banksias’. The first site to come up was… https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/propagating-natives/9427072
and I’ll be blowed, there was Angus and myself with a synopsis of the segment. Where, oh where is all this heading? The website has a photograph of the two of us with a ramp on the right that I’d built to give me quick access down into my nursery area. Some weeks after the filming, I slipped down the ramp and broke my leg. I watched the segment go to air a month or so later with my leg in plaster. Anyhow, Angus finished the air-laying job by putting sphagnum moss around the treated banksia branch and then wrapping it in an alfoil cover, asking me to check it from time to time for signs of roots. Unfortunately, within a day or two a currawong had ripped the thing to shreds. I never did have the heart to tell Angus.
With Costa Georgiadis in 2018
My recent brush with Gardening Australia in August 2018 was most enjoyable. Host Costa Georgiadis is a delightful person and so enthusiastic. It’s not just a performance for the cameras. He’s also the same height he appears on TV. The producer, Sandy, kept saying to me, ‘Brian, will you stop looking down at Costa’. So far as possible, we got him on the high ground. Again, the four Gardening Australia visitors were at our home filming all day – 8 am to 5 pm. My wife, Carol, was good enough to provide them with morning and afternoon tea and they ducked down to the local shops for lunch.
The segment, which aired on Friday 1 November 2019, had two messages: firstly, dealing with native plants that are recommended for hot, dry conditions; and secondly, showing that new species or forms are still being introduced into cultivation from the wild.
I was quite chuffed when Costa said before leaving that he had had such an enjoyable day and had learnt so much. That’s not so surprising considering his background is not so much with plants, but rather as a landscape architect. At one stage he asked me about a particular plant and I told him it was an eremophila. I asked him if he knew what the name meant. When he said he didn’t, I pointed out to him, being of Greek parentage, that it was a Greek word meaning ‘desert loving’. We all had a good laugh and what a very memorable day it was.