Several years ago, someone ( I forget who) started a conversation about our third place.

The “third place,”is the spot where we go that isn’t home or work when we want to hang out and feel connected with other people.

People nominated places like bookshops, art galleries, libraries and theatre spaces, churches, neighbourhood bars, places that nurtured their spirit, satisfied their desire to learn about things, engage, belong, to feel welcome and valued.

As publicist for ABC Gardening Australia, I am lucky enough to blend my work with one of my favourite pastimes and have the flexibility to sometimes work from home. So calculating my third place was a bit  tricky.

I do feel connected to my workplace because it’s where I engage with people with creativity, stimulating ideas and curiosity, so what was a third place going to be for me?

The rooftop terrace at ABC where there’s a newly planted herb and veg garden with the best views in town, that’s where.

The 10m x 1.5m garden, three levels up, looking over the city from South Bank, went in just a week or so ago and is thriving with herbs like basil, coriander, rosemary, several varieties of mint, chillies, lettuces, mizuma, and a stack of other edible munchies that the staff can pick and eat or take home.

Its installation was a wonder to behold. Jerry Coleby-Williams from Gardening Australia had earlier advised what varieties to go for and he came along on installation day to oversee. He  and I watched with envy while the land

scapers under supervisor Sebastian’s eagle eye, vacuumed up the soil and compost materials through a giant hose, and laid it out over and around water-retaining materials, ( a bit like florists sponge)  and  irrigation pipes. What we wouldn’t give for an efficient suctioning scooper like that when shifting heavy loads around our places!  And watching big beefy landscape labourers’ hands, usually dealing with bulky concreting projects,  tenderly handling,  planting and tucking in the delicate feathery seedlings, was kind of sweet.

Jerry gave the thumbs-up to the positioning of the vegie bed – under skylights to get plenty of sun, but set back enough from the terrace edge to be out of winds and birds’ way. Automatic watering and topped with mulch means there’s no maintenance on this sumptious garden bed, just a curious and pleasing check from interested staffers every few days to see how it’s growing.

So I have adopted it as my third place. It’s green, clean and scenic and positioned near the terrace tables and chairs where we  can snatch and  throw a piece of rocket or mesclun in the lunch bowl.  And it’s a whole new source of gardening chat as people are prompted to talk about “their” plots and their issues.

You’ll probably read about them here!


Can you tell me again why we bother with hibiscus? I know, I know, there are many many gorgeous tropical gardens out there brimming with color and variety of this popular bush. But its flowers don’t last any time in a vase and boy, does it attract some nasty bugs.

Year after year I have had mine stripped clean by munching insects and invaded by a type of  grub that rolls the leaf into sticky little cylinders, webbed with gunk.  I have sprayed with pyrethrum, but with little effect.

An attractive variegated hibiscus which has  a stunning red bloom that I planted a few years ago gets attacked each summer by something that causes the leaves to curl and wither and lumpy little wart-like growths on the stems ( see pics below). I have hacked it back to a stump and it has regrown, but again the invader strikes. I put two more in at my letterbox, planning a cheery welcome , but they have succombed to the same critters. I have never had more than one or two flowers and looks like they’ll evade me again.

Can anyone help?  Or do I just give up on them?


Luckily, not all plants are so frustrating.  Jean writes of the joy her little lemon bush brings thus

Thought I’d share happiness with you.. my little tree was only planted last  year in this pot.. and I’ve had an abundant crop of the juiciest, tastiest lemons from it! Think its called ‘Lots of Lemons’ and sure lives up to its name! I must have had at least 20!!! I’m certain its because I poured buckets, and buckets of water on it! All water contained in the as well?..  So G n T time has been special, as have the lemons on the side of our fish at night, and this weekend… a lemon meringue tart! Mmm! 

Sounds as if your Lots of Lemons specimen is a far superior one to mine, Jean, or you are treating it better. My lemon bush in a pot has been an average cropper. Must learn your secret.


And speaking of things fruity, Gel has a couple of papaw trees she wants to move, but as they are in fruit, is unsure if the fruit and the trees will survive.  I would probably remoive the green fruit and transplant, but I am not a fruit tree expert… Annette?  …  See comments.

Beautiful soaking rain on the weekend has freshened everything up here and nourished my newly potted annuals,  so looking forward to some bright and beautiful colour  in coming months. Might even try my hand at bulbs again. I am planning a bed of daffodils, jonquils  and  hyacinth near the driveway. Just love to see flowers when I turn into my gate. Lifts my glad-to-be-home feeling.

Happy gardening.


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Ingrid said,

    Hi Julie, what a beautiful rooftop garden!
    You won’t have success by spraying your hibiscus with pyrethrum; you might like to try spraying with Confidore, which also gets rid of the hibiscus beetle when applied after pruning.

  2. 2

    I will check Confidore out, thanks Ingrid. Have you had a similar invasion?

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