Home' The Chronicle : Canberra Chronicle 31-03-2015 Contents Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 14
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Grandfather's favourite garden classic
Sow sweet pea seed now in damp alkaline soil for a late-spring display.
In the garden
I guess many of us of a certain age can
recall with affection favourite plants
associated with grandparents' gardens.
For me it was Grandfather's prize-
winning sweet peas grown from seed
purchased from the Yates Brothers'
Manchester shop -- just a block away
from his own.
Sweet peas have been much
improved since they were first
introduced to England from their
native Sicily in the 17th century.
Some of the most notable hybrids,
which came from the gardens of
Althorp House in England, were
named after the Countess
Spencer, grandmother of the late
It is from the Spencer strain that
most modern plants are derived, while
New Zealand hybridist Dr Keith
Hammett has continued to produce
even more stunning colour into
Yates continues to sell one of the
largest ranges of sweet peas for the
home garden, including the old-
fashioned ones with full-bodied scent.
While many of them are tall growers
-- to two metres and requiring the
support of trellis or a tripod -- others
are sufficiently dwarf to grow in
containers or as ground covers.
Unless the soil is unseasonably cold
and wet, March and April are the ideal
times to sow seed in a cool climate for
a late spring display of the blooms.
Set seed into damp alkaline, rather
than acid soil, in full sunlight then
refrain from further watering until
after the seeds have germinated.
Over-watering is a common cause
of poor germination.
Sweet pea Bijou is an outstanding
dwarf plant to 60 centimetres with
full-perfumed flowers in a full colour
range. The flowers are as large as those
of tall varieties and are carried on
20 centimetre stems -- perfect for
sowing into rockeries, window boxes
borders and pots.
Tall-growing Colorcade is a mixture
of early-flowering blooms in a
complete range of all colours
Trim overgrown shrubs
from service wires, keeping
the top growth at least 1-5m
below them. Check at the base
of overhead line poles for
seedlings like privet and
Take cuttings of bedding
begonias (B. sempervirens)
and well as coleus and New
Guinea impatiens. They will
root readily in water before
potting up to overwinter
indoors or in a glasshouse,
setting them out again next
Sasanqua camellias are
acidic soil-loving shrubs that
herald the autumn with early
bloom. Because of the weather
pattern, some of them are
precociously in flower. If you
select early, mid-season and
late varieties carefully before
you buy you can extend the
flowering season through to
If any of your camellia
japonica looks like setting
more buds than they can carry
then remove several from any
cluster by twisting them out
gently with finger and thumb.
Leaving perhaps just one or
two allows them room to
spread and increase in size.
in new light
Like hundreds of commuters, Andrey
Miroshnichenko drives past the Nishi
building in Canberra every day on his
way to work.
But the ANU physicist now looks at
the building in a whole new light after
he and a team of researchers were able
to re-create its unusual zigzagging
exterior on a small scale to provide the
breakthrough they needed on their
quest to put a perfect bend in light.
One day . . . about September or
October last year I looked at it and
thought this is exactly what we need
for our next step,'' he said.
Dr Miroshnichenko and his fellow
researchers, led by Professor Yuri
Kivshar, found that by arranging a
single line of particles in a zigzag
shape, light was forced to the edges of
The building inspired Dr
Miroshnichenko to think of replicating
the effect with multiple zigzags
allowing light to travel unhindered by
irregularities over a 3D surface.
Creating a topological insulator
could lead to an improved computer
chip using light and may also be used
in microscopes, antennas and quantum
computers. The concept has already
been applied to electronics, but the
new approach could allow an optical
version to be created.
The researchers have found the
zigzag topology can be recreated with
any material and still have the same
effect on light.
Dr Miroshnichenko admits the
breakthrough has changed the way he
looks at the Nishi building.
But now maybe there will be
something good associated with it, at
least in our minds.''
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