June 2022 View Online

Dear Fellow Gardener

Welcome to the June 2022 newsletter from Sophie's Patch in the Adelaide Hills, SA. Each month I share what has been happening in and around my patch of garden in the Adelaide Hills, as well as some of my adventures further afield.  I hope you enjoy reading it. Sophie Thomson.

At the start of each monthly newsletter, I always say that it’s been a big month…. and it always has been… but May 2022 has been huge, massive, mammoth, gigantic… and any other over-the-top word I could think to use. It started with a trip to Kangaroo Island, included me hosting a garden tour of Norfolk Island, saw me explore a few places in Sydney with the best bearded tour guide, make my regular visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens which I do every time I am in town, and ended with me working at Ceduna and exploring new and favorite places on Eyre Peninsula. I have travelled 4000km around my own state in my van and more by air flying to Norfolk Island via Sydney.
Why was it so busy? Well, last year many of my speaking engagements fell over in one way or another due to COVID and things got postponed and moved around….. into 2022. Despite the apparent frenetic nature of my travels last month, I did manage to get some time to catch my breath in magical places and spaces, and I feel totally blessed and privileged to have had the chance to connect with so many amazing people and communities.

In This Newsletter

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – selling our property.

In amongst this frantically busy month, our property went on the market, and because election news space had died off the week before, it seemed that the sale of my property was suddenly newsworthy. To be honest I was totally unprepared for the interest it generated. Anyone who has ever taken a guided tour of Sophie’s Patch over the years (and there have been 1000s who have) would have heard me say that the property was part of a 10-year plan and then we would decide whether we would stay or go. The reality is that it has been more than 10.5 years and starting again whilst I am still willing, fit and able post covid feels like the right way to go. I spoke to journalists, and members of the public added their own take on it, and somehow it seemed to get sensationalized. The few bits and pieces I read, before I decided to avoid reading any of it, seemed to just pick elements of what I said and not cover the whole thing…..
So here are a few of the points I want to get across:

Firstly, this has been my third garden open to the public and I am ready for another. I feel I am young enough and energetic enough to have one last big, audacious garden project left in me.

Where is it? Great question…. I wish I knew, but I don’t because I haven’t found it yet. So, sell first and then wait till the right property turns up.

Where am I looking? This is where the rumor mill has had tongues wagging. I have heard that I am moving to Clare, Strathalbyn, Tasmania …... and I actually think I should stir the pot by adding what about Kangaroo Island, Norfolk Island, and somewhere on the Eyre Peninsula. 😊

Of all the pieces I saw, the one written by Elisabeth Marie for SA Life Premium Property is the one that best represented the truth

To be honest, part of me feels sad by the way that people have reacted to us putting the property on the market….. and I think some have missed the point.  It was never about me creating a garden as a final destination…. something which would live on forever or would be taken on by the council or government. It was about providing a welcoming, inclusive home for my family and me. It was about showing what could be done i.e. ‘Starting a Patch from Scratch’, as a demonstration patch. Along the way we had 15 open gardens here which were meant to inspire people to go out and start their patch, making a difference in their backyard, feeding their bodies and souls, providing habitat for the creatures they want to share our gardens with, greening our cities … and making the world a better place…  Saving the World with Gardening… Literally!

So, while my work here at this particular patch may be drawing to a close, Sophie's Patch continues wherever I go, and in all the projects I get involved with. Rest assured that I will be out and about all over our wonderful country, sharing my passion for gardening wherever I can. You can still follow what I am up to on social media, hear me every Sunday morning doing gardening talkback on ABC Adelaide, still see me on Gardening Australia, still read my columns in the Gardening Australia Magazine and in News Ltd papers (The Advertiser, Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Courier Mail) and still see my show gardens at the Royal Adelaide Show. I look forward to having you once again travelling with me on the development of the new “Patch” where you will be welcomed as you have been previously. It fills me with excitement!

However, I am still working on the name for the newbie ….. Sophie’s Second Patch? Sophie’s Patch 2.0? .... Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated so please email them through!!!!!!! 

Around the patch

The last of summer vegies have been removed, and the pumpkins and squash are about to be stashed away in the cellar. Most of the tomato plants have been pulled out and are hanging in the carport to get the best chance of them ripening. The quinces, apples and medlars have all been picked and it is just the pomegranates and the Chinese quinces left to be harvested. Neither are quite ready for picking yet, and the rosellas may beat me to them. 

Late Autumn Colour

After a long dry summer and autumn, the rains have started and already there are many areas that feel squelchy underfoot, even though down deeper I know it is still dry. While many deciduous plants have lost their leaves, I have a number of trees that hold onto their autumn leaves into winter and this simply extends the interest in the garden. When you choose trees for autumn colour, try to aim for some that colour early, some mid-season and some late. In this blog post on my website I write more about my favourite late autumn colour:
Late Autumn Colour...

Volunteers make the world…. and Sophie’s Patch go around

Last Sunday a hardy group of Sophie’s Patch volunteers braved torrential rain and dense fog to gather at the Basket Range War Memorial Hall to celebrate the success of our last open garden. The heavens emptying couldn't dampen the enthusiasm for such a wonderful group of people. I loved hearing the chatter, the excitement, the conversations, the laughter ...... and feeling the sense of camaraderie. We are privileged to have had them volunteer for our open gardens at Mt Barker Springs over the past few years. While that patch may be drawing to a close, Sophie's Patch continues wherever I go, and in all the projects I get involved with. So I assured them that there will be more fun projects to get involved with...... and the next one coming up is the Royal Adelaide Show. 

Out and about 

Many of the places that I have visited over the past month were shared as posts on social media so where this is the case I am simply going to share the link, rather than repeat it all again. 
Many of the places that I have visited over the past month were shared as posts on social media so where this is the case I am simply going to share the link, rather than repeat it all again.   Simply click on the image and it will open the link.


I had a few days in Sydney before heading over to Norfolk Island so made sure I visited my favourite place there, The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney which is something I do every time I am in town. While there I checked out their latest exhibition in the Calyx, titled ‘Inside the Tide’ about the complex aquatic communities under the sea. The exhibition closes on the 31st July so if you can get there before then, do so.
One afternoon I had a local bearded tour guide who showed me some of his favourite local places, like The Ian Potter Children’s Wild Play Garden in Centennial Park. We explored this fabulous nature play space and ended up enjoying gelati at his favourite haunt.  

Norfolk Island

I was lucky enough to host an 8-day garden tour of Norfolk Island for Botanica World Travel. We explored the natural beauty, as well as visited private gardens and historical sites. Everywhere you look on Norfolk Island is a picture-perfect moment and I was blown away by its beauty, from the coastline to the wooded forests.
While I seem to take a photo of Norfolk Island Pines in every coastal town I visit in my own state, you haven’t seen anything like them till you see them in their own habitat. While the natural beauty of this island is breath taking, the real treasures are the Islanders. They are warm and welcoming, and we shared many smiles and laughs with them….. and their community pride, passion and energy were inspirational. Definitely heading back there!


I had a great time in Ceduna for a weekend of gardening organised by Pauline Nielsen in association with Ceduna Hospital Auxiliary. This amazing Hospital Auxiliary is an organisation of volunteers who have raised over $250,000 in the last 6 years through cake stalls, selling raffle tickets and catering. The weekend included a full program of garden talks, workshops and private garden visits and I was blown away by the amazing gardens people have been able to create.
While I was over there, I was also lucky enough to work with both Ceduna Area School and Crossways Lutheran School. We worked with students to plant vacant garden beds and to plan for future food production. This part of my trip was arranged by Our Town Ceduna/ Far West and again it was fabulous working with such passionate volunteers.  
Ceduna is located on the west coast of Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, and while it is a long way from Adelaide at a minimum of 9 hours by road, the trip either along the coast or straight through the middle of Eyre Peninsula is stunning. I love the rugged nature of Eyre Peninsula, its rugged natural beauty, its breath taking coastline and its wide-open spaces. I would encourage anyone who hasn’t been before to make the effort and I am sure you will be blown away! 

Winter workshops 

How to prepare, plant and prune deciduous fruit trees   

June  17th, 18th and 19th June from 9.30-12.30
Bare rooted fruit trees will be available in nurseries and garden centres in June. Winter is a great time to buy these deciduous fruit trees as they are cheaper, easier to handle, and you can create a great shape from the beginning. To tie in with bare root season, we are running three workshops at  Sophie’s Patch on the 17th, 18th and 19th June. Whether you have a small garden with just a few fruit trees, or you want a large orchard, winter is the time to plant deciduous fruit trees. This workshop will look at the soil preparation, planting and training of young deciduous fruit trees. Winter is also a traditional time to prune deciduous fruit trees. We will also show you how to maintain mature fruit trees, cleaning up and pruning, to shape trees, minimise disease and maximise fruit production. Orchard and soil health, fertilising and watering will be covered. To share their breadth of knowledge we have passionate fruit tree grower and member of the Rare Fruit Society Chris Day from Every Day Sustainable Living and fifth generation orchardist Wez Redden, who has been helping me with fruit tree pruning for more than 20 years in my orchard here and at other properties. Numbers are strictly limited so book early.
Order Winter Pruning Workshop Tickets Here

Grafting workshops

29th or 30th July 2022
Want to learn the skill of grafting? It is a great way to create your own fruit trees, start a home orchard on a budget, grow rare or old-fashioned varieties, or create multi-graft fruit salad trees (multiple varieties on one tree). Our fruit tree grafting workshop at Sophie’s Patch is coming up on the 29th and 30th July, run by fruit tree experts and master grafters Wez Redden and Chris Day. The workshops will include the theory of grafting but mostly it will be hands on with each attendee getting to graft and take home three deciduous fruit trees – most likely an apple, a pear, and a plum (or peach) with a choice of many different scions or fruit cultivars.  We will be providing quality grafting knives for you to use on the day and you get to take them home with you for future grafting. This workshop runs from 9.30am until 12:30 and includes morning tea with yummy cakes made from our own home grown fruit.

Numbers are strictly limited so bookings essential.
Order Grafting Fruit Trees Workshop Tickets Here
Our Sophie's Patch workshops will be held inside the shed and out in the orchard at Sophie's Patch and includes delicious morning tea with home baked fruit themed slices and cakes made with my orchard produce.  Numbers are strictly limited and bookings essential.
All the details are available on my website 

Coming up

You can catch me out and about over the next few months. 

Yorke Peninsula

As this newsletter goes out, I will be on Yorke Peninsula talking at Ballara Retreat in Warooka about ‘Gardening for Health and Wellbeing’ and at May’s Nursery in Yorketown on ‘Garden Woes - dealing with pests and diseases in organic and sustainable ways’. 

Queensland Garden Expo

In early July I head up north for the Queensland Garden Expo at Nambour on the 8th, 9th and 10th July. This wonderful three-day event is one of my favourite garden shows. Run by the Nursery and Garden Industry of Queensland, it includes amazing plant sales, heaps of garden related tools and accessories, wonderfully varied delicious food vendors and over 120 different garden talks. I look forward to attending this event each year as its friendly, fun and I always learn stuff. I always try to catch talks at events I attend when I am not speaking, as hearing things presented in different ways by other people is always interesting.

City of Playford

You can catch me locally in SA at the City of Playford’s Stretton Library at the Munno Para Library on the 16th July.

Botanical Bazaar on the Gold Coast

Then in early August I am at Botanical Bazaar is the Gold Coast’s largest Garden Festival on the 6th and 7th August I have been trying to get there since 2020, and after two false starts, I am really looking forward to attending this year. 

Eyre Peninsula Field Days

Then I am excited to head back to Eyre Peninsula for the Eyre Peninsula Field Days from the 9th to 11th August.

Royal Adelaide Show

Then from mid-August we start setting up at the Royal Adelaide Show. Grow Up will finally get a large public showing after having been set up here at Sophie’s Patch to enable me to take photos and a make a video about the concepts in it that I think are very timely in terms of urban greening, counter acting the urban heat island effect, and still addressing food security, habitat creation and biodiversity. If you haven’t seen it before check out the video at and the images at The show runs from Saturday 3rd to Sunday 11th September. For more information visit

Talkback gardening

Talkback radio with the one and only Peter Goers on ABC Radio. Tune in each week on Sunday mornings from after the 11am news till 12 noon. Peter and I always have a lot of fun and laughs… .and even manage to answer a few gardening questions. Tune in via ABC Radio 891 or log in via
Stay tuned to my social media or website for other events closer to the time, and don’t forget that our next open garden is just over a week away.

Newsletter prize

This month's prize is a medium butterfly from Sophie's Patch.  Price winners will be selected at random and need to accept their prize within 7 days before it is offered to another reader.
Happy gardening!



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