September 2022 View Online

Dear Fellow Gardener

Welcome to the September 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.

This newsletter is written after a day of packing down at the Royal Adelaide Show and I try to recall what I have been up to in the last month…………… I know it’s been a huge month, and it often is, but the last month has literally been massive. By the time this newsletter goes out I will be up at Pt Augusta for the second time in just over a month, and I know I squeezed in a quick trip to Kangaroo Island too, not to mention the fact that we have set up and packed down my biggest Royal Show feature garden ever. 

In this newsletter

GROW UP at the Royal Adelaide Show

I am so excited that I finally got to set GROW UP onsite in the Goyder Pavilion at the Wayville Showgrounds with the specific plants intended for the display and it did look fantastic ……………. even if I say so myself 😊. While I am delighted that the display was awarded a first prize, the best reward for me was watching a small child point to the garden and then turn to his mum and say “Mum, can we have that in the backyard” ……. Yes please!!! More cooler, greener, and more liveable backyards would transform our cities. That’s what this whole feature garden is all about – how we can green up and cool down our cities to mitigate urban infill and the urban heat island effect, how we can all create habitat for wildlife, and also look at issues around food security by growing at least part of our fruits, vegies and herbs. 
In total there were close to 1500 plants used in the display, sourced locally from SA wholesale nurseries. Purchased plants were all sold off in a giant plant sale on Monday morning and the few that were borrowed, were returned to their suppliers. After several weeks of preparation back at Sophie’s Patch, we started to construct the structure of the garden on Monday 15th August and started adding plants on Tuesday 30th August with most plants being installed on Wednesday 31st August and Thursday 1st September. My amazing handyman Erik Johansson did an incredible job, as did Alan Jabs, who would be known to many who have attended a Sophie’s Patch open garden as he is the smiling face that greets most visitors. There was also a team of over 14 volunteers who helped out during set up and packdown.  

Chooks were the stars!

Probably the most popular things in Royal Show displays, and possibly even the whole of the Horticulture section of the Pavilion, were my three chickens. I wanted to show that even in a small garden you could have a few chooks to give you eggs, process food scraps into fertiliser…. and entertain you. They are a breed called frizzles, chosen for their placid nature and the fact that they rarely jump. They are fancy city chicks and look to me like they have got too much product in their hair/feathers, or that they went through a wind tunnel backwards. If I brought some of the wild women of my flock down for the week they would be off in a flash …. exploring the show, feasting on the competitive entries and having fun on the rides. 
I got these three girls from Adrian Burgess, my poultry guru, in the afternoon before the show opened and they gave us two eggs a day from that time onwards. They have come home to live at Sophie's Patch and after a few days in a separate coup for Sherlock to get used to them, I popped them in the main chook house (an old railway carriage) in the middle of the night. That way the flock all wake up and assume they were always there. By the end of the first day they were mingling with the flock and settling into country life. I will admit though they do look rather funny when they get wet and not nearly as glamorous as they did when they were inside city chooks.

Costa visits the show

It was also wonderful that after many years of me bragging to Costa Georgiadis about how good our Royal Show is, that he got to experience it first hand and be part of the first three days of the show. Having him there was so much fun and the crowds loved him, especially when he was dressed as Costa the Garden Gnome and was standing among the Costa scarecrows. 

A closer look at Grow Up

If you haven’t already seen the 'wander and chat' Costa and I had about the elements within the garden you can check it out at or on my website at
There are so many details to this garden, and so many beautiful images captured by Darren Clements.  Too many to share in a newsletter, so if you would like to see more you can see them by clicking on the image below, or by going to my website.

Special visitors

I got to talk with lots of visitors, including Her Excellency, the Hon Frances Adamson, Governor of South Australia, and my ABC Radio cohort in laughter every Saturday morning, Peter Goers.  


GROWUP would not have been possible without the help of my amazing team which includes an incredible bunch of volunteers. Check out this Facebook post which acknowledges them. 

Competitive entries

There were great crowds at the show, and as always, I love seeing all the competitive entries from handicrafts to cooking. There are some incredibly talented people.
I also loved seeing all sorts of new features like the different waste stream bins and great educational material about what goes where!? 

The biggest news around Sophie’s Patch is that I should never say never………. hence Spring Open Garden 2022

Saturday November 5th to Monday November 7th

And we are up and running!  Your feedback and requests have resulted in our decision to once again hold a 2022 Spring Open Garden Event which will take place on the 3 days of Saturday, November 5 to Monday, November 7 inclusive! 

It was wonderful to hear how you had felt the last couple of years had fuelled your enthusiasm to learn, enjoy and share how gardening had been of such support to your wellbeing as we went through challenging times.

Many of you are now have a growing awareness of the importance of protecting our environment, greening our spaces and the role food security can play in our everyday lives.  We would like to help you build on that.

So please mark your diaries as we celebrate the change of season which signifies the renewal of plant life as well as our view of the  ‘new normal’ which has become our life too. There will be lots to experience and learn at Sophie's Patch and as all involved have always loved the face to face contact they too are excited at the prospect of welcoming both familiar and new faces once again.

Stay tuned for the full details to come in the following weeks.

Out and about

Kangaroo Island

I headed over to the Island for a few days in mid August to take across 280 fruit trees that had been grafted here at Sophie’s Patch by Wez Redden after our grafting workshops. Sixty that were grafted last year found homes straight away and the other two hundred and twenty are going to be grown on over there for a year and then shared amongst the fire affected gardeners still needing to replant their fruit trees and home orchards. This marked my 13th trip to the Island since the Black Summer Fire in December 2019/January 2020, and over this time I have delivered over thirty five talks. It was a trip of mixed emotions as my role on the island changes from one of supporting the fire affected community to rebuild and regrow their gardens, to supporting the new community gardens which are growing as the community realize that community gardens are not just about growing food, they are about growing strong healthy, connected resilient communities. 

Garden talks and visits

I have done a number of garden talks from the Gawler Show, the VIEW Club National Convention, to my local Duck Flat Community Garden in Mt Barker, and I also had a few treats like getting to visit Government House. This reciprocated visit was a thank you for having Her Excellency, Frances Adamson, Governor of South Australia visit Sophie’s Patch back in autumn. It was such a treat to have lunch with Her Excellency, Mr. Rod Bunten, her Excellency’s husband and Mr Hugh Borrowman, the Governor’s Official Secretary. Mr Bunten and gardener Harley Egel took me on a tour of the grounds which was fantastic, as I consulted to the garden to rejuvenate the back part of the grounds back in 2011.

Adelaide Hills Harvest Exchange

Last weekend I was delighted to be invited to celebrate the Adelaide Hills Harvest Exchange at Norton Summit. I was there when it first started up and then again for its first birthday, and suddenly we are celebrating its 10th. Knowing and sharing with your local community is so important. These days many people associate as their tribe, parts of the broader community interested in the same thing as them, whether cars, sport or other passions.  Knowing and connecting with your local, immediate community has been shown to be really important following times of hardship or natural disasters, whether drought, fire or flood, or other challenges such as the pandemic. These local connections develop community security and resilience, and mitigate loneliness, as well as supporting food security on a local level.  

Arid Lands Botanic Gardens

This newsletter comes out as I have had a weekend up at the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens. This is my favourite botanic garden as it reflects the heart of Australia and its arid landscape. 

Coming up 

Garden tours

Over the next month I am taking two garden tours for Botanica Travel. A ten day tour which includes some time in the Flinders Ranges as well as in private gardens of the Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley.  This is followed by a separate four day trip to Kangaroo Island visiting private gardens as well as scenic sights. 

Garden talks 

You will also catch me out and about doing garden talks at The Garden Shoppe at Moonta on Sunday 25th September talking ‘Habitat Gardening’, at the City of Charles Sturt as part of the Nature Festival on October 8th talking ‘Verge Planting’ opportunities, and then up to Burra for Goyder Gardens on the weekend of the 15th and 16th October.
Keep tuned to what I am up to and where I am speaking next via Facebook on

Talkback gardening

Tune in to talkback gardening each week on ABC Radio on Sunday mornings from after the 11am news till 12 noon joining me and the one and only Peter Goers. 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

Newsletter Prize

For this month’s prize we have one of my gorgeous garden art butterflies. The winner will be drawn at random and will be notified by email.
Happy gardening!



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