October 2021 View Online

Dear Fellow Gardener
Welcome to the October edition of our Sophie’s Patch newsletter. It’s been a big month, but then I say that every month!? But literally, this month has been huge… if only in the construction of GROW UP, my Royal Adelaide Show Garden.  I hope you enjoy it.  Sophie Thomson

In this Newsletter

GROW UP at Sophie’s Patch 

This feature garden would have been seen by the public at the Royal Adelaide Show from the 4th to the 12th  of September, but the show was cancelled due to COVID restrictions, with most of the structures all sitting here ready to be transported down to the Wayville Showgrounds. I am delighted that the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of SA believed that the concepts within this show garden are so relevant and vital, particularly related to urban infill, backyard green space mitigating the urban heat island effect, creating habitat for urban wildlife, and growing food to help with food security, that they agreed to allow me to set up the physical structure of the garden at Sophie's Patch and create a virtual tour of it to explain the concepts and elements within the garden. 
It was still quite involved, with a crane being required to stack the containers in our carpark area, and our team working for almost a week to finish it. At the showgrounds I would have had truck loads of plants to finish the display off, so here at Sophie’s Patch I have borrowed what I can from elsewhere around my garden to give a feeling of a real garden. Check out the photos of construction here……. And the final images set up here

Virtual Tour

Best of all check out the video here

You can also read or download the brochure at

Don’t forget, this is really just a teaser for the real thing at the Royal Adelaide Show next year - GROW UP 2 in 2022!  

2019 Garden - Balance

These containers were used last in 2019 for my show garden called ‘Balance’. The concepts in this garden also remain relevant and include how you can green up your garden, whatever the size, mitigate the urban heat island effect, create urban habitat and address food security. You can see images of the garden and download the brochure at or check out my virtual tour at 

Spring Open Garden 

The dates are set for Saturday 6th, Sunday 7th and Monday 8th November and we have just released the tickets and all the details at
Book Open Garden Tickets Now

What to expect?

Spring Open Garden at Sophie’s Patch runs from the 6th to the 8th November from 10am to 4.30pm. This is an opportunity to visit an iconic drylands garden which provides inspiration, delight and learning opportunities for gardeners and want to be gardeners at every turn.

You will have an opportunity to explore the display garden 'Grow Up' as well as the rest of Sophie's Patch.

We have expert nurseries, supporting environmental organisations, kids activities and delicious food incorporating Sophie's Patch produce.  As well as gathering information and ideas with like minded people you can shop from exceptional nurseries and Sophie's garden art and have a fun day out on your own, with friends and with family.


Savoury Bowl

This year's savoury option is a Spring harvest power bowl created by chef Heather Hristovski incorporating produce from Sophie's Patch.  
  • Roasted spring vegetables, ancient seeds and grains, fresh mesclun, creamy fetta and roasted beetroot labneh.
  • Served with Falafel and Focaccia
  • GF Option will not have Focaccia

Sweet Box

This year's sweet box also made with Sophie's Patch produce will have a piece of New Guinea bean cake, chocolate zucchini marble cake and plum slice. 

Supporting Nurseries and Organisations

Keep an eye on the website for updates and news about the Open Garden.

Around the Patch

Around the patch, spring is sprung and everything looks luscious!
The vegie patch is full and abundant, the wisteria covering the pergola over the back deck is in full flower, spring blooms abound everywhere, and the ancient pear tree which would have been planted by Thomas Hamlyn when he built our stone home in 1847 is in full bloom. It is not actually on our land, but sits at the corner of our property, but as you can see by this picture, its bigger than our home.
They say ‘plant pears for your heirs’ and I love to think about what this magnificent tree has witnessed and survived. I uploaded this image to one of the recent Nature Festival community events called Tree Portrait. It was a participatory artwork, which South Australians could contribute to by uploading a photo of them with a special tree along with the hashtag #TreePortrait. Artist @laurafranceswills will draw all of these images in to add to the incredible community tree that is growing over at @treeportrait on Instagram.

Spring Bling

I love spring bling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Exquisite blooms, intoxicating scents and foliage looking so fresh and new. So many of the plants I lust after at this time of year are all spring bling! They do their ‘thing’ for such a brief period, but when they do, even if it’s just for a few weeks, they are so breathtaking that we forgive their fleeting display. 
I often caution new gardeners when starting to plant up their gardens to have a balanced approach to selecting their plants. At this time of year, when everything looks so gorgeous and we are inspired to garden, it would be easy to fill your entire garden with spring beauties that only bloom now and only a brief period. Instead, it is best to ensure that you have a good balance of ‘good value’ plants (plants that have features and benefits that create colour and interest over an extended period) as a framework in your garden and then add in your spring bling. 
At the moment there are so many stunning blooms at #SophiesPatch and I could rave on about all of them. So, just to do something different in this post I have sorted them into colours.
Spring Bling By Colour....
There are many more plants in bloom around the garden, and I love them all, so the images in this post are just a taste. 

PS. Another thing I love about this time of year is the sound of spring, with the buzz of the bees, the tunes of bird song, and the occasional carryon of my flock of geese. 

Happy Anniversary

This last month also marked our 10 years anniversary of owning Sophie’s Patch. On the 30th August 2011 we had the opportunity to buy our beautiful 1847 stone cottage on three acres of cow paddock, after having rented here for 4 years. On the 11th September 2011 we had our house warming and orchard planting. With one week’s notice, we invited a hundred friends and 50 were able to make it. It was BYO food and bottle to share, and BYO spade and gloves…and in just 1.5 hours we planted 90 fruit trees. We have found some rough and raw footage of this #housewarming #orchardplanting. It’s rough and raw footage and includes kid chaos (as my tribe of five were then aged between 4 and 10), bad hair styles, many OH&S nightmares… but lots of fun. The video runs for just over 15 minutes so grab a cuppa …… and see how things have grown. 

reGrowth Garden Recovery

While most of Australia is focused on COVID19, those who were affected by the black summer bushfires are still rebuilding and replanting. Some have new homes and re-established gardens, but many have not, or are just starting the process with homes only just finished or still being built, so I continue to seek support for these gardeners in my local community. In the last week, Brian and Benedetta Wagner from Wagner’s Rose Nursery have generously donated 670 bare rooted roses worth more than RRP and these which have been distributed to the fire affected residents of the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island. Wagner’s donated 600 roses last year as well. 
This week I head over to Kangaroo Island with a van load of citrus, avocados, passionfruit and products to feed and protect these new plants, which I have been able to purchase wholesale with a generous donation of $7000 from Open Gardens SA whose current season of open gardens can be seen at Part of these funds will be used to support the Parndana Community Garden
While on Kangaroo Island I will take the opportunity to attend the Humans of Kangaroo Island Film & Literature Festival Humans of Kangaroo Island is a wonderful initiative of Sabrina Davis who I met through the Parndana Community Garden and who can be seen talking to me in the Gardening Australia segment about the garden at She has created a fabulous Facebook page to connect and support her community and it has since also done amazing fundraising of over $62,000 to support farm firefighting units. It’s worth checking out at 

Out and About

Over the last month I have done a number of garden talks at a St Peter’s Town Hall, Hackham West Community Centre, a Nature Festival event at the Gums Reserve Tranmere and at the City of Charles Sturt Verges Alive event and Nature Festival events. 
We have also started hosting garden tours of Sophie’s Patch. I am biased but I think these small group tours are the best way to see our place as I take the group on a personally guided tour of my patch followed by morning tea or coffee with our delicious cakes made from our home grown produce. So, if you can get a group of 30 or more people together, contact us via 


Ian Tolley OA Citrus Workshop
Adrian Burgess and some of his flock
We have also run three Sophie’s Patch workshops in the last month, on Native Foods, Productive Poultry and Citrus and each one has been wonderful. Mike and Gayle Quarmby did an fabulous job of sharing inspiration and information on growing native food plants, and Adrian Burgess shared so much information about keeping chooks, ducks and geese that I wish I had attended this course 10 years ago when I started with my flocks!? Citrus guru Ian Tolley was incredible, providing both entertainment and education for hours, and leaving everyone amazed that he is in his 93rd year!?

We will be releasing more workshops soon …. but the next big event here is our spring open garden. 
Mike Quarmby cooking demo

Coming Up 

Coming up in the next few months you can catch me out and about in country SA, starting at the Clare Show on Saturday 16th October I will also be doing work with the fire affected communities of Brukunga and Harrogate in October and November, back on Kangaroo Island in mid-November, and then across on the Eyre Peninsula in early December. 
Stay tuned to my calendar for other events closer to the time.

Group Tours

We are taking bookings for group tours of our garden in spring. As I have mentioned before, I think doing a group tour of my garden is the best way to see it, as its much for intimate and interactive as I take these groups on a personal tour of my garden followed by afternoon tea or coffee with delicious home baked cakes made from our home grown produce. If you can get a group of 30 or more people together from your social, interest or council group or plant society, contact me 
tour group

Give Away...

This month we are giving two lucky subscribers two tickets and meal vouchers for our Spring Open Garden
Happy gardening!



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