April 2022 View Online

Dear Fellow Gardener

Welcome to the April 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.

It has been a huge month and I feel I have spent more of it away from Sophie’s Patch than I have at home. Nonetheless it’s been an incredible month of mixing with inspirational people, visiting amazing gardens and incredible projects where people are making a difference…………. but more about that later. 
This year I have committed to quite a bit of travelling around this state, and a bit interstate too, doing garden talks and working with communities where I feel I can make a difference. As a result I wont have as much time for the garden and it will have to cope. 

In This Newsletter

Around The Patch

Garden Help

Open garden is just over a week away and I would love to say that I have been spending every waking hour working on the garden…… but that would simply not be true. Three weeks ago I conceded that with my hectic work schedule, and our approaching Easter open garden, I might need some help getting the garden ready. This was confirmed when I had two weeks notice that the new Governor of South Australia, Her Excellency the Hon. Frances Adamson AC wanted to pay a visit to see the garden (more about that later in this newsletter).

So, I enlisted the help of Amanda who has been doing a day or two a week in the vegie patch, and while the garden is still very raw and real, with weeds, warts and all, she has helped me to keep the productive areas looking reasonable. The reality is that we are coming to the end of summer crops, tomatoes are looking dowdy, mildew is winning against the zucchini, pumpkin and squash, and at any moment a frost will come and finish everything off.  (However the New Guinea Bean arches are a triumph and the garden is looking remarkable resilient and beautiful given it is the end of a long, dry season.)
This garden is not a perfect garden, and neither would I want it to be. It is a real garden …………..and it is my garden. I want visitors to feel at home in it, and as I often joke, “if you see a weed, please feel at home to pull it out 😊!?”  I have always felt that I didn’t want anyone else’s help in the garden, or it would no longer be mine, but I have conceded that I can't do everything I want to do without some help. 

Autumn Tones

Autumn is such a delightful time of year at Sophie’s Patch and while I love all the seasons, this would probably be my favourite! It’s because of the sunny days, cooler nights, the promise of an end to the dry season in the not-too-distant future, and an ever-changing display of brilliant autumn tones on the leaves of deciduous trees, shrubs and vines. This autumn show is taking place all over southern Australia, but why do the leaves make such a breath taking display, and why is there such a variation between different trees, and in different areas?  I explain more, and talk about my favourite autumn tones at Sophie's Patch in this blog post. And if you can't read it now, here are some images to tempt you for later.

Open Garden At Sophie's Patch  - Finale

(Sophie and Zeus from Easter 2021)
We are all looking forward to seeing you at our final Easter Open Garden. If you haven't been before here is a teaser.  
What to expect at the Easter 2022 Open Garden

Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday - 16th, 17th and 18th April

  • 10am - 4pm
  • Prebook tickets and food for priority entrance
  • Tickets available at the gate
  • 394 Springs Road Mount Barker
Book Tickets Here

Catch Costa at our Open Garden

We are super excited that the one and only Costa Georgiadis will actually be with us each day of our Open Garden and he will be doing a talk for adults at 11am in the orchard and then a walk and talk for kids at 2pm each day. Costa first visited Sophie’s Patch within weeks of starting as the host of Gardening Australia back in March 2012. That was 6 months after we purchased the property and he helped me start the main vegie patch, so he has seen the property develop and grow since the beginning. Check out the segment at 
We plan to run our event under COVID safe guidelines which are changing all the time, and there are more changes expected on the 14th April, literally a couple of days before we open. So, while at this stage you won’t need to wear a mask outside while you wander around the garden, you would need to wear one to walk into the shed and collect your pre-ordered food…… but that may all change between now and then. We are still asking that you pre-order your tickets and your food, simply to help us manage numbers and to avoid disappointment, but you can simply turn up and buy a ticket at the gate.  Everyone must have a ticket including babies as our covid management plan requires us to monitor numbers.  Food for purchase on the day will be limited. 
You can book your tickets online and the usual covid conditions apply. 

All info is available at and this will be updated regularly as the final details are confirmed. 

Kids Activities

We have confirmed that we will be running kids’ activities for all three days of our open garden. On Saturday it will be Nature craft making Nature crowns with Kate Hubmayer from Nature Crafts for Kids, on Sunday bug education with the wonderful Kristen Messenger from Bugs and Slugs, and on Monday, botanical prints with Faye and the team from Recreate.

Open Garden Food Options

Sweet Tasting Box

The Sweet Tasting Box has a piece of three different cakes, including Marbled Chocolate Zucchini Cake, Roasted Plum Slice and New Guinea Bean Cake. They are also available gluten free. 

Autumn Harvest Bowl

Made with Sophie’s Patch home grown produce, this delicious tasting bowl includes ancient seeds, grains and legumes salad with roasted seasonal vegetables; New Guinea Bean and zucchini slice; roasted garlic, leek, and potato dip and a slice of sourdough bread.  Gluten free options available. 

We will have limited numbers of these tasting boxes available for purchase each day of the open garden, however we do request that you prebook your choices along with your tickets, to avoid disappointment.

Vice Regal Visit

Sophie’s Patch was delighted to receive a visit from SA’s Governor, Her Excellency the Hon. Frances Adamson AC and her husband Mr. Rod Bunten, together with the Government House Head Chef, Garry Rodgers, earlier this month.
I have never hosted a Vice Regal party for a tour, let alone lunch around my kitchen table, so you can imagine I was both excited and thoroughly nervous at the prospect.  A quick google search had shown our new Governor was the first female Australian Ambassador to China followed by her role in Canberra as our most senior diplomat prior to returning to her home state.  All were very warm, friendly and interested in what goes on in Sophie’s Patch and my life which led to a very relaxed lunch for the five of us.
Mr. Bunten has a keen interest in gardening and Head Chef Garry Rodgers was also introduced to goose eggs which he had never tasted before in our lemon curd goose egg tart. I also learned that Garry’s Government House kitchen produces 10,000 meals a year and was delighted that he dressed the salads on my table when I asked him!
I was also honoured to receive a 2-page personally handwritten note from the Governor which said in part “As Governor, it is clear to me that you are an inspiration for many in South Australia, and further afield, and for that you should be both congratulated and lauded.” I have always regarded it as a privilege to share my knowledge and encourage people to realise that the benefits of gardening are wondrous and available to all.
We have previously had a wonderful Vice Regal couple in The Honourable Hieu Van Le AC and Mrs. Lan T. Phuong Le and I believe our current Vice Regal couple will continue to represent South Australia very successfully during their term in office.

Post Script

Just received these pics from our SA Governor’s office and was delighted to see she had made a point of visiting the Kangaroo Island Parndana Community Garden with the mayor, Michael Pengilly after our chat about my volunteer work there with bushfire recovery.  I am so proud of what the community has achieved  in the 2 community gardens over the 2 years since the devastating fires and and continue to be committed to my ongoing work with them.

Making a Difference

For many years I have believed that what is important in life is to make a difference and I have been inspired by people who are doing just that, whether on a small scale in their own backyard or neighbourhood, or whether on a grand scale. 
I have been very fortunate to spend time with many of these people in the last couple of years, from Kangaroo Island and the Mount Lofty Ranges recovering from the bushfires, to habitat projects in our urban councils. Last week I had the privilege of MCing the Landcare Association of SA Awards and it was such a great example of individuals making a difference.

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 under COVID regulations 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 

Out and About

Upcoming talks and tours

Over the past month I have done garden talks and workshops at Bute on Yorke Peninsula, Deniliquin NSW and up at Clare. I love doing country trips and connecting with individuals and communities all across this beautiful country of ours.

The next couple of months will see me head to Kingston in the South East (23rd April), back to Kangaroo Island (29th April – 2nd May), over to Ceduna (21-24th May) …and even host a garden tour of Norfolk Island. If you are near any of these areas, check out my social media closer to the time for full details and come along and join me.

Visiting Deniliquin

My visit to Deniliquin was a first for me and I fell in love with the community. I was doing garden talks at Marong Station about 40 minutes out of the town as a fundraiser for the Naponda Hospital Auxiliary. The station had a elegance of a forgotten era and was complimented by the large romantic country garden surrounding it, which had been restored in the last few years
I also got to do a talk in the Deniliquin Community garden which was lots of fun and I always love visiting different community gardens on my travels While I want to spend more time exploring this town and its gardens, I did get a guided tour of the beautiful Waring Gardens in the heart of the town with Mayor Cr. Peta Betts

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 are two tickets for two with a sweet tasting box for our open garden.  Price winners will be selected at random and contacted this week.  Because of the short time frame prizes will need to be accepted within two days of being offered before being offered to another reader. 
Happy gardening!



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