July 2022 View Online

Dear Fellow Gardener

Welcome to the July 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.

The winter solstice has past and as I walk around Sophie’s Patch, I can see signs of spring. It feels like it has been cold and wet winter, yet I am sure it feels the same every year. As a result, every little sign of spring is comforting, as if reassuring me that “this (the cold) too will pass”. As this newsletter goes out, I am on the Sunshine Coast with my girls at the Queensland Garden Expo, enjoying the milder climate and heavenly warm winter sunshine. 

In This Newsletter

Around The Patch

Colour in a winter garden may not be as abundant as it is in spring, however what is in bloom appears more special due to its scarcity. I have written about the plants which bloom in my winter garden before, and about those which have heavenly scents, and you can read both of these blog posts following these links: and

Winter Garden - Warts And All

You can also watch this winter garden tour of Sophie’s Patch filmed in June 2020 once we came out of lockdown to see some of the colour we have in our winter garden. 

The Joys Of Winter Bulbs

Our orchard was set up in four quadrants with two dissecting roads or axis. Not long after we planted the first fruit trees, someone gave me some sacks of old-fashioned jonquil bulbs called ‘Straws’, which were already one of my favorites. They are a cream bloom, and while many people don’t like the scent of jonquils, I like this one and often have vases of them in our home. We planted these bulbs along the sides of the main axis and have never done anything else to them. They start to bloom each June and continue for up to six weeks, adding cheer to an otherwise bare and wintery section of the garden. People often ask if there is some special purpose to these flowers, as many of the other plantings in my garden do have a companion planting purpose, such as attracting beneficial bugs, however these are purely for their cheer. If anything, their scent does help to detract from the wet poopy smell of the flocks’ winter lockup!

Winter Vegies

There is a lot of discussion at the moment about the cost of lettuce and other winter vegies following shortages from the floods on the east coast of Australia.  It is a timely reminder of the importance of growing your own food and eating seasonal vegies which are cheaper and more plentiful.  Here are some of the vegies I have growing at the moment, and while it is too late to plant winter vegies, it is the right time to start planning your spring planting.  If you have got a copy of my book 'Sophie's Patch' you can follow the guidelines in that for establishing your vegie patch.  If you don't have one they are currently out of print, however your local library will probably have one available to borrow.

Buried Treasure:  The rewards of bulbs

Bulbs and bulbous plants add an extra dimension to a garden by providing a burst of seasonal interest. Such interest adds a degree of excitement and expectation to your garden, as you eagerly await the performance of each plant in your garden.  

One of the great things about living in South Australia is that our climate has distinct seasons and with each season there are certain things that we look forward to. For me winter signifies roaring log fires, staying cosy indoors, mists and fog that wrap around you like a blanket, the bare skeletons of deciduous trees and shrubs, and the delicate nodding blooms of the true English Snowdrop. As the garden bursts slowly into spring, the swelling buds of trees are encouraged by the brightness and exuberance of the myriad of more traditional bulbs, such as daffodils and jonquils. In late spring when deciduous plants are now fully clothed, and the weather is giving us hints of the hot summer ahead, many of the South African bulbs such as ixias and sparaxis give their performance. The hot days of summer, although stifling and often disheartening, give rise to an opulence of both colour and scent with a succession of liliums. And then, the first autumn rains starts a succession of another group of achievers – those that have been having a summer siesta and perform, often naked with just flowers alone, such as belladonnas and autumn crocus. 
Although their flowering period is generally only brief, by choosing bulbs that are appropriate to your growing conditions, and with a bit of knowledge as to flowering times, it is possible to have a different bulb flowering in every season of the year. Bulbs that flower in late winter and spring are now available for sale via mail order or through nurseries and garden centres. Even though traditionally we do not plant bulbs until the first autumn rains, it is a great time to think about the varieties you want and start to buy them.  They can readily be stored in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant.

If you want to plant bulbs, love them as much as I do, or are thinking of a way to add colour or interest to your garden, I've just put up a new post about what, where, how and when to plant bulbs to give all round colour.

Read on...

Out And About 

Yorke Peninsula 

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.
Last month I headed across to the Yorke Peninsula to do some garden talks and also took a couple of days to check out that beautiful part of the world. I stayed at Ballara Art and Lifestyle Retreat and gave a talk there accompanied by a vegan high tea. I love the creative, rustic and quirky garden features around the property and want to share them with you. Such simple things which look great, cost little and recycle or repurpose what was lying around. 
The following day I did a garden talk at May’s Nursery at Yorke town and that was also well attended. 

Grow It Local

Last month I did an online workshop for Grow it Local on one of my favourite topics – vertical vegies, and how we can use climbing vegetables to cool us, as well as feed us. This nationwide program is a grass roots, purpose-driven community that celebrates backyard, balcony, community and window-sill farmers across the country and aims to get more people growing, sharing and eating locally grown foods.
There are many different parts to it and here are some reasons to get involved. 
GROW: get inspired by seeing who’s growing locally & what's under cultivation
SHARE: connect with local growers to learn and share knowledge, expertise, produce, recipes and more
EAT: attend local food experiences that celebrate local produce, growers, chefs & like-minded businesses
Their aim is to
•    Make growing more accessible 
•    Increase the production & consumption of locally grown foods
•    Provide a connection to nature
•    Inspire positive health & wellbeing 
•    Help build stronger and more resilient communities
•    Increase composting and reduce organic waste to landfill
•    Do something delicious & have a little fun!
The ‘Vertical Vegies’ workshop I did is now live on the Grow it Local website 'on demand'. Watch it now at

You do need to join Grow It Local to watch this recording but it is absolutely worth it as there are so many other great workshops to watch and learn from. Thanks to Green Adelaide for supporting Grow it Local in SA.

Queensland Garden Expo

It is a joy to be surrounded by so many passionate gardeners, and to have the chance to catch up with many old friends and some of the Gardening Australia crew. As a bonus my girls have come with me during their winter holidays and are enjoying the chance to thaw out. This expo should definitely be on your bucket list if you  haven't already come. And if you have there are always new exhibits and plants to buy!

Special Events At Sophie’s Patch

In June we ran fruit tree workshops covering how to prepare, plant and prune deciduous fruit trees and at the end of this month we have three grafting workshops. These are strictly limited numbers, and two are already booked out, but there are some vacancies left on Sunday 31st July. 

Grafting Workshops

29th or 30th July 2022 (Sold Out)
Sunday 31 July (Some spaces available)

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.
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.  Being winter you will need to dress for the weather and rug up! Numbers are strictly limited and bookings essential.
All the details are available on my website

GROW UP 2 In 2022

The next big thing for Sophie’s Patch is to pack down the Grow Up display and ship it down to the Wayville Showgrounds in mid-August, ready for the Royal Adelaide Show which opens on Saturday 3rd September and runs through till Sunday 11th. We were all set for this to happen last year but when the Royal Show got cancelled three weeks out, we decided to set up the display here at Sophie’s Patch so that we could film a preview of the garden as a teaser for 2022.

The garden was designed to address timely concepts such as urban greening, counter acting the urban heat island effect, food security, habitat creation and biodiversity.  You can watch the preview at if you haven’t seen it before. So having set it up once, we know we can do it again, and this time it will be with all of the plants originally intended to be part of the display. While these are ordered and will be delivered the week the show opens ready for staging, some have already been potted up. 
Last week, together with Urrbrae Agricultural School students, we planted up the edible green wall which will be grown on at the school till a few days before the show opens. I was impressed with these kids, the Class 7 students who helped me in their lesson time, and then the students from the garden club who came and helped out in their lunchtime. These young gardeners give me hope for the future. 
Stay tuned to my socials to keep up to date with what is happening with show preparations over the next 54 days. 

Coming Up

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

Botanical Bazaar on the Gold Coast

Then in early August I am at the Botanical Bazaar,  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

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

Talkback Gardening

Tune in to ABC Radio each week on Sunday mornings to talk back radio with the one and only Peter Goers 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 In Touch

Signing up for regular information on Sophie's Patch between newsletters is easy!  Some of our subscribers are currently signed up to the Sophie Thomson Facebook and others to Instagram Sophies Patch but I know some of you are currently missing out altogether! 

It’s very easy to sign up by clicking on the following links:
Whilst you are at it, why not invite your friends to join you too……just ask them to join using one of the links.

Newsletter Prize

In the last two months our readers prize has been one of our beautiful butterflies.  Continuing the theme of Garden Art, this month we are going to be sending one of our lucky readers a garden goose (not the live one!).  Prize 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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