May 2022 View Online

Dear Fellow Gardener

Welcome to the May 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.

Where does the time go? It is already three weeks since Easter Open Garden at Sophie’s Patch, and while that event in itself was massive, so much has happened since then. 

In This Newsletter

Easter Open Garden Wrap Up

This event was absolutely massive, our biggest open garden ever, and it was fantastic to finish our 15th public open garden on such a high note! It was wonderful to meet so many visitors of all ages and stages, from everywhere across this state and country. It was also great to see so many young families with kids attending, as this gives me hope for the future, after all children are the caretakers of our earth for the future. It was great to observe smiles on the faces of people as they interacted with the space we have created. Costa brought fun and smiles to all he greeted and was a huge hit, as he always is. 
Darren Clement took photos for me throughout the Open Garden, and he has chosen the best of them to share with you.  You can find them on flickr and can search by the day if you are looking for some of yourselves!
Easter Saturday Photos
Easter Sunday Photos
Easter Monday Photos


I need to say a massive thanks to the volunteers who helped make everything run smoothly in spite of the numbers, from the Rotary Club of Mount Barker who greeted cars as they drive in the paddock, to my volunteers in their brightly coloured aprons, to the members of Butterfly Conservation Society, Birds SA and Beekeepers’ Society of SA. Then there were the nurseries, and those helping with kids’ activities. Thank you all so much for all you did to make the event such a great success. 

Open Garden Food and Recipes

Huge thanks go to Heather Hristovski who created our savoury lunch bowls. Yet again the number of orders exceeded our expectations, so she produced  over 1200 meals. While we are not sure exactly how much produce was mine, we expect it was in the vicinity of 350kg vegies not to mention several van loads of basil, supplemented by another 180kg veg, 75 dozen eggs and about 25kg cheese. There was also 60kg of grains, rice, beans, legumes, seeds.
Several people have messaged asking for the recipes and Heather has kindly shared them.

Leek Skordalia Dip

  • 300 grams potatoes
  • 1 large leek
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 30ml White wine vinegar
  • Salt and white pepper
  • ½ cup hot water
  1.  Peel, chop potatoes and cook in water until soft
  2. Slice leek and roast with garlic, in olive oil until soft and golden
  3. Drain and mash potatoes 
  4. Puree leek and garlic until smooth
  5. Mix mashed potato with pureed leek and garlic
  6. Add vinegar and slowly add additional oil
  7. Season to taste
  8. Slowly add hot water until white, thick and creamy

New Guinea Bean and Zucchini Slice

  • 1/3 cup white rice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium Zucchini, grated
  • 1 small New Guinea Bean, grated
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C, grease a deep loaf pan and line base and sides with baking paper.
  2. Place rice and 2/3 cup of cold water in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add onion. Cook, stirring, until softened. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add New Guinea Bean, zucchini, eggs, rice and half the grated cheddar cheese. Season to taste. Stir to combine. Spread mixture in prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese and Parmesan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and just set. 
  4. Chill and portion to desired size.

What's next for Sophie's Patch?

While I am delighted with how wonderful our 15th open garden here at Sophie’s Patch went, I am also relieved that we have decided that it is the last. It’s a great relief and now I need to catch my breath and find my next project. Watch this space!
I will still be out and about as I always am, doing garden talks and workshops, working in communities, creating show gardens, and doing garden consultations, however not having to keep my personal garden up to scratch all the time will take the pressure off.  After the last couple of years of COVID cancellations, my calendar is full this year with trips around SA and further afield, so Sophie’s Patch is simply hitting the road! This newsletter will continue and keep you up to date with what’s happening and you will also catch me on social media as always. 

Kingston South East SA

The week after our open garden I headed down to the South East of SA to Kingston SE to do a talk on gardening for our health and wellbeing. This afternoon in the town hall included a high tea with fine china and stunning flowers decorating the hall supplied by Starling Flowers 
The next day I spent time with the fire affected communities of Keilira and Avenue Range where there have been three fires over the past three years, with the Keilira fire which burned 27,000 hectares starting on December 30th 2019, the same time as the Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills fires. It was a great opportunity for this community to come together and connect and I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to affirm the importance of gardening, getting your hands back in the soil, and rebuilding gardens. 

Kangaroo Island

Last weekend I was over on Kangaroo Island doing garden talks. One exciting development on the island is that the communities of Penneshaw and American River are keen to set up their own community gardens inspired by the Parndana Community Garden and the Kingscote Community Garden. People around the world are realizing that community gardens don’t just grow food, they grow strong, healthy, connected, resilient communities. All interested parties gathered for an afternoon of networking and ideas were shared with lots of opportunity for cross pollination. While over there I did garden talks in both community gardens and another evening talk for those ‘Starting their Patch from Scratch’ following the fires. 
I also caught up with a few people in various stages of recovery following the Black Summer fire which raged from 20th December till the end of January. Some have already rebuilt their homes while others are just starting to rebuild, some have replanted their gardens and others are just about to start.

Two and a half years on, I am constantly reminded of how important gardens and gardening are to support our mental health and recovery from trauma, let alone all the physical health-giving benefits gardens bestow.  Many people have forgotten the fires and would not realize just how long and arduous the recovery phase is. My heart is also with the flood affected communities of NSW and Qld who are only just starting this process. 

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 

Looking Ahead

As you read this, I am on my way to host a tour of Norfolk Island for Botanica Travel and I am really looking forward to it, and then later in the month I head to Ceduna on the West Coast which will be amazing too. 
Gardeners are great people, and I am often reminded of this as I travel around this amazing country of ours. I meet them in all sorts of places expected and unforeseen. Last week I chatted with a gardener from Sydney out the front of the Cactus Café in Kingscote. Gardening connects us, it feeds us, it gives us purpose, inspiration……………… and it helps to save us, and the planet!

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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