January 2023 View Online

Dear Fellow Gardener

Welcome to the first newsletter from Sophie’s Patch for 2023. I hope that you have had a great Festive Season and that 2023 will be a wonderful year for you - filled with hours of joy in the garden, baskets of delicious fresh produce, abundance for sharing, blessings beyond expectations, Nature's awe-inspiring beauty to take your breath away ……… and lots of fun! 
Sophie Thomson.

In This Newsletter

Around The Patch 

Well overall it’s been a mild summer so far, with just a few hot days over 35 degrees. That’s the temperature which triggers me to shade certain vegies, so it’s really the only one I am interested in. Below 35 degrees I just water well and above that I water well, and also shade tender crops like leafy greens, baby seedlings and tomatoes.
The difference in this area is marked as usually by November the paddocks are brown and this year there are still many areas of green on the surrounding farms
The slow start to warm temperatures in spring has also meant that my crops are running late with tomatoes and capsicums only just starting, at least a month behind where they would usually be.

Vertical Vegies

The vertical vegies which are such an integral part of my garden are only just starting to climb and it will be months till they are up creating the green walls and shelter which I love so much. It also means their crops are a long way off….. not to worry it’s a small price to pay for a wetter spring without having to water much and a milder summer. The only issue with these warm season vegie crops is whether they will still hit peak production and ultimately this comes down to how the rest of summer and autumn pans out. Hopefully the first frosts are late and allow everything to mature. 

The Orchard

The orchard is full of fruit.  They too are delayed in their ripening, but harvests of stone fruit are about to come thick and fast.

The Garden

Beautiful Blooms

The garden is full of blooms and beauty, with lots of flowers for me to pick and lots for the bees, butterflies, and birds to delight in. Flowers I have been loving picking and sharing are alstroemerias, Shasta daisies, the old fashioned large single white marguerite daisy, Queen Anne’s lace, and feverfew. There are also lots of delicious heady cents that intoxicate me as I wander around the garden. You can read about them at


The Jacarandas are about to put on their show. It is amazing that these two trees were both planted 11 years ago this month and one has powered away more than the other, despite theoretically getting treated the same. The large one possibly gets more radiant heat from the pavers but who knows what the reason is. I hate to admit that I have probably killed about 6-10 along the way as my dream was to have a copse of 5 trees carpeting Luscious, our house dragon in a sea of purple. Nature and gardening always remind us that we are not in control!?
And as far as what else is in bloom, here is some information on the summer stunners at Sophie’s Patch

Summer Stunners at Sophie’s Patch

To me, the test of a good garden is one which has plants providing colour and interest all year round, not meaning that the one plant does it all, but there is a succession of seasonal interest. As an added bonus I also love to have scented plants in my garden all year round. So here are some of my favourite summer stunners which are in bloom at the moment. 
Read more about my Summer Stunners here..

My Flock

My flock continues to delight me. This year we only hatched one gosling and it’s very cute. We have left it with the flock, and I have called it Fred. Its not easy to sex mixed breed goslings till they are one year old, so it may well become Frieda if I have got it wrong!? The chickens continue to enjoy escaping from the orchard but that’s half the fun. Love a free-spirited woman!  

From the Ground Up and other projects...

Usually, summers at Sophie’s Patch are spent with me playing in the garden while the kids chill. This year it will be different, as while I am home a lot over the next few months, my main task involved me staying locked away in my office, rewriting my first book ‘From the Ground Up’ which was released 15 years ago! There will be lots of new content and a whole new look. I am also working on another project which I am very excited about and will share more of this in a future newsletter. 

Easter Open Garden at Sophie’s Patch

Saturday April 8th, Sunday April 9th and Monday, April 10th

And with January 2023 off to a flying start the Sophie’s Patch team is gearing up for Easter! Why? Because it’s going to be Open Garden again at Sophie's Patch, so we are putting you on notice!  We know that this gives interstate and country visitors the opportunity to organise themselves, diarise and plan ahead.
 Autumn in the Adelaide Hills is a wonderful time to visit, and previous visitors have combined seeing Sophie’s Patch with the delights of Adelaide city, beaches, gardens, the Adelaide Hills, Barossa, and McLaren Vale wine regions, as well joining up with family and friends.
We would love to have you join us …..the 3 days are Saturday April 8th, Sunday April 9th and Monday, April 10th inclusive.  There’s always lots to see and learn…. The nurseries will be here in force, as will the environmental societies, and there will be free kids’ activities. Stay tuned to our website link for further details as they get finalised. 

Social Sizzle

One post which seemed to resonate with many people over the Christmas break was this one about coming in late from the garden ……………. and eating late as a result. If you missed it check it out below.

Thoughts About Social Media

To be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I do share on it most days …. about things I am passionate about, involved in or which I believe are educational, but I know it is more productive to engage differently and naturally I would like to spend way more time ……. in my garden!

As the world speeds up, I am now getting overwhelmed by the volume of messages I get asking gardening questions or for advice. Part of my commercial life is spent as a garden consultant visiting people’s gardens for a fee, but I only have limited time and the ability to do this too. Whilst I would love to respond to all of these questions and give them the attention they require, I simply have to now respectfully stand back for my own wellbeing.  
If you do have a plant question, may I suggest that you visit the knowledgeable staff at your local nursery or garden centre and ask them, or call me on talkback gardening on Sundays on ABC Radio. Another great option is to join your local community garden, harvest exchange or garden club – not only will you learn lots from sharing, but you will also get to spend time with likeminded people. 

Sophie’s Patch Special Events

Summer Pruning and Caring for Fruit Trees Workshops Feb 2023

Tickets for Summer Pruning Workshops
The first two summer pruning events have sold out and so we are offering another two events on Friday 10th February and Sunday 12th February.  At the moment there are still some places free in these workshops.  Our summer pruning workshops are being run at Sophie's Patch in the shed and orchard. 

While most people think that winter is the time to prune fruit trees, it is the best time to shape trees but pruning then tends to stimulate vigour, making your trees bigger and harder to manage. The key to keeping your trees down at a manageable height is summer pruning and we will also look at how to maintain mature fruit trees, cleaning up and pruning, to shape trees, minimise disease and maximise fruit production. Summer is also the time to shape young deciduous fruit trees. 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 ( Every Day Sustainable Living ), and sixth generation orchardist Wez Redden who has been helping me with fruit tree pruning for more than 20 years in my orchard here at Sophie’s Patch and at other properties. 
The workshop 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 Sophie’s Patch orchard produce. Numbers are strictly limited and bookings essential. 

SA Autumn Garden Festival - Two Special Sophie's Patch Events

I'm offering two satellite Sophie’s Patch Workshops on Saturday 18th March as part of SA Autumn Garden Festival weekend in Clare.  They are Grow Your Own – vegies for beginners -  from 10am till 1pm; and a Succulent Art Workshop with Lorraine Thompson from Hillside Herbs and Succulents from 2 - 4pm.  You can choose to attend one or make a day of it and come to both.

Grow Your Own – vegies for beginners - Saturday 18th March from 10am till 1pm

The timing of this workshops is designed so that you can start setting up your new vegie patch and be ready to plant cool season crops in autumn. This beginner’s workshop is for everyone who wants to develop their own productive vegie patch or yummy yard and needs a combination of information and inspiration to get them started. I will cover the basics including the why and where of setting up your vegie garden and then go into the essential details such as soil, compost, irrigation, seasonal planting, seeds vs seedlings and much, much more. I will also cover how to bring in the good bugs to help manage the bad and deal with problems within the garden.   This workshop includes delicious morning tea or coffee.
So, if you are dreaming of eating your own, home grown, organic, delicious, vine ripened tomatoes, as well as every other wonderful vegie, this is a great workshop to attend. 
Tickets for Grow Your Own - vegies for beginners

Succulent Art Workshop

Make your own succulent birdcage with Lorraine Thompson from Hillside Herbs and Succulents – Saturday 18th March - 2-4pm
Instead of buying a bird cage, we are going to make one, then create a lovely mixed succulent bowl to place inside.

All materials to create the birdcage will be provided, as well as the bowl, succulents, and soil, with Lorraine guiding you through the process. You will enjoy a delicious afternoon tea and coffee.
Succulent Art Tickets

Coming Up

My garden talks don’t start again till February, however as many require bookings and are strictly limited numbers the details are here: 

Harvest Garden Festival

Something to pop in your calendar for those in Adelaide is Open Garden SA’s Harvest Garden Festival on the 11th and 12th February. There are more than a dozen productive gardens open across Adelaide that weekend and you can buy a ticket to visit just four or go for an all-garden pass. Details at Visiting other gardens is a great way to get information and inspiration which you can use in your own patch. 

Talkback Gardening every Sunday on ABC Adelaide

I am looking forward to being back on air on ABC Adelaide with my weekly talkback gardening program with Peter Goers from Sunday 22nd January. Peter and I always have a lot of fun and laughs…… and even manage to answer a few gardening questions. So, tune in via ABC Radio 891 or log in via from the 22nd onwards.
Happy gardening!



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