Plants that Repel Pests? Ask Penny Woodward

Penny Woodward is a well known herb aficionado, thanks to her herb ‘bible’. Read by thousands of gardeners, ‘An Australian Herbal’ was first published in 1986, reprinted five times and sold over 26,000 copies. But Penny’s organic gardening expertise exceeds herbs. With seven books published on topics ranging from garlic to asian greens, her latest, ‘Pest Repellent Plants’ will be the focus of a one day workshop at the Newstead Community Garden on Sunday March 18.

‘Although there are lots of organic sprays, they also kill good bugs, so these days I only ever spray as an absolute last resort, trying traps, trickery and barriers first,’ says Penny.

‘I will be talking about all the new things I have learnt, as well as tried and true methods. I’ll talk about my philosophy of gardening, how to create a garden that is a balanced natural haven for plants and animals, and ways to thwart pests without actually killing them,’ she says.

Penny says that March is the perfect planting time for garlic. She’ll provide pointers and tips on growing the more unusual alliums, including tree, welsh and potato onions, shallots and leeks.

Penny’s encyclopedic knowledge of gardening stems from working as a volunteer at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, back in 1980. The Physic, established in 1673 to forward medicinal botany studies, is London’s oldest botanic garden. In exchange for six hours work in the gardens, Penny was able to spend two hours in the library looking at ancient herbals. Back home, she ran a herb nursery in Ballarat, wrote ‘Australian Herbal’ (now ‘Herbs for Australian Gardens’) before caretaking the eight acre National Trust property, Mooramong, near Skipton. Since then Penny has been actively researching, writing, talking and growing useful plants.

Penny will bring more than 25 years of gardening expertise to the Newstead Community Garden, in Layard Street, rear of Anglican Church in Panmure Street. Participants should arrive at 10am for a 10.30am start. Lunch and refreshments are provided, including gluten and wheat free options (and fantastic cake!) with a 4pm finish.  Workshop fees are $40 or $30 for Newstead Community Garden members.

To register, contact  Janet on 0439 003 469,, or Mary on 5476 2593, To find out more about Penny, see her website at:

And you may like to forward the flyer onto other keen gardening friends……

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