The weather has been all over the place this summer. We had a cool start followed by a lot of rain and a lot of heat.
Even with the rain, make sure your plants are getting plenty of water. This is especially important for plants in pots and baskets.
Summer is a long way from over and there certainly is still a lot of warm weather to come. Even so, school holidays are over and there is a sense of transition in the air. It's time to prepare our gardens for the cooler weather ahead while also making the most of the current productivity.
We have had a large amount of rain through January. Combined with a cool spring, this has produced the greenest late summer I’ve seen for years! Gardens are looking wonderful as a result.
February is the start of the bulb planting season and my standout performer is the daffodil Marieke, the best yellow-flowered trumpet daffodil around. Many other varieties will become available as the month goes on, including tulips. They must have six weeks in the fridge to chill the bulb and ensure flowering. Most spring-flowering bulbs actually flower in our winter and are ideal for our climate as they are dormant through summer and spectacular in our winter.
The first of the new season cyclamen will also be in this month. This is a more heat-tolerant variety with mid-sized flowers that is ideal to brighten up indoors or shaded areas outside.
- This is the last month to prune hedges, roses and perennials and still get a recovery flush of growth before Winter. September will be the next chance to prune so get in there now!
- Feed sasanqua camellias, evergreen magnolias, azaleas, roses and other pruned plants to encourage more flowers for autumn and fat, bushy plants.
- Start planting seeds and seedlings of new season, cool climate veggies including beetroot, broccoli, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, and leeks as well as trans-seasonal veggies like lettuce, silverbeet, spinach, carrots and spring onions.
- The best colour for autumn is still warm climate plants like impatiens, vincas and petunias. I prune and feed my petunias midseason to have flowers through to late autumn.
- Remember to water your outdoor pots and baskets daily in the warmer weather and feed them with Osmocote now to sustain them through to spring.
- Watch out for distorted new growth on citrus and spray regularly with Pest Oil or Eco-Oil to control citrus leaf miner. This is also effective in preventing citrus gall wasp infestations.
- We will have the first of our certified seed garlic this month. Grown in state forests in East Gippsland, this garlic was dug just before the fires and will be on the road as soon as the roads open. Garlic loves good drainage and does well in pots or raised garden beds.
It is time to start planting sasanqua camellias, in my mind the best flowering hedge available. It's a glossy green shrub that will flower from March to midwinter in a sunny or partially shady spot. Sasanqua camellias love an organically improved soil and, with regular watering, they are beautiful and happy to co-exist with other plants. My top five sasanquas are Blush, Setsugekka, Hiryu, Olivia and Plantation Pink.