June is the first month of Winter and is the lowest ebb of the annual growing cycle for many plants. Even so, many plants are looking gorgeous at the moment. Camellias, Helleborus, Primulas, Pansies, Poppies and many Natives are flowering beautifully as they love the cooler weather. If your garden doesn’t have something that warms your heart and puts a smile on your face, plant a bit of happy!
Although it may be cold for us, most plants see our Winter as a walk in the park. Our soil temperature is relatively mild, allowing a seemingly dormant plant to put out root growth through Winter. For a lot of plants, this is the best time to plant so they are ready to go when Spring comes and knocks on the door.
Rose Pruning demonstrations will be at 10:00 am on Sunday the 9th and Monday the 10th of June over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Tony will demystify rose pruning and show that anybody can do it! He will discuss pruning for all Rose types, disease and pest control, and how to get the best out of your roses. It’s not to be missed!
Roses require pruning to rejuvenate the plant, improve the shape and presentation and to promote new growth, which in turn means more flowers. I like to have my roses pruned by the shortest day of the year because they will start to generate new growth soon after that. Most modern bush roses I will prune back by 60 to 75%, most climbers by 40 to 50% and shrub roses like David Austin’s by the same. More vigorous roses don’t appreciate hard pruning which will result in lots of messy, wild growth with few flowers. Flower Carpet Roses do appreciate a fairly hard prune at this time of the year – they are often pruned by slashers or industrial mowers in big parks. If you have once flowering roses like the Banksia rose or Albertine, wait until after flowering in Spring and prune them hard.
One of the easiest ways to prevent disease is to spray Lime Sulphur over and around the pruned plant. Watch out for white growths on the stems of your roses, which indicate a scale infestation that was hidden under the rose foliage. Treat this with a liberal coating of Pest Oil to suffocate the scale. As soon as you start to see new growth, feed your roses with a high K rose food.
Lots of fabulously fragrant plants do their thing in Winter, such as Luculia which bears big panicles of fragrant pink flowers throughout the season. It grows to 2 to 3 metres tall and loves a well-drained, organically improved soil in part sun positions. Sweet Box or Sarcococca is another one of my favourites because it is a neat bushy shrub with glossy deep green foliage and very fragrant small white flowers in Winter that is happily hedged. It even grows well in difficult spots under trees where others can struggle. Osmanthus Heaven Scent is also a hardy, easy to grow shrub of 1.2 to 1.5 metres tall that bears masses of very fragrant flowers in sun or moderate shade. If you love fragrant cut flowers, plant a Chimonanthus Allspice or Wintersweet, a tough shrub that bears waxy yellow flowers with an amazing scent. One bunch can perfume an entire house!
- Lightly prune (by around 25%) all long flowering perennials like Salvias and Gauras that have finished flowering to remove dead flower heads and neaten up the plant. Don’t prune too hard as the remaining foliage can store a lot of food that sustains the plant through Winter.
- June or early July is the best time to give Box hedges and topiary their main prune of the year. This dictates their shape for the coming year. Rust coloured hedges indicate a nutrient deficiency, which can be corrected with a dose of Dolomite Lime – if too acidic – or Blood and Bone – if too hungry.
- Liquid feed your Pansy and Violas to keep them flowering through the cooler months.
- Check your lawn pH if you feed your lawn regularly. This is the best time to Lime your lawn and correct any acidity from regular feeding.
- Add a few handfuls of Blood and Bone to Autumn leaves in the garden or compost to hasten breakdown.
- If Citrus or Camellia foliage is yellowing then feed with an organic-based fertiliser (more effective in cool soils). They are working hard at the moment and need the boost.
- This is the ideal time of the year to plant fruit trees. We have an extensive range of Citrus and deciduous fruit trees including our popular multigrafts, which allow you to grow three varieties on the one tree. Always plant up on a mound of organically improved soils.
- We will have about 10 varieties of certified seed potatoes in this month, as well as some terrific rhubarb and asparagus crowns. This is the best time to plant them and we have the best available stock.
Plant of the Month
Camellia It’s Gorgeous
The most spectacular and colourful plants in Winter are the Winter flowering Camellias – both the traditional japonica varieties and the newer Australian bred floribundas. When all around is slowing down, the Camellias are stepping up, flowers all through the Winter on glossy, dark green foliaged shrubs that grow well in shaded positions. They look especially gorgeous as your deciduous trees become bare. One of the best newer releases is Camellia It’s Gorgeous, which really lives up to its name! It is a glossy foliaged shrub with masses of large deep pink double flowers right through Winter in shade or sun. As always plant onto a raised mounds of organically improved soil to facilitate strong growth and quick establishment.