Melbourne is a beautiful city all year but the crisp mornings and clear days of autumn tend to really bring out it's best. This is especially true in March when we have sunflowers and summer veggies at the same time as cooler weather plants like camellias and pansies.
The world has changed a lot since last March. Coming through multiple lockdowns and a lot of uncertainty has been tough but we've been lucky in many ways. Gardening and spending time with plants has been shown to have both physical and mental health benefits and the past year has really demonstrated that.
Enjoy this wonderful time of year in your garden and in the nursery!
Camellia Sasanqua Avalanche
One of the best Camellias released in the last 15 years is a slimline Sasanqua called Avalanche. Masses of lightly scented, double white flowers cover this hardy, columnar growing Camellia through autumn and into winter. I am impressed at how naturally bushy and upright the growth habit is and how well it comes through extreme heat. It does double duty as both an attractive and low maintenance hedging or screening option and as a potted specimen plant.
Although the weather is still mild enough to plant warm-season plants, March is the first month of autumn and it is time to turn our attention to new season, cool climate plants. These include Azaleas, Camellias, Daphne, Pansies and Cyclamen. The sasanqua (sun tolerant) Camellias are starting to flower this month and will continue to flower through to mid-winter.
The main bulb planting season is March and April and we have Tulips, Hyacinths, Freesias, and Daffodils arriving this month including our favourite best yellow trumpet Daffodil Marieke. There will also be a wide range of weird, wonderful and interesting bulbs.
Autumn is the best time to do serious planting as the plants will have nine months to get established before summer comes around. COVID has caused a few supply problems but we have managed to secure good numbers of top quality plants for autumn and winter. There will be lots of lovely new season stock coming through this month including a great range of perennial Salvias. Autumn is the best time to plant perennial Salvias and they are long flowering, drought-tolerant and easy to grow!
Autumn is also a great growing season so this is the perfect time to feed your garden to maximise that growth. Always use “good” fertilisers rather than “fast” foods that have little useable nutrition.
- Ensure your garden has plenty of colour in the cooler months ahead with seedlings of Pansies, Violas, Sweet Peas, Primulas and Poppies. Alyssum and Lobelia seedlings can still be planted too.
- If you haven't already, feed your Azaleas, Camellias, Daphne, Citrus, Correas, and Roses to maximise flowering or fruit formation. This is also an ideal to plant all of the above!
- Rejuvenate lawns with a good lawn food. This is also the perfect time to topdress or start a new lawn from scratch. Watch out for dead patches in an otherwise healthy lawn caused by Lawn Beetle Grub!
- Start planting both tall and dwarf broad beans and continue planting salad foliage plants, herbs and winter veggies whilst the soil is still warm. Parsley should be planted now for winter culinary use.
- I have had good success controlling mites and white fly both here in the nursery and at home with a combination of eco-oil and eco-neem. They are safe but effective against a host of pest problems.
- Azalea Lace Bug is rampant and recognisable by telltale silvery leaves on Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Viburnum. It needs to be treated with Confidor or Bug Killa.