It might feel a little strange to be coming out of lockdown just as we get to winter. In Melbourne, we're lucky to have weather mild enough to make winter gardening pleasant, yet still cold enough to support some gorgeous cool climate plants.
We've been loving takeaway coffee from The Oaks Cafe but we're thrilled to have them reopen for eat-in meals next week. From Monday, you will be able to enjoy breakfast, lunch and delicious treats right here with us!
If you started or revived a veggie garden during the lockdown, don't let all your hard work go to waste. Ready Tony's Tips for June gardening—your plants will thank you!
Welcome to winter! After a glorious, colourful and fairly wet autumn, we are now seeing cool climate plants start to shine. Japonica Camellias have loved the extra rain and are starting to flower nicely. I love how they sit up and smile when the deciduous trees lose their leaves, then flower right through the depths of winter. Helleborus are also looking fantastic, with lots of new growth and buds, as are Pieris, Daphne and Sweet Box.
New-season roses will be coming in this month, starting with traditional favourites. By July, we should have our full range of bush, climbers and standard roses as well as David Austins, Delbards and several very promising new releases.
We will have a dozen or so varieties of certified seed potatoes in mid-June, along with our usual large crowns of rhubarb and asparagus, ideal for winter planting. Cool climate plants love to be planted now and, if your garden tends to be a little lacklustre in winter, now is the time to plant a winter-flowering shrub or perennial to brighten things up!
- Liquid feed cool climate flower and veggie seedlings with Charlie Carp.
- Look out for caterpillars and keep them under control with Mavrik, Dipel or Derris dust.
- Stake up new Cymbidium Orchid flowers and protect them with snail bait.
- If you fertilise your lawn regularly, make sure to correct a build up of acidity with a dose of Garden Lime.
- If you notice box hedging turning a rusty orange colour, give it a good dose of Dolomite Lime.
- Prune your roses now! Because we have such a mild winter, the lowest ebb in a roses season is the shortest day (June 21) and I like to prune most roses by then. Exceptions are once flowering roses such as Banksia and Albertine, which we prune after flowering in Spring, or if you are in a frosty area, prune roses mid to late July.
All modern roses need to be pruned regularly to rejuvenate the plant and stimulate new growth as that's where flowers form. In winter, I prune most bush roses back by 2/3 to 3/4, climbers back by half to 2/3 and shrub roses by about half. I prune back standard roses to a head the size of a volleyball to maintain its topiary shape.
If you have had pest or disease problems, a spray of Lime Sulphur over and around the newly pruned bush will kill a lot of fungal spore and insect and mite eggs. Feed with a high potassium fertiliser when new growth emerges to encourage flowers and improve disease resistance.
Camellia Japonica is a glossy dark green foliaged shrub that grows well in shade or some sun, will bear spectacular flowers all through winter and can grow to over 2 metres. Our tried and true favourite varieties will begin flowering beautifully in June.
San Dimas is a hardy, bushy shrub with brilliant single red flowers, Federation is a strong-growing tall shrub with large pale pink semi-double flowers in abundance, Debbie is a hardy, vigorous variety with masses of full, double deep pink flowers that last for months. My all-time favourite is Brushfields Yellow, a versatile compact bushy shrub with an abundance of creamy white flowers. Mine starts flowering in late May and continues through to September! Always get Camellias off to a good start by planting up on a mound of organically improved soil and, with a little TLC through the first summer, they will be beautiful for years.