Serious time to pick flowers

Dahlias for late summer/autumn colour.

IT is easy to forget a forward planting program for summer flowers with spring bursting forth in all its floral splendour, Floriade and all that.

However, it is time to get serious about plants that are going to give you a continuity of flowers in summer and autumn.

Gladioli, lilies, dahlias and canna come to mind. It is of interest that gladioli are coming into their own again after losing popularity a few years ago. I have heard that this was in part due to Dame Edna Everage throwing gladdies into the audience in her shows. This may or may not be true, but they are back in vogue. It is a good idea to plant a few corms each week over a period to give you an extended flowering season.

DAHLIAS have never really gone out of fashion. Originating in Mexico, Central America and Colombia, the Aztecs used the dahlia for food and decorative purposes in their ceremonies.

They were first brought to the west by botanists via Spain and then the Netherlands in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Named after the 18th century Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, they became, like the tulip, an instant hit.

There are 30 known species with well over 20,000 cultivars with new varieties bred every year. Just looking at some of the varieties at Heritage Nursery in Yarralumla one cannot help but be taken in with the tantalising pictorial labels. Such names as Dahlia “Winkle Whopper” with giant orange flowers, D. “Mrs Rees” has wine-red flowers, D.

“Helena” with deep burgundy tipped, pink petals or the giant cactus type D. “My Love” with pure white flowers.
LILIES have been grown since Biblical times (“Consider the lilies of the field, they toil not neither do they weep and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these”).

Cannas provide the “wow” factor in summer gardens.

Religious paintings show St. Anthony holding a bunch of lilies. A favourite with florists, one of the most popular is Lilium “Regale”. Another variety that is becoming very popular is Lilium “Conca D’Or” with creamy edges to the lemon-yellow, scented flowers. Unfortunately, I do not have space to discuss the different types of lilies, ie trumpet and oriental lilies for example, this information can be found on the web.
FOR sheer bold colours Cannas cannot be beaten. Originating in the southern US down to Argentina, in the western world they are often referred to as Canna Lilies, although not a true lily.

These grow very well here, dying down in winter and quickly springing to life with warmer spring weather.
FOR summer flowering plants, do not forget the exquisite Tuberous Begonias as anyone who has attended the famous Begonia Festival in Ballarat will testify.

I have only mentioned a fraction of the summer flowering bulbs, tubers and corms here just to remind you that now is their planting time.

IT is also time to mulch the garden. Question: are you mulching for the benefit of the plants or because it looks good? There are many mulches available, some good and others almost useless to provide real benefit to your garden.

In my Cedfacts Garden Information Sheet I pose a series of questions to consider before buying mulch. Check out “Mulch your Garden to Conserve Moisture” at www.cedricbryant.com and click on Cedfacts.

This week in the garden

  • While checking out mulches on my web site, look for the Cedfacts “Grow vegies for a healthy life”.
  • Tie up sweet peas as they grow.
  • Divide dahlia clumps left in the ground from last year.
  • Divide chrysanthemums.
  • Kill weeds in paths with boiling water.

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