Gardening: Heat brings on pruning push

“Easter is late this year, so I am urging an immediate start to pruning.”

WITH consistently high temperatures for this time of the year, it is shaping up to be something of an Indian summer, which can be a tricky time for gardeners.

A stunning Laburnum arch...Time to prune Laburnum vossii.

A stunning Laburnum arch…Time to prune Laburnum vossii.

I always recommend pruning spring and summer-flowering evergreen shrubs before Easter, but as the long weekend is late this year I am urging an immediate start to pruning.

Hopefully, this will give any new growth (encouraged by the continuing warm weather) time to harden off before the first frosts.

It is important not to prune evergreen winter-flowering shrubs such as Camellia sasanqua. Pruning at this time will cut off the flower buds.

ALL pruning is in effect wounding plants. While some trees, when pruned in the peak growing time, can detrimentally and profusely “bleed” sap, pruning now allows the wound to heal more rapidly, with a lower risk of infection. Wounds are best left to heal naturally and not by applying bituminous type pruning paint.

To avoid problems, it’s time to prune the following deciduous trees: Magnolia, Laburnum, Acer (maples), Morus (mulberry) and Tilia (ornamental lime).

Massed tulip plantings at the famous Keukenhof Gardens in Holland… the tulips are almost touching each other.

Massed tulip plantings at the famous Keukenhof Gardens in Holland… the tulips are almost touching each other.

BULB planting is now seriously under way. Troy Scott Smith, head gardener at Sissinghurst Castle, England’s most famous garden, makes a point of planting in sufficient numbers, especially with tulips.

Smith says: “Being too meagre with planting and the result will be a dotty effect with no cohesion or interplay between the bulbs and groups of colour.”

I saw evidence of this last year at the famous Keukenhof Gardens in Holland. The tulips were almost touching each other. Whereas, at our Floriade, the bulbs were spaced widely apart and the spaces filled in with annuals. This just does not work and as Smith rightly states “ends up with a dotty effect”.

IT’S also broad bean planting time and, if you’re growing Coles Dwarf variety, you don’t even need a garden! Growing to only one metre and producing a heavy crop of pods up to 20cm long, they can be accommodated in containers.

And because they are very easy to grow, producing pods in 80-90 days, they make an ideal starter veggie plant for children. Where space isn’t a problem, sow the taller Aqua Dulce.

WITH the recent rain softening the ground and lawns turning green again, it is coring time. After coring, top dress the lawn with washed river sand, not topsoil. The sand will penetrate the core holes aiding in improved water penetration to the roots. Coring machines can be hired. However, if you have not used one before, I urge caution. They are extremely heavy and I have known people to lose control as the machine charges into garden beds! If you do not know a lawn-coring specialist give me a call on 0418 620424.

AUSTRALIA Post has released a new series of 60c stamps featuring Australian orchids likely to appeal to like-minded orchid lovers here and overseas.

A view across the expanded Heritage Nursery.

A view across the expanded Heritage Nursery.

THE range of plants at the Heritage Nursery in Yarralumla is worth checking out, with truckloads of plants arriving to fill the additional display space since it took over its next-door neighbour, the Yarralumla Government Retail Nursery.

Jottings…

  • April is an ideal time to lay turf on to well-prepared and levelled ground.
  • Plant up pots with spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Gooseberries can be planted over the next few weeks. Dig compost or rotted cow manure in and plant them 1-1.5m apart.
  • Shred leaves with the mower before putting on to compost heaps. After shredding I put half on to the heap and the rest directly on to garden beds.

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