Gardening / Delights of being in the garden

Cistus “Nightfall”… responded beautifully to a hard prune.

THIS is a delightful time in the garden with a succession of flowering shrubs complementing the burst of colour from perennials.

Cedric Bryant.

I walked around our garden enjoying the fragrance of Daphne “Eternal Fragrance” as the D.”Spring Pink” are just coming into flower. They are the last of the daphnes that have been giving me a succession of flowers since mid-winter. Admittedly, we have more than 20 varieties of daphne, many from the hottest parts of the Mediterranean.

Also from that part of the world is the Cistus or Rock Rose family (no relation to roses except for the resemblance of its blooms).

The picture is of Cistus “Nightfall” and, in another part of the garden, C. “Sunset” is coming into full flower. This was getting a bit woody so I cut it back hard in late spring, into the old wood and it has responded beautifully.

The white variety is Cistus “Gallipoli Rose”, which was found fairly recently in an old Victorian garden, reputedly growing from cuttings brought back by a World War I Digger from the hills of Turkey.

THE Hebe family is huge with several hundred varieties listed by the Royal Horticultural Society, all native to NZ. It can be seen growing down the centre of Anzac Parade, representing the NZ part of Anzac with the eucalypts either side representing Australia.

PEOPLE new to gardening often start a herb garden, invariably planting a variety of mints. Very quickly they discover mints quickly get out of control and spread in weed-like proportions.

There are two ways of preventing this problem. Cut the bottom off of a plastic pot, preferably a minimum of 30cm across. Sink it in the ground with the wider part in the ground, leaving about 10cm above the ground. Plant the mint in organic-enriched soil. The pot stops the roots spreading.

Alternatively, plant in pots of a similar size above ground. As with any herbs, don’t be tempted to plant a variety of mints in the one pot as often illustrated in glossy garden magazines. The reality is that the herbs will quickly smother each other. Apply a liquid feed such as Maxicrop Seaweed Plant Nutrient every two to three weeks in the growing season.

Chives… a colourful addition for the herb garden.

Chives make a colourful addition to a herb collection along with culinary salvias. Again, one herb to a pot. All herbs can be divided in early spring to pot up for the next fete plant stall.

THE UK’s Royal Horticultural Society has announced the winners of the 2017 RHS Photographic Competition. Attracting amateurs and professionals alike across the world this year saw 11,000 entries in nine categories from members. The winning entries were chosen for their ingenuity, creativity and technical fineness. The overall winner was Australian Dianne English, from NSW, with her entry “Spring”.

One of the principal judges commented: “The colours are beautiful, with the light illuminating the pale blue flowers perfectly. I love the way your eye is led from the sharply focused flowers at the front to the out-of-focus ones in the background. Exquisite.”

The plant is Veronica chamaedrys or Speedwell. Great to see an Australian take the top award.

Jottings…

  • Yates Garden Club, with more than 140,000 members, is a great source of garden information for beginners and experienced gardeners alike. It is free to join and each month subscribers receive a personalised email of garden advice. Join at yates.com.au/garden-club
  • Refrain from watering gladioli unless the weather is very dry and mulch with well-composted cow manure or lucerne hay.
  • Deadhead perennials regularly to encourage more flowers
  • Reduce the height of Michaelmas daisies and salvias by at least 50 per cent and repeat the process in four weeks’ time. This provides a mass of extra shoots and buds for autumn flowering
  • Feed strawberries once every two to three weeks with an organic liquid plant food.

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