Plant now for spring

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HERE are some suggestions of trees that blossom well into the start of summer.

Prunus campanulata or Taiwan Cherry is very early for a flowering cherry. The single, bell-shaped, deep, cyclamen-red flowers hang in clusters appearing in late August.

For those with limited space, you cannot go wrong with Prunus “Okame”, growing to 2mx2m with masses of rose-pink single blooms in early September. I have seen this grown successfully in a large container.

The first of the crabapples to flower is Malus “Profusion” starting in early September. This is a small tree suitable for most gardens, growing 3mx3m with single, deep-purplish flowers.

Plant a Malus purpurea now for a spectacular sight in mid-spring.

The spectacular Malus purpurea... plant now for a spectacular sight in mid-spring.

I did mention in an earlier article Malus ionensis plena, described as the “most beautiful flowering crabapple” and given the prestigious Award of Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1940.

This magnificent blossom tree, which I highly recommend, was said to have given hope in the dark days of World War II.

It is just not possible to list in order all the spring and summer blossom trees. These are a few suggestions that I hope will tempt you to visit your local garden centre to see the full range, as these trees need to be planted without delay while they are still dormant.

SPRING is indeed coming, although the first week in July tested that thought with 8-10C days and blizzard conditions!

I note the Fraxinus oxicarpa or ash trees are coming into leaf, as are the flower buds on Manchurian pears.

This leads me to an important reminder regarding pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs. Pruning should be completed before the sap seriously starts to rise with a few simple rules to follow, at least with small trees and shrubs in your garden.

Firstly, the three “Ds”, removing any dead, diseased or damaged branches, highly probable with the recent gale-force winds. This accounts for 90 per cent of the pruning, then remove any crossing over branches that are rubbing against each other.

Like us, the bark is the skin of the tree and if it is damaged this can be an access point for disease or entry of pests. Then stand back and look at the general shape of the tree, maybe trimming a few wayward branches. For larger trees, I strongly recommend a qualified arborist or tree surgeon, vital if the trees or even large shrubs are near power lines.

A HARBINGER of spring for the semi-shady spots in your garden is Hellebores. These are now coming into stock in garden centres and the range of colours seems to increase every year with modern breeding techniques.

Planted in clumps with each plant about 30cm apart and in a few years they will have multiplied so you will never need to buy another helleborus, unless it’s in a  colour you don’t have.

Helleborus... make a great show in early spring.
A REMINDER to complement the glorious array of bulbs, spring annuals will provide continuity of colour well into summer. However, these need to be planted without delay, allowing at least eight weeks from planting those fragile seedlings from the punnets to full flower.

Planting now with regular feeding following my formula of “weakly, weekly” the pansies and violas will be rewarding you at the start of Floriade in mid-September.

THE next monthly meeting of the Canberra Horticultural Society will be in the Vercoe Room, Wesley Uniting Church Centre, National Circuit, Forrest, at 7.30pm on Monday, July 18. The speaker will be retired weather forecaster and now a researcher at the ANU, Clem Davis, who will discuss “Climate change in the ACT region and the seasonal climate drivers”. All welcome.

[box]THE weather of late is so extreme, it’s good to stay inside and read a garden book. A suggestion is “The New Ornamental Garden” by Simon Rickard (CSIRO Publishing, p/back, 280pp rrp $39.95).

CSIRO books are always meticulously researched and accurate in detail, and this book will assist the gardener in taking into account the changes in our climate. Stephen Ryan of ABC’s “Gardening Australia” comments: “The text sparkles every bit as brilliantly as the images”.

Excellent photos illustrate every plant together with suggestions of garden uses and cultivation.[box/]


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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

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