Spring’s promise of blossoms

IT is of interest that Commonwealth Park, home of Floriade, has no blossom trees.

Spectacular blossom trees at TulipTop Gardens.

When this park was laid out in 1964 blossom trees were being planted by the hundreds as street trees in the older suburbs and the newly developing areas with two examples being Flinders Way, Griffith and Antill Street, Dickson.

The then-director of parks and gardens, Lindsay Pryor, was particularly keen on these, combined with eucalypts, to form a wonderful contrast. And yet, for some unknown reason, they were not planted in our principal city park. Maybe the National Capital Authority, when carrying out the updating of this park, would consider including some bold groups of blossom trees?

To see blossom trees en masse at this time of the year, I suggest a visit to TulipTop Gardens, located 15 minutes along the Federal Highway from Canberra. The gardens are in a valley hidden from the highway and all is revealed as you enter the gardens, a vista of 25 hectares of magnificent colours combining thousands of daffodils, tulips and spring flowers plus more than 1000 blossom trees.

One great spot for photographers is a brisk walk, not for the feint hearted, to the viewing platform on the hill 70m high overlooking the gardens.

I will be giving talks and providing advice on blossom trees on Saturday, September 24, at TulipTop Gardens from 11am and would be delighted to make the acquaintance of my readers. The Sunday is Tulip Day, when free Dutch pancakes are dispensed with ice cream.

The gardens are open the same dates as Floriade with the blossom trees progressively coming out in full blossom over the next four weeks. For full details, including all the musical entertainment, check out their web site at www.tuliptopgardens.com.au

The stunning Daphne “Eternal Fragrance”.

HERE are several plants that I highly recommend, coming into full flower now in the garden centres. Firstly, I know that I have raved on about the new Daphne “Eternal Fragrance”, initially released in England in 2005. This is a cross between Daphne collina and Daphne napolitana.  As the name of the latter suggests, its home is Southern Italy and is ideally suited to our climate. D. napolitana has been in our garden for at least five years, growing in full sun, not worried by frost or heat. D. collina was first introduced into gardens in 1752.

This justifies all my raving on about Daphne “Eternal Fragrance” – and a group of no less than three will look stunning in your garden.

Next is a dwarf flowering cherry, Prunus “Kojo No Mei”, growing to just one to two metres high. The profusion of buds are about to burst into a spectacular display of pink blossom on the unique, contorted branches. I will bring you a photo in the next couple of weeks when it is in full flower. However, in the meantime, because of the popularity of this perfect container plant you will need to check out your local garden centre today to see if any are left in stock. I can almost guarantee that if you see this small shrub in flower you will buy it!

No excuses, get gardening…

NO excuses, the weather is perfect for gardening. Here are some suggestions to keep you fit and well:
• It is not too late to “hard” prune Buddleia, reduce the height to one metre from the ground.
• Tidy the strawberry bed, removing competing weeds and old leaves, which are a haven for snails.
• Move soil and mulch off the top of iris rhizomes, to flower well these must be baked by the sun.
• Get on with mulching, making sure the ground is wet before applying.
• Prune frost damaged plants to encourage new growth.
• Cut back agapanthus leaves to encourage sun to promote flowers.
• Daffodil leaves can be cut back to ground level six weeks after flowering.

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