BACK from holidays? How does your garden look?
To date, we have had a remarkably cool summer with regular rain, so most gardens will be looking great even though you may have been away on holidays.
Now it’s back to enjoying the garden and a few jobs to do. Shrubs that have finished flowering will need a prune, nothing too severe. I recommend reducing the growth by no more than a third at any one time. This will encourage more branching and more blooms at the next flowering. Perennials that have finished flowering can be deadheaded and in some cases cut to ground level. For example, Hellebores with their large leaves look decidedly tatty at this time of the year, usually from snail damage. Some perennials will only need deadheading such as Dianthus. Normally, I would recommend taking cuttings in autumn of these delightful plants, but with the cool season, now is a good time for taking cuttings of most plants. Annuals such as petunias can be kept flowering into the autumn by judicious deadheading and cutting back leggy growth and an extra application of liquid plant food.
LEAVE any serious pruning of conifers until March. In all cases, any trimming of evergreen shrubs should be completed before Easter.
By pruning any plant, you are stimulating new growth. The reason being is that if cut back after this time the chances that frost will severely affect the soft, new growth.THIS time of the year is Dahlia time with some of the early varieties already in flower. Certainly, it is worth considering bedding varieties of dahlias with the outstanding Dahlia Dream Series. These are a real breakthrough in plant breeding by the eminent NZ plant breeder Dr Keith Hamlet, well known for his research work on sweet peas in conjunction with Yates. These new dahlias are released by Touch of Class of Victoria and available in Canberra from the Heritage Nursery in Yarralumla.
Look out for Dahlia “Dream Catcher” with deep ruby-red blooms with a ring of pink-tinged petals around the dark central disc. Or D. “Dream Seeker’s” dark-orange blooms. These colours blend beautifully together and are ideal planted in-groups for a brilliant splash of autumn colour. They grow with a clumping habit 0.8m high and 0.6m wide.
Like all dahlias, they flower late-summer to autumn, dying down in winter before bursting forth again in late spring. These are miniature dahlias suitable for the small garden or even in containers. It is essential with this type of dahlia to deadhead regularly to stop the flowers running to seed. The tubers can be divided in mid-winter for more flowers the following year.