The flowering face of herbs

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HERBS are going through a tremendous upsurge in popularity at the moment with the increasing number of cooking shows on TV.

Just look at the make-up of a chive flower.
Just look at the make-up of a chive flower.
Many folk think of herbs only for culinary purposes and forget their use as a great addition to the flower garden.

For example, there is nothing more showy than a border of Allium schoenoprasum or chives in full flower along paths – just look at the amazing detail of their flowers. Or Monarda didyma (Bergamot) named after Nicholas Monardes in 1577 with its culinary as well as medicinal uses (pictured at top).

One of the most useful herbs in the kitchen is Petroselinum crispum or chives and a great filler for gaps in any garden bed. Herb books traditionally illustrate bunches of herbs hanging to dry, but this is not necessarily the most effective way for later use. Many herbs can be frozen with all the freshness of being just picked.

Common parsley is a great fill-in for flowerbeds.
Common parsley is a great fill-in for flowerbeds.
Use some lateral thinking and grow the herbs in the general garden beds if nothing else to reduce pests and diseases.

MOST magnolias have completed their “wow” factor. So, when is the best time to prune them?

Established magnolias need little or no pruning. There are exceptions to this when, for instance, they have outgrown the space you gave them.

For large, overgrown magnolias, select a few of the highest and widest branches to reduce height and spread. Although, it is always advisable to have a continuous process with any plant to prune from the time of planting as they grow. This includes removing weak and badly placed growth such as crossing over branches.

Then, after flowering, clipping back long, leggy growth to encourage more bushiness.

After recent wind storms check for damaged branches. For smaller varieties of magnolias prune once flowering is over. This gives the wounds/cuts a chance to heal before next winter and reduces the chance of dieback.

On this point, unless absolutely essential from storm damage, no pruning of deciduous trees or large shrubs should take place before the end of October. At this time the sap is rising rapidly and will pour out to the detriment of the cuts healing. Betula pendula or silver birch are particularly vulnerable to this bleeding. This advice includes large shrubs such as the magnolia mentioned above.

MANY Canberrans do not realise that fuchsias can grow here. Some folk have tried growing fuchsias and, seeing all the leaves drop when frost arrives, assume they are dead. Those seemingly dead stems are now sending out new leaves and will be in flower by November. The Geranium and Fuchsia Society society meets the first Saturday of each month at 2pm at St. James Uniting Church Hall, 40 Gillies Street, Curtin. All are welcome. For your diary, its annual show is on Saturday, November 23.

Jottings…

  • Grow long-stemmed rhubarb in a pipe. Equally with celery, for crisp long, white stems (unlike the green stringy celery sold in supermarkets).
  • Grass mowing is under way. Don’t pile clippings around the base of trees or shrubs. This will encourage “collar rot” and can kill even large trees.
  • Keep whipper-snippers well away from trunks/stems. These machines are great ring barkers and can kill plants.
  • Add sugar/honey or glucose to the water of cut flowers to extend their life. Remove all leaves under the water.
  • Refrain from watering gladioli unless the weather is very dry.

Top image: Bergamot for flowers and culinary uses.

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

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