To plant or not to plant?

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SOME weeks ago I mentioned plants listed in Shakespeare’s works. Here is the promised list of plants that you could either plant at random amongst other plants or have a dedicated Shakespeare garden, a great project for children.

Liliums... popular with Shakespeare.
Liliums… popular with Shakespeare.
However, I wandered off on to other subjects and forgot to provide the list as some readers reminded me. My apologies; here it is:

  • Buxus sempervirens (box)
  • Melissa officinalis (balm)
  • Viola odorata (violet)
  • Anemone pulsatilla (Anemone)
  • Laurus nobilis (bay)
  • Ruta graveolens (rue)
  • Foeniculum vulgare (fennel)
  • Viola tricolor (pansy)
  • Lilium candidum (lily)
  • Aquilegia (columbine)
  • Crocus sativus (saffron)
  • Calendula (marigold)
  • Artemesia absinthum (wormwood)
  • Hyssop Myrtus communis (myrtle)
  • Dianthus (gilliflower)
  • Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary)
  • Lonicera fragrantissima (honeysuckle )

This is not a complete list, but is a good start for a special garden. Interestingly, most of these plants originate in the Mediterranean region and were brought back to Britain by the Crusaders for their fragrance and, more importantly, their medicinal properties. This means that they are all low water usage plants and ideal for our conditions.


SASANQUA camellias, the hardy small-leafed camellias that are equally happy in full sun as in partial shade, are now in flower in many gardens.

Pastel colours of Camellia sasanqua “Paradise Sarah”.
Pastel colours of Camellia sasanqua “Paradise Sarah”.
The large-leafed Camellia japonica , which flowers from about September (depending on the weather), does require dappled shade.

The leaves and flowers will scorch badly if in full sun, as was evident after the scorching heat of last summer.

An ideal place to plant these, along with plants that like similar conditions, is under deciduous trees, which provide shade in summer and allow the winter sun through.

Similar plants include rhododendron, azalea, daphne and pieris.

Disbud or not? That is the question.
Disbud or not? That is the question.
Now, the next question is: does one disbud when there are too many buds on each stem?

Too many buds competing for space to grow results in plenty of flowers, but of a smaller size. So, if you are looking for large flowers, then thin out the number of buds of Camellia japonica at this time. It is also a good time to fertilise them to encourage flowers as they form.


WHILE we celebrate 100 years of Canberra, co-incidentally the UK’s renowned Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show is also celebrating 100 years in the same location at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. The hospital was originally built for wounded soldiers returning from the Napoleonic Wars.


I SAW this sign at the Heritage Nursery in Yarralumla:

“Compensate your carbon emissions… plant trees. Every time you drive your car or take a plane CO2 is released into the atmosphere. Trees absorb CO2 and turn it into oxygen. You can help create a Greener Planet:

  • 1 tree planted for every 3200km (car )
  • 1 tree planted for every 1300km (plane )
  • 1 tree planted for every 375 litres petrol

Do your bit for the environment.”


SOME readers have contacted me to find out what happened to the plant food Phostrogen, available for at least 30 years. This was specifically recommended by such organisations as geranium, fuchsia, camellia and other plant societies. It is a high potassium plant food promoting flowers and for fruiting plants the more flowers the more fruit. Do not despair, it is still available in most garden centres, but now labelled Debco Plant Food, look out for the same distinctive orange box.

Be prepared for roses

NEXT month the new season’s roses start appearing in shops and garden centres.

Prepare the rose beds without delay digging in plenty of organic matter such as old leaves or old cow manure.

Do not include chemical fertilisers or fresh manures, as these can burn the delicate new roots. If planting where roses have been growing previously dig out a good barrow-load of the existing soil and replace with fresh soil. This will prevent a disease called “Rose Sickness” which can remain in the soil and affect your new roses.

Plant roses where they will receive at least eight hours of sunlight every day.

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

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