Gardening / Welcome to the bloomin’ blossoms

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Prunus versicolor… different colours on the one tree.
Prunus versicolour… different colours on the one tree.
THERE’S almost nothing better than a mass display of spring blossoms and as daylight hours become longer (and hopefully warmer) increasing numbers of blossom trees will come into flower.

Over the last few weeks we’ve seen the flowering apricot, Prunus mume, in flower and now’s the time for flowering plums, followed by cherries.

Cedric Bryant.
Cedric Bryant.

The botanical name Prunus covers a wide variety of spring-flowering trees, including plums, cherries, apricots, peaches and almonds.

It’s possible to have a continuous display of colour from June to December and one of the best places to see blossom trees in all their glory is at the Tulip Top Gardens on the Federal Highway, open at the same time as Floriade.

In a way, this is better than the ever-shrinking Floriade as there are no spring blossom trees in Commonwealth Park, which is surprising because the gardens were designed by well-known English landscape architect Sylvia Crowe in 1964, when Lake Burley Griffin was just filling. Crowe included other spring-flowering shrubs such as rhododendrons and exotic shrubs along with native plants, but no blossom trees.

As always, it’s important to allow for sufficient space. Grafted weeping cherries can have a considerable spread. For example, one planted in about 1964 in Hughes has a 10-metre spread.

IN the hope the risk of frost will be less this year as we head to spring, I suggest gardeners think about growing potatoes, one of the easiest crops in the veggie garden.

Most garden centres have a wide range to choose from, such as the popular Kipfler, Royal Blue, Desiree, Nicola, Kennebec, Ruby Lou and Otway Red. Or there’s the more traditional King Edward, which we used to grow on our farm 70 years ago, and Pontiac. One exhibitor at the Royal Horticultural Society’s London show regularly exhibits more than 350 varieties displayed neatly in small hessian bags.

Potatoes are an excellent first crop for anyone with a garden bereft of top soil. They work wonders in breaking up clay.

Having said that, potatoes prefer loose soil to which is added plenty of compost in the bottom of the trench. Sow the potatoes in the bottom of the trench about 20-30cm apart and fill in the trench with good soil. When the new shoots are about 15cm high start to build up soil around the green stem, continuing to “hill-up” both sides of the trench as the potatoes grow. Make sure the bed doesn’t dry out as the days become warmer. Potatoes can also be grown in raised garden beds, such as the Colorbond-type metal beds.

Jottings…

  • Mollis azaleas... for spectacular spring colour.
    Mollis azaleas… for spectacular spring colour.
    Check out Mollis azaleas, one of the “wow” plants of spring with its brilliant orange, red and yellow flowers.
  • Leave any pruning of rambling weeping roses and Banksian roses until after they have flowered.
  • When planting hedges, dig a trench rather than individual holes. The roots will spread sideways quicker for a faster-growing hedge.
  • Now’s the time to transplant, without delay, peonies growing in too much shade. Gently trim off leggy roots.

 

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

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