Gardening / Beware the care for summer plants

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WHILE garden centres brim with wonderful, tempting plants to buy, remember it’s high summer and planting shrubs and, even more so, perennials need extra care.

Cedric Bryant.

Often February is just as hot as January and even into early March. If you do weaken, you need to be sure you’re able to give all your attention to those babies that, in a couple of days missing watering in temperatures hitting 35C, will be burnt to a frazzle.

The ideal time, indeed the recommended time, for planting shrubs and perennials is during autumn’s cooler days and still-warm ground to promote good root growth.

Many gardeners were surprised at the heavy rain in early December and saw that, within a week, plants were needing water. Unfortunately, when we receive heavy storm rain following an extended period of dry little water is absorbed into the soil or lost to runoff.

Here’s a simple test, although it will take a few months; plant a few small shrubs now and a few in mid-to-late autumn. Dig all or some of them in mid-to-late spring and see which have the most roots. This was a standard experiment at the School of Horticulture when, to get a really accurate figure, the roots were cut off and dried, then weighed. The autumn planting won hands down.

GROWING veggies is the exception to autumn planting as this is a year-round challenge. Clear beds of broad beans and peas in readiness for planting winter veggies. Seed potatoes can be planted now after harvesting onions, garlic and shallots. When planting veggie seedlings apply an organic liquid fertiliser fortnightly. If your garden centre has the various veggie seedlings in stock it’s time to plant them.

SUMMER, time to relax and enjoy the garden, says Cedric Bryant, but take it easy in the garden, especially in the heat of the day. Here Cedric shares glimpses of his own garden in Watson.

“We’ve  lived here since 1968 and during that time my wife and I owned a nursery and herb gardens in Yass for many years and I designed gardens for the last 30 years,” he says.

“I am gradually getting the hang of what grows here now!”

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A FEW thoughts from well-known English gardener John Manser, writing in the “Country Life” magazine:

  • “Gardens are sculptures in themselves and like sculptures they depend on contrasts of form and texture.”
  • “A garden should flow, to walk around and explore, with one area leading to another.”
  • “Self-seeders, especially with perennials, help a garden to look healthy and relaxed. Although there is a difference between relaxed and out of control. Pruning and deadheading is very important, so always walk around your garden with secateurs in hand.”


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

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