Gardening / Stressed trees start shedding leaves

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WITH summer’s heat and minimal rainfall our trees are suffering. As the water table continues to fall, trees are already starting to shed their leaves and autumn has only just arrived!

Burning leaves is an absolute no-no in Canberra and, hard as it may seem, try to keep the drains in the gutters clear of leaves. I always recommend shredding leaves with the mower and put half straight on to the garden as natural mulch and the other half into a compost heap/bin.

Cedric Bryant.

I am now using an Ozito electric blower and vacuum in the garden. I have resisted such noisy machines for the last 50 years of gardening, but it was a family Christmas gift and I couldn’t say no.

The great advantage of this model is the vacuum also has an inbuilt shredder/mulcher with a large collection bag, which is perfect for mulch. In my advancing years I have decided this is a great machine and saves an awful lot of sweeping.

AUTUMN is a perfect time to think about repotting container-grown plants. Plants that have been in pots and sitting on soil for years sometimes grow through the holes in the bottom and into the ground. This is why it’s important to raise pots up with old bricks, for example, or terracotta feet if on paving.

The old idea that one had to crock the pot has long gone. This was breaking up old terracotta pots into small pieces and placing the bits into the base of the pot for drainage through ordinary, often heavy, garden soils. With modern potting mixes this is not necessary.

Raise pots off the ground for drainage.

Saucers should never be used under container-grown plants when in the open garden. With poor drainage root-rot will quickly develop resulting in the death of the plant.

SPRING and autumn are the ideal times to fertilise. There’s no point feeding plants in summer or winter. The only saving grace for the garden this summer was rain from frequent storms. Very heavy rain mostly runs off rather than soaking deep into the soil. This is one of the main reasons I recommend certified organic liquid fertilisers that go directly to the roots. As opposed to pelletised fertilisers that, in heavy rain, can be washed from the garden into the stormwater drains. These ultimately end up in the lakes promoting blue green algae.

Gardens at Hyde Hall in Essex.

HYDE Hall is the third in my series of Royal Horticultural Society gardens to visit in the UK. RHS gardens are typically not one huge garden, as in the stately homes, but comprise a series of small, demonstration gardens suitable for even the smallest of gardens (appropriate given our ever-shrinking gardens here).

Hyde Hall, 150 hectares of gardens, is located east of London in Essex, one of the driest areas of Britain with the average annual rainfall of 500mm, less than Canberra’s 619mm. It is termed a “dry garden” so that any plants growing there will suit our climate.

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  • Dust, dust everywhere, including leaves on plants, which restricts the plant’s ability to breathe. Forget about the car, it is vitally important to hose dust off plants.
  • When digging holes for bulbs, don’t use chemical fertilisers or fresh manure.
  • Plant bulbs to the same depth as the bulb is high.
  • Time to plant English spinach.

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

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