Gardening / The promise of a super spring

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French lavender… the first to flower.

Gardening writer CEDRIC BRYANT says the promise of spring rain is setting the season up as the best in several years. 

SPRING is a glorious time of the year with longer days enabling more time in the garden. 

Cedric Bryant.

The promise of regular rain for the coming summer with the El Nina effect augurs well. The shrubs in our garden are looking better and more floriferous than they have done for several years. And, yes, equally so the weeds have taken a liking to this weather. 

Certainly, plants have been coming into flower earlier this year. For example, our collection of clematis is in flower several weeks sooner than previously. Many of our native plants cannot wait to burst into their bright colours. And, wow, the fragrance of French lavender, the first to bloom.

Native plants cannot wait to get out and into bloom

AFTER harvesting a crop of English spinach, the second cut and size of the leaves in just a few weeks are enormous. 

Our broad beans have now topped two metres, but do I cut the tops off or let them keep growing? 

It’s now confession time; after writing about gardens for more than 30 years, I must admit I’m not a veggie grower. Many readers might have guessed by the infrequency I write about veggies. The other problem is I don’t have the space, although this is not an excuse. For example, Joel and Anna Simons, who owned the Macquarie Art Gallery in Manuka, had an amazing garden with a continual crop of veggies. With no veggie garden, they simply grew them amongst the flower beds. It worked perfectly, so what’s my excuse? 

There’s been an incredible increase in home growing with the stay-at-home virus situation. Veggie seedlings and seed specialists have seen an explosion in sales.

Anyone new to veggie (or any other type of) gardening the “bible” is “The Canberra Gardener”, written by members of the Horticultural Society of Canberra. It’s available at most bookshops and newsagents.

ROSES are coming into flower and would love a feed. If using a liquid feed, make a small earth bank about 30cm out from the stem around the bush. This will direct the plant nutrient directly down to the root zone rather than running off. This may need to be further out depending on the size of the bush. 

If you spot aphids, it’s best to wash them off rather than reaching for the spray, which will also kill ladybirds – that just love aphids and can eat 10 times their own weight in a day. 

If you must spray, use the natural organic pyrethrum made from the daisy of the same name. This is safe for all edible crops. Most pyrethrum sprays only last for a couple of days, however Multicrop has developed a long-life pyrethrum spray, which will last up to 20 days.

ALONG with vigorous growth of everything else in the garden, sweet peas are shooting skywards – ours are nearly two metres! Keep tying them up and, once you consider a reasonable height, pinch the top out. This encourages more side shoots and flowers.

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

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