Kids (and cats) can get a break in the garden 

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Winter-flowering clematis napaulensis, a winner.

Gardening columnist CEDRIC BRYANT suggests introducing kids to the glories of gardening while everyone’s at home.

GARDENS are so important when we’re all told to stay at home.

Keeping the children’s noses to the grindstone of schoolwork is a challenge for all mums and dads. However the kids can take a break, run in the garden and play with pets. I’m reliably informed that exposure to sunlight providing Vitamin D is very important and helps reduce the risk of the virus.

Cedric Bryant.

What better time, now we’re all restricted to home, to encourage your children into the wonderful world of gardening? According to Yates, the oldest seed company in Australia, the demand for veggie seeds is – to use the word on everyone’s lips – unprecedented.

Folk who have never grown veggies are now having a go. A quote from the famous English gardener, Gertrude Jekyll: “The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies”. Remind kids to be patient, while nature takes its course. Now is the time to sow broad beans, a good starter for the kids as they sprout within ten to 14 days. However, they will take about 20 weeks before they’re ready for picking. Another great plant for children to grow is strawberries. Although, as a timely reminder, if friends or dear old grandpa want to give you plants from their garden, say politely “no thank you” to avoid transferring a nasty virus from one plant to another. Always buy from a reputable garden outlet with plants labelled “virus-free”. These plants come from nurseries that are registered and come tagged accordingly. If you’ve had your strawberries for more than three or four years, dig them out and renew with fresh plants.

Hortus Zeus… do not over-water!

TO raise a smile – Zeus, our daughter’s cat, has decided this is the most comfortable place in the house for his afternoon nap.

FOR fabulous winter colour, one of my favourites is clematis napaulensis, first found by famous plant hunter George Forrest growing wild in the Himalayas in 1912. The cup-shaped flowers, up to 2.5cm long, are creamy-yellow with conspicuous purple or reddish stamens and grow in large clusters. The fluffy silver-grey seed heads appearing in spring are attractive in their own right, often referred to as “old man’s beard”.

WEED seeds have been lying dormant for months in drought conditions, waiting to catch you out at the first decent rainfall. That rain has arrived, combined with mild weather, creating the perfect conditions for an explosion of these in our gardens! It’s vital to eliminate them before they seed. As an example, it is too late on the tramway now, with strong winds scattering the weed seeds far and wide, now often up to 50-60cm tall. If weeds are in an area close to desirable plants, use the safe, certified organic weed killer “Slasher”, readily available at garden centres or DIY stores.

Alternatively, cut the bottom out of a 200mm pot, place over the weeds and spray inside the pot, stopping the drift onto your good plants.

PLANT spring bulbs now, and why not depart from formal groupings and have a bit of fun? Pick up a handful, throw them up in the air and plant where they fall. This is how nature works, with seeds scattered at random, and some will land in bare patches amongst the shrubs.

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

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