To be sure, pick your own bulbs

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Dutch bulb fields… 75 per cent of all bulbs grown worldwide come from the Netherlands.

Gardening columnist CEDRIC BRYANT has a view about ordering bulbs on line. Don’t!

WITH bulb planting about to start in earnest for Floriade, it’s tempting for home gardeners to buy bulbs online at this time of the year.

Cedric Bryant.

But here’s the problem: bulbs are sorted by the growers according to size and there is no guarantee that those mail-order bulbs are to grade. 

Once ordered they’re hard to return, although I’m sure there are many online retailers doing the right thing. 

On the other hand, buying locally from a garden centre means you can select the best quality. 

As an aside, the Dutch export more than 900 million euros worth of bulbs every year (almost $A1.5 billion) and 75 per cent of all bulbs grown worldwide come from the Netherlands – a staggering statistic considering the size of the country. 

The Netherlands also exports other plants such as dahlia tubers, which are riding on the crest of a fashion wave in Britain and Europe. However, they may be in short supply this northern spring as recently a major Dutch grower and exporter of dahlias lost 5.5 million seedlings when they were unwittingly sprayed with weed killer rather than fertiliser! 

IF you like growing climbing plants on a trellis and the outside of your home needs painting, one way of preventing the painters damaging the plants is to fix hinges to the bottom of the trellis with simple clips at the top. At painting time, they can be unhooked and the trellis folded down with the plants still intact.

Now’s the time to fertilise lawns to give them an autumn boost.

NOW’S the time to fertilise lawns as they green up after recent rain. A steel rake is good to get rid of all the dried, dead grass after the heat of summer. Then apply a certified organic fertiliser that won’t kill the beneficial insects in the soil. This could be pelletised Neutrog Seamungus or Maxicrop Seaweed Plant Nutrient. Apply the fertiliser just after rain or give the lawn a good soaking. 

IT’S preferable to prune stone fruits in mid-summer, rather than in mid-winter. Although it’s getting a bit late, it can be done now but without delay. This means the pruning cuts will heal over quickly rather than be exposed to fungal diseases in winter when it is cold and wet. 

Apples and pears can be pruned in winter. 

As always the first task of any pruning is make sure secateurs and pruning saws are clean and sharp. Remove any dead, diseased or damaged branches, particularly evident in those gardens affected by the hailstorms.

IF you have shrubs that were planted a few years ago and realise they are in the wrong spot, now’s a good time to carefully dig them up and relocate them.

 

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

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