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Christmas comes early for these gift ideas

Succulent bowl ideas for Christmas… when the plants outgrow their bowl they can be added to the garden. Photo: Jackie Warburton

Gardening writer JACKIE WARBURTON has an idea for a personal Christmas gift, but you’ll have to get moving. 

CHRISTMAS is just around the corner and now’s the last chance to pot any extra plants that you can give as a present.

Jackie Warburton.

A bowl of salad herbs or a succulent bowl are cost-effective gifts. I have made many succulent bowls for Christmas presents and ensured most cuttings are from my own garden and when the plants outgrow their bowl they can be added to the garden, really easy for anyone to do and a gift that is personal. 

BEFORE summer’s heat sets in, now’s a beautiful time for a bushwalk in and around Canberra to see some endemic wildflowers in habitat after all the rain. 

In Canberra, we are blessed that we can be in the bush within 10 minutes from our homes and I plan to get there more in the next few weeks. 

THIS month is the perfect time to get as many vegetables as possible and herbs in the ground. 

Staging a crop will prevent a glut of one vegetable such as zucchinis and pumpkins. 

Two zucchini plants is more than enough for a family at one time. Zucchinis are quick growing and need a space of at least a metre wide to grow well. My favourite is “Black Jack”, which grows easily from seed. 

THIS is the right time to give conifers a good prune and feed. Conifers are robust, long lived and a good evergreen shrub or hedge for our climate. 

There are many sizes available and also there are very few unusual deciduous conifers available. My all-time favourite tree is Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). They are magnificent trees and can be seen around the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, with their rustic autumnal colour they are just beautiful but now, in spring, the Dawn Redwoods have lush fern-like leaves and a gorgeous large tree. It’s not for the small garden as it grows to more than 20 metres tall. 

There are a few native conifers such as Callitris, which is one of my favourite trees as well; a small-to-medium, evergreen, conical-shaped tree. It is a lovely shade of green and can be used in a large garden. 

My home conifer garden is in a hot, westerly site where I had trouble growing anything for a long time. I chose slow-growing dwarf conifers so I could fit more in the space. Conifers are perfect for pots and, of course, the most popular plant for bonsai.

BEARDED irises are flowering now and are a tough little garden plant that grows with very little care. It grows to about a metre tall and is a good backdrop in a big garden. It comes in many colours, multiplies quickly and can fill a space in the garden that is hot, dry and has full sun. 

Irises are a rhizome and are treated a little differently to most other plants. An Iris rhizome only flowers once and it will take several years for the new rhizome to bud and branch, form and grow a new flower. They don’t like to be buried too deep and no mulch is best. 

“Pom Pom” dahlia… have an unusual tuber and can be tricky to grow. Photo: Jackie Warburton

DAHLIAS are one of my favourite vase flowers for summer and autumn and should be planted by now. They need staking and tying, and need room to grow with good ventilation. Their size varies from 30 centimetres to two metres tall and the flowers can be as little as 20 centimetres wide (dinner-plate size) and spectacular. 

They have an unusual tuber and can be tricky to grow, but once you learn a little about them, then the addiction for growing these plants has begun. 

There’s a lot of information on the internet and there is a lot of local knowledge amongst gardeners to get tips and tricks from. 

Sprinkle a little dolomite lime in the area where they are to grow to keep the pH to 6.5-7 and in a raised garden where the tubers don’t rot. 


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Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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