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Canberra Today 19°/22° | Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Get planting, here comes the sun

The Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya ternata)… can be grown as a low-growing hedge in the full sun or shade. Photo: Jackie Warburton

Now’s a good time to get the last spring planting done before the heat of summer, says gardening writer JACKIE WARBURTON. 

Jackie Warburton.

JUST about all vegetable seedlings can be planted out into the garden including pumpkins, basil, melons, and corn. 

We have a short growing season for some vegetables, such as pumpkins, and they need a quick start to get growing. Keep the water up to fruiting trees and monitor any traps you’ve set. 

WE’VE had another mild winter (the same as last year) and had a proliferation of fruit fly very early in our growing season. Normally, we have colder winters, which they don’t survive. 

Fruit fly is one of the most destructive pests in the vegetable garden. They cause the fruit to rot and become unusable. A home remedy to try is apple-cider vinegar and a drop of dishwashing liquid in a bowl covered with a tight cling wrap and secured with a rubber band. Poke small holes in the glad wrap and check every few days. Monitor and replace when required. 

THIS year, my native garden has been landscaped and has given me many different opportunities that were not available before. 

I am trialling a Gymea lily (Doryanthes excelsa) that I dug up from a garden in the Blue Mountains last year and have nurtured it through winter to see how it goes in the garden. It’s tricky to grow in Canberra and I have seen very few grow to flower. They make an excellent foliage plant and can be grown in a pot as well. 

A GOOD plant for Canberra gardens is the Mexican Orange Blossom (Choisya ternata). The aromatic fragrance is delightful in the garden and can be grown as a low-growing hedge in the full sun or shade. 

They are evergreen and grow to about two metres high and two metres wide. To keep Choisya lush and green, feed them acid-based fertiliser such as citrus food because they are from the same family as citrus and attract all the same pest problems that citrus trees have as well. Squash caterpillars that you see to keep their numbers down. 

Trichocereus huascha x formosa… cacti and succulents need good drainage and most require full sun. Photo: Jackie Warburton

ROSES can benefit from being picked and more flowers will come. For most roses there will be a set of five leaves further down the stem and cut at that point for pruning. 

Many years ago, there was a debate as to whether to cut the first set of five leaves or the second set of five leaves. Prune to an outward-facing bud and keep the centre of the bush free of leaves for good airflow. 

My favourite manure for roses is either sheep or cow. It enhances the colour and vibrancy of the flowers and really does make a difference.

Irrigation should be kept to ground watering and not overhead watering. There will be a lot of aphids on the buds and try to refrain from spraying with anything other than a blast of water. 

Squash as many aphids as you can and plant flowering insect-attracting plants below to bring predatory insects that eat aphids. I have a mass of orange and yellow Calendula under my roses to attract hoover flies that eat aphids and then let the biodiversity work for itself in the garden. 

THE first two weeks of November are peak flowering times for outdoor cacti in the garden. There are many cacti and succulents that are suitable to grow successfully in Canberra. 

They need good drainage and most require full sun. Succulents are different to all other plants because their respiratory system is different, and cacti have glochids where spines form. 

I have travelled to NZ and all round Australia looking at gardens of these unusual plants and collecting can be addictive. I still have many outdoor succulents and am reducing my potted collection to make room in my main glasshouse for other plants. 

There is a really good example of a succulent garden at the National Arboretum and it is the only public succulent garden in Canberra and worth having a look at what can grow well in local conditions.

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Ian Meikle, editor

Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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