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Canberra Today 7°/10° | Friday, September 24, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Rain brings a strong start to spring gardens

Gardening writer Jackie Warburton.

Welcome to Jackie…

Meet JACKIE WARBURTON, the new gardening writer for “CityNews”.

Mother to two adult children, she loves caravanning, cooking, mosaics, model trains… and gardening! 

“I have my own garden in Oxley, in Tuggeranong, and I am a registered horticulturist. Over the past 10 years my husband Bret and I have run our own garden-maintenance business called Terra Solarus,” she says.

“In my own garden I grow lots of cacti and succulents but also conifers, vegetables, fruit trees, natives and a cottage garden – a bit of everything on a standard suburban block and most, if not all, cuttings from other gardens. 

“It’s a lovely seasonal garden all year round, a little house on a big block. I also keep chooks and my number one cat Mindi. 

“Over the years I have been the president of the cactus and succulent society and helped co-ordinate the plant fairs at Lanyon Homestead a few years back with Open Gardens Australia. 

“I am a member of many garden clubs in Canberra and give talks and presentations to regional garden clubs as well. 

“I am currently studying Landscape Design and on the National Council for the Australian Institute of Horticulture and a student member of the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers.”

She takes over from Cedric Bryant, our much-loved gardening guru for more than a decade who has stood down because of ill health. 

Here’s Jackie’s first column…

Rain brings a strong start to spring

THE cold Canberra winter is gone and, with good rainfall over the last few months, it has given the soil a good start for the growing season. 

Although spring begins in September, the blossoms and bulbs are out, the soil is too cold for planting. We still have cold winds and frosts until at least early November so hold off a little longer for planting most things into the garden. 

Soil preparation can be done now with organic matter and manures dug over in the garden beds where any spring planting will be. 

The moist weather has also brought a lot of weeds as well and it is important to get them out before they self-seed. They can be disposed of into the green bin for collection, fed to ducks, chooks or steeped in a bucket of water for a few weeks with a lid to break down. This liquid can be diluted to a weak tea and used on the garden as a fertiliser. 

By now all the pome fruit trees – fruit trees that have seeds – that are dormant should have been trimmed (apples, pears, quinces etcetera). The fruit trees that have stones such as cherries, apricots and plums get pruned in the warmer months and after fruit has ripened and been picked. 

NOW is the time to have a look at what seeds can be started in punnets in the glasshouse or placed on a sunny window sill to be ready for planting out in about four to five weeks. 

If there are any old packets of seeds in the garden shed, put the seeds in a glass of water to see if they are viable. If they sink, they should be viable. If they float or don’t feel full, throw them out and start again. Different seeds have varying shelf life and a little research with the seeds that you have will help you decide if they are worth trying to grow. Growing ornamental and edible plants at home from seed is a very cost-effective way of getting lots of plants for very little money and not to mention the satisfaction of growing something from seed to plate. 

THERE is a lot of flowering in the garden this month and many scented bulbs such as erlicheer and jonquils are putting on a show. These flowers can be picked and placed in a vase to permeate their scent throughout the house. 

Camellias have put on quite a show with the extra rain we’ve had and will need a good prune just after flowering has finished and before the buds have formed for next year’s growth. 

There are a lot of camellias to choose from at the nursery and there is plenty of stock this time of year with double flowering and single. The colour range is also vast and there is always a camellia for the right place whether it is full sun, shade, in a pot or grown just for its beauty. Although camellias are slow growing, they really are a classic addition to any Canberra garden. 

Jobs to do this month 

  • Final pruning of roses except for banksia roses. 
  • Spray all fruit trees with a fungicide to protect them from peach leaf curl, apple scab and quince fleck. 
  • Don’t prune any frost-damaged leaves until all frosts have gone. 
  • Dead head and tidy spent perennials in the garden. 
  • Mulch with any good organic mulch. 
  • Fertilise with manures in the garden bed. Cow manure is particularly good for roses and if using chicken manure make sure it is old as it can be too rich around some plants.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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