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Canberra Today 3°/5° | Friday, August 19, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Caught up in the corkscrew catkins

The slow-growing corkscrew hazelnut… in winter they show long catkins and contorted branches. Photo: Jackie Warburton

Gardening writer JACKIE WARBURTON shares news about corkscrew hazelnuts, Wollemi Pines and pruning roses.

A SPECTACULAR plant putting on a show right now is the slow-growing corkscrew hazelnut.

Jackie Warburton.

In autumn its colour is lovely as the leaves fall, but come winter they show long catkins and contorted branches that look graceful and can be used as a focal point in the garden. 

The catkins can grow up to 10 centimetres long and are a hanging flower spike. It’s a variety of edible hazelnut, but this is a garden shrub. Look for the name Corylus avellana “Contorta” at the nursery. 

Wollemi Pines… only discovered in 1994 in the Blue Mountains and are still quite rare. Photo: Jackie Warburton

WOLLEMI Pines grow well in Canberra in a protected spot. They can also be grown in a large pot as well. 

They like an acid soil, so planting near conifers will help them if they are going in the ground. In summer they ooze a white sticky sap, a totally normal sign that new buds are coming.  

Amazingly, Wollemi Pines were only discovered in 1994 in the Blue Mountains and are still quite rare. The Friends of the National Arboretum Canberra have a project to grow trees from the seed collected at the arboretum and sell them to help increase the conservation of this species and as a fundraiser for the arboretum. The first 30 trees have been released for sale. To buy one go to 

AUGUST is the time for pruning roses in Canberra and having good, sharp tools will help with cutting large, old stems. 

There are many varieties of roses and all have different pruning methods. If you’re going to have a go yourself with your own roses, remember to cut out all dead, diseased and damaged wood. 

Generally, trimming a third off and tidying up will get them blooming in no time. Top up rose garden beds with cow manure, water but no fertilisers until the soil warms. 

Planting calendula flowers under roses can attract hoverflies to the garden to feast on any aphids on the roses in spring. They are a good companion plant and their big yellow or orange flowers give a little cheer to the winter garden. 

PEAR trees can also be pruned now Their upright growth needs to be removed. 

Prune to a downward-facing bud and try cutting into a vase shape without any branches crossing over. 

Pear trees tolerate wet feet better than most fruit trees, so if there is a boggy area in your orchard, a pear tree will grow quite well. 

Feed it with high-nitrogen manure now (chicken manure) and when there is spring growth, fertilise with a fruiting and flowering fertiliser. Most pear trees are dioecious, that is they need another to pollinate each other. However, there is a variety of self-pollinating trees available at the nursery. They like a good, rich soil and can be espaliered on a trellis if space is at a premium.

KEEP picking lemons if big frosts are around and leave a little of the stalk to increase the shelf life of the lemon. 

EARLY spring flowers or vegetables can be sown now, but kept under protection. A horticultural heat pad is a useful and quite cheap way to get seedlings moving faster. 

SPRAYING peach and nectarines with copper for leaf curl and shot hole should be done now before the buds open  

My peach and nectarine trees are less than a metre high and wide, and give me kilograms of fruit. They can easily be a courtyard potted tree or on a balcony. 

Mulch the trees and keep them weed free. Plant flowers, such as seaside daisy or calendula, under fruit trees to attract bees to the garden and let them do the work of pollinating.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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