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Canberra Today 2°/5° | Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Hakea brings out the bird life

A Hakea Petiolaris plant… watered only on natural rainfall and flowers without any problem. Photo: Jackie Warburton

Informal hedges, yummy feijoas and how to make the most of Kiwi fruit… gardening writer JACKIE WARBURTON’s always busy in the garden…

I PLANTED three Hakea Petiolaris plants as an informal hedge a few years ago. The foliage is very sharp and good as a habitat plant for bird life. 

Jackie Warburton.

It is fast growing and the grey foliage needs a regular trim to keep it compact and flowering well. 

Hakeas are of the Proteaceae family and need only native fertiliser. My Hakeas are watered only on natural rainfall and flower without any problem. 

Their flowers are unusual and commonly called sea urchin Hakea. Nectar feeding birds, such as wattle birds, will defend this plant when it’s in flower and the plant loves hot, dry conditions, but not wet feet. 

FEIJOAS are ripe when they fall from the tree to the ground for easy picking. 

Its common name is pineapple guava, and it is just that, a fragrant tropical-smelling fruit that’s versatile in the kitchen, terrific as an evergreen hedge in Canberra as well as producing beautiful flowers around Christmas time. 

The fruit can be frozen whole, used in cakes, deserts or, with a spoon, scooped out and eaten fresh. I make a cake with the fruit, slice it and freeze. It’s easy to defrost when it is needed, but also adding a dollop of double-thick cream makes it all worthwhile. Yum!

EVERGREEN planting that needs to be done in the garden before the cold weather sets in next month needs to be done now, the soil is beginning to cool. Winter weeds such as chickweed, winter grass, oxalis and Bindi (just to name a few) are starting to appear in the garden and, with the moisture in the soil recently, they will be in abundance. 

Hand weeding before they set seed in late winter, early spring is helpful and, as I have said before, “one year’s seed is seven years of weeds”. 

Kiwi fruit grows well with little care and attention, and produces fruit in late autumn to early winter. Photo: Jackie Warburton

KIWI fruit (Actinidia deliciosa) is beginning to ripen and mature after the first frost. Kiwi fruit, also known as the Chinese gooseberry, grows well with very little care and attention and produces fruit in late autumn to early winter. 

Kiwi vines have a shallow root system and need to be well watered over summer as they dry out quickly. Water them close to the stem, not at the drip line. 

They need a male and female vine to produce fruit as they are dioecious, meaning there are separate male and female plants. One male to five female vines will give you more fruit that you can handle. One of each is more than enough. So long as they are no more than 10 metres from each other, the bees should do their job. The fruit is best kept on the vine until all the leaves have dropped in winter and there has been a frost or two. 

Kiwi vines, which can take a few years to fruit, like soil that is acidic and a strong support to grow on. Prune male vines after flowering in spring and females after fruiting in winter. Kiwi vines produce fruit on current season’s growth from older spurs. 

Fruit will ripen off the vine in a brown paper bag on a sunny morning windowsill, so pick them before the birds do. 

TULIPS and Dutch irises can be planted now. 

Add a little lime to bearded irises as the cool weather sets in and the leaves will start growing and the rhizome will be forming flowers through the winter. 

These irises are a good garden filler in the winter, take the hot weather in summer and the frost in the winter. Keep the rhizome exposed to the frost and that will initiate flowering as well.

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Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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