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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Winter garden can still have plenty of colour

The hardy Nandina… a tough, evergreen plant that grows in full sun or full shade. Photo: Jackie Warburton

With planning, the winter garden can still have plenty of colour and, in some cases, the cool winters encourage leaves on plants to go red under stress, says gardening writer JACKIE WARBURTON.

The stand out plant is an old-fashioned, hardy Canberra favourite with small leaves called the Nandina. A tough, evergreen plant, it grows in full sun or full shade and can withstand our cold winters. 

Jackie Warburton.

Suitable for just about any style of garden, the Nandina nana grows smaller than its counterpart, the Nandina domestica, and does not have berries. 

They can be clipped to form a small-growing hedge or planted en masse to fill a large space. They are not fussy with soils, but will do better with watering and fertilising. 

The larger Nandina domestica, which grows to about 1.5 metres tall, is commonly (and confusingly) called sacred bamboo, but it has nothing to do with bamboo. It’s good for screening in small spaces. 

Its attractive red berries are at their best in winter, but poisonous to wildlife and domestic animals. Try to pick all the berries before they’re ripe to prevent them spreading by birds and bring a sprig inside to put in a vase. 

When choosing a variety of Nandina for your garden, choose any that do not produce berries such as the gulf stream variety, which has been bred to be almost fruitless. It also produces a more vibrant foliage colour that’s showing its best at this time of year. 

Now’s a good time to spray the bark and leaves of citrus trees for bronze orange bugs and scale. Photo: Jackie Warburton

THE orchard will be in dormancy, but there are still plenty of jobs to do. Now’s a good time to spray the bark and leaves of all the citrus for bronze orange bugs and scale. 

Both of these insects lay eggs over winter and are best treated when their populations are small. Bronze orange bugs (or stink bugs) are a native to Australia and while they prefer to eat the native finger lime or desert limes, they’ll eat anything from the citrus family. 

These bugs are a menace in the domestic garden or orchard. When they hatch in spring they grow fast with their outer shell getting stronger and changing from green, to brown and on to black. 

All through their adult life they emit a foul spray when disturbed and this can be harmful if you get it on your skin or in your eyes. The older the bugs, the harder to kill, so interrupting the breeding cycle and getting a good percentage before they hatch is a preventative rather than a cure approach. 

Spray the bark and leaves of all citrus trees to dripping point on a sunny day and repeat every month until spring and there will be very little sign of scale and stink bugs on citrus trees in spring and summer. 

The best choice of spray would be lavender or spearmint diluted in a spray bottle. Eco and Neem oil will lessen the population in the warmer months. These sprays are also suitable for orchid trees, such as stone fruit such as cherries and apricots to help combat aphids in early spring with new growth and are not harmful to beneficial insects. 

WORK in the vegetable patch still continues in the colder months with continual planting of green, leafy vegetables such as silver beet, chard and broad beans. 

To give them a good start, sprinkle a little diatomaceous earth and place a cloche over seedlings at night. This will also protect them from snails and slugs. Feed with liquid fertiliser to keep them growing strong. 

Keep fallow garden beds lightly turned over and ready for planting in spring. Keep mulched with organic mulch such as straw or lucerne and water well. 


  • Turn the compost bin over and add water if it’s dry. 
  • Add coffee ground around herb gardens to keep snails at bay. 
  • Add dolomite lime to apple trees to increase pH. 
  • Prepare the ground for any tree planting.


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Jackie Warburton

Jackie Warburton

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