What to do in the garden this month- April

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous in Melbourne the past few weeks! As well as the temperature changes, there are many plants that have already started to slow down for the colder months. The deciduous Plane trees on my street are beginning to lose their leaves and every year i just wish they would have more brilliant colour changes, however sadly it goes from green to brown with nothing in between.

With only 6 or so weeks until winter is officially here, a few tips for what to do in the garden are below: 

1. if you have plants that dislike frost, provide them with a light frame. 

2. Give Hydrangeas a hard pruning. 

3. Trim hedges to keep them compact. 

4. Fertilise all potted plants with a slow release fertiliser

5. Keep up with the lawn mowing even though the growth is slowing down. Just make sure to adjust the height.

6. Top up your mulch to prevent weed growth and maintain soil moisture.

7. Pinch passionfruit vines tips to encourage lateral growth. 

 

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What to do in the garden this month- March

Autumn is my favourite time of year! I love the cool mornings and evenings yet warm days. It's also a relief from those steaming hot summer days.

Flowering now- There are some fantastic colourful annuals that are coming into their own this month. Coleus with its stunning brown, acid green and yellow and rusty red markings looks great in shade as do New Guinea impatiens, which have vibrant coloured flowers. For a hot spot Celosia and cockscomb are about the brightest plants you can grow with shades of red, orange and pink tones.

Ixora, hydranges and hibiscus are all still flowering, as are Orange Jessamine (Murraya paniculata) and gardenias.

What to plant- March is a great time to be planting. The hot humid days are gone but plants and people can still enjoy warm days and slightly cooler evenings. Plants relish the relief from the heat and they still have the warmer soil to grow in, so can flourish.

Bulbs- Autumn which officially begins today, is bulb planting time. Bulbs are surprise packages, you plant them forget them and then come spring, up pop their flowers. Whether its daffodils, freesias, bluebells, or dutch iris.

What to do- Pull out past summer annuals (for example, tired petunias) and then replant winter spring colour.

– Watch out for fungal outbreaks- high humidity can wreak havoc and rain splash can spread fungal spores easily.

- Raise the mower a notch or two and let your grass grow a little longer in between cuts.

- Trim off any heat damaged leaves on your shrubs, feed and keep your garden well watered.

Planting bulbs

Step 1- Prepare the planting area with compost, manure or packaged decomposed organic matter, often sold as soil conditioner. If planting in pots, just use a specially formulated bulb mix. Some bulbs, such as hyacinths and tulips, benefit from a cold chill, so pop them in an egg carton and leave them in the fridge for a month before planting.

Step 2- Bulbs have dried roots on the bottom and pointy top to indicate where the shoot will come from. Plant each bulb pointy side up, and into the soil 2.5 times the bulbs height. You can use bulb markers to help you remember where you have planted them.

Step 3- Water your bulbs in well, then be careful not to over water until they have started to show signs of growth. Keep weeds clear.

 

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Plant of the month - Echium candicans

Pride of Madeira is a bold statement to any garden. A large shrub from 2-2.5m tall and wide, that tolerates coastal conditions, hot direct sun, low water levels and attracts butterflies and bees to the garden. Architectural grey, green foliage throughout the year are complemented by the most striking purple flower spikes throughout Spring.

It looks great in formal, coastal and Mediterranean themes where it will be the superstar of the garden when flowering. I particularly like it mixed with other grey and blue hues, for example wth Westringia, Festuca and Convolvulus. 

Botanical name: Echium candicans

Common name: Pride Of Madeira Family:

Boraginaceae Origin: The Portuguese Island of Madeira – Portugal and Spain

 

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Diving Bearded Iris

Iris would have to be one of my favourite plants. I grew up with them in the garden, and my Mum and i used to have alot of fun searching for new varieties. 

Bearded irises (sometimes sold as Iris germanica cultivars) have large fleshy stems (rhizomes) at soil level and flowers with soft hairs (the ‘beard’) on their lower petals (falls).

  • Lift and divide rhizomatous bearded irises every three to five years. Although they can be happily divided once a year (depending on how quickly your Iris are multiplying)
  • This is ideally carried out six weeks after flowering, to give sufficient time for the plants to produce new growth for the following season before they enter winter dormancy

DIVISION:

  • Cut away each fan of leaves from the clump, using a sharp knife. Each fan should have a portion of young rhizome (up to 15cm/6in long for tall bearded irises, smaller for miniature tall bearded irises)
  • Select the largest fans with the healthiest rhizomes
  • Discard smaller fans and old, withered looking rhizomes
  • Shorten the leaves to about 15cm  above the rhizome and trim the roots to shorten them

REPLANTING:

  • Dig a hole, large enough for the rhizome and roots, mounding the soil slightly if this makes placing the rhizomes easier, but otherwise working the soil back between the roots
  • The rhizome should be placed at soil surface on heavy soils, but a little below the surface on light sandy soils, as they will work their way back to the surface
  • Replant the divisions in groups, with 30cm between larger plants and 15cm between dwarf plants

Problems:

  • Those irises divided and re-planted in summer are at risk of drought during dry spells.
  • Watering the area and allowing it to drain overnight before planting, then watering every five days during dry periods after planting, can help in these conditions

Iris growing tips

  • Plant them in a sunny spot in late summer. The plants need well-drained soil and at least six hours of sunlight per day. A full day of sun is even better to keep the rhizomes dry.
  • Give them room to breathe. Bearded iris require good air circulation. Plant them a minimum of 40 to 60cms apart .
  • Make dividing a habit. Refer to notes above.

 

 Iris 'foggy dew'    

Iris 'foggy dew' 

 

 iris 'mystique'    

iris 'mystique' 

 

 IRIS 'EDITH WOLFORD' 

IRIS 'EDITH WOLFORD'