As winter slowly comes to an end, now is the time to start thinking about spring planting. This month we look at some different options to really inspire you and your garden!
Climbing plants are a favourite amongst small space gardeners. They are so versatile, easy to look after and will create a green canopy to cast shade very quickly. Many are fragrant and will add another dimension to a small garden.
Top 5 fragrant climbers
- Wisteria flowers in spring and is one of those special plants the more you neglect it the more it will flower. Wisteria sinensis is covered with so many racemes of purple flowers that you can hardly see the branches for a few weeks. Prune after the new growth has started (usually about 5 weeks after the flowers have finished) to keep in control.
- Wisteria venusta is a less popular growing variety and the perfume is very different to sinensis, but deserves a position in the garden. The perfume is similar to a Jasmine; it flowers in late spring and is pure white. Quite breathtaking when in full flower. Wisterias grow very well as standards, plant at the base of a strong pole or piece of pipe and train up the pole, removing all side shoots on the way up.
- A neat well, behaved climber is the Stephanotis. This plant takes a few years to flower, but the wait is worthwhile. Tubular waxy flowers are borne in summer, with a subtle floral scent. Look out for avocado like seed pods, which will take at least 12 months to mature.
- The Chinese Star Jasmine is an all-round favourite. In addition to being hardy and tolerant of a sunny position it is covered with small fragrant star shaped flowers throughout summer. Easy to control, the Chinese Start Jasmine is perfect for growing in pots.
- Jasminum sambac is a small rambling climber to 1m which produces highly scented double flowers in summer. This plant is perfectly suited to growing in a large pot.
The term ‘Blossom tree’ is often used to describe a large range of winter/spring flowering deciduous trees. Images of established gardens with cherry blossom trees in full flower, carpets of petals under the trees and spring flowering bulbs sell the ‘look’ most gardeners want when they plant a flowering blossom tree.
Unfortunately many of the varieties pictured usually aren’t suitable to some of the harshest climatic regions in Australia and so the ‘look’ goes out the window or is unsuccessfully recreated, with the unsuitable plants struggling. Remember, there are varieties of blossom trees that are bullet proof. Call into your local garden centre and take a look around as they will stock varieties suitable to your area.
One of my favourites for a small garden or a large container isthe flowering apricot. It is a very hardy small tree and is often the first of the blossom trees to come into bloom, flowering in mid winter. Prunus mume ‘Pendula’ is the weeping form and is a spectacular speciman plant. Small buds of soft pink open at the top of the branches first, giving the effect of petals falling. Both are ideally suited to any garden. The benefits of planting a small flowering deciduous tree are many. The ornamental apricot produces late winter/spring flowering when the garden tends to be at its dullest.
They are perfectly suited to both large and small gardens depending upon the variety selected.
Always prune blossom trees after flowering. If pruning is carried out in winter, flowering is greatly reduced as the branches with the buds ready to ‘pop’ will have been removed.
Protecting Seedlings this month
Top tips to protecting young seedlings this month:
- We live with the threat of frost in cooler areas of the country this month. When the days are clear and sunny nights are often freezing. While we need chilling hours to set fruit on certain fruit trees frost is a risk for newly planting seedlings. Protect tender young seedlings with a small tree branch, upturned pot or a shade cloth cover.
- Slugs and snails are out with the cool and damp weather. These destructive pests are very active at this time of the year and it doesn’t take many slugs to devour a punnet of seedlings. Venture outside with a torch after dark and a container of salt solution. Pluck slugs and snails off and throw in the container. This is a quick chemical free way of reducing the population.
- Coffee grounds around seedlings will help protect the plants from further damage.
- Apply Seasol (30mL per 9 litres of water) every 2 to 4 weeks to help get seedlings off to a great start. Seasol promotes healthy growth and stimulates a stronger root system. Plus regular applications (every 2 to 4 weeks) will help protect seedlings against frost.
Fresh Salad Leaves
It’s the best time to grow repeat harvest lettuce varieties; they love the cool weather and grow fast. To have fresh salad leaves at your fingertips everyday follow these three east steps.
- Grab a large pot with a diametre of at least 50cm, some quality potting mix that carries the premium standards mark and a couple of punnets of lettuce seedlings.
- Fill up the pot with potting mix and add Seasol Planting Gel to help save water. Plant the seedlings close together and place the pot in a sunny position.
- Liquid fertiliser regularly with PowerFeed for Tomatoes & Vegetables (50mL per 9 litres of water) every 2 to 4 weeks and harvest leaves when needed. You will be guaranteed of fresh salad leaves for many months.