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Autumn is ‘Nature’s Natural Planting’ time.

Cool nights, warm soil and mild days all come together to deliver perfect growing conditions. It’s the time of the year plants are establishing and strengthening root systems, which is particularly important for newly planted shrubs and trees. Deciduous trees are starting to show hints of autumn colour and as the nights cool these leaves will start to take on their brilliant colours. Establishing ornamental trees in autumn will ensure their root system has a ‘head start’ on spring planted trees.

Apricot rose in the garden

Autumn Roses

It wasn’t until the late 18th century that cultivated roses were introduced into Europe and in just a few hundred years the humble rose is undoubtedly the most popular plant on the planet. At this time of the year roses are developing flower buds to burst into colour in a few short weeks. The autumn flowers are a favourite as the perfume and colour is more intense and flowers tend to last longer on the plant because of the cooler weather. In most areas of Australia roses are a favourite and as gardeners we expect a lot from our rose bushes. There are not many plants that we expect to flower and look fantastic for more than 9 months of the year.

yellow rose bushes

To keep them looking amazing in the coming months follow this simple guide:

  • Roses are gross or heavy feeders (a little like children), meaning they require regular nutritious food to thrive and flower brilliantly. Apply granular fertiliser monthly such as PowerFeed with Troforte Flowers, Fruit & Citrus from July (immediately after pruning) to May.
  • Apply a soluble fertiliser for flowering plants over the foliage fortnightly through the months of August – October and February to April. Liquid fertilisers are formulated so plants can take up nutrients fast producing quick ‘pick me. up’ results on stressed or hungry plants. In areas where pollution from nutrient leaching is a problem liquid formulations are the ideal choice. Try mixing  Seasol (30mL per 9 litres of water) and PowerFeed (50mL per 9 litres of water) together in the same watering can every 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Roses require at least 6 hours of bright, direct sun per day to flower prolifically. If they don’t receive this much direct light they tend to be stretched, have weak branches and are prone to pests and diseases.
  • Do not use even slightly salty water for irrigating roses. They are very prone to salt scald and will die rapidly with poor water quality. If roses are being irrigated by dam, river or bore water, regular water quality checks are essential. Generally water quality is at its worst at the end of summer so it’s a good idea to get a check now to understand what may be causing scalding or burning problems.
  • Apply a thick layer of composting mulch. The majority of the root system is in the top 10cm of the surface. A composting mulch will protect fine feeder roots from extra warm autumn days, reduce evaporation rate and deliver nutrients as it breaks down.
close up of a red hibiscus


Despite having a reputation of being easy to grow in most areas of Australia, hibiscuses are renowned for ‘sulking’ when the unexpected happens. Extreme variations in temperature from one day to the next will cause the older leaves to yellow and drop rapidly. It is all very normal in the life of a hibiscus and they will soon get over it. Throughout autumn months we experience less extreme temperature differences and the focus is on the flowers. This is the time when they shine being covered with large showy flowers for the next few months. Hibiscus are the perfect plant to use as background planting for a garden. They will readily form the backbone of a garden areas only requiring a little pruning (if required, to keep bushy) at the beginning of spring.

Remember hibiscus are a tropical plant and if establishing in the southern states they may require a little protection throughout the cooler months.

TIP – Hibiscus petals are edible and with these hardy plants available in nearly every colour, you will be hard pressed to not find a variety that matches the tablecloth or serviette colour at your dinner party.

Large Gardens

With the major focus in recent years being on ‘downsizing’ block and house sizes, larger property design and inspiration has been reserved for only a few. Luckily there has been a slow, but strong change in thinking and there is now a shift back to more rural larger properties for those looking for a ‘tree change’ or for families who want their children to grow up with space around them. For many who shift to larger property the sheer size of their backyard can be so overwhelming and daunting that results are often disappointing.

One of the hardest concepts to grasp for large property owners, who are looking at creating or revamping a garden, is the sense of scale. Everything from the size of the blocks or rocks used for retaining walls to the width of paths needs to be increased. Focal points and features such as sculptures and planters need to be oversized to ensure the outdoor space reflects a sense of balance for the visitor.

Tips to get started:

  • Be realistic and develop what you can manage, do not feel the whole property has to be developed.
  • Create a 5 year plan when establishing a new garden. A quality designed garden will successfully be able to incorporate future projects without the feeling of being unfinished in the meantime.
  • Be bold and confident with design intent, it’s the simple elements that will deliver the largest impact.
  • A single oversized urn or sculptural feature will create a visual interest at the end of a path, directing the visitor to take a turn to the left or right without overpowering the garden.
  • Select natural elements that are from the area. Creating simple features with local stone or rock will give the illusion that they belong in the area and have done for many years.
  • Create garden zones within the managed landscape areas. This is especially important in large gardens. Plants with high maintenance needs are planted in high traffic areas and grouped with plants with similar watering needs. It takes too much time to get water to the end of the garden for one plant.
  • Be honest with your water supply, how much do you have to spare for the garden is the quality suitable to all plants you want to grow? Plant varieties suited to the volume of supply and the quality.
  • Focus on structural plantings or background plantings. These form the backbone if the large garden and are often considered the ‘walls’ of the garden. Without these plantings the whole design intent will tend to fall apart.