Achieve gorgeous gardens by gardening for your climatic conditions!
With the weather turning throughout November, the focus turns to making most use of the water that’s being applied. Gorgeous gardens are not hard to achieve, the hard work has already been completed. Gardening for your climatic conditions should be the take home message this month. Plant species that can cope with the full sun regardless of where you live, create dappled shade, and apply mulch on all garden beds. Retaining moisture in the soil and installing an efficient irrigation system should be on the top of the list this month.
Backyard Rainforest Garden
Dreaming of creating a cool rainforest in your backyard. Even the smallest of backyards have the potential to be converted to a cool retreat. There’s something about creating a cooling backyard. For the gardeners in the north, creating a rainforest garden is easy. The conditions are perfect to grow tropical plants and adding a few shade trees will further enhance to tropical feel.
In the southern states creating a rainforest starts with the trees. A shaded canopy will create a microclimate that will help establish more delicate understory plants. Protecting these from extreme conditions in winter will allow them to thrive. In addition, the more shaded the garden with a canopy of foliage is the less weeds that will germinate. Eventually a tropical rainforest garden may turn into the ultimate ‘maintenance free’ garden.
Steps to creating a rainforest environment:
- In the beginning focus on the soil and tree selection. To get the best growth improve the soil at tree planting time by applying a soil conditioner such as Seasol Plant + Soil Booster and select trees that will form a canopy.
- Avoid raking and removing leaves, these are your best asset for ongoing ‘free’ compost. As they break down, they will feed to soil. They also will reduce weed growth as there is less light reaching the soil surface. Light is required for strong healthy weed growth.
- As the trees grow the microclimate changes greatly. Choose understory plants that will tolerate the changes in light levels. When planting, apply Seasol GOLD to get your plants off to a flying start.
- Mulch heavily as its important to retain moisture in the soil as the garden is establishing.
- Create natural pathways through the garden, almost replicating meandering tracks.
- Use natural elements, such as fallen logs and rocks to replicate a rainforest environment.
- Fertilise with organic granular nutrients such as Seasol plus Nutrients All Purpose including Natives. Mix 100 grams per square metre into the topsoil and water it in thoroughly after application.
- These will both improve the soil and feed the plants as they release. Rainforests gardens usually have a high concentration of plants in a small area and regular feeding is important.
The humble lemon tree often gets overlooked when we talk about what to do in the garden because it’s the fruiting tree that is taken for granted, until you haven’t got one. There are over 100 different varieties grown worldwide, but only a few are grown in Australia. If you want a variety that you could almost guarantee some fruit for at least 9 months of the year, Eureka is your tree.
Thought to originate from Sicilian seed this variety made its way to Australia from California. A strong grower it produces enough lemons to feed the whole street when established.
A variety that is similar in flavour and growth habit to the Eureka is Lisbon and is usually identified if thorns appear.
For a mild juicy fruit ideal for pots or small gardens chose a Lemon Meyer. The fruit develops a dark yellow colour, has thin skin and fruits through winter.
While the fruit can be harvested for a little juice when they are green, the fruiting season is short through winter. This cultivar is thought to be a hybrid of a lemon and orange originating in China.
If you are looking for a super sweet variety select the Lemonade. The fruit tastes exactly like a glass of fresh Lemonade, with sugar added to sweeten the taste. The Lemonade is naturally sweet. The longer the fruit stays on the tree the sweeter it becomes. They will often be still hanging on at Christmas, depending how hot spring and early summer have been. They are a natural refreshing pick me up on a hot day and are easier to peel than a orange.
To keep citrus growing and fruiting well apply fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Flowers, Fruit & Citrus regularly through the growing season. Their root system is shallow, so fertiliser is required around the whole base of the tree, not just on one side. Ensure water is soaking into the soil and apply composting much as small fruit is forming this month and if the tree suffers any water or heat stress this is when the fruit is most prone to dropping.
Bushfire Recovery Gardening
The cycle of season will reveal different challenges as a garden ravaged by bushfire recovers. This time of the year look for:
- Reduce weed growth and remove any seeds. Bare soil is always prone to weeds and with charred soil, weed seeds are opportunistic. There is no competition for moisture and light, so they can take off. Mulch all garden beds to retain moisture as the weather warms up.
- Prune any dead or diseased wood to ensure strong healthy plants.
- Ensure irrigation systems are operating correctly and water is soaking into the soil.
- Protect new plants that may be exposed to sunnier positions from damaged trees and canopy. Liquid feed with PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives
Grafted Native Plants
For some hard to grow native plants, select a grafted variety. Many native plants require specific growing conditions to perform brilliantly. By choosing a grafted variety, you can be guaranteed of disease resistance, plant performance and increased flowering. Grevilleas and Eremophilas are common varieties that are regularly grafted.
Eremophilas – often referred to as Emu Bush these plants require dry soil and hot conditions to thrive, with many of the species growing naturally in desert conditions. They will waterlog easily and die back in the cooler areas of Australia. By grafting onto a hardy root stock these plants are more widely available to more than just ‘expert’ gardeners. The most used rootstock for grafting is Myoporum insulare, which has varied growth habits and in most cases the tree selection is used as it’s a strong grower. Not only does this plant grow in many areas of Australia it has a long-life span.
Grevilleas – are usually grafted onto Grevillea robusta (silky Oak), a strong growing tree, which can reach great heights when allowed to grow on its own. The root stock is grafted at height, either 1m or 1.5m with a cascading variety. These plants are tough, sun and drought tolerant and create a stunning cascading effect as they grow. Perfect for large pots these fast-growing varieties will outperform many other plants, with the bonus of creating a habitat to native fauna. Place in full sun position and fertilise at the beginning of spring, summer, and autumn with a specific native plant fertiliser.