Daylight saving has kicked in (clocks went forward one hour this morning). There’s nothing better than long New Zealand days getting things done in the late afternoon sun.
Spring in New Zealand means longer days and better weather for heading into the garden, so here’s some inspiration…
In the garden for early Spring:
• Prune spring-flowering shrubs as soon as their flowering’s finished.
• Feed established fruit trees.
• Separate young bromeliad suckers when they’re 1/3 the size of parent plant.
• Trim and fertilise hedges.
• Plant beetroot, capsicum, carrots, melons, peas, radish, shallots, silver beet, spinach tomatoes and beans. Plant seed potatoes when all chance of frost has gone.
• Plant herbs in gardens, baskets or containers.
• Fertilise roses with a rose-specific food.
• Spray fruit tress with a broad spectrum insecticide.
• Tame the lawn.
• Plant passion fruit.
September Garden Guide
Get your gummies on, spring’s here! By now you should have the bulk of your winter planting done and be enjoying the gorgeous colour displays of bulbs. Getting planting done in winter gives plants time to get established before summer hits and means you won’t be spending precious summer-lovin’ hours lugging the hose from tree to tree.
September’s your time to whip the garden into tip top shape for the silly season. Focus on getting the lawn cricket-ready, preparing plants to last through the dry months and creating a few new plantings to bring birds in to your neck of the woods.
If you’re not somewhere that’s still getting frosts, your lawn should be running amok all over the garden by now. Mow it weekly (but not if it’s waterlogged) and dodge any spring-flowering bulbs – letting the dying foliage fall around the base replenishes bulbs for the next year.
Sow lawn seed into bare patches and fill ruts in so they don’t dry into hardened hollows in summer. Feeding your lawn now will help it build strength for summer so give it a good dose of a nitrogen-rich fertiliser (and remember to water dry fertilisers in if it’s not raining, so they don’t leave nasty burnt patches).
Take a few minutes break from basking in the knowledge that you’ve finished all your major planting for this year and turn your virtuous gaze to mulching. Mulching will carry new and existing gardens through summer and churn them out in autumn looking healthy, strong and bearing extra growth.
Put down a layer of newspaper around each plant (or along the row of trunks for hedges) and cover with 100-150mm of bark or tree shreddings. Remember not to mulch right up to the stem as the breakdown of mulch can cause stems to rot. Mulching in September will keep roots moist, suppress weeds, insulate soils and plant roots from the sun and is a great way to ensure vigorous new growth in trimmed hedges.
There’s nothing like sitting outside on a sunny morning and being surrounded by birdsong – but if your garden’s lacking feathered visitors there’s plenty you can do to encourage them. The key to bribing local birds to be your in-garden entertainment system is food.
Trees which provide shelter and shade will be beneficial but the real secret is plants which not only look great, but which birds love to feed on. Mountain flax (Phormium cookianum) and Swamp flax (Phormium tenax) act as magnets for tui. Plant so that the tall flower spikes, which produce copious amounts of nectar, hang over a patio area and you’ll have close up tui encounters.
Cabbage trees and nikau palms are both prolific berry producers and will thrive in warmer areas of the country (protect from the frost when young). Kowhai are gorgeous in spring with cascades of yellow flowers and their plentiful nectar is a favourite with birds. For smaller gardens, try pittosporum for their seeds and nectar, corokia for their berries or matipo for their flowers and berries. Coprosmas, in their various forms of upright, sprawling or shrubs, are great berry producers. Coprosma repens and Coprosma robusta get absolutely laden with little orange berries and will fill the garden with birds in no time.
For more on Spring NZ gardening and Trudi’s how-to web videos, visit www.tuitime.co.nz