GAR­DEN AD­VICE AND PLAN­NER

Our gar­den ex­pert Mered­ith Kir­ton re­minds us why the new sea­son is bloomin’ fab­u­lous.

Homes+ (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WITH MERED­ITH

Mered­ith Kir­ton’s best-ever spring blooms.

1. BEAU­TI­FUL BULBS

From a hy­acinth grow­ing in a jar of wa­ter to acres of tulips at Flo­ri­ade, the rise and fall of bulbs as they emerge, flower and then dis­ap­pear un­der­ground again makes them one of na­ture’s fleet­ing de­lights. For “set and for­get” bulbs, avoid tulips and Dutch iris and try jon­quils, blue­bells, ixia and sparaxis in­stead. They don’t need to be lifted an­nu­ally and are less fussy about need­ing cold cli­mates.

2. FRESH FO­LIAGE

The new leaves on de­cid­u­ous trees as they emerge from their win­try stems can be every bit as beau­ti­ful as flow­ers. Ja­panese maple’s soft, fern-like fo­liage, of­ten tinged pur­ple and pink, almost ri­vals their au­tumn dis­play. The fresh lime-green and gold fo­liage of golden honey lo­cust (Gled­it­sia tri­can­thos ‘Aurea’) and tree golden robinias, as their buds break into leaf, is equally uplift­ing.

3. NA­TIVES NAT­U­RALLY

Now is a great time to see our stun­ning indige­nous plants. Go for a bush­walk or visit the botanic gar­dens that spe­cialise in na­tives, like the Aus­tralian Botanic Gar­den at Mount An­nan, NSW, Kings Park in Perth, Wit­tunga Botanic Gar­den in SA or the Aus­tralian Na­tional Botanic Gar­dens, Can­berra. Par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful are heath (Epacris), flan­nel flow­ers, pa­per daisies, croweas, wax flower (Erioste­mon), wed­ding bush (Ri­cinocar­pus) and na­tive fuch­sia (Cor­reas).

4. BLOS­SOM­ING TREES

The Ja­panese make cherry blos­soms a na­tional ob­ses­sion, traips­ing up and down the coun­try on a pil­grim­age to see them. While we might not take them as se­ri­ously, blos­som time only lasts a mo­ment or two, so make the most of these del­i­cate flow­ers while you can. Buy bunches of flow­ers for in­side, or visit the moun­tains or table­lands near you on your own gar­den odyssey.

5. SPRING FLOW­ER­ING VINES

Many clim­bers make a fra­grant im­pres­sion in spring. Con­sider plant­ing Chi­nese star or Carolina jas­mine up a fence to cre­ate your own ver­ti­cal gar­den, or an ar­bour of wisteria with its long racemes of li­lac flow­ers. If you live in a colder area, try grow­ing clema­tis hy­brids, which have fab­u­lous flow­ers in li­lac, blue, pink, white and bur­gundy tones. If it’s not quite cold enough for these, the or­di­nary pink va­ri­ety is very pretty. The na­tive white old man’s beard is great for scram­bling over an old shed or wire fence.

6. GOR­GEOUS GRASSES

It may seem strange, but who doesn’t like those fresh new baby shoots un­der­foot? If win­ter has taken its toll on back­yards, spring is an es­pe­cially im­por­tant time of re­cov­ery. Feed and freshen up your lawn now and it will be primed for bare­foot cricket and sun­bathing all sum­mer long.

7. HEDG­ING YOUR BETS

Hedges will grow quickly now the weather has warmed up. Giv­ing them a light clip will help keep them tidy, and will also make them bushier. Use a string line for a pro­fes­sional fin­ish, or step back and check your lines by sight every few min­utes while cut­ting.

8. FEED & FERTILISE

It can seem over­whelm­ing at times, so some­times it’s eas­ier not to! For a never-fail method, use a hose-on liq­uid seaweed so­lu­tion. Click it onto your hose and give the whole gar­den a spritz. It’s a day-spa treat­ment your plants will love!

9. SMELL THE ROSES

They’re some of the most pop­u­lar plants in the world, and for years gar­den­ers have loved to hate them, strug­gling with the var­i­ous pests and dis­eases that they can be prone to. Nowa­days, ex­ten­sive breed­ing and re­search means that you can buy many hardy, dis­ease-re­sis­tant types of roses to make you love them grow­ing in your gar­den again.

10. PROTEA PER­FEC­TION

Leu­co­den­drons, leu­cosper­mums and proteas are South African na­tives that feel per­fectly at home here in Aus­tralia. Many flower in spring, or have sen­sa­tional coloured leaves – they are cer­tainly worth con­sid­er­ing as a low-main­te­nance plant choice. They like full sun, can tol­er­ate sea­side salt spray and many will also not mind a win­ter chill. Best of all, they make stun­ning cut flow­ers that last and last and make prun­ing a plea­sure.

11. FLORA, FAUNA & FRIENDS

Get close to na­ture and make crea­tures that are out and about this spring feel at home in your gar­den. Try nest­ing boxes for pos­sums, keep dead branches in your trees (where prac­ti­cal) for birds, or use them as logs for lizards in the gar­den, put out qual­ity seed in feed­ers for birds and en­cour­age frogs with a pond. Even bees need a hand these days – plant nec­tar-rich flow­ers and be ex­tra care­ful with what and when you spray in the gar­den. It will all help!

“For ‘set and for­get’ bulbs, avoid tulips and Dutch iris and try jon­quils, blue­bells, ixia and sparaxis in­stead.

PROTEA Big bloomer The flow­ers are many and long-last­ing. PA­PER DAISIES So stun­ning These na­tives are spec­tac­u­lar planted en masse.

Jon­quils Golden honey lo­cust

Ja­panese maple

Sparaxis

WISTERIA Vig­or­ous vine The scent of this climber is sen­sa­tional.

ABRA­HAM DARBY ROSE Sweet smell

This rose has a blend of cream, apri­cot and pinks.

Wildlife love Blooms bring the birds – and the bees – to your gar­den.

Cherry blos­som Blue­bell

Anemone rose Leu­cosper­mum

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