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