Crepe myr­tles a real beauty

Gran­ite Belt gar­den­ers are grate­ful for the rain­fall brought by the show

Stanthorpe Border Post - - LIFE | GRANITE BELT GARDENING - MOR­WENNA HARSLETT

MOST folk find it dif­fi­cult to be in­spired to gar­den in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary.

Other than the con­stant whirr of lawn­mow­ers, it is rare to see peo­ple beaver­ing away in their gar­dens. It is just too hot.

It has also been quite dry… un­til last week. True to form, the Stan­thorpe Show brought us rain! So with moist soil and cooler tem­per­a­tures, it is a good op­por­tu­nity to get out and do a bit of tidy­ing up.

You are likely to have lots of spent flow­ers on your shrubs. Snip these off with sharp, clean se­ca­teurs and, while you are there, it doesn’t hurt to trim off any sad fo­liage.

A lit­tle boost with liq­uid fer­tiliser will en­cour­age re­peat flow­er­ing as we head into au­tumn. Give ev­ery­thing a deep wa­ter­ing. More water less of­ten is bet­ter than shal­low fre­quent wa­ter­ing as it en­cour­ages deeper root growth and the deeper those roots go, the more con­stant the soil tem­per­a­ture for both sum­mer and win­ter.

Earth is a won­der­ful in­su­la­tor. For trees, this also adds to their sta­bil­ity and strength if we have strong winds.

It is of­ten thought that sum­mer is a bad time to plant. This is not nec­es­sar­ily the case, how­ever, if you are buy­ing any new plants while the weather is warm get them in the ground as soon as pos­si­ble and mulch im­me­di­ately. Plants sit­ting in black plas­tic pots get ex­tremely hot around the roots and this is not good for them.

The gar­den queens of Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary are crepe myr­tles,

Lager­stroemia in­dica. They come in a range of colours, white to pur­ple, and sizes, dwarf to trees.

The lat­est craze in these plants is a se­ries called Di­a­monds in the dark. These grow to three me­tres and have deep burgundy leaves with the full range of flower colours. They grow mag­nif­i­cently in our cli­mate and with­stand pe­ri­ods of drought and ex­tremes of hot and cold. If you don’t have a crepe myr­tle in your gar­den, this is one to check out.

In this area, many gar­den­ers have the lux­ury of a spa­cious yard. If you have been feel­ing that your gar­den is too hot and bar­ren for any­thing to grow eas­ily, your best start­ing point is to strate­gi­cally plant a large tree or three.

As it grows, it will cre­ate a cooler, more pleas­ant mi­cro­cli­mate around and un­der it where you can then grow more ten­der and ex­otic shrubs and flow­ers.

Large trees also keep gar­dens warmer in win­ter but, if you want to let the sun­light through, plant a de­cid­u­ous tree. This has the dual ben­e­fit of pro­vid­ing you with free mulch in the form of leaf lit­ter each year.

Liq­uidambar trees are a great op­tion.

The lat­est craze in these plants is a se­ries called Di­a­monds in the dark. These grow to three me­tres and have deep burgundy leaves with the full range of flower colours.

— MOR­WENNA HARSLETT

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

QUEENS OF THE GAR­DEN: Di­a­mond in the dark crepe myr­tles grow mag­nif­i­cently.

LEFT: In­dian sum­mer crepe myr­tles.

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