Crepe myrtles a real beauty
Granite Belt gardeners are grateful for the rainfall brought by the show
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
QUEENS OF THE GARDEN: Diamond in the dark crepe myrtles grow magnificently.
LEFT: Indian summer crepe myrtles.