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NZ Gardener - - Akaroa Roses -

Have you heard of the Chelsea chop?

This prun­ing method takes its name from the Chelsea Flower Show as, in the north­ern hemi­sphere, it is usu­ally done in May, coin­cid­ing with the an­nual event. Here in the south­ern hemi­sphere, this is the time it can be done on the peren­ni­als which can be­come un­ruly in sum­mer.

Se­dums, I find, can flop over other plants, so when the new growth is about 6cm I nip out the cen­tre growth tip, then in a few weeks many side shoots ap­pear which makes the plant re­ally com­pact and bushy, so it then needs lit­tle or no ty­ing for the rest of the sum­mer. This can also be done with phlox and monar­dia, and many other peren­ni­als. The flow­er­ing sea­son will be a lit­tle later and the flow­ers are some­times a lit­tle smaller, but you get more flow­er­ing heads.

Mulching this time of the year is a must.

Clean out your com­post bins and put a good layer over the whole gar­den as this not only feeds the plants but keeps the roots cool over the hot sum­mer months to come. Plus it makes the gar­den look good and helps sup­press weeds.

Most peren­ni­als are sur­face root­ing, so a lit­tle ar­ti­fi­cial fer­tiliser cov­ered with com­post will work won­ders.

If grow­ing peren­ni­als in pots, re­pot into a good pot­ting mix which has slow re­lease fer­tiliser and wa­ter re­ten­tion crys­tals, and you will be well re­warded. I see so many peren­ni­als in pots which have never been fed or re­pot­ted, and the owner won­ders why they are not per­form­ing.

This is the month when dahlias and del­phini­ums emerge, and you need to be vig­i­lant, watch­ing for those dreaded slugs and snails which love to eat the new fo­liage. Get out the slug bait or get your beer traps out to kill these nas­ties.

Shift­ing peren­ni­als this time of the year is fine pro­vided you take plenty of soil with the plant. Of­ten I wa­ter the plant the day be­fore and this helps hold the soil to­gether bet­ter. When planted, make sure you wa­ter the plant well and keep it damp but not too wet for about a week. If you get re­ally hot days, per­haps put a lit­tle shade cloth over the plant for about a week – this helps tran­spi­ra­tion.

Some of the taller peren­ni­als may need the first string around them be­fore the winds ar­rive.

I don’t like us­ing syn­thetic string as it not only looks aw­ful, it cuts into the soft up­right shoots when the stems rub onto it. I use a soft, nat­u­ral fawn-coloured string and find it is not eas­ily seen and more eco-friendly to use.

A friend of mine saves her string for an­other sea­son and then when you have a cleanup the fol­low­ing year, you can put both string and tops into the com­post bin (but not if you have used syn­thetic string).

Don’t be put off by neg­a­tiv­ity to­wards peren­ni­als. They are not a lot of work and you will al­ways be well re­warded for your ef­forts, with plants look­ing good and last­ing for over eight months.

‘Sou­venir de la Mal­mai­son’.

Paeonies and iris at Trotts Gar­dens.

Del­phinium.

Rodger­sia ‘Big Mama’.

Iris ‘In Town’.

Hosta ‘Great Ex­pec­ta­tions’.

New growth of Polyg­o­na­tum ‘Var­ie­ga­tum’.

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