Gar­dens reach full sum­mer beauty

Wanganui Midweek - - NEWS - with Gareth Carter

This month is our late sum­mer pe­riod when many gar­dens reach their full beauty. Even though many hy­drangeas are now past their best, oth­ers such as roses and the silk trees are bloom­ing as talked about last week. Flower beds and bor­ders are rich in colour as sum­mer flow­ers are in bloom. English laven­ders pro­duce an­other flush of pur­ple-blue flow­ers, sum­mer lilies give off a fra­grance that makes the air heavy with de­li­cious scent, many roses will pro­duce an­other flush of flow­ers and grace many a gar­den with a blaze of colour.

Bed­ding plants or an­nu­als are at their best and bright­est and the or­ange and yel­low marigolds and all colours of petu­nias, lo­belia and gera­ni­ums brighten many a bor­der pot or con­tainer and hang­ing bas­ket. Some gar­dens also grow nico­tiana (to­bacco plant) just for the scent they give off ev­ery evening. An­other flower at its best now is the im­pa­tiens with their bright red, pink and white flow­ers mak­ing a stun­ning dis­play.

Of­ten at this time of the year gaps can ap­pear in bor­ders. Plant­ing a se­lec­tion of peren­ni­als that flower later in the sum­mer will help keep the bor­ders bright over the next cou­ple of months. Dahlias are a great choice and will bloom well into the au­tumn months.

Many climbers such as clema­tis, hon­ey­suckle and pan­doreas en­ve­lope fences and scram­ble up per­go­las, trel­lises and over arches, to of­fer pri­vacy and seclu­sion.

Roses re­quire at­ten­tion at this time. Spent blooms should be re­moved at fre­quent times dur­ing the flow­er­ing sea­son, not only for the tidi­ness of your plants but also to pre­vent the for­ma­tion of seed heads which is a waste of the plants’ en­ergy. When flow­ers or spent blooms are cut, a rea­son­able length of stem should be re­moved. New shoots have gen­er­ally started to de­velop on the old flower stem and a clean cut should be made just above one of these. New growth will then come away quickly re­sult­ing in more flow­ers. It is a good time now to feed roses us­ing Yates Dy­namic Lifter, No­vatec or Tui Rose Food. This will en­cour­age healthy growth and more flow­ers.

Ap­ply­ing mulch to the soil dur­ing the sum­mer sea­son will help to con­serve mois­ture and to keep the soil cooler; it will also re­duce weed growth. It is best to ap­ply mulch after the gar­den area has been thor­oughly wa­tered and cul­ti­vated.

If your soil has acidic ten­den­cies or if heavy dress­ings of or­ganic ma­te­ri­als are ap­plied an­nu­ally, then a light ap­pli­ca­tion of lime will be of ben­e­fit. When feed­ing make sure the fer­tiliser con­tains potash — it helps to harden growth and makes the plant less sus­cep­ti­ble to dis­ease. Potash will aid flow­er­ing and may also help to in­ten­sify colour in the flow­ers.

Keep an eye out for the spread of pests and dis­eases on roses. Main­tain reg­u­lar sprays to con­trol aphids, rust and blackspot. A good spray is Com­pat 3 in 1 for Roses — a com­bi­na­tion spray in­sec­ti­cide, fungi­cide and a natural fish fer­tiliser with min­er­als and trace el­e­ments.

Fe­bru­ary is the first of the bulb plant­ing months. In stores soon will be new sea­son’s ra­nun­cu­lus and anemones in mixed and in­di­vid­ual colours as well as cro­cus, hy­acinths and a num­ber of daf­fodil bulbs too. They are ex­cel­lent for bor­ders, gar­den edges, pots and tubs as well as great to grow as a cut flower.

Ra­nun­cu­lus corms re­sem­ble a claw which must be planted down­wards 3-4cm deep in a sunny well drained po­si­tion. Their blooms come in reds, rose, golds, lemon, yel­low, white, etc, dou­bles on strong 30-50cm stems. They are very ef­fec­tive planted in bold clumps 6-8cm apart, as rib­bon bor­ders in pots, or as cut flow­ers.

Anemone corms will dis­play bril­liant sin­gle or dou­ble flow­ers in full colour dur­ing mid-win­ter to late spring. Plant 3-4cm deep and 10-15cm apart mak­ing sure that the flat part of the corm is up­per­most. in a sun or part shade po­si­tion. Best in a cool spot if plant­ing now. They look great when planted be­tween roses also.

Both anemones and ra­nun­cu­lus can be dif­fi­cult to ger­mi­nate. Here are some tips which will dra­mat­i­cally in­crease your suc­cess rates. They should be chilled for 5-6 weeks in the fridge (not freezer), then soaked in fresh run­ning wa­ter for 10-12 hours prior to plant­ing.


Our cli­mate en­cour­ages weeds to grow at any time. A gar­den looks well cared for not only when the lawns are reg­u­larly mown and hedges are neatly clipped, but by an ob­vi­ous ab­sence of weeds. In any gar­den the con­trol of weeds is a con­tin­u­ing op­er­a­tion. Weeds can be con­trolled by cul­ti­va­tion or by the use of chem­i­cals. In a ma­ture gar­den it is sel­dom pos­si­ble to use chem­i­cal meth­ods ex­cept in ar­eas such as lawns and paths. In flower beds and shrub­beries hand work and mulching is of­ten the best an­swer.

Peren­nial weeds which have a tap root such as docks or a creep­ing root from which stems arise, eg. con­volvu­lus, are best dug out with a trowel or bor­der fork and burnt in a hot fire. They should never be com­posted. Roundup Tough is a new spray that is ef­fec­tive against con­volvu­lus and other hard to kill weeds.

An­nual weeds which flower and seed freely within the space of a few weeks should be hoed off in dry weather be­fore they flower and seed. In wet weather they should be pulled out. Many gar­den­ers use spe­cial hand tools for this pur­pose rang­ing from old dis­carded kitchen uten­sils to a piece of bent No 8 wire to so­phis­ti­cated hoes and weed­ing and cul­ti­va­tion tools.

Pro­vided the weeds are not al­ready seed­ing they may be com­posted in a well made com­post heap. If they have reached the seed­ing stage it is bet­ter to dry and burn them or, if there is a quan­tity, send them to the tip. One of the most ef­fi­cient meth­ods of weed con­trol of course is to cul­ti­vate the soil reg­u­larly be­fore weeds are seen. An­nual weed seeds are ger­mi­nat­ing or peren­nial weed roots are grow­ing vir­tu­ally all year round and hoe­ing even what ap­pears to be a weed free sur­face will ex­pose many ger­mi­nat­ing weeds.

Have a good week

Gareth Carter is gen­eral man­ager of Spring­vale Gar­den Cen­tre ■


Mys­tic Dreamer dahlia.


A sum­mer job is dead-head­ing roses.

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