Bring the birds into the gar­den

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Carol Buck­nell. Il­lus­tra­tions by Pippa Fay.

+ Don’t for­get about the bees. Al­though they hi­ber­nate in colder ar­eas, bees will of­ten for­age for food in winter. Many bee-at­tract­ing flow­er­ing an­nu­als such as alyssum, lo­belia and cal­en­dula will flower dur­ing winter if they’re grown in shel­tered spots.

+ Winter is here and usu­ally brings plenty of wind, rain and frost, de­pend­ing on where you live in New Zealand. Wind can shred soft fo­liage, dry out the soil and tip over newly planted trees and shrubs. The long-term way to guard against wind is to grow groups of trees to cre­ate shel­ter belts, but for short-term pro­tec­tion, build a shel­ter of wind cloth, drift­wood, re­cy­cled tim­ber or what­ever you can grab that will help to re­duce the im­pact of fierce winter gales. Al­ways stake newly planted trees and shrubs for their first sea­son or two, es­pe­cially if they’re planted in an ex­posed spot.

+ In frosty ar­eas, cover frost-ten­der plants such as cit­rus, palms and hibis­cus with frost cloth or even a blan­ket when tem­per­a­tures are fore­cast to drop. Mulch frost-ten­der shrubs and peren­ni­als with straw or com­post, mak­ing sure you don’t pile it up too high around woody stems, oth­er­wise they’re likely to rot. Move pot­ted frangi­pani, gar­de­nia and other ten­der plants to a shel­tered spot.

+ If you have a sunny area in the gar­den that you don’t know what to do with, con­sider plant­ing wild­flow­ers. Even a small bed can look de­light­ful and will at­tract lots of lovely bees and but­ter­flies. In warmer ar­eas, sow seed now for spring wild­flow­ers, but in frosty places, wait un­til spring to sow. Seed is avail­able on­line from kingsseeds.co.nz and gar­den­post.co.nz.

+ Aer­ate wet spots in boggy lawns with a gar­den fork and fill with sand. Re­duce wa­ter­ing and mow­ing dur­ing winter as well.

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