Out­door diary

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

Septem­ber’s check­list

Bird lovers might want to think about adding more plants that pro­duce nec­tar or berries to feed our feath­ered friends when food is scarce. Na­tive birds rel­ish co­prosma, corokia, creep­ing fuch­sia

(Fuch­sia procum­bens) and titoki berries. Kowhai, or­na­men­tal cher­ries,

aloes, po­hutukawa (there are now many cul­ti­vars to suit smaller gar­dens), bot­tle­brush, teco­man­the, camel­lia, flax, pro­tea and red hot pok­ers are rich in nec­tar, too. Plant now in warmer gar­dens, later in spring fur­ther south. If your gar­den is look­ing a lit­tle bare af­ter win­ter fill the gaps with easy-care flow­er­ing an­nu­als such as alyssum, lo­belia, marigold and cal­en­dula. Most will drop seed and give you more free plants as the grow­ing sea­son con­tin­ues. Give the kids some sun­flower seeds to sow in a sunny spot, too.

Gla­di­oli – long con­sid­ered a ‘nana’ flower – are mak­ing

a comeback, and why not? Their bold flower spikes make a lovely dis­play in the sum­mer gar­den.

Gla­di­o­lus hy­brids, calla lily, dahlias, hip­peas­trum and other sum­mer­flow­er­ing peren­ni­als

can be planted now in many ar­eas, but wait un­til late spring in very frosty

gar­dens. Spring is the best time to sow new lawns, while the ground is still moist but not boggy. (If it’s very wet re­sist sow­ing seed as it will prob­a­bly wash away in the next down­pour un­less you cover the area.) Start your prep by re­mov­ing peren­nial weeds and lev­el­ling the ground. Im­prove drainage in clay soil by us­ing a fork to make holes and work­ing coarse sand into them. Use the same method to add well-rot­ted com­post to

light, sandy soils. Work­ing in the gar­den is con­sid­ered more ben­e­fi­cial than many other forms of ex­er­cise. Give your­self a gen­tle early-spring work­out by top­ping up mulches and pulling out those lit­tle weeds that keep pop­ping up af­ter it rains in gar­den beds, shell or gravel paths and bark ar­eas. Don’t for­get about con­tainer plants in your spring gar­den­ing spree. Plants use up all the nu­tri­ents in most pot­ting mixes within a cou­ple of years so now is a good time to re­plen­ish it. For large plants, you’ll prob­a­bly only be able to re­move part of the mix; do this and top up with fresh stuff. Use good-qual­ity pot­ting mix and wear a pro­tec­tive

mask and gloves.

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