Gardening Australia

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“Because we don’t use any sprays, and it’s such a large garden, I rely on attracting the right critters to deal with the aphids that generally are very prevalent,” says Pip. “In the cottage garden, I plant a lot of achillea and sedum, as well as salvias and agastaches. Most of the work is done by those umbel-shaped flowers, because they attract the parasitic wasps that take care of the aphids. We make it dense, because it creates an understore­y, attracting small birds – red robins, wrens and silvereyes – as it protects them from larger birds like kookaburra­s.

“In the vegetable garden alongside the orchard, I have a dahlia border planted among herbs that I allow to flower freely and attract beneficial insects. Underneath the orchard trees, we have a cover of achilleas, poppies, chamomile, cornflower­s, sedums – all self-seeding. When I weed in winter, I leave them.

“We also have three beehives, so once the orchard has been pollinated and fruit is growing, the flowers then provide food for the bees. Over the years, we did have aphid problems, but now, because we have created so much companion planting, I don’t need to do anything for my roses in terms of pest treatment.”

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