ost of us love the romance of flowers
Summer’s arrival spells party time for gardeners. With plenty to relish in our own backyards there’s also the new season’s banquet of festivals and flower shows. While festive gardens are beautiful to look at, they need a lot of work to ensure continued growth. Tasks for summer: 1) Mulch and feed roses and perennials. 2) Water tomatoes regularly, especially once fruit has set. Liquid feed weekly and spray with copper to minimise disease problems. 3) Sow salad greens directly into well prepared soil. Remember in hot weather they will benefit from some afternoon shade. 4) Feed and mulch citrus trees, and water them generously in dry weather. 5) Raise the lawn mower a notch and water the lawn in dry spells. 6) Now would be a good time to fix that leaky tap or set up an irrigation system, before the Christmas rush takes over Most of us love roses. If we don’t, it’s usually because we see them as requiring too much work or the undesirable use of chemicals to keep them at their best. For years, landscapers avoided roses for these reasons. The introduction of the first Flower Carpet Rose changed all this and now these highly disease resistant plants are planted extensively in both private and public gardens. Apart from disease problems, plants have other traits we could do without. Thorns, for example. Many trees and shrubs (including roses) have been developed with less. Flowering plants that hold onto their spent flowers need trimming to remove the ugly brown (and often disease-prone) petals. Magnolias are reknowned for their spectacular spring blooms. Modern plant breeding is responsible not only for bringing us bigger, bolder, even more spectacular blooms in richer deeper colours, but they bloom on trees at a very young age. What’s more, the new age trees are small enough to fit the average town garden. Award winning New Zealand plant breeder, Mark Jury, has continued his father Felix’s work in breeding some of the world’s best magnolias. Recent release Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’ has tulip shaped blooms that are a beautiful dark burgundy colour. Slender upright growth also makes it an excellent small specimen tree. New Zealand bred rose ‘White Romance’ produces its crisp white, classic shaped blooms on dark glossy green foliage on a shapely bushy shrub, ideal for mass planting or hedging. It flowers prolifically from spring through to late autumn. Rose breeder, Rob Somerfield from Tauranga, selected ‘White Romance’ for its tough nature, strong growth, reliable repeat flowering and weather resistance. It also lasts well as an elegant cut flower. Some plants are known only for great flowers or their dazzling foliage. Increasingly, we have plants that offer flowers and foliage of equal appeal. Many would argue that the fabulous striped foliage of ‘Tropicanna’ was its main attraction, but the hot orange flowers are a stand-out in summer. It’s a changing world with outdoor living spaces getting smaller and smaller. Having a garden we can enjoy without compromising on variety or overwhelming the neighbours means choosing compact plants which give us everything we want in limited space. Plants are getting shorter, narrower, and more compressed with no loss of flowers or healthy green foliage. Many trees, formerly only for large gardens, are now available in dwarf versions.