Out­door diary June’s check­list

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

Win­ter is the best time to plant roses as they’re less likely to suf­fer any set­backs when in a dor­mant (or semi-dor­mant in warmer ar­eas) stage. About 3 weeks be­fore plant­ing dig plenty of or­ganic mat­ter such as sheep pel­lets, sta­ble ma­nure and/or well­rot­ted com­post into the beds. A sprin­kle of dolomite lime will help raise the pH if your soil is a lit­tle too acidic (ideally it should be around 6.5). Make sure you’ve cho­sen a sunny po­si­tion where there’s plenty of air­flow as this helps to re­duce fun­gal dis­ease. Soil needs to be mois­ture-re­ten­tive, ideally a well-drained clay loam.

Down at the gar­den cen­tre or nurs­ery take your time choos­ing your roses. Ask for those with good dis­ease re­sis­tance and make sure plants look healthy with smooth stems (wrin­kles mean the plant may be too dry). Dig holes at least 30cm wide and around 20cm deep.

If you want a sub­trop­i­cal look but don’t want the bother of cos­set­ing your plants try us­ing cold-hardy types that will give you an ex­otic look such as cordy­lines, fat­sia, hosta, rodger­sia, heuchera and ligu­laria.

Mulch not only keeps mois­ture in the soil when it’s hot but helps keep ground tem­per­a­tures warmer in win­ter. Use a thick layer of pea straw, old sacks, news­pa­per, even old car­pet to pro­tect the roots of shrubs and frost-ten­der peren­ni­als like canna.

Re­duce your wa­ter­ing in win­ter as plant growth slows. Suc­cu­lents and frangi­pani re­quire lit­tle or no wa­ter at this time of year and most con­tainer plants (in­doors or out) will need way less mois­ture.

There’s noth­ing pret­tier than a camellia hedge. They might be slow-grow­ing but the mass of flow­ers in au­tumn or win­ter is cer­tain to lift your spir­its on a grey day. There’s plenty of choice at this time of year as nurs­eries and gar­den cen­tres bring in a range of these ver­sa­tile shrubs.

As the weather chills down, frost-ten­der plants such as bromeli­ads, frangi­pani, cit­rus, gar­de­nias and Hawai­ian hi­bis­cus will need ex­tra TLC in cooler ar­eas. Mov­ing them to a shel­tered spot un­der the eaves, against a north-fac­ing wall, on the deck or in a green­house will keep plants hap­pier, mean­ing you’ll get more flow­ers and fruit in spring and sum­mer. If frosts are very se­vere in your re­gion think about cov­er­ing ten­der plants with frost cloth or wool mat. Even a blan­ket will do the trick.

Plant­ing frost-ten­der plants in pots makes it eas­ier to move them in win­ter. Re­mem­ber that plas­tic pots may be lighter but, un­like heav­ier ter­ra­cotta or con­crete con­tain­ers, they won’t stop soil from freez­ing.

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