Hope the Easter bunny is generous and the hot buns not too cross

April 3, 2015

There’s nothing better than the smell of onions on the barbie.    And it looks as though we are in for great BBQ weather over the Easter break.  The Comedy Festival is on around the state.  March and April are fairly busy months in the garden so maybe take some  time out now over Easter to have a laugh and enjoy time with family and friends.

Talking of comedy and laughter, it was the poet and writer Emerson who said, “The earth laughs in flowers”.  Does that mean we gardeners are comedians who make the earth laugh.  Emerson is basically saying flowers cheer up the coldness of the earth,  that the festive colors of flowers are the earth expressing joy.

If you need some extra colour, joy, cheering up in your garden this Easter find somewhere to put a Tibouchina.  They are bursting into masses of stunning purple flowers everywhere.  Tibouchinas enjoy well drained soil and full sun.  They also do better with regular deep soaks and they also need protection from strong winds.  If you have a protected spot in your garden you will enjoy these shrubs. If you need a hand finding Tibouchinas are any other plants drop me a line tophedge@netconnect.com.au.  We can help source plants for your next garden project.  Prune Tibouchinas to keep in shape in spring.  I reckon they look great against grey or silver backgrounds or with silver foliage plants.

A flower I always love at this time in the garden are windflowers, Anemone nemorosa the wood anemone.  Drifts of these medium sized flowers look wonderful in slightly shady spots especially with the gray colours used in contemporary houses.

If you enjoy growing sweet peas you have probably already got them in as St Patrick’s is traditionally the day to plant.  They are easy to grow and give you loads of flowers to pick which have heaps of perfume and colour.   All you need is a frame or trellis or fence or something to grow them up.  If you don’t have a lot of space there are compact varieties which you can grow in hanging baskets or pots.  They do need full sun and add a bit of lime to the soil before you plant.  A few days before you plant them add some well rotted manure or compost.  Make sure you water the bed well before planting.

While you have some time over Easter it’s a good idea to divide your iris which grow from rhizomes or fleshy roots.  Each year iris clumps expand as new rhizomes develop underground.  As the clumps get bigger the size and number of flowers you will get per stem drops off.  If you dig the clumps up and divide them flowering will improve.  You need to do this every three years or so.

You can divide them or move them after flowering or after the main heat of summer is over in early autumn.  Iris are great because they can handle really hot and really cold conditions but they do need full sun and good drainage.  Adding heaps of organic matter to the soil before planting will improve the condition and structure of the soil and help with drainage.  (If you have boggy conditions you could try planting Iris acorus which will grow in damp conditions and even in the edge of ponds.)

Iris also prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soils (pH around 7 where your hydrangeas are pink not blue).  Watering is needed for best results during summer and while they are flowering but they do pull through extended dry periods reasonably well.  Drip systems are best because like elsewhere in the garden they will reduce fungal problems.  Slugs and snails love iris so sprinkle around a handful of the brown snail pellets which are pet and kid friendly.

Dividing bearded iris is fairly easy to do.  Lift the clump, loosen the soil (wash off in a bucket of water)  Each actively growing rhizome has its own leaves.  Remove these from the old ones by breaking off or cutting with a sharp clean knife or secateurs.  Don’t damage the roots.  You can cut the leaves back in a fan shape or not, it wont matter it just reduces stress a bit.  Plant new rhizomes back in soil enriched with well-rotted compost or mulch.  Places so the rhizome is half to one third exposed – don’t bury them!  Don’t mulch them either.  Add some slow release fertiliser and feed with a complete fertiliser at the end of winter/early spring before flowering and again in early autumn with slow release fertiliser again.

There’s lots to get growing with in the veggie garden too.  Plant broad beans, beetroot and fiends silver beet and spinach, brassica family veg such as cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese broccoli, onions and friends leeks, chives, garlic chives, shallots. Garlic, carrots, lettuces,  parsnips, swedes and turnips and of course potatoes.  Lots of herbs can be planted now too including  coriander,  lemongrass in sheltered areas away from frosts, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon and thyme.  They taste so good homegrown with no contamination.

If you are going camping over Easter enjoy yourself and don’t worry you can catch up with the garden next weekend.   Of course as always if you need a hand give us a call at TOP hEDGE we are here to help if you love your garden but never have enough time. Have a great Easter , keep laughing and I’ll see you in the garden!

At TOP hEDGE our “Garden Comedians”, Horticulturists and Green Gardeners know all this and mulch more ways to make you garden thrive in our conditions, so if you love your garden but never have enough time give us a call on 5330 1071.